tagged w/ Clean Coal
Peter Galuszka, Journalist/Author, Thunder On The Mountain: Death at Massey and the Dirty Secrets behind Big Coal. How many more Upper Big Branch tragedies is it going to take before America finally kicks it's addiction to coal? Or - better yet - before Coal companies put the worker's safety ahead of the bottom-line?
Part 2 at the bottom of the thread.Peter Galuszka, Journalist/Author, Thunder On The Mountain: Death at Massey and the... more
by Sarah Laskow, Media Consortium blogger
Flickr user davipt, Creative Commons LicenseDuring the State of the Union address earlier this week, President Barack Obama spoke at length about clean energy, with nary a mention of climate change. This is the new environment in which America’s energy policy is being made.
Just two years ago, Democrats were rallying to combat climate change, one of the most worrying challenges the country faces. But now, Obama has apparently given up his plan to openly fight climate change during his presidency. It’s hard to imagine how, even in a second term, he would choose to re-fight the lost battle to create a cap-and-trade system.
The Obama Administration has instead resorted to a sort of insurgent strategy. Instead of waging an all-out battle against energy interests, the U.S. government will try to chip away at the edges of the industry’s power and rally citizens’ allegiances to a new flag, that of “clean energy.”
Climate bill’s absence is smothering clean energy
Since Washington hasn’t succeeded at tackling climate change head on, Obama’s new strategy is to attack the problem obliquely by promoting innovation in clean energy and setting goals for the use of technologies like electric cars. But can clean energy efforts and innovations thrive in the absence of a wholesale climate policy? When a climate bill was still a possibility, clean energy entrepreneurs were promising substantial investments in the sector, if only Congress could give them a framework. And as Monica Potts explains at The American Prospect, in the absence of a climate bill, clean energy has flagged:
What’s been problematic about the president’s approach up to now is that, despite his efforts to pump funding into the clean-energy sector, as he did with about $90 billion of the stimulus, renewable energy hasn’t taken off. Obama had a line in his speech that summed up why this is so: “Now, clean-energy breakthroughs will only translate into clean-energy jobs if businesses know there will be a market for what they’re selling.”
Short on influence
It’s possible that clean energy investors will take the President’s new promise as incentive enough to push forward. But, they will also have to consider the influence of the newly empowered Republicans. Mother Jones‘ Kate Sheppard isn’t convinced that the president’s new tactic will stick:
“There are plenty of people—and most of them happen to be Republicans—who don’t think that policies to support clean energy are worthwhile and who will oppose any attempt to move away from them,” she wrote. “Meanwhile, this latest iteration of the Obama climate and energy plan includes few of the driving forces that would actually make renewables cost-competitive in the near future and allow renewables to compete (the big one being, of course, a price on carbon pollution).”
When “clean” energy includes coal
Another weak point in the President’s new strategy is his reliance on the vague idea of clean energy, which becomes dirtier the more it is used. As Sheppard writes, “Environmental groups weren’t all that excited about the inclusion of “clean coal” and nuclear in that mix, but that’s pretty broadly expected as the price one must pay to draw broader support for a clean energy standard.”
Another key source of clean energy is natural gas. In Washington, it’s become a given that natural gas, which releases less carbon when burned than coal or oil, will help the country transition away from its high-carbon diet and be phased out as energy sources like solar and wind become more viable. (The natural gas industry, of course, doesn’t see its role as transitional. It’s playing for keeps.)
And while some places are rightly celebrating the freedom that natural gas gives them from coal—as Care2’s Beth Buczynski reports, Penn State is investing $35 million to convert its coal-fired power plant to natural gas over the next three years—other places are bearing the environmental toll of this new, clean fuel. In North Carolina, for instance, hydrofracking, the controversial technique that natural gas companies have been using to extract the gas from shale, is not even legal, but already environmental groups are having to fight efforts from energy companies to buy up potentially gas-rich properties, Public News Service reports.
A poverty of political capital
The president’s new strategy on clean energy will surely succeed at turning current energy economy slowly towards a new path. In the absence of any overarching strategy to fix the country’s energy problems, it’s going to have to be good enough. But ultimately, this sort of tactic, born out of a poverty of political capital, cannot move fast enough to keep energy companies from scouring the earth for more profits doing what they’ve been doing.
That means that there will be more scenes like the one in Kern County, California, where companies are dredging up the last resources of oils from the tar sands. In Orion Magazine, Jeremy Miller writes:
The land also reveals the Frankensteinian scars and machinery necessary to keep up that level of production. Gas flares glow on hillsides. Nodding donkeys lever over thousands of wells, some of which are spaced fewer than a hundred feet apart. Between the wells and imposing cogeneration power plants—which supply energy and steam to the senescent fields—run wild tangles of pipe. These are the conduits of an elaborate industrial life-support system, breathing in steam and carrying away oil.
Will the president’s new strategy prevent the creation of more landscapes like this one? It seems overly optimistic to hope so.
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 Flickr user davipt, Creative Commons... more
By Sarah Laskow, Media Consortium blogger
It won’t be long before the world has to confront its diminishing supply of clean water.
“We’ve had the same amount of water on our planet since the beginning of time, ” Susan Leal, co-author of Running Out of Water, told GritTV’s Laura Flanders. “We are on a collision course of a very finite supply and 7.6 billion people.”
What’s worse, private industries—and energy companies in particular—are using waterways as dumping grounds for hazardous substances. With the coal industry, it’s an old story; with the natural gas industry, it’s a practice that can be nipped in the bud.
In many cases, dumping pollutants into water is a government-sanctioned activity, although there are limits to how much contamination can be approved. But companies often overshoot their pollution allowances, and for some businesses, like a nuclear energy plant, even a little bit of contamination can be a problem.
Business as usual
Here’s one troubling scenario. At Grist, Sue Sturgis reports that “a river downstream of a privately-owned nuclear fuel processing plant in East Tennessee is contaminated with enriched uranium.” The concentrations are low, and the water affected is still potable. The issue, however, is that the plant was not supposed to be discharging any of this sort of uranium at all. One researcher explained that the study had “only scratched the surface of what’s out there and found widely dispersed enriched uranium in the environment.” In other words, the contamination could be more widespread than is now known.
Nuclear energy facilities must take particular care to keep the waste products of their work separate from the environment around them. But in some industries, like coal, polluting water supplies is routine practice.
The dirtiest energy
In West Virginia, more than 700 people are suing infamous coal company Massey Energy for defiling their tap water, Charles Corra reports at Change.org. In Mingo County, tap water comes out as “a smooth flow of black and orange liquid.” Country residents are arguing that the contamination is a result of water from coal slurries, a byproduct of mining that contains arsenic and other contaminants, leaking into the water table. Residents believe the slurries also cause health problems like learning disabilities and hormone imbalances, as Corra reports.
Even so-called “clean coal,” which would inject less carbon into the atmosphere, is worrisome when it comes to water. The carbon siphoned from clean coal doesn’t disappear; it’s sequestered under ground. For a new clean coal project in Linden, NJ, Change.org’s Austin Billings reports, that chamber would be 70 miles out to sea. As Billings writes:
The plant would be the first of its kind in the world, so it should come as no surprise that the proposal is a major cause for concern among New Jersey environmentalists, fishermen, and lawmakers. According to Dr. Heather Saffert of Clean Ocean America, “We don’t really have a good understanding of how the CO2 is going to react with other minerals… The PurGen project is based on one company’s models. What if they’re wrong?”
In this case, it wouldn’t only be human communities at risk (“Polluted Jersey Shore,” anyone?), but the ocean’s ecosystem.
Coal communities in West Virginia have been dealing with water pollution for decades. But a another source of energy extraction—hydrofracking for natural gas—has only just begun to threaten water supplies. Care2’s Jennifer Mueller points to a recent “60 Minutes” segment that explores the attendant issues: it’s a must-watch for anyone unfamiliar with what’s at stake.
Fortunately, some of the communities at risk have been working to head off the damage before it hits. In Pittsburgh this week, leaders banned hydrofracking within the city, according to Mari Margil and Ben Price in Yes! Magazine. They write:
As Councilman [Doug] Shields stated after the vote, “This ordinance recognizes and secures expanded civil rights for the people of Pittsburgh, and it prohibits activities which would violate those rights. It protects the authority of the people of Pittsburgh to pass this ordinance by undoing corporate privileges that place the rights of the people of Pittsburgh at the mercy of gas corporations.”
Environmentalists in other municipalities, in state government, and in Congress would do well to follow Pittsburgh’s lead.
Of course, you can’t believe every tale of water contamination you hear. At RhRealityCheck, Kimberly Inez McGuire takes on the persistent myth that estrogen from birth control is making its way in large concentrations into the water supply and leading to mutations in fish.
This simply isn’t true. As McGuire explains, “The estrogen found in birth control pills, patches, and rings (known as EE2) is only one of thousands of synthetic estrogens that may be found in our water, and the contribution of EE2 to the total presence of estrogen in water is relatively small.” Where does the rest of the estrogen come from? Factory farms, industrial chemicals like BPA, and synthetic estrogen used in crop fertilizer. So, yes, the water is contaminated, but, no, your birth control is not to blame.
Greening the US
Stories like these, of environmental pollution by corporations, seem to come up again and again. They’re barely news anymore and so easy to ignore. But it’s more important than ever for environmentalists to fight back against these challenges and push for a green economy that minimizes pollution. The American Prospect’s Monica Potts recently sat down with The Media Consortium to explain the roadblocks to a green economy. If green-minded people want to stop hearing tales like the ones above, these are the obstacles they’ll need to overcome. Watch the video:
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 It won’t be long before the world... more
by Sarah Laskow, Media Consortium Blogger
A year ago, it seemed possible—likely, even—that President Barack Obama would sweep into the international negotiations on climate change at Copenhagen and make serious progress on the tangle of issues at stake. The reality was quite different. This year, the expectations for the United Nations Climate Conference in Cancun are less exuberant.
The conference will be held from Nov 29 to Dec 10 and the same issues from 2009 are up for debate. Countries like the United States, Britain, and Germany are still contributing an outsize share of carbon to the atmosphere. Countries like India and China are still rapidly increasing their own carbon output. And countries like Bangladesh, Tuvalu, and Bolivia are still bearing an unfair share of the environmental impacts brought on by climate change.
A very different set of expectations are building in the climate movement this year. If last year was about moving forward as fast as possible, this year, climate activists seem resigned to the idea that politicians just aren’t getting it. Change, when it comes, will have to be be built on a popular movement, not a political negotiation.
Climate change from the bottom up
Last year, climate activists put their faith in international leaders to make progress. This year, they believe that it’s up to them, as outside actors, to marshal a grassroots movement and pressure their leaders towards decreased carbon emissions.
“There’s a recognition that the insider strategy to push from inside the Beltway to impact what will happen in DC, or what will happen in Cancun has really not succeeded,” Rose Braz, climate campaign director at the Center for Biological Diversity, told Making Contact’s Andrew Stelzer. “What we’re doing in conjunction with a number of groups across the country and across the world is really build the type of movement that will change what happens in Cancun, what changes what happens in DC from the bottom up.” (This entire episode of Making Contact is dedicated to new approaches to climate change, at Cancun and beyond, and is worth a listen.)
Fighting the indolence of capitalists
Here’s one example of this new strategy: as Zachary Shahan writes at Change.org, La Via Campesina, an international peasant movement, is coordinating a march that will begin in San Luis Potosi, Guadalajara, Acapulco, Oaxaca, and Chiapas, then converge on Cancun. The march will include “thousands of farmers, indigenous people, rural villagers, urbanites, and more,” Shahan reports.
After they arrive in Cancun, the organizers are planning an “Alternative Global Forum for Life and Environmental and Social Justice” for the final days of the negotiations, which they say will be a mass mobilisation of peasants, indigenous and social movements. The action extends far beyond Cancun, though. Actually, they are organizing thousands of Cancuns around the world on this day to denounce what they see as false climate solutions.
These actions echo the strategy that environmentalist and author Bill McKibben and other climate leaders are promoting to push for climate change policies in the U.S. All this talk about building momentum from the bottom up, from populations, means that anyone looking for change is now looking years into the future.
The U.S. is not leading the way
Of course, ultimately, politicians will need to agree on a couple of standards. In particular, how much carbon each country should be emitting and how fast each country should power down its current emission levels. The U.S. is one of the biggest stumbling blocks to agreement on these questions, especially due to the recent mid-term elections. As Claudia Salerno, Venezuela’s lead climate change negotiator wrote at AlterNet:
Unlike what many suggest, China is not the problem. China, along with India and others, have made considerable commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and are already working to realize them. Other developing countries have done the same, although we only generate a virtual drop in the bucket of global carbon emissions. The key player missing here is the U.S.
China, the U.S. and Clean Coal
The most interesting collaborations on clean energy, however, aren’t happening around the negotiating table. This week, The Atlantic’s James Fallows wrote a long piece about the work that the U.S. and China are doing together on clean coal technology, the magic cure-all to the world’s energy ills.
In the piece, Fallows recognizes what environmentalists have long argued: coal is bad for the environment and for coal-mining communities. But, unlike clean energy advocates who want to phase coal out of the energy equation, Fallows argues that coal must play a part in the world’s energy future. Therefore, we must find a way to burn it without releasing clouds of carbon into the atmosphere. That’s where clean coal technology comes in. So far, however, researchers have had little luck minimizing coal’s carbon output.
A few progressive writers weighed in on Fallows’ piece: Grist’s David Roberts thought Fallows was too hard on the anti-coal camp, while Campus Progress’ Sara Rubin argued that the piece did a good job of grappling with the reality of clean energy economics. And Mother Jones‘ Kevin Drum had one very clear criticism—that the piece skated over the question of progress on carbon capture, the one real way to dramatically reduce carbon pollution from coal. He wrote:
All the collaboration sounds wonderful, and even a 20% or 30% improvement in coal technology would be welcome. But that said, sequestration is the holy grail and I still don’t know if the Chinese are doing anything more on that front than the rest of us.
On every front, then, the view on climate change is now a long one.
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 A year ago, it seemed... more
! Tell it!
Okay, so this race in WV is crazy.
The Governor of WV, Joe Manchin, is this huge pro-MTR jerkwad, totally in bed with the industry, and he’s just got this megalomaniacal drive to seek even more power. Now, when Robert Byrd died, Manchin had the power to appoint whomever he wanted. He really wanted to appoint himself, but his PR sense wouldn’t let him do that. It would be too obvious of a power grab, plus he’d only serve a partial term, and then likely get voted out for being a power-hungry monster.
So what he did instead was this: he appointed somebody else to fill Byrds spot, but then after appointing them, he wanted to hold a special election so that he could “legitimately” run for office. Now, this is costing WV a lot of money. Elections cost money for governments to hold in terms of manpower, printing ballots, running voting machines, etc, especially when they are held on the whim of the Governor. But there was a catch, he had to change the law in order to hold this special election. So he mucked around in the state congress until he had enough votes to change the law to create a special election so he could run for office. Oh yeah, and he’s a Democrat.
A Democratic Party elder in WV politics, Ken Hechler came forward to run in the primary to challenge Manchin. Ken Hechler is on hell of a dude. He served in WWII, he advised Harry Truman, marched with MLK jr, and served 9 terms as WV Sec of State.
But, Since he didn’t have the coal industry backing him (because he wasn’t a pro-MTR candidate) and Manchin DOES have the coal industry backing him, Manchin flooded the media market with adverts and won handily.
So now, there’s a Republican who is in the back pocket of the Coal Industry, there is a Democrat who is in the other backpocket of the coal industry, but there is only ONE candidate running who is against MTR coal mining-- Jesse Johnson of the Green affiliated party, the Mtn Party. Jesse Johnson makes a cameo appearance in the film “Coal Country” has run for Governor of WV, and is a tireless activist. He has been working on this issue for years.
Ken Hechler ENDORSED Jesse Johnson over Joe Manchin. It’s kind of a huge fucking deal for an institution of the DNC to throw aside party alleigance for an issue like this. It would be like Hillary Clinton endorsing Ralph Nader.Okay, so this race in WV is crazy. The Governor of WV, Joe Manchin, is this huge... more
A new testing method by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reveals that pollutants such as arsenic, antimony, chromium and selenium can leach from coal ash at levels dozens and sometimes hundreds of times greater than the federal drinking water standard. According to the EPA’s new data, pollution from coal ash can shatter the "hazardous waste" threshold.A new testing method by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reveals that... more
A Washington Post analysis shows that more than 200 former congressional staff members, federal regulators and lawmakers are employed by the mining industry. They work as lobbyists, consultants or senior executives, and dozens work for coal companies with the worst safety records in the nation.
The revolving door has also brought industry officials into government as policy aides in Congress or officials of the Mine Safety and Health Administration, which enforces safety standards.
The movement between industry and government allows both to benefit from crucial expertise, but mining safety experts say it often has led to a regulatory system tilted toward coal company interests. That, they say, has put miners at risk and left behind a flawed enforcement system that probably contributed to this month's Massey Energy mine explosion in West Virginia.A Washington Post analysis shows that more than 200 former congressional staff... more
By Sarah Laskow, Media Consortium blogger
Image courtesy of Flickr user swperman under Creative Commons LicenseOn Monday, climate activists, nonprofit leaders, and governmental officials will gather in Cochabamba, Bolivia, to look for new ideas to address climate change. The World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth, organized by leading social organizations like 350.0rg, “will advocate the right to “live well,” as opposed to the economic principle of uninterrupted growth,” as Inter Press Service explains. In the absence of real leadership from the world’s governments, the conferees at Cochabamba are looking for solutions “committed to the rights of people and environment.”
The United States certainly isn’t stepping up. Sen. John Kerry (D-MA), along with Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) and Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC), were supposed to release their climate legislation next week, just in time for Earth Day. But yesterday the word came down that the release was being pushed back by another week, to April 26.
No matter when it finally arrives, like other recent environmental initiatives, this round of climate legislation falls short. Even if Congress manages to pass a bill—and there’s no guarantee—it will likely leave plenty of room for the coal, oil, and gas industries to continue pouring carbon into the atmosphere. And a wimpy effort from Congress will hinder international work to limit carbon emissions: As a prime polluter, the United States needs to put forward a real plan for change.
Kerry, Graham, and Lieberman
Although the text of the bill is not public yet, it is likely that this attempt at Senate climate legislation will limit carbon emissions only among utilities and gradually phase in other sectors of the economy. On Democracy Now!, environmentalist Bill McKibben called the bill “an incredible accumulation of gifts to all the energy industries, in the hopes that they won’t provide too much opposition to what’s a very weak greenhouse gas pact.”
Climate reform began with a leaner idea, a cap-and-trade system that limited carbon emissions while encouraging innovation. The Nation’s editors document the transformation of climate reform from the Obama administration’s original cap-and-trade proposal to the behemoth tangle it has become. Both the House and the Senate fattened their versions of climate legislation with treats for the energy industry. The Senate’s new idea to gradually expand emissions reduction through a bundle of energy bills only opens up more opportunities for influence.
“Some of these pieces of legislation may pass; others may fail; all are ripe for gaming by corporate lobbies,” the editors write. “Kerry-Lieberman-Graham would also skew subsidies in the wrong direction, throwing billions at “clean coal” technologies, nuclear power plants and offshore drilling, a questionable gambit favored by the Obama administration to garner support from Republicans and representatives from oil-, gas- and coal-producing states.”
Even with these goodies, the climate bill may not pass. The Washington Independent rounds up the D.C. players to watch as the next fight unfolds, including the Chamber of Commerce’s William Kovacs and the Environmental Protection Agency’s Lisa Jackson.
In theory, the climate bill should not be America’s only ride to a greener future. But the other vehicles for green change choked during start-up. The EPA was going to regulate carbon emissions, but Congress has reared against that effort. The climate bill could snatch away that power from the executive branch.
If companies won’t limit their carbon emissions, individuals still have the option for action. But as Heather Rogers explains in The Nation, carbon offsets, one of the most popular mechanisms for minimizing carbon use “are a dubious enterprise.”
“To begin with, they don’t cut greenhouse gases immediately but only over the life of a project, and that can take years–some tree-planting efforts need a century to do the work. And a project is effective only if it’s successfully followed through; trees can die or get cut down, unforeseen ecological destruction might be triggered or the projects may simply go unbuilt.”
The pull of carbon offsets should diminish as energy use in buildings, cars, food, and flights gains in efficiency and uses less carbon. But if the green jobs sector is any indication, that revolution has been slow in coming. ColorLines reports that “there are no firm numbers on how many newly trained green workers are still jobless. But stories abound of programs that turn out workers with new, promising skills—in solar panel installation and weatherization, in places like Seattle and Chicago—and who nonetheless can’t find jobs.”
Cochabamba’s unique approach
These failures and setbacks don’t just affect Americans; they keep our leaders from negotiating with their international peers. The United Nations led a conference last winter in Copenhagen that promised to hash out carbon limits, yet produced no binding agreement. This coming winter, the UN will try again in Mexico, but if the United States shows up with the scant plan put forward by Kerry, Graham, and Lieberman, those negotiations have little promise.
In Cochabamba, leaders from inside and outside the government will attend a summit to discuss the future of climate change action. In The Progressive, Teo Ballve writes that,
“One of the bolder ideas is the creation of a global climate justice tribunal that could serve as an enforcement mechanism. And conference participants are already working on a “Universal Declaration of Mother Earth Rights” meant to parallel the U.N.’s landmark Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948.”
With U.S. government action paling, it might take outside ideas like these to revitalize the push towards a green future. By the end of next week, we’ll see if the Cochabamba group made any more progress than the bigwigs at Copenhagen.
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 Image courtesy of Flickr user swperman... 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
The following guest post is by Gillian Caldwell, campaign director of 1 Sky. She originally posted this on 1Sky's blog.
Last night, I went to hear what President Obama had to say at a Gen44 event organized by the Democratic National Committee (note that I took time off from 1Sky to attend the event because 1Sky is a 501(c)(3) organization and we can’t -- and don’t -- do any electoral work).
Anyway, I happened to catch President Obama on a rope line and decided on the fly to challenge him on the mythology of clean coal since our base has been so concerned about his repeated calls for clean coal (and nuclear and oil drilling) alongside real renewable energy solutions. My partner Louis captured the exchange on his iPhone.
Here is what happened and a transcript as best as I can put it together since the audio isn’t great, especially on my voice -- although Obama comes through loud and clear and we have our work cut out for us!
We shake hands, I grab President Obama’s hands with both of mine and look him straight in the eye:
Me: It’s got to be renewable energy. No more clean coal. [Inaudible: It’s a unicorn. It doesn’t exist.]
Obama: I disagree with you. I disagree with you. We are not going to get all our energy from wind and solar in the next 20 years…
Me: Let the market do it. Let the market do it. Can't the market make the investment? [Inaudible: It’s hundreds of billions of dollars (we’d be investing in "clean coal" in the House version of the bill)]
Obama: They can’t do it. The technology’s not there. I’ve got a nuclear physicist in my Department of Energy who cares more about climate change than anyone and he will tell you you can’t get it done just with that -- so you’ve got to have a transition period to do all this other stuff. Don’t be stubborn about it!
Me: It’s about getting the votes [inaudible: in Congress isn’t it?]
Obama: This is not a votes matter, This is a technological matter. It really is. I have looked into it.
Me: We’re running a national campaign and people are really upset about this –
Obama: I know everybody’s….listen, if I could do it all with wind and solar I would! We can ramp it up. That's what we're working on.
So what was really going on here in this brief exchange between me and President Obama with the noisy bugles in the background?
We were talking past each other, for one thing.
President Obama was making two points:
We can't kick our dirty coal habit right away. It's going to take some time -- he has said at least 20 years.
Because we aren't going to get rid of coal immediately, it's worth it for the federal government to invest in carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) technology , to make coal cleaner for now.
Generally speaking, we agree with his first point. Some persuasive arguments have been made that we can get rid of coal in the next 10-20 years but right now almost half of our electricity comes from coal, and retiring those old dirty plants won't happen overnight. That's why we agree with the President that our clean energy transition must start immediately. As President Obama has said, "it means passing a comprehensive energy and climate bill with incentives that will finally make clean energy the profitable kind of energy in America."
However, we disagree strongly with the President's assertion that the federal government needs to help bail out America's aging coal industry by footing the bill for carbon capture and sequestration technology as they limp into the 21st century.
Here are a few reasons we think the federal government should hold off on CCS investments:
Thanks to recent energy efficiency investments under the Recovery Act -- and the potential for further investment in the near term -- new generating capacity for power may not even be necessary until we're ready to start retiring dirty old coal plants.
We should try to get the biggest "bang for our buck" out of new capacity we add to our electricity mix. Renewable sources of electricity, like wind energy, are currently sold at one third the price of even the rosiest CCS projections. Not to mention, investments in renewable energy create four times more jobs than comparable investments in fossil fuel infrastructure.
If we want to win the clean energy race, we need to lead the way in the most promising renewable energy solutions, like wind and solar, not a band aid for the aging coal industry that hasn't been pulling its weight. In 2009, China made record investments in renewable energy, dramatically increasing its renewable energy manufacturing capacity, and practically doubling their wind power capacity. Despite the inflated claims about China needing CCS technology, they are investing their public funds in wind, not CCS. As the East Coast Greenway Alliance's Executive Director Dennis Markatos-Soriano tells us, the global wind power market grew 37.5% in 2009 -- which was supposed to be a down year for renewables! If wind can keep up this growth rate another couple years and solar can get back to 2005-2008 rates, they will easily provide all new electricity demand needs globally by 2015.
Finally, unlike new clean energy technology, which is an emerging industry with little political power, the coal industry has been manipulating American politics for years. Like the banks, the coal industry has been in the business of reaping short term profits at the expense of the American people's health and economic viability in the emerging clean energy economy. The coal industry has not been doing their part to modernize their operations, and are instead asking the American people to foot the bill, to keep their operations economically viable. Over the past several years, the coal industry has reaped $17 in in profits for every $1 invested in CCS research. In the meantime, they've managed to lobby congress to secure over $1.9 billion over several years on CCS projects - none of which are fully operational. What's more, American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE) members have annual advertising budget of over $45 million. ACCCE members combined have annual profits on order of $50-$60 billion, but have collectively invested only $3.5 billion (.pdf) over the last several years
Simply put, CCS isn’t an investment the federal government should be making – because it’s risky and we shouldn’t take big risks with taxpayer dollars. We especially can’t afford to be making risky investments in the context of the biggest recession since the depression. According to Joe Romm at the Center for American Progress, even the most optimistic modeling for CCS costs place it at 3 times the cost of wind power. On average, it will take longer to build CCS capacity as well. It takes about a decade to get CCS projects from the drawing board to operation. Google, which has a strong technology team working on the route to a clean energy future, says we don't need CCS .
The President has been talking a lot lately – and rightly so – about the fact that the United States is falling behind in the race for a clean energy future. But we should be investing in renewables, like wind, solar, and geothermal.
If you are interested in some straight up myths and facts on the oxymoron that is "clean coal," see this analysis by Greenpeace.
So President Obama: Don’t be stubborn about it, or we will be! Don’t waste billions of dollars in federal funding propping up the dinosaur energy infrastructure of coal, nuclear and oil. Focus on investing in the renewable energy of the future and let the private market take the risks if CCS is such a great investment.
Let’s keep up the pressure: Call your Senators now and tell them we need a real renewable energy package to tackle climate change.
1Sky's goal is to build a diverse, society-wide mobilization that will convince our federal government to take bold action by 2010. To identify the steps that our leaders need to take in order to shift our nation away from climate change and toward the prosperity of a green economy, we've engaged a network of leading scientists and economists to create the 1Sky Solutions. Click on any of the solutions below to learn more.The following guest post is by Gillian Caldwell, campaign director of 1 Sky. She... more
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
Talking Back: Doug Kendall answers your questions about the Supreme Court ruling against The Clean Water ActIt went down like this: last week Pjacobs51 posted an article that was written on Treehugger about the Supreme Court decision that will allow Coeur Alaska Inc to dump coal mining waste, essentially ruling that the Clean Water Act shouldn't prevent mining companies from dumping their toxic waste into lakes, even with the knowledge that doing so will exterminate all life within. You responded with awe, questions, shock, dismay, and a LOT of what WTF?????
Well, given the shocking ruling, we decided to get a bit more info on the matter, and took your questions to Doug Kendall, President of the Constitutional Accountability Center.
Deliatheartist asked: The article in question states this idea is, "less environmentally damaging than other options." What ARE the other options?
Doug Kendall: In this instance, the Army Corps of Engineers (which issued Coeur Alaska the permit to dump the waste) compared dumping the gold mine “slurry” into the lake to dumping it onto nearby wetlands, and determined that the latter would create permanent loss of dozens of acres of wetlands. This was deemed less preferable than dumping the slurry into the lake, which, the Corps determined, could be rehabilitated later. Environmental advocates involved in this case, however, argued that the discharge should have been prohibited outright, because it would have violated an EPA ban on discharging “process wastewater” into navigable waterways such as the lake.
pjacobs51 asked: The defense of this is because it's "the easiest way?"Well it would be easier for me to park in a handicap zone, or take a leak where ever I wanted, or to rob a bank because it's easier than working. Does that make anything legal because it's easier? Is the Supreme Court so supreme it can work it's way around a law called "The Clean Water Act?" Is this blind justice, or Corporate Justice?
Doug Kendall: Please don’t do any of those things – they are bad things to do and given that you don’t have corporate deep pockets, you probably will get caught. This is a case where a wealthy and powerful corporation used a slight ambiguity in the law to get around what was clearly intended to be an absolute prohibition by EPA against the discharge of mine slurry into any water body. Here’s the rub. The Clean Water Act has two different permitting programs: one for pollutants (the NPDES program administered by EPA under Sections 306 and 402 of the Act) one for “fill material” (the dredge and fill program administered by the Army Corps of Engineers under Section 404). The EPA’s program is strict – in fact here, by regulation, EPA prohibits any “discharge of process wastewater” from gold mines like Coeur Alaska’s into waters of the United States – the Corps program is lax.
So Couer Alaska had a bright idea: let’s use pollutants as fill material and argue that we only have to get a permit from the Corps of Engineers. Sadly, both the Bush Administration and a majority of the Supreme Court bought into this argument, even though Justice Ginsburg powerfully explains in dissent why the Clean Water Act’s “text, structure, and purpose all mandate adherence to EPA pollution-control requirements.”
thisismattholt asked: Who owns the lake? Is it already contaminated? Is it an isolated reservoir? How big is it? Is it a natural lake or created by the company?
Doug Kendall: The lake in question is a natural lake, called the Lower Slate Lake. There is no indication that there was any prior contamination and it is uncontested that the slurry would kill all aquatic life in the lake while the mine is in operation. The Lake is located in the Tongass National Forest in southeastern Alaska – the country’s largest national forest – and is therefore controlled by the federal government. It is fairly small and deep, “800 feet at its widest crossing, 2,000 feet at its longest, and 23 acres in area…and 51 feet deep at its maximum” according the opinion. The lake is not naturally isolated: the plan was to damn the lake and divert streams around to prevent the slurry from migrating.
jdamian made the following point: “This sets a precedent for corporations continual rape and destruction of land, air and water...with drastic results.”
Doug Kendall: This case undermines the central vehicle established by the Clean Water Act to prevent pollution of our nation’s waters – the NPDES pollution discharge permitting system. It’s a bad ruling that will encourage other corporations, like Coeur Alaska, to continue to seek less restrictive permits for discharging material into lakes than what the Clean Water Act actually requires. The good news is that the Obama Administration should be able to reverse the practice allowed here pretty easily and, thus, the impact of this particular ruling will hopefully be fairly narrow.
Far more troubling from my perspective is the fact that environmentalists lost all five cases heard by the Supreme Court this term and, in each of these cases, we had won in the court below. Collectively, these deeply divided opinions are very significant and we see the Court chipping away at our most important federal environmental statutes, including the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, the Endangered Species Act, and CERCLA (which addresses the cleanup of sites contaminated by toxic waste).
csmonut made the following point: Gee...does this ruling from the Supreme Court mean that wastewater treatment plants no longer have to abide by the EPAs CWA? Does this mean they can just quit treating the water and send the waste directly into the discharge waters? If the Supreme Court says it's OK to discharge and dump toxic *#@* into the lakes and streams, then it's OK for wastewater treatment plants.
Doug Kendall: The specific ruling in Coeur Alaska is limited to the context where discharge of pollution could also legitimately be called fill activity. Collectively, the Court’s rulings this term and in prior terms have seriously undercut the coverage and force of the Clean Water Act, triggering legislation called the Clean Water Restoration Act, which recently was approved by the Senate’s Committee on Environment and Public Works. Folks concerned with these rulings should consider the need for this legislation.
P.S. We did take the one question that many of you posted, "WTF??" to Doug, but apparently he used his better judgement and answered the more tangible questions. Many thanks to every one who posted questions, and a very special thank you to Doug Kendall and team to make time for this interview during a very busy time in their schedule.
Doug is founder and President of the Constitutional Accountability Center (CAC), a think tank, law firm and action center dedicated to fulfilling the progressive promise of our Constitution‚s text and history. He previously founded and directed Community Rights Counsel (CRC), CAC‚s predecessor organization. Doug has represented state and local government clients in state and federal appellate courts around the country and before the U.S. Supreme Court. He is co-author of three books and lead author of numerous reports and studies. He launched and helped direct (with Earthjustice) the Judging the Environment Project, a comprehensive effort to highlight the environmental stakes in the future of the U.S. Supreme Court and appointments to the federal bench. Doug has appeared on television programs including Nightline, 20/20, World News Tonight, Inside Politics, and Burden of Proof and radio broadcasts such as NPR, CBS News, and the Sam Seder Show. His academic writings have appeared in journals including the Virginia Law Review, the Harvard Environmental Law Review, and the Georgetown Journal of Legal Ethics. His commentary has run in The New Republic, Slate and dozens of major papers including The Washington Post, USA Today, and The Los Angeles Times. Doug is a blogger on Huffington Post. Doug received his undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Virginia.It went down like this: last week Pjacobs51 posted an article that was written on... more
If you've tuned in to the Winter Olympics this past week, you likely sat through repeated showings of a multimillion-dollar public relations campaign paid for by Big Coal regarding the potential laurels of "clean-coal" technology. The premise of the 30-second spot is simple: Coal can be clean and America needs to wean itself off of foreign crude and create jobs back home by tapping our nation's vast coal reserves.
Indeed, the effort to paint coal as environmentally friendly is not an easy endeavor, especially when the climate movement has picked up speed and lambasted the industry for contributing more than its fair share to the global warming dilemma.
Activists around the world have targeted coal for a number of reasons. First, coal is still plentiful (compared to gas and oil) so stopping its use will largely curtail carbon output down the road. Second, it is the dirtiest of all fossil fuels. Lastly, in the US the fleet of coal-fired power plants is almost old enough to file for Medicare, so these aging plants are sitting ducks for closure efforts.
"NASA climate scientist James Hansen ... has demonstrated two things in recent papers," writes environmental author and activist Bill McKibben about the need to axe coal. "One, that any concentration of carbon dioxide greater than 350 parts per million in the atmosphere is not compatible with the 'planet on which civilization developed and to which life on earth is adapted.' And two, that the world as a whole must stop burning coal by 2030 - and the developed world well before that - if we are to have any hope of ever getting the planet back down below that 350 number."
If this were a prize fight, Big Coal would be the battered boxer in the corner of the ring, shuffling away in an attempt to avoid the repeated jabs anti-coal warriors and scientists have been tossing its way. In 2009, not one new coal plant broke ground in the United States. Over 100 new plants were canceled or abandoned, largely due to the public's awareness that coal isn't the fuel of the future but a scourge of the past.
Clearly there is a reason for the coal industry's recent PR stunts. Big Coal is losing, and its best attempts to persuade the public about coal's green potential are failing miserably.
At the heart of "clean-coal" logic is the idea that carbon dioxide produced from burning coal can be captured and buried underground before it is ever released into the atmosphere where it will contribute to the earth's warming for centuries to come. Despite the fact that this technology, dubbed Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS), doesn't actually exist in any real capacity in the United States, it has not stopped the coal lobby from spreading the filthy myths.
Given the reality of climate change, Big Coal is banking on CCS to help it navigate its tenuous future, so much so that they are already touting the virtues of CCS to the public. Not surprisingly, the industry's pals in Washington, including virtually all the senators (Republican and Democrat alike) from coal-producing states, are going to bat for the beleaguered industry.
Certainly the effort to greenwash one of the most prolific and dirtiest energy sources on the planet does not come without a hefty price tag. The proposed Waxman-Markey climate bill, for example, is set to provide a whopping $60 billion in subsidies for "clean-coal" technologies. President Obama is on board and nary a word of opposition has peeped out of the Beltway. To put this amount of money in perspective, the coal industry itself, measured by its falling Wall Street stock, is only worth about $50 billion. The subsidies are a bailout by a different name.
In theory, in order for CCS to work, large underground geological formations would have to house this carbon dioxide. But according to a recent peer-reviewed article in the Society of Petroleum Engineers' publication, the CCS jig is up and the technology just doesn't seem feasible.
"Earlier published reports on the potential for sequestration fail to address the necessity of storing CO2 in a closed system," writes report author Professor Michael Economides in an editorial for the Casper, Wyoming, Star-Tribune. "Our calculations suggest that the volume of liquid or supercritical CO2 to be disposed cannot exceed more than about 1 percent of pore space. This will require from 5 to 20 times more underground reservoir volume than has been envisioned by many, including federal government laboratories, and it renders geologic sequestration of CO2 a profoundly non-feasible option for the management of CO2 emissions."
To put this in laymen's terms, the areas that would house carbon produced from coal plants will have to be much larger than originally predicted. So much so, in fact, that it makes CCS absolutely improbable. By Professor Economides' projections, a small 500 MW plant's underground CO2 reservoir would need to be the size of a small state like Vermont to even work.
"There is no need to research this subject any longer," adds Economides. "Let's try something else."
Let's take that a step further and add that we ought to bag the idea that coal can be clean altogether. The public investment in clean-coal technology is a fraud and will only serve as a life-support system for an industry that must be phased out completely over the course of the next two decades.
Putting billions of dollars behind a dead-end theory will not bring about the energy changes our country and climate so drastically need.
Joshua Frank is the author of Left Out! How Liberals Helped Reelect George W. Bush (Common Courage Press, 2005), and along with Jeffrey St. Clair, the editor of Red State Rebels: Tales of Grassroots Resistance in the Heartland (AK Press, 2008). Frank is also the co-author with St. Clair of the forthcoming Green Scare: The New War on Environmentalism (Haymarket Books, 2010)
http://www.truthout.org/the-dirty-truth-behind-clean-coal57215If you've tuned in to the Winter Olympics this past week, you likely sat through... more
Cap and Trade no more? What does it mean that ConocoPhillips, BP and Caterpillar pulled out of lobby group?Before we explore any deep thoughts about why ConocoPhillips, BP and Caterpillar the U.S. Climate Action Partnership (USCAP) (a coalition of environmental organizations and leading corporations pushing for a cap-and-trade bill to curb emissions of carbon dioxide) we might as well drill down to the basics and remind ourselves about what is Cap and Trade.
Amy Goodman explains it as the issue that splits the environmental movement in half. While some say it is a way to tax polluters, generate accountability, and raise money for new technologies, other argue that it gives free permits to big polluters, fake offsets and distraction from what’s really required to tackle the climate crisis.
If you want Annie Leonard's explainer video on Cap and Trade, look no further.
So here is the break down: The Washington Post reports the reason as:
The oil giants also want to do more to promote natural gas, which has become more abundant because of recent developments in the exploitation of shale gas and emits half as much greenhouse gas as coal does. The legislation adopted by the House included benefits for coal producers and coal-fired power plants in an effort to secure the votes of key lawmakers. Many natural gas producers think that more should be done for them.
In other words, these companies are turning towards an industry that is under regulated and somehow perceived as "natural" or "environmentally friendly". However, ask the residents who live near this form of mining natural resources about the state of cancer rates, houses blowing up, and lighting their water on fire, and you will be initiated into the world of Fracking.
BP's statement alludes to that they are pulling out in part because of their deep care for the well being of their customers:
BP spokesman Ronnie Chappell said, "We think the organization has accomplished what it was intended to do. It has established a broad, principle-based framework for climate-change legislation. With the completion of that blueprint, that work was done." "We don't think legislation pending in the House or Senate conforms with the blueprint," he added. "A disproportionate share of the cost burden falls on the transportation sector and consumers. As a result, we're going to miss out on the most cost-effective measures, and misallocation of resources could occur."
ConocaPhilips provided the following insight in their press release:
“House climate legislation and Senate proposals to date have disadvantaged the transportation sector and its consumers, left domestic refineries unfairly penalized versus international competition, and ignored the critical role that natural gas can play in reducing GHG emissions,” [CEO Jim] Mulva continued. “We believe greater attention and resources need to be dedicated to reversing these missed opportunities, and our actions today are part of that effort. Addressing these issues will save thousands of American jobs, as well as create new ones.”
Kate Kenny, a Caterpillar spokeswoman, said the company wants to focus on carbon capture and storage projects, such as FutureGen, an Illinois plant that is partly financed by the federal government.
"We have decided to direct our resources toward the commercialization of technologies that will promote and provide sustainable development and reduce carbon emissions," she said in an e-mail.
After reading several articles on BP's website, major news sources, and conservative energy blogs, I've come to the conclusion that if you aren't on the inside track of this issue you are out of luck if you actually want to understand this manuver. So I asked one of my favorite bloggers on energy, David Roberts of Grist, to put this into context and explain what it isn't being said in the press releases.
Conoco and BP specifically were never all that comfortable with the arrangement, and dues-paying time was just a handy time to step out. They also perceived -- accurately -- that oil got somewhat screwed in the Waxman-Markey deal, at least relative to coal, which was showered with largesse. More broadly: the USCAP coalition was designed to give birth to something like the Waxman-Markey bill. It's now become clear that W-M is out the window and it's a free-for-all in the Senate. Some companies have decided that if their fates are being decided there, they need to get in the game, without the constraints of USCAP. That is just one of many reasons that the Senate's decision to abandon W-M will go down as an historic blunder
Margaret Swink of Rainforest Action Network offered us another perspective:
“The defection of BP, Conoco Phillips and Caterpillar from U.S. CAP is unfortunate because it lessens the chance for badly needed climate change legislation. It illustrates the power that corporations, in particular dirty energy corporations, have over America’s legislation. We hope that the Obama Administration will still take seriously it’s Copenhagen emissions reductions commitments (17% from 2005 levels by 2020), which are already far below the levels of emissions cuts that the environment needs to see. It’s time for the United States to stop thinking about what’s politically expedient and to start acting on what science tells us is necessary to halt catastrophic climate change. “
Before we explore any deep thoughts about why ConocoPhillips, BP and Caterpillar the... more
1. Your tax dollars at work… in Obamastan
2. A cum blast from the past
3. Future crimes today
4. The Winter Olympigs
5. Worldwide Resistance Report
7. Ward Churchill deconcstruct’s Obama’s Cairo speech1. Your tax dollars at work… in Obamastan 2. A cum blast from the past 3.... more
By Sarah Laskow, Media Consortium Blogger
In his first State of the Union address, President Barack Obama touched on climate issues only briefly. He called on the Senate to pass a climate bill, but did not give Congress a deadline or promise to veto weak legislation. Nor did he mention the Copenhagen climate conference, where international negotiators struggled to produce an agreement on limiting global carbon emissions.
The Obama administration’s attitude towards climate change still represents a remarkable shift from the Bush years, when global warming was treated as little more than a fairy tale. But in the past year, Congressional squabbling has stalled climate legislation, and international negotiators nearly gridlocked in talks over carbon admissions at the multinational Copenhagen conference. Without strong leadership from the president, work to prevent this looming environmental crisis will stall.
Obama did address global warming skeptics, saying that they should support investment in clean energy, “because the nation that leads the clean energy economy will be the nation that leads the global economy.”
“And America must be that nation,” Obama said.
No push for climate bill
Despite his combative language, the president did not challenge Congress to push for real solutions to ballooning carbon emissions and energy consumption. As Forrest Wilder of The Texas Observer notes, Obama “uttered the phrase ‘climate change’ precisely once.”
The Senate has already wait-listed the climate bill: Health care came first. With health care reform now in line behind work on jobs and bank regulation, climate legislation has little chance of passing the Senate in the coming months, let alone making it to the president’s desk.
If Congress lets this work wait until after the midterm elections, the United States will show up at international negotiations in December 2010 as a leader in carbon emissions yet again, but with little in hand to show a way forward.
Clean energy, not renewable energy
When the president did bring up climate issues, he focused on their connection between climate reform and potential job creation. Obama highlighted areas for growth, not in renewable energy fields like wind or solar power, but in nuclear power, natural gas, and clean coal.
Yes, these fuel sources could decrease the country’s carbon emissions. But they are not solutions that will revolutionize energy production. Grist’s David Roberts was floored that the speech omitted renewable energy entirely and kowtowed to a more conservative litany of energy projects. “I suppose it was done to flatter conservative Senators that will have to vote for the bill Kerry, Lieberman, and Graham are working on,” he writes. (The three Senators are working on a version of the climate bill designed to appeal to Republicans.)
“But the SOTU is not a policy negotiation,” Roberts says. “It’s a bully pulpit, a chance to shape rather than respond to existing narratives.”
Roberts argues that progressive supporters would benefit from a stronger message. If activists knew that the White House stands behind a real shift in America’s energy policy, they could use that prompt to drive action on climate change.
What was missing
While touting the virtues of off-shore drilling, Obama overlooked other policies that could broker real change. Although he admonished Congress to pass a climate bill, he did not pressure the legislature on what he’d like that bill to include. He did not mention cap-and-trade, the mechanism the House bill relies on to tamp down emissions and dirty energy use.
President Obama did touch on transportation reforms that could decrease the country’s use of fossil fuels.
“There’s no reason Europe or China should have the fastest trains,” Obama said. He cited a high-speed rail project that broke ground on Tuesday in Tampa, FL, as evidence that America could best the rest of the world in creating new energy-efficient technology.
But one or two high-profilBy Sarah Laskow, Media Consortium Blogger In his first State of the Union address,... more
A new study published in the journal Science says mountaintop mining should be banned. A team of 12 ecologists, hydrologists, and engineers say it causes vast and permanent destruction to the environment and exposes people to serious health consequences, including lung cancer, and chronic heart, lung and kidney disease, as well as birth defects. The article provides the most comprehensive analysis so far of the damage done by the controversial mining practice.A new study published in the journal Science says mountaintop mining should be banned.... more
Just over a year ago in Roane County, Tennessee, the biggest industrial waste spill in U.S. history occurred when a dam broke at the Tennessee Valley Authority’s Kingston power plant. More than a billion gallons of toxic coal ash flowed into a nearby community and into the Clinch and Emory rivers. TVA President and CEO Tom Kilgore told affected residents that the utility would clean up the waste in six to eight weeks. But one year later, the Emory River remains closed to public traffic near the spill, ponds in the area are still clogged with several feet of coal ash, and dust from the ash is a chronic problem for local residents, some of who complain of related health problems including coughing, nosebleeds and headaches.Just over a year ago in Roane County, Tennessee, the biggest industrial waste spill in... more