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June 13 2011


Unique Wild Flower Protection Restored

EarthJustice.org Judge rules that U.S. Fish and Wildlife acted “capriciously” in claiming threats were no longer present June 10, 2011 Denver, CO  — Yesterday, U.S. District Court judge Walker D. Miller sided with conservation groups and ordered the U.S. Interior Department to reconsider a decision denying Endangered Species Act protection to a wildflower found only in [...]

June 03 2011


With Global Warming, Arctic Access Will Diminish by Land but Improve by Sea

ScienceDaily (June 2, 2011) — Global warming over the next 40 years will cut through Arctic transportation networks like a double-edged sword, limiting access in certain areas and vastly increasing it in others, a new UCLA study predicts “As sea ice continues to melt, accessibility by sea will increase, but the viability of an important [...]
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April 16 2011


CO Roadless Rule Proposed by U.S. Forest Service Undermined by Loopholes: Earthjustice Statement

EarthJustice.org Coal mining, oil and gas drilling still threatens state’s roadless areas. April 14, 2011 Denver, CO — In response to today’s U.S. Department of Agriculture release of a draft rule to manage Colorado’s national forest roadless areas, Ted Zukoski, staff attorney for public interest environmental law firm Earthjustice, which has defended the national roadless [...]

March 29 2011


March 21 2011


Hastings Misquotes Webster in Support of Bush-era Land Grap for Big Oil

Doc Hastings doesn't quite get Daniel Webster's words right in his support of a Big Oil agendaChecks and Balances Projects “checks” Doc Hastings’ use of abbreviated Webster quote in support of Big Oil agenda

(Our regular Monday Environmental News Wrap will be back next week)

With gas prices on the rise again and crude oil reaching at $103 a barrel as of this morning, the cry for more oil and gas drilling in the U.S. has grown in recent weeks.

As the new chairman of the Natural Resources Committee, Representative Doc Hastings (R-WA) is pushing for more available federal land on the cheap for exploration and drilling. Last month he wrote an op-ed in The Hill invoking Daniel Webster to support his pro-fossil agenda.

But as the Checks and Balances Project points out, Hastings conveniently omitted a significant portion of the phrase he quoted:

In one very telling – and a little funny – example, Hastings submitted an op-ed to The Hill in February. In his essay, he cited the words of Daniel Webster:

“It would be in our best interest to heed Daniel Webster’s words that are prominently inscribed on the walls of the House Chamber, ‘Let us develop the resources of our land … and see whether we also, in our day and generation, may not perform something worthy to be remembered.’”

The problem is that Hastings deprived Secretary Webster of his First Amendment Rights, because the full quote is:

“Let us develop the resources of our land, call forth its powers, build up its institutions, promote all its great interests, and see whether we also, in our day and generation, may not perform something worthy to be remembered.”

“Build up its institutions, promote all its great interests.” It occurs to me that those words could refer to the need to protect public lands, and promote all their uses, such as the outdoor recreation industry, responsible for 6.5 million jobs. I can only assume that when Hastings performed this little exercise in censorship, he was afraid to clutter the issue with contrary information, or the truth.

Checks and Balances goes on to point out Hastings is similarly lacking in presenting all the facts about current leases, drilling permits, and tax breaks for Big Oil:

  • The oil and gas industries have leased over 41 million acres of public land for development, but they’re only actually using 12 million acres. They’re still crying for more though, and Hastings is crying with them.
  • In 2010, 4,090 drilling permits were granted to oil and gas corporations. They only used 1,480 – or about 1/3 – of those permits, but sure enough, today they’re crying for more, and Hastings is crying with them.
  • The five big oil companies – BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil and Royal Dutch Shell – made nearly $1 trillion over the last decade. Meanwhile, just last year Congress gave oil corporations $11 billion in tax breaks. But oil companies are crying poverty, and Hastings is crying with them.

As oil prices rise, so does the rhetoric and polarization, as staff director Bob Simon for the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee points out:

“The sad experience of 2008, the last time we had an oil run-up, was that if oil prices get too high, it tends to make the energy debate so polarized that you actually get nothing done. There are people who will look at it as an opportunity to recycle their previous talking points instead of trying to make some progress.”

Doc Hastings does both Daniel Webster and the nation a disservice. The time is long past to begin making real changes and progress in our energy policy.

Thanks to Colin Silver of the Checks and Balances Project

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February 03 2011


Most Americans Want Congress to Focus on Clean Energy Legislation

Most Americans want Congress to focus on clean energyAccording to a USA Today/Gallup poll conducted last month, of the eight major legislative initiatives Congress could accomplish this year, 83 percent of Americans want a clean energy bill to top their list of priorities.

Respondents to the poll favored Congress focusing on clean energy more than overhauling the tax code, withdrawing from Afghanistan, passing stronger gun control, and dealing with immigration issues. The results also suggest that Americans want progress on clean energy development more than expansion of oil and gas drilling.

Given the often ridiculous nature of partisan politics in Washington, another encouraging sign for clean energy action, at least the idea of action, is the partisan breakdown of the numbers: 93 percent of democrats favor passing clean energy legislation, followed by 82% of independents, and 75% of republicans. In a statement Gallup said:

“With Republicans in control of the House of Representatives and Democrats in control of the Senate, it would appear the proposals with the best chances of passing are those that generate strong bipartisan support. That is clearly the case for a bill that would provide incentives for increased use of alternative energy”

Just don’t say “cap and trade”

The support for clean energy comes with a pronounced absence of any reference to climate change or global warming. An idea supported by a study conducted last year at George Mason University (pdf) that tracked the US public’s declining interest and concern over global warming. In that study researchers found that 85 percent favor increased support for solar and wind, while only 58 percent believed that cap and trade was a good idea for the country.

The Gallup poll results come on the heals of president Obama’s State of the Union address last week calling for 80 percent of the nations electricity come from clean energy sources (unfortunately including “clean” coal).

Additional source:
ClimateWire (subscription required)

January 13 2011


January 11 2011


Spill Commission Issues Recommendations

The panel calls for a significant expansion of regulatory staff, a long review before drilling permits are granted and lifting the $75 million cap on corporate liability for damages from a spill.

November 19 2010


November 17 2010


November 04 2010


August 10 2010


Earthjustice Joins Lawsuit Seeking Protections for Marine Ecosystems in Gulf

EarthJustice.org Oil and gas drilling surveys disruptive on ocean animals August 10, 2010 New Orleans, LA — Public interest law firm Earthjustice has joined a lawsuit against the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation, and Enforcement to challenge its approval of seismic surveys that are known to harm marine life in the Gulf of Mexico. [...]

August 05 2010


House Passes Oil Spill Response Legislation

EarthJustice.org A Losing Bet: Why Investors Are Turning Away From Coal-Fired Power Bill will help prevent future oil and gas drilling disasters July 30, 2010 Washington, D.C. — By a vote of 209-193 the House passed the Consolidated Land, Energy, and Aquatic Resources (CLEAR) Act of 2010 which will directly address the crisis in the [...]

July 30 2010


House Passes Oil Spill Response Legislation

EarthJustice.org Bill will help prevent future oil and gas drilling disasters July 30, 2010 Washington, D.C. — By a vote of 209-193 the House passed the Consolidated Land, Energy, and Aquatic Resources (CLEAR) Act of 2010 which will directly address the crisis in the Gulf of Mexico and better protect America’s coastal environment and economies. The following statement [...]

July 22 2010


Federal Court Halts Oil and Gas Activities Under Chukchi Sea Lease Sale

EarthJustice.org Need for further analysis of missing information tops reasons for halt July 21, 2010 Juneau, AK — A federal court Wednesday afternoon ordered all activities under Lease Sale 193 in the Chukchi Sea off the north coast of Alaska halted pending further environmental review by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation, and Enforcement, formerly [...]
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