|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 262 of these spotlighting more than 16,082 eco-diaries. Below are categorized links and excerpts to 87 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 sustainable squiggle.
Eco-Philosophy & Essays
Tomgram: In the Carbon Wars, Big Oil Is Winning—by Michael Klare via TomDispatch: "Listening to President Obama’s State of the Union address, it would have been easy to conclude that we were slowly but surely gaining in the war on climate change. 'Our energy policy is creating jobs and leading to a cleaner, safer planet,' the president said. 'Over the past eight years, the United States has reduced our total carbon pollution more than any other nation on Earth.' Indeed, it’s true that in recent years, largely thanks to the dampening effects of the Great Recession, U.S. carbon emissions were in decline (though they grew by 2% in 2013). Still, whatever the president may claim, we’re not heading toward a 'cleaner, safer planet.' If anything, we’re heading toward a dirtier, more dangerous world. A series of recent developments highlight the way we are losing ground in the epic struggle to slow global warming. This has not been for lack of effort. Around the world, dedicated organizations, communities, and citizens have been working day by day to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and promote the use of renewable sources of energy. The struggle to prevent construction of the Keystone XL tar-sands pipeline is a case in point. As noted in a recent New York Times article, the campaign against that pipeline has galvanized the environmental movement around the country and attracted thousands of activists to Washington, D.C., for protests and civil disobedience at the White House. But efforts like these, heroic as they may be, are being overtaken by a more powerful force: the gravitational pull of cheap, accessible carbon-based fuels, notably oil, coal, and natural gas."
King Carbon—by Hermenutic: "It is not only liquids and gasses that contribute to a diminished quality of life. Coal is also identified as a major player in the degradation of bodies of water used for drinking and recreation. The recent contamination of the Dan River in North Carolina is a case in point. The causes are noted by the website cleanenergy.org in the following statement. 'Before this disaster, DENR had determined the Dan River plant was operating illegally and Duke chose to do nothing. This spill was a failure of Duke’s routine maintenance, it wasn’t caused by a natural disaster or extenuating circumstances, reinforcing the reality that it’s nearly impossible to safely operate these old coal ash impoundments. The only effective means of addressing these impoundments is to remove the ash away into new dry, lined landfills that are safely away from public waterways, just like Santee Cooper plans to do in South Carolina.'"
Taking Climate Change Off the Table—by Kathryn Brusco: "For the purpose of this article, let’s take climate change off the table. I won’t even state my opinion on it. Pretend that Global Warming is not even part of the discussion. A few simple questions. Do you want to breathe clean air? Do you want you children to breathe clean air? Do you want to drink clean water? Do you want your children to drink clean water? Do you want to maintain the beauty of nature? Next set of questions: How do we do this? Do we move away from oil and coal as the main energy sources? Yes. Do we try to move towards clean energy such as solar and wind? Yes. Do we stop fracking? Yes. Do we stop the use of certain pesticides? Yes. Do we regulate the proper disposal of chemicals? Yes. Do we have safety standards for factories and businesses that deal with dangerous chemicals and pollutants? Yes. This is all just common sense. [...] You don’t have to want to protect the environment to want to protect yourself or your family. This isn’t rocket science. It’s self-preservation in the most basic sense. You just have to think … and once you or your kid have contracted some cancer caused by some pollutant that you ignored because Global Warming is a hoax (in your mind), it’s too late."
Full Disclosure About Energy - What A Concept!—by richturc125: "A new energy dialogue is needed in the U.S. with an understanding of the true potential, limitations, and costs—both financial and environmental—of the various fossil fuel energy panaceas being touted by industry and government proponents. The U.S. cannot drill and frack its way to ‘energy independence.’ At best, shale gas, tight oil, tar sands, and other unconventional resources provide a temporary reprieve from having to deal with the real problems: fossil fuels are finite, and production of new fossil fuel resources tends to be increasingly expensive and environmentally damaging. Fossil fuels are the foundation of our modern global economy, but continued reliance on them creates increasing risks for society that transcend our economic, environmental, and geopolitical challenges. The best responses to this conundrum will entail a rethink of our current energy trajectory - David Hughes The problem with the tactic of massaging a few facts to tell a partial tale only is that the challenges we’ll face in the not-too-distant future will become more burdensome absent some integrity and honesty from sources who do in fact know more and know better."
Guardian: Decade long pause in warming due to Pacific trade winds—by gnosticator: 'The contentious 'pause' in global warming over the past decade is largely due to unusually strong trade winds in the Pacific ocean that have buried surface heat deep underwater, new research has found. The research shows that sharply accelerating trade winds in central and eastern areas of the Pacific have driven warm surface water to the ocean's depths, reducing the amount of heat that flows into the atmosphere. Matthew England, a climate scientist at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, and leader of the research, said that while the solar minimum and aerosol particles have contributed to the slowdown, strong trade winds are the significant factor. The study suggests the warming hiatus could continue for much of the present decade if the trade winds continue; however, should the winds return to their long-term average speeds, rapid warming will resume."
At a farm Friday, Obama will announce drought relief. But why not back two year-old climate bills?—by Meteor Blades: "Precisely what the president will say today regarding global warming hasn't been announced. Since one of the people who will be joining him for his tour of California farm country is Sen. Barbara Boxer, something it would be encouraging to hear him say is that he stands behind two pieces of climate-related legislation that Boxer and Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont introduced exactly a year ago but have been languishing ever since. The legislation consists of two parts. First is the Sustainable Energy Act, which would cut subsidies and tax breaks for the fossil fuel industry and extend tax credits for production of renewable energy from solar, wind and geothermal sources through 2021. Second is the Climate Protection Act, which would establish a carbon emissions fee of $20 per ton on nearly 3,000 of the largest polluters with 60 percent of the revenue going rebate each month to American families, provide for investments in renewable energy and efficiency, and protect people from hydraulic fracturing ('fracking') under the Safe Drinking Water Act."
Climate: When Broad but Shallow Public Support Meets Narrow but Deep Industry Pockets—by Liberty Equality Fraternity and Trees: "Yesterday, I came across an article in ClimateProgress entitled 'New Poll: Most Republicans Want To Regulate Carbon Pollution.' It was on the latest report from the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication. The report does show that a majority of Republicans support regulating carbon pollution. But it also shows why that doesn't mean anything. [...] A majority of Republicans support treating carbon as a pollutant and policies that help shift the economy away from fossil fuels to renewable energy. Sounds great, right? Don't get your hopes up. First of all, Republicans just don't see global warming as an important issue."
Climate Change Hits Home in UK -- Most January Rain Ever—by Eternal Hope: "Climate change has hit home in the UK, where London has experienced its rainiest January ever, NPR reports. And news reports suggest that it is going to be even worse over the next week. The Thames has overflowed to the edge of Windsor Castle; NPR reports that thousands have fled and more are fleeing every day. Pictures are showing people walking in ankle deep water, trying to get by. [...] this disaster could help bring about the end of Prime Minister David Cameron's government. The government is under heavy fire for cutting back on environmental agency workers who are specifically trained to respond to floods. This, according to NPR, did not sit well with people."
The Hypocrisy of US News Coverage of Winter Weather and Climate Change—by pierre9045: "As far as the scientific community is concerned, the overwhelming consensus is that human-caused climate change is the reality, that we can expect more extreme weather events as a result, including harsher winters. Given all of this, the absence, marginalization, or outright misreporting of climate change coverage by mainstream media is outrageous and should be treated as such. I could just as well just say this about many other issues besides climate change that the media chooses to misreport, however the weather is a special case. For a subject the media loves to devote such an inordinate amount of time and resources, they choose to ignore such a vital component of the story. It would be like describing the plot of "The Walking Dead" without ever mentioning the zombies. It is true that at the end of the day, the media is a business, and they very likely put their business interests ahead of properly informing the public. Nevertheless, this is a responsibility we should expect our press to uphold, something that we have not properly appreciated."
Climate Zones and Resiliency Funds, Obama's "duck and cover" For Global Warming—by pollwatcher: "President Obama's paltry efforts to make people believe we can "adapt" to Global Warming is akin to the civil defense efforts of the 1950's trying to make people believe we could fight and "survive" a nuclear war. Most of you probably don't remember the 'duck and cover' training school kids got in the 50's and 60's to "protect" themselves from the 20 megaton air burst that was going to vaporize everything within a 3 mile radius of ground zero and completely destroy everything in a 15 mile radius. Yep, after the nuclear attack you were supposed to crawl out from under your school desk and do... what? I never quite got that second part. What were you supposed to do when you crawled out of the rubble with a million or so dead people all around and no electricity, no gasoline, no food, no water, no government, and streets full of armed survivalists who've just had their dreams come true so can they can suck up any remaining resources and kill anyone who gets in their way? Of course, this whole effort was total bullshit."
It's Not Just the Weather, Stupid, It's the Climate!—by xaxnar: "The difference between climate and weather is why it is not easy to hold up a smoking gun; it's difficult to point to one event and definitively say it's because of climate change. BUT… and it's a big but, when looking at those single events in a larger context, it is possible to start picking out the ones that are starting to fall outside normal expectations. Think of it like baseball; you can't look at a single ball game during the season and proclaim a team on a winning streak or a losing streak - but as the season plays out, it becomes obvious. There is almost no disagreement now that human activities are having an effect on global climate, at least among scientists, and that we're running out of time to do something about it. Elsewhere? If people seem confused or only somewhat concerned about Global Climate Change, there's no shortage of reasons. One, of course, is the deliberate effort by people with a huge financial incentive to cloud, confuse, and otherwise spread lies about it."
A Public Service Announcement—by citisven: "The Golden State is in the midst of a three-year drought—and scientists believe that this year may end up being the driest in the last half millennium, according to University of California-Berkeley professor B. Lynn Ingram. Californians are scared, with good reason: Fire danger in the state is high, and drinking-water supplies are low. According to the United States Drought Monitor, most of the state is experiencing "extreme drought," the second highest of six rankings. About 10 percent of the state is experiencing "exceptional drought," the highest possible level. As of this week, 17 communities are in danger of running out of water, forcing some to buy it or run pipes from other districts."
Democratic Senators Weigh In On California Drought—by Richard Lyon: "After Boehner took a photoop in the San Joaquin Valley the house Republicans passed legislation that would institute various measures of federal intervention in California water management. Now with Obama scheduled to make a political pit stop in the area, California's Democratic senators Feinstein and Boxer have introduced legislation in the Senate as a counter proposal to the Republican bill. Traditionally Feinstein is viewed as an ally of agribiz and Boxer as a supporter of environmental causes. However, this looks like yet another situation where partisanship tromps policy. [...] The essence of the difference would appear to be that the Republicans are trying to use the crisis of the drought as an excuse to institute permanent rollbacks to environmental protections, while the Democratic approach tends more in the direction of crisis management. One of the major environmental questions is whether this crisis can be managed in such a way as to avoid inflicting permanent environmental damage on the Sacramento delta and the San Francisco Bay. While the politicians are wheeling and dealing, the forces of nature are rolling the dice."
Senate Dems Choose Climate Delayer—by play jurist: "When it comes to climate change delay is denial. Anyone who does not acknowledge that immediate steps must be taken to dramatically reduce emissions is by implication denying the scientific fact that precious little carbon sequester capacity remains for us to use without exceeding 2c warming. The difference between delayers and deniers is more rhetorical than substantive. They share the same policy positions and goals. It's just that the delayer is the good cop to the denier's bad cop. Inhofian madhattery lets the Landrieu and Manchin types sound somewhat scientifically sane when they say "of course we eventually will have to do something about climate change, but not yet." The Democratic Senate leadership has just chosen climate change delayer Mary Landrieu to be chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Let that sink in."
Less than Zero: Republicans Fail League of Conservation Voters Test—by willyr: "If you came home from school waving your latest test in your hand, do you think your Mom and Pop would be glad to see a Big Fat Zero on it? Yeah, be neither. But that's what 48 House Republicans got on the League of Conservation Voters Scorecard for 2013 released today. In the Senate, 17 Republicans scored "Below 10." Now 10 might sound pretty high, right? Not when you're scoring out of 100. By contrast, 72 House Democrats scored "Above 95," which is A+ in my book. Three Democratic lawmakers—California Reps. Linda Sánchez, Scott Peters and Jared Huffman—received perfect scores. In the Senate, 30 Democrats---natch---received scores of 100."
Food, Agriculture & Gardening
About Those Industry Funded GMO Studies ...—by marc brazeau: "Let's talk about those GMO funded studies. You know the ones. The ones you always hear about from Anti-GMO folks when you read the comment section for any story about GMOs. According to those folks, the whole scientific consensus on GMOs is based on those studies. According to peanut gallery, the only studies that show that GMOs pose no different risks than conventionally bred crops were all bought and paid for by Monsanto. That would make the consensus suspicious right? It would if there weren't also a ton of independently funded studies that show the same thing. Instead, what the complaints about industry funded studies show is an ignorance of the literature and a lazy desire to dismiss inconvenient evidence in order to preserve predetermined ideological commitments. It's just plain old confirmation bias and motivated reasoning run amok. [...] Elsewhere, the fine folks at Biofortified have begun working on a database of GMO research, while that work is still in progress, they have gathered a collection of 126 studies with independent funding. Not all of the studies are supportive of the position that GMOs are no riskier than their conventionally bred counterparts, but the vast majority support that proposition."
FOOD FIGHT: Oregon on Frontlines—by occupystephanie: "Long-fought small victories are what Pete Seeger meant when he spoke of a “teaspoon brigade” and the power of small. When asked to comment upon the size of an assembled crowd of tens of thousands, he responded-- ‘Why not a hundred small ones?’ Seeger’s metaphor for the teaspoon brigade involved a teeter-totter which had a concrete weight at one end and a porous laundry basket on the other. He asked us to imagine that people were trying to fill it with teaspoons of sand that simply ran out. Others would laugh at them, saying ‘How can you expect to fill that!”. He asked us to further imagine if a lot of people were doing this and it became full, so that people would say, ‘Now how did that happen so quickly?’ A basket was filled in my town last week by a small determined group of people who have been loading their teaspoons of sand over the past two years when their Food Bill of Rights Ordinance finally passed Constitutional muster and can now appear on the ballot."
FOOD FIGHT: Local Media Coverage—by occupystephanie: "SB 863 (dubbed "Oregon's Monsanto Protection Act") preempts any local municipality or county from passing regulations concerning agriculture. It was put forward by legislators alarmed at four counties pushing forward with ordinances banning GMO. Due to overwhelming public outcry and many citizen's groups, the preemption bill failed to pass during legislative session. The bill was subsequently 'gutted and stuffed' into an appropriations bill during special session to secure Republican votes. The organization of the Benton County Community Rights coalition was originally formed over the controversial unilateral decision by Katy Coba, Oregon Department of Agriculture director, to overturn the Willamette Valley exclusion zones which had severely restricted the growing of GMO canola. This ODA decision coincided with the sudden appearance of a canola seed processing plant in the midvalley to make biofuel. The cultivation of GMO canola in Benton County alerted farmers in the burgeoning specialty seed industry as well as organic and conventional farmers who feared GMO cross contamination."
Beware of GMO—by thefarleftside: "You don't know when, you don't know where, but they're out there, waiting for you, and they're gonna getcha."
Saturday Morning Garden Blogging Vol. 9.52—by Frankenoid: "While you folks to the east have been buried in snow this past week, Denver's bout of cold finally broke. It's been sweater weather here, with the high nudging near 60°. And every time the snow cover clears in the front yard, more spring bulbs are peeping out of the soil. The warm weather is forecast to continue for several days, so we may get the back yard melted out, too. Soon it will be time to start the tomato, eggplant and pepper seedlings. But first we have the 9th Anniversary Edition of Saturday Morning Garden Blogging next week. And I'm getting kind of worried. I check the kosmail every day, but we have received no messages with information on candidates for local elections to include in next week's 9th Anniversary Seeds of Change fundraising opportunity."
The SNAP Challenge Gourmet | Dented Can Chili—by marc brazeau: "The other day I was in the market, grocery shopping and as I was grabbing a half gallon of milk, I glanced in the dented and discarded bins. I often peek, but have never bought anything but soup vegetables. Instead of the usual completely useless crap, there was a pile of canned goods. I took a closer look. Chili. Black beans. Refried beans. Tomato puree. Hmmm. White beans. More chili. This is starting to look like a plan. Here's what I scooped up. Nalley Big Chunk Chili (no beans) .99¢ (reg. $2.00); Nalley Big Chunk Chili (no beans) .99¢ (reg. $2.00); Hormel Beef Chili with Beans .69¢ (reg. $1.29); Dennison's Chili with Beans .89¢ ($1.83); Rosarita Refried Beans .49¢ (reg. $1.00); S&W White Beans .49¢ (reg. .89¢); S&W Black Beans .49¢ (reg. .89¢); Hunts Tomato Puree .69¢ (reg. $1.33). For a grand total of $5.72 and a savings of $5.51. How to bring this pile of salty swill up to some semblance of acceptable nutrition, wholesomeness and deliciousness without a lot of effort or spending?"
Incentivizing Work in SNAP with Vegetables—by marc brazeau: "Against the backdrop of the foolish pearl clutching that has greeted the CBO report that shows Obamacare will give people the freedom to choose to work less, I stumbled across a piece by Reihan Salam on Representatives Nikki Tsongas (D-MA) and Tom Petri's (R-WI) push for a commission to improve co-coordination between federal and state anti-poverty programs. Petri is particularly interested in dealing with the disincentives to work that are built into many programs, sometimes in the aggregate."
Laser Fusion Energy Breakthrough - Breakeven Point Exceeded in Hydrogen Target—by FishOutofWater: "We are a big step closer to the impossible dream of producing useful energy from fusion of hydrogen to helium today. A massive array of laser beams at Lawrence Livermore Lab focused on a tiny target of frozen hydrogen compressed it and heated it to millions of degrees, generating fusion reactions that produced more energy than the focused laser beams deposited in the target. While this is far from the energy breakeven point for the whole system, because much energy is lost outside the target, it's a major step forward in understanding and controlling fusion power, the power of the sun. Fusion has been the carbon emissions free, virtually limitless green energy source, that has up to now never come close to breaking even. This is a major milestone in moving from science fiction towards possible development of fusion energy. This experiment was about ten times more effective at producing self-heating by helium nuclei in the target than the previous best effort."
A Laser Focus on Fusion Energy—by Gethsemani Sam: "So it's a huge news day in America. This means that in the current media climate - One of the top scientific stories perhaps ever released is getting pushed way down the media food chain and I would bet that less than 1% of Americans even know that Fusion just got real, or have any intelligent media pundits discuss the implications of such an event so far."
Dirty Dealings Behind a Clean Coal Plant—by 6412093: "Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz calls the federally-funded Kemper "gasified-coal" power plant 'A look into the future' and insists, 'We're going to need not 10, maybe 100 more of these plants across the country,' when he toured the site late last year. Moniz’s federal Department of Energy (DOE) has poured almost $300 million into the Kemper plant, as part of a program to encourage coal-fired power plants that produce 'clean, reliable, and affordable' electricity, and planned to offer loan guarantees. But a closer work at the Kemper powerhouse reveals the facility will be dirtier than other proposed coal-fired plants and will emit more greenhouse gasses than a natural-gas-fired plant. As for affordable electricity, plant owner Southern Company recently admitted to multi-billion dollar cost overruns on the plant's construction in Mississippi. This formerly $2.4 billion plant will now cost closer to $5 billion, and the meter is still running. The plant has fallen so far behind schedule that it’s forfeited another $135 million in tax credits, a fact Moniz chose not to mention."
TEPCO radically under-reports radiation at Fukushima—by patbahn: "Tepco, the utility company that is managing the destroyed Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan said that there were mistakes in the radiation levels they recorded last year. According to Japanese media, Tepco announced last week that what was recorded as 900,000 becquerels per liter of deadly beta radiation from a test-well last July was wrong and the actual level should read 5 million becq per liter. That's five times more than what they announced previously, and nearly 170,000 times more than the permissible level. Tokyo Electric Power Co. said on 7 February that it will review a "massive" amount of radiation data it has collected at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant because readings may be lower than actual figures due to improper measurement."
Maui's Dirty Little Secret—by Karen from Maui: "It's tourist season on Maui now. And we all breathe a sigh of relief because the daily smoke and ash from sugarcane burning is on hiatus. For three months we can breathe without choking on smoke that HC&S (Hawaiian Commercial and Sugar) creates with their antique plantation operation on 37,000 acres of this small island. Perhaps the 'visitors' (as we call tourists) are unaware of cane burning but that's no secret to the residents and causes one of the biggest controversies—pitting the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) against the citizens who suffer from their employer's bad environmental practices. There is, however, a more insidious and almost invisible source of pollution that is silently raining toxics, SOx and NOx down on the children of Wailuku and Kahului—HC&S's coal operation."
Trump Unable to Sway Scotland to Reject Wind Energy in Favor of the View from his Fairway—by JP Shannon: "While enough money funneled through organizations like ALEC or the funding web of Koch et al. can purchase many legal outcomes in the US, it appears the Trump Organisation spending train was unable to sway Lord Doherty and the Scottish judicial system in favor of its agenda to reject the planned construction of an offshore wind turbine farm off the coast of Aberdeen in east Scotland. Naturally, Trump's desire to see approval for the £230m European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre (EOWDC) overturned rose from a grave international business concern: that the turbines would obstruct the view from his elite golf club at Menie Estates."
Frack - Free in the Finger Lakes, Part I IAN: February 13, 2014—by weck: "FrackFreeGenesee is a three year old organization of citizen volunteers performing peer-to-peer education to landowners and others about what fracking will mean to their community should it come to town. Bob [Thompson] and his neighbors were approached by 'landsmen' to lease their land a few years ago. In doing his research, he found that the landsmen were willing to stretch the truth about the impact of fracking, and, what triggered him strongly to resist fracking in New York and specifically in the Finger Lakes Region was the provision of the lease stating 'lifetime mineral rights.' Once embedded into a farmer's property, there would not be a way to exit the lease, short of repurchasing the rights from whichever company then owned them."
Stop Fracking In The Ocean Along California's Central Coast—by CentralCoaster: "This is my first Diary. The Sierra Club just emailed that the California Coastal Commission is holding hearings this coming Wednesday in Pismo Beach to discuss ongoing, secretive, fracking in the ocean off California's Central Coast. This is a very important issue and I RSVP'd that I will attend the meeting to learn more and to oppose fracking along our, relatively unspoiled, beautiful coast. I well remember the Santa Barbara oil spills in the late sixties that devastated Santa Barbara's beaches and killed many birds and other animals. The spills led to strong opposition to more oil drilling along the Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo Counties coastlines. I recall later attempts to build oil servicing ports and pipeline corridors along our coasts that were defeated by local initiatives. We are surrounded by newly discovered recoverable Monterey Shale deposits that could lead to a lot of local inland fracking too in coming years that could despoil our environment on land and in our seashores."
Keystone and Other Fossil Fuel Transportation
Racist 'Sacrifice Zones' With XL Pipeline are Grounds Alone for Rejecting Permit—by Patriot Daily News Clearinghouse: "The public debate whether President Obama should approve Keystone XL pipeline is focused on the salient impacts to climate change, natural resources and wildlife. What is missing from this debate is the overriding issue of how does the pipeline directly harm people? Under the law, this is key to any decision. The pipeline should be rejected because it creates (or expands) sacrifice zones for Indians, other minorities and low-income communities. This violates the legal mandate of compliance with environmental justice principles that the State Department must consider when evaluating whether approving the pipeline is in the national interest, a process which is now underway. Many corporations have a history and pattern of locating energy and other projects in or near minority, Indian or low-income communities. They force the burdens of projects designed (they say) to benefit society primarily on these targeted communities, which can thus create 'sacrifice zones.' The projects devastate the lives of the people in these zones by harming their culture, health, lives, lands, natural resources, wildlife, homes and/or quality of life. These people are marginalized by commodifying them. They are harmed in the name of the 'greater good' of the dominant culture for the provision of energy and disposal of waste."
AZ-03: Raúl Grijalva (D) Calls On President Obama To Reject The Keystone XL Pipeline—by poopdogcomedy: "Received this e-mail today from Progressive Caucus Co-Chair Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva (D. AZ-03) regarding President Obama and the Keystone XL Pipeline: We both know corporations have gotten a blank check long enough. Now we can do something about it. Sign my petition to tell President Obama to reject the dirty Keystone XL pipeline. [...] This pipeline will carry Canadian tar sands to the Gulf of Mexico for export. It's not about creating jobs in this country—it's about lining pockets already full of cash. That's not in the national interest and it's not how we should be doing business."
"Time to Build Keystone XL" - What the American Petroleum Institute is telling elected officials—by Mike Kahlow: "I receive regular emails from Jack Gerard, the "President and CEO" of API, the American Petroleum Institute, a nonprofit interest group. Yesterday, Jack wrote me and told me that it's time to Build Keystone XL. After all, environmental concerns have been repeatedly put to rest1, according to Jack. My buddy Jack made $6.4 million last year as President and CEO of API, nobly heading this nonprofit tax-exempt outfit to help better educate all us Americans. [...] What I really wanted to talk about is that I'm on Jacks email list because I'm a county supervisor. The API apparently has a pretty good grassroots operation going when they're emailing county supervisors in states that don't even have any energy production. I generally don't blog about my experience as a county supervisor. I believe in transparency and openness. But in order to work for my constituents and with my colleagues I can't be blogging to the world. This, however, is different. I never asked my buddy Jack to send me emails, he's not my constituent, and I have to believe that what he's sending out is going out to thousands of supervisors, councilmembers, and legislators throughout the country. As such, it should be public."
Writing XL Public Comments: Focus on Obama's Test of Carbon Pollution & Climate Change Impacts—by Patriot Daily News Clearinghouse: "Writing public comments in opposition to the presidential permit for the Keystone XL pipeline is as easy as posting comments at Daily Kos. But submitting public comments is activists' opportunity to make our voices heard directly to the White House without the interference of media, lobbyists or the GOP. We have until March 7 to express our views on what should be the outcome of the president's 'National Interest Determination (NID),' that is, on whether or not building the big tar sands pipeline is in the interest of the United States. Public comments make a difference. The vast number of prior public comments on the earlier drafts of the environmental impact statement for Keystone raised issues that President Obama and the State Department cited when delaying a decision on whether to move ahead with the NID as well as extending the time for completion of the process. Public controversy, as demonstrated by the number of comments opposing the XL, can be a key factor in this process."
Kitchen Table Kibitzing 2/10/14: Fight The KXL!!—by WarrenS: "I grew up in a liberal academic household, and I've always been somewhat active politically, but it was in 2005 that I really began paying attention to climate change. My daughter was born that year, and naturally that made me start thinking about the future she was going to inherit. For the first few years I spent more time alternating between parenting and worrying, but in 2009 the late, great JohnnyRook directed me to 350.org, and I began aligning myself with their struggle to save our planet. Specifically, I put on a benefit concert in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and raised almost $1800 for 350.org. [...] Producing infrequent events didn't satisfy my activist itch. I needed something that I could do every day, as what my friend gmoke calls a "Practice of Conscience." So on January 1, 2010, I began writing climate letters; one a day, every day, no vacations, no exceptions. Every day, I'd find an aspect of climate change presented in some newspaper or magazine, and I'd write them a letter. I got better and better at condensing my talking points into 150-word bursts, and my hit rate improved. Some high points of my letter-writing over the past four years included: getting published in Time Magazine (mirabile dictu, a letter on media irresponsibility), USA Today, The New York Times (5 times over the past four years, IIRC), The Washington Post, The Boston Globe...and abroad in places as disparate as Greenland, Djakarta, Pakistan, Ireland, Taiwan, Malta, and the Solomon Islands. But while it was very satisfying, the Climate Letter Project took its toll. Specifically, it sapped almost every bit of optimism I had."
Worried About Keystone Pipeline—by paradox: "[I]f pressed to state the primary immediate political concern for the Obama Administration and Democratic Party I’d easily state the imminent Keystone Pipeline decision, so much can go catastrophically wrong for the Party if it’s approved. There seems to be very little comprehension in DC that Keystone is not at all about energy dependence, jobs, placating vociferous environmentalists or groveling to big oil money, it’s about moving forward with our future or deliberately throwing it away. We as a species cannot burn fossil fuels anymore. Yes they’ll run out one day, but we’re irrevocably poisoning our atmosphere—just as we can easily poison our water—to the point where life can’t make it, we and the ecosystem can’t evolve quickly enough for the coming weather changes. Life as we credibly know it could easily be gone by 2080, just three generations from now."
Keystone XL-- A poll—by benamery21: "My opposition to KXL is political, not pragmatic. It seems emblematic of a larger problem rather than truly significant in and of itself. The studies released suggest only a few percent of the carbon which traverses the pipeline would actually add to emissions, the theory is that most of the carbon would simply displace consumption of alternative carbon sources. I find this suggestive but not totally convincing. Some opposition rhetoric suggests an impact greater than 100% of the direct emissions from all of the carbon conveyed. I find this similarly unconvincing, however, it may be politically useful in addressing the unmitigated impacts of lower profile projects."
Keystone XL will create 50 jobs!—by TheodorP: "Why aren't we shouting this from the rooftops?... "Keystone XL will create 50 permanent jobs!, Keystone XL will create 50 permanent jobs!" [repeat annoyingly as required]" Documents: MD County Housing First East Coast LNG Export Facility Signs Non-Disclosure Deal—by Steve Horn and Caroline Selle: "DeSmogBlog has obtained documents revealing that the government of Calvert County, MD, signed a non-disclosure agreement on August 21, 2012, with Dominion Resources — the company proposing the Cove Point Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) export terminal in Lusby, MD. The documents have raised concerns about transparency between the local government and its citizens. The proposal would send gas obtained via hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) from the Marcellus Shale basin to the global market. The export terminal is opposed by the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, Maryland Sierra Club and a number of other local environment and community groups."
I fell for it and I am soooo sorry—by BabblingBrook: "I got a robocall today and I fell for it. Someone says 'We need to tell President Obama to pass the Keystone XL Pipeline. People are hurting and they need jobs. The pipeline will provide these jobs. Press "1" and tell the President to approve the pipeline.' If I had hung up at this point I would not be kicking myself right now. I pressed '1' thinking that I would actually be able to say 'Don't listen to these people. The pipeline is a really bad idea and will only provide about 50 permanent jobs' But nothing except, 'Thank you. Paid for the Petroleum Institute of America.'"
Meanwhile on the other Tar Sands (Trans-Mountain) Pipeline Project in Canada...—by Lefty Coaster: "A very large number of groups and individuals have sought standing under Canada's new restrictive development friendly laws in the Trans-Mountain Pipeline project's bid to expand Alberta's Tar Sands access to an oil port near Vancouver, by twining an existing pipeline and tripling its capacity to move Tar Sands Bitumen from northern Alberta to the Pacific Coast. Thousands of groups, businesses and individuals have applied to take part in the upcoming National Energy Board hearings into Kinder Morgan’s proposed expansion if its Trans Mountain oil pipeline through Alberta and British Columbia. Energy board spokeswoman Sarah Kiley says among the 2,131 applicants are many First Nations groups, municipalities from Edmonton to Vancouver, conservation groups and businesses. I am gratified to see my own State doesn't intend to be an idle spectator in this process that would put parts of the Salish Sea on both sides of the border at increased risk."
Tar Sands Crude Oil in Albany, NY—by andydrew617: "Albany, NY currently finds itself at the frontlines of the fight over the use of crude oil extracted from tar sands. A proposed expansion of the Global Partners terminal at the Port of Albany has come under fire from local elected officials, interest groups and citizens alike. The controversy centers around the plan to construct seven boilers at the port facility, designed to heat crude oil freighted in from the Bakken oil fields of North Dakota and Canada to temperatures of 120 degrees. This would make it easier to transfer the crude oil onto barges and other vessels for shipping down the Hudson River. Concerns abound over the potential environmental, public health, and safety risks of the project."
Federal Government Closed/oral arguments against spectra pipeline case postponed—by rebel ga: "In NYC alone, there were 5,000 public comments against this pipeline. I have researched the dangers of this pipeline for over two years. I just don't know legalize or how to present my evidence to the Court. Any interested parties; please read my diaries and share them, use them in any way possible, to help stop spectra gas co and put an end to this pipeline. Thank You."
Town Evacuated After Gas Line Explosion in Kentucky—by Desi: "A natural gas line explosion early Thursday morning in Knifely, Kentucky (Adair County) set several homes on fire and sent at least one person to the hospital for treatment, says Kentucky Emergency Management. The EMA says the pipeline has been shut off at both ends and is being allowed to burn out. Kentucky State Police Trooper Billy Gregory says that there were minor injuries among crews fighting the fire. The town has been evacuated, according to WKYT news."
Eco-Related DC & State Politics
Gohmert to lead House Natural Resources Committee?—by CastleMan63: "Texas Republican Rep. Louis Gohmert is known for his fairly outrageous statements. Some might even say that he could be the dumbest member of Congress. He might soon be leading the House committee that has jurisdiction over our public lands and all the historic preservation, wilderness, national forests and national parks, grazing, fisheries, wildlife, mining, water, and energy policies of the nation, too."
National Anti-nuke group endorses Shenna Bellows for ME-Sen—by slakn1: "Council for a Livable World is pleased to endorse Shenna Bellows, a progressive Democrat from Maine who is challenging longtime Republican incumbent Susan Collins. Bellows brings to the race years of experience building coalitions across party lines and a strong grassroots focus. Shenna Bellows is a longtime progressive activist who is skilled at building coalitions across party lines. This national organization has been a major player in Maine for over five decades, most recently in the 2012 Maine Senate race where they were one of the top fundraisers for Sen Angus King (I-Me). It is particularly worthy of note that this non-partisan group could have chosen to back the incumbent Collins in an attempt to burnish their non-partisan credentials, but found in Bellows a compelling candidate."
Bill Nye to Debate Climate Change with Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R) on Meet the Press—by Lefty Coaster: "NBC News and Meet the Press will pretend that there is still a legitimate debate over Climate Change. Meet the Press will be hosting a 'Debate' between TV's Bill Nye and the House of Representatives' Vice Chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn) who has helped lead the House into a new Dark Age on climate."
Good News about EPW But Bad News about Energy—by Liberty Equality Fraternity and Trees: "Let's start with the goods news. Since Max Baucus (D-MT) was just confirmed as US Ambassador to China, Ed Markey was given his spot on the Environment and Public Works Committee. From 2007 to 2011, Markey was the chair of the House Energy Independence and Global Warming Committee, and he is currently a co-chair of the Bicameral Task Force on Climate Change. He was also, along with Henry Waxman, a co-sponsor of the American Clean Energy and Security Act passed by the House in 2009. This bodes well for EPW. Max Baucus, one of the more conservative members of the Democratic caucus, supports the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, opposes placing a fee on carbon, and had one of the lowest lifetime LCV ratings in the caucus. [...] Now, the bad news. With Max Baucus's retirement, Ron Wyden has taken his spot as chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. Wyden was formerly chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. Now that he's gone--and since Tim Johnson (D-SD)'s retiring, Mary Landrieu (D-OIL) becomes chair. And that's deeply troubling for anyone who cares about the future of the planet (and its people)."
Illinois Mine Safety Head Took Thousands in Campaign Contributions from Coal Baron Chris Cline—by Willinois: "Tony Mayville is a candidate for State Representative in southern Illinois and Chairman of the Washington County Democratic Party. He has also supervised the Mine Safety division and served as acting director of Mines & Minerals at the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. Over several years, including time while Mayville was responsible for regulating Illinois coal mines, he collected thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from companies owned by billionaire coal mine operator Chris Cline. In November 2013 a fatal accident occurred at a coal mine owned by Chris Cline and regulated by Tony Mayville."
MA Governor Democratic Candidates' Forum on Energy—by gmoke: "These are rough notes and impressions. All mistakes and opinions are mine."
The Great Outdoors
Backyard Science - Happy Third Anniversary!—by bwren: "Happy Anniversary, Backyard Science! While we've grown some since Mark Sumner introduced the group on Valentine's Day of 2011, and perhaps broadened our scope a bit, we've done our best to remain true to his original vision. Here's how he first described the goal of a group he called Backyard Science: The Importance of Backyard Science. Mark Sumner. February 14, 2011 [...] For this group, I intend to offer regular observations of my own neighborhood, and a place to report the changes that you're seeing. Don't restrict yourself to first frosts and changing leafs. Report that odd beetle you saw (there are enough entomologists around here that there's a very good chance someone can help you identify it), mention the fox in your front yard, the box turtle that struggled across your drive, and even the giant millipede that invaded your shower. Taken individually, these observations may have little value (though they're often interesting starts for a conversation). Taken together we can build up an image of the world that has real value, both now and for the future. Open your eyes, start taking notes, and just consider this a convenient place to dump anything in nature that gets your attention. "
The Daily Bucket - Fun with Traffic Cams—by foresterbob: "Here's a quick bucket to get today's conversation started. When the weather gets interesting, traffic cams can tell us what's down the highway. How far away is the ice and snow? Are the roads passable? [...] The icy weather barely made it to Macon. All day Wednesday, the temperature hovered a degree or two above freezing as sheets of cold rain fell. After dark, ice began to accumulate, but by then the storm was winding down. We only received a light coating of ice. My home lost power for about an hour Thursday morning when an icy pine limb fell on a power line in my neighborhood. By noon, the ice had melted, and the sun began to peek through the thinning clouds."
All my little purple birds of winter wear royal feathered garments and stay year round. They'll be more brightly regal come spring when their joyous songs begin. Purple finches are native to North America. House finches were originally from the western United States and Mexico, but were brought east to Long Island in the 1940s to be illegally sold as caged birds. Most of the Hollywood Finches were released to avoid prosecution and they successfully multiplied. My feeders have both species year round."
Do Real Science-The GBBC Weekend—by YellerDog: "This weekend is the annual Great Back Yard Bird Count sponsored by Cornell University and the Audubon Society. When: Feb 13-17. Some people sit indoors and count their feeders through a window. Others take the title literally, go outside, look around and count what they see and make their report. I'll be out counting at least 5 hot spot locations complete with binoculars and scope and others even organize or take part in birding field trips but the idea is to keep it simple, and encourage very broad participation. Although they may be helpful you don't have to have birding books, binoculars or any other equipment. Most people know the common birds in their area and the report allows you to account for 'others unknown.' There is no age limit so it's something you can do with or get your kids to do especially if they are snowed in and bored. The birds are still out there no matter what the weather. The GBBC is normally a three day, one weekend February event but this year it's been extended until through Monday to take advantage of the holiday."
Yellowstone Bison To Slaughter - Buffalo Hippies Perturbed—by ban nock: "And if that's not good enough some of the team that officially manages the Yellowstone bison say it's time to begin hunts within the park itself. This week a few bison that wandered out of the northern boundary of Yellowstone National Park and were penned then carted away. The twenty bison sent to slaughter are the first of the potential 800 targeted for culling this year. The Park Service wants to reduce the current 4,400 animals down to around 3,000 to 3,500. The animals are slaughtered by Native American Tribes under an agreement with the Park Service. [...] Predators? Short faced bear and saber toothed all gone. As with most large wildlife, bison require human management, and for those who long for a romanticized yesteryear, management is antithesis to everything they believe in."
The Daily Bucket: RA update - he's found a new partner—by February 12, 2014
Salish Sea, PNW. I see no Bucket out today, so here's a quick update on the oystercatcher I reported on last week, the male marked with an auxiliary plastic band labeled RA, who I've been calling RAy. The bander told me RA was banded in 2009 along with his mate RJ. Since last fall I have seen RA foraging alone on the beach, every few days. No sign of RJ or any other oystercatcher. Yesterday afternoon I saw him with a second oystercatcher!"
Where Did All The Water Go?—by Dan Bacher: "Last summer, high water releases down the Sacramento, Feather and American rivers left Shasta, Oroville and Folsom reservoirs at dangerously low levels. Shasta is at 36 percent of capacity and 53 percent of average; Oroville, 36 percent of capacity and 54 percent of average; and Folsom, 17 percent of capacity and 32 percent of average. Yet Pyramid Lake in Southern California is at 96 percent of capacity and 101 percent of average, while Castaic Reservoir is 86 percent of capacity and 102 percent of average. The state and federal governments shipped massive quantities of water to corporate agribusiness interests on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley, the Kern Water Bank, oil companies conducting fracking and steam injection operations in Kern County and Southern California water Agencies. The massive diversions of water during a drought are now imperiling northern California water supplies and struggling Central Valley salmon and Delta fish populations."
Delta residents call on President Obama to not support peripheral tunnels—by Dan Bacher: "Friday, February 14 will be a busy day for opponents of the peripheral tunnels when they will go to Fresno to call on President Barack Obama to withdraw support for Governor Jerry Brown's Bay Delta Conservation Plan to build the peripheral tunnels. Restore the Delta (RTD), a coalition opposing the fish-killing peripheral tunnels, announced today they will hold a Fresno news conference on Friday, Feb. 14, as President Obama arrives, to call upon him to not support the tunnels, to let federal scientists do their job without political interference, and to offer better policies for a sustainable water future. The conference will take place at 9:30 am on Friday, at the Holiday Inn Fresno Airport, 5090 E. Clinton Way, Fresno - Kings Canyon Room. Then at 1:30 pm Delta residents will line the streets at Peach & McKinley across from the airport for a rally. Speakers will feature Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, Executive Director of Restore the Delta, Delta farmer Lynn Miller, and Rogene Reynolds."
Using Fracking Infrastructure for Drought Relief—by Rainy Day: "We know fracking uses a A LOT of water, actually creating droughts in communities. What if we could use fracking equipment to find and transport water? They've got the drills—they could drill wells for water. They've got massive water tank trucks—they could transport water to arid land and water it. We all know bottled water costs as much or more per gallon than gas. Fracking companies are in the game to make money. They could make money HELPING the environment rather than destroying it."
Eco-Activism & Eco-Justice
Divestment protest and human "oil spill" at Pitzer College 2/14/14—by Cassiodorus: "Events like this are always great. It doesn't matter how many people are in attendance -- practice makes perfect. To argue that the student divestment movement will fail in its stated goals would be beside the point. As long as students are being told that "there is no alternative" to capitalism, and specifically to a capitalist system that runs a fossil-fuel-burning infrastructure, they should continue to ask (with proactive naivete) why capitalism can't be any nicer than it currently is. If students are told (as one of the faculty speakers told them yesterday) that Pitzer should be able to divest from fossil fuel stocks without seriously endangering its net worth, then they should continue to demand just that. Whether or not it's really possible is beside the point."
Pat Quinn Gets Fracking Valentine—by Willinois: "Rising Tide Chicago posted video and pictures of Cupid's visit to Quinn's office with the message that the relationship between fracking and Illinois is a 'bad romance.' It partly reads, 'The Hydraulic Fracturing Regulatory Act and the recent rules released by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources are not based on scientific studies on hydraulic fracturing. They act to protect the profits and interests of industry, not Illinois citizens. Clean air & water and a safe climate are human rights. Hydraulic fracturing threatens these basic rights and no regulations will really protect us.'"
Quick re-mention of March 15 statewide "Don't Frack California" demonstrations—by mettle fatigue: "Gonna be a big protest next month. What: Don't Frack California. When: Saturday, March 15, 1 PM. Where: California State Capitol, 1315 10th St., Sacramento, CA 95814."
The most important day in the 21st century—by VL Baker: "'One day, sometime around the middle of this century, during the lifetime of people now alive, the population of the planet will be smaller than it was the day before. Global population growth is slowing, will level off, and one remarkable day, decline." Writing in 'Significant Figures,' Peter Gleick nails it. Where we are as a species on that day, which lies within many of our lifetimes, will determine whether or not humanity moves forward to evolve in safety and health. In 2006, the United Nations stated that the rate of population growth was visibly diminishing due to the ongoing global demographic transition. If this trend continues, the rate of growth may diminish to zero by 2050, concurrent with a world population plateau of 9.2 billion."
National Parks, Forests & Other Public Lands
Offspring of 'Sagebrush Rebels' still seek to pry public land into private hands for personal gain—by Meteor Blades: "The newest version of this attempted rip-off, as Jessica Goad, Outreach Manager for the Public Lands Project at the Center for American Progress co-wrote with Senior Fellow Tom Kenworthy last year, is, at least in part, a product of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and the Koch Industries'-founded and -funded Americans for Prosperity. As we've learned time and again, ALEC writes model right-wing legislation that it tries to get enacted in as many states as it can. Utah, Arizona, Wyoming, New Mexico, Colorado, Nevada and Idaho have all introduced or, in Utah's case, passed, legislation demanding federal transfer of lands."
NM-Sen: Tom Udall (D) Calls On Congress To Protect The Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks—by poopdogcomedy: "Received this e-mail today from Senator Tom Udall (D. NM): New Mexico is home to some of our country’s most beautiful natural treasures—not least among them are the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks, which surrounds Las Cruces in Doña Ana County. And for years, I’ve worked in conjunction with local officials and businesses, environmental groups, and federal agencies to help protect and preserve this distinctive land. Now, I’m calling on Washington to do the same. Add your voice to mine and tell Washington to act to protect the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks."
Protecting Pristine Lands for Future Generations—by Dan Chu: "Last week my wife and I drove up the legendary Highway One on the California coast. Our destination was somewhere about 100 miles north of San Francisco, planted on the windswept bluffs perched above the ocean. Presently, this stunning area is known as Point Arena- Stornetta Public Lands. It is a patchwork of public lands and Trust for Public Land conservation easements covering over 1000 rugged acres.We stopped, jumped out of the car into a stiff winter breeze and walked to the edge of the ocean. We were greeted by two harbor seals frolicking in the waves on rocks below us, and as we scanned the ocean, hundreds of harbor seal heads appeared, bobbing in the rough sea. As we walked along the bluffs, sea gulls and cormorants flew by and gathered on the rocks. It was exhilarating to see life thrive in such harsh conditions, knowing this scene has changed remarkably little over the past several thousand years. And, hopefully, the area will look this way thousands of years from now."
Mountain Bikes, ATVs, Wilderness, and other public lands—by ban nock: "Mountain bikes and ATVs didn't exist three decades ago. They along with snowmobiles, fat tired mountain bikes, the GPS and any number of other modernizations in how we get about the back country have brought previously inaccessible areas within day use distance of millions. Motorized users have borne the brunt of access restrictions. The ATV wore large tracks across previously inaccessible land and the total number of off roaders was small compared to hikers, and other back country users. In the 1990s large numbers of Wilderness areas and National Monuments having similar protected status to Wilderness were established both by legislative action and by executive order."
Pollution, Hazardous Wastes & Trash
VIDEO: ALEC's Valentine Service for Duke Energy—by cgibosn: "Over the last four years, Greenpeace has made a Valentine's Day tradition of spoofing the influence peddling of corporate lobbyists and captured politicians. This year's installment embodies the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, which reporters have characterized as a "dating service" for its role in pushing copycat, corporate-crafted laws through state legislatures. This year, our PolluterHarmony story wrote itself. Online dating ads running on TV have featured a creepy middleman who plays third wheel on various peoples' dates. In real life, ALEC is that creepy middleman, creating a tax-deductible process for companies to vote as equals with state politicians on bad laws that appear in legislatures around the country. This all happens with little to no disclosure, away from the constituents who elected ALEC's member legislators."
'Significant' spill of coal slurry taints creek in West Virginia—by Meteor Blades: "Officials of the state's Department of Environmental Protection don't yet know how much coal slurry has leaked from a facility in Kanawha County, West Virginia. But a DEP spokesman characterized it as 'significant.' It has already blackened Fields Creek not far from where it empties into the Kanawha River. State officials and those at West Virginia American Water say the spill is no threat to drinking water supplies. Indeed, Jimmy Gianato, the director of the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management at the state's Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety, said: 'I don't think there's really anything to it. It turned out to be much of nothing.' That doesn't quite seem to mesh with 'significant,' but if true, it would be good news after more than a month of worries caused by the 10,000-gallon spill of a chemical mixture—Crude MCHM—from Freedom Industries on the Elk River."
That recent W.Va. coal slurry spill one state official called 'much of nothing'? 100,000 gallons—by Meteor Blades: "On Tuesday, a malfunctioning valve in an eight-inch pipeline operated by the Patriot Coal Corp. 16 miles south of Charleston, West Virginia, sent what one state official called a "significant" amount of toxic coal slurry into a local creek. Another official, however, said of the spill, 'I don't think there's really anything to it. It turned out to be much of nothing.' Later in the day, it was announced that as much as 108,000 gallons of the stuff had leaked. Even in the lax regulatory atmosphere of West Virginia, that's a bit more than a 'much of nothing.'"
NC officials have fought coal-ash clean-ups that would have prevented Duke Energy's monster spill—by Meteor Blades: "Over the weekend, the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources announced that it had screwed up when it previously had said arsenic levels in the Dan River fell within state safety standards immediately after 82,000 tons of coal ash leaked Feb. 2. They didn't. In fact, on Feb. 3, the levels were four times higher than the standard. If you buy the official excuse, the failure was a reading comprehension error that occurred because the state has two different water-quality standards, one for aquatic life and another, more stringent one for human health. [...] However, even if this familiar story makes you skeptical of the official claim, the far larger problem in North Carolina is that department officials have repeatedly stuck their noses into lawsuits filed under the Clean Water Act to force Duke Energy to clean up several of its coal ash ponds throughout the state. Plus the problem of having a governor who worked for Duke for nearly three decades. And the problem that the Environmental Protection Agency won't have a coal ash rule in place until the end of 2014."
Federal Criminal Investigation of NC Govt. & Duke Energy for Dan River Coal Ash Spill—by FishOutofWater: "The United States Attorney issued subpoenas to Duke Energy and the North Carolina government agency DENR that is responsible for enforcing federal environmental water quality laws for a grand jury investigation into suspected felonious activity concerning the recent massive coal ash spill into the Dan River. The federal subpoena released by DENR requested extensive records going back to the year 2000 involving the relationship between Duke Power and DENR regarding the Dan River Steam Station. Environmental groups have repeatedly sued Duke Energy for action to stop the ongoing leakage of toxic coal ash contaminants into North Carolina's waterways and water supplies, but the state government has stepped in to stop the suits. Duke Energy and the state government have been repeatedly warned that coal ash ponds were endangering health and safety, but the state has repeatedly proposed settling with Duke power for tiny fines and minimal action to clean up the massive ash piles along North Carolina's rivers."
DOJ to Investigate NC Coal Ash Spill—by bear83: "The McCrory Administration has been a bit too cozy in the regulation of Duke Energy, McCrory's former employer. The U.S. Justice Department has launched a criminal investigation into the state environmental agency tasked with regulating Duke Energy after a coal ash spill left the Dan River so polluted that people were told not to touch the water. Subpoenas have been issued by federal investigators seeking records and information from Duke Energy and state workers involved in the regulatory process."
EPA Coal Ash meeting in Danville, Va.—by emmasnacker: "Got an e-mail this morning from 'Keep The Ban' about a meeting with EPA over the coal ash leak in Eden, NC that has polluted the Dan River and environs, including drinking water of municipalities downstream.
PA-08: Kevin Strouse (D) Calls On Mike Fitzpatrick (R) To Denounce The Hazardous Waste Incinerator—by poopdogcomedy: "Received this e-mail today from congressional candidate and Iraq & Afghanistan War Veteran, Kevin Strouse (D. PA-08): This is seriously troubling: There are plans to build a 50,000-square-foot hazardous waste incinerator plant right here in Bucks County. This plant is likely to be used to burn pharmaceutical materials and other hazardous waste right next to the Delaware river in a heavily populated area. This plant could be a dangerous threat to our children and our community and we must keep it out. But my opponent, Congressman Fitzpatrick hasn’t lifted a finger to protect our community from what could be a potential catastrophe. I got into this race because each morning as I get my kids ready for school, I think about what kind of future they will have -- and that includes growing up in a safe neighborhood -- and that certainly means one that’s free from a potential disaster caused by a toxic waste incinerator."
Transportation & Infrastructure
Sunday Train: Taking That High Speed Train in Georgia—by BruceMcF: "A high speed rail line between Columbus and Atlanta would cost between $1.3-$3.9 billion over the next 20 years to build, but once up and running would more than pay for its operations and maintenance, a consultant said today. It could also have a huge economic impact, according to Kirsten Berry, project manager consulting firm HNTB Corp., which performed the $350,000 study of the economic feasibility study of high speed rail between Columbus and Atlanta. The study was funded with a $300,000 Georgia Department of Transportation grant and the rest in private donations, according to city Director of Planning Rick Jones."
Electric Vehicles Rock!—by too many people: "The old Mini Cooper needed a valve job, so I was thrust into the vehicle market and finally got the car I had always wanted - an electric vehicle. I have a 3-year lease on a 2013 Fiat 500e. I have one scheduled maintenance at 2 years or 20 thousand miles, whichever comes first. I will have zero trips to the gas station. I will have zero oil changes. I will have driving joy. The 3-year lease was for $999 down and $199/month plus tax. The state throws in a $2500 rebate, for almost $1500 net cash back, after the down payment. The $7500 federal rebate is not applicable on a lease. I am lucky to live less than 10 miles from work, so I suffer no range anxiety. My wife owns a Prius, so if we go out of town we take her car. My commute to work has been pure joy."
Marine Protected Area Science Co-Chair Pleads Guilty to Embezzlement Charge—by Dan Bacher: "Ron LeValley of Mad River Biologists, the former co-chair of the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative Science Advisory Team to create alleged marine protected areas on the North Coast, pled guilty Tuesday to a single federal charge of conspiring to embezzle nearly $1 million in federal funds from the Yurok Tribe. Court documents reveal that LeValley conspired with Roland Raymond, Yurok Tribe Forestry Director, to embezzle the funds through a complex scheme of fake and inflated invoices and payments for spotted owl surveys that LeValley and his organization never performed. [...] The validity of the science employed by the MLPA Initiative Science Advisory Team under LeValley’s leadership becomes even more suspect when one considers that LeValley and the Team repeatedly and inexplicably refused to allow the Yurok Tribe to present their scientific studies regarding "marine protected areas." The Tribe exposed the questionable science of the MLPA Initiative in a statement on June 6, 2012."
Stewart Resnick, the Environmentalist?—by Dan Bacher: "The Center for Investigative Reporting describes Stewart Resnick, the Beverly Hills billionaire owner of Paramount Farms in Kern County, as a 'one-man environmental wrecking crew.' The powerful agribusiness tycoon has been instrumental in campaigns to eviscerate Endangered Species Act protections for Central Valley Chinook salmon and Delta smelt, to eradicate striped bass in California, and to build the fish-killing peripheral tunnels. Yet the wealthy agribusinessman also wears another hat—"environmental leader." Yes, Resnick serves on the board of directors of Conservation International, a corporate 'environmental' NGO, noted for its top-down approach to conservation and involvement with corporate greenwashing throughout the world."
Staging Sustainability—by arlenegoldbard: "I spent a chunk of last week in a very cold and snowy Toronto at Staging Sustainability 2014, a conference with the subtitle “People. Planet. Profit. Performance.” It was masterminded by Ian Garrett of the Center for Sustainable Practice in The Arts, who teaches at York University. The University was one of an impressive array of sponsors, reflecting the reality that many scientists took part side-by-side with artists and scholars. [...] I will use my next few blogs to feature some of the interesting work and ideas I encountered at Staging Sustainability. Up first, the Cape Farewell Foundation, dedicated to promoting 'a cultural response to climate change” by “bring leading artists together with climate scientists, engineers, economists and health practitioners.'"
Letter to President Obama on Rural America - The time to act is now!—by iowaforruralamerica: "You have spent a substantial amount of time traveling thru rural Iowa. You have seen first hand the effect that Washington's policies are having on rural Iowa. Why then have you not done anything to help these people and the rural communities that we depend on? My government continues to back practices, such as ethanol production (that promotes excessive crop prices, land prices and land abuse) etc, that are ruining the land and the state that I love. It doesn't take brilliance to understand the effect our 'modern (white collar) farming' practices are having on our land and the rural communities—especially, if you have seen their demise, first hand."
This BAD Santa Leaves Lumps of Coal in Your Lung Instead of Your Stocking—by IronicNews: "The Coal Industry is going to great lengths to screw their former miners, upon whose labor their fortune and success was built, out of their Black Lung disability benefits."