Don't worry. The U.S. State Department is okay with encouraging tar sands mining like this.
The U.S. State Department released its draft environmental assessment of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline last Friday afternoon as we entered our weekends. Some of us were stunned as we watched Congress do nothing to tame the indiscriminate cuts in public jobs from the “sequester,” including hundreds of millions of dollars cut from environmental programs and protections. The announcement was further buried by today’s highly-anticipated appointments of EPA administrator Gina McCarty and Dept. of Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, whom some beltway insiders speculated would be appointed last week.
While the State Department’s draft environmental impact statement acknowledges that tar sands oil production is more carbon intensive than conventional oil, the 2,000 page document seems like an easy excuse for President Obama to approve the pipeline without seeming hypocritical for breaking his State of the Unions promises on climate change.
The climate doesn’t care how any message is framed if we’re still dumping millions of tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere like a global industrial sewer. Greenpeace’s Point of No Return report includes Alberta’s tar sands among the largest carbon fuel reserves on the planet, with potential for 420 million metric tons in annual CO2 emissions by 2020.
State Dept. says Keystone XL won’t increase tar sands production…Oil Industry Says the Opposite Continue reading →
VirginiaAttorney General Kenneth Cuccinelli is working with coal companies and State Policy Network groups backed by Koch Industries to rollback VA’s voluntary clean energy program.
In states across the country, the American Legislative Exchange Council–or ALEC–and other State Policy Network groups are lining up to roll back clean energy laws, an effort complimented by captured politicians like Mr. Cuccinelli.
Ken Cuccinelli is a former ALEC member, and he’s working with ALEC member company Dominion Resources to end Virginia’s clean energy program. The same Dominion that just gave him $10,000 for his run for governor, on top of almost $46,000 in previous years for other political positions.
While Virginia’s voluntary renewable portfolio standard is far from perfect, it’s neither helpful nor inspiring for Mr. Cuccinelli to scrap the program altogether on behalf of a few vested dirty energy interests.
Rather, as Chesapeake Climate Action Network suggests, Virginia’s law needs to be strengthened in ways that increase clean energy production and the good jobs that come with it. Both Cuccinelli and CCAN agree the law has flaws and loopholes that don’t properly incentivize new clean energy development within the state of Virginia. Some of the law’s weaknesses: Continue reading →
Graciela invited me to her home in El Salto, a city on one of Mexico’s most polluted rivers, the Rio Santiago. She wanted to share the story of her community’s struggle for environmental justice.
“Every family here has at least one person with a serious illness or a loved one who passed away before their time,” Graciela told me. “The people are suffering. Their health and livelihoods are suffering. And industry is earning billions of pesos. It’s just not right.” I saw anger and sorrow wash over her eyes as she spoke about their plight. Continue reading →
Today at a well-attended energy forum hosted by Politico, I shed some light on the role of coal lobbyist Jeffrey Holmstead in blocking pollution reductions for his coal utility and mining clients after he said we can’t “regulate our way to clean energy.” Here’s the video:
UPDATE 11/16: Holmstead was later confronted on camera by Gabe Elsner of the Checks and Balances Project after the disruption at the Politico forum. Watch Holmstead re-write the history of his attacks on mercury pollution laws:
Greenpeace's Climate Crimes Unit distributed WANTED posters of Jeff Holmstead.
As I waited inside for Mr. Holmstead to step on stage, members of Greenpeace’s Climate Crime Unit stood outside handing out WANTED posters of both Holmstead and chief oil lobbyist Jack Gerard of the American Petroleum Institute, who was also present.
Jeff Holmstead, who is often quoted in newspapers as a former Air and Radiation Administrator for the George W. Bush Environmental Protection Agency or a “partner” (read: lobbyist) at Bracewell & Giuliani’s corporate law firm here in DC, is rarely credited as an influence peddler for some of the most notorious polluters in the country.
Polluters like Duke Energy, Southern Company, and Arch coal are paying Holmstead’s bills. Continue reading →
In the havoc and destruction spread by war, damage to the environment is almost always regarded as a necessary price to be paid. But cleaning up the environmental consequences of war is a tough, often impossible, task. Damage to the environment in times of armed conflict can impair ecosystems and natural resources long after the period of conflict, often extending beyond the limits of national territories and the present generation.
Often during conflict, the environment itself has been used as a weapon of war, of mass destruction. Soils have been poisoned, water wells polluted, crops torched, forests cut down, all to achieve political and military goals: subdue resistance, destroy people’s livelihood and drive them away from their homes. Continue reading →
Rhiannon Fionn-Bowman, an independent journalist, aims to answer questions about coal ash during a nationwide tour where she’ll collect stories from all sides of the coal ash issue and share them on CoalAshChronicles.com. But, you don’t have to wait for her to come to you, you can share your story now — upload it here.
Here’s something for you to keep in mind as you read the news: There’s always more to the story.
Since I’m collecting coal ash stories, I’ll summarize a couple of my own regarding Charlotte, North Carolina’s coal ash issue to give you a peek behind the scenes. Continue reading →