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August 05 2013


Enviro News Wrap: Young U.S. Voters Want Climate Action; Fossil Energy Divestment Takes Hold; Utilities vs. Rooftop Solar…

The Latest Environmental News HeadlinesGlobalWarmingisReal contributor Anders Hellum-Alexander wraps-up and comments on the climate and environmental news headlines for the past week:

  • Young people in America know that global warming is real; as long as we can get them to vote we will never have another President that opposes a healthy environment. And, when did having a healthy environment become just a Democrat thing? Nixon passed the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act and created the Environmental Protection Agency. Bush the First updated the Clean Air Act and created a market based solution to acid rain. Its weird days in the US when a powerful political party is actively trying to ruin the only land we have.
  • If you don’t want dirty energy companies affecting politics, then why invest in them? Divestment is becoming more popular and is a needed correction. You should vote the same way you buy products and invest your money. Don’t let your money speak louder than your vote.
  • Many utilities in the US are trying to kill the advance of solar. Instead they should embrace the movement of innovation in energy. Our current way of producing and delivering energy is antiquated and still, in the world’s richest nation most people lose power 1-7 days a year. We need new ideas about how to produce sustainable energy and overcome the inherent challenges of wind and solar, because it is true that the wind doesn’t always blow and the sun doesn’t always shine.
  • There are about 20 US states supportive of solar PV. If you live in one you should look into getting solar on your home. Solar energy is true energy independence.
  • Hybrid cars are selling well in America, 300,000 sold so far this year, but few all-electric cars (EV) have been sold. The electric car will have its time, but it is new to the mass market and needs to continue innovating. Batteries need to be smaller, cheaper, quicker to charge and have less of an environmental impact. The cool thing about electric vehicles is that they are as environmentally friendly as the fuel for the battery, so PV solar is a perfect companion for EVs.
  • The enormous Alberta Tar Sands operation has unintended consequences. Sometimes when drilling for oil a pipe just starts pulling up oil and spilling on the surface. This is happening in Canada and its awful. There is pressure in the EU to reclassify oil from the Tar Sands as a banned import.
  • Azerbaijan is going Green.
  • Laboratory meat has been achieved, its taste is described as “edible.” When we can grow authentic tasting steaks will it become the new standard? Without the land impact lab meat is the better option for the environment. Only problem is that lab meat could become cheap and abundant and encourage rich people to eat more of it and poor people to start eating it everyday (eating less local food). We would be increasing obesity, population growth and mechanizing and centralizing our food even further. Are we stuck in a cycle that we can not get out of?


The post Enviro News Wrap: Young U.S. Voters Want Climate Action; Fossil Energy Divestment Takes Hold; Utilities vs. Rooftop Solar… appeared first on Global Warming is Real.

March 21 2012


Supreme Court Affirms Idaho Couple's Right to Challenge E.P.A.

The Supreme Court rules that Idaho landowners have the right to seek immediate judicial review of an Environmental Protection Agency order designating their property as wetlands.
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September 01 2011


Keeping Industrial Plants Cool and Fish Alive

The E.P.A. is considering a rule that would mandate an expensive upgrade of cooling-water intake systems to spare marine organisms from being trapped in them.

August 02 2011


EPA Proposes First-Ever Federal Fracking Rules

The U.S. EPA is poised to enact the first ever rules on hydraulic fracturing (fracking) with a proposal that would allow the agency to regulate the practice under the Clean Air Act. The Clean Air route was chosen by the agency, as the U.S. Congress prohibited their attempts to regulate the practice of fracking under the Clean Water Act in 2005.

From Raw Story:

The new EPA proposal would limit emissions released during many stages of natural gas production and development, but explicitly targets the volatile organic compounds released in large quantities when wells are fracked. Drillers would have to use equipment that captures these gases, reducing emissions by nearly 95 percent, the EPA said.

The EPA contends that the measure would actually be a moneymaker for drilling companies. Though it might compel them to invest in new equipment, this equipment would allow them to capture methane gas currently lost in the drilling process, which they could then sell.

The EPA proposal is the result of a successful 2009 lawsuit brought against the agency by WildEarth Guardians and another advocacy group alleging that the agency had not updated air-quality rules as required. The EPA is supposed to review such rules at least every eight years, but in some cases had not done so for 10 years or more.

Despite the EPA’s claims that the tighter standards would actually increase the income of gas drillers, the industry was quick to speak out against the proposed rule changes. The Marcellus Shale Coalition issued the following response on their website:

While we understand that EPA is required by law to periodically evaluate current standards, this sweeping set of potentially unworkable regulations represents an overreach that could, ironically, undercut the production of American natural gas, an abundant energy resource that is critical to strengthening our nation’s air quality.

According to the EPA, the new rules would result in the following emission reductions every year:

Volatile Organic Compounds: 540,000 tons, an industry-wide reduction of 25 percent.

Methane – 3.4 million tons, which is equal to 65 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e), a reduction of about 26 percent.

Air Toxics –38,000 tons, a reduction of nearly 30 percent.

Once the EPA sets a date for implementation, the gas industry will have 60 days to submit any complaints or input on the new rules. While the date is not currently set, the American Petroleum Institute has already asked the EPA to delay implementation until at least August 2012.

July 22 2011


EPA Issues Final Guidance on Mountaintop Removal Mining To Reaffirm the Clean Water Act and New Science

EarthJustice.org Guidance focuses on ensuring compliance with longstanding requirements where stronger oversight is essential to protect water quality and Appalachian communities July 21, 2011 Washington, D.C. — Today the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued final guidance to assist its staff in meeting longstanding requirements of the Clean Water Act with regard to mountaintop removal coal mines in [...]

June 27 2011


Enviro News Wrap: The Road Not Built (in the Serengeti); Congress Attacks Clean Water Act; Cheaper Solar Cells, and more…

The Latest Environmental News HeadlinesGlobalWarmingisReal contributor Anders Hellum-Alexander wraps-up the climate and environmental news headlines for the past week:

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May 27 2011


New Study Suggests Current Laws Can Help Local Communities Ease Hot Spots of Ocean Acidification

Many coastal areas have acidic "hot spots" caused by local problems that can be mitigated with current laws.Many experts warn of rapidly increasing ocean acidification as a global issue in need of urgent action. While carbon emissions from burning fossil fuels drives the ongoing alteration in ocean chemistry on a global scale, a new study just published in the journal Science says coastal communities don’t need to wait for global solution to address the problem.

The report was authored by analysts and scientists from Standford University’s Center for Ocean Solutions, the EPA and NOAA. Their research suggests that many coastal areas become acidic “hot spots” through local problems like erosion, runoff pollution from cities and agricultural areas, poor land-use planning, and localized air pollution.

Lead author Ryan Kelly says that looking at the problem of ocean acidification only from the perspective of global carbon emissions is missing the whole picture of the problem:

“It looks like up to half of the stressors that are driving local hot spots can be locally derived,” said Kelly. “CO2 is a global problem, but it only may be half of the story.”

Staying within budget

Coastal waters stay healthy by staying within their “pH budget,” and often times that budget is exceeded by local stresses which can be alleviated through current laws and regulations.

“Since an acidification hotspot can negatively impact a community, its causes need to be tackled quickly,” said Melissa Foley of the Center for Ocean Solutions. “We identified practical steps communities can take today to counter local sources of acidity.”

The remedies available to coastal communities include compliance with sections of the Clean Water Act requiring states to prevent polluted runoff from reaching local streams, bays, and oceans, and limiting soil erosion to stop fertilizer from leaching into waterways, a source of acidification.

Other tactics suggested in the study for combating local hot spots are adoption of sustainable land-use polices limiting urban sprawl and enforcing limits on nitrogen oxide and sulfur oxide emissions, as stipulated in the Clean Air Act.

Source and further reading:

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May 25 2011


Appalachian and National Groups Intervene in Support of EPA Veto of Mountaintop Removal Mining Operation

EarthJustice.org Oppose lawsuit brought by coal company that seeks to overturn EPA’s historic decision to protect West Virginia streams May 25, 2011 Washington, D.C. — Several Appalachian organizations filed a motion today to intervene in defense of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) decision to veto a permit for the Spruce No. 1 Mine, one [...]

April 23 2011


Environmentalists and Fishermen Bring Earth Day Challenge To Maine Law That Blocks River Herring from Native Habitat

EarthJustice.org St. Croix River Alewife population has plummeted by over 90 percent April 22, 2011 Washington, D.C. — Fishermen and river herring advocates are challenging a 2008 Maine Law that unconstitutionally blocks alewives and river herring from 98 percent of their native habitat in the St. Croix River Basin. Two Maine fisheries officials responsible for [...]

March 03 2011


January 31 2011


January 29 2011


GOP Lawmakers Submit First Attempt To Limit EPA Oversight

On Wednesday, West Virginia and Ohio politicians David B. McKinley (R-WV), with co-sponsors Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Nick Rahall (D-WV), Bill Johnson (R-OH) and Bob Gibbs (R-OH), filed legislation (H.R. 457) restricting the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority to revoke permits issued by the Secretary of the Army.

The proposed bill amends the Federal Water Pollution Control Act and specifically Section 404(c) of the Clean Water Act (which has only been used 13 times since 1972 - including two weeks ago when the EPA vetoed Spruce Mine No.1 in West Virginia). Retroactive to January 1, 2011, the EPA would lose oversight authority to revoke or veto a permit issued by the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE).

Despite the fact that the EPA never signed off on Spruce Mine No.1 and it was Arch Coal’s subsidiary Mingo Logan Coal Co. which refused to compromise with the EPA to limit excess pollution and stream destruction, the Republican freshman McKinley claims that his legislation is going after EPA for years of bullying coal companies.<!--break-->

Also on Wednesday, McKinley questioned the White House chief regulatory official on the EPA’s Spruce Mine decision, concluding:

“We have a long way to go in this fight. This is just the first step. But the Obama administration and the EPA are now on notice that we will not sit idly by while their arrogance kills West Virginia jobs and threatens thousands more across the country.”

H.R. 457 is the first of many pieces of legislation expected from GOP and Tea Party lawmakers in both houses of the new Congress to cull the EPA's mandate to enforce environmental protections. A little more than a week ago, on the same day as the West Virginia Rally for Coal, polluter friendly Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) sent a letter to his Senate colleagues urging them to cosponsor legislation opposing EPA authority:

“In the coming weeks, I intend to pursue legislation to clarify, in no uncertain terms, that the EPA does not have authority under the Clean Water Act to reverse prior approvals of the USACE where a permit has been put through a rigorous regulatory process, including time for thorough review by the EPA for possible negative environmental consequences, and awarded by the USACE prior to any official objections from the EPA.”

“I urge you, as a Member of Congress, to join with me in a bipartisan coalition to cosponsor sound legislation that restricts the EPA from putting jobs at risk by retroactively changing the rules on investments and business.”

Formally on notice, the EPA and environmental advocates had better dig in for a lengthy and protracted legislative battle over the agency’s future.

January 24 2011


January 18 2011


West Virginia Politicians Vow To Fight Dirty On Coal, While EPA Enforces Laws To Protect Appalachian Residents

Dirty coal and climate denial are hot topics in West Virginia right now.  Last week, acting Governor Earl Ray Tomblin (D-WV) delivered West Virginia’s State of the State address where he gave a spirited defence of “carbon friendly” coal.  Then the very next day the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) stole the spotlight by vetoing what would have been the largest mountaintop removal project in the state.

Tomblin, who replaces former Governor and newly minted Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV), emphasized his support for the expanded use of coal as a vital part of the nation’s energy mix.  He also vowed to aggressively pursue West Virginia’s lawsuit against EPA until a more “sensible” approach can be found to regulate coal’s global warming emissions.

Governor Tomblin’s comments do not break new ground and will tie West Virginia to coal despite the fact that the industry negatively impacts the state’s economy.  His counterparts Senators Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) and the aforementioned Joe Manchin are already well known for frequently overlooking the negative impacts of coal.
This trio will lead West Virginia’s politicized effort to oppose EPA action to address coal’s huge pollution problems.  Sen. Rockefeller has already declared plans to reintroduce his bill to block EPA’s effort to limit global warming emissions from power plants and other stationary sources for two years.  And in the wake of the Arizona tragedy, who can forget the grim spectacle of Joe Manchin’s “Dead Aim” attack ad in which he fired a rifle at (already dead) climate legislation.

Unfortunately for Governor Tomblin, less than 24 hours after his speech touting the myth of “carbon friendly” coal, he faced an early challenge from an EPA espousing commonsense.

Reserved for only exceptional cases and used just 13 times since 1972, the EPA exercised its authority under Section 404(c) of the Clean Water Act and issued a 99-page decision to halt the proposed disposal of coal mining waste into streams at Arch Coal's non-union Mingo-Logan Coal Company's Spruce No. 1 coal mine.  The operation has been under review for more than a decade and has included an extensive scientific and environmental study, a major public hearing, and some 50,000 public comments.  In its final determination, the EPA ruled that not enough was being done to avoid anticipated environmental, water quality, and wildlife impacts from the dumping of waste rock and dirt into Pigeonroost Branch, Oldhouse Branch and their tributaries.

After more than a year of discussions failed to produce an agreement to protect Appalachian communities, the EPA overturned approval for the 2,300-acre mountaintop removal project, originally granted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 2007.

According to EPA Assistant Administrator Water Peter S. Silva:

"The proposed Spruce No. 1 Mine would use destructive and unsustainable mining practices that jeopardize the health of Appalachian communities and clean water on which they depend."

"Coal and coal mining are part of our nation's energy future and EPA has worked with companies to design mining operations that adequately protect our nation's waters.  We have a responsibility under the law to protect water quality and safeguard the people who rely on clean water."

Halting this major mountaintop removal mining project was hailed by conservationists and environmentalists, including Sierra Club Environmental Quality Program Director Ed Hopkins:

“In sharp contrast to the previous administration's policies on mountaintop removal coal mining, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson is showing a strong commitment to the law, the science and the principles of environmental justice.”

“She deserves enormous credit for changing policies to protect Appalachia's health, land and water."

Not surprisingly, the move was assailed by the “free market” Competitive Enterprise Institute as job killing, and the state’s political class was “deeply angered” vowing “the fight is not over” and that the EPA decision would be overturned in court.  Senator Rockefeller also vented his frustration in a letter to President Obama about the EPA’s decision:

“I am writing to express my outrage with the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) decision to veto a rigorously reviewed and lawfully issued permit at the Spruce Number 1 Mine in Logan County, West Virginia.”

“This action not only affects this specific permit, but needlessly throws other permits into a sea of uncertainty at a time of great economic distress.”

Sometimes government is accused of moving too slowly.  On this, I am not so sure.  You have a Senator who has already written a letter, and not to be outdone, a Governor who countered the EPA decision with the announcement of a Rally For Coal:

“Our coal industry provides jobs for our men and women, money for our children’s education, and energy for our country’s growing appetite for electricity,” Gov. Tomblin said.  “We must stand up and show federal regulators that we will not retreat from their unfair actions.  We will continue the fight not just for the Spruce Number One mine but for every coal miner, coal company and for our way of life.”

The tough talk by West Virginia’s coal-addicted politicians echoes the tone of many of the new Republican leaders in Congress, including Fred Upton (R-MI), the new Chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee with jurisdiction over the Clean Air Act, and Mike Simpson (R-ID), the new Chair of the EPA's appropriations subcommittee.  But the EPA is not about to back down from a critical fight to protect the health of Appalachian residents, who have heard enough of the coal industry’s lies from politicians.

November 19 2010


A Call to Action on Ocean Acidity

States bordering water bodies that are becoming more acidic from the absorption of carbon dioxide should list them as impaired under the Clean Water Act, the Environmental Protection Agency says.

October 17 2010


EPA Moving Forward to Save Waters and Protect Local Community From Harm

EarthJustice.org Agency recommends veto of one of largest ever proposed mountaintop removal mines in Appalachia October 15, 2010 Washington, D.C. — Today the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) regional administrator recommended vetoing a permit for the Spruce No. 1 Mine, one of the largest mountaintop removal mines ever proposed in Appalachia. This regional recommendation begins [...]

October 06 2010


West Virginia Sues Over Mountaintop Mining Limits

A suit against two federal agencies asserts that regulations are unlawful, usurp state rights, are based in inadequate science and harm the state by blocking new mining projects.

September 10 2010


Years of Work Pay Off for Klamath River Restoration

Oakland, CA — Fifteen years after Earthjustice won a key court case, the state of California finalized strong pollution regulations to clean up the Klamath River. Under court order, the state released new rules that essentially limit pollution from nitrogen, phosphorus, sediment and activities affecting water temperatures and dissolved oxygen. If properly implemented, the Klamath [...]

August 02 2010


US EPA and Army Corps To Follow Critical Clean Water Act Guideline in Mountaintop Removal Mining Permits

EarthJustice.org Agencies issue joint pledge to follow science and law July 30, 2010 Washington, D.C. — Today in an important new directive, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced jointly that they will begin following a longstanding requirement of the Clean Water Act designed to protect streams. Their joint guidance will [...]

July 09 2010

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