AlterNet.org: Michael Brune http://www.alternet.org/authors/michael-brune en Trump to Sign Two Executive Actions to Advance Keystone XL and Dakota Access Pipelines http://www.alternet.org/environment/trump-sign-two-executive-actions-advance-keystone-xl-and-dakota-access-pipelines <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Two key aspects of former-President Obama&#039;s climate leadership are being scrapped.</div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/shutterstock_546409627_0.jpg?itok=N9pvFJ_V" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p>Today, President <a href="http://www.ecowatch.com/trump-watch/">Donald Trump</a> will scrap key aspects of former-President Obama's climate leadership, as he reportedly <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-pipeline-idUSKBN15820N" target="_blank">plans to sign</a> Executive Orders to move the the <a href="http://www.ecowatch.com/tag/keystone-xl">Keystone XL</a> and <a href="http://www.ecowatch.com/tag/dakota-access-pipeline">Dakota Access</a> pipelines forward. </p><p>TransCanada, the foreign company behind the Keystone XL project, will attempt to use eminent domain to sue American landowners and seize their private property in order to pipe this dirty fuel across the U.S. for export. After Obama <a href="http://www.ecowatch.com/breaking-president-obama-rejects-keystone-xl-pipeline-1882117930.html">rejected the pipeline in 2015</a>, TransCanada sued the U.S. under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) for $15 billion. Despite his previous remarks concerning NAFTA, Trump did not address the company and its lawsuit before approving the project.</p><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p dir="ltr" lang="en" xml:lang="en">5 Disturbing <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/DAPL?src=hash">#DAPL</a> Developments You Need 2 Know <a href="https://t.co/9zNwAmurHz">https://t.co/9zNwAmurHz</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/IENearth">@IENearth</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/HonorTheEarth">@HonorTheEarth</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/RobertKennedyJr">@RobertKennedyJr</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/billmckibben">@billmckibben</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/MarkRuffalo">@MarkRuffalo</a></p>— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch) <a href="https://twitter.com/EcoWatch/status/822491211877535744">January 20, 2017</a></blockquote><script async="" src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script><p>Following months of national opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline, the Department of the Army <a href="http://www.ecowatch.com/army-corps-permit-dakota-access-pipeline-2128363393.html">ordered</a> an environmental review of the project in December of 2016. The pipeline was originally proposed to cross the Missouri River just above Bismarck, North Dakota, but after complaints, it was rerouted to cross the river along sacred Tribal grounds, less than a mile from the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation.</p><p>Trump had invested in Energy Transfer, the company behind the Dakota Access Pipeline. His spokespeople have claimed that he has since divested, but no proof has been presented.</p><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p dir="ltr" lang="en" xml:lang="en">Trump's Personal Investments Ride on Completion of Dakota Access Pipeline <a href="https://t.co/X5xu99lTdq">https://t.co/X5xu99lTdq</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/ChiefTheresa">@ChiefTheresa</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/NoTarSands">@NoTarSands</a></p>— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch) <a href="https://twitter.com/EcoWatch/status/797233725310464000">November 12, 2016</a></blockquote><script async="" src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script><p>Donald Trump has been in office for four days and he's already proving to be the dangerous threat to our <a href="http://www.ecowatch.com/climate-change/">climate</a> we feared he would be. But, these <a href="http://www.ecowatch.com/tag/pipelines">pipelines</a> are far from being in the clear. The millions of Americans and hundreds of Tribes that stood up to block them in the first place will not be silenced and will continue fighting these dirty and dangerous projects.</p><p>Trump claims he's a good businessman, yet he's encouraging dirty, dangerous <a href="http://www.ecowatch.com/tag/tar-sands">tar sands</a> development when clean energy is growing faster, producing more jobs and has a real future. Trump claims he cares about the American people, but he's allowing oil companies to steal and threaten their land by constructing dirty and dangerous pipelines through it. Trump claims he wants to protect people's clean air and water, but he's permitting a tar sand superhighway that will endanger both and hasten the climate crisis. </p><p>The Keystone pipeline was rejected because it was not in the country's interest and the environmental review of the Dakota Access Pipeline was ordered because of the threats it poses to the Standing Rock Sioux. Nothing has changed. These pipelines were a bad idea then and they're a bad idea now.</p><p>Simply put, Donald Trump is who we thought he is: a person who will sell off Americans' property and Tribal rights, clean air and safe water to corporate polluters.</p> Tue, 24 Jan 2017 12:00:00 -0800 Michael Brune, EcoWatch 1071057 at http://www.alternet.org Environment Election 2016 Environment News & Politics trump keystone xl keystone dakota access pipeline climate Leading Environmental Activist Reportedly Attacked at Her Home by Mining Industry Hitmen http://www.alternet.org/environment/leading-environmental-activist-reportedly-attacked-her-home-mining-industry-hitmen <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Máxima Acuña was awarded the 2016 Goldman Environmental Prize, for her fight against the expansion of a mine in Peru by U.S. mining giant Newmont.</div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/980x_3.jpg?itok=gk-4aXh8" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p>Early Sunday morning, <a href="http://www.goldmanprize.org/recipient/maxima-acuna/" target="_blank">Máxima Acuña</a>, a 2016 recipient of the prestigious <a href="http://www.ecowatch.com/meet-the-2016-goldman-environmental-prize-winners-1891116850.html">Goldman Environmental Prize</a>, was reportedly attacked at her home in Peru when hitmen illegally entered the property.</p><p>Máxima was awarded the 2016 Goldman Prize for her fight against the expansion of the Yanacocha Mine, a subsidiary of Colorado-based mining giant Newmont and Peruvian-based mining company Buenaventura. The hitmen that attacked Máxima and her partner, Jaime Chaupe, were <a href="http://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/Peru-Maxima-Acuna-and-Partner-Attacked-by-Mining-Firms-Guards-20160918-0018.html" target="_blank">reportedly hired by the mining companies</a>.</p><p></p><div alt="" class="media-image" height="490" style="width: 600px; height: 300px;" width="980"><img alt="" class="media-image" height="490" style="width: 600px; height: 300px;" width="980" typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/980x_13.jpg" /></div><p><em><a href="http://www.goldmanprize.org/recipient/maxima-acuna/" target="_blank">Máxima Acuña</a>, 2016 Goldman Environmental Prize winner for South and Central America, stood up for her right to peacefully live off her own land. (image: Goldman Environmental Prize)</em></p><p>It is with healing thoughts and a heavy heart we wish Máxima and her partner a quick recovery from this outrageous attack. Máxima has been an inspiration in the fight to protect her land, her livelihood and her community from the greed and destruction of the mining companies operating in Peru. Her bravery and persistence have helped shape the world in untold ways, and we are intensely disturbed by Sunday's events.</p><p>The continued attacks and assassinations of the brave environmental and indigenous rights activists around the world is a clear indication that we still have a long way to go to ensure a world that is truly safe, equitable and inclusive for all.</p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/Gz8eZx8V4Uo" width="560"></iframe></p><p>We stand with our friends and allies in Peru and around the world in demanding that those responsible for this atrocity be brought to justice.</p> Thu, 22 Sep 2016 10:59:00 -0700 Michael Brune, EcoWatch 1064186 at http://www.alternet.org Environment Activism Environment Video World Máxima Acuña mining activism south america TransCanada Files NAFTA Suit Demanding More Than $15 Billion for Keystone XL Rejection http://www.alternet.org/environment/transcanada-files-nafta-suit-demanding-more-15-billion-keystone-xl-rejection <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Thanks to NAFTA’s “investor-state” system, TransCanada’s case will be heard in a private tribunal of three lawyers who are not accountable to any domestic legal system.</div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/6235225708_e837261759_z.jpg?itok=jIrrJPm8" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p dir="ltr">On June 24, foreign oil company TransCanada <a href="http://www.keystone-xl.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/TransCanada-Request-for-Arbitratio-2n.pdf" target="_blank">filed a lawsuit</a> against the U.S. under <a href="http://ecowatch.com/?s=NAFTA">NAFTA</a>, the North American Free Trade Agreement, arguing that the U.S. rejection of the <a href="http://ecowatch.com/news/energy-news/keystone-xl-pipeline-2/">Keystone XL</a> pipeline violated NAFTA’s broad rights for foreign investors by thwarting the company’s “expectations.” As compensation, TransCanada is demanding more than $15 billion from U.S. taxpayers.</p><p dir="ltr">TransCanada’s case will be heard in a private tribunal of three lawyers who are not accountable to any domestic legal system, thanks to NAFTA’s “investor-state” system, which is also included in the proposed <a href="http://ecowatch.com/?s=tpp">Trans-Pacific Partnership</a> (TPP). The controversial TPP would empower thousands of additional corporations, including major polluters, to follow TransCanada’s example and use this private tribunal system to challenge U.S. climate and environmental policies.</p><p dir="ltr">TransCanada’s Request for Arbitration follows the Notice of Intent to submit a claim to arbitration that it <a href="http://content.sierraclub.org/press-releases/2016/01/after-losing-keystone-xl-transcanada-exploits-trade-deal-provisions-demand-us" target="_blank">filed</a> on Jan. 6.</p><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p dir="ltr" lang="en" xml:lang="en">Oil company led climate denial, now helping make trade rules in <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/TPP?src=hash">#TPP</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/TTIP?src=hash">#TTIP</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/sierraclub">@sierraclub</a> <a href="https://t.co/magVbS7Lfr">https://t.co/magVbS7Lfr</a> <a href="https://t.co/y7beC5lbUG">pic.twitter.com/y7beC5lbUG</a></p>— Expose The TPP (@ExposeTPP) <a href="https://twitter.com/ExposeTPP/status/740209681377923073">June 7, 2016</a></blockquote><script async="" src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script><p>TransCanada’s attempt to make American taxpayers hand over more than $15 billion because the company’s dirty Keystone XL pipeline was rejected shows exactly why NAFTA was wrong and why the even more dangerous and far-reaching Trans-Pacific Partnership must be stopped in its tracks.</p><p>The TPP would empower thousands of new firms operating in the U.S, including major polluters, to follow in TransCanada’s footsteps and undermine our critical climate safeguards in private trade tribunals. Today, we have a prime example of how polluter-friendly trade deals threaten our efforts to tackle the <a href="http://ecowatch.com/climate-change-news/">climate crisis</a>, spotlighting the need for a new model of trade model that supports rather than undermines climate action. We urge our members of Congress to learn from this historic moment and commit to reject the TPP.</p><p dir="ltr">Here’s more information on the TPP:</p><ul><li dir="ltr"><p dir="ltr">Environmental opposition to the TPP is mounting. Earlier in June, more than 450 environmental, landowner, Indigenous rights, and allied organizations <a href="http://content.sierraclub.org/press-releases/2016/06/more-450-groups-congress-pending-trade-deals-threaten-efforts-keep-fossil" target="_blank">sent a letter</a> to Congress warning that pending trade deals like the TPP threaten efforts to keep fossil fuels in the ground.</p></li><li dir="ltr"><p dir="ltr">Read the Sierra Club’s <a href="https://www.sierraclub.org/sites/www.sierraclub.org/files/uploads-wysiwig/climate-roadblocks.pdf" target="_blank">report</a> on how the TPP would roughly double the number of corporations that could follow TransCanada’s example and challenge U.S. safeguards in private, unaccountable tribunals.</p></li><li dir="ltr"><p dir="ltr">The corporations that would gain this ability include hundreds of foreign-owned fossil fuel firms, such as the U.S. subsidiaries of BHP Billiton, one of the world’s largest greenhouse gas emitters and one of the U.S.’s largest foreign investors in fracking and offshore drilling.</p></li><li dir="ltr"><p dir="ltr">The TPP would nearly double the number of foreign fracking firms that could challenge new U.S. fracking restrictions in private tribunals.</p></li><li dir="ltr"><p dir="ltr">The deal also would enable oil and gas corporations with nearly 1 million acres’ worth of U.S. offshore drilling leases to use this private tribunal system to try to undermine new restrictions on offshore drilling.</p></li><li dir="ltr"><p dir="ltr">No prior U.S. trade deal has granted such broad rights to corporations with such broad interests in maintaining U.S. fossil fuel dependency.</p></li></ul> Mon, 27 Jun 2016 08:31:00 -0700 Michael Brune, EcoWatch 1059085 at http://www.alternet.org Environment Environment World transcanada pipeline keystone xl tpp keystone xl oil nafta lawsuit fossil fuel Donald Trump’s Pathetic Plan for the Planet: 5 Things You Need to Know http://www.alternet.org/environment/donald-trumps-pathetic-plan-planet-5-things-you-need-know <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">&quot;We’ll be fine with the environment,&quot; Trump said. &quot;We can leave a little bit.&quot;</div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/24949307320_d0d8b05827_z.jpg?itok=9gDcvdB5" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p id="9433"><a href="http://ecowatch.com/?s=trump">Donald Trump</a> has spent a lot of time talking about his hands — and less time talking about his actual plans. Today, though, Trump will be unveiling his so-called energy policy for an audience of fossil fuel CEOs.</p><p id="7226">Here’s what you actually need to know about Trump’s environment and energy agenda in five minutes or less.</p><p id="6514"><strong>1. Not only has Donald Trump failed to propose a plan to address climate change — he won’t even admit that it’s happening.</strong></p><p id="c311">“<a data-="" href="https://twitter.com/realdonaldtrump/status/416909004984844288" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">A total hoax</a>.”</p><p id="3c10">“<a data-="" href="https://twitter.com/realdonaldtrump/status/418542137899491328?lang=en" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Bullshit</a>.”</p><p id="3b8d">“<a data-="" href="https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/417816035107299328?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">A con job</a>.”</p><p id="0548">You might think these are good words to describe Trump’s campaign. No — they’re his take on the climate crisis.</p><p id="c281">The facts are clear: <a href="http://ecowatch.com/climate-change-news/">Climate change</a> poses an urgent threat that requires immediate action.</p><p id="210e">Temperatures are rising and continue to rise. Check this out:</p><p></p><div alt="" class="media-image" height="465" width="432"><img alt="" class="media-image" height="465" width="432" typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/1-bes453if1byxrr2jz-nkxq.gif" /></div><p id="7aa1">The latest report from the United Nations states unequivocally that human influence on the climate system is already affecting all continents — reducing grain yields, producing life-threatening water shortages and severe storms and costing human lives. The report says, “We have little time before the window of opportunity to stay within 2 C of warming closes.”</p><p id="1b9a">And already climate change is taking a toll.</p><p id="d73e">Trump’s plan? Deny that it is happening.</p><p id="a60c"><strong>2. Donald Trump wants to undermine U.S. leadership by “renegotiating” the historic <a href="http://ecowatch.com/?s=paris+agreement">Paris climate agreement</a>.</strong></p><p id="5c25">Trump told <a data-="" href="http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-election-trump-exclusive-idUSKCN0Y82JO" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Reuters</a>: “At a minimum I will be renegotiating those agreements, at a minimum. And at a maximum I may do something else.”</p><p id="f7d1">President Obama and other global leaders did something remarkable — they brought nearly the entire world together to agree to meet our climate challenge. Trump is proposing we negotiate away American global leadership. What he said is ridiculous and would do irreparable damage to our role in the world.</p><p id="3e33"><strong>3. Donald Trump says he wants to bring back coal, the world’s dirtiest fuel.</strong></p><p id="d48b"><a href="http://ecowatch.com/news/energy-news/coal-mining-pollution/">Coal</a> is the world’s dirtiest energy source, from mining to burning to disposing of coal waste. Currently, 233 U.S. coal plants have been retired or are set for retirement.</p><p></p><div alt="" class="media-image" height="467" style="width: 600px; height: 374px;" width="750"><img alt="" class="media-image" height="467" style="width: 600px; height: 374px;" width="750" typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/coal_750.jpg" /></div><p id="6bdb">And the largest U.S. coal company just <a data-="" href="http://money.cnn.com/2016/04/13/news/companies/peabody-coal-bankruptcy/" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">filed for bankruptcy</a>. One of 50 coal-industry bankruptcies since 2012.</p><p id="bc9e">But Trump <a data-="" href="http://www.eenews.net/stories/1060036954" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">says</a>: “We’re gonna put the miners back to work. We’re gonna put the miners back to work. We’re gonna get those mines open.”</p><p id="3e41">Trump is wrong.</p><p id="c587"><a data-="" href="http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-04-06/wind-and-solar-are-crushing-fossil-fuels" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Bloomberg News</a> explains:</p><p id="47ce">“While two years of crashing prices for oil, natural gas and coal triggered dramatic downsizing in those industries, <a href="http://ecowatch.com/business/renewables/">renewables</a> have been thriving. Clean energy investment broke new records in 2015 and is now seeing twice as much global funding as fossil fuels.”</p><p></p><div alt="" class="media-image" height="393" style="width: 600px; height: 314px;" width="750"><img alt="" class="media-image" height="393" style="width: 600px; height: 314px;" width="750" typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/power_capacity_750.jpg" /></div><p>And fewer and fewer Americans are relying on coal for their energy needs.</p><p></p><div alt="" class="media-image" height="675" style="width: 600px; height: 540px;" width="750"><img alt="" class="media-image" height="675" style="width: 600px; height: 540px;" width="750" typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/coal_demand_750.jpg" /></div><p><em>Photo credit: EIA</em></p><p id="2423">As cleaner, cheaper, more reliable renewable energy sources surge, coal’s economics simply no longer work. Now is the time to support a just transition for coal workers by investing in helping them become part of the clean energy economy — not by returning to a dirty fuel of the past.</p><p id="a543"><strong>4. Donald Trump would eliminate the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) — endangering our health and safety.</strong></p><p id="84bc">Donald Trump: No, I’m not cutting services, but I’m cutting spending. But I may cut Department of Education … Environmental Protection, what they do is a disgrace. Every week they come out with new regulations.</p><p id="c855">Chris Wallace: Who is going to protect the environment?</p><p id="27c4">Donald Trump: We’ll be fine with the environment. We can leave a little bit.</p><p>Watch here:</p><p></p><p id="82eb">Though the Sierra Club is grateful that Trump would “leave a little bit” of the environment, his proposal to cut the EPA is boneheaded.</p><p id="3023">The EPA keeps our air safe to breathe and our water safe to drink—and puts forth important safeguards for the health of our communities.</p><p id="e290"><strong>5. Donald Trump’s business ventures are already devastating the environment.</strong></p><p id="90e2">Trump <a data-="" href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/why-donald-trumps-view-on-trees-is-wrong/2015/07/17/56a273ee-2a39-11e5-bd33-395c05608059_story.html" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">cut down about 500 trees</a> so that his Virginia golf course could have more than a “little glimpse” of the river. His New Jersey golf course <a data-="" href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/donald-trump-says-hes-an-environmentalist-others-beg-to-differ/2011/05/12/AFPJV42G_story.html" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">has been cited</a> for a “string of violations.” One luxury development in Scotland left the local community <a data-="" href="https://psmag.com/donald-trump-and-the-environmental-cost-of-luxury-golf-adcc26685858#.4f6e5qlch" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">without water for years</a>.</p><p id="634d">Trump clearly cares more about the fate of his golf courses than the health of the millions of families affected by the climate crisis.</p><p></p><div alt="" class="media-image" height="750" style="width: 600px; height: 600px;" width="750"><img alt="" class="media-image" height="750" style="width: 600px; height: 600px;" width="750" typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/trump_care_750.jpg" /></div><p id="8291">In fact, according to <a data-="" href="http://www.politico.com/story/2016/05/donald-trump-climate-change-golf-course-223436#ixzz49U8Mt8WW" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Politico</a>, Trump is trying to <a href="http://ecowatch.com/2016/05/24/trump-build-wall-climate-change/">build a seawall</a> to protect one of his golf courses from “global warming and its effects” — even as he insists that climate change is a “hoax.”</p><p id="b6e8">Trump’s reckless and dangerous agenda on the environment is based more on reality TV than actual reality.</p><p id="eace">Trump is ignoring the climate crisis — and will do anything he can to dismantle government safeguards, even if clean air and water are put at risk. If elected, he would stop our progress in its tracks, take us backward and squander the economic opportunity that the transition to an economy powered by clean energy would bring.</p><p id="d17c">2016 will be the most important presidential election yet — it will literally determine the future of our planet. So don’t just sit there. <a data-="" href="http://sierra.force.com/actions/National?actionId=AR0042579&amp;id=70131000001iEk2AAE&amp;utm_medium=social&amp;utm_campaign=political" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Let’s #StopTrump together</a>.</p> Fri, 27 May 2016 09:00:00 -0700 Michael Brune, EcoWatch 1057259 at http://www.alternet.org Environment Election 2016 Environment Video donald trump climate change A Year Since Superstorm Sandy, Disaster Is Far From Over http://www.alternet.org/environment/year-superstorm-sandy-disaster-far-over <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '916234'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=916234" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">No one can stop the next superstorm, mega wildfire, or 1,000-year flood. But we can get behind stopping the pollution that&#039;s disrupting our climate. </div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/photo_1353866217891-6-0_0.jpg?itok=2XF88Vpx" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p class="p1">A year has passed since Sandy, the second-costliest storm in U.S. history, slammed into the Eastern Seaboard, causing $65 billion in damage. On the day of this unhappy anniversary, though, we can't really say the disaster is behind us. Thousands of families are still unable to return to their homes. Some people have lost everything, including the hope of getting it back.<br /><br />The destruction from Sandy wasn't even the only extreme-weather disaster during the past year. Colorado is still reeling from a triple whammy of drought, wildfires, and then unprecedented floods that forced thousands more to evacuate their homes.<br /><br />What's going on? These terrible events are consistent with what climate scientists have told us to expect from a warmer climate: wetter (and therefore more powerful) storms in some places; hotter, prolonged droughts in others. Our planet is a complicated and surprisingly sensitive system. Radically altering inputs such as the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is like letting a toddler randomly start flipping switches in the cockpit of an in-flight 747. How many switches do you think can be safely flipped? I'd hate to find out.<br /><br />Although nothing could justify the devastation and heartbreak caused by Sandy in the East or by the fires and floods in the West, there has been one positive result. We've reached a tipping point in public concern about climate disruption. No longer does this issue seem like something that will happen in a distant future and to someone else. Even if we haven't experienced extreme weather firsthand, we know someone who has.<br /><br />What can we do about it? First, we have to kick that kid out of the cockpit. We need to reduce and ultimately eliminate the carbon pollution that is altering our atmosphere and disrupting our climate. We've made progress, too. Last year, greenhouse gas emissions reported to the EPA by polluters reached their lowest level in almost 20 years. At the same time, clean-energy technologies like wind and solar are growing exponentially -- faster than anyone could have guessed just a few years ago.<br /><br />And yet, it's still not fast enough. The disaster that is runaway climate pollution won't begin to subside until we stop burning fossil fuels entirely and start running our economy on 100 percent clean energy. We can do that, too, but it won't happen through wishful thinking. We need to act. President Obama's climate action plan, although not perfect, includes the first-ever action by the EPA to limit climate-disrupting carbon emissions from their single biggest source: power plants. While standards for gas plants still need to be strengthened, the new standards would clean up new coal power plants, and the agency is planning to propose similar standards for existing power plants next year.<br /><br />No one can stop the next superstorm, mega wildfire, or 1,000-year flood. But we can get behind stopping the pollution that's disrupting our climate. <a href="http://action.sierraclub.org/site/R?i=1QnF36sRw_-I9IiKEGT45g">Tell the EPA right now: We need the strongest possible safeguards against industrial carbon pollution from new coal and gas-burning power plants</a>.</p><p> </p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2013 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '916234'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=916234" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Mon, 28 Oct 2013 15:40:00 -0700 Michael Brune, AlterNet 916234 at http://www.alternet.org Environment Environment News & Politics Water sandy climate change fire flood epa 5 Critical Actions Obama Needs to Take Right Now to Avert Massive Climate Disruption http://www.alternet.org/environment/5-critical-actions-obama-needs-take-right-now-avert-massive-climate-disruption <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '835727'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=835727" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Each of these actions is within President Obama&#039;s power right now. If he&#039;s serious about addressing climate disruption, not one of them is optional.</div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/photo_1367695196083-1-0_13.jpg?itok=Vy6uk-cN" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>This article was published in partnership with <a href="http://globalpossibilities.org/">GlobalPossibilities.org</a>.</p><p>If all goes well, my parents will finally get to return home today. They live on the New Jersey Shore, on Chadwick Beach Island, next to Barnegat Bay. My brother, sisters, and I all grew up in the house, which my dad built with my uncle, almost fifty years ago.</p><p>Six months ago, Sandy took it apart.</p><p>By the time it hit the eastern seaboard, Sandy was an unusual hybrid of a post-tropical cyclone and an upper level low system. "Superstorms" like Sandy could develop without the influence of climate disruption, but warmer ocean temperatures and a shifting jet stream unquestionably have increased the odds. The scariest thing about Sandy is that such a freak of weather may no longer be so freakish.</p><p>A new norm of extreme weather is a daunting prospect. In Sandy's case, the damage to my childhood home was part of the worst U.S. natural disaster since hurricanes Katrina and Rita -- much more than $50 billion in damages and at least 72 deaths. But Sandy also destroyed something intangible -- our complacency. No longer can we assign the consequences of climate disruption to some distant future. When Sandy struck, the future rose with the sea and smashed into us head on. The question it left behind was this: What do we do about it?</p><p>For the past 100 days, Sierra Club members and supporters have answered that question loudly and clearly. We gathered in Washington, D.C., for the largest climate rally in history. We held town hall meetings and grassroots rallies across the country. And we helped send more than a million messages to Barack Obama -- telling him that we want bold action on climate disruption.</p><p>For his part, the president answered Sandy's challenge by talking about the climate crisis in his strongest words yet, both in the State of the Union and his inaugural address.</p><p>The president's words were welcome, but words will not be enough. Here are five critical actions we need him to take:</p><ol><li>Reject the toxic Keystone XL pipeline.</li><li>Protect our water from coal plant pollution.</li><li>Close loopholes on fracking and protect our wildlands from oil and gas development.</li><li>Finalize strong standards for cleaner tailpipe emissions.</li><li>Move forward with standards against industrial pollution.</li></ol><p>Each of these actions is within President Obama's power right now. If he's serious about addressing climate disruption, not one of them is optional.</p><p>Meanwhile, we have to keep our own voices raised. If you haven't added yours yet -- <a href="http://action.sierraclub.org/site/R?i=7lzRWCl2vwmCwp6zwq7ZWg">you can do it here.</a> Together, we will move forward on climate -- and we need our president to lead the way.</p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2013 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '835727'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=835727" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Mon, 06 May 2013 08:58:00 -0700 Michael Brune, AlterNet 835727 at http://www.alternet.org Environment Environment Fracking News & Politics Water climate change energy obama Why Tar Sands Pipelines Guarantee Disaster http://www.alternet.org/environment/why-tar-sands-pipelines-guarantee-disaster <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '822989'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=822989" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">We just don&#039;t know what the exact magnitude of the disaster will be.</div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/slideshow/img-20130330-00132.jpg?itok=xdzdYGy6" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>This article was published in partnership with <a href="http://globalpossibilities.org/">GlobalPossibilities.org</a>.</p><p>It's now been almost two weeks since ExxonMobil's Pegasus pipeline spill put at least 500,000 gallons of tar sands crude and contaminated water into the Arkansas community of Mayflower. Many of the evacuated families still haven't been able to return to their homes.<br /><br />Sierra Club organizer Glen Hooks, who grew up about 20 miles southeast of Mayflower, in Gravel Ridge, attended a meeting for the displaced families at Mayflower High School: "I had to really stare down some ExxonMobil goons who told me to leave because it was a private meeting. I politely explained that it was a meeting in a public building about a public subject with numerous public officials in attendance, and that I was planning to stay."<br /><br />Glen's soft-spoken, but he's not easily intimidated. Arkansas Business Journal named him an "Eco-Hero of the Year" for his work in helping to stop new coal-fired power plants. During the Mayflower meeting, Glen listened as an ExxonMobil executive apologized to the families and said that the focus was on safety and helping the homeowners. "The meeting then moved into a phase where ExxonMobil met with individual family members about their claims in a side room guarded by no fewer than six uniformed police officers."<br /><br />Here's something that ExxonMobil probably didn't tell those homeowners: In 2010, <a href="http://action.sierraclub.org/site/R?i=FqJNCqwsSxHr2xdUEAxrHw">it was fined $26,200</a> by the U.S. Department of Transportation's Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration for failing to regularly inspect each point where the Pegasus line crosses under a navigable waterway.<br /><br />This is a pipeline that crosses under the Mississippi River (just one of the places ExxonMobil failed to do inspections). It's hard to say which is more shocking: That "safety first" ExxonMobil has been so cavalier about pipeline inspections or that it was fined such a pittance for its irresponsibility. By my calculation, $26,200 comes out to about .00009% of ExxonMobil's net income for 2010. Let's put that in perspective. If ExxonMobil's income were the same as the median family income in Faulkner County, Arkansas, which is where its pipeline leaked, then ExxonMobil's fine for putting the Mississippi River at risk would have been not quite four cents.<br /><br />No matter how much ExxonMobil ends up spending to clean up the mess in Mayflower, the impact on its profit statement will be miniscule. Unfortunately, no amount of cash can buy peace of mind for the families whose homes were violated by tar sands. Tar sands crude is both more toxic and much harder to clean than ordinary crude. Just ask Enbridge, which has now spent almost $1 billion and two years trying to clean up the Kalamazoo River after the largest onshore oil spill in U.S. history. Enbridge has experience, too. <a href="http://action.sierraclub.org/site/R?i=e24qzN9A_8lmlO_3IwwWkg">There were 804 spills on its pipelines between 1999 and 2010.</a></p><p>No wonder ExxonMobil is <a href="http://action.sierraclub.org/site/R?i=v1kKjgdn8SBsA4at39tpdw">doing everything it can</a> to keep reporters and everyone else as far away from the Mayflower disaster as possible. The more the American public learns about the real cost of tar sands crude, the more opposition to the Keystone XL and other tar sands projects will increase.</p><p class="p1">Keystone XL opponents often point out that Americans assume all the risk of tar sands pipelines, while oil companies will rake in all the profit from tar sands exports. But let's be clear about the sort of risk we're talking about. If the pipeline is built, it's not a question of whether it will fail, but of when and where. We're not risking a disaster. Disaster is certain. We just don't know what the exact magnitude of the disaster will be. What if the Pegasus pipeline had failed under the Mississippi rather than in Mayflower?<br /><br />Here's something we do know: The first Keystone XL disaster will be far worse than what happened in Mayflower, since TransCanada's pipeline will pump ten times as much tar sands crude as the Pegasus does.<br /><br />I wish the disaster in Mayflower had never happened. Now that it has, though, I hope we heed its two biggest lessons: 1. How oil companies talk about safety has no connection to how they act. 2. The last thing you want to wake up and find in your backyard is a tar sands spill.<br /><br />We have a few days left. <a href="http://action.sierraclub.org/site/R?i=NJ0hH_Qy8czfQtx0Bl77qQ">Tell the president to keep his climate promises</a>.</p><p> </p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2013 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '822989'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=822989" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Wed, 10 Apr 2013 18:30:00 -0700 Michael Brune, AlterNet 822989 at http://www.alternet.org Environment Environment News & Politics Water tar sands keystone xl kxl pipeline 4 Things Every American Should Know About Tar Sands Pipelines http://www.alternet.org/environment/4-things-every-american-should-know-about-tar-sands-pipelines <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '819333'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=819333" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">When it comes to tar sands pipelines, what we don&#039;t know will hurt us.</div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/6b_cleanup.jpg?itok=EeA--ZXj" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>This article was published in partnership with <a href="http://globalpossibilities.org/">GlobalPossibilities.org</a>.</p><p>Forty-five minutes. That's how much time it took a ruptured pipeline in Mayflower, Arkansas, on Friday to <a href="http://action.sierraclub.org/site/R?i=tAPlnbbvg40jRUCwmFIYeg">dump at least 84,000 gallons of tar sands crude</a> into a residential neighborhood and force the evacuation of 22 homes. The evacuations weren't just because the oil is messy or inconvenient. Highly toxic and carcinogenic solvents like benzene are used to dilute tar sands crude to make it pumpable. During a spill, those toxics evaporate into the air.</p><p class="p1">Just over two weeks. That's how much time we have left to <a href="http://action.sierraclub.org/site/R?i=qAE0LQV44v9f7VKt4w5qzg">tell President Obama he should reject the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline</a>. We'll be living with the consequences of his decision for a lot longer. The climate pollution that mining the tar sands would create is reason enough not to approve Keystone, but last weekend's disaster in Arkansas is a glaring reminder of the other reason: Tar sands crude is much riskier to transport than conventional oil.</p><p class="p2">The Pegasus pipeline that spilled in Mayflower has only about one-tenth of the carrying capacity that the Keystone XL would. We don't know yet whether it contaminated nearby Lake Conway, an important source of drinking water, but the same pipeline crosses 13 miles of the Lake Maumelle watershed. If the spill had happened there, it would have contaminated the water supply for most of central Arkansas.</p><p class="p2">That the spill didn't happen in an even worse location is not much consolation to the residents of Mayflower who don't know when, or even if, they will be able to return to their homes. Many of them had no idea there was an oil pipeline in their neighborhood, much less that it was carrying tar sands crude. This was a tough way to find out.</p><p class="p2">When it comes to tar sands pipelines, what we don't know will hurt us. Here's what every American should know about tar sands pipelines:</p><p class="p2">1. Tar sands crude oil is much harder to clean up than conventional oil. That's because the bitumen that remains after benzene and other solvents evaporate is thick and heavy -- it sinks in water. Remember the Enbridge spill on the Kalamazoo River nearly three years ago? <a href="http://action.sierraclub.org/site/R?i=T-6aLMUjWtJMvBhbUjTQqg">Despite a nearly $1 billion cleanup effort, 38 miles of the river remain contaminated.</a></p><p class="p2">2. Tar sands crude is much more likely to spill than conventional crude oil. TransCanada's first Keystone pipeline <a href="http://action.sierraclub.org/site/R?i=LaICOtmxsQPQHhso7ZI-iA">leaked 12 times in its first 12 months</a>. Because tar sands must be pumped at higher pressures and temperatures than conventional oil, it corrodes pipes faster.</p><p class="p2">3. Tars sands pipeline leaks are difficult to detect. It was 17 hours before the Enbridge pipeline that spilled on the Kalamazoo was finally shut off. We can be thankful that the spill in Mayflower was noticed in less than an hour, but that's only because a neighbor spotted it. Then again, it's hard to miss <a href="http://action.sierraclub.org/site/R?i=R2gNteFQtkXj1TWnTDu0cQ">a river of oil flowing down your street.</a></p><p class="p2">4. Current pipeline regulations and spill-response methods are completely inadequate for the higher risks posed by tar sands. That's another reason to reject Keystone XL, but it's also a problem for existing older pipelines, like the one that spilled in Arkansas, that have started carrying tar sands during the past decade. The Sierra Club is part of a broad coalition of landowners, former and current government officials, environmental organizations, renewable energy promoters and sportsmen’s groups that has petitioned the EPA and the Department of Transportation's Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration to <a href="http://action.sierraclub.org/site/R?i=gpKR_WT1k_6Lzhhl5s3dCA">develop stronger safety standards for tar sands pipelines</a> and, in the meantime, put a moratorium on pumping tar sands crude.</p><p class="p2">Tragic as the disaster in Arkansas is, it could have been much worse. If the Keystone XL is built, it's a certainty that someday, somewhere, even more devastating spills will happen. It's only a matter of time. If you've already told President Obama where you stand, then <a href="http://action.sierraclub.org/site/R?i=cHwg4lJYt7_eD7M0Kp1V8A">ask your friends to do the same.</a> There's no excuse in the world for pursuing extreme oil like tar sands when we could be investing in clean energy instead.</p><p> </p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2013 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '819333'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=819333" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Wed, 03 Apr 2013 13:40:00 -0700 Michael Brune, AlterNet 819333 at http://www.alternet.org Environment Environment News & Politics Water tar sands oil keystone kxl pipeline spill Good News For Our Parks (No Thanks to Congress) http://www.alternet.org/environment/good-news-our-parks-no-thanks-congress <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '816397'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=816397" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">It&#039;s now been four years since it passed a single bill to protect wilderness -- even though many such bills have been introduced during that time by members of both parties.</div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/shutterstock_99512558.jpg?itok=z6jpUPtR" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>This article was published in partnership with <a href="http://globalpossibilities.org/">GlobalPossibilities.org</a>.</p><p>Is Congress "sclerotic"? That's the word Al Gore described them last week while speaking at the announcement that Los Angeles <a href="http://action.sierraclub.org/site/R?i=N7CrgvtkyqtI64Tq-WQUEw">will be coal-free by 2025</a>. "You know," he said, "we can't pass this and we can't pass that." The vice-president was talking about climate legislation, but Congress has been, shall we say, clogged up in many ways. It's now been four years since it passed a single bill to protect wilderness -- even though many such bills have been introduced during that time by members of both parties.</p><p class="p1">Fortunately, we don't have to rely on Congress for good news -- whether it's about cleaning up our air or protecting our public lands. So here's some of both kinds.</p><p class="p1">Start with the welcome announcement that President Obama has designated <a href="http://action.sierraclub.org/site/R?i=7_6jkz2UhsYLH0n38FPyyw">five new national monuments.</a> They're all worthwhile, but two of them are also significant and long overdue additions to our wilderness heritage. The new Rio Grande del Norte National Monument includes 240,000 acres of northern New Mexico wilderness and represents hundreds of years of Native American and Hispanic culture. It also provides critical habitat for wildlife such as elk, deer, bighorn sheep, and many migratory birds. And the creation of San Juan Islands National Monument in Washington State protects 955 acres of what Obama's proclamation accurately describes as "a dramatic and unusual diversity of habitats with forests, woodlands, bluffs, inter-tidal areas, and sandy beaches." <a href="http://action.sierraclub.org/site/R?i=Jkj8wB7QE0YxfqSopOPG0w">Not to mention orcas.</a></p><p class="p1">Both Rio Grande del Norte and the San Juans had strong local support for protection, both will provide major boosts to local economies, and both had previously been proposed as national conservation areas in Congress. The bills went nowhere. What was that word again? Sclerotic.</p><p class="p1">Here's some more good news that happened in spite of the current Congress, which has been more interested in weakening the Clean Air Act than enforcing it. During the past two decades, the air in our national parks has dramatically improved. But thanks to the Clean Air Act -- and our nation's move away from coal-fired power plants -- mountains are reappearing from the haze and smog. That's good news both for the millions of people who enjoy these parks and for the plants and wildlife that live in them. You can see <a href="http://action.sierraclub.org/site/R?i=URlAjyKQoY_oel6jdwEjVA">a slideshow of "before and after" images from researchers at the Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere</a> at Colorado State University.</p><p class="p1">In honor of Los Angeles, which has cleaned up its air dramatically during the past decade, and which is setting an example for cities across the world with its commitment to renewable energy, here's an example from that city's backyard -- The San Gorgonio Wilderness:</p><p class="p2"></p><div alt="" class="media-image" height="225" width="400"><img alt="" class="media-image" height="225" width="400" typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/large/public/cc_la_3_28.jpg?itok=Ubwznp3D" /><div class="field field-name-field-tags field-type-taxonomy-term-reference field-label-above"> <div class="field-label">Tags: </div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/tags/air-pollution" typeof="skos:Concept" property="rdfs:label skos:prefLabel" datatype="">air pollution</a> </div> </div> </div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-image-source field-type-text field-label-above"><div class="field-label">Photo Credit: </div><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Sierra Club</div></div></div></div><p class="p1">Wow. If we can clean up the air in our parks this dramatically in 20 years, maybe there's hope for getting Congress moving again, too. Send your representative a message <a href="http://action.sierraclub.org/site/R?i=_2cH-0MSS9tW-ws6md19Yg">supporting action on the dozens of wilderness protection bills</a> that are still stuck in the system. </p><p> </p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2013 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '816397'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=816397" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Thu, 28 Mar 2013 11:27:00 -0700 Michael Brune, AlterNet 816397 at http://www.alternet.org Environment Environment parks air congress obama 3 Reasons Why We Should Stop New Gas Drilling Before it Starts http://www.alternet.org/fracking/3-reasons-why-we-should-stop-new-gas-drilling-it-starts <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '807497'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=807497" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Too many people -- especially politicians -- aren&#039;t paying attention to the dangers of the current &quot;boom&quot; in natural gas development. </div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/shutterstock_95754064.jpg?itok=6hVRlt5j" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p>This article was published in partnership with <a href="http://globalpossibilities.org/">GlobalPossibilities.org</a>.</p><p>You know what natural gas smells like. Or do you? Natural gas is actually odorless. That rotten-egg smell is added for safety reasons. Otherwise, you might not notice a potentially deadly gas leak.</p><p class="p1">If only we could add a similar smell to the natural gas industry. Too many people -- especially politicians -- aren't paying attention to the dangers of the current "boom" in natural gas development. Here are three big reasons why we should stop new gas drilling before it starts and replace fossil fuels at every opportunity with clean, renewable energy.<br /><br />It starts with how we get gas out of the ground. Hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," is problem #1. Frackers inject a toxic chemical cocktail underground under high pressure to fracture the rock and release the gas. A lot of that fluid comes back up the well as waste and, when it does, it's even <a href="http://action.sierraclub.org/site/R?i=uuvOu_Gc0g1EqiaIk9uRSw">more toxic than it started out</a>.<br /><br />People who live in areas where fracking is happening are outraged. They should be. What guarantee do they have that their drinking water won't be affected by fracking? None. How do they know that toxic wastewater from fracking will be disposed of in a way that ensures it won't contaminate aquifers ten, twenty, or thirty years from now? They don't.<br /><br />In fact, a ProPublica investigation has identified more than 1,000 cases of water contamination near drilling sites. The risks don't end when the drilling does, either. The question isn't whether abandoned wells and fracking-waste storage sites can leak, but how many will fail, and how soon it will happen. Yet, incredibly, fracking enjoys exemptions from parts of at least seven major national environmental statutes, including the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Safe Drinking Water Act. The rush to frack for natural gas has occurred with maximum greed and minimum oversight.<br /><br />The next time someone tries to tell you that fracking is safe, ask them why, then, the industry spends so much money getting exemptions to our nation's environmental laws. Ask why the gas industry won't fully disclose exactly what's in the billions of gallons of water they are pumping into wells across the country. Ask why the gas industry fights so hard to enforce gag rules on local hospitals <a href="http://action.sierraclub.org/site/R?i=3bBMtzb12y-EB1hpez1jrw">so that doctors can't talk about what chemicals are poisoning gas-drilling communities</a>.<br /><br />The Sierra Club believes no community should be forced to accept the risks of fracking. That's why we're working with local activists to support moratoriums on fracking in New York, Illinois, and eight other states, as well as the right of local communities, like<a href="http://action.sierraclub.org/site/R?i=Je1kI_dbaQOciJhrxEfAgg">Longmont</a> and <a href="http://action.sierraclub.org/site/R?i=XDhcb0Igayjg7iMN4OX7fg">Fort Collins</a> in Colorado, to declare fracking off-limits within their borders.<br /><br />That work's paying off, too: The New York State Assembly just last week passed legislation that would <a href="http://action.sierraclub.org/site/R?i=jLtqPOGacpcxxnXev9AuIA">extend the moratorium on high-volume hydraulic fracturing in the state until May 2015.</a> That victory is a credit to the passionate advocacy of citizens throughout the state who refuse to accept the premise that New York's countryside must be sacrificed for the sake of dirty-fuel profits. Together, we've also won the first round of a legal challenge to Pennsylvania's ACT 13 legislation, which similarly gives communities control over their own fate.<br /><br />Moratoriums are important because, as currently practiced, fracking simply can't be considered safe. Take what's happening in Illinois. The Sierra Club and many other grassroots groups are fighting hard to get a moratorium in place because the frackers have not proven the safety of their process. But because of massive gas-industry lobbying, we do not yet have sufficient political support. With no regulations in place, and the frackers lining up, our local chapter joined an effort to develop rules that would prevent the worst abuses of the gas industry. And at one level they were successful -- the proposed Illinois rules tighten some of the loopholes found in other states. But here's the thing: Even these improvements do not fully protect the health and safety of the good people of Illinois. In fact, no proposed legislation in any state currently does.<br /><br />Although problem #1 is how we get gas out of the ground, problem #2 happens far above ground -- in our atmosphere. Natural gas boosters like to claim that it is a climate-friendly energy source, supposedly because it's not as dirty as other fossil fuels. That's like saying it's safer to be attacked with a knife than a gun. If you end up dead, it's a moot point.<br /><br />It's true that gas doesn't directly create as much carbon pollution as coal when it's burned, but that reality hides a larger story. Natural gas is mostly methane, and methane is an extremely powerful climate-disrupting gas all on its own (more than twenty times more potent than carbon dioxide).<br /><br />We know that during the drilling and transportation of natural gas, methane leaks, but nobody knows exactly how much, because no comprehensive studies have yet been conducted. The Environmental Protection Agency has estimated that leakage rates are around 2.4 percent. However, a range of studies in recent years have called that figure into question. One of the most recent, from a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration research group, measured methane leakage from a Utah gas field (not even shale gas!) up to an astonishing 9 percent, and that didn't even include leakage from distribution and transmission. Any leakage rate much greater than the EPA’s 2.4 percent would be enough to make gas worse than coal as a climate disruptor.<br /><br />But even if drillers could magically eliminate all methane leakage, natural gas would still threaten our climate simply because there's so much of it. If we allow the industry to extract and burn all (or even most) of it, then we're looking at irreversible climate disruption. The International Energy Agency estimates that to have a shot at keeping global warming under 3.6°F (which is a risky target considering the damage we've already incurred with a little more than 1°F of warming), we need to keep two-thirds of our known oil, gas, and coal reserves in the ground. That's all the reason we need to go "all-in" on clean energy.<br /><br />And that points to one of the biggest secrets the gas industry is trying to keep -- we don’t actually need all this fracked gas. Despite the industry's well-funded misinformation campaigns, the fact is that clean energy is already cheaper than dirty fuels in many places. At the retail level, installing solar on your home is cheaper than traditional utility power for many homes in 14 states. At the wholesale level, solar panel prices have dropped 80 percent in the past five years, and new solar projects are beating out new gas and coal in places like California and New Mexico. We installed more solar and wind energy last year in the U.S. than new gas, coal, and nukes combined. Although clean energy is not yet cheaper than dirty fuels in every part of the country, solar and wind have a nice little side benefit: They don't destabilize our climate. Plus, the cost of clean power continues to drop, while the cost of fossil fuels goes up. We need to build on this progress, not undermine it.<br /><br />That's going to be even tougher if we don't address problem #3 -- the burning desire of the industry to export U.S. natural gas to foreign markets in the form of liquefied natural gas (LNG). That would actually make both of the other two problems worse. Opening up more foreign markets to U.S. natural gas would lock us into long-term contracts that will require us to keep on fracking, regardless of how quickly we move to clean energy at home. And owing to the cooling and pressurizing that are required to make LNG, it would also compound the carbon pollution from natural gas.<br /><br />Although LNG exports would boost the profits of natural gas producers, they would also mean higher energy prices for American consumers and industries and serious problems for our climate. That's why the Sierra Club Beyond Gas campaign is aggressively challenging permits for new LNG export facilities. Like coal-export terminals, these projects are long-term carbon-pollution disasters waiting to happen.<br /><br />Fracking, climate, and LNG exports are three reasons why we want to keep natural gas in the ground as much as possible, but it's important to note that the Sierra Club is as committed to developing long-term clean-energy solutions as it is to opposing dirty-fuel problems. Instead of replacing one dirty fossil fuel with another, we can move to clean, renewable energy sources like wind, solar, and geothermal. Together with upgrading our energy efficiency, that's what can free us from fossil fuels. We've already seen tremendous progress in the past four years, thanks to renewable energy standards, falling prices for solar and wind, <a href="http://action.sierraclub.org/site/R?i=_NpjSP9HXTh0hccXZQNGag">innovative financing</a>, and (early in its first term) critical clean energy support from the Obama administration.<br /><br />We need to maintain this clean-energy momentum. It's the only way we'll ever achieve "escape velocity" from the fossil fuel planet we've been stuck on for two hundred years. But the "get richer quicker" mentality behind the natural gas boom is trying to slow us down and drag us back to a world that runs almost entirely on dirty fuels.<br /><br />What's that smell? It's not natural gas -- it's greed.</p><p> </p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2013 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '807497'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=807497" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Wed, 13 Mar 2013 12:05:00 -0700 Michael Brune, AlterNet 807497 at http://www.alternet.org Fracking Environment Fracking Water fracking gas drilling water The Keystone XL Pipeline Is an Eco-Threat -- Why Doesn't the State Department Think So? http://www.alternet.org/environment/keystone-xl-pipeline-eco-threat-why-doesnt-state-department-think-so <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '802974'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=802974" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">The State Department&#039;s analysis is not only inaccurate but also incredibly cynical.</div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/photo_1360321178316-1-0_5.jpg?itok=kJuId2JS" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--> <p> </p><p class="p1">This article was published in partnership with <a href="http://globalpossibilities.org/">GlobalPossibilities.org</a>.</p><p>You know the news is going to be bad when they bury it at 4pm on a Friday. We dealt with this for eight years during the Bush administration. I never thought we'd be doing it again under John Kerry's State Department. </p><p class="p1">The State Department's analysis of the Keystone XL pipeline proposal acknowledges that tar sands crude is 17 percent more greenhouse gas intensive than conventional oil. But State says that the overall environmental impacts of the pipeline are limited because, according to their analysis, the oil would be mined and drilled anyway. That's not accurate. Currently, 1.8 million barrels of oil per day are being produced in the tar sands. Permits have already been issued that would allow that extraction to expand to 5 million barrels of oil per day, and the oil industry would like to go even higher. But the oil industry is the first to admit that it needs new pipeline capacity before it can expand:</p><blockquote><p class="p1">"When I talk to producers in Alberta, as long as Keystone XL goes ahead, they view that there's pretty sufficient takeaway capacity to get us to late in the next decade."  --Alex Pourbaix, president of energy and oil pipelines, Transcanada</p></blockquote><blockquote><p class="p1">"All of the crude oil export pipelines are pretty much full, running at maximum capacity... And we're not likely to see any meaningful capacity added to these networks until the end of the year."  --Vern Yu, VP of business development and market development, Enbridge, Inc.</p></blockquote><p class="p1">So the State Department's analysis is not only inaccurate but also incredibly cynical. By this same logic, why would anyone in North America stop new coal plants from being built, if the coal would just be burned in China and India anyway? Why would we try to replace fracked gas or mountaintop-removal coal with solar and wind, if we're powerless as a country to lead the world to a clean energy economy? This is shockingly defeatist thinking from a bureaucracy that is now led by someone who has been a proven and courageous champion of the climate throughout his career.  </p><p class="p1">I spent this morning on a press conference with Mayor Michael Bloomberg discussing how we've succeeded in securing the retirement of 142 coal plants over the past couple of years. Although we've begun to see a clean energy turnaround outside the Beltway, we're still looking for a real sign of strong leadership inside Washington, D.C. Instead, we keep hearing about the inevitability of fossil fuels: All the oil will be burned, no matter how extreme; coal and natural gas should be mined, drilled and fracked, then exported if necessary. Too often, we even hear these tired arguments from climate champions who should know better. </p><p class="p1">President Obama needs to reconcile his soaring oratory on climate with strong action to turn away from dirty fuels like tar sands oil. Today, the State Department made the president's job much more difficult. But it's still not too late to stop this pipeline. We have until mid-April to speak out and show the president that there is a national movement demanding he keep his climate promises. <a href="http://action.sierraclub.org/site/R?i=EqpPtRhFTSQGOap2UcCvLA">Send your message to the administration today. </a></p><p> </p> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2013 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '802974'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=802974" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Fri, 01 Mar 2013 16:21:00 -0800 Michael Brune, AlterNet 802974 at http://www.alternet.org Environment Environment keystone kxl pipeline tar sands climate change Congress Could Pass a Bill That Would Giveaway 50 Million Acres of Publicly-Owned Wildlands to Oil, Gas and Mining Companies http://www.alternet.org/story/152548/congress_could_pass_a_bill_that_would_giveaway_50_million_acres_of_publicly-owned_wildlands_to_oil%2C_gas_and_mining_companies <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '667872'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=667872" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">It&#039;s time to stop the &quot;Great American Giveaway.&quot;</div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/default.jpg?itok=wQcwl0WS" alt="" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p>Woody Guthrie put it best when he sang, "This land is your land." Until, that is, someone steals it from you. And from the redwood forests to the New York island, that's exactly what could happen if we don't stop an extreme bill in Congress that would essentially turn over 50 million acres of publicly owned wildlands to oil, gas, and mining companies for drilling, mining, logging, road construction, and other destructive development.<br /><br /> Wilderness that represents the historical, geological, and ecological diversity of the United States, from iconic red rock canyons in Utah to ancient temperate rainforests in Alaska to scenic mountains in New Mexico, could be lost forever. <a href="http://www.flickr.com//photos/sierraclub/sets/72157627492934565/show/">Here's a slideshow</a> of just some of the places at risk.</p> <p style="margin-top: 10px; margin-bottom: 10px; text-align: left; ">Introduced by Rep. Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield, this bill (H.R. 1581) would eliminate protection for wilderness study areas and Forest Service roadless areas -- exactly the kind of healthy, undisturbed lands that provide and safeguard clean air and water resources, supply habitat for plants and animals, and offer Americans a place to get outdoors and kayak, camp, fish, or hike. That's one reason why people in the outdoor recreation industry -- which, by the way, supports nearly 6.5 million jobs and contributes $730 billion annually to the U.S. economy -- are among the biggest opponents of this public lands giveaway. <br /><br /> No one deserves the gut punch of coming home to discover that they've been burglarized. But if this "Great American Giveaway" bill becomes law, then every single American will be the victim of a brazen theft that's just as heartless. Woody was right. It's your land. Not ExxonMobil's. Not Peabody Coal's. Not Koch Industries'. These lands are our lands. <a target="_self" style="text-decoration: underline; color: rgb(51, 51, 102); " href="https://secure2.convio.net/sierra/site/Advocacy?cmd=display&amp;page=UserAction&amp;id=6711&amp;s_src=611JBLMB01">Tell your member of Congress that we need to keep it that way. </a></p> <div class="entry-footer" style="clear: both; margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 10px; margin-left: 0px; border-bottom-width: 1px; border-bottom-style: dotted; border-bottom-color: rgb(153, 153, 153); padding-top: 3px; padding-right: 3px; padding-bottom: 3px; padding-left: 3px; color: rgb(153, 153, 153); font-family: 'Trebuchet MS', Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: x-small; line-height: normal; text-align: left; font-weight: bold; "> </div> <p> </p> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-bio field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter-->Michael Brune is executive director of the Sierra Club. </div></div></div><!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2011 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '667872'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=667872" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Tue, 27 Sep 2011 07:00:01 -0700 Michael Brune, AlterNet 667872 at http://www.alternet.org Environment Environment News & Politics oil gas mining public lands wildlands It's Time to Ditch Big Oil: We Can Create Jobs While Protecting Public Health and the Environment http://www.alternet.org/story/152428/it%27s_time_to_ditch_big_oil%3A_we_can_create_jobs_while_protecting_public_health_and_the_environment <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '667750'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=667750" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">In the end, the whole &quot;jobs versus environment/public health&quot; argument is nothing but a rhetorical crutch for polluters.</div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/default.jpg?itok=wQcwl0WS" alt="" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><div class="entry-content" style="position: static; clear: both; margin-top: 10px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 10px; margin-left: 0px; "><div class="entry-body" style="clear: both; "><p style="margin-top: 10px; margin-bottom: 10px; text-align: left; ">President Obama deserves kudos for the plan he put forth last week to put Americans back to work and renew our nation's role as a global leader in innovation.  I was glad to hear him renew his commitments to protecting Americans from toxic mercury pollution, ending subsidies for Big Oil, and building a clean energy economy that works for all Americans. </p> <p style="margin-top: 10px; margin-bottom: 10px; text-align: left; ">The president is right that it's time to "stop the political circus" and act. Whether it's investment in wind and solar power, improving and repairing infrastructure, or building high-speed rail and electric cars, the federal government has an important role to play in putting Americans back to work and protecting the health and safety of families and children.</p> <p style="margin-top: 10px; margin-bottom: 10px; text-align: left; ">But Obama's challenge now is to stand up to the fossil fuel industry and its supporters in Congress who are misleading the American public by insisting that regulation kills jobs, and that a clean-energy future isn't viable. That's the "race to the bottom" the president mentioned in his speech.</p> <p style="margin-top: 10px; margin-bottom: 10px; text-align: left; ">For instance, the American Petroleum Institute recently claimed that the oil industry could create more than a million jobs over the next decade --  if only the government would open public lands, beaches, oceans -- probably even our bathtubs, if we let them -- to unlimited oil drilling.</p> <p style="margin-top: 10px; margin-bottom: 10px; text-align: left; ">This is preposterous. Dumping more money in Big Oil's deep pockets would be great for oil executives but do nothing for the rest of us. <a style="text-decoration: underline; color: rgb(51, 51, 102); " href="http://democrats.naturalresources.house.gov/pr@id=0122.html">A recent report </a>by Democratic staff of the House Natural Resources Committee clarifies Big Oil's role in our fragile economy:</p> <ul style="margin-top: 10px; margin-bottom: 10px; "><li>Despite generating $546 billion in profits between 2005 and 2010, ExxonMobil, Chevron, Shell, and BP combined reduced their U.S. workforce by 11,200 employees.</li> <li>Even with these job losses, the top five oil companies paid their senior executives a total of nearly $220 million in 2010.</li> <li>Meanwhile, taxpayers will hand out nearly $100 billion in tax breaks and loopholes to oil and gas companies in the coming decades.</li> </ul><p style="margin-top: 10px; margin-bottom: 10px; text-align: left; ">Big Oil is taking shots at the green economy because it threatens their unrivaled political and economic power. A report by the Brookings Institute -- which, unlike the API, doesn't exist solely to lobby for the oil industry -- is anything but pessimistic about the green economy's potential for job creation. <a style="text-decoration: underline; color: rgb(51, 51, 102); " href="http://www.brookings.edu/reports/2011/0713_clean_economy.aspx">"Sizing the Clean Economy: A National and Regional Green Jobs Assessment"</a> concludes that:</p> <ul style="margin-top: 10px; margin-bottom: 10px; "><li>Today<em> </em>the clean economy employs 2.7 million American workers across a diverse group of industries, which is greater than the number of people employed by the entire fossil fuel industry.</li> <li>Clean-tech has produced explosive job gains in the past year, outperforming the national rate of job creation during the recession.</li> <li>The clean economy offers more opportunities and better pay (13% higher) for low- and middle-skilled workers than the national economy as a whole.</li> <li>The green jobs revolution is at work around the nation -- the South has the largest number of clean economy jobs in total, while the West has the largest share relative to its population.</li> </ul><p style="margin-top: 10px; margin-bottom: 10px; text-align: left; ">Our nation is poised to enter an era where we can take it for granted that protecting public health and providing stable and sustainable jobs are one and the same.  The writing's on the wall, which is exactly why Big Oil (seeing a threat to its domination of American economics and politics), has turned its attention (and devoted significant resources)  to trying to stop growth in the clean economy.</p> <p style="margin-top: 10px; margin-bottom: 10px; text-align: left; ">In the end, the whole "jobs versus environment/public health" argument is nothing but a rhetorical crutch for polluters.  The sooner we (and the media) call them on their B.S., the sooner we can win the "race to the top" for all Americans.</p> </div> </div> <div class="entry-footer" style="clear: both; margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 10px; margin-left: 0px; border-bottom-width: 1px; border-bottom-style: dotted; border-bottom-color: rgb(153, 153, 153); padding-top: 3px; padding-right: 3px; padding-bottom: 3px; padding-left: 3px; color: rgb(153, 153, 153); font-family: 'Trebuchet MS', Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: x-small; line-height: normal; text-align: left; font-weight: bold; "> </div> <p> </p> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-bio field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter-->Michael Brune is executive director of the Sierra Club. </div></div></div><!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2011 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '667750'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=667750" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Thu, 15 Sep 2011 09:00:01 -0700 Michael Brune, AlterNet 667750 at http://www.alternet.org Environment Economy Environment oil green jobs Help Stop a Congressional Attack on Endangered Species http://www.alternet.org/story/150080/help_stop_a_congressional_attack_on_endangered_species <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '665439'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=665439" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">The Endangered Species Act simply cannot work if politicians are allowed to start cherry-picking which species they think should or should not be allowed to survive.</div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/default.jpg?itok=wQcwl0WS" alt="" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><div class="entry-body"><p>Last August, the Sierra Club and other conservation groups celebrated when a federal judge ruled that the Fish and Wildlife Service couldn't prematurely take gray wolves off of the Endangered Species List in Montana and Idaho. That celebration was short-lived.</p> <p>Now, it's not just the gray wolf that's threatened -- it's the Endangered Species Act itself. HR 1, the Continuing Budget Resolution passed by the House last week, has an amendment that would specifically exclude wolves from protection in Montana and Idaho. Similar legislation was introduced by Montana's senators.</p> <p>It gets worse, though -- bills have also been proposed in both the Senate and the House that would remove endangered species protection for <em>all</em> wolves in the United States -- forever. That includes the fewer than fifty Mexican gray wolves <a href="http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/greenspace/2011/02/mexican-wolves-increasing-in-southwest.html">struggling to survive in Arizona and New Mexico.</a></p> <p>Any of these bills would be disastrous for gray wolves, but their ultimate consequences would extend much further -- to every single species that might someday find itself at odds with a powerful commercial or political interest. Endangered species don't vote, don't make campaign contributions, and don't stand a chance if their fate is subject to the whims of politicians rather than sound science and habitat management. The Endangered Species Act simply cannot work if politicians are allowed to start cherry-picking which species they think should or should not be allowed to survive.</p> <p>There was a time when many people believed that wildlife and wild lands had no value beyond their potential for commercial exploitation. You could argue that our forebears simply didn't know any better when they shot the last passenger pigeon or killed the last Caribbean monk seal. We won't have that excuse.</p> <p>You can help protect both gray wolves <em>and</em> the Endangered Species Act by <a href="https://secure2.convio.net/sierra/site/Advocacy?cmd=display&amp;page=UserAction&amp;id=5186&amp;s_src=611BSCMB01">sending a message to your Congressional representatives today.</a></p> </div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-bio field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter-->Michael Brune is executive director of the Sierra Club. </div></div></div><!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2011 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '665439'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=665439" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Mon, 28 Feb 2011 14:00:01 -0800 Michael Brune, AlterNet 665439 at http://www.alternet.org Environment Environment endangered species GOP Solution to Air Pollution: Pass a Law Declaring that Pollutants Aren't Pollutants http://www.alternet.org/story/149526/gop_solution_to_air_pollution%3A_pass_a_law_declaring_that_pollutants_aren%27t_pollutants <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '664900'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=664900" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">&quot;Job killing&quot; regulations are a scary myth -- but cynical, irresponsible, &quot;people killing&quot; bills that put all of our lives at risk are a much scarier reality.</div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/default.jpg?itok=wQcwl0WS" alt="" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p>Only a couple of days into the new Congress, Representative Marsha Blackburn and at least 46 colleagues have proposed an air-pollution solution that's both simple and ingenious: <a target="_self" href="http://www.nytimes.com/gwire/2011/01/07/07greenwire-newly-empowered-republicans-float-bills-to-blo-20939.html">Pass a law declaring that pollutants aren't pollutants.</a> Blackburn's bill, H.R. 97, states:</p> <p style="padding-left: 30px;">"The term 'air pollutant' shall not include carbon dioxide, water vapor, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarb ons, perfluorocarbons, or sulfur hexafluoride."</p> <p>If only it were that simple. Unfortunately, sulfur hexaflouoride isn't bound by the whims of Congress. If that particular greenhouse-gas pollutant (with a climate-disruption potential that's <a target="_self" href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sulfur_hexafluoride#Greenhouse_gas">22,800 times that of CO2</a>) wants to destroy our atmosphere, then that's what sulfur hexaflouoride is going to do. </p> <p>Blackburn's bill is just one of several in this Congress that aim to stop the Environmental Protection Agency from simply doing its job -- which is to protect the health of you, me, and (yes) members of Congress. Other proposed measures would block efforts to clean our air for two years and take away EPA funding for enforcement of certain clean-air safeguards. </p> <p>Ironically, the words you'll hear over and over from those who want to stop the EPA from doing its job are "job killing." That's a charged phrase at a time when too many Americans are out of work, but it's also the same hogwash that we've been hearing from polluters for 40 years. Only now those polluters have supporters in Congress who are downright eager to carry their water. </p> <p>In reality, time and again, cleaning up our air has <em>boosted</em> our economy -- to the tune of trillions of dollars. Even more important, it's saved millions of lives. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson <a target="_self" href="http://yosemite.epa.gov/opa/admpress.nsf/12a744ff56dbff8585257590004750b6/7769a6b1f0a5bc9a8525779e005ade13%21OpenDocument">laid out the facts forcefully and compellingly</a> on the agency's fortieth anniversary last year.</p> <p>Unfortunately, some members of Congress seem more concerned with representing the interests of polluters than with protecting the health of ordinary Americans. "Job killing" regulations are a scary myth -- but cynical, irresponsible, "people killing" bills that put all of our lives at risk are a much scarier reality.</p> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-bio field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter-->Michael Brune is executive director of the Sierra Club. </div></div></div><!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2011 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '664900'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=664900" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Sat, 15 Jan 2011 04:00:01 -0800 Michael Brune, AlterNet 664900 at http://www.alternet.org Environment Environment News & Politics Personal Health gop pollution air pollution Investigation into BP Spill Reveals Incompetence, Greed, Complacency and Cynicism -- It's Time for a New Energy Policy http://www.alternet.org/story/149519/investigation_into_bp_spill_reveals_incompetence%2C_greed%2C_complacency_and_cynicism_--_it%27s_time_for_a_new_energy_policy <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '664906'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=664906" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Besides telling the American people what happened, the Commission was charged with making recommendations for what we should do about it.</div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/default.jpg?itok=wQcwl0WS" alt="" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p>"What the hell did we do to deserve this?" <br /><br /> That's what BP CEO Tony Hayward asked his board of directors as the Deepwater Horizon disaster unfolded last spring. This week, <a target="_self" href="http://www.oilspillcommission.gov/">an independent commission</a> appointed by President Obama answered his question.<br /><br /><a target="_self" href="http://www.oilspillcommission.gov/final-report"><em>Deep Water: The Gulf Oil Disaster and the Future of Offshore Drilling</em></a> is a painstakingly thorough examination both of what led to the disaster and of the challenges we face as an oil-dependent nation. But this is no dry recital of facts. For the first couple of hundred pages, at least, it's enough of a page-turner that you almost wonder whether the Commission hired Sebastian Junger (<em>The Perfect Storm</em>) as a ghostwriter. <br /><br /> This, however, is a storm of <em>imperfection</em>-- incompetence, greed, complacency, and cynicism are abundant. Industry leaders and government officials alike are found culpable -- with the latter (notably Minerals Management Service employees) failing time and again to stand up to the corporate corner-cutters at the former. Added up, all of this results in not just putting our coastlines and our coastal economies at risk, but there are more fatalities at U.S. offshore rigs than other countries.  <br /><br /> But besides telling the American people <em>what</em>happened, the Commission was charged with making recommendations for what we should do about it:</p> <blockquote>…no less than an overhauling of both current industry practices and government oversight is now required. The changes necessary will be transformative in their depth and breadth, requiring an unbending commitment to safety by government and industry to displace a culture of complacency.</blockquote> <p>But that, however, is only what we must do if we hope to avoid another oil-spill disaster. The Commission did not shy away from addressing the bigger picture. This report makes a strong case for adopting a balanced national energy policy that addresses national security, economic, human safety, and environmental issues. But left unsaid is the fact that the <em>only</em>way to succeed on <em>all</em>of those fronts will be to get our nation off of oil as quickly as possible. If the Navy and Marine Corps can <a target="_self" href="http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/08/17/on-land-air-and-sea-a-retrofit-mission/">cut oil use in half by the end of this decade,</a> why can't the rest of the country?<br /><br /> Both President Obama and Congress need to take the Commission's recommendations seriously -- and act accordingly. But we also have a responsibility as citizens to make it clear to them that we want to see real solutions instead of political posturing like attempts to weaken the EPA (an agency that actually <em>is</em>doing its job). <br /><br /> A good first start would be to implement <em>all</em>of the report's recommendations for properly funding and managing the recovery of Gulf communities and habitats. Tony Hayward now has the answer to his "why us?" question. The fishermen, small business owners, and other Gulf residents whose lives and livelihoods were destroyed are still waiting.</p> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-bio field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter-->Michael Brune is executive director of the Sierra Club. </div></div></div><!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2011 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '664906'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=664906" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Thu, 13 Jan 2011 08:00:01 -0800 Michael Brune, AlterNet 664906 at http://www.alternet.org Environment Investigations Environment Water water bp offshore drilling drilling spill gulf Why Is the Obama Administration Stalling on Both Air Pollution and Smog Standards? http://www.alternet.org/story/149182/why_is_the_obama_administration_stalling_on_both_air_pollution_and_smog_standards <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '664520'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=664520" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Deciding not to move forward on these important rules is, in fact, allowing those polluters to move us backward.</div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/default.jpg?itok=wQcwl0WS" alt="" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p>Has someone discovered a way to travel back in time to the Bush administration? On Tuesday, the EPA asked for a one-year delay on <a target="_self" href="http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/dec2010/2010-12-09-091.html">new rules for air pollution from industrial boilers.</a> The very next day, the agency announced it wants to wait for another half year before setting new standards for ozone smog. Both actions defy every kind of logic but one -- pandering to polluters and their scare-mongering political allies.<br /><br /> Barack Obama ran and was elected on a promise to protect Americans by cleaning up the air that we breathe every single day. But to clean the air, you have to get your hands dirty. If the polluters who are complaining today had gotten their way for the past 40 years, there never would have been a Clean Air Act, and millions more Americans would have been sickened or died. Many of these polluters -- and their allies in Congress -- have fought progress to improve people's health at every opportunity. We need our president to fight back. <br /><br /> Here's the good news. Investments in reducing pollution are cost-effective. That's right: by investing in modern pollution controls, we'll actually save lives <em>and</em>save money. By <a target="_self" href="http://www.epa.gov/ttnecas1/regdata/RIAs/s1-supplemental_analysis_full.pdf">the EPA's own analysis,</a> the overall financial benefit to our economy of taking action on soot, smog, and toxics pollution will far outweigh the cost. After you factor in <em>all</em>of the costs of allowing toxic air pollution to continue, as in <a target="_self" href="http://www.cleanair.org/DownwindPollutionHiddenCostStudy.pdf">this just-released report,</a> it becomes obvious that <em>not</em>to act as quickly as possible is economically irresponsible.<br /><br /> But there's more to this issue than the economic analysis. The moral challenge the president and EPA administrator should answer is how much these delays will hurt ordinary Americans -- not corporate polluters. Again, by the agency's own estimate, putting off a decision on an ozone standard for six months means that between 2,000 and 6,000 more Americans will die unnecessarily. <br /><br /> Deciding not to move forward on these important rules is, in fact, allowing those polluters to move us backward. After eight long years of fighting to protect the environment from corporate interests during the Bush years, we aren't about to start retreating now -- under a president who pledged to stand up to polluters and to protect our health and improve jobs and local economies in the process.<br /><br /> President Obama hasn't yet renounced that pledge, and he still has opportunities during the next two years to move boldly and forcefully to fulfill it. If he does, Sierra Club members will go the distance to champion him in that fight for what's right. But you can't champion a fighter if he leaves the ring. Lace up your gloves, Mr. President, and get back in.</p> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-bio field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter-->Michael Brune is executive director of the Sierra Club. </div></div></div><!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2010 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '664520'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=664520" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Mon, 13 Dec 2010 12:00:01 -0800 Michael Brune, AlterNet 664520 at http://www.alternet.org Environment Environment environment obama epa air pollution smog In Supporting Natural Gas Drilling, Obama Omits Any Mention of Responsibility http://www.alternet.org/story/148875/in_supporting_natural_gas_drilling%2C_obama_omits_any_mention_of_responsibility <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '664253'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=664253" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">It&#039;s important to acknowledge that just because natural gas is cleaner than other fossil fuels -- especially coal -- does not mean we should give the industry a free pass.</div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/default.jpg?itok=wQcwl0WS" alt="" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p>A couple months ago, I was out in Dimock, PA, meeting with community members who've been affected by reckless natural gas drilling in and around their town. I was also there to tape an interview with Leslie Stahl, for <a target="_self" href="http://www.cbsnews.com/sections/60minutes/main3415.shtml">an episode of <em>60 Minutes</em> that will air this Sunday.</a></p> <p>Dimock has become <a target="_self" href="http://www.vanityfair.com/business/features/2010/06/fracking-in-pennsylvania-201006">an unfortunate poster child of dangerous gas extraction</a> and after spending some time there, it's easy to understand why. Many residents have expressed alarm at how their drinking water has turned brown and made them sick soon after gas drilling started. The water is now too poisonous for most residents near drilling operations to use for drinking or bathing; it will be at least a couple years until a pipeline is built to transfer water from a safe location. Moreover, highly flammable, greenhouse gas-intensive methane that is believed to have been released from gas drilling or hydraulic fracturing ("fracking") caused one Dimock resident's well to spontaneously combust one day. Methane released from a gas drilling site has been observed bubbling up in the Susquehanna River, miles away. And while sitting in the front yard of another Dimock resident, I could hear methane gurgling constantly out of a special vent recently installed in their own well.</p> <p>Concerns about natural gas extraction have been on the rise not just in Dimock, but in places across the country, from West Virginia to Texas to Wyoming. And yet even given these important issues, natural gas still has a relatively lighter footprint than coal or oil. Gas is not a clean fuel, but it can be <em>cleaner.</em></p> <p>So it was with great interest that I heard Obama talking about natural gas last week. In a press conference the day after the election, someone asked if there were issues he might be willing to collaborate on with the new Congress. "We've got, I think, broad agreement that we've got terrific natural gas resources in this country," the president replied. "Are we doing everything we can to develop those?"</p> <p>Uh oh. Look, I can only imagine the pressures that the president is under on a daily basis. And I can sympathize with the unique challenges the president faces of needing to speak accurately and precisely on a wide variety of topics with the media ready to pounce on any minor nuance or particular slipup. But what did concern me about the president's statement was a single word that I <em>didn't</em> hear. I hope his question about natural gas resources omitted that word unintentionally: "Are we doing everything we can to develop those <em>responsibly?</em>"</p> <p>Clearly, we are not. Not when fracking is exempt from the Safe Drinking Water Act, the Clean Air Act, parts of the Clean Water Act, the National Environmental Policy Act, as well as our country's hazardous waste and cleanup laws.</p> <p>It's important to acknowledge that just because natural gas is cleaner than other fossil fuels -- especially coal -- does not mean we should give the industry a free pass. The exploration, production, transportation, and burning of natural gas is an inherently dirty business that disrupts local communities and pollutes the environment. There are thousands of documented cases of air and water pollution violations and human health and safety hazards. If natural gas is to be part of the mix that displaces dirtier energy sources like coal and oil, these have to be addressed.</p> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-bio field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter-->Michael Brune is executive director of the Sierra Club. </div></div></div><!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2010 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '664253'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=664253" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Tue, 16 Nov 2010 04:00:01 -0800 Michael Brune, AlterNet 664253 at http://www.alternet.org Water Water News & Politics Environment Fracking environment fracking natural gas drilling A Proposed Dirty Oil Pipeline Would Put Americans at Risk for Cancer and Asthma -- Why Are Senators Pushing For Its Hasty Approval? http://www.alternet.org/story/148288/a_proposed_dirty_oil_pipeline_would_put_americans_at_risk_for_cancer_and_asthma_--_why_are_senators_pushing_for_its_hasty_approval <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '663702'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=663702" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">The oil it promises to provide could be recovered just by increasing our cars&#039; fuel efficiency by about two and a half miles per gallon -- something we already know how to do.</div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/default.jpg?itok=wQcwl0WS" alt="" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p>The tar sands pits in Alberta, Canada that Senators Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Saxby Chambliss (R-Georgia) and Kay Hagan (D-N.C.) visited last week are so bleak <a href="http://www.treehugger.com/files/2008/11/canadian-tar-sands-are-like-mordor.php">that one UN official, after seeing them for the first time, compared them to Mordor</a>, the hellish wasteland from <em>Lord of the Rings</em>.</p> <p>But Senator Graham, after meeting with oil industry representatives and tar sands proponents, hailed the toxic mines, the source of the world's dirtiest fuel, as <a href="http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2010/09/18">"an industrial ballet,"</a> adding that the project <a href="http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=view_all&amp;address=103x560985">"really blends with the natural habitat."</a></p> <p>Huh?</p> <p>Maybe I shouldn't be surprised. After all, Graham and his delegation never met with opponents of the project -- like the people living near the tar sands pits, who report higher-than-average cancer rates linked to water contamination, or biologists, or the wildlife experts, who counted hundreds of ducks that died after landing on the project's toxic lakes.</p> <p>But you would think plans to expand pipelines carrying this toxic crude into the United States would come under a little more scrutiny from U.S. leaders –- especially the ones living in states where pipelines threaten drinking water supplies.</p> <p>That's why it was so surprising to hear Montana Senator Max Baucus pushing for hasty approval of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, which would carry this toxic oil right into his state, traversing major sources of fresh water like the Missouri and Yellowstone Rivers, posing a constant threat of ruptures, spills, and contamination. In addition to Montana, the pipeline would run through South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas, crossing dangerously close to drinking water supplies and agricultural aquifers.</p> <p>We know the oil industry's influence on our representatives in Washington is out of hand. And when companies like BP spend nearly as much money on public relations after a major environmental disaster like the oil spill in the Gulf as they do on clean up, it's clear that we've got our work cut out for us.</p> <p>But here's what we've got on our side: the truth.</p> <p>We know the Keystone XL pipeline would put American health at risk. In addition to threatening drinking water, processing tar sands oil releases pollutants directly linked to asthma, emphysema and birth defects. Refining tar sands crude from the pipeline <a href="http://www.sierraclub.org/dirtyfuels/tar-sands/report.aspx">would create far more air pollution</a> in American communities that are already burdened with cancer and poor air quality as a result of the oil industry.</p> <p>We also know the pipeline would cross the most important source of agricultural water in the United States, the Ogallala aquifer.</p> <p>And we know pipeline disasters happen.</p> <p>The Enbridge oil disaster in Michigan in July poured one million gallons of crude into the Kalamazoo River, forced evacuations of families living near the site, and billed the EPA $17 million to clean up. Just weeks ago, another pipeline ruptured outside of Chicago, sending oil bubbling to the surface and raising questions about vulnerability of the project along the rest of its 465-mile route.</p> <p>The BP disaster taught us how cozy ties between the oil industry and federal agencies can lead to lax oversight and <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/gwire/2010/09/17/17greenwire-critics-fault-oil-and-gas-pipeline-regulators-i-9153.html">we know this is a concern with the agency overseeing pipeline safety</a>.</p> <p>But even if we succeeded in forcing the oil industry to beef up safety on its pipelines, projects like Keystone XL wouldn't make sense. The oil this pipeline would carry is the dirtiest in the world, and the most difficult and expensive to produce. It requires chopping down ancient forest, using massive amounts of energy and water to squeeze out a tiny bit of crude, and leaving behind giant toxic lakes.</p> <p>But that's not the end of the story. Once this dirty oil reaches refineries in places like Houston and Detroit, it spews chemicals into the air, putting Americans at risk for asthma and cancer.</p> <p>The most mind-boggling part is that the pipeline will do nothing for American citizens. The oil it promises to provide could be recovered just by increasing our cars' fuel efficiency by about two and a half miles per gallon -- something we already know how to do.</p> <p>It's a pretty simple solution. But Canada's oil industry won't profit from increased fuel efficiency or clean energy. So they are spending millions of dollars working to convince American leaders like Senator Graham and Senator Baucus to support their pipeline. </p> <p>Fortunately, Senators Graham and Baucus are among only a handful who have caved to oil industry pressure. More than <a href="http://www.sierraclub.org/dirtyfuels/tar-sands/June23HouseLetter.pdf">50 members of Congress</a> have called on the State Department to stop the pipeline proposal. EPA director Lisa Jackson <a href="http://www.sierraclub.org/dirtyfuels/downloads/2010-07-EPA-EISrequest.pdf">has raised questions</a> about the safety of the project. <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/idUS162593081920100915">And a poll last week in Nebraska</a> showed that citizens overwhelmingly oppose construction of the pipeline.</p> <p>Every day, more Americans add their voices to the tens of thousands who have already asked the State Department to kill the project. At a time when we could be moving forward into a clean energy economy, it's just plain crazy to pipe the world's most expensive, dirty, and wasteful oil into America -- all so the oil industry can break profit records. </p> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-bio field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter-->Michael Brune is executive director of the Sierra Club. </div></div></div><!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2010 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '663702'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=663702" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Thu, 23 Sep 2010 16:00:01 -0700 Michael Brune, AlterNet 663702 at http://www.alternet.org Environment World Water News & Politics Environment oil tar sands pipeline senator graham Fertilizer Runoff Is Killing Our Waterways http://www.alternet.org/story/148077/fertilizer_runoff_is_killing_our_waterways <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '663476'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=663476" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">To keep your lawn looking as deeply green as your neighbor&#039;s, you ladle on the nitrogen fertilizer and keep the grass watered. And that&#039;s causing big problems in some areas.</div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/default.jpg?itok=wQcwl0WS" alt="" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><div class="entry-content"><div class="entry-body"><p>We called it, simply, The Test. I grew up on a house on Barnegat Bay in Chadwick Beach, New Jersey. With four little children scampering around, my parents had a hard and fast rule for us and our friends: No one was allowed to play in the front yard, on the docks or anywhere outside without wearing a life preserver. Whether we were playing baseball, digging up worms, or going crabbing, those big orange puffy preservers had to be on, and buckled, at all times. <br /><br /> We hated it. The only way to freedom was to pass a test by swimming all the way across the lagoon and back. It was a rite of passage. Those of us who were ready would talk about it for weeks. We'd practice and ask questions of our older siblings. I remember lying in bed the night before, wondering what I'd do if I got tired. Would I drown? Would I have to wait another month before trying again?<br /><br /> I live in the San Francisco Bay Area now, but I come home to Barnegat Bay every summer with my wife and our two kids. It's a highlight of our year. This summer our daughter Olivia was going to take her shot. She'd been practicing at the pool for weeks. My dad, unable to resist the urge to spoil his granddaughter, sweetened the pot with the promise of a bowl of ice cream at the end. <br /><br /> She didn't get the chance. They say you can never go home again, and when it comes to water pollution in New Jersey, maybe it's true. That's because, for the second summer in a row, Barnegat Bay is infested with stinging sea nettles -- a type of jellyfish.<br /><br /> I hated having to tell my kids they couldn't go in the water, but what really stings (sorry) is <em>why</em>the bay is full of sea nettles. The infestation's no fluke -- it's part of an ecological crisis that's affecting estuaries all across the country. Worst of all, it's happening needlessly.<br /><br /> Anyone who lives near a bay or estuary has probably seen the warnings stenciled on storm drains. The ones in my neighborhood in Alameda, California, are unequivocal: "No Dumping! Drains to Bay." What they probably should say is "<em>D'oh!</em> Everything Drains to Bay." <br /><br /> According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Barnegat Bay is second only to Chesapeake Bay among our inland waterways when it comes to destructively high levels of nitrogen. The excess nutrients from that nitrogen are what cause weirdness like red algae blooms you can see from space, sea nettle infestations, and fish kills. Ultimately, unchecked nutrient runoff sucks the oxygen out of the water and creates a dead zone like the one in the Gulf of Mexico. You know, the one that's always being described as being the size of New Jersey.<br /><br /> A lot of the nitrogen that's polluting the Chesapeake comes from factory chicken farms. Having grown up in Ocean County, I know it's not New Jersey's chicken basket. So how did so much nitrogen get into Barnegat? <br /><br /> Just stroll through the neighborhoods that line the bay (and the rivers that empty into it) on a hot summer day and admire all the green, beautiful lawns. To keep your lawn looking as deeply green as your neighbor's, you ladle on the nitrogen fertilizer and keep the grass watered. When fertilizer runs off the lawn as you're watering, the nitrogen chickens come home to roost. <br /><br /> This is not a problem only because I'd like my kids to be able to take a dip on a hot day. Barnegat Bay provides more than $3.3 billion in economic benefits annually to New Jersey. It's the state's most-used waterway. Are we really going to stand by and let it die because the next-door neighbors' lawn is putting ours to shame?<br /><br /> Maybe not. While I was back in Jersey for our family vacation, the environmental committees for the State Senate and Assembly met in the Municipal Building in the town of  Toms River (where I went to school and my father used to be mayor) to consider four bills that might help save the bay. The meeting was packed -- standing room only. Hundreds of people listened for nearly six hours as the committees heard testimony. In the end, all four bills were approved and will now go on to the state legislature for consideration this fall. <br /><br /> One bill would ban phosphorous and limit the amount of nitrogen allowed in fertilizers, as well as create new restrictions for applying fertilizer near waterways. Public education on the over-use of fertilizers would also be required.  <br /><br /> The other three bills focus on reducing stormwater runoff. One would start a fund to inspect and repair Ocean County's stormwater retention basins. Another would create a pilot stormwater authority in Ocean County to serve as a possible model for the rest of the state. (Amazingly, New Jersey is one of the few states that hasn't already set up local stormwater authorities.) The fourth bill would develop standards for restoration of soil destroyed during construction activities -- hard-packed soil leads to more runoff. <br /><br /> If all four bills pass, one of the biggest threats to Barnegat Bay might be neutralized. It won't be easy. Although the Sierra Club, Environment New Jersey and other environmental groups have been working hard to save Barnegat for years, there will be opposition -- from developers, from fertilizer makers, even from the New Jersey Turfgrass Association. If they succeed in stopping us from taking action now, the bay as we know it may die. <br /><br /> My daughter couldn't take the test this summer. Let's hope the NJ State Legislature passes theirs.</p> <p> </p> </div> </div> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-bio field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter-->Michael Brune is executive director of the Sierra Club. </div></div></div><!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2010 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '663476'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=663476" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Fri, 03 Sep 2010 08:00:01 -0700 Michael Brune, AlterNet 663476 at http://www.alternet.org Water Water water pollution nitrogen bays estuary Bank of America Retreats from Financing Destructive Mountaintop-Removal Mining http://www.alternet.org/story/110142/bank_of_america_retreats_from_financing_destructive_mountaintop-removal_mining <!-- iCopyright Horizontal Tag --> <div class="icopyright-article-tools-horizontal icopyright-article-tools-right"> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_content_id = '651926'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/horz-toolbar.js"></script> <noscript> <a class="icopyright-article-tools-noscript" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=651926" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/> Click here for reuse options! </a> </noscript> </div> <div style="clear:both;"></div><!-- iCopyright Tag --> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">The bank&#039;s new policy is a financial blow to the coal industry and a big win for enviros.</div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/default.jpg?itok=wQcwl0WS" alt="" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><p>After all the <a href="http://www.alternet.org/blogs/peek/109863/bush%27s_worst_midnight_regulation_yet/">bad news</a> about mountaintop removal, how about a little success?</p><p>Yesterday, Bank of America, a lead financier of coal, announced that it will be phasing out financing for companies that practice mountaintop-removal coal mining, a highly destructive and controversial method of coal extraction. The policy is a financial blow to the coal industry just as the Environmental Protection Agency -- at the behest of the Bush administration -- approved a rule that will make it easier for coal companies to dump into streams and valleys the waste from mountaintop-removal mining operations.</p><p>Bank of America's decision is a giant leap forward in the fight against mountaintop removal, which has devastated Appalachian communities and the mountains and streams they depend on. The decision is also a testament to the hard work of Appalachian communities and anti-coal activists across the country, whose collective pressure left Bank of America with little choice but to abandon its support for this barbaric form of resource extraction.</p><p>There is a powerful coal movement in this country, and we are winning!</p><p>The <a href="http://environment.bankofamerica.com/articles/Energy/COAL_POLICY.pdf">new policy states</a>: "Bank of America is particularly concerned about surface mining conducted through mountaintop removal in locations such as central Appalachia. We therefore will phase out financing of companies whose predominant method of extracting coal is through mountaintop removal. While we acknowledge that surface mining is economically efficient and creates jobs, it can be conducted in a way that minimizes environmental impacts in certain geographies."</p><p>At Rainforest Action Network, we -- along with Appalachian allies and grassroots activists -- have been pressuring Bank of America since October 2007 to cease financing of mountaintop-removal mining and coal-fired power plants. This policy is a critical step in the right direction and a challenge to Citi, JP Morgan Chase and other banks to similarly take responsibility for the social and environmental impacts of their financing.</p><p>Until now, Bank of America has been involved with eight of the United States' top mountaintop-removal coal-mining operators, which collectively produce more than 250 million tons of coal each year. Mountaintop removal flattens mountain ranges and transforms healthy mountain woodlands into toxic sludge that has clogged more than 700 miles of rivers and streams.</p><p>In the coming weeks, it will be crucial that Bank of America puts its money where its mouth is. The devil is, of course, in the details with this policy, and Bank of America needs to issue a timeline for the phasing out of its financing and provide further explanation of what will and will not continue to be financed. This will only be a victory when we see change on the ground.</p><p>On a larger scale, banks hold the purse strings for the coal industry and have tremendous influence in determining whether we continue to allow these companies to destroy our climate and communities or whether we start to fund the future with a Green New Deal that revolutionizes our energy economy. This is a small taste of the role responsible banks could play in mitigating the climate crisis.</p> <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-bio field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter-->Michael Brune is the executive director of Rainforest Action Network. </div></div></div><!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> <script type="text/javascript"> var icx_publication_id = 18566; var icx_copyright_notice = '2008 Alternet'; var icx_content_id = '651926'; </script> <script type="text/javascript" src="http://license.icopyright.net/rights/js/copyright-notice.js"></script> <noscript> <a style="color: #336699; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;" href="http://license.icopyright.net/3.18566?icx_id=651926" target="_blank" title="Main menu of all reuse options"> <img height="25" width="27" border="0" align="bottom" alt="[Reuse options]" src="http://http://license.icopyright.net/images/icopy-w.png"/>Click here for reuse options!</a> </noscript> <!-- iCopyright Interactive Copyright Notice --> Thu, 04 Dec 2008 15:00:01 -0800 Michael Brune, AlterNet 651926 at http://www.alternet.org Environment Environment coal coal mining mtr Wake Up Detroit: The Time Has Come for Plug-in Hybrids http://www.alternet.org/story/99519/wake_up_detroit%3A_the_time_has_come_for_plug-in_hybrids <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-teaser field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even">Plug-ins are cleaner and cheaper. But a new coalition is not waiting for Detroit to take notice; they&#039;ve got their own plan.</div></div></div><!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-story-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://www.alternet.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_image/public/story_images/default.jpg?itok=wQcwl0WS" alt="" /></div></div></div><!-- BODY --> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter--><i>The following is an excerpt from <a href="http://www.powells.com/biblio/9781578051496">Coming Clean: Breaking America's Addiction to Oil and Coal</a> by Michael Brune (Sierra Club Books, 2008).</i><br /><br />It's said there are two ways of teaching someone to swim: give them lessons, or just throw them in the water. Professor Andrew Frank, from California's Central Valley, learned about automobiles the harder way.<br /><br />"My father bought a car for me in 1948 for about $25," Frank recalls. "It was a '29 Nash, but it didn't run. My dad said, 'Well, son, you're kinda interested in cars. Why don't you fix it? Make it run, and it's yours.'"<br /><br />Frank chuckled. "I was up for the challenge. I not only fixed it but turned it into a hot rod. Chopped the engine out, replaced it, took the top off, the whole thing."<br /><br />Having first taught himself, Frank has been teaching others for more than forty years, first electrical engineering at the University of Wisconsin, then mechanical engineering at the University of California at Davis. He's also been watching -- and trying to work with -- the auto industry. "I remember that when Toyota first introduced the Prius in 1997, American carmakers were ecstatic. They said that if Toyota really pushed their hybrid program, they'd go out of business!" Frank laughed.<br /><br />In April 2007, Toyota overtook General Motors as the world's largest, and most profitable, automaker. The next month, the company announced it had sold its one millionth hybrid vehicle.<br /><br />Frank is working to promote the next generation of efficient vehicles, plug-in hybrids. Hybrid engines like those used in the Toyota Prius, Honda Civic, or Ford Escape use a combination of gas and electric power. Plug-in hybrids, on the other hand, use electric power for a range of thirty to sixty miles, and rely on a combination of gas and electric power for longer trips. Moreover, a study from the U.S. Department of Energy showed that plug-in hybrids reduced greenhouse gas emissions in forty-nine states across the country -- even in states that were heavily dependent on coal to generate power. States that use large amounts of hydroelectric power, such as Washington and Idaho, produce emission savings with plug-in hybrids of more than 80 percent. Only North Dakota, which relies upon coal that is particularly low in energy output, didn't enjoy any savings from plug-ins.<br /><br />Chelsea Sexton, a former GM employee featured in <i>Who Killed the Electric Car?</i> who promoted the electric EV1 until it was discontinued, says that plug-in hybrids are "the best of both worlds" between hybrids and electric cars. "Maybe your first forty miles of the day are all electric," Sexton says. "Monday through Friday you may never use gasoline. But if you want to drive to Vegas on the weekend, you have gasoline in the tank as a backup. We call plug-in hybrids: electric cars with a safety net!"<br /><br />A typical hybrid gets twice the gas mileage of your average gas-powered car, and plug-ins get about twice the mileage of a typical hybrid. Since 78 percent of all commuters live within twenty miles of their employer, plug-in hybrids would produce zero emissions and use not a single drop of gasoline for most trips. Most of the plug-in hybrids on the road today exceed a hundred miles per gallon. On longer voyages, to go camping or to visit grandma for the weekend, a combination of gas and electric power gives plug-in hybrids a range of four to five hundred miles. After that, drivers can just pull into any gas station, fill up, and go. Frank estimates that a plug-in vehicle would cost about $4,000 to $6,000 more than a conventional car. "That's what some people pay for a sunroof, leather seats and a fancy navigation system," he says.<br /><br />Frank has been advancing plug-in hybrid automotive technology for years. He built his first plug-in hybrid in 1971, as part of a Department of Transportation contest on the future of urban driving. In the mid-1990s Frank and his UC-Davis students designed a series of improved plug-in hybrid vehicles that achieved far better mileage than anything Detroit was putting on the road. Frank offered the technology to major automakers, but everyone passed.<br /><br />Several years ago, Frank and his team made further advancements. They modernized a 2002 Ford Explorer, producing a 325 horsepower vehicle that could go fifty miles on a single electric charge and get twice the gas mileage of a hybrid vehicle. Once again, Frank offered the technology to major automakers. Once again, everyone passed -- except Toyota. The automaker sent a team to Davis, California, that packed up the entire vehicle, shipped it to Japan, put it through a battery of tests, and returned it a few months later.<br /><br />On a hot summer day in late June 2007, Frank told me he had recently formed his own company, Efficient Designs. He had spent the morning with an official from India, and much of the afternoon with officials from China. He was planning a presentation on plug-in hybrid technology for the Chinese government later that year. "We're talking about a mandate to increase production volumes for plug-in hybrids in the near future," he said. "China could do it, and do it quickly, and if a 'low -tech' country such as India or China leapt ahead of the United States, then maybe then U.S. car companies would pay attention."<br /><br />It could be a Sputnik moment.<br /><br /><b>Taking Plug-ins Mainstream</b><br /><br />If we wait for Detroit to voluntarily mass produce vehicles that sip rather than chug gasoline, we'll be waiting a long time. However, a constellation of individuals, entrepreneurs, and organizations has emerged to pressure automakers and regulators to do just that. They span the political spectrum and boast support from Hollywood celebrities and businesses alike. "I call this a coalition of the tree huggers, do-gooders, sod-busters, cheap hawks, evangelicals, utility shareholders, mom and pop drivers ... and Willie Nelson," says R. James Woolsey, former CIA Director, conservative war hawk, and plug-in hybrid enthusiast.<br /><br />Plug In America is one organization leading the way. Founded by ex-GM employee Sexton and other electric-vehicle enthusiasts, it held one of its first meetings in Dave Raboy's living room. The organization lists ways for its members to take action to accelerate the transition to zero-emission vehicles. "I think it is important for government to set standards making cleaner cars because what we know for sure is that Detroit doesn't have a history of wanting to do it on their own," Sexton observes.<br /><br />Plug-in Partners, an organization founded by the city of Austin, Texas, has organized hundreds of cities, states, and businesses to push for the rapid production of plug-in hybrid vehicles. The coalition -- which includes the cities of Anchorage, Chicago, Miami, Chapel Hill, and Salt Lake City, organizations such as Rainforest Action Network, and companies such as Google and Auto Nation (the country's largest auto dealership) -- is collecting vehicle orders to demonstrate the growing demand for plug-ins. "We believe that the 50 largest cities in the United States, united in purpose, can build a groundswell in demand sufficient enough to entice automakers to mass produce" these vehicles, says Will Wynn, Austin's mayor.<br /><br />Unwilling to wait for the automakers, several groups have begun helping people to convert existing hybrids into plug-in ones. Felix Kramer founded CalCars in 2004, soon after buying his Toyota Prius. Like many Prius owners, he wondered about the purpose of the nonfunctioning, unmarked button just to the right of the steering wheel. A little online research revealed that in Japanese and European models, pressing the button allowed the car to run exclusively on electric power. However, since the U.S. Prius batteries were so small, the car could only drive one to two miles on the electrical charge.<br /><br />An engineer in Texas had figured out how to program U.S. vehicles to use the electric power in a way similar to the Japanese and European models. CalCars soon published a manual on how to convert the Prius into a plug-in hybrid that travels a hundred miles per gallon or more. Other than devoting a small portion of the trunk's space to a pack of batteries, the car looks and rides like a typical car, only one that gets four times the mileage of your everyday sedan. The biggest challenge is to convince Detroit to bring these vehicles to market quickly, says Kramer. "How do you take an idea that makes sense into something real? Plug-ins are cleaner, cheaper, and domestic. We can electrify transportation, and then clean the grid. This will do more than anything to solve global warming."<br /><br />Lithium ion battery manufacturer A123 Systems will begin marketing battery packs and training third-party mechanics to perform plug-in hybrid conversions in 2008. The company's CEO, David Vries, estimates that a typical conversion will take two hours. The cost is significant, $10,000, but for an average commuter driving a vehicle eleven thousand miles per year, the time needed to realize that amount in savings would be 5.5 years (with gas at $3 per gallon). A federal tax credit for plug-in hybrid conversions would cut the payback time considerably. Most important, the costs are expected to drop significantly as economies of scale are achieved. "We estimate a fivefold increase in demand from an increasingly responsive American public," Vries said. The Silicon Valley Leadership Group announced in September 2007 that a hundred of its CEO's pledged to buy converted plug-ins in 2008.<br /><br />Another company that isn't waiting for Washington or Detroit to show the way is California-based startup Tesla Motor Company. It's a small firm with some big goals. "Whether it's because of high oil prices or climate change, we essentially have to retool the entire automotive industry," says JB Straubel, Tesla's chief technical officer. Tesla is off to a good start. The company's first vehicle, the Tesla Roadster, is an electric vehicle that can travel about 220 miles on a single charge. And it's quicker than any Porsche currently in production, traveling from zero to sixty in under four seconds without a drop of gas. The price is a cool $92,000, yet the company's first edition of one hundred Roadsters sold out in weeks.<br /><br />I went for a test ride at the company's headquarters in San Carlos one bright February morning. As we cruised through the hills above Silicon Valley, the company's strategy became perfectly clear: Tesla wanted to help "retool" the auto industry by getting people excited about cars again. Because this car was fast. I felt like a pilot on <i>Battlestar Galactica</i> as the car accelerated, pushing me back in my seat. Tesla employees have a favorite trick to pull on passengers taking their first rides: he or she is asked to turn on the radio -- and simultaneously the driver hits the accelerator. The passenger can't sit forward enough to reach the dials.<br /><br />Backed by deep-pocketed investors such as Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Pay Pal founder Elon Musk, and eBay founder Jeffrey Skoll, Tesla plans to hit the family car market in 2010 or 2011. "We've always envisioned the company to be more than a high-end niche sports-car manufacturer," says Straubel. "It's a great way to change the world's perceptions of EVs and to show what electric cars can do, but we want to make affordable vehicles in much greater quantities." Adds Musk, Tesla's chairman, "Climate change is the biggest challenge that mankind has ever faced. If we can't change such a simple thing as the cars we drive, we're going to be in trouble." <!-- All divs have been put onto one line because of whitespace issues when rendered inline in browsers --> <div class="field field-name-field-bio field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"> <!--smart_paging_autop_filter-->Michael Brune is the executive director of Rainforest Action Network. </div></div></div> Fri, 19 Sep 2008 07:00:01 -0700 Michael Brune, Sierra Club Books 649881 at http://www.alternet.org Environment Environment Investigations Books global warming climate change electric cars hybrids plug-in hybrids tesla electric vehicles