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dying dragonfly
Many of the dozens of environmentally related posts that appear at Daily Kos each week don't attract the attention they deserve. So, more than seven years ago, a new feature was launched to highlight those diaries. Initially called Eco-Diary Rescue, the name was changed to Green Diary Rescue after a couple of years. Now, after nearly 17,000 green diaries have been rescued, the name is changing again. From now on, because of the growing number of diaries being posted at the site, Spotlight on Green News & Views will appear twice a week, on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Saturday's spotlight is here. As has all along been true, inclusion of a diary in the Spotlight does not necessarily indicate my agreement with or endorsement of it.
Casey Camp, Ponca, at Reject and Protect, 2014
Casey Camp
Reject and Protect (#NoKXL): Strength in Community on the National Mall, Sat 4/26/14 (photos!)—by peregrine kate: "The cloudless blue sky above Washington DC on Saturday, April 26th, reflected the expanding passion and commitment expressed by the speakers and participants in the Reject and Protect Tipi Gifting Ceremony, the culminating event of several days of protest on the National Mall against the Keystone XL pipeline. It was a festive and high-spirited event in some aspects, but a solemn and determined one in others. Organizers with the Cowboy and Indian Alliance, the Sierra Club, 350.org, and Bold Nebraska had hosted events since Wednesday with great ceremony and panache. [...] Several tipis adorned the lawn, but one in particular, the backdrop for the speeches and the focus for the presentation, was meant to carry an essential set of messages (paraphrasing here) to President Obama: Reject the KXL pipeline permit request. Protect the land and water along the pipeline route, and the people whose lives and traditions derive from them. Honor your commitment to the future, starting now. The sentiment was very clear from the crowd that they were calling on the President to do the right thing. So much so that  Wizipan Little Elk,of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe who worked directly for President Obama's transition team in 2008 and also worked for former Senate leader Tom Daschle asked why President Obama would not uphold the promises he made to protect the land from development? That they had taken him in, given him a name, and made him one of them in honor. It was quite remarkable to hear."
green dots
Supreme Court: One State's Coal Pollution Not Allowed to Make Another State's Families Sick—by Mary Anne Hitt: "In a huge victory for public health, today the Supreme Court issued its opinion in a case considering the EPA's Cross-State Air Pollution rule, which is designed to protect Americans from dangerous air pollution from coal-fired power plants. In a 6-2 decision, the court delivered a resounding victory for clean air and public health, affirming EPA’s authority to deliver a protection that will reduce soot and smog pollution from power plants in 28 states, improve air quality, and reduce life-threatening respiratory illnesses that affect millions of Americans. Air pollution from power plants doesn’t stop at the state line, and without this strong safeguard, communities living downwind from coal plants would have suffered greater exposure to severe health problems. The Cross-State Air Pollution rule will prevent thousands of premature deaths, avoid 19,000 hospital and emergency room visits, prevent 1.8 million missed work and school days, and improve the lives of millions every year."
green dots
A New Low for Big Green: Environmental Defense Fund PAC Fundraising for Lindsey Graham—by Liberty Equality Fraternity and Trees: "Earlier this week, I criticized Big Green groups like NRDC and the Sierra Club for endorsing Keystone XL supporters. I don't think that environmental groups should be running ads and raising money for Democrats like Kay Hagan (D-NC) and Mark Begich (D-AK) because one should have far stronger dealbreakers when considering endorsements. (Running ads against their opponents, rather than for them, is another story, though.) That, although problematic, wasn't as bad as when the Environmental Defense Fund and its subsidiary Moms Clean Air Force decided to back Republican Susan Collins against her progressive Democratic challenger, Shenna Bellows. Never mind that Susan Collins has only a D on the League of Conservation Voters scorecard, or that a vote for Susan Collins is a vote for Mitch McConnell as Majority Leader and Jim Inhofe as EPW chair. However, EDF, commonly viewed as the corporatist wing of the environmental community, has hit a new low: fundraising for Lindsey Graham."
green dots
The Daily bucket- Bubble netting whales—by Wood Gas: "One of these wonderful creature's adaptations is a flexible but incredibly strong lower jaw. They can pop their mouths open traveling at full speed and scoop 15,000 (!) gallons of seawater in an instant. Another adaptation that makes this work is a pouch of pleated extensible blubber on the ventral surface forming a huge extra 'mouth' cavity. These humpback Whales have just risen through the circular curtain of bubbles that they released around a school of herring. This style of fishing is called bubble netting. We counted tails rising as they dove to repeat this process. 14 whales in this pod was the agreed count. They fished within a span of a couple of miles for several hours, sometimes near, many times not so."
humpback whales bubble netting in S.E. Alaska
You can find more rescued green diaries below the sustainable squiggle.

Climate Chaos

40 years of science destroyed by one old magazine article—by gjohnsit: "You can't fool George Will. Scientists are just progressives who are looking to consolidate power in Washington. 'The whole point of global warming is it's a rationalization for progressives to do what progressives want to do, which is concentrate more and more power in Washington, more and more Washington power in the executive branch, more and more executive branch power in independent czars and agencies, to micromanage the lives of the American people. Our shower heads, our toilets, our bathtubs, our garden hoses—everything becomes involved in the exigencies of rescuing the planet.' Sounds like an open and shut case to me. Scientists from all around the world are in a global conspiracy to seize power in the United States. Perfectly logical."

Scientific American editor goes on Fox, but asked not to mention climate change—by Hunter: "Scientific American editor Michael Moyer was invited to appear on Fox News to discuss what glorious future science might bring us in the next 50 years. No problem, with one major caveat. About the only interesting thing that the scientific community is sure will happen in the next 50 years is that climate change is going to get worse, and that we’re going to have to deal with the impacts. So I put that as one of my talking points. I understood that there was little chance the topic would make it into the show, but I’m not going to self-censor myself from the get-go. I also included as talking points some topics that we have recently covered in the magazine: robot drivers, gene therapy and rocket technology. The Fox producer came back and very politely and matter-of-factly said that we would have to replace the climate change item. Well, sure. Talk about robot housewives or dinners that cook themselves—stuff that the Fox News audience can relate to."

Here comes the little one (El Niño): the winds are blowing—by don mikulecky: "The odds are increasing that an El Niño is in the works for 2014—and recent forecasts show it might be a big one.  Others have probably written about this but I am reading  Six Degrees: Our Future on a Hotter Planet  by Mark Lynas and am in a frame of mind that finds the forecast  in he above link even more troublesome. So I snooped around a bit and came across a nice "primer" on El Niño. That helps your understanding if you need it. From the first link: As we learned from Chris Farley, El Niños can boost the odds of extreme weather (droughts, typhoons, heat waves) across much of the planet. But the most important thing about El Niño is that it is predictable, sometimes six months to a year in advance. That’s an incredibly powerful tool, especially if you are one of the billions who live where El Niño tends to hit hardest—Asia and the Americas."

Extreme Weather

Half Mile Wide Tornado on the Ground in N Little Rock, Arkansas suburbs—by FishOutofWater: "Monday Morning Update: Huffington Post reports over a dozen dead from this storm. Because this tornado came at dusk, the full extent of the disaster will be known later today after emergency responders are able to assess the situation by the light of day."

Mayflower: 1st ExxonMobil Tar Sands Pipeline Spill, Now Deadly Tornado Destroys Arkansas Town—by Steve Horn: "On March 29, 2013, ExxonMobil‘s Pegasus tar sands pipeline ruptured in Mayflower, Arkansas, sending hundreds of thousands of gallons of diluted bitumen ('dilbit') pouring down the town’s streets. Now, just over a year after the massive spill, devastation has come to Mayflower and neighboring towns again, this time in the form of a lethal tornado. On the evening of April 27, the twister destroyed huge pockets of the town of just over 2,300 citizens in a wholesale manner, with 14 confirmed dead and likely many more still not counted. 'Sadly, we don’t expect it to stay at 14,' tweeted Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe. At least 10 died in Faulkner County alone, which houses Mayflower, according to the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management."

PARTICULARLY DANGEROUS SITUATION: Violent Tornado Outbreak Unfolding Across Deep South—by weatherdude: "A second tornado outbreak is unfolding across the Deep South this afternoon as tornadic supercells form in the area where the Storm Prediction Center issued a "Particularly Dangerous Situation" ("PDS") Tornado Watch. PDS Tornado Watches are very rare and the extreme language is reserved for the most dangerous tornado outbreaks. The tornadoes that will form today have the potential to be intense, long-lived, wedge tornadoes."

ALERT: Major Tornado Outbreak Likely Today—by weatherdude: "A major tornado outbreak is on tap for parts of the southern and midwestern United States this afternoon, with a high likelihood for large, violent, long-track tornadoes extending from Louisiana north through Nebraska."

Food, Agriculture & Gardening

USDA still pushing to harm workers and make chicken really, really gross—by Laura Clawson: "The U.S. Department of Agriculture still hasn't dropped its plan to speed up chicken processing lines from 140 chickens per minute to 175 and allow 'visibly contaminated' chicken carcasses to stay on regular processing lines rather than being taken away for cleaning. That would mean all the chickens would be sprayed with extra antimicrobial chemicals—and that means added problems for workers who already face a 42 percent rate of carpal tunnel syndrome from the repetitive, fast-moving work they do (with knives, by the way)."

USDA calls in San Antonio police to arrest organic activists—by VL Baker: "This morning the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) called in San Antonio police to arrest activists trying to make their voice heard at The National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) meeting. Right now one of the biggest assaults on the integrity of organic foods is taking place at the USDA that has ever been conceived, with high-level Obama political appointees working behind the scenes with giant corporate organic to gut 20 years of precedent in the congressionally-mandated National Organic Standards Board. Even worse, USDA representative Miles McEvoy has illegally taken over the meeting by appointing himself as meeting 'co-chair' in an effort to erode the authority of, and control the decisions made by allegedly independent, NOSB members as spelled out in the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA) of 1990."

Energy

The shale bubble is bursting—by interguru: "Oil and gas majors now cutting back in U.S. shale gas fields. In the last 10 days, British Petroleum, Chevron, ExxonMobil and Royal Dutch Shell have all announced they will be spending less on oil and gas exploration in the U.S. Unfortunately, the results of the shale revolution have been disappointing, leading to significant asset impairment charges and negative cash flows,” [An investment banker] further asks, “Will that capital continue to be available, or will it, too, begin demanding profits rather than reserve additions and production growth?” Also at stake are a number of high profile U.S. politicians who have staked, to a large degree, their upcoming reelection by campaigning on the claimed successes of the oil and gas companies operating within their state’s shale formation. One such politician seeking reelection this year is Pennsylvania’s Governor Tom Corbett who has been heavily touting what several leading Pennsylvanian labor economists believe are questionable job creation numbers in the state’s Marcellus Shale formation."

A Better Battery Changes The World, Crossing The Alt-E Threshold—by pollwatcher: "Breakthroughs in nanotechnology batteries are coming fast. Lead researcher Dr. Kevin Ryan explains, 'We have developed a new germanium nanowire-based anode that has the ability to greatly increase the capacity and lifetimes of lithium-ion batteries. This breakthrough is important for mobile computing and telecoms but also for the emerging electric vehicle market allowing for smaller and lighter batteries that can hold more charge for longer and maintain this performance over the lifetime of the product.' [...] Harvard University researchers say they’ve developed a new type of battery that could make it economical to store a couple of days of electricity from wind farms and other sources of power. The new battery, which is described in the journal Nature, is based on an organic molecule—called a quinone—that’s found in plants such as rhubarb and can be cheaply synthesized from crude oil. The molecules could reduce, by two-thirds, the cost of energy storage materials in a type of battery called a flow battery, which is particularly well suited to storing large amounts of energy. As you can see, improvements in battery technology (and I haven't even mentioned hydrogen) are advancing on many fronts.  This is literally, civilization saving technology.  But we can't wait for the 'market place' to decide which technology should advance and which should be left on the curb, especially with the Oligarchical fossil fuel industry fighting it every step of the way.  If ever we needed government to step in for the well-being of our nation and the planet, now is the time."

Renewables

Genuine Solar Breakthrough—by docmidwest: "John Rogers'  group here at the University of Illinois has figured out a practical new way to stack cells with different wavelength sensitivities to use the full solar spectrum rather than the narrow slice possible with a single junction. The idea of multiple junctions is old but the technique of making them is altogether new. It's combined with another idea already in use—inexpensive focussing using molded lenses. That allows the relatively expensive multi-junction material to cover only a fraction of the surface area. The actual module efficiency efficiency exceeds 35%. At more than twice the efficiency of currently installed solar panels, and with anticipated reasonable fabrication costs, this should really open up the path to solar use."

Fracking

One Person—by xaxnar: "The fracking fight is not simple. Supplies of cheap natural gas are bringing U.S. carbon emissions down - but at what price to drinking water, air quality, and communities? Helen Slottje back in 2007, was helping her brother in law search for a small farm in upstate New York when she ran into drilling leases, and the energy companies behind them. It was the early days of the fracking of the Marcellus Shale, and people were only beginning to realize what fracking was all about. Slottje eventually became concerned enough to use her skills as a lawyer to fight back, and has now been recognized for her work. ...the more she learned about the gas drilling technique of hydraulic fracturing, or hydrofracking, which was starting in Pennsylvania, the more concerned she became. That interest led Slottje on a path to being named the 2014 North American winner of the prestigious $175,000 Goldman Environmental Prize."

The Fracking Prostitutes of American Colleges—by brasch: "Lackawanna College, a two-year college in Scranton, Pa., has become a prostitute. The administration doesn’t think of themselves or their college as a prostitute. They believe they are doing a public service. Of course, streetwalkers and call-girls also believe they are doing a public service. Lackawanna College’s price is $2.5 million. That’s how much Cabot Oil & Gas paid to the School of Petroleum and Natural Gas, whose own nine building campus is in New Milford in northeastern Pennsylvania.  On the School’s logo are now the words, 'Endowed by Cabot Oil & Gas Corporation.' That would be the same Cabot Oil & Gas Corporation that has racked up more than 500 violations since it first used horizontal fracking to extract gas in the Marcellus Shale almost six years ago."

Keystone and Other Fossil Fuel Transportation

TransCanada Charitable Fund: Keystone XL South 'Good Neighbor' Charm Offensive—by Steve Horn: "TransCanada has taken a page out of former U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s playbook and deployed a public relations 'charm offensive' in Texas, home of the southern leg of itsKeystone XL tar sands pipeline now known as the Gulf Coast Pipeline Project. In the 1930s and 1940s, Roosevelt utilized a 'good neighbor policy'—conceptualized today as 'soft power' by U.S. foreign policy practitioners—to curry favor in Latin America and win over its public. Recently, TransCanada announced it would do something similar in Texas with its newly formed TransCanada Charitable Fund. TransCanada has pledged $125,000 to 18 Texas counties over the next four years, funds it channeled through the East Texas Communities Foundation. In February, the company announced the first non-profit recipients of its initial $50,000 grant cycle."

Eco-Related DC & State Politics

The Problem with Big Green: When Your Deal Breakers are Weak, So is Your Leverage—by Liberty Equality Fraternity and Trees: "The Hill has an article up today about how green groups are supporting a number of Senate candidates (or incumbents) who support the Keystone XL pipeline. The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) has raised funds for Sen. Mark Begich (D-AK), Senate candidate Rep. Bruce Braley (D-IA), and Sen. Kay Hagan (D-NC). [...] If their focus is climate change, though, then they should not be supporting anyone who voted for the Keystone XL pipeline, which is not reconcilable with a goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Supporting Keystone XL might not be "preventing the president from acting," but it is certainly undermining professed goals."

If the Senate Takes a Vote on Keystone XL, Whose Votes Have to Be Flipped?—by Liberty Equality Fraternity and Trees: "Republicans and red state Democrats want to put a poison pill into the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act (Shaheen-Portman): the Keystone XL pipeline. If the vote is a stand-alone vote, it will not go anywhere because it would need 67 votes to pass the inevitable presidential veto. Obama may ultimately approve Keystone XL himself, but he (correctly) believes it is his prerogative, not the Senate's. However, things get more dangerous if this is allowed to become a binding amendment to Shaheen-Portman, a middle-of-the-road energy efficiency bill."

The Great Outdoors

prickly pear
Daily Bucket: Wild Florida--Prickly-Pear Cactus—by Lenny Flank: "For most of its history, Florida was a string of islands surrounded by a shallow tropical sea. But at one point it was the complete opposite--when the global climate was drier and sea levels were very much lower, Florida was part of a vast desert that stretched all the way across the southern US. Today, the deserts of the Southwest are the remaining fragments of this former climate, but traces of its desert past can still be found in Florida, in our remnant populations of rattlesnakes, burrowing owls, tortoises, and cactus. There are about 200 species of Prickly-Pear Cactus, in the genus Opuntia. All of them are native to the western hemisphere, but many have now become established worldwide. They are very common in southern Europe and the Middle East. In Australia and South Africa, they are a serious invasive pest."

Critters

Song sparrows (Melospiza melodia)
You're getting too big to feed.
Backyard Science: Aliens in the Nest!—by Attack Gardener: "One of my all-time favorite small birds is the song sparrow (Melospiza melodia). They’re not much to look at, though a little fancier than the average sparrow, with all their stripes, but their voices are absolutely charming. A pair of song sparrows have made their home somewhere on our property for several years now. I have never been able to find their nest. Not too surprising as they build their nests out of grass and site them in grassy areas. It’s a bit like looking for the needle in the haystack, except the needle is hay-colored! Despite their reticence in nesting, the birds are relatively unfazed by human presence. I don’t know how many wonderful mornings I've spent on my patio being serenaded by a bold little song sparrow. They are also frequent visitors to our feeders, happy to either perch in the feeder or poke around on the ground."

The Daily Bucket: The Sad Demise of a Gorgeous Dragonfly—by PHScott: "April 2014. This dragonfly landed on my deck the other day. The beautiful coloration immediately caught my eye. And the size of it - right at 4 inches from head to tail and a 5 inch wingspan. But I knew right off that something was wrong it as the tail was drooping over the edge. After realizing it was not going anywhere, I ran inside for camera and moved the dragonfly around for better views."

Dragonfly

Trade & Foreign Policy

US Military Commitments and Underwater Drilling—by Richard Lyon: "As one of the highlights of his current Asian tour President Obama is signing a new defense agreement with the Philippines. During the cold war the US maintained a large military base at Subic Bay when policy was guided by the domino theory. It held that unless the Chinese communists were contained in Asia they would be landing on the beaches of California. Now of course Chinese industrialists are buying up beach front property in Malibu. So why is the US making rather vague commitments about an increased military presence in the region? Ultimately it comes down to oil."

Water & Drought

Groups Respond to Water Bond Proposals, Suggest Amendments—by Dan Bacher: "Restore the Delta (RTD), opponents of Governor Jerry Brown’s Bay Delta Conservation Plan to build the environmentally destructive Peripheral Tunnels, today released joint letters along with Delta water agencies and environmental groups containing their collective response to water bond proposals and suggesting amendments."

Sign the petition: Save the Chesapeake Bay from Big Ag's toxic pollution—by Nathan Empsall SierraRise: "One of my last memories of my grandfather is going boating on the Chesapeake Bay when I was 14. It was a special time, and a special place. The Chesapeake Bay is a national treasure, but it's also in big trouble. The bay has been polluted for decades. It's now unsafe to swim most of the year—and wildlife numbers have dropped dramatically. The EPA and seven bay-area states have a great clean water plan to drastically reduce the pollution. But greedy Big Ag and several right-wing states far from the bay, including Texas and Alaska, are suing to let the polluters keep polluting."

Eco-Activism & Eco-Justice

Why We Are Blocking the Office of Harvard's President—by Harvard Divest: "This morning we began blocking the main entrance to Massachusetts Hall, which houses the office of Harvard University President Drew Faust and other top administrators. We are here to demand an open and transparent dialogue with the Harvard Corporation—Harvard's main governing body—on fossil fuel divestment. To date, President Faust and Harvard University have rejected the case for divestment and refused to engage in public dialogue about divestment and climate change. Alongside the 72% of Harvard undergraduates and 67% of Harvard Law students, as well as the students, faculty, and alumni of Divest Harvard, we refuse to accept our university's unwillingness to hold a public meeting on this critical issue. We are here today because we believe in a better Harvard. We are here because it is our duty to act. We are here today because it is our moral responsibility as students to ensure that Harvard does not contribute to and profit from the problem but instead aligns its institutional actions and policies with the shared interests of society."

At the Harvard Divest Rally—by gmoke: "Went to the Harvard Divest rally this morning which took place in front of Massachusetts Hall where the President, Provost, Treasurer, and Vice Presidents of the University have offices.  There was a constant crowd of about 100 people coming and going, holding signs and talking with each other.  Pretty good for an overcast and chilly day which threatens rain.  I arrived too late for the morning speakers and passed by again for the beginning of the noon speakers."

Harvard Divestment
Harvard Divest: Unwinding the Influence of Fossil Fuels—by branto: "Today students of Harvard Divest are taking a stand to demand that the Harvard Corporation divest from 200 companies that hold the vast majority of the world’s fossil fuel reserves. In addition to highlighting the scientific consensus calling for urgent action to limit carbon pollution, their struggle also seeks to loosen the tight grip that the fossil fuel industry maintains over our economic, academic and political institutions."

Say “Let’s get to climate safety fast!” (Reframing Divestment Now)—by SusanCStrong: "The latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, released 4.03.14, strongly urges a  fast shift to clean energy.  Since the last report, carbon emissions have accelerated to unprecedented levels. Impact on land, sea, and air is growing catastrophic much faster than scientists predicted. Yet national governments continue to drag their feet about mandating the shift to clean energy.  Why? We all know the answer: because of the PR and political power of the fossil fuel lobby. In this context, urging large financial investors to sell their fossil fuel stocks takes on critical new importance. But predictably enough, a consortium of some fossil fuel companies (Exxon excepted) just responded by issuing their own call for governments to act. They suggested a large carbon emissions cap (BT, Shell and corporates call for trillion tonne carbon cap). Whether or not these companies were being honest or just tactical really doesn’t matter. The new report and their move do change the way we should be framing the divestment argument now."

Watch: Putting the Freeze on Global Warming—by Bill Moyers: "This week, Bill talks with two leaders who helped inspire the new fossil fuel divestment movement that Tutu is encouraging. Ellen Dorsey is executive director of the Wallace Global Fund and a catalyst in the coalition of 17 foundations known as Divest-Invest Philanthropy. Thomas Van Dyck is Senior Vice President – Financial Advisor at RBC Wealth Management, and founder of As You Sow, a shareholder advocacy foundation. They are urging foundations, faith groups, pension funds, municipalities and universities to sell their shares in polluting industries and reinvest in companies committed to climate change solutions."

Dirty Energy, Clean Solutions—by boatsie: "Hey, Bay Area Kossacks. Just checking in to make sure y'all know about the May 9-11 350BayArea Climate Conference. (I've been helping out with media hoping to fill the seats and we could sure use your support in spreading the word and showing up.) Information is below, and if any of you have the time to support the first Thunderclap I've linked here, that would really help to amplify the message. [...] Here's the promo: 350 Bay Area hosts their first ever grassroots Climate Conference 'Dirty Energy, Clean Solutions.' (DECS) just weeks after the IPCC’s 5th Assessment Working Group III on mitigation announced 'large scale changes in the global energy mix' and rapid and dramatic cuts in GHG emissions could keep global warming to a sustainable rise of 2 degree C by 2050. In fact, the IPCC suggests, a 1.5 degree C scenario is not out of range. If we act now. And act aggressively.

"Working to Save the Amazon & Its Communities": Ecuador, Chevron, & The Yasuni-ITT Initiative, Pt. 3—by Randle Aubrey: "Even the most stalwart of proponents of corporate benevolence are occasionally forced to concede that no major multinational corporation is above a certain level of malfeasance, especially when it comes to the petroleum industry. The global demand for oil is so high that companies will go to disturbing lengths to obtain it, committing all manner of abuses while the general public largely turns a blind eye, easily swayed by multi-million dollar PR campaigns and the promise of cheap fuel for all. Nowhere in recent years has this been more apparent than in the nation of Ecuador, and few companies have committed more atrocities in the name of oil than industry titan Chevron has within Ecuador's borders, according to Flora Lu, professor of Environmental Studies at UC Santa Cruz, Nestor Silva, a PhD Anthropology Student at Stanford University, and Pablo Fajardo, the now-famous Ecuadorian attorney who won a landmark class action lawsuit against Chevron in 2011."

Pollution, Hazardous Wastes & Trash

Breathing will be easier thanks to today's Supreme Court decision upholding EPA authority—by Ian Reifowitz: "In a 6-2 decision issued today, the U.S. Supreme Court handed a major victory to the Obama administration and its efforts, through the Environmental Protection Agency, to force polluters to, well, stop polluting: The court's 6-2 decision unblocks a 2011 rule requiring 28 states to reduce emissions from coal-fired power plants that travel across state lines, hurting the air quality in downwind states. Typically, the pollution wafts eastward, from midwestern and Appalachian states toward areas on the Atlantic Coast. The majority consisted of Justices Sotomayor, Kagan, Roberts, Kennedy, Ginsburg, Breyer, with Alito having recused himself. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, writing the court's majority opinion, said the EPA's formula for dealing with cross-state air pollution was 'permissible, workable and equitable.' In his dissent, Justice Scalia (joined by Justice Thomas) criticized the EPA's rule by quoting from (without actually citing) Karl Marx's The Communist Manifesto. I'm not kidding."

White House: Court Ruling on Air Pollution Is a Big Win for Public Health—by Seattle Socialist: "The United States Supreme Court ruled today that the cross-state pollution caused by coal-fired power plants can be regulated. The White House declared the ruling a major win today for public health: After today’s news from the Supreme Court, over 240 million Americans can breathe easier. In their decision, the Court upheld a vitally important public health rule issued by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 2011. EPA’s Cross-State Air Pollution Rule, which implements the “good neighbor provision” of the Clean Air Act, requires power plants to cut pollution that is causing smog and soot problems in downwind states. Those states are home to roughly three-quarters of all Americans. The Cross-State Air Pollution Rule is one of President Obama’s major clean air and public health accomplishments."

Open thread for night owls: Arctic oil spill readiness virtually nonexistent—by Meteor Blades: "At DeSmogBlog, Farron Cousins writes Report: Arctic Oil Spill Readiness Virtually Nonexistent: Sea ice in the Arctic Circle is currently melting at a pace far greater than scientists had originally projected.  While this is bad news for the planet—sea ice helps reflect the sun’s rays and keeps the arctic cooler—it has created new paths for the oil industry to exploit the resources hidden deep under the icy water. [...] The anatomy of an Arctic oil spill is far more complicated than that of a typical offshore oil spill. The ice cover makes it difficult, sometimes impossible, for cleanup vessels to make their way into the area. Also to be taken into consideration is the lack of infrastructure in the Arctic. There are few roads and other transportation avenues to reach the region, which means that the response time would be exponentially longer than that of a typical offshore spill. The report also says that not enough is known about the marine environment of the Arctic to fully understand how a spill could impact the region."

Understaffed government pipeline regulator is shrinking its workforce 9 percent by mid-June—by Meteor Blades: "At a time when more crude oil is being moved through aging pipelines and in outmoded railroad tanker cars, the federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration is chopping 40 people off its staff, which many people already view as too small to do its task effectively. PHMSA is handling the cuts by means of buy-outs, typically used in the private sector to incentivize employees, especially higher-paid employees, to retire early, thus saving on payroll expenses whether or not those who are bought out are replaced. [...] With inspectors so hard to hire because people with the required skills are being grabbed up by the private sector—which pays better—it's mighty strange to see inspectors being laid off. Part of the reason is the federal budget sequester that has led to axing across a wide array of regulatory and other agencies."

Fukushima Radionuclides in Pacific Albacore Tuna Off the US Coast—by MarineChemist: "As part of an ongoing series documenting the impacts of the Fukushima disaster on the North Pacific and west coast, this diary summarizes a newly published study by Delvan Neville and colleagues in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Science and Technology. The paper reports measurements of Cesium-134 and Cesium-137 in 26 albacore tuna caught off the west coast of North America between 2008 and summer 2012. Because of its relatively short half-life (~2 years) 134-Cs is an unambiguous tracer of radionuclides released from the Fukushima Dai-ichi disaster which began in March 2011. Fish collected in 2011 and 2012 had higher 134-Cs and 137-Cs that was due to Fukushima sourced cesium in the Pacific. Fish collected in 2008-2009 had lower 137-Cs activities that largely reflected historic releases of the isotope from atmospheric nuclear weapons testing in the 20th century. The authors conclude that given the highest levels of Cs isotopes measured in albacore tuna, human consumption of the fish would not not represent a significant increase in annual radiation dose. The corresponding radiological health risk due to Fukushima derived radiocesium in these tuna is, therefore, very small."

How racist is the air you breathe?—by VL Baker: "If you're Asian, Hispanic or Black it's quite racist, dirty and probably harming your health. If you're white not so much. A new study by the University of Minnesota has concluded that race is a determining factor in who is most affected by air pollution. The conclusion is that non-whites breathe air that is substantially more polluted than the air that white people breathe. [...] The effects of racism permeate our culture negatively affecting the health and well being of minorities. This is not just true in the US. As the effects of climate change become more pronounced throughout the world, it will be the poor and those of color who will be affected first and most profoundly."

Transportation & Infrastructure

Feds Plan To Allow States To Toll Interstate Highways—by LieparDestin: "Feds plan to let states toll interstate highways to pay for reconstruction. The U.S. Department of Transportation on Tuesday asked Congress to end the prohibition on tolling existing interstate highways as a way of paying for their reconstruction, marking a major shift away from how the system has been funded for decades. [...] We all know the US Highway system is falling apart. It is old, overused and in desperate need of repairs. More than 63,000 bridges are in need of some form of help, many being deemed 'structurally deficient'. Just yesterday a bridge collapse caused a train derailment. But is a toll the solution? Would these tolls be privatized like so many others throughout the country, with portions of the revenue being syphoned off for profit?"

Eco-Philosophy, Eco-Essays & Eco-Poetry

Calling the Green Man—by Diana in NoVa:
"O, Green Man, lord of the deep woods since the dawn of time
You, who hang your lime-green tresses over the river at Ostara
And shelter our revels at Beltane
You, who flaunt your finery at Lammas and stand before us skyclad at Yule
Be with us now.
'You’re determined to do this, Niall? No second thoughts?' Wise Owl bent a penetrating look at the younger man.
'I must do it,' Niall said. 'We have to save these redwoods.'”

Events, Products & Miscellany

Boston Kossacks! Upcoming Climate Concert, May 10...will be awesome!—by WarrenS: "On Saturday, May 10, three singers from diverse musical traditions will join together to draw attention to the global climate crisis. Featured artists are: singer-songwriter Dean Stevens, South Indian classical vocalist Deepti Navaratna, and the brilliantly innovative jazz vocalist Gabrielle Agachiko. The music begins at 7:00 pm, at Emmanuel Church, 15 Newbury Street, Boston, MA. Tickets are $25; $20 students/seniors. All proceeds will go to the environmental organization www.350MA.org. For information, please call 781-396-0734, visit Singing For The Planet€ on Facebook, or go to the event website."

Watt Chop (a "Thrift Shop" parody) music video on climate change, saving energy and money—by Dont Just Sit There DO SOMETHING: "Greetings! This year, for Earth Day, we at Don't Just Sit There - Do Something! (which is now a project of environmental nonprofit Communitopia) held an online event and released a new parody video. Our 'Watt Chop' music video (runtime 3:42) - a parody of Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’ hit “Thrift Shop” - is the 18th in the Don't Just Sit There - Do Something! series, and it's about both climate change and the many, many consumer choices that save energy and money. The hilarious video (Yes, that's the Tesla Model X, with the falcon-wing doors, in the opening sequence) features cameos by Pittsburgh Mayor William Peduto and several prominent Pittsburghers working on sustainability issues --- If you enjoy it, please feel free to share widely, embed on your website, whatever you like."

LED lightbulbs for only $5 ??? WoooHoooo—by RumsfeldResign: "Perhaps some of you remember a previous diary in which I described in excruciating detail a head injury I received after buying a cheap LED lightbulb. Well, today I am happy to announce that I just got 4 more LED bulbs....at only $5 each. I am so used to seeing LED bulbs in the $15 or so range I thought I'd spread the word. I got my bulbs ( 9.5 watts...800 lumens ) at Home Depot...the brand is 'Cree'....not really familiar with this company except for a single bulb I bought last year."

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