|Every week Daily Kos diarists write dozens of environmentally related posts. Many don't get the readership they deserve. Helping improve the odds is the motivation behind the Green Diary Rescue. In the past seven years, there have been 261 of these spotlighting more than 15,994 eco-diaries. Below are categorized links and excerpts to 88 more that appeared in the past seven days. That makes for lots of good reading during the spare moments of your weekend. [Disclaimer: Inclusion of a diary in the rescue does not necessarily indicate my agreement with or endorsement of it.]|
You can find more rescued green diaries below the composted squiggle.
Coal Companies have gotten a sweet deal on Federal Coal leases in the West—by Lefty Coaster: "The relationship between the Federal government's Bureau of Land Management and coal companies has been far too cozy. It turns out that Big Coal has been getting western coal for just pennies a ton as a result of some very sweet deals with the lease prices and production royalties being effectively set by the coal companies themselves. [...] Coal companies have even been getting a special low royalty by using shell corporations to move coal for export through while the mining component claims the coal is for domestic consumption getting to pay a lower royalty rate. He [Wyden] said that his investigation found that 'multiple coal mines in multiple states have bought leases for pennies on the ton, enjoy reduced royalty rates during production (some of which are lower than prevailing rates for state land), yet appear to sell coal near, at or above expected market prices.' The Interior Department, he said, 'appears to have repeatedly shortchanged taxpayers by underestimating the volume of coal contained in reserves that is sold to lessors.'"
Geology Is Unimpressed—by richturc125 : "No one doubts that there is great appeal in attesting to the marvels of technology and ingenuity which have provided us with a recent oil-production increase. It is a legitimate accolade. But once you move past the pom-poms, geology and facts remain in place. No matter how fervent the Happy Talk about energy independence and being awash with vast this and that, in the end we are still dealing with the realities and limitations Mother Earth affords us. What we’re relying upon now does not offer anyone the same energy efficiencies and qualities as has conventional crude oil. The primary reason for our recent production uptick—hydraulic fracturing (fracking)—is a much more expensive process. The shale formations supplying the industry with that tight oil create their own extraction challenges, and the unpleasant truth rarely mentioned in all the cheerleader stories is that those fields deplete much more rapidly than do the long-relied-upon conventional crude oil fields (which, by the way, are still finite). Those are just the highlights. Meanwhile, conventional crude oil production remains stuck on its nearly full-decade plateau. And demand is not going away."
Ocean Nuclear Synfuel Production—by newpapyrus: "Land based commercial nuclear power is the safest form of electricity production ever created. No one died as the result of radiation exposure at the Fukushima nuclear facilities in Japan—despite three meltdowns-- thanks to the inherent safety of the containment structures. But even if you include the mortality rate of the Chernobyl nuclear accident which didn't have a containment structure, the mortality rate for commercial nuclear energy is 90 deaths per trillion kWhr compared to: Wind, 150 deaths per trillion kWhr; Rooftop solar, 440 deaths per trillion kWhr; Hydroelectric, 1400 deaths per trillion kWhr; Natural gas, 4000 deaths per trillion kWhr; Coal, a whopping 170,000 deaths per trillion kWhr."
Another Pleasant Peak Oil Debunking Collides With Facts—by richturc125: "A new phrase has entered our energy lexicon—peak oil demand. The essential idea: prophets of doom who warned about a looming global petroleum shortfall (‘peak oil’) were wrong; instead of a downturn in supply, we’re instead seeing the shrinkage of demand for oil. A non-problem just solved itself! Nothing to see, folks; move along. What’s wrong with this framing of our energy situation? Plenty. [...] There are a fair number of individuals and corporations profiting from the continuing efforts to spin our energy supply challenges as not much more than a minor inconvenience blown entirely out of proportion by doom-and-gloomers like me because we … we … enjoy this because we get … something out of it—or something like that. 'Peak demand' has a much nicer ring to it. No doubts. We’ve now gotten so efficient that we just don’t need as much as we have for decades and decades. Aren’t we wonderful! We are, but not the way oil industry cheerleaders would have us all believe."
Coal CEO 'Bob' Murray: "President Barack H. Obama and his radical followers and his supporters"—by Lefty Coaster: "Coal Magnate Bob Murray doesn't like the EPA or President Obama much. Coal Baron Digs a Deeper Hole. 'There is no question that the United States coal industry is being destroyed by the actions of President Barack H. Obama and his radical followers and his supporters,' he told the crowd. Murray did acknowledge that coal's decline is at least partly due to cheap natural gas, but he insisted that the president is making good on a campaign promise to crush the industry, putting miners out of work and depriving Americans of low-cost electricity. 'Mr. Obama's actions [are] a human issue to me...,' he continued. 'I know the names of those Americans whose jobs and family livelihoods are being destroyed as he appeases his radical environmentalist, unionist, liberal elitist, Hollywood character, and other constituencies that got him elected.'"
New Poll: Americans Ready for Action on Carbon Pollution—by Mary Anne Hitt: "This week we once again heard the call for action from Americans loud and clear: They want clean energy and they want it right away. On Tuesday the Sierra Club released a new poll with Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research showing that seven-in-ten Americans favor the Environmental Protection Agency putting limits on the amount of carbon pollution that power plants can release. And that's not the only amazing statistic from the poll. Just look at the key findings: By nearly a 2-to-1 margin, voters think the country should be investing more in clean energy sources and energy efficiency rather than in fossil fuels like coal, oil and gas (61 percent clean energy vs. 33 percent traditional sources). A majority of voters (51 percent) 'strongly' prefers investing in clean energy. Support is even higher among African-American voters (77 percent) and Latino voters (71 percent)."
Renewable Electric Generation From Orange and Gray to Green in Colorado—by ban nock: "Nights like last night are hard. Cold, no wind, no sun. Photovoltaic doesn't work when the sun goes down, wind turbines don't spin, we aren't going to dam any more rivers for hydro, but over in Gypsum CO a new power plant was cranking out ten megawatts of electricity. Not enough to power Las Vegas, pales in comparison to that huge coal plant in Craig that pumps out 1,139 megawatts, but then ten can be used locally close to the source. And what is the source? All that dead wood from beetle kill and climate change that has been choking our forests. Lodgepole isn't certifiable for building codes, you can't manufacture two by fours out of it, all you can do is make poles or burn it. Burning it in a biomass plant burns it as clean as can be and the carbon footprint is about zero. The carbon would have been given up through rotting anyway"
Fracking and Water: A Serious Problem—by Richard Lyon: "Fracking is depleting water supplies in America's driest areas, report shows. America's oil and gas rush is depleting water supplies in the driest and most drought-prone areas of the country, from Texas to California, new research has found. Of the nearly 40,000 oil and gas wells drilled since 2011, three-quarters were located in areas where water is scarce, and 55% were in areas experiencing drought, the report by the Ceres investor network found. Fracking those wells used 97bn gallons of water, raising new concerns about unforeseen costs of America's energy rush. Most of the western US finds itself in the throws of a serious drought. It is a region that can never take water for granted at the best of times, and the present is anything but that. While there have always been year to year fluctuations in the picture, climate change seems very likely to create a long term negative trend of changing weather patterns."
CA-Gov: 350.org Organizes Anti-Fracking Protest On 3/15/14 Outside The State Capitol—by poopdogcomedy: "350.org is putting together an anti-fracking protest in Sacramento to put pressure on Governor Jerry Brown (D. CA) to oppose fracking in California: On March 15th, with our friends at Californians Against Fracking, we’ll be joining thousands of folks from all over the state in Sacramento to send a message to Gov. Brown, bigger and louder than ever: it's time to stop fracking in California. Let's get real: we’re experiencing the worst drought in recorded history in California. Communities are struggling to figure out where their water will be coming from in the coming dry months. Governor Brown’s administration’s solution? To call for conservation from people like you and me, but not equal measures from big oil. Fracking for oil now is exactly a step in the wrong direction. Each and every fracking well uses millions of gallons of water, and brings us one step closer to climate disaster. On Saturday March 15th in Sacramento, we’ll be making sure Governor Brown and his administration hears us loud and clear: Climate leaders don’t frack!"
Keystone and Other Fossil Fuel Transportation
Former Energy Secretary Steven Chu concedes the obvious: Keystone XL a political decision—by Meteor Blades: "Chu's assessment of the political nature of the coming decision on the tar sands pipeline is not exactly news. Of course, the thumbs up or down on Keystone XL is a political one. Pipeline builder TransCanada didn't boost its expenses for lobbying in 2013 for scientific reasons. Giants like Koch Industries, Exxon Mobil and other energy oligarchs haven't spread their pipeline propaganda and campaign largesse because of devotion to scientific principles. Senators and representatives haven't sought (unsuccessfully) to take away President Obama's authority to make this decision because they have any clue about how to count carbon emissions. Indeed, a large number of those elected politicians refuse to accept the scientific findings that make Keystone XL a no-go: climate change science. To all but boneheads, climate science makes clear what continuing to extract and burn fossil fuels have in store for us. The climate chaos we're now seeing that scientists have been predicting would be caused by global warming will be far worse in the future unless we quickly ramp down fossil fuel use starting with the dirtiest fuels first."
Sunday Train: The Central Flaw of the Keystone XL Economic Analysis—by BruceMcF: "The underlying, unstated, premise of the entire environmental and economic impact is that we will in any event produce a large portion of the tar sands that are in the ground. And that implies, of course, that we are screwed: we have to adopt policies keep 80% of existing reserves of carbon based fossil fuels in the ground in order to have a prospect of keeping global warming under about three and a half degrees Fahrenheit and have at least some chance of avoiding the kind of catastrophic climate change that will eliminate the United States as a single national society and economy. So the analysis, including unstated premise, is: "Assuming that the nations of the world do not impose adequate policies to avoid a catastrophe with costs that dwarf the entire presumed value of the tar sands deposits, this is the impact of building or not building the Keystone XL pipeline." But, what is the impact of building or not building the Keystone XL pipeline presuming that we do adopt policies that are adequate to keep 80% or more of current existing fossil fuel reserves in the ground?"
Release of Keystone XL environmental impact statement kindles protests in more than 275 cities today—by Meteor Blades: "The State Department's supplemental environmental impact statement (SEIS) on the Keystone XL pipeline has already spurred opponents into action even though President Obama's final decision on whether to build the much-disputed pipeline won't be announced until May at the earliest. Throughout Monday, some 277 protests against the project will take place from Honolulu to Tucson to Wakefield, R.I."
I went down to the demonstration, to get my fair share of pipeline truth...—by citisven: "Yesterday saw an unprecedented mobilization against Keystone XL, the proposed pipeline that would open the flood gates for the most carbon-polluting oil on the planet and further legitimize humankind's unbridled addiction to the climate-wrecking fossil juice. Within 48 hours of the State Department's supplemental environmental impact statement (SEIS) on Keystone XL, nearly 300 vigils unfurled from sea to shining sea, bringing together 550 organizations, from CREDO and the Rainforest Action Network to The Hip Hop Caucus and Overpass Light Brigade, to the Sierra Club and 350.org. [...] The rally in San Francisco was raucous as usual, setting the tone with about 400-500 people fully committed to giving the State Department and President Obama, who will have the final say on this matter, an earful."
Sacramento joins nationwide protests against Keystone XL Pipeline—by Dan Bacher: "Protesters are urging President Obama to reject the Keystone XL Pipeline following the release of the State Department’s new environmental assessment. Activists will hold candles, signs and chant against the pipeline."
Kitchen Table Kibitzing: #NoKXL Live on the Streets and Social Media—by remembrance: "People on both sides of the aisle are weighing in on what the President's decision will be regarding the Keystone Pipeline. It's easy to let fear, anger and frustration take over with so much at stake. But a few days after the release of the State Department's report, people are beginning to look at this a little more positively. Michael Brune, fellow Kossack and executive director of the Sierra Club, writes that there are numerous reasons for President Obama to reject the Keystone Pipeline and send a clear message that the United States is committed to clean energy. Biased as it is, though, the report sets the stage for President Obama to reject this dirty, dangerous manifestation of Big Oil's greed, by abandoning the contention in earlier drafts that KXL would have no significant impact on climate. Instead, it concludes that the pipeline would contribute the equivalent of an additional 6 million cars on the road to annual greenhouse gas emissions. 'The verdict is in: Keystone XL fails President Obama's climate test.' Tell President Obama to keep his pledge to reject the pipeline… because the project would 'significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution.'"
Colbert's KXL Musings Versus The Ed Show's KXL Musings—by LakeSuperior: "I just wanted to make the observation that Colbert's lead story last night.....boiled down to its essence....is Colbert pulling a KXL pipeline comedy version of what the Ed Schultz show was selling over the last few days. Note also the Colbert Report's mention of 'the nation's best pipefitters' and Ed's specific mention of unions.....and this all occurring with AFL-CIO's Richard Trumka's full throat support of the KXL Pipeline announced today: http://inthesetimes.com/... fundamental point is that the KXL pipeline matter has been, is and ever more will be a republican wedge issue against Democrats, and particularly against progressive Democrats. The recent Ed Show segments and Colbert's segment is the opposition coming back at anti-KXL camp. From a PR/communications/visibility campaign standpoint of what the opposition is doing, I'd suggest that these 3 events in pro-KXL camp mean that we should expect more such visibility shortly. My further fundamental point is that this circumstance of being on the receiving end of a wedge issue by republicans in which environmental Democrats are separated from portions of the union labor community is a damn tough circumstance."
Keystone XL and the fragmented left—by progressiveny04: "During this entire debate that has stretched many years, the left has appeared fragmented. On one side you have had environmentalists and some labor activists like those in the Blue Green Alliance opposing the pipeline, while on the other side you have had corporate Democrats and national unions like the building trades and LIUNA supporting it. Even the AFL-CIO has expressed their approval for Keystone XL because of the perceived potential for job creation. As much as progressives like myself would have liked to see Keystone XL never enter this country, because oil sands crude is a carbon time bomb; the truth is that the oil was going to enter the U.S. no matter what. The powers that be in Canada are ready to send their crude oil by rail car if the Obama administration denied the permit. There are also many policy makers in the U.S. who would love to solidify a partnership like this to become less dependent on the Middle East and Venezuela for oil. Even polling is against us as a majority of Americans approve of the pipeline. So where does this leave the progressives who see this pipeline, climate change and the eroding state of our environment as threats to our well being and future?"
Senators ponder attaching deadline to Keystone XL decision, pipeline foes warn about 2014 election—by Meteor Blades: "The release of the State Department's supplemental environmental impact statement (SEIS) on the Keystone XL pipeline last week has spurred both supporters and foes to extend their efforts favoring or opposing its construction. With just 48 hours notice, thousands of protesters showed up in handfuls or hundreds Monday at some 280 locales across the nation for candlelit vigils in opposition to building the 1,179-mile northern leg of the pipeline, which is designed to carry 300 million barrels of tar sands petroleum each year from Alberta to Texas."
Keystone XL's Northern Leg: A Fracked Oil Pipeline Along with Tar Sands—by Steve Horn: "On January 31, President Barack Obama’s U.S. State Department released its Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for the northern leg of TransCanada‘s proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. The State Department’s FEIS argues that the northern half of Keystone XL, if built, 'remains unlikely to significantly impact the rate of extraction in the oil sands, or the continued demand for heavy crude oil at refineries in the United States.' But flying under the media’s radar so far, the State Department review also highlights the prospect that Keystone XL will not only carry tar sands, but also be tapped to carry up to 100,000 barrels per day of oil extracted via hydraulic fracturing ('fracking') from North Dakota’s Bakken Shale basin."
Tar Sands Air Pollution Above Official Values: EIS Ignored Tailings Emissions - PNAS Report—by FishOutofWater: "Canada's tar sands air pollution problems from toxic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) are greater than official government values. A major air emissions source, tailings, was ignored in the EIS. The refining process breaks down the heavy hydrocarbons in tar sands increasing hydrocarbon volatility making waste piles a major source of air pollution according to an open access report published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Our study shows that emissions of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons estimated in environmental impact assessments conducted to approve developments in the Athabasca oil sands region are likely too low. This finding implies that environmental concentrations in exposure-relevant media, such as air, water, and food, estimated using those emissions may also be too low. The potential therefore exists that estimation of future risk to humans and wildlife because of surface mining activity in the Athabasca oil sands region has been underestimated."
Don't Question Ed Schultz! (KXL) Liberals need to...—by JVolvo: "..face reality. Wow. Big Ed fully supports the KXL pipeline and Does. Not. Like. being challenged. He had 2 guests from the anti-KXL side (2nd is Josh Fox, producer of Gasland movies). Josh had the temerity to point out State Dept flawed SEIS was from contractor in bed with fossil fuel industry. See Meteor Blades' Feb 3rd diary re KXL protests here. Not OK with Ed, who is taking the SEIS as gospel and (at 7:31) took it personally and declared that his guests were attacking him and the State Dept. 'I do know what I'm doing on this show!' Jump the twisted orange remains of Ed's credibility..."
Keystone XL and NEPA: Flawed SEIS?—by AlaskanAnt: "Please do not assume that I'm an anti-enviro, pro oil, faux news champion. I've been falsely accused of that here, and it’s tedious. For more than 30 years my academic and professional life has been informed by the conviction that climate change is the single biggest issue of our time, and I've watched with dismay as our generation has dawdled and dithered and done almost nothing about it. I've spent literally years of intense work on the issues of how to transition from our current path to something different. So, please: understand that I offer this in constructive light. I'm not even remotely convinced that the SEIS is materially flawed. I think that the NEPA process has an internal logic that frames the wrong question. Attending to that has some implications for how we understand the struggle around KXL, and for what we demand of our elected leaders."
Tom Steyer to SecState John Kerry: Investigate: tainted Keystone XL EIS has fishy smell—by A Siegel: "Of particular concern are FEIS conclusions that conflict with and are contradicted by tar sands industry executives who confirm that they need the pipeline in order to continue to develop the tar sands and to reach international markets. The FEIS fails to consider that construction of the KXL pipeline is a necessity to fully maximize extraction of tar sands. While the State Department report essentially calls the pipeline irrelevant for investment decisions as to tar sands production, industry executive after industry executive have called it critically important. While the report has assertion after conclusion after assertion for which there are significant and serious reasons for disagreement (and seems to dismiss and/or ignore reasons why the Keystone XL pipeline is NOT in U.S. national interest), there remains a fundamental challenge that Steyer calls on the Secretary of State to investigate and address: the entire process was tainted in such a way that makes wonder how the report could ever have been released."
Keystone XL is the Wrong Direction, and That's What Matters—by Robert Naiman: "What is most striking about the debate over whether President Obama should approve the Keystone XL pipeline is that supporters of the pipeline don't dispute that approval of the pipeline—something completely under Obama's control—would contribute to harmful climate change. They don't dispute that tar sands oil is very dirty oil from the point of view of carbon emissions, and that the pipeline would contribute to the extraction of that dirty oil, thereby contributing to harmful climate change. The dispute is about by how much approval of the pipeline would contribute to harmful climate change."
Keystone XL: Set to Reject—by Michael Brune: "People are hopeful because the decision to reject the Keystone pipeline is in the hands of President Obama, who has stated his firm commitment to fight climate disruption. He will be advised by Secretary of State John Kerry, a long-standing champion in the effort to solve the climate crisis that is already upon us, already stirring extreme weather like Superstorm Sandy, the polar vortex, droughts, and wildfires. These leaders know that Americans have embraced clean energy and have no interest in retreating to dependence on the dirty fossil fuels of centuries past. So I'm cautiously confident that the president and secretary of state will do the right thing and stop this pipeline in its tracks. People are frustrated, however, because the report released last Friday was largely written by a contractor that stands to profit if the pipeline is built. Not surprisingly, it gives the pipeline a passing grade, while virtually every credible expert has already given the project a big fat 'Fail.' Biased as it is, though, the report sets the stage for President Obama to reject this dirty, dangerous manifestation of Big Oil's greed, by abandoning the contention in earlier drafts that KXL would have no significant impact on climate. Instead, it concludes that the pipeline would contribute the equivalent of an additional 6 million cars on the road to annual greenhouse gas emissions."
Keystone XL Builder Has Explosive Problems—by Consumer Watchdog: "A TransCanada natural gas pipeline in Manitoba, Canada blew up in a spectacular fireball on January 25, reaching hundreds of feet into the air. It burned for 12 hours and only its rural location prevented a human catastrophe. (A nearly identical gas pipeline explosion in San Bruno, California killed eight people and burned a neighborhood in 2010). A TransCanada pipeline in Ontario exploded in a nearly identical manner in 2011. Another TransCanada pipe in Ontario blew up in 2009 as well. A week after the Manitoba blast, TransCanada still didn’t know what caused it, or wouldn’t say. Oil pipelines may fail without fireballs, but are no less dangerous to neighbors and the environment. No matter what a pipeline carries, maintenance and vigilance matter. But keeping a pipeline from exploding—or gushing a lake of flammable, toxic crude oil into local water supplies—isn’t a profit center. (What would pour out of Keystone XL is actually a slurry of corrosive tar and chemical-laced, highly flammable thinners.) To a corporation, safety spending is a dead loss. Only the lip service is free."
Richmond Rail Connector Will Enable Increased Shipments of Explosive Bakken Crude—by dakotax: "Construction has begun on the new Richmond Rail Connector project. located between Parr Boulevard and Richmond Parkway in the City of Richmond CA. 8 members of the California Transportation Commission (CTC) voted unanimously in August 2013 to provide $10.9 million to the California Department of Transportation for the connector between BNSF lines in San Pablo and Richmond. Although the project is touted as a traffic control project, its proximity to the Chevron Oil Refinery is uncanny. The Connector is in close proximity to housing, schools and playgrounds. Environmentalists and residents are concerned with the connector, for several reasons. Recent train explosions and Chevrons’ expected increase in the refining of Bakken crude oil, a highly explosive crude, highlight these concerns. Bakken Crude will be transported from Bakken, North Dakota by rail."
Commissioners pipeline meeting: strategy and why it's worth the bother—by danps: "Some might wonder why to bother showing up for a meeting like this. The pipeline is already about 80% built and is expected to be operational by summer. The meeting clearly happened very late in the process. Did it do any good? I think so, for a few reasons. The first is simple civic engagement. Citizenship is about more than showing up on election day to cast a ballot—it's an ongoing process. We became aware of this project after it began, but still wanted to raise our concerns. To me, that's part of being a citizen. We also wanted to raise awareness for those who were still being approached about easements (particularly the shaky eminent domain assertion), and to the wider community. Pipelines are becoming a hot topic, and other residents of northeast Ohio might want to know about these kinds of grassroots efforts. We succeeded in that regard: our county paper ran two pieces on the pipeline in the following days, and Cleveland's NBC affiliate WKYC ran a segment about it on their evening news."
Eight more Fukushima Kids Confirmed to Have Thyroid Cancer—by ypochris: "After the Fukushima triple meltdown in March 2011, the Fukushima prefecture set up a program to check children under eighteen at the time for thyroid problems. According to the Japan Times, Friday it was announced that, as of the end of 2013, 33 confirmed cases of thyroid cancer had been found. Three months before, the number was 25. 75 children were 'suspected' of having the disease. Of the 375,000 children eligible for the checkups, about 270,000 have been screened. Thyroid cancer is very rare in children. In the United States, the average incidence for children under fifteen is 1.6 per million. You would not expect to find more than a single case in a sample of 270,000 children; more likely you wouldn't find any at all."
Eco-Philosophy & Essays
Nature Deficit Disorder—by John Crapper: "A recent study from Australia found that of the 1,975 children surveyed, 37% of children spent less than half an hour a day playing outdoors after school, and 43% spent more than 2 hours a day on screen time (i.e. watching TV, videos or playing computer games). The story is similar from most urban places round the world.[...] Richard Louv, in his latest book, The Nature Principle: Reconnecting with Life in a Virtual Age, details the threat of technology overload and his personal struggle with nature-deficit disorder. He coined the term not to be a medical diagnosis but as a way to describe the way our modern world is isolating and alienating us from the natural world. Technology improves our lives in many ways. It is hard to imagine a world without our modern day means of communication such as the internet and mobile phones. Information technology isn't bad but its overuse and addictive use can be unhealthy."
Side Effect of Climate Change on health/weight—by Ewashstate: "I just read in the latest issue of Men's Health magazine the first of its kind study, on a pretty major, negative impact that climate change is having on the worlds health in general, and its weight, in specific. It seems weight, both human and animal, of all kinds, is up all over the world, in places even in remote villages in China it appears. A Ph.D. at the University of Alabama recently did some studies and ran some tests on some volunteer patients to find the answer. His results are as follows: we all know that carbon dioxide levels are now at a place around 400 or so ppm, a place where they have not been for millions of years. Before life even. Turns out we are all breathing in this extra Co2, of course, and it looks like this is making our blood more acidic, and this in turn affects certain cells in the brain. Sometime in the 90's these cells in the brain were discovered that deal with hunger. This higher level of CO2 is stimulating these cells in the brain, which in turn is stimulating the appetites of both humans, and animals it appears."
Book review: The Political Economy of Global Warming—by Cassiodorus: "If I were to write a book with the wonderful and provocative title 'Political Economy of Global Warming,' here's what I'd do. First, I'd define 'capitalism,' and suggest an alternative to capitalist social life. Next, I'd work steadily, as a boa constrictor does when devouring a mouse, to deprive the mass public of excuses for why capitalism will not help them if they really want to see even a partial remedy for the coming disaster that global warming promises planet Earth's ecosystems. Here's how I would do that: I would list all of the excuses and rebut, as firmly as I could but without omitting any contrary evidence, each of them one after the other. In working this strategy, I would be trying to do two things: 1) showing my audience that climate change is really going to be all that bad, and 2) proving that the current society is incapable of effectively mitigating the problem, and that a postcapitalist society will be necessary at some point."
Toward a Finite-Planet Journalism—by Eric Zencey: "What happens when an infinite-growth society smacks into environmental limits? For one thing,it loses the very possibility of democratic decision making, as the effort to fit an increasingly problematic ecological footprint onto a finite planet means that more and more policy decisions have to be made by technocrats. On a finite planet, only an ecologically knowledgeable electorate can reconcile democracy with non-negotiable ecological limits. If the majority of voters remain ecologically illiterate, they must give up either civilization or democracy. It’s impossible to retain both.That sad truth emerges from a careful look at a political protest in Missouri over the future of the Ozark National Scenic Riverway. Locals are worried about park plans to limit access and exercise greater regulatory control; the science says that park ecosystems are in danger of being irreparably damaged by overuse. And another truth emerges from a careful look at the story: the media have a role and responsibility in educating the American populace about ecological limits. At the very least, they need to give up their infinite-planet bias."
Regulations killing our fishy business!! Ooops.. Perry where are you?—by PeteInTx: "Just when you thought we could go fishing, these regulations won't let us enjoy our fishing either. Obama , why do you have so many regulations? You are killing our fishy business in Texas. Why should we have any laboratories checking fish levels? We do not have any faith in test tubes telling us what to do or eat. [...] DSHS recommends children under 12 and women who are nursing, pregnant or who may become pregnant avoid eating the affected species because the nervous systems of unborn and young children are particularly susceptible to the health effects of toxins. Previous advisories for the Neches River area based on high mercury levels had recommended children limit consumption of particular fish. Recent testing prompted DSHS to recommend children under 12 not eat the affected fish at all."
Pollution, Hazardous Wastes & Trash
The Coal Ash Cup Runneth Over...Into Appalachia's Water Supply—by Virally Suppressed: "This past Sunday, as the nation was sitting down to watch the Super Bowl and all of its attendant pomp and circumstance, a massive environmental disaster was taking place near Eden, NC, a small town that sits on the banks of the Dan River and counts an out-of-service Duke Energy steam station as one of its closest neighbors. One might think that the steam station would be relatively harmless now that it's out of commission, but the Eden plant tore that reasoning into tatters when a broken storm pipe caused somewhere between 50,000 and 82,000 tons of coal ash and up to 27 million gallons of water to spill out of a coal slurry impoundment and into the Dan River. Even if the more conservative estimate of 50,000 tons ends up being true, Duke Energy just dumped the coal ash weight equivalent of The RMS Titanic into a one of North Carolina's rivers."
BREAKING: Huge toxic coal ash spill in NC and VA river—by WattleBreakfast: "A nightmare scenario is unfolding in Eden, NC. Sometime on Sunday some 82,000 tons of toxic coal ash drained from the Duke Energy Dan River coal ash pond through a broken 48-inch pipe. The entire river for two miles has turned to a gray sludge of arsenic, mercury, lead, and dozens more toxic heavy metals, including radioactive uranium. The national news media is ignoring this. The EPA and other Federal and State agencies have set up a command center at the spill site in Eden, NC."
Huge Coal Ash Spill in Eden NC: Riverkeeper "Dan River is Highly Toxic"—by FishOutofWater: "The Riverkeeper alliance reported that water samples taken on February 4, just downstream of the huge Duke Energy coal ash spill in Eden, NC, were highly toxic. These results were apparently inconsistent with results reported by a Duke University geochemist that the water was safe in the water samples measured by Duke University students. However, the samples measured by Duke University were taken from further downstream. The results may be compatible. (Please note: I have a PhD in geochemistry so this is my expert opinion.) The dissolved toxins may have adsorbed onto sediments on the river bed as the contaminant plume moved downstream. Adsorption onto riverbed sediments makes the water easier to treat for drinking, but makes the clean up of the river a slower process. Organisms living in the river bottom may bioaccumulate toxins. Fish in the river should be considered unsafe to eat given that there was already an advisory to limit fish consumption because of highly toxic PCB contamination."
Citgo's petty cash drawer must be hurting after judge imposes $2 million air pollution fine—by Meteor Blades: "Nearly seven years ago, a jury convicted Citgo Petroleum Corp. of criminal violations of the Clean Air Act, the first time this had happened to a major oil company. On Wednesday, a Texas judge finally pronounced sentence: a paltry $2 million fine. Probably about half as much as the company will spend on the party celebrating getting off so easy although executives there have known since 2012 what the maximum sentence would be. Even so, Citgo lawyers whined in court that the company had cleaned up the storage tanks that were the cause of the violations a decade ago and, therefore, shouldn't be harshly punished because it had already fixed the problem. Yessiree, a model corporate citizen ... when caught. However, U.S. District Judge John D. Rainey, who announced the fine, may impose an additional penalty when he rules on restitution for nearby residents who were exposed to harmful chemicals from Citgo's Corpus Christi, Texas, refinery from 1994 to 2005. About 80 of those residents—mostly minorities and many of them elderly—were in court for the sentencing."
Maryland spooks 21 states into suing for the right to pollute—by Aximill: "Maryland's main natural resource is The Chesapeake Bay. About 200 miles long, the water increases in salinity as it goes from the Susquehanna River to the Atlantic Ocean. Back in colonial times, there were enough bivalves to filter the total volume of water in about a week and oyster reefs were so large they often caused shipping problems. The blue crab and rockfish, a regional name for striped bass, are other popular fisheries in the bay. Over the years, due to overharvesting, pollution, daming waterways and lack of planning, oysters are now at 1% of their historical population levels, rockfish had a near brush with extinction, and blue crabs populations can vary greatly year to year. There is also a sizeable deadzone that crops up year after year due to pollution runoff, further hindering recovery efforts. Aside from putting into place catch limits, Maryland has been trying to put into place pollution controls."
West Virginia Chemical Spill
Sen Jay Rockefeller Slams Capitalism, Tells Stunning Truth—by FishOutofWater: "“Industry does everything they can and gets away with it almost all the time, whether it’s the coal industry, ... or water or whatever. They will cut corners, and they will get away with it.” —Sen. Jay Rockefeller. Senator Rockefeller was talking about West Virginia water pollution, but he could have been talking about Wall Street crashing the economy or Dick Cheney and Halliburton leading America into the Iraq war. And what he said is exactly why American corporations will lead us into catastrophic climate change. It's their nature."
300,000 West Virginians are still living with poisoned water—by Michael Grenetz (via AshleyAllison): "Dr. Rahul Gupta won't let his children drink their tap water anymore—he's too afraid of the toxic chemicals. As Chief Medical Officer for Charleston, WV, he knows that, despite what the state claims, the crisis is far from over. [...] One month in, Governor Tomblin of West Virginia still has his head in the sand -- and just last week, a second spill happened at Freedom Industries. This situation is spiraling out of control. Governor Tomblin opposes new standards despite years of chemical spills. Let's turn up the heat and send the governor 50,000 messages by Monday!"
WV-Sen: Natalie Tennant (D) Calls For Complete Transparency On WV Chemical Leak Investigation—by poopdogcomedy: "Received this e-mail today from Secretary of State Natalie Tennant's (D. WV) U.S. Senate campaign: I just returned from testifying in front of the U.S. Senate yesterday. As Secretary of State, I was there to talk about the impact our water crisis has had on local businesses, workers and families. Here’s what I told them: West Virginians feel betrayed. To this day, many still don’t know if what’s coming out of their faucets will hurt their families. As a mother, daughter and small business owner, I’m angry too. West Virginians deserve to know that measures are being taken to ensure this never happens again. The best way to do this is for the investigation process and our government to be as transparent as possible."
That spilled coal-washing chemical is still showing up in drinking water of West Virginia schools—by Meteor Blades: "A chemical Freedom Industries spilled at least 10,000 gallons of into the supplies of drinking water to nine West Virginia counties a month ago is still being found in water piped into some schools there. Mackenzie Mays of the Charleston Gazette reported Thursday on the latest situation. On Wednesday, a Riverside High School teacher, who had fainted, and a student were transported to the hospital. Many students complained of lightheadedness and burning eyes and noses. [...] Richard Denison, a senior scientist at the Environmental Defense Fund who has been following the aftermath of the spill, warned that the CDC's one ppm recommendation is based on ingesting the chemical. Inhalation of MCHM fumes like that occurring at the schools is another matter, Denison told the Gazette. 'There is no data directly on what levels are safe in the air," Denison said. "The notion that [the CDC number] gives you any information about safe levels in the air is just false.'"
In Most States, Schools Have Snow Days. In West Virginia, Schools Have Chemical Leak Days—by Virally Suppressed: "Over the past 48 hours, 5 schools in and around Charleston have been shut down and their student bodies sent home due to the sickly sweet anisette aroma of MCHM returning to their water systems with a vengeance that caused the eyes and sinuses of those near it to burn fiercely and, for one teacher, actually caused her to pass out from the smell. Naturally, these school closings happened on the very day that the CDC reaffirmed their stance that the water is safe for use, and acting director of the National Center for Environmental Health and Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, Dr. Tanja Popovic, remarked at a press conference concerning the region's water safety that, 'You can drink it. You can bathe in it ...You can use it how you like.' Of course, the CDC, along with other federal and state agencies has steadfastly refused to test the water in people's homes, so I think it has become pretty clear to the residents of West Virginia that a) officials from the CDC, EPA and West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection have no clue what in the ever-loving hell they're talking about and b), they never had any desire to find that clue from the get-go."
Freedom Industries Hotline Call Misstated Spill Extent & Danger—by HeartlandLiberal: "That Commie Liberal Rag Bloomberg Business Week must just hate America and those freedom loving corporations running the country and making us great. They have a report up on the hot line phone call from Freedom Industries reporting the chemical spill. And it is a gold mine for the looming negligence lawsuits and investigations."
Gov Tomblin/W. Virginia/EPA AWOL—by thedamnliberal: "Okay...the governor of West Virginia (D-Tomblin) and the president of the United States are: ABSENT WITHOUT LEAVE on the continued poisoning of the beautiful people of West Virginia REPUBLICANS and DEMOCRATS in W. Virginia and in the EPA have FAILED TO PROTECT THE PEOPLE OF W. Virginia ! We talk of how bad Sochi is in Russian ? YET...the EPA FAILS TO PROTECT THE PEOPLE OF W. Virginia."
Eco-Related DC & State Politics
HI-Sen: Brian Schatz (D) Puts The Pressure On Obama & Kerry To Reject The Keystone XL Pipeline—by poopdogcomedy: "In a sensible world, it shouldn’t be hard to decide whether it’s in our national interest to ship this oil from Canada’s tar sands across an environmentally sensitive aquifer to refineries in Texas port cities. But Big Oil wants this project bad. So even though the pipeline that Keystone XL would expand leaked 14 times in its first year of operation and tar sands oil is one of the worst culprits for releasing carbon pollution that drives climate change, this project is still on the table. [...] We already know more than enough to make the call. I believe that encouraging the exploitation of Canadian tar sands -- some of the world’s dirtiest oil -- is clearly not in America’s national interest."
NM-Sen: Tom Udall (D) Calls On Congress To Take Bold Action On Climate Change—by poopdogcomedy: "Received this e-mail today from Senator Tom Udall (D. NM): When it comes to climate change, too many members of Congress are sticking their heads in the sand, hoping that if they do nothing and ignore the facts that the issue will just go away. But it’s time to face the facts: Man-made climate change is real—and it’s changing the face of our planet. That’s why I’m joining with colleagues in the Senate to call on Washington to take bold action on climate change. And you can, too. Click here to sign the petition today."
Western States Petroleum Association Topped Spending In 2013—by Dan Bacher: "The Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA), the most powerful corporate lobbying organization in Sacramento, spent over $4.67 million, more than any other interest group, while lobbying state government in 2013, according to data released by the Secretary State's Office and compiled by the Capitol Morning Report. Catherine Reheis-Boyd, President of the Western States Petroleum Association and former Chair of the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative Blue Ribbon Task Force to create so-called marine protected areas in Southern California, led the successful campaign last year by the oil industry to defeat all [a] bill to ban or regulate the environmentally destructive practice of fracking last year."
Video: Why Illinois Regulation Won't Make Fracking Safe—by Willinois: "A disturbing new video of poisoned water, leaking oil rigs, and lax enforcement at Illinois oil wells highlights why proposed fracking regulation won't protect the state's environment or people. The Greenpeace interview with a southern Illinois native and former oil worker shows a fracking test well in a neglected part of the state where weak enforcement at existing wells is already endangering the public. Illinois' new fracking law provides funding for the Office of Mines and Minerals to hire new staff. But, that would only be a solution if lack of staffing were the primary problem. Governor Pat Quinn has refused to clean house and restructure an agency notoriously cozy with industry."
Fracking In North Carolina - NC-03 Dem Candidate Marshall Adame, Says NO!—by sparks1957: "Marshall Adame, NC-03 Democratic Candidate says NO to Fracking in North Carolina and NO to dumping the recovered water here. Gov. McCrory's—along with Halliburton, the #1 Fracking Company in the world—efforts to suppress the chemical makeup of the mixture, and the chemical makeup of the recovered water is finally exposed. Marshall Adame, is a Democratic Candidate for North Carolina's 3rd Congressional District has the ingredients of the mixture, and more importantly, the recovered water that will, if McCrory has his way, will be dumped in the 3rd District."
PA-Sen: Joe Sestak (D) Exposes Pat Toomey's (R) Extreme Anti-Environment Agenda—by poopdogcomedy: "Received another e-mail from decorated Admiral, former Congressman and U.S. Senate candidate, Joe Sestak (D. PA) today. This one is regarding Tea Party Senator Pat Toomey's (R. PA) extreme anti-environment voting record: Sen. Toomey is a 'great' representative. That's right—if elected officials represent who got them there, then Sen. Toomey has served special interest groups 'greatly.' The oil and gas industry provided funding to outspend Admiral Joe Sestak three to one in 2010 … and Toomey represented them well by:Voting to turn the Great Lakes into an oil drilling field—our largest fresh water reserve; Voting to suspend the EPA environmental regulations that prevent toxic pollution from entering our air and water; Asserting that he doesn't believe in the science of climate change."
Rep. Valadao's dangerous HR 3964 uses drought as excuse to play politics—by Dan Bacher: "While Governor Jerry Brown is fast-tracking the environmentally destructive Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) to build the fish-killing peripheral tunnels, Representative David Valadao has introduced legislation, HR 3964, that will further imperil struggling Central Valley salmon and Delta fish populations. Restore the Delta (RTD) today slammed HR 3964 (Valadao) as 'dangerous legislation being put forward by southern San Joaquin Valley congressmen using the drought as an excuse to play politics with California’s water management challenges.' 'This bill, by Representative David Valadao of Hanford, is being misrepresented as an 'Emergency Water Delivery Act,' ignoring the fact that there is no water to deliver. This is partly the result of the over pumping of the Delta last year by 800,000 acre-feet. That water should have been held for an extended dry period,' said Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, RTD executive director."
Mad Max Myers is not my Anti-Fracking Savior—by philosleft: "When we originally met with Myers, I was concerned about two things: 1. His evident non-committal if not cagey non-response to my direct questions about his position on gay rights and women's reproductive rights. Though it was difficult to make out just what he was saying, it seemed to be that he did not want to alienate voters or distract them from the bigger issue (fracking) by coming out before the primaries with a policy position on these issues. He made it out as a matter of strategy--but implied that he was with his progressive base. 2. His apparent lack of any very sophisticated understanding of the issues relevant to extreme extraction. For a candidate who claims that he is going to make fracking and energy policy more generally a major campaign issue, Mr. Myers evinced at best a cursory understanding not only of what all is involved with respect to the processes associated with fracking, but had fairly little idea of the immense amount of work that has already gone into opposing it."
5 Ways NJ’s Neighbors Are Kicking Our Butt on Climate Change—by Kayak: "New Jersey doesn’t have a statewide plan for keeping our people safe, our economy strong, and our businesses thriving when the next Sandy hits. Every state around us does, or at least is far ahead of us. There’s boatloads of good work going on in our towns and counties, but nothing on the coordinated, resource-efficient State level.Why not? I’d like to ask personally Governor Christie about the role that climate change plays in our hot summers, destructive storms, and rising sea levels. (I believe he’s a smart man and knows perfectly well the risks facing our state.)"
A Tale of Two Senators: Rockefeller, Manchin & The West Virginia Chemical Spill—by Virally Suppressed: "When it came out last week that an environmental scientist from Marshall University had found abnormal levels of Formaldehyde in a local water sample, I pretty much lost it. I suppose if I had received this news in a vacuum I would have responded with shock and restraint, but as the latest in a staggeringly long string of information leaks regarding the massive chemical spill along the Elk River in Charleston, it was just too much. For weeks after the news broke that the water supply for over 300,000 West Virginians had been poisoned by thousands of gallons of a chemical we knew next to nothing about, I kept expecting to hear this shrill yawp of outrage from the news media and the American people, demanding that Freedom Industries be taken to task for the destruction they had wrought. I thought that I'd see Brian Williams and Diane Sawyer feeding the nation updates every night about it like they do with wildfires and droughts in California or floods in Colorado. That did not turn out to be the case. My spirits were buoyed by the tireless work of volunteers on the ground in West Virginia and the willingness of my friends and family to donate money once the crisis had been brought to their attention, but I was still waiting to see the frustration and anger that the spill had generated in me and millions of other people reflected in the words and actions of someone who had the means to affect immediate and meaningful change. I finally saw that fire today in the form of Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV)."
Kitchen Table Kibitzing: The Time Has Come ... for Climate Activism!—by DeborahLevoy: "2012 was a hard year for me. I finally faced the truth that our planet is already on a path toward irreversible, serious climate problems within my daughter's lifetime. And there is no "Silicon Valley" type of magical contraption to help us out, which was my prior, sketchy hope. I also learned that there are even more calamitous effects of climate change that we can prevent if we demand the necessary changes from our government immediately. I looked into my daughter's eyes and it was obvious what I had to do. Everything I can. [...] I've also created an original song and music video, 'The Time Has Come' about climate activism."
Hungry Polar Bears Eating Eggs, Decimating Nesting Birds, as Sea Ice Declines—by FishOutofWater: "The Arctic is the fastest warming region on earth. The polar bear, the iconic large mammal of the Arctic, is threatened by the warming-caused loss of Arctic sea ice because it hunts its primary prey, seals, from the ice. Climate change is forcing polar bears to change their diets from seals to bird eggs as summer sea ice retreats in the Arctic ocean. Hungry polar bears, unable to catch seals in the open Arctic ocean, have been observed devouring every egg on an island of nesting birds. One hungry bear can strip a whole island clean of eggs, devastating the bird colony's breeding season. Hundreds of hungry polar bears could have devastating effects on vulnerable bird species. Since the 1980's the depredation of common eider and thick-billed murre colonies by polar bears has increased by a factor of seven. Polar bears may find a way to survive climate change but the results could be devastating for bird species and other animals in the food chain that polar bears substitute for seals in their diets. The effects of climate change on ecosystems will be difficult to predict because there will be a cascade of effects as large species such as polar bears adapt to changing environments."
Greenland’s fastest glacier reaches record speeds - Jakobshavn Glacier—by Pakalolo: "Jakobshavn Isbræ (Jakobshavn Glacier) is moving ice from the Greenland ice sheet into the ocean at a speed that appears to be the fastest ever recorded. Researchers from the University of Washington and the German Space Agency (DLR) measured the dramatic speeds of the fast-flowing glacier in 2012 and 2013. The results are published today in The Cryosphere, an open access journal of the European Geosciences Union(EGU). 'We are now seeing summer speeds more than 4 times what they were in the 1990s on a glacier which at that time was believed to be one of the fastest, if not the fastest, glacier in Greenland,' says Ian Joughin, a researcher at the Polar Science Center, University of Washington and lead-author of the study."
Global Warming Throwdown. HRC/Billy Kock vs. Elizabeth Warren. Pick a side—by chuck utzman: "I listened to PBO's State of the Union address with growing anger. "Drill baby drill", fast track TPP. This not what I wanted to hear! Then I read my latest issue of Rolling Stone magazine this month and I saw something that I thought really needed to be shared here. Unfortunately, the article was not on-line yet. On Monday evening, Meteor Blades’ diary included a excerpt from the article on Obama’s hypocritical position on global warming. Unfortunately, MB didn’t add anything by way of commentary, and the piece past away with little comment. So I felt compelled to do it again in a little more depth."
Morning Open Thread - Arctic Report Card 2013—by Joy of Fishes:
A New Mitigation Strategy for Climate Change?—by skent4490: "I read today that prayer events were held in Nevada and Utah asking the Almighty to provide more water for farmers and others in those drought-stricken states. I guess this is the new strategy for dealing with climate change? Instead of taking steps to drastically reduce carbon emissions, we're to pray for rain? Excuse me if I'm a little skeptical. Why would the Almighty want to help us anyway? I mean, we were given a perfectly lovely planet and we've trashed it. And, lately, we've been cooking it. Exactly why, then, are we deserving of divine intervention? Not to pick on Nevada and Utah, but they haven't exactly been putting their best foot forward when it comes to reducing carbon emissions. True, Nevada is number two in installed solar capacity, but Utah, despite being the 8th sunniest state, isn't in the top 12 for installed solar. And, more significantly, both states generate the vast majority of their electricity by burning fossil fuels."
The Great Outdoors
The Daily Bucket: light frost --> hard freeze—by OceanDiver: "February 6, 2014: During the past week in the maritime Pacific Northwest, a cold weather system has slid onto the area, blown here from inland Canada by north winds. We get these now and again in winter as brief chilly interludes in our usually mild climate. This one has lasted long enough for the humidity to plunge, so what was frosty earlier is now frozen and dry. The red Cotoneaster berries in my backyard changed from plump lightly frosted bunches into small frozen nuggets on the ground. Nevertheless, still very popular with the winter Robins.
Food, Agriculture & Gardening
USDA announces establishment of regional agriculture hubs for climate change adaptation—by Meteor Blades: "The U.S. Department of Agriculture says the growing season in the Midwest is two weeks longer than it was in 1950, the fire season 60 days longer than it was in 1980, and worsening droughts cost the United States $50 billion from 2011 through 2013. All these impacts mesh with what scientists have been predicting would occur because of climate change. For some years now, they've been saying these impacts—and many others—are going to grow. And that could interfere with the growing of crops. Coping with the weather is nothing new for farmers, but dealing with climate change requires a different level of adaptation. Consequently, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced Wednesday, the USDA is forming seven Regional Hubs for Risk Adaptation and Mitigation to Climate Change to assist farmers to adapt by providing them science-based data and how to apply it."
Obama's Climate Change Hubs = Big Fat ZERO—by occupystephanie: "We argued yesterday about how the new regional Climate Change Hubs scattered around the nation would apportion the money attached to this loudly heralded rollout of part of Obama's new Climate Change Action Plan. We hoped the money might come from industry. I had hoped that the money would be used to begin the critical transition from unsustainable agribusiness to the strongly recommended small scale farming urged by the 2013 UN Report Wake Up Before it is Too Late. Last September, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development brought out an interesting report entitled, 'Wake up Before it is Too Late: Make Agriculture Truly Sustainable Now for Food Security in a Changing Climate.' The report said that developing and developed countries alike need a paradigm shift in agricultural development: from a 'green revolution' to a 'truly ecological intensification' approach. Well, there is no money. The Hubs will be able to do little more than hand out brochures they already have and hold workshops."
Only 9 Senate Democrats Voted Against the SNAP-Cutting Farm Bill—by Liberty Equality Fraternity and Trees: "Just now, the Senate voted to pass the Farm Bill 68 to 32, with its $8.7 billion in cuts to SNAP. About 1.7 million people will receive a $90 cut in SNAP benefits, after having already seen a cut in November. Here is Clinton USDA official Joel Berg in Salon earlier today on the consequences of the cuts for SNAP beneficiaries:They’re going to go hungry. And ironically, they may become obese because they can afford less healthy food. You know, in America we’re sort of socialized into thinking there’s going to be some Frank Capra-esque, you know, happy ending — somehow some big donors come through with the money and make it work, and people won’t suffer. That’s not what happens in reality. The Washington Post editorial board called for the President to veto the bill. The WaPo editorial board wasn't particularly opposed to the SNAP cuts, per se, but followed, 'But attached to so much corporate welfare, it’s hard to swallow, especially when that corporate welfare isn’t rigorously means-tested.'"
GMO lobbyist runs fundraiser for Senate Ag committee chair-Chair returns favor—by LarryHI: "Hawaii County (the 'Big Island') is regulating the spread of agrochemical companies and pollen drift and has banned new GMO crops except for papaya. Transgenic crops would be largely limited to enclosed greenhouses. Maui has reached an agreement via MOU on the use of restricted pesticides. Now, powerful state senators are attempting to wrest control of pesticide regulation from the counties and halt the movement to label GMO products. In Hawaii's feudal-democratic system, a single committee chair has all the power to do this."
The Séralini GMO Scandal. An Ongoing Debate—by marc brazeau: "On January 14th I published a critique of an editorial by Thomas Sherman and Adriane Fugh-Berman on the Hasting Center for Bioethics blog. A few days later they were moved to respond. The issue at hand was the retraction of the notorious Séralini rat study. Sherman and Fugh-Berman held that the retraction was the result of industry pressure and that the retraction didn't cite reasons that fell within accepted guidelines for retraction. I quote them at length to avoid misrepresenting them."
SeaWorld CEO dumps his stock in SeaWorld—by foxfire burns: "When CNN aired the documentary Blackfish, exposing SeaWorld's mistreatment of animals and employees, millions of people showed their anger against SeaWorld. A 12-year-old girl was arrested for protesting against SeaWorld. Nearly every musician who agreed to perform at the park this year cancelled as millions of music fans urged their idols to avoid association with SeaWorld. Schools making annual field trips to SeaWorld parks are changing their plans. But did all this make any difference? Is SeaWorld really suffering? [...] SeaWorld's CEO just dumped $3 million worth of stock in SeaWorld. The man who knows SeaWorld's reality better than anyone has quietly decided his company is not where he wants to invest his savings. Oh, lord no! Whatever statements SeaWorld makes publicly, behind the scenes, the captain is abandoning ship."
The Hypocrisy Diet—by thefarleftside: "There's been a lot of criticism of the Japanese people concerning their treatment of dolphins, but that criticism goes both ways."
Dawn Chorus: Anyone see any birds?—by lineatus: "More to the point: Anyone photograph any birds? Last week, SF Kossacks had two esteemed out-of-area visitors, which was all the excuse we needed for a birding trip. One of them (matching mole) was kind enough to provide a wish list back in November, and discussions in the comments added a few more. A quick glance at the list suggested an obvious place to go - Solano County and Woodbridge Road. We weren't going to get them all but we had a pretty good chance for everything except Red-throated Loon. Well, you can't be greedy about these things."
2014 Backyard Science Yardbird Race Tally #2—by bwren: "Here's what the race is all about: The Daily Kos Backyard Science Yardbird Race is a birding competition where, over the course of one year, participants strive to identify the most bird species—by sight and/or by sound—from the confines of their yards. [...] We've got a strong start this year, with 20 contestants participating in six categories. We're lacking racers in Urban Attached and Classroom Project. Step up, please! As always, please let me know if I missed you last month, or if anything else needs correcting. Note, too, that the final counts for those who have participated in previous races are in parentheses after their names. Remember that all returning racers are competing against themselves this season, too."
The Emptying of Northern California Reservoirs—by Dan Bacher: "The dry bed of Folsom Lake has become an unlikely tourist attraction for visitors to the Sacramento area this year. On any given day this winter, large numbers of people can be seen wandering around the mud flats, granite boulders and rock formations of the lake bed to view ruins of Mormon Island and other communities that were inundated when the lake was formed by the construction of Folsom Dam in the 1950s. The lake is its lowest level ever, 17 percent of capacity and 32 percent of average, since the Bureau of Reclamation filled the reservoir with the clear waters of the North, Middle and South Forks of the American River that drain the Sierra Nevada Range. Because of the record low level of the lake, the cities of Sacramento, Folsom and other communities face dramatic water shortages this year. The impact on the American River and its unique urban steelhead and salmon fisheries is just as alarming. The Bureau in early January dropped flows to only 500 cubic feet per second (cfs), compared to winter flows ranging from 2000 to 5,000 cfs that anglers are used to fishing in– and much higher flows during wet years."
House Passes Two Bills Overriding Conservation and Water Laws—by Liberty Equality Fraternity and Trees: "Today, the House passed two bills, one overriding conservation laws and the other overriding water laws. How productive! The first bill was the Sportsmen’s Heritage and Recreational Enhancement Act (H.R. 3590). It passed 268 to 154, garnering the support of 41 Democrats. The bill is a collection of Republican proposals to roll back environmental restrictions on the use of federal land. Republicans railed against perceived restrictions on hunting, shooting, and fishing on federal lands. However, as Rep. Jim McGovern (MA-02) explained, 75% of all federal lands are already open to such recreational use, and H.R. 3590 would override conservation laws, effectively elevating hunting and shooting over all other uses of federal lands."
Commission closes fishing in American, Russian rivers due to low flows—by Dan Bacher: "The California Fish and Game Commission on February 5 voted to close fishing on the American and Russian rivers and a number of coastal streams in order to protect steelhead and salmon threatened by low flow conditions caused by the record drought and the poor management of upstream reservoirs."
Eco-Activism & Eco-Justice
Tell Your Representatives to Oppose HR 3964, the Delta Destruction Bill—by Dan Bacher: "The legislation, a virtual wish list for heavily subsidized corporate agribusiness interests on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley, threatens to drive already imperiled Central Valley salmon and Delta fish populations over the abyss of extinction. The reduction in Delta water quality that would result from the bill's passage also threatens to put Delta farmers out of business. 'Please tell your congressional representatives to oppose HR 3964, dangerous legislation being put forward by southern San Joaquin Valley congressmen using the drought as an excuse to play politics with California’s water management challenges,' the group urges."
National Parks, Forests & Other Public Lands
America's Next Great National Park—by GVRCNP: "PETITION TO MAKE THE COLORADO NATIONAL MONUMENT THE NATION'S 60TH NATIONAL PARK: The Colorado National Monument is one of few remaining special places left in the United States to fully qualify for national park status but the effort to make it a national park isn't new. Back in 1905 a young activist and road builder from California, undoubtedly familiar with Yosemite National Park, journeyed east to the great painted deserts and beautiful but at times treacherous mountains of California, Nevada and Utah then on through the vast and awe inspiring canyon lands of Utah. All memorable places to be sure, still Otto pressed on until he finally reached Western Colorado. Here the magical canyons and formations of the Colorado National Monument, literally stopped the wanderer in his tracks. John Otto lay down his small pack of belongings, set up a tent and a year later, in 1906 wrote, 'I came here last year and found these canyons, and they feel like the heart of the world to me. I'm going to stay and build trails and promote this place, because it should be a national park.' President Taft declared it a national monument in 1911 but Otto spent the rest of his life working to make it a national park. 2014 could be the year it finally happens. Please sign our petition and make the Colorado National Monument America's 60th national park."
Big Week for Public Lands in Congress—by ban nock: "It looks like the farm bill might have shook loose congress a little bit to pass some legislation. There is a lot going on or coming up just now regarding public lands.Some Wilderness areas in Nevada, and land in Montana protected from oil drilling, a few dozen thousand acres of sand dunes in Michigan for Wilderness, and some more smaller parcels in Nevada. [...] Lastly there is the public lands access bill whatever it's called. It's to unlock the checkerboarded public lands that we are all kept out of presently. Some Kossacks were opposed to this one for reasons I couldn't fathom. Presently the land is only available to large landowners who don't own it but own adjacent lands, the bill would open it up to public use."
National Parks, Forests & Other Public Lands
Expanding the National Parks System #11-Hawaii—by MorrellWI1983: "This is the eleventh diary in my Expanding the National Parks series. This week, I'm in Hawaii, the Aloha state. Hawaii is a small state, covering under 6500 miles in land area. despite this Hawaii ranks high on the list of states in terms of territory protected by the feds, 19.4% of the state is protected, good for 13th in the country. Hawaii has 2 national parks, 2 national monuments, 11 wildlife refuges, and 5 historical sites. As with the other states I will propose adding more areas to Hawaii's tally."