tagged w/ Sierra Club
President Obama's victory yesterday was a victory for clean energy, one that gives us a fighting chance to slash coal pollution and turn the corner on climate change, in the wake of a devastating hurricane that brought global warming into sharp, painful focus for millions of Americans.
As the Sierra Club's Michael Brune said on election night, "We did it." Fossil fuel billionaires had spent at record levels to defeat Obama in this election, and Romney had returned the favor, promising to open the floodgates on more mining and drilling if elected. But then Hurricane Sandy hit the Eastern Seaboard, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg endorsed President Obama as the candidate most likely to lead on climate change, and Romney's dismissal of rising oceans as a laugh line in his GOP Convention speech became an especially chilling out-of-touch episode, in a Republican Presidential campaign that had no shortage of such moments.
Ironically, the coal industry had pinned its hopes on Romney -- the consummate businessman -- to protect the industry from the harsh realities of the free market. Now, the coal industry will have to stop hiding behind inflammatory slogans like "the war on coal," and will have to grapple with a marketplace and an American public that are turning away from coal in favor of cleaner, cheaper sources of energy. Coal will only produce 37% of America's electricity this year, down from 50% just five years ago, and those trends show no signs of reversing.
In reality, the decline of coal and the rise of clean energy have more to do with Main Street and Wall Street than with Pennsylvania Avenue. Over the past four years, in almost every state in the nation, hundreds of thousands of people have worked together to retire polluting local coal plants, get more wind and solar power on the grid, and use energy more efficiently. Today, 125 coal plants -- out of over 500 nationwide -- are now slated for retirement. As a result, U.S. carbon emissions are at their lowest level in two decades, clean energy is coming on line at record levels, and tens of thousands of Americans now have clean energy jobs.
The marketplace and the American people have spoken, and there is no amount of grandstanding by coal barons that will turn this tide. By the end of Obama's second term, the Beyond Coal Campaign plans to:
* Secure the retirement of one-third of the nation's coal plants.
* Power the nation with record amounts of clean energy and energy efficiency.
* End mountaintop removal once and for all.
* Close additional coal pollution loopholes, including long-overdue protections for carbon, soot, smog, coal ash, and water pollution.
* Prevent increased coal exports overseas to places where it will be burned with fewer pollution controls and no climate safeguards.
Making this happen will require the continued energy and dedication of our Beyond Coal grassroots movement. While the coal industry did its best to paint President Obama as their sworn enemy during the election, in fact, in Obama's first term, he was a centrist when it came to energy. On one hand, his Administration took historic measures to clean up some of the most dangerous pollution from coal -- mercury, arsenic, lead, and other toxins -- while also putting a carbon standard in place for new power plants.
The Obama White House also helped jumpstart clean energy, creating tens of thousands of new wind and solar jobs and helping to ensure that America will be a lead innovator in the clean energy revolution that will power the nations and economies of the twenty-first century.
On the other hand, some of the worst abuses of the coal industry continued. Mountaintop removal mining operations are still blowing up mountains, burying streams, and causing serious health problems across Appalachia. We don't yet have carbon standards for existing power plants, which are our single biggest source of greenhouse gases. There are still no national protections for the dumping of toxic coal ash. And when it comes to clean energy and energy efficiency, this country is still far behind much of the rest of the developed world.
No, coal's decline has less to do with President Obama and more to do with the fact that, after 100 years of heedlessly dumping air and water pollution onto the American people, the day of reckoning has come. Investors know that our fleet of coal plants is outdated, and they are putting their money into cleaner twenty-first century energy technologies like wind and solar -- not into propping up coal plants that are reaching the end of their lifespan. Meanwhile, town by town, city by city, and state by state, local leaders are making the decision to retire aging coal plants, get rid of the pollution and health problems, and ensure their communities aren't left behind in the clean energy revolution.
I live in West Virginia, so I'm not surprised that coal mining areas of the U.S. voted overwhelmingly for Romney in this election. As coal is eclipsed by other forms of energy, people in coal country are justifiably concerned about their livelihoods and their future. Perhaps the results of this election will finally push some of our leaders to start talking honestly about the challenges we face and the need to diversify coal state economies -- in short, to provide some leadership. Our region's decision-makers would be doing a far greater service to their constituents by using their political clout to bring federal resources that will help Appalachia and other mining regions make a transition, rather than digging in their heels and refusing to acknowledge that the world is changing.
In Appalachia and beyond, one thing is certain -- President Obama's re-election means that for four more years, the marketplace and the American people will continue to move away from coal, and the coal barons won't have a crony in the White House to try and stop that inevitable shift.
From the streets of New York ravaged by Hurricane Sandy to the mountains of Appalachia ravaged by mountaintop removal, and from the mother watching her son struggle to breathe to the grandfather watching his granddaughter sleep and worrying he is leaving her a dangerous, unstable planet, Americans are ready to move beyond coal.
President Obama can only help lead the nation there. We are going to have to do the hard work ourselves. But his re-election means we have a fighting chance.
-- Mary Anne Hitt, Director of the Beyond Coal CampaignPresident Obama's victory yesterday was a victory for clean energy, one that... more
Los Angeles Times...
U.S. probes golden eagles' deaths at DWP wind farm
The toll makes the Pine Tree site in the Tehachapi Mountains among the deadliest in California's wind farm industry. Activists say birds' behavior should be studied before erecting more sites.
Wind turbines in operation in the Tehachapi Pass. The flight behavior and size of golden eagles make it difficult for them to maneuver through turbine blades.
(Anne Cusack, Los Angeles Times / July 13, 2011)
By Louis Sahagun, Los Angeles Times
February 16, 2012
Two more golden eagles have been found dead at the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power wind farm in the Tehachapi Mountains, for a total of eight carcasses of the federally protected raptors found at the site.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is trying to determine the cause of death of the two golden eagles found Sunday at the Pine Tree wind farm, about 100 miles north of Los Angeles and 15 miles northeast of Mojave, said Lois Grunwald, a spokeswoman for the agency.
The agency has determined that the six golden eagles found dead earlier at the 2-year-old wind farm in Kern County were struck by blades from some of the 90 turbines spread across 8,000 acres at the site.
Those deaths give Pine Tree one of the highest avian mortality rates in California's wind farm industry. The death rate per turbine at the $425-million facility is three times higher than at California's Altamont Pass Wind Resource Area, where about 67 golden eagles die each year. However, the Altamont Pass facility has 5,000 wind turbines — 55 times as many as Pine Tree.
The flight behavior and size of golden eagles make it difficult for them to maneuver through forests of wind turbine blades spinning as fast as 200 mph — especially when the birds are distracted by the sight of squirrels and other prey. Golden Eagles are about 40 inches tall and weigh about 14 pounds,
The DWP is developing a avian and bat protection plan that "will include measures for mitigating risks to golden eagles," utility spokesman Brooks Baker said.
Critics say the problem is fundamental. "The increasing golden eagle mortality at Pine Tree clearly points to wind turbines built in the wrong location," said Ileene Anderson, a biologist with the Center for Biological Diversity. The utility needs to redesign its 250-megawatt Pine Tree network and Kern County needs to put a moratorium on construction of nearby wind farms to prevent deaths, Anderson said.
Garry George, renewable energy project director for Audubon California, said the best solution is to devote years of research into golden eagles' behavior in an area before deciding where to erect turbines. "If you don't ... you wind up with a Pine Tree," George said.
Killing golden eagles is illegal under federal law, but so far, federal authorities have not prosecuted any wind farm operators for violations.
A prosecution in the Pine Tree case could force the booming alternative energy industry to revise its approach at a time when Kern County is drafting boundary maps for wind resource areas for dozens of proposed wind projects designed to generate electricity for Los Angeles County.
A year ago, the Kern County Board of Supervisors adopted a renewable energy goal of having 10,000 megawatts of renewable energy production by 2015. Los Angeles has a renewable energy goal of 35% by 2020.
A coalition of environmental groups including the Sierra Club, the Center for Biological Diversity and the Defenders of Wildlife recently sued Kern County to block construction of the proposed North Sky River and Jawbone wind energy projects, which would operate on 13,535 acres of mountainous terrain adjacent to Pine Tree.
According to the lawsuit, the projects would have an unacceptable effect on protected bat and avian species, including the golden eagle and the rare and protected California condor, and on an important avian migratory corridor.
.Los Angeles Times...
U.S. probes golden eagles' deaths at DWP wind farm... more
Shell oil profits photo
Image: Lee Jordan via flickr
Second quarter profits are out, and it's good news for Shell: $8.7 billion in the period from April to June, up from $4.4 billion in the same period last year, The New York Times reports.
It's an even larger jump than the shocking 42 percent in the first quarter, and Shell chief executive Peter Voser is looking forward to "new projects" driving growth even further in future quarters.
What are those projects? The Canadian tar sands for one—the "most destructive project on Earth" that anyone reading the news these days knows is the focus of a little bit of controversy.
Shell has also been investing in liquefied natural gas operations, one up and running in Qatar and another in Australia that is still in early stages. But despite all the talk about LNG being a source of "clean energy," the Sierra Club is one of many to point that liquefied natural gas is just another source of smog-creating pollution.
So while prices at the gas pump continue to soar, Shell continues to profit more by the day—and use that money to invest in more destruction around the world.Shell oil profits photo
Image: Lee Jordan via flickr
Second quarter profits... more
The U.N. Ceo Water Mandate looks good on the surface but according to the Sierra Club and Source Watch.org it is not. Read the article written on Alternet by Scott Thill.
/the "World Bank assumed control of the United Nations Climate Conference's new $100 billion Green Fund, which is the opposite of a comforting proposition, considering the World Bank's repeatedly noxious financing of oil and coal projects." according to Sourve Watch.
Water is being sold to the highest bidder by countries under the thumb of the IMF and the World Bank under austerity measures.The U.N. Ceo Water Mandate looks good on the surface but according to the Sierra Club... more
Oldest US nuclear reactor: a ‘disaster’ in waiting?
By Agence France-Presse
Thursday, March 24th, 2011 -- 5:11 pm
LACEY, New Jersey – A sleepy New Jersey town has popped onto people's radar screens because it has the oldest running nuclear power plant in the United States -- and, some say, the most dangerous.
Named for a Revolutionary War general, Lacey is the kind of American town that few from outside the seaside settlement knew much about before the earthquake and tsunami in Japan triggered a nuclear crisis.
Down the road from the 1950s-style diner and across from the bridge that locals use as a fishing pier stands the Oyster Creek nuclear plant.
It uses a GE Mark I Boiling Water reactor identical to those that lost power at Japan's Fukushima plant in the March 11 earthquake and then was struck by a tsunami that knocked out its backup generators, causing reactor cooling functions to fail.
US anti-nuclear activists and many residents of Lacey and surrounding Jersey shore townships worry that a similar nuclear disaster could happen at Oyster Creek, and it wouldn't need an earthquake or tsunami to trigger it.
Oyster Creek has been dogged by problems including a corroding liner in the carbon steel containment unit; leaks that allow radioactive tritium to seep into drinking water; and huge volumes of stocked spent fuel rods.
"We have 40 years of radiation on site -- two-and-a-half to three times more than in Japan," anti-nuclear activist Jeff Brown told AFP.
"You also have that tremendously stupid design to start with where the spent fuel rods are sitting on top of the reactor," he said, raising a fear among residents that the reactor could be an easy target for a terrorist attack.
"At the very least, we need a no-fly zone over Oyster Creek. We have a no-fly zone over Disney World but not here," said Peggi Sturmfels, a program organizer at the New Jersey Environmental Federation.
Oyster Creek is owned and operated by Exelon Corporation, which employs 700 people at the plant. The company disputes the charges by activists, insisting the reactor is safe.
"Nuclear power stations in general are the most hardened and well-protected industrial facilities in existence. Oyster Creek is no exception," Exelon spokesman Craig Nesbitt told AFP.
Half a million people live within what would be the evacuation zone if Oyster Creek were ever to have a radiation accident. In the summer, the population swells with beach-goers heading to the Jersey shore.
The town is 85 miles (137 kilometers) south of New York and 55 miles (88 kilometers) east of Philadelphia.
New Jersey is not in a seismically active zone but meteorologists say the coastal state is long overdue for a Category Five hurricane.
"One good storm surge, and Oyster Creek's backup generators are swamped. It's Japan all over again," Sturmfels said.
Nesbitt rejects such assessments, saying the plant is five miles (eight kilometers) off the Atlantic coast, protected by barrier islands, and 23 feet (seven meters) above sea level, far higher than the largest recorded storm tide of seven feet, in 1962.
He also said Oyster Creek "is constantly evaluated and improved," and that more than $1 billion has been spent on plant upgrades since operations began in 1969.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission extended Oyster Creek's license for another 20 years in 2009.
The NRC not only gives out nuclear licenses but is the industry safety watchdog. That's a conflict of interest, say critics who liken the situation to the regulation of the oil industry prior to last year's devastating Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
Under pressure from state officials, Oyster Creek's license was rolled back to 10 years, and the plant is now due to close for good in 2019.
Even that's too late, say some residents.
"I don't like it. They should close it sooner," retiree Barbara Murrofsky told AFP as she shopped at a local hardware store.
"What's happening in Japan has made us more aware of the problems we have in our own backyard," she said. "There are so many people who live near here that an accident would be a major disaster. They should shut it down now."
But another local, Rick Gifford, looked philosophically at Oyster Creek.
"It's been running for 40 years with no problem, there's no reason it should start having problems now," he said.
Greg Auriemma, a lawyer for the Sierra Club environmental group, said Gifford's stance was not unusual in Lacey.
"There's a sense of complacency because while the plant has had a lot of negative publicity, no major disaster has occurred. So people look at it and say, 'It's been running for 40 years, what's the big deal?'"
But, Auriemma said, as Japan showed, one tragic event can dramatically change the situation. "There's a potential disaster that could happen right here in our backyard," he told AFP.
Last week, President Barack Obama ordered a "comprehensive review" of US nuclear safety and vowed to learn lessons from Japan's atomic accident.
The NRC on Wednesday launched its review of the nation's 24 US reactors, saying a full report and recommendations will be published in six months.
A federal court hearing a case brought in 2009 by environmental groups against the NRC on Monday asked the nuclear watchdog to advise if Japan's unfolding crisis impacted "the propriety" of renewing Oyster Creek's license.
On the same day, the NRC extended for 20 years the license of another Mark 1 reactor, in the state of Vermont.
The Vermont Yankee reactor has had tritium leaks, a cooling tower collapse and even a fire in the plant's transformer.Oldest US nuclear reactor: a ‘disaster’ in waiting?
By Agence... more
The Pennsylvania homes of Karl Wasner and Arline LaTourette both sit atop the Marcellus Shale, a geologic formation that stretches from Tennessee to New York and holds vast deposits of natural gas. They also sit on opposite sides of a national debate over hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. That's the process that makes it economical for energy companies to tunnel 5,000 feet below ground and remove the gas—but also poses environmental risks.
Wasner settled 14 years ago in Milanville, in the state's northeast corner, and will leave if drilling companies set up derricks nearby. He already moved away for six weeks last year while an exploratory well was drilled nearby. The noise, muddy water pouring from his taps, and chemicals that turned up in a neighbor's well drove him off, he says. "I moved to a beautiful rural residential area," says Wasner, "not an industrial park."
LaTourette, whose roots in the area go back five generations, is banking on the drilling. Her family has leased almost 700 acres of farmland to Hess (HES) and other companies to tap into the Marcellus Shale. She won't say what she's getting, but signing bonuses can range from $2,000 to $5,000 an acre, and royalty payments are about 20 percent of the value of the gas produced.
President Barack Obama enthusiastically backs gas drilling, and these days 90 percent of it is done by fracking, which involves forcing below ground chemically treated water under high pressure to smash through layers of rock, thus freeing the gas to flow upward. Along with wind, solar, and nuclear power, natural gas is crucial to Obama's goal of producing 80 percent of electricity from clean energy sources by 2035. But the drilling is taking place with minimal oversight from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. State and regional authorities are trying to write their own rules—and having trouble keeping up.
Now, reports of contaminated water and alleged disposal of carcinogens in rivers have caught state and federal regulators, and even environmental watchdogs, off guard. Sometimes the fracking mix includes diesel fuel. Between 2005 and 2009, drillers injected 32 million gallons of fluids containing diesel into wells in 19 states, an investigation by Representative Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.) concludes. Just as it recovers its footing from the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill, the Administration faces a new threat, again involving a risky drilling technology and charges of lax regulation. Obama is "evaluating the need for new safeguards for drilling," says White House spokesman Clark W. Stevens. "It's likely that the science is going to say we need to regulate fracking," says Tyson Slocum, director of the energy program for Public Citizen, a liberal advocacy group. "But Obama's political team is going to say don't regulate, and I think the political team will win."
The Marcellus Shale may contain 490 trillion cubic feet of gas—enough to heat U.S. homes and power electric plants for two decades, says Terry Engelder, professor of geosciences at Pennsylvania State University. That makes it the world's second-largest gas field behind South Pars, shared by Iran and Qatar. The shale gas rush is creating thousands of jobs and reviving the economy in states such as Wyoming, Texas, and Louisiana. In Pennsylvania, where 2,516 wells have been drilled in the last three years, $389 million in tax revenue and 44,000 jobs came from gas drilling in 2009, according to a Penn State report. Perhaps best of all, natural gas emits half the carbon emissions of oil.
While there have been no documented cases of fracking fluids flowing underground into drinking water, there have been spills above ground. Fracking produces millions of gallons of wastewater; some of it containing benzene has spilled from holding tanks. The wastewater can overwhelm treatment plants not equipped to handle high levels of contaminants. A Feb. 26 New York Times article, using documents from the EPA and state regulators, described how radioactive wastewater is being discharged into river basins. Sierra Club Deputy Executive Director Bruce Hamilton says Obama "has been sold a bill of goods." But even the Sierra Club has struggled with fracking. Last year it overruled New York and Pennsylvania chapters calling for a national fracking ban; now it's reconsidering that decision, Hamilton says.
The Delaware River Basin Commission, which manages the watershed that supplies drinking water to 15 million people in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware, has put gas development on hold while it drafts rules. Wasner and LaTourette were among scores of people to comment at a Feb. 22 hearing in Honesdale, Pa., on a commission proposal to regulate the drilling. New York also has fracking on hold while it develops a drilling playbook. The Marcellus Shale runs beneath the watershed that supplies just over 1 billion gallons of water a day to New York City, the U.S.'s largest unfiltered water system.
The White House has sent mixed signals. "It's not necessarily federal regulation that will be needed," EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson told a Feb. 3 Senate hearing, noting that many communities and states already monitor parts of the process. Energy Secretary Steven Chu seems to differ. In a 2010 speech, he said fracking can be "polluting" and that rules were inevitable. "We continue to believe that state regulatory agencies have the appropriate expertise" to oversee gas production, says Dan Whitten, a spokesman for America's Natural Gas Alliance.
Even if the EPA stepped in, its authority would be limited. A clause in a 2005 energy law—dubbed the "Halliburton (HAL) loophole" for the company that helped pioneer fracking and is a supplier of fracking fluids—exempts fracking from parts of the Safe Drinking Water Act. Representative Maurice Hinchey (D-N.Y.) says Dick Cheney, once head of Halliburton, pushed for the exemption when he was Vice-President. Hinchey's evidence is circumstantial: Fracking was endorsed in Cheney's 2001 energy task force report, which led to the 2005 law and, according to Waxman, did not reflect the EPA's initial concerns about water pollution. Cheney declined to comment. Halliburton referred a request for comment to its website, which doesn't discuss fracking's risks.
So far, the EPA has begun a study of fracking's effect on drinking water. In February the agency said final results will come in 2014, two years after its initial target—and the 2012 elections. Its emphasis is "politics first and regulation second," says Kevin Book, managing director at ClearView Energy Partners, a Washington policy group. "It's impossible to miss the jobs power of fracking in the Marcellus."
http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/11_11/b4219025777026.htmThe Pennsylvania homes of Karl Wasner and Arline LaTourette both sit atop the... more
By Sarah Laskow, Media Consortium blogger
An Ecuadorian judge ordered Chevron this week to pay $8.6 billion in damages for polluting the Amazon rainforest from 1964 until 1990. The payout is the second largest ever in an environmental case, with only the damages BP agreed to pay in the wake of last summer’s Deepwater Horizon spill being higher.
Environmental lawyers and advocates hailed the case as a landmark victory, but as Rebecca Tarbotton reports at AlterNet, Chevron is still planning to fight the case.
“In fact, the oil giant has repeatedly refused to pay for a clean up even if ordered to by the court,” she writes. “In one chilling statement, Charles A. James, Chevron’s vice president and general counsel, told law students at UC Berkeley that Chevron would fight ‘until hell freezes over, and then skate on the ice.’”
The Cost of Doing Business
Chevron can continue to fight the case because it’s cheaper for them to fund their lawyers than to cough up billions. Like so many environmental issues, this one comes down to money, which environmentally destructive corporations always seem to have and activists, regulators, and victims simply don’t.
In Washington, the newly empowered Republican Party is doing its darndest to make sure that remains the case. It’s budget season, and the Environmental Protection Agency is one of the prime targets for cutting in Republicans’ budget proposals. Kate Sheppard reports at Mother Jones that House Republicans are not only trying to take away $3 billion from the agency, but also are pushing to bar the EPA from regulating carbon or other greenhouse gasses. Putting this in context, Sheppard writes:
The National Wildlife Federation says the cuts amount to a “sneak attack” on existing environmental laws like the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts, because they would make it basically impossible for the EPA to do its job. The huge cut—the biggest in 30 years—”would jeopardize the water we drink and air we breathe, endangering the health and well-being of all Americans,” Gene Karpinski, the president of the League of Conservation Voters, said Monday.
The need for green
But environmentalists have their backers, too. At Grist, Bill McKibben, the author and climate activist who co-founded the climate group 350.org, has an interesting look at how the Sierra Club’s National Coal Campaign, led by Bruce Nilles, banded together with other environmental activists to successfully shut down proposals for coal-fired power plants across the country. One of the keys, of course, was money:
A consortium of foundations led by the Rockefeller Family Fund helped provide not only resources for the fight but crucial coordination. By the summer of 2005, RFF’s Larry Shapiro, David Wooley from The Energy Foundation, Nilles, and others formed a loosely organized “coal cadre.”
The coordination was crucial not only for the advocacy groups involved, which each have different strengths and geographical bases, but for the money men as well:
“I first went to Florida in 2005 to meet with several groups fighting coal plants,” said Shapiro. “I thought I would figure out who we could give $50,000 to. After my trip, I realized it wasn’t a $50,000 project — it was a million-dollar project. Over time, the Energy Foundation and others got into the game, so we ended up with some real money.”
In the end, McKibben reports, RFF gathered together, from its own pockets and from other foundations, $2.8 million.
On top of the type of advocacy work that McKibben details, there’s another reason why more communities and companies are moving away from coal-fired power plants: they have a choice. Plants fueled with natural gas are a popular alternative, but as Gina Marie Cheeseman writes at Care2, in some areas, onshore wind power can compete with coal on costs.
“In some areas of the U.S., Brazil, Mexico and Sweden, the cost of wind power ($68 per megawatt hour) generated electricity is competitive with coal-fired power ($67 a megawatt hour),” Cheeseman writes. Wind power is also, she notes, competitive with natural gas, according to the American Wind Energy Association.
Close to home
These sort of adjustments make it easier for consumers to make sustainable choices. And in the end, personal choices do impact the amount of carbon humanity is spewing into the atmosphere. As two recent European studies showed, men make choices that generally produce more carbon emissions than women, Julio Godoy reported for Inter Press Service.
One study focused on France, the other on Germany, Greece, Norway, and Sweden. The second study, conducted by researchers at the Swedish Defence Research Agency, found that men ate more meat, drank more processed beverages, and drove more frequently and for longer distances. Annika Carlsson-Kanyama, one of the study’s authors, has argued that their results apply more broadly, too.
“These differences are not specific to the four countries studied, but are generalised across the European Union and have little to do with the different professional activities of men and women,” she told Godoy.
This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about the environment by members of The Media Consortium. It is free to reprint. Visit the Mulch for a complete list of articles on environmental issues, or follow us on Twitter. And for the best progressive reporting on critical economy, health care and immigration issues, check out The Audit, The Pulse, and The Diaspora. This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of leading independent media outlets.By Sarah Laskow, Media Consortium blogger
An Ecuadorian judge ordered Chevron... more
Arkansas officials have announced that President Barack Obama has been implicated in the deaths of 4,000-5,000 birds and approximately 83,000 drum fish along a 20-mile stretch of the Arkansas River over the New Year holiday.Arkansas officials have announced that President Barack Obama has been implicated in... more
by Lindsay Beyerstein, Media Consortium blogger
Tainted egg shell game
The Iowa chapter of the Sierra Club is pushing state regulators to investigate two factory farms and a feed mill linked to this summer’s massive recall of salmonella-tainted eggs, Lynda Waddington reports in the Iowa Independent. The Sierra Club sent a strongly-worded letter to Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller urging him to investigate Wright County Egg, Hillandale Farms and the Quality Egg LLC feed mill. All three firms were linked to the salmonella outbreak that sickened an estimated 1200 people; and all three firms are linked to agro-baron Austin “Jack” DeCoster.
Tom Philpott of Grist calls DeCoster a “habitual” environmental offender and “one of the most reviled names in industrial agriculture.” In 1996, the Department of Labor fined DeCoster Eggs $3.6 million for what the then-Secretary of Labor described as “running an agricultural sweatshop” and “treating its employees like animals.” Over the years, DeCoster enterprises racked up additional fines in other states. A previous Attorney General of Iowa dubbed DeCoster a habitual offender for water pollution. In 2002, five female employees at the DeCoster’s Wright County egg operation alleged that their supervisors had raped them and threatened to kill them if they reported the crime. The company paid $1.5 million to settle the lawsuit.
A coalition of public health activists is pushing the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to regulate the work hours of doctors in training. New proposed guidelines would limit the shifts of first-year residents to 16 hours, but more senior trainees could be forced to work shifts up to 28 hours. The group, which includes the Committee of Interns and Residents/SEIU Healthcare, the American Medical Student Association, and Public Citizen, says that’s not good enough to protect doctors or the public. As I explain in Working In These Times, research shows that sleep deprivation is a major preventable cause of medical errors, which is why the coalition wants to see shifts for all residents capped at 16 hours.
Insurance premiums soar
A new report from the Kaiser Foundation Family shows that health insurance premiums continued to climb with employers shifting an ever-greater share of the burden onto employees. A family health insurance policy costs about $14,000 a year, with employees shouldering 30% of that cost. Michelle Chen reports in ColorLines that families that manage to hang onto their health insurance can’t expect relief through health care reform any time soon. The major reforms don’t go into effect until 2014 and the biggest early beneficiaries will be those who are currently uninsured rather than those who are already paying through the nose for lousy coverage. The ultimate goal of comprehensive health care reform is to reshape the health care and health insurance systems to bring costs down across the board, but that’s small consolation to workers who are struggling to stay on top of their premiums right now.by Lindsay Beyerstein, Media Consortium blogger
Tainted egg shell game
The Iowa... more
The Environmental Protection Agency held an open hearing in Pittsburgh's South Pointe Marriott, Over 1,200 citizens came to speak to EPA Investigators for two minutes a piece. Residents discussed their concerns and helped scientists locate inspection sites in the Marcellus Shale rock formation, where the new natural gas drilling practice has already started in some areas. Many legislators and homeowners see the economic benefits as very lucrative. Environmentalists voice ecological damage while citizens worry of health implications to local drinking waters.The Environmental Protection Agency held an open hearing in Pittsburgh's South... more
Tell President Obama to demand that BP stop blocking
clean-up workers from using life-saving respirators
Join experts, political leaders, and thousands of Americans in signing the statement:
We cannot let the denial of protective gear that hurt so many 9/11 clean-up workers happen again with the Gulf clean-up workers.
President Obama and the federal government must demand that BP allow every clean-up worker who wants to wear respiratory protective equipment to do so -- and ensure that workers get the equipment and training they need to do their jobs safely.
Progressive Change Campaign Committee
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.
Waterkeeper Alliance President *
Louisiana Environmental Action Network
Executive Director MaryLee Orr *
Lower Mississippi Riverkeeper (Louisiana)
Riverkeeper Paul Orr *
United Commercial Fishermen
Louisiana President George Barisich *
Commercial Fishermen of America
President Jimmy Rule *
Louisiana Shrimp Association
Acting President Clint Guidry *
Blanchard Seafood, Inc.
President Dean Blanchard, a top shrimp seller in the US *
Rep. Alan Grayson (Florida)
Rep. Kendrick Meek (Florida)
Rep. Alcee Hastings (Florida)
Barbara Ann Radnofsky, Texas Attorney General Candidate
Louisiana State Senator Karen Carter Peterson
Biloxi City Councilman Bill Stallworth
Gulf Restoration Network
Campaign Director Aaron Viles *
Disaster Accountability Project
Executive Director Ben Smilowitz *
Louisiana Bucket Brigade
Program Manager Anna Hrybyk *
Deep South Center for Environmental Justice
Assistant Director Myra M. Lewis *
Tracy Kuhns *
Mobile Baykeeper (Alabama)
Deputy Director Tammy Herrington *
Galveston Baykeeper (Texas)
Baykeeper Charlotte Wells *
Emerald Coastkeeper (Florida)
Coastkeeper Chasidy Hobbs *
Apalachiola Riverkeeper (Florida)
Riverkeeper Don Tonsmeire *
Atchafalaya Basinkeeper (Louisiana)
Executive Director and Basinkeeper Dean Wilson *
Ecology Action of Texas
Co-Director Karly Dixon *
Delta Sierra Club (Louisiana)
New Orleans Representative Dr. Barry Kohl *
Nassau Sierra Club (Florida)
Executive Committee Chair Ray Roberts *
Public Policy Center of Mississippi
Executive Director Warren Yoder *
The Daily Kingfish
Left in Alabama
Burnt Orange Report
Editor Mike Stagg
NOLA Democratic Party Executive Committee member
Margaret Maggie Carroll *
NOLA Democratic Party Executive Committee member
Andrew V. Tuozzolo *
Polk County Democratic Party (Florida)
Chair Karen Welzel *
Lake County Democratic Party (Florida)
Chair Nancy Hurlbert *
Flagler County Democratic Party (Florida)
State Committeeman Paul Tetreault *
John Lingenfelder Jr. (TX-03)
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By Sarah Laskow, Media Consortium Blogger
BP oil has been spilling into the Gulf of Mexico for more than two months, and while attention has focused there, deepwater oil drilling is just one of many risky methods of energy extraction that industry is pursuing. Gasland, Josh Fox’s documentary about the effects of hydrofracking, a new technique for extracting natural gas, was broadcast this week on HBO. In the film, Fox travels across the country visiting families whose water has turned toxic since gas companies began drilling in their area.
“So many people were quick to respond to our requests to be interviewed about fracking that I could tell instantly that this was a national problem—and nobody had really talked enough about it,” Fox told The Nation this week.
In Washington, even green groups like the Sierra Club have been pushing natural gas as a clean alternative to fuels like coal; reports like Fox’s suggest that the environmental costs of obtaining that gas are not yet clear. Besides water contamination, natural gas opponents are also documenting environmental damage to air quality. Like the problems with deepwater oil drilling, which became apparent after the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded, the dangers of hydrofracking could go unchecked until disaster strikes.
And both deepwater drilling and hydrofracking are symptoms of the greater crisis threatening the country: as energy resources become harder to extract, energy companies are taking greater risks to get at the valuable fuels.
Drilling on government land
As Fox documents, new gas wells are popping up like gopher holes all over the country, on private and public lands. Just this week, Earthjustice, an environmental advocacy law group, challenged the Bureau of Land Management’s decision to allow drilling in a southwestern Colorado mountain range, the Colorado Independent reports.
“The HD Mountains are the last tiny, little corner of the San Juan Basin not yet drilled for natural gas development,” Jim Fitzgerald, a farmer, told Earthjustice. “This whole area depends on the HD Mountains watersheds. Drilling could have disastrous effects upon them.”
From coast to coast
Coloradans are not the only ones pushing back against drilling. In The Nation, Kara Cusolito writes about the problems Dimock, PA, has faced:
After a stray drill bit banged four wells in 2008…weird things started happening to people’s water: some flushed black, some orange, some turned bubbly. One well exploded, the result of methane migration, and residents say elevated metal and toluene levels have ruined twelve others. Then, in September 2009, about 8,000 gallons of hazardous drilling fluids spilled into nearby fields and creeks.
After that second incident, fifteen families began a lawsuit against Cabot Oil and Gas, the gas company that’s dominating that area. In The American Prospect, Alex Halperin wrote a couple of months back about efforts to fight back against natural gas drilling in Ithaca, NY.
One of the problems with hydrofracking is that it’s poorly regulated right now. No one except the natural gas companies know what goes into the “fracking fluid” that they pour into wells to help bubble the gas up to the surface. A loophole in the Safe Water Drinking Act also exempted the practice from regulation.
That situation could be changing, however. As Amy Westervelt writes at Earth Island Journal:
“Thanks in large part to the work done by a handful of journalists and angry residents over the past couple of years, the EPA is finally looking into fracking more seriously. In fact, they’re looking into it so comprehensively the energy companies are getting worried. It’s worth noting here that all the big oil guys have a big stake in natural gas drilling, and many of them have contractual loopholes with the smaller companies that own the gas drilling leases that if fracking is taken off the table as a legitimate drilling process, they’re out.”
Like deepwater oil drilling, fracking is a relatively new endeavor, the risks of which are not fully understood. Unlike that type of drilling, though, the opportunity still exists to create a framework in which the companies will have some accountability to the environments and communities that they threaten.
Besides regulating the industries who are providing energy now, the environmental community needs to keep pressing towards a future where the country does not depend on fossil fuels like oil and gas to run our world. This week, at the U.S. Social Forum in Detroit, thousands of people are considering how to fight against problems like these.
Ahmina Maxey, for instance, is a member of the Zero Waste Detroit Coalition. “We are planning, next Saturday, the Clean Air, Good Jobs, Justice march to the incinerator to demand that the city of Detroit clean up its air,” she told Democracy Now!
As Elizabeth DiNovella writes for The Progressive, Detroit is working towards green solutions to some of its problems. DiNovella reports:
“Detroit’s population has shrunk to about a quarter of what it was forty or fifty years ago, leaving lots of open green space. But neighborhood groups are transforming these vacant lots into community gardens. Seven years ago there were 8o community gardens, consisting of neighborhood gardens, backyard patches, and school gardens. By 2009, there were 800 community gardens. This year there are 1200, including some urban farms.”
“As far as I’m concerned, Detroit is ground zero for the sustainability movement,” writes Ron Williams for Free Speech TV. He explains:
“What we need now is a collaborative effort that could echo around the world. An Urban Green Lab. What possible better stage than the 11th largest city in the United States which is experiencing Depression-level economic conditions? Let’s take sustainability home. Collectively we have everything the people of Detroit need to build their city anew. Their solutions are likely to be the very same solutions every community will need in some form in the years ahead.”
Here’s hoping ideas like this take root.By Sarah Laskow, Media Consortium Blogger
BP oil has been spilling into the Gulf of... more
In a groundbreaking legal settlement, the EPA has agreed to identify and investigate thousands of factory farms that have been avoiding government regulation for water pollution.
June 3, 2010
Photo Credit: Farm Sanctuary
In a legal settlement that could affect the entire U.S. meat industry, the Environmental Protection Agency has agreed to identify and investigate thousands of factory farms that have been avoiding government regulation for water pollution with animal waste.
The settlement requires the agency to propose a rule on greater information gathering on factory farms within the next 12 months. It will require the approximately 20,000 domestic factory farms to report such information as how they dispose of manure and other animal waste.
The Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club and Waterkeeper Alliance filed the suit in 2009 over a rule that exempted thousands of factory farms from taking steps to minimize water pollution from the animal waste they generate.
"Thousands of factory farm polluters threaten America's water with animal waste, bacteria, viruses and parasites that can make people sick," said Jon Devine, an attorney with the nonprofit Natural Resources Defense Council.
"Many of these massive facilities are flying completely under the radar. EPA doesn't even know where they are," said Devine.
More than 30 years ago, Congress identified factory farms as water pollution sources to be regulated under the Clean Water Act's permit program.
But under a Bush administration regulation challenged by the environmental groups in this lawsuit, large facilities were able to escape government regulation by claiming, without government verification, that they do not discharge into waterways protected by the Clean Water Act.
Under the settlement reached May 26, the EPA will initiate a new national effort to track down factory farms operating without permits and determine if they must be regulated.
The specific information that EPA will require from individual facilities will be determined after a period of public comment. But the results of that investigation will enable the agency and the public to create stronger pollution controls in the future and make sure facilities are complying with current rules.
"The EPA's rules have failed to protect our rivers and lakes from polluting factory farms," said Ed Hopkins, director of Sierra Club's Environmental Quality Program. "Gathering more information to document factory farms' pollution will lay the groundwork for better protection of our waters."
The National Pork Producers Council expressed "deep frustration and anger" over the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's continuing efforts "to develop costly agricultural regulations that provide few if any additional environmental benefits."
"With this one-sided settlement, EPA yanked the rug out from under America's livestock farmers," said Michael Formica, NPPC's chief environmental counsel. "NPPC is looking at all appropriate legal responses to EPA's disappointing course of action."
Factory farms, also known as concentrated animal feeding operations, CAFOs, confine animals on an industrial scale and produce massive amounts of manure and other waste that can pollute waterways with dangerous contaminants.
These CAFOs apply liquid animal waste on land, which runs off into waterways, killing fish, spreading disease, and contaminating drinking water. The plaintiff groups cite EPA estimates that pathogens, such as E. coli, are responsible for 35 percent of the nation's impaired river and stream miles, and factory farms are one of the most common pathogen sources.
"This agreement sets the stage for new Clean Water Act permitting measures that will add to producers' costs, drive more farmers out of business, increase concentration in livestock production to comply and hurt rural economies," said Randy Spronk, a Minnesota pork producer who heads NPPC's environmental committee. "And the measures will do nothing really to improve water quality.
"Additionally," said Spronk, "the settlement was negotiated in private and without consultation or input from the regulated farming community. This flies in the face of the Obama administration's pledges to operate government more transparently. And, in this economy, the administration should be enacting measures that create jobs, not implementing regulations that put American farmers out of business."
Today there are more than 67,000 pork operations compared with nearly three million in the 1950s. Farms have grown in size; 53 percent of them now produce 5,000 or more pigs per year.
"The record is clear -- large CAFO operations, and many medium and small operations, commonly discharge pollutants into the surrounding environment," said Waterkeeper Alliance attorney Hannah Connor. "What is also clear is that if we want to continue to drink, fish and enjoy water that is not contaminated with raw animal excrement, these discharges must be stopped."
"We believe that the terms of this settlement will help reverse this industry's history of bad behavior by improving implementation and enforcement of the law," Connor said.
Litigation brought by these three groups has forced the EPA to revise its CAFO rules twice within the past decade to tighten the pollution control requirements on these facilities.In a groundbreaking legal settlement, the EPA has agreed to identify and investigate... more
Offering the first evidence of the complex Senate debate that lies ahead on an energy reform bill, the environmental group Greenpeace said Friday it intends to oppose the legislation that a bipartisan group of Senators intend to introduce next week.
“Although we appreciate the Senate’s efforts to reduce global warming pollution, it’s clear that polluter lobbyists have succeeded in hijacking this climate policy initiative and undermined the ambitious action necessary,” Phil Radford, the group’s executive director, said in a statement.
Among Greenpeace’s chief objections are the measure’s “inadequate emission” reduction goals, a provision that strips authority from the Environmental Protection Agency, and the billions set aside for the coal and nuclear industries for research and expansion.
“We call on the president to push leaders in Congress to get back to work and produce a climate bill that presents a clear road map for significantly reducing greenhouse emissions,” he added.
Greenpeace’s pre-emptive move surprised some in the environmental community for its timing but not its final judgment. Greenpeace was among a handful of major environmental groups that didn’t participate in the discussions that have gone on as the bill was being drafted.
Contacted on Friday, leaders of other green groups said they would wait to make their assessment of the legislation until after it is unveiled.
“We are not going to make any decisions on our views of the bill and our support until we see the details of it. There are a lot of moving pieces still and those pieces are really important to us,” said Josh Dorner, a spokesman for the Sierra Club.
That’s not to say, however, that other environmentalists don’t share Radford’s concerns and could wind up opposing the legislation.
Greenpeace based its analysis of the legislation on information received during a Thursday teleconference with Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), one of the bill sponsors. On that call, Kerry outlined specific language that will be in the bill that was drafted along with Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.)
Read more: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0410/36277.html#ixzz0mEFd9KOiOffering the first evidence of the complex Senate debate that lies ahead on an energy... more
by Sarah Laskow, Media Consortium blogger
Environmental advocates from around the world gathered in Cochabamba, Bolivia, this week and resolved that, a year from now, they would hold a world’s people referendum on climate change to marshal support for the rights of the planet.
“Although it is hoped that some states will cooperate, the participation of governments will not be essential to the referendum, as civil society organizations are to plan it according to their own lights and the traditions and customs of each local area,” reports Franz Chavez for Inter Press Service.
The conference’s democratic, citizen-oriented format starkly contrasted with March’s United Nations-led summit in Copenhagen. The conference at Cochabamba emphasized inclusion and a diversity of voices, providing an antidote to processes like the U.N. climate negotiations, where smaller countries were excluded from key discussions.
No official United States delegation attended the conference, but this week, the country held its own celebration of the environment: the 40th annual Earth Day. On Thursday, arguments over climate change were put on pause, as environmental leaders recognized both accomplishments and the unfinished business of cleaning up the air, land, and water.
“Environmentalism isn’t such a mysterious thing anymore. People are looking more at environmental values as being things that are tangible and relate to how we live our lives,” Pete Carrels of the South Dakota Sierra Club told Public News Service.
The mystery, now, lies in finding a way to shore up defenses against old environmental hazards—dirty water, dirty air, diminishing resources—and to agree on a path towards a low-carbon future that avoids the worst calamities of climate change.
“Bolivian music, indigenous ceremonies and the Bolivian army’s honor guard were on hand to greet the first indigenous president of the Plurinational State of Bolivia, Evo Morales,” Democracy Now! reported from Tiquipaya, the town just outside Cochabamba where the actual conference is being held.
In a stadium crowded with fifteen thousand people, President Morales opened the event Tuesday morning with exhortations to choose life for the planet. Franz Chavez of Inter Press Service reports:
“The stadium, ablaze with the multi-coloured traditional garments of different Andean and Amazonian native communities and the flags of people from different countries around the world that contrasted with the cold formality of presidential summits, served as the stage for Morales, of Aymara descent, to call for an “inter-continental movement” in defence of Mother Earth.”
You can get a sense of the atmosphere in this GRITtv report or the below video from Yes! Magazine.
Too many cooks?
One of the main goals of the summit was to draft a “universal declaration of rights of Mother Earth,” envisioned as a complement to the United Nations declaration on human rights. There were also 17 working groups that dealt with issues like climate migrants, the Kyoto protocol, and technology transfer. Any conference participant could participate in up to five working groups.
The open format was, at times, chaotic. Cormac Cullinan, an environmental lawyer from South Africa who provide the baseline text for the declaration of rights, told Democracy Now! that on one day of the conference four hundred people were contributing revisions to the text. Another day, that number jumped to one thousand.
“The challenge is to make sure we integrated all the different comments and point of view,” he said. “We’re essentially expressing an entirely new world view from an indigenous perspective in legal language.”
Many voices, but what are the solutions?
Elizabeth Cooper affirms this emphasis on a diversity of voices in a report for Yes! Magazine. “This issue of valuing the knowledge and abilities of indigenous peoples and those from the South was an undercurrent to the rest of the afternoon as it is to the Summit as a whole,” she writes.
But this scale of participation also meant that conversations could veer from essential topics. Also at Yes! Magazine, Jim Shultz asks, “If forcing rich countries to pay a climate debt is a dead end, what is the plan to move “climate debt” from a catchy idea to a real proposal with a chance of delivering some results?”
“At a workshop today on that topic, there was an abundance of declarations about why climate debt is important, but few ideas of how to make it real,” he reports.
There’s a need, though, for people to participate in these discussions, even if the conversations don’t take a smooth and tidy course. At The Nation, Naomi Klein writes that “Bolivia’s climate summit has had moments of joy, levity and absurdity. Yet underneath it all, you can feel the emotion that provoked this gathering: rage against helplessness.”
At a conference like Copenhagen, the worries and priorities of smaller countries were ultimately excluded from the debate. In Bolivia, Klein explains, glaciers—the water source for two major cities—are melting. Yet that problem did not earn the country a place in the Copenhagen discussions that could determine its fate. Cochabamba’s goals were, in part, to reestablish a more democratic system for decision-making about climate reform.
As Regina Cornwell documents at the Women’s Media Center, left to its own devices, international bodies like the United Nations easily exclude interested groups from the conversation.
“In early March, just as the entire area of Manhattan around the UN was crawling with women wearing their blue Conference for the Status of Women tags, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon announced a “High-level Advisory Group on Climate Change Financing” composed exclusively of men,” she writes.
Earth Day 2010
The conferees at Cochabamba traveled to Bolivia because they saw a gap in leadership after UN climate talks at Copenhagen crumbled. The ideas developed this week could prompt the world’s leaders towards brave action on climate change. Strong leadership can make the difference between real change and status quo.
At The Nation, John Nichols reflects on the leadership of Sen. Gaylord Nelson, who helped create Earth Day. Nelson, was “a bold progressive who recognized the need to make the health and welfare of human beings, in the United States and abroad, a priority over the profits of multinational corporations,” he writes. Nelson’s vision for Earth Day was to produce an outpouring of empathy for the environment “so large that it would shake the political establishment out of its lethargy.”
It worked. The first Earth Day is credited with driving action on the environmental institutions that still protect Americans today: the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, the Environmental Protection Agency.
Today, other leaders are fighting the same fight as Nelson did. At Cochabamba, these climate leaders, profiled by Colorlines, are marshaling their communities to push back against global warming, as are these conference-goers. They lack official titles but are leading nonetheless. Young people, like those honored by the Brower Youth Award, are coming up with amazing ideas to ensure a healthy future for the planet, reports LinkTV. At The Progressive, Winona LaDuke explains how native communities are working to produce a new energy economy.
And all over the world, individuals are working to minimize their impact and the impact of their societies on the environment. AlterNet suggests “five ways you can help save life on earth,” and Care2 has two other suggestions: eat less meat and reduce use of water bottles.by Sarah Laskow, Media Consortium blogger
Environmental advocates from around the... more
According to environmental group the Sierra Club, the state of North Carolina largely ignores millions of tons of ash from coal-fired power plants that threatens to contaminate N.C. groundwater, lakes and streams.According to environmental group the Sierra Club, the state of North Carolina largely... more
By Sarah Laskow, Media Consortium Blogger
President Barack Obama announced this week that his administration would open areas from Delaware to Florida and in Alaska to offshore drilling for gas and oil. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Transportation also released new guidelines for auto emissions to cut carbon emissions, and the EPA said new benchmarks for issuing mountaintop mining permits would prevent damage to waterways in Appalachia. The environmental community welcomed these last two announcements but both were overshadowed by the off-shore drilling decision, which green groups largely condemned.
Off-putting off-shore drilling decision
Although as a candidate President Obama began by opposing off-shore drilling, by the end of the campaign he said he would support an expansion of drilling areas. Mother Jones’ Kate Sheppard explains the series of decisions that made this week’s announcement possible:
“In October 2008, amidst calls of “drill, baby, drill” from conservatives, Congress failed to renew the long-standing moratorium on offshore drilling. Months earlier, George W. Bush had lifted an 18-year-old executive ban on offshore drilling, which had originally been imposed by his father in 1990. Obama, of course, could have issued his own order, but didn’t.”
The administration had been considering the decision to go ahead with drilling for about a year but kept deliberations quiet. Key senators, however, knew the decision was coming, and it’s pushing Democrats like Sens. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) and Mark Warner (D-VA) to warm towards energy legislation, TPMDC reports.
Cars’ carbon emission
The EPA’s announcement on auto emissions, on the other hand, comes as no surprise. It marks the first big step the Obama administration has taken to limit carbon emissions through regulation. Auto regulations are a relatively easy sell. A chunk of Congress wants to keep the EPA from taking these sorts of actions, but in this case, the auto industry supports the federal regulations. At the Washington Independent, Aaron Wiener notes that “the guidelines drew immediate praise from the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, which has long advocated national emissions and efficiency regulations rather than patchwork state-by-state rules.”
Mountaintop removal mining
The coal industry will be less happy about the EPA’s announcement on mountaintop removal mining. The agency admitted that the practice causes significant damage to streams and said its new guidelines would lead to significantly less harm.
The new policies, Jeff Biggers writes at AlterNet, will “effectively bring an end to the process of valley fills (and the dumping of toxic coal mining waste into the valleys and waterways).” It could be, he says, “the beginning of the end of mountaintop removal.”
One sign that mountaintop removal’s doomsday is nigh? Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV), one of coal’s staunchest and most powerful advocates on the Hill, praised the EPA’s decision, reports Mike Lillis at the Washington Independent.
Green groups groan
Green groups are lauding the EPA’s two announcements. (The Sierra Club called the mining announcement “the most significant administrative action ever taken to address mountaintop removal coal mining,” for instance.) But the push for off-shore drilling has environmental advocates squirming.
“As the president extends olive branches to his critics, he’s alienating allies in the environmental community, who say his policies are reminding them more and more of those of his predecessor, George W. Bush,” says Mother Jones’ Sheppard. “Some enviros are even likening Obama to Alaska’s oil-loving ex-governor, Sarah Palin.”
On Democracy Now!, Brendan Cummings of the Center for Biological Diversity, called the decision “horribly disappointing” and said, “Obama is essentially embracing wholeheartedly the policy of: we can drill our way to energy independence.”
The Obama administration’s energy and environmental policy is creeping ever further towards the center. Ken Salazar, Secretary for the Interior, said this week that “Cap-and-trade is not in the lexicon anymore,” TPMDC reports. It’s no wonder that progressive members of Congress are starting to feel uncomfortable with the direction their climate bill is taking, as Sheppard reports. The president may be using up his reserves of political support from his allies as he stretches to meet conservatives and centrist Democrats on some shaky middle ground.
This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about the environment by members of The Media Consortium. It is free to reprint. Visit the Mulch for a complete list of articles on environmental issues, or follow us on Twitter. And for the best progressive reporting on critical economy, health care and immigration issues, check out The Audit, The Pulse, and The Diaspora. This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of leading independent media outlets.By Sarah Laskow, Media Consortium Blogger
President Barack Obama announced this... more
In honor of their continued support of the Tar Sands Project, Canada as awarded the Fossil Fool of the Day Award by the Sierra Club.
For more information on The Tar Sands, here is a video we did with Rain Forest Action Network after dropping a banner over Niagara Falls.
In honor of their continued support of the Tar Sands Project, Canada as awarded the... more
3 years ago
When you create a campaign...any kind of campaign, you need to know who you are going after. Who will listen to you? Who will act on what you tell them? Do you try to save the Artic by attributing photos of land or of caribou? I'm sure there is a stat out there that proves that college age youth are some of the most influential and active activists.
So Sierra Club's recent attack on the college campus to stop using coal makes good sense. Sierra Club kicked off the school year by inform and inspire new students to attend colleges that have of green initiatives. And now that everyone is back in school, they just launched a campaign to get those college students to get their colleges to kick the coal habit (via petitions). It's a smart plan...colleges and universities are usually large employers in their cities and towns, hence they have a healthy dose of political capital in their larger community, and so... in theory...this could be a brilliant way to make large scale change by entering the right door. Good on ya Sierra Club!
The Campuses Beyond Coal Campaign is working nationwide to wean all campuses off of coal-generated electricity and replace it with clean energy options. With organizers on the ground in several of the more than 60 campuses with on-site coal plants the Campaign is working to help universities achieve the zero carbon emissions targets set forth in the Presidents Climate Commitment.
“Coal has no place on our campus,” said Lauren Hammond a student at Binghamton University in New York, who is part of the coal-free campus campaign. “Binghamton should be a place of higher learning, growth and forward thinking, not a hideout for last century’s dirty technology.”
Chevron and Sierra Club drilling for common ground (video)
Canabis College Oaksterdam University prepares its students for future work in the cannabis industry (video)
Bangkok Climate talks: The no B.S. youth reportWhen you create a campaign...any kind of campaign, you need to know who you are going... more
3 years ago
More than 40 environmental and social justice groups called on U.S. senators today to declare their independence from big oil and other special interests and finally pass clean energy and climate change legislation.
“We need them to stand up for the workers in Arkansas building wind turbines, for the workers in Michigan building the clean vehicles that will cut our dependence on oil and help clean the air, and for people everywhere who are tired of padding the pockets of big oil instead of protecting the planet for future generations,” Sierra Club President Allison Chin told a crowd on the Capitol lawn.
“Most importantly, we need senators to move forward with a bipartisan, comprehensive clean energy and climate plan that means more jobs, less pollution and real energy independence and security for America."
She was joined by leaders of the NAACP, Rock the Vote, ...
http://solveclimate.com/blog/20100311/40-plus-groups-launch-earth-day-revolution-climate-actionMore than 40 environmental and social justice groups called on U.S. senators today to... more