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Obama Unveils His Plan to Cut Greenhouse Gases Emissions from Power Plants

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President Obama formally unveiled his plan to cut power plant emissions on Monday — some two years in the making — calling it the “single most important step that America has ever made in the fight against global climate change.”

Speaking at the White House, the president said the plan includes the first-ever Environmental Protection Agency standards on carbon pollution from U.S. power plants. Over the next few years, each state will have the chance to create its own plan, he said, adding: “We’ll reward the states that take action sooner.”

Toward the end of his remarks, Obama cited other environmental issues, such as combating acid rain, where efforts have been successful even though it seemed hard at the time.

“We can figure this stuff out, as long as we’re not lazy about it,” he said.

The president compared the requirement of cutting carbon emissions by 32 percent to taking 166 million cars off the road.

In a new push to confront climate change, President Obama is announcing new standards that would cut the amount of carbon pollution produced by America’s power plants.

“These are the first-ever national standards that address carbon pollution from power plants,” according to the Environmental Protection Agency, which adds that power plants are the largest source of carbon pollution in the U.S., generating 32 percent of the total emissions.

Key elements of the Clean Power Plan include a requirement that would cut the power industry’s carbon pollution by 32 percent below 2005 levels in the next 15 years. The plan also seeks to boost renewable energy.

The White House says that between now and 2015, the changes will mean better health for Americans — preventing up to 3,600 premature deaths — along with bringing energy savings for U.S. consumers.

Plan Detail

President Obama’s sweeping new power plant regulations are thrusting the debate over climate change into the race for the White House.

To Democrats, rallying around global climate change is a way to energize liberal supporters and paint Republicans as out of touch. To Republicans, Obama’s actions to curb greenhouse gas emissions are burdensome to business and block job creation.

Most of the changes Obama outlined would have to be implemented by the next president, if the rules survive court challenges.

Republicans cast the measure requiring states to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 32 percent by 2030 as unnecessary and costly.

The Obama administration itself estimated the emissions limits will cost $8.4 billion annually by 2030, though the actual price isn’t clear.

Republican Jeb Bush said the rules “run over state governments, will throw countless people out of work and increases everyone’s energy prices.”

Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz questioned whether climate change is occurring.

“I’m saying the data and facts don’t support it,” Cruz said at a retreat sponsored by billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch, heavily courted donors who oppose Obama’s climate change agenda.

Hillary Clinton called the measure a “significant step forward” and said she would defend it if elected president. Her Democratic challengers were similarly supportive.

A Washington Post/ABC News poll conducted in March showed 59 percent of Americans said they’d like the next president to be someone who favors government action to address climate change, while 31 percent would prefer someone who opposes it.

BY JULIE PACE, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Who’s Gonna Stand Up and Save the Earth – Neil Young

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Originally published on Sep 27, 2014, as requested by Neil himself. More than one version. “Please feel free to create any video of “Who’s Gonna Stand Up” u wish. Use social media to spread the word. – NY”

The above photo is of the Alberta, Canada area which was once boreal forest but was converted into a tar sands mine.

The Koch Brothers are the main owners. A Koch Industries subsidiary holds leases on 1.1 million acres in the northern Alberta oil sands, an area nearly the size of Delaware. The Washington Post confirmed the group’s findings with Alberta Energy, the provincial government’s ministry of energy. Koch Industries has been involved with almost every aspect of the tar sands industry, from mining bitumen to transportation, exportation, distribution and, of course, refining the petrochemicals — a large part of their empire.

Koch Industries is “one of Canada’s largest crude oil purchasers, shippers, and exporters, with more than 130 crude oil customers,” and is also responsible for about 25 percent of oil sands crude imports into the U.S., for use at its refineries, according to a Post article by Ari Philips, March 20, 2014.
Koch Industries on a net acreage basis is the largest American and foreign holder of leases in Canada’s oil sands.

The Enbrige owned pipeline cuts diagonally across Wisconsin from Superior to the border with Illinois The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) approved its permit to triple the volume pumped through the current 42 inch pipeline to 1.1 million barrels (42-gallons) per day. Dane County added a condition to placing a pumping station on the Dane County that they appropriately insure the project in case of a spill like the one that occurred in 2012 in Kalamazoo, Michigan part but Wisconsin state legislators nullified that with language prohibiting local action. The Wisconsin DNR determined there was no significant environmental impacts warranting a public review and Environmental Impact Statement EIS.
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Boreal Forest

Movement to Require GMO Labeling Dealt a Blow in U.S. House of Representatives

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The GMO-labeling movement was dealt a major blow last week when Congress passed HR 1599, the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act. The bill, sponsored by Representative Mike Pompeo (R., Kan.), prohibits states from mandating labels on products with genetically modified ingredients and creates a voluntary certification system at the USDA.

Forty-five Democrats voted in favor of the bill. Voting “yes” to the bill were Wisconsin’s Paul Ryan, James Sensenbrenner, Glen Grothman, Sean Duffy and Reid Ribble. Voting “no” were Mark Pocan, Ron Kind and Gwen Moore.

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Pope Calls for Swift Actions to Save the Planet from Environmental Ruin

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“The pace of consumption, waste and environmental change has so stretched the planet’s capacity that our contemporary lifestyle, unsustainable as it is, can only precipitate catastrophe”.
Pope Francis, June 18, 2015

In his long-awaited encyclical on the environment and climate change publicly released last week, Pope Francis called for swift action to save the planet from environmental ruin, urging world leaders to hear “the cry of the Earth and the cry of the poor.” He called for a change of lifestyle in rich countries steeped in a “throwaway” consumer culture, and an end to “obstructionist attitudes” that sometimes put profit before the common good. Pope Francis said protecting the planet is a moral and ethical “imperative” for believers and nonbelievers alike that should supersede political and economic interests.

A major theme of the encyclical is the disparity between rich and poor. “We fail to see that some are mired in desperate and degrading poverty, with no way out, while others have not the faintest idea of what to do with their possessions, vainly showing off their supposed superiority and leaving behind them so much waste which, if it were the case everywhere, would destroy the planet,” he said.

“Our house is going to ruin, and that harms everyone, especially the poorest. Mine is therefore an appeal for responsibility, based on the task that God has given to man in creation: “till and keep the garden” in which he was placed. I invite everyone to accept with open hearts this document, which follows the church’s social doctrine”, the pope said.

In a transcript of the pope’s encyclical on the DemocracyNow.org website, Pope Francis said protecting the planet is a moral and ethical imperative, for believers and nonbelievers alike, that should supersede political and economic interests. He also dismissed those who argue that technology will solve all environmental problems and that global hunger and poverty will be resolved simply by market growth.

A major theme of the encyclical is the disparity between rich and poor. “We fail to see that some are mired in desperate and degrading poverty, with no way out, while others have not the faintest idea of what to do with their possessions, vainly showing off their supposed superiority and leaving behind them so much waste which, if it were the case everywhere, we destroy the planet.”

Climate change is already happening, and its effects have already been disastrous on the poorest countries and the poorest people, who don’t have the means to defend themselves from it. They are also part of the human population who have the least responsibility for what is happening, being that they consume less fossil fuels.

Author Naomi Klein said on Democracy Now Thursday that “this encyclical, we can’t overstate the importance of it, the impact that it will have. It’s hard to respond to a document that runs close to 200 pages, when it was just released in non-draft form a few hours ago. We’re all still digesting it, Amy. But it is very clear that a door has just been opened, and a gust of wind is blowing through, where it is now possible to say some very powerful truths about the real implications of climate change, really the root causes.”

“And I think a lot of the discussion about the encyclical in the U.S. media cycle has focused and will continue to focus on the impact on Republicans and on climate deniers, many of whom are Catholic. And it is certainly a challenge to that demographic in the United States, because the pope is coming out so clearly on the side of climate science in saying this is real and this is happening. But I think that it’s too easy to say that this is just a challenge to Rick Santorum and Jeb Bush. Frankly, it is also a challenge to Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama and to large parts of the green movement, because it is a rebuke of slow action. It very specifically says that climate denial is not just about denying the science, it’s also about denying the urgency of the science. The document is very strong in condemning delays, half-measures, so-called market solutions. It very specifically criticizes carbon markets, the carbon offsetting, as an inadequate measure that will encourage speculation and rampant consumption.

“And I think probably the most significant part of it, the big picture, is the foregrounding of the culture of frenetic consumption in the wealthy world and among the wealthy. And this is really significant, because I think large parts of the climate change discussion tries to have it all ways and say, “No, we’ll just have green growth. We’ll just have—we’ll consume green products.” And, you know, this goes a lot deeper than that and says, no, we need to get at the underlying values that are feeding this culture of frenetic consumption that is entirely unsustainable.”

In the encyclical, the pope states that: “In a corrupt culture, we can’t believe that laws will be enough to change behaviors that affect the environment.” Naomi Kline responds: Well, I think, when he’s referring to corruption, I believe he’s referring to the influence of polluting companies, of multinational corporations, which he also goes after in the encyclical. And I think this is one of the most significant things about the document. One might expect of a religious document about climate change to erase difference, right? to say, “Well, we’re all in this together,” and certainly it talks about the Earth as our common home. But it also recognizes explicitly the power dynamics in capitalism, which is to say that there are forces within the system that are actively working against change. And that is probably what he’s referring to when he’s talking about how there may be laws, but the laws aren’t enforced. And, you know, indeed the laws are also inadequate, which is also addressed in the document, and it has some very specific calls for another level of environmental law, which is a part of the document that I haven’t been able to look at, you know, closely enough.

And another thing I have to say is, you know, I am—I have accepted this invitation to speak at a conference which is about digging more deeply into the document, because there’s an understanding that it does take time to digest a document of this length, this multilayered, and it requires that kind of deeper analysis. And I think that this intervention, five months ahead of U.N. climate conference in Paris, is tremendously significant. It’s going to push political leaders to go further. It’s going to be a tool for social movements.

A lot of the language of the climate justice movement has just been adopted by the pope—I mean, even of phrases like “ecological debt.” The pope is talking about the debt that the wealthy world owes to the poor. I mean, this is a framing that comes originally from Ecuador, from the movement against drilling in the Amazon. And, you know, this is a phrase that was never heard in mainstream circles until just now, actually. I mean, I’ve never seen such a mainstream use of that term.

So, it is very important in that way. But, I mean, I have to say, on a personal level, that as thrilled as I am that the Vatican is leading in this way and that this pope is leading in this way and bringing together the fight against poverty with the fight to act on climate change, that doesn’t mean that there’s a complete merger between the climate justice movement and the Vatican here. I mean, obviously there are huge differences that remain over issues like marriage equality, reproductive rights and freedom, to name just a few.”

Nathan Schneider, columnist with the Catholic weekly, America, who has been covering Catholic engagement with climate change, talks about what the encyclical means for the Catholic community and the number of languages it’s been released in and how large the document is: “Well, this is really the first Third World encyclical. You know, this is coming from a pope who was shaped in really significant ways by economic crises during the Cold War in Argentina and being in the middle of a battleground between the First and Second World powers. It was drafted by a cardinal from Ghana. So this is coming from the side of the world that we don’t normally hear from. And it’s very much in line with things that popes have been saying for decades, you know, going back to Paul VI, then John Paul II, Benedict XVI. So, a lot of the content is actually not so new for Catholics, but the emphasis and that—the language of climate debt, the language—the recognition that there is a divide here between the rich countries and the poor. And this is a cry from the developing world, from what has been labeled the Third World, for change.”

“The pope is calling here for us to change how we live, how we—what we do with our resources. You know, this is not just moving from one kind of consumerism to another. This is a kind of spiritual renewal and also a material renewal, that—in which we turn ourselves toward an economy that’s sustainable, that’s life-giving, both for humanity and the rest of the world.”

Source: Democracynow.org

The Children of Today and Tomorrow are in for a Rude Awakening

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The global warming genie has escaped his bottle! He has begun to show his wrath, which is only likely to worsen in the coming years, decades and centuries, and there is presently no end in sight!

He’s leaving plenty of evidence. The only way we can all help weaken him is by stopping our nonessential burning of fossil fuels, stopping deforestation especially of the tropics, and doing things which naturally result in more greenhouse gases being added into the earth’s atmosphere and oceans (such as overeating, wasting food, not recycling, not reusing things whenever possible, running our air conditioning and furnaces needlessly, using energy derived from tar sands industry, doing other things that frivolously burn fossil fuels such as going for joy rides, cruising, etc.. Because our atmosphere is where Global Warming lives and breathes (now that he’s escaped the bottle) and because he gets his tremendous strength to wreak havoc on the world by his breathing in greenhouse gases that have been accumulating to record high concentrations in the earth’s atmosphere (as a by-product of our burning carbon-based fuels in our cars, trucks, airplanes, power plants, ships, boats, trains, machinery, recreational products and the like) we need to all put him on a crash diet, NOW!

According to David Owen, author of Green Metropolis and The Conundrum: How Scientific Innovation, Increased Efficiency, and Good Intentions Can Make Our Energy and Climate Problems Worse, the proportional share of the fuel burned during a round trip from New York City to Melbourne, Australia, is greater than the total amount of energy that the average resident of the earth uses, for all purposes, in a year. Forestalling global calamity is a preemptively worthy, ethically justifiable and economically achievable goal for everyone on the planet, especially in this era of television, radio, computers, Skype, the iPhone and virtual reality. Climatologists, environmentalists, CEOs, religious leaders, students and tourists seeking entertainment or to broaden their horizons, and government officials ought use the least greenhouse gas emitting technologies available to them to accomplish their objectives; they should not  have to cross the oceans and great land masses of world (requiring vast burning fossil fuels) just to be present in person. Likewise, our government leaders and business people ought minimize the amount of products traded with distant countries, so as to minimize the amount of fuel burning required in the shipment of goods by air, sea and over miles and miles of terrain. Transportation of billions of tons of goods along with extensive long distance vacationing and business trips by millions of people every year is simply no longer sustainable. Such activities are becoming ethically wrong because they are unquestionably harming the planet and all the living things it is home to, both now and in the future.

We cannot and must not wait for technology to bail us out. Scientists the world over say it is now paramount that all humans begin acting in significant ways to reduce their annual greenhouse gas emissions.   Otherwise, we will never get Global Warming to go back into his bottle – where he belongs! Greenhouse gases accumulate atmospherically over time – they build up in the atmosphere and oceans from year to year. Their volume is accelerating in earth’s atmosphere and as well as in its oceans, and the total volume will likely keep accelerating for some time due to compounding factors (positive feedbacks) of the earth’s natural systems. That’s why it’s of the utmost importance – paramount – that everyone act in ways to reduce their annual carbon footprint, immediately, before Global Warming becomes all to powerful, uncontrollable and for generations, a tragedy for civilization. 

Wisconsin Governor Walker, Allies Targeting EPA Plan To Cut Carbon Dioxide Emissions

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TrendsGlobalEmissions

According to a report that aired last Thursday of Wisconsin Public Radio, the Walker administration is spelling out its case against a federal proposal to cut air pollution from coal-burning power plants, and reduce the impact of climate change.

The Obama administration’s nationwide crackdown on carbon dioxide emissions from power plants could force Wisconsin to reduce its pollutants by about one-third by the year 2030.

Susan Hedman, EPA Midwest region administrator, told a WisPolitics.com forum that the climate change plan is being debated as the planet is warming.

Hedman said the proposal, known as the “Clean Power Plan”, would have many other benefits too, such as sparking efforts to boost energy efficiency, help create jobs in renewable energy, and cut other pollutants that can lead to lung ailments.

Walker is already talking about having state Attorney General Brad Schimel file a lawsuit against the EPA, even though a final regulation won’t be issued until mid-summer.

Ellen Nowak, Public Service Commission member and incoming chair, is a Walker appointee and has zeroed in on Wisconsin’s carbon-cutting goal of 34 percent. Walker has now appointed all 3 commissioners Wisconsin Public Service Commission. “Why are we being forced to reach that goal, she asked (rhetorically)? Is the methodology the EPA came up with to reach that goal flawed?” “I think that answer is yes.”

The Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSC) is supposedly an independent state agency charged with regulating over 1,100 Wisconsin public utilities that provide electric, natural gas, combined water and sewer service to Wisconsin households. Its mission is to ensure that safe, sufficient, and reasonably priced utility services are provided to all of Wisconsin’s customers.

Wisconsin utilities must obtain PSC approval before instituting new rates, issuing stocks or bonds, or undertaking major construction projects such as power plants, water wells and transmission lines. Recent PSC decisions approving 3 major fossil fuel burning utility companies’ rate restructure proposals, which effectively disincentivize household energy conservation and discourage installation of green energy investments (solar panels, others), despite the verbal and written objections of thousands of Green Bay, Milwaukee and Madison customers who had attended PSC public hearings last fall.

Keith Reopelle, of the environmental group Clean Wisconsin, said the Clean Power Plan isn’t perfect, but delaying action on climate change would be expensive.

“There’s a huge cost to some of our most important and iconic industries in the state, to the agricultural industry, to the tourism industry,” Reopelle said. “There will be very large, quantifiable costs from climate change and an enormous cost to public health.”

Reopelle also said changes to power plants would only grow more costly, the longer Wisconsin would wait to reduce carbon emissions.

Hedman said some Wisconsin firms could do very well under the proposal.

“Companies that do energy efficiency work, performance contracting like Johnson Controls. If you look at companies like Quad Graphics that are leaders in combined heat and power projects,” Hedman said.

EPA officials said they’ve received more than 4 million comments on the climate change plan.transmission line