tagged w/ Clean Air Act
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
Credo asking for action:
Tell Sen. Kerry: Don't sell out the Clean Air Act
Sen. Kerry has long been an environmental champion, but now his environmental legacy is at risk. Let him know you aren't buying what the dirty industry CEOs are selling, and he shouldn't either.
The Chamber of Commerce is hosting a who's who of leading polluters to fine tune their strategy to turn legislation designed to slow global warming into a vehicle for helping the oil, mining, coal, and auto industries.
The RSVP list includes leaders of the American Petroleum Institute, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, and the National Mining Association.
Tell Sen. Kerry: Don't sell out the Clean Air Act.
These dirty industry executives have already had a private meeting with Sen. Kerry and clearly want more concessions to allow a bill even to be released publicly.
You can imagine what those demands are. Number one on that list is rolling back the Clean Air Act and taking away the EPA's power to regulate greenhouse gases.
Sen. Kerry has already indicated that he is ready to bargain away Clean Air Act authority. His partners on the Senate side include the Republican Sen. Lindsay Graham and the appalling Sen. Joe Lieberman. Nobody believes this bill will get stronger. It will almost certainly get much worse before a vote is even possible.
Unfortunately, even some large environmental groups are misleading their members by neglecting to reveal just how much has already been bargained away.
Dirty energy CEOs and their lobbyists have been working tirelessly to protect their interests as the pressure to address the climate crisis grows. They have been working on several fronts - demanding billions of taxpayer money for nonexistent "Clean Coal," gutting and delaying hard targets, preempting the states' ability to implement tough standards already passed in California and else where, and inserting Trojan Horse measures that gut the Clean Air Act.
This is a watershed moment in our fight to protect our environment. If Sen. Kerry lets the dirty energy industries roll back the Clean Air Act as part of a deal to pass comprehensive climate change legislation, the damage he will have unleashed will tarnish much of the previous good he's done on environmental issues during his career in the Senate.
Sign petition at: http://act.credoaction.com/campaign/kerry_clean_air_act/?r_by=8649-1637785-XBNhvbx&rc=confemail1
It's not to late.Credo asking for action:
Tell Sen. Kerry: Don't sell out the Clean Air Act... more
On April 13th, Chicago Alderman Joe Moore, ELPC and a coalition of business and community groups unveiled a City ordinance that would significantly reduce soot and greenhouse gas pollution from Chicago's coal plants. The Clean Power Ordinance would make Chicago the first city in the nation to regulate pollution from coal plants.
Keep reading: http://bit.ly/92ov6uOn April 13th, Chicago Alderman Joe Moore, ELPC and a coalition of business and... more
The Environmental Protection Agency is exploring whether to use the Clean Water Act to control greenhouse gas emissions, which are turning the oceans acidic at a rate that's alarmed some scientists.
With climate change legislation stalled in Congress, the Clean Water Act would serve as a second front, as the Obama administration has sought to use the Clean Air Act to rein in emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases administratively.
Since the dawn of the industrial age, acid levels in the oceans have increased 30 percent. Currently, the oceans are absorbing 22 million tons of carbon dioxide a day.
Among other things, scientists worry that the increase in acidity could interrupt the delicate marine food chain, which ranges from microscopic plankton to whales.
Read more: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2010/04/04/91486/clean-water-act-might-be-used.html#ixzz0kM5fwRGH
SEE MORE AT LINKThe Environmental Protection Agency is exploring whether to use the Clean Water Act to... more
Dr. James Hansen, Barbara Kingsolver, Ed Begley, Jr., Bonnie Raitt, Lemony Snicket,
Sierra Club Board Member Among First Signers
WASHINGTON— The Center for Biological Diversity today launched a campaign to gather 500,000 signatures on a People’s Petition asking the Environmental Protection Agency to set a national pollution standard to reduce carbon dioxide pollution in the atmosphere to 350 parts per million. Atmospheric CO2 is currently at 390 parts per million and growing, causing a dangerous climate disruption.
The People’s Petition is in support of a Clean Air Act legal filing submitted by the Center and 350.org in December 2009 to set an upper limit of 350 parts per million on dangerous greenhouse gas pollution. The EPA is currently reviewing the request and is expected to render a decision later this year.
Though Congress and the White House have been crafting legislation, and the EPA is beginning the process of regulation, there is as yet no formal scientific standard determining what the safe level of carbon dioxide is and how deeply emissions need to be reduced to return to the safety zone.
According to actor and environmental activist, Ed Begley, Jr.:
“Setting climate policy without a scientific target is like driving with your eyes closed. You don’t know where you’re going and you’ll probably crash. The EPA should open everyone’s eyes as soon as possible by determining the safe level of greenhouse gases.”
Begley is joined as an initial signer of the petition by Dr. Jim Hansen of NASA, who said:
“Science demands that we reduce atmospheric carbon pollution to a level of 350 parts per million (ppm) or less to sustain life as we know it. Energy and climate policies must recognize this 350 ppm limit.”
The grassroots campaign is also supported by musician and activist Bonnie Raitt, who said:
“In 40 years of performing and working for social change, I’ve learned that the best, longest-lasting policy reforms come from the ground up. I hope that 500,000 people join me in asking the EPA to bring atmospheric carbon dioxide pollution back down to 350 parts per million. The lives of polar bears, sea turtles, and the human race depend on it.”
Bestselling author Barbara Kingsolver explained the ethical and personal imperative of establishing a clear, specific target for greenhouse gas pollution reduction:
“Reaching 350 ppm is a matter of living by my values – which include both ‘love your neighbor’ and ‘try not to wreck every blooming thing on the planet while you’re here.’”
Among the many notables joining these initial signers of the People’s Petition are activists Michael Dorsey (Sierra Club board member), Brock Evans (president of the Endangered Species Coalition), Dr. Helen Caldicott (anti-nuclear activist), former government official Curtis Moore (Republican counsel to the Senate’s Committee on Environment and Public Works), scientists Dr. Thomas Lovejoy (biodiversity chair, Heinz Center), Dr. Niles Eldredge (American Museum of Natural History) and Dr. John Terborgh (Center for Tropical Conservation, Duke University), and authors Lemony Snicket (i.e. Daniel Handler), Jonathan Lethem (author of Motherless Brooklyn), Rick Moody (author of The Ice Storm) and Donna Tartt (author of The Secret History).
Click http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/2167/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=2773e to see a current list of signatories and sign on!
The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 255,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.Dr. James Hansen, Barbara Kingsolver, Ed Begley, Jr., Bonnie Raitt, Lemony Snicket,... more
Environmental activists aren't about to let Senator Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, off the hook, not after she tried to trash the Clean Air Act, and certainly not after she suggested last week that she wanted to open up the Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling.
Three Greenpeace activists were taken into custody today after floating a banner hanging from released balloons in the atrium of the Hart Senate Office Building -- in plain view of a favorite destination for polluter lobbyists -- Senator Lisa Murkowski's Washington DC office. The banner reads "Lisa Murkowski, Happily matched since 2004" and features the logos of three companies: ExxonMobil, Southern Co., and Chevron. The banner exposed Murkowski's close relationship with dirty energy interests and promoted PolluterHarmony.com, a spoof online dating site launched just before Valentine's Day to help connect polluters, industry lobbyists, and politicians.
Murkowski's continued counterinsurgency against Obama's EPA is part of a multilateral attack by corporations, corporate lobbyists and their friends in right wing think tanks and front groups. Multiple lawsuits and petitions have been filed in recent weeks throwing roadblocks in front of EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson.
Last week, Senator Murkowski suggested that she would only vote for a climate and energy bill if it included opening the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling.
It is extraordinary that while Alaska is especially threatened by global warming, and entire villages are lost, Senator Murkowski continues to promote the interests of the very industries that are driving climate change. While Alaska is transformed by warmer temperatures, drilling for oil in the National Wildlife Refuge would further threaten important habitat for caribou, polar bears, and other wildlife.
Promoting reckless oil drilling and trashing the Clean Air Act might entice dirty energy interests to write campaign checks but they have no place in sane national energy policy.
Read the full article on the Huffington Post here:
See more photos of the Greenpeace action here:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/greenpeaceusa09/Environmental activists aren't about to let Senator Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, off... more
1Sky Policy Coordinator Jason Kowalski breaks down the most successful piece of environmental legislation to date, the Clean Air Act (CAA). After some background he discusses the current attack on the CAA and why we need to protect it now more than ever.1Sky Policy Coordinator Jason Kowalski breaks down the most successful piece of... more
3 years ago
By Sarah Laskow, Media Consortium Blogger
On Thursday afternoon, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) pulled out a rarely-used Congressional tool in an attempt to keep the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from regulating carbon and other greenhouse gasses. Sen. Murkowski offered a “resolution of disapproval” of the EPA’s impending action, which would limit companies’ carbon emissions.
The resolution would overturn the EPA’s finding that carbon dioxide is harmful to the public health. Three Democrats—Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE), Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR), and Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA)—joined Sen. Murkowski and 35 Republicans in sponsoring the resolution.
“Ms. Murkowski’s Mischief‘”
“This command and control approach is our worst option for reducing the gasses associated with climate change,” said Sen. Murkowski on the floor of the Senate yesterday. She called the EPA’s actions “backdoor climate regulations with no input from Congress” and said they would damage the country’s flailing economy.
The EPA first announced in April 2009 that carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses posed a threat to the public health. The agency formalized that finding last month, giving itself the power to regulate emissions of greenhouse gasses under the Clean Air Act. In March 2010, for instance, the agency is expected to announce carbon emissions rules for the auto industry that would match California’s higher standards. Sen. Murkowski’s resolution would derail that process.
Sen. Murkowski argued that she wants to give Congress room to come up with a legislative solution to climate change, but her critics see a more dangerous tilt to her resolution. “It’s a radical attempt by the legislative branch to interfere with executive branch scientists,” writes David Roberts at Grist.
Responding to “Ms. Murskowski’s mischief” on the Senate floor yesterday, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) called the resolution an “unprecedented effort to overturn scientific decision” and “a direct assault on the health of the American people.”
Resolution of disapproval
What is a “resolution of disapproval?” Grist’s Roberts called it “the nuclear option.”
“It would rescind the EPA’s endangerment finding entirely and thereby eliminate its authority over both mobile and stationary sources,” Roberts explains. “Furthermore, the administration would be prohibited from passing a regulation “substantially the same” as the one overruled, so the constraint on the EPA would effectively be permanent.”
This type of resolution was created by the Clinton-era Congressional Reform Act. The resolution has one big advantage: It cannot be filibustered. Passage requires only a majority in both houses of Congress. Members have tried using it in the past to delay the Dubai Ports World deal, derail FCC regulations on new media, and stop the flow of bailout funds.
Kate Sheppard at Mother Jones has been following Sen. Murkowski’s actions closely. She reports that “Senate supporters of climate action say Murkowski could obtain the votes of moderate Democrats from coal, oil, and manufacturing states. However, a resolution would still need to be approved by the House and signed by the president—both long shots, to put it mildly. ‘I think we’re a little worried about [Murkowski’s resolution] winning. I’m not sure we’re worried about it becoming law,’ a Senate Democratic staffer says.”
But Grist’s Roberts argues that passage in the Senate alone would be a problem. “Even if blocked by the House or vetoed by the president, such a public, bipartisan slap at the administration would be highly embarrassing and demoralizing,” Roberts writes. “It would mean at least ten conservative Democrats washing their hands of the administration’s initiative.”
Climate change and Congress
Sen. Murkowski insists that she’s still ready to work with her colleagues on climate change and that it’s better to approach the problem of climate change via legislation, not regulation.
But no one in Washington believes that climateBy Sarah Laskow, Media Consortium Blogger
On Thursday afternoon, Sen. Lisa... more
I suppose it might be sad to say that we were and were not surprised to hear this week that two dirty energy lobbyists helped craft the effort to neuter the Clean Air Act, which could next appear as an amendment to the Senate’s debt ceiling vote next week.
If you missed it, the Washington Post confirmed on Tuesday that lobbyists from Bracewell Giuliani and Sidley Austin helped write an amendment from Senator Lisa Murkowski that will strip Clean Air Act and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) authority to regulate global warming pollution. Check out the Washington Post follow-up on it here, here and here.
Who are Bracewell Giuliani and Sidley Austin? Oh, only lobbying firms that represent Southern Company, Duke Energy, Progress Energy, and other major coal supporters. And the specific lobbyists who ghost-wrote this amendment, Jeffrey Holmstead and Roger Martella, held EPA positions during the Bush Administration.
If you recall, last month EPA declared that global warming pollution endangers human health and welfare and announced plans to limit emissions from big polluters. The decision is a long-time coming and is crucial in controlling the global warming pollution from the coal industry – which contributes 30% of total U.S. global warming emissions.
This amendment may come up for a vote on January 20th, and its passage would mean that big polluters will be bailed out by blocking President Obama and EPA from taking action to limit emissions.
After years of research, scientific debate, court cases, public hearings and comments, Senator Murkowski is suggesting that we simply choose to "un-learn" that global warming is happening and that it will be dangerous to human health and welfare.
But EPA is merely doing what the Clean Air Act already requires--and what it was ordered to do almost three years ago by the Supreme Court. And last month, more than 400,000 Americans submitted comments in favor of EPA's proposal to limit pollution from the biggest global warming polluters - among the highest number of comments ever submitted in favor of any proposal.
These big polluters – including the coal industry - are using the same tired old arguments, too. Suggestions that this EPA action means the agency plans to regulate farms, schools, hospitals, cows, and Dunkin' Donuts are simply false - EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson has said as much on numerous occasions. In reality, EPA plans to limit the new common sense, economically feasible regulations to only the largest polluters. Those statements attempting to scare small businesses are merely misleading smears designed to derail any limits on polluters.
We cannot continue to let Big Coal push for loopholes and weakened pollution rules so they can keep making money.
Instead of looking for ways to delay action, senators need to finalize comprehensive clean energy and climate legislation as soon as soon possible - and more important in the short-term, they must say no to this amendment or any other attempt to weaken the Clean Air Act.
You can urge your senators to do as much - tell them to vote no on any amendment blocking EPA action on global warming emissions from the largest polluters.I suppose it might be sad to say that we were and were not surprised to hear this week... more
Update: Politico has some new revelations about how deeply involved the lobbyists were in writing the Murkowski amendment. According to the article, they "led" a meeting in which they "walked Senate staffers through the details of the amendment."
Our own Kert Davies has a great quote in Demelle’s post, which also sheds some light on just why Murkowski might be in bed with corporate polluters whose interests are definitely not those of the people Murkowski ostensibly represents:
"This Murkowski rider should be called the Protect Dirty Polluters amendment, especially since we now know that it was written by polluter lobbyists," Kert Davies, Director of the new PolluterWatch project at Greenpeace, told me today.
"If this amendment passed, it would be a get out of jail free card for the worst polluters from Big Oil and Big Coal," Davies said.
And who better to deliver this gift to the carbon barons? A darling of the Carbon Club, Sen. Murkowski has received $470,000 in campaign contributions from dirty energy and mining interests since 2005, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
This just points out the obvious: Big polluters hold an inordinate amount of influence over our elected representatives. Our pockets may not be as deep as theirs, but we have the numbers – and we need to push back hard. Only overwhelming grassroots demand for climate solutions can overcome corporate polluters' money.
Sign our petition to call on the Senators who were elected to represent you to vote in your interest, not in the interest of corporate polluters.
We sent a letter to Senator Barbara Boxer, chair of the Senate’s ethics panel, stating, “We think the public deserves at least an inquiry from the Senate Committee on Ethics into the depth of the relationship between Senator Murkowski’s staff and these two lobbyists.” So there’s obviously more to come on this story.Update: Politico has some new revelations about how deeply involved the lobbyists were... more
By Sarah Laskow, Media Consortium Blogger
Climate change legislation is off the table for now, but the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is still working to regulate greenhouse gasses. The organization is up against strong opposition from Republicans and some Democrats. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) is heading the charge, with the assistance of Bush-era EPA officials, now lobbyists with clients in the energy industry.
The EPA and the Clean Air Act
In April 2009, the EPA found that carbon dioxide and five other greenhouse gasses pose a hazard to public health. This finding obligated the EPA to regulate these pollutants under the Clean Air Act, a responsibility the Bush administration fought to avoid. The power the agency now has to limit carbon emissions extends far beyond its usual scope, and the EPA’s decisions will have a lasting impact on environmental regulation in this country. As the agency moves to act, everyone from Sen. Murkowski to the state of California is protesting the changes. Kate Sheppard of Mother Jones reports:
“The California Energy Commission last month sent a letter to the EPA asking it to slow down on implementation of regulations on greenhouse gas emissions….The CEC argues that phasing them in too fast could hurt efforts in the state to expand use of low-carbon energy.”
Opponents in Congress are taking action to shut down the EPA’s attempts to curb greenhouse gasses, Sheppard writes. Both Sen. Murkowski and Rep. Earl Pomeroy (D-ND) have filed bills that would delay or stop the EPA’s regulatory process.
Attempting to ‘gut the Clean Air Act’
Grist’s Miles Grant is also keeping a close watch on opponents of the regulation.
“At first it seemed like simply one bad idea from Sen. Lisa Murkowski,” he writes. “But now we know the real story—a tangled web of public officials, polluter lobbyists, and efforts to gut the Clean Air Act.”
It emerged this week that Murkowski had help in drafting her bill from EPA administrators from the Bush administration, as first reported by the Washington Post. These former officials now work in Washington as lobbyists and represent clients like Duke Energy and the Alliance of Food Associations on climate change matters.
“Every day it seems we’re learning more,” says Miles. “More about the revolving door between the Bush administration and polluter lobbyists; more about their influence with senators and their staffers; and more about who’s really pulling the strings on efforts to block climate action—Big Oil’s MVP, Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK).”
Even the American Farm Bureau Federation…
Another opponent, as Care2 notes, is the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF), the country’s largest farm group. The organization approved a special resolution during its four-day convention on Sunday. The resolution supports legislation like Murkowski’s or Pomeroy’s that would “suspend the EPA’s authority to regulator greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act.”
During a speech, AFBF president Bob Stallman said that American farmers and ranchers “must aggressively respond to extremists” and “misguided, activist-driven regulation.”
“The days of their elitist power grabs are over,” he said.
More opportunities to improve climate policy
The EPA’s new power is not the only opportunity that the Obama administration has to improve U.S. climate policy. David Roberts, also reporting for Grist, writes about $2.3 billion in new tax credits for clean energy manufacturing companies, announced last Friday.
“There were 183 projects selected out of some 500 applications; one-third were from small businesses; around 30% are expected to be completed this year. The winners are spread across 43 states,” Roberts reports.
Roberts calls it “better than usual industrial policy.” The credits are meant to give a boost to the new green energy economy.
But Roberts warns, “It’s also absurd that clean energy industries still depend on capricious, short-term extensions of tax credits. … Obama has called on Congress to cough up $5 billion a year for these credits, but how enduring will yearly appropriations be the next time Congress changes hands?”
Iowa and the biodiesel tax credit
The answer likely depends on how much support these projects get from the representatives of states that will benefit from the tax credits. In Iowa, for instance, the state’s three Democratic Representatives have asked the House leadership to prioritized a 2010 renewal of the biodiesel tax credit, as Lynda Waddington reports for the Iowa Independent.
“If members of the U.S. Senate do not act on last year’s program extension, however, it might be a moot point,” Waddington writes. The renewal has gotten stalled in the Senate, where both Iowa Senators are blaming the opposite party for delays.
From policy to people
When politicians jockey over regulations and renewals, climate change work in Washington can seem very abstract. But people like John Henrikson, a forester who’s committed to farming 150 acres of trees in sustainable ways, help ground lofty policy ideas down in reality.
“Henrikson’s approach embodies a new way of thinking about our relationship with forests. For years he has been processing his own trees into trim and molding, sold through a broad network of local businesses,” reports Ian Hanna for Yes! Magazine. “Five years ago he got his forest certified to Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) standards, a global system for eco-labeling sustainably managed forests and the products derived from them. And, most recently, he’s developed a project to sell rights to the carbon sequestered on his property.”
Without strong policy coming out Washington, it’s harder for entrepreneurs like Henrikson to make green business a reality. If legislators like Sen. Murkowski and groups like the AFBF don’t block them, the EPA’s new rules are going to begin coming out in March. There’s a major action to combat global warming that the U.S. can take before then, though—for example, we could officially commit to our promise to reduce emissions 17% from 2005 levels by 2020. The deadline for registering climate pledges under the new Copenhagen Accord is the end of this month.
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
Climate change legislation is off the... more
Going green isn’t something that only benefits the Earth. There are very real benefits that you can enjoy as far as your health is concerned.Going green isn’t something that only benefits the Earth. There are very real... more
In the 1970s, just after the first Earth Day and in the midst of oil shortages, recessions, and uprisings by restless youth, politicians were suddenly expected to show concern for the environment. President Jimmy Carter went above and beyond by installing solar panels on the White House in 1979. Solar panels on the White House!
Seven years later, President Ronald Reagan took them down.
This mind-bogglingly idiotic reversal is chronicled in Robert Stone’s new documentary Earth Days, about the history of the environmental movement. Seeing “history” and “environmental” in the same sentence probably makes you want to curl up for a 100-minute nap. But Earth Days, though it moves at a contemplative pace and contains less radical-protest/crunchy-commune footage than the hippie in me had hoped for, gives an absorbing overview of how the green movement got started, and why it ended up where it is today.
Featuring interviews with a who’s who of influential environmentalists, Earth Days starts in postwar suburbia and describes the creeping sense of discontent some Americans began to feel in the midst of the nation’s rapid economic growth. In this same era, Rachel Carson published Silent Spring to national acclaim, JFK assembled a panel of experts who confirmed that her science was sound, and, aided by the progressive policies of Kennedy and Johnson’s Secretary of the Interior Stewart Udall (interviewed in the film), the environmental movement began to take shape. It meshed well with the idealism of nature-loving hippies. Stewart Brand, founder of the Whole Earth Catalog, a sort of Bible for early enviros, recounts in the film how his idea for the catalog came from an acid trip. The first image of the Earth from outer space became the icon of the catalog, and of the environmental movement as a whole.
Earth Days chronicles how groundbreaking, controversial writings like Paul Ehrlich’s 1968 book The Population Bomb, which inspired Stephanie Mills’ famous commencement address “The Future Is a Cruel Hoax,” put environmental issues in the mainstream public’s consciousness. The first Earth Day in 1970 was the largest national demonstration in United States history, with 20 million people across the nation voicing their concern for the environment. After that, environmentalists got seriously organized, taking their message into the political arena. In the span of just a few years, they helped push through the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, the Endangered Species Act, and other cornerstone environmental laws.
This burst of widespread concern and political action, as depicted in the film, is truly inspiring—and what followed, a string of missed opportunities, is truly devastating.
end of excerptIn the 1970s, just after the first Earth Day and in the midst of oil shortages,... more
Amendment Passes blocking the EPA from taxing farmers for their livestock emissions, and we'll introduce you to a company who mission is to reduce livestock emissions, in other news Target Corporation was served with 300 Violations for illegally dumping toxic waste, and the Obama Adminisrtation order $210 million worth of fuel-efficient vehicles. enjoy the broadcast and to see more please visit www.greenstocksrock.comAmendment Passes blocking the EPA from taxing farmers for their livestock emissions,... more
Environmental Protections Rolled Back as Western Drilling Surges |
Unlike other industries, BIG OIL & GAS enjoy waivers under the Safe Drinking Water Act, the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act, the Resource & Conservation & Recovery Act, the Superfund Act, the Emergency Planning & Community Right to Know Act and the National Environmental Policy Act.
Oil and natural gas companies have drilled almost 120,000 wells in the West since 2000, mostly for natural gas, and nearly 270,000 since 1980, according to industry records analyzed by Environmental Working Group. Yet drilling companies enjoy exemptions under most major federal environmental laws.
Oil and natural gas operations have industrialized the Western landscape, punching thousands of wells on pristine lands, injecting toxic chemicals, consuming millions of gallons of water, clawing out pits for their hazardous waste and slashing the ground for sprawling road networks. Every well carries with it the potential for serious environmental degradation.Environmental Protections Rolled Back as Western Drilling Surges |
Unlike other... more
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency found that climate-warming greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide, pose a danger to human health and welfare, a White House website showed on Monday.
EPA's proposed "endangerment finding," sent to the Obama administration on Friday, could pave the way for U.S. limits on emissions that spur climate change.
"I think it's historic news," said Frank O'Donnell of the environmental group Clean Air Watch. "It is going to set the stage for the first-ever national limits on global warming pollution."
The substance of the proposal was not immediately made public but the White House Office of Management and Budget showed EPA sent a proposed rule for an "Endangerment Finding for Greenhouse Gases under the Clean Air Act."
An endangerment finding is essential for the U.S. government to regulate such climate-warming emissions as carbon dioxide under the Clean Air Act.
The environment agency had no comment on the endangerment finding, but no such finding is sent to the White House unless the EPA determines that human health and welfare are threatened.
The Supreme Court ruled in 2007 that the EPA has the authority to make these regulations if human health is threatened by global warming pollution, but no regulations went forward during the Bush administration.The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency found that climate-warming greenhouse gases,... more
The high price of green energy culls consumers and Clean Air restrictions on big shipping have port workers gasping for air.
The New York Times released a comprehensive evaluation of American green power programs and found that only 2% of households can voluntarily afford electricity powered by renewables. The study reveals that while green power may be expensive now, resources like wind and sunlight are free and safe from the price jumps found in oil, coal, or natural gas.
Los Angeles, California: The green wave has rolled into port and commercial shipping giants say less cargo will mean less revenue in 2009. Pollution from big shipping isn’t from the boats but from the 16,000 trucks on land. Old, dirty trucks are slated to be replaced with cash from municipal bonds but the weak market is preventing California state money from reaching the program. The port hopes to postpone any further green initiatives based on declining cargo volumes.
For more on the price of green, check out some of the following links:
California study shows high cost of renewable power (Reuters)
Economists caution Oregon on high cost of biofuel (Renewable Energy World)
One-two punch of high cost renewables (ACCF)
Photo by TW Collins.The high price of green energy culls consumers and Clean Air restrictions on big... more
WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack Obama is abandoning a Bush administration appeal of an air pollution case, signaling that the government will embrace tougher rules to cut mercury emissions from power plants.
The case was soon to come before the Supreme Court. The Obama administration submitted papers Friday to the court asking for the case to be dismissed.WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack Obama is abandoning a Bush administration appeal of... more
New York and 11 other states sued the Environmental Protection Agency, claiming it failed to regulate global-warming gas emissions from refineries.
In a lawsuit filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, the states said the EPA's air-pollution-control regulations for refineries violate the Clean Air Act because they don't include standards to control greenhouse-gas emissions from new or updated equipment.
"The EPA's refusal to control pollution from oil refineries is the latest example of the Bush administration's do-nothing policy on global warming," Andrew M. Cuomo, New York's attorney general, said in a statement.
Timothy Lyons, a spokesman for the EPA, said that the attorneys general could better spend their time and taxpayers' dollars by encouraging Congress to "take sound environmental action on legislation." The agency is now taking public comments that it will consider for potential regulations on greenhouse gases under the Clean Air act that would address emissions from vehicles as well as manufacturing plants such as refineries, he added.
In a decision last year, the Supreme Court ruled that carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are considered air pollutants under the Clean Air Act and that the Bush administration has legal authority to regulate them. The oil industry argues that the Clean Air Act isn't the right vehicle to regulate emissions, saying that it would be too cumbersome and expensive. The lawsuit comes amid a flurry of talk in Washington about the costs of curbing global warming emissions and their burden on industry. "What we need is a deliberative concerted effort that takes into account greenhouse gases but also economic concerns," said Charles T. Drevna, president of the National Petrochemical & Refiners Association, an industry trade group.
The other states joining in the lawsuit are California, Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington; the District of Columbia and New York City are also plaintiffs.
New York and 11 other states sued the Environmental Protection Agency, claiming it... more