Saturday, December 27, 2008

Environmental Disaster at Coal Power Facility

An environmental disaster occurred at a coal-fired power plant in Harriman, Tennessee on Dec. 22. A dam holding 5.4 Million of cubic yards of waste Coal Ash slurry gave way and the contents smashed through a Harriman neighborhood, knocking one home off its foundation, damaging 11 others, and toppling trees and power lines. It left 4 to 6 feet of gray ash muck across a 300 to 400 acre area, draining into nearby rivers that supply drinking water downstream to millions of people. Coal ash contains toxic heavy metals which can cause cancer and neurological problems, and are used in rat poison and insecticides. [click image to enlarge]

The coal ash dam broke at the Kingston Fossil Plant, a Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) power station on the banks of the Emory River, which feeds into the Clinch River near the confluence of the Tennessee River. Many of the coal ash chunks released from the dam were huge, the size of boulders and icebergs. A map of the area showing the coal plant (fire icon), 40 acre ash storage ponds (grey area), dam breach (thick, red line), derailed coal train (train icon) rivers (wave icons) and flow directions (red arrows) is below (click icons, shaded areas, line and arrows for photos and more information).

View Larger Map
TVA authorities initially issued no warnings about the potential chemical dangers of the spill, saying there was as yet no evidence of toxins. "Most of that material is inert," said Gilbert Francis Jr., a TVA spokesman. "It does have some heavy metals within it, but it's not toxic or anything."

Residents were told by the TVA to boil their water, but environmentalists warned residents that boiling would not remove the toxic heavy metals. Subsequent testing of river water near the spill showed elevated levels of lead and thallium, which can cause birth defects and nervous and reproductive system disorders, said John Moulton, a TVA spokesman. Lead is known to be a potent neurotoxin, and thallium is highly toxic and is used in rat poisons and insecticides.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is currently performing independent tests of the waterways affected by the spill as well as those upstream of the spill for comparison.

Chemicals and metals from coal ash have contaminated drinking water in several states, made people and animals sick in New Mexico, and tainted fish in Texas and elsewhere, according to Lisa Evans, an attorney with Earthjustice, a nonprofit national environmental law firm that follows the issue. It's an easy problem to fix, and at the very least should be placed in lined, state-of-the-art landfills, she said.

One Harriman resident expressed concern about the affects on her family's health after breathing the coal ash dust once the water in it dries out. TVA President and CEO Tom Kilgore said that people should wash their clothes if it gets on them and that the real concern would be for the material to be airborne. That wouldn't happen because it's rainy and damp, he said.

Activists for years have pushed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to regulate coal ash, such as this, as a hazardous waste. Jeff Stant, with the Environmental Integrity Project, said ash is the country's second-largest industrial waste stream, after mining wastes. "EPA has shirked its responsibility to do something about this for years. The law says EPA has to manage the wastes in a way to make sure they don't pose any imminent danger to health and the environment. EPA has failed to do that." This is not the first time that the EPA has been slow to deal with Coal-related hazards detrimental to public health and the environment.

The EPA needs to take bold action on hazardous coal ash waste and this environmental disaster. EPA needs to ensure a rapid and safe cleanup of the coal ash spill, and to regulate coal ash storage now. EPA must Protect the public from potential health risks and Protect the Environment, including property and homes (see photo, below). That's their job! Let the Obama Transition Team know how you feel about this environmental disaster by sending them an e-mail message: Click Here.
[click image to enlarge]
One only needs to look at the photos taken around the coal ash dam breach at the Kingston Power Plant to realize that coal will Never, Ever, be clean. We need to shift to real clean energy sources like solar, wind and geothermal.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Obama's Science, Energy, EPA and Climate Team

President-elect Obama takes a bold stand for making decisions based on science and facts rather than ideology.

Barack Obama introduced leading members of his science and technology team. He appointed Dr. John Holdren as Assistant to the President for Science and Technology, and Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. Dr. Holdren, a Harvard physicist, is a former president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He is an expert on energy technology policy and nuclear nonproliferation, and a strong advocate of cutting CO2 emissions to slow gobal warming.

Obama also named Dr. Jane Lubchenco as his choice to lead the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Dr. Lubchenco, a marine biologist at Oregon State University, is also a former president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. She is in favor of cutting CO2 emissions in order to stabilize the climate and to protect sea life. Read more and see a video of Obama's address here.

Earlier, Obama selected Dr. Steven Chu, Nobel Prize-winning physicist and clean-energy advocate, to run the federal Department of Energy (DOE). Dr. Chu heads the DOE's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California, and his lab currently does research on new forms of low-carbon energy. As Energy Secretary, Dr. Chu will have to deal with coal supporters, as the DOE has granted millions of dollars to designing new power plants that capture carbon dioxide from coal.

Other nominees include Lisa Jackson, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator; Nancy Sutley, Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality; Carol Browner, Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change; and Heather Zichal, Deputy Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change. Read more here.

In addition to his post as the President's Science Advisor, Dr. Holdren was appointed Co-Chair of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST). President-elect Obama also appointed Dr. Harold Varmus, Nobel Prize winner for cancer research, and Dr. Eric Lander, human genome mapper at MIT and Harvard, as the other co-chairs. PCAST is an external advisory council that Obama says will shape his thinking on the scientific aspects of policy priorities.

As a scientist, environmentalist, and clean energy advocate, all that I can say is: Pinch me, I must be dreaming!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

MORE New Coal-Fired Power Plants?

Officials weighing federal applications by utilities to build new coal-fired power plants cannot consider their greenhouse gas output, Stephen Johnson, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ruled on Thursday. Environmentalists fear the decision will clear the way for the approval of several such plants in the last days of the Bush administration.

Just about a month ago, the EPA's Environmental Appeals Board ruled that the EPA had no valid reason for refusing to limit the carbon dioxide emissions that cause global warming from new coal-fired power plants. This appeared to be great news for clean, alternative energy since the appeals court ruling would stop permitting of any new coal-burning power plants for some time.

However, a memorandum issued by EPA head, Stephen Johnson, on Thursday puts the agency on record saying that carbon dioxide is not a pollutant to be regulated when approving power plants.

James Hansen, the nation’s leading climate scientist has said, “The science is clear: a moratorium on new coal-fired power plants, and phase-out of existing coal plants, is essential if we want to preserve creation, the life on our planet, for young people and future generations.”

Under the Bush administration, the EPA has rejected the idea that greenhouse gases should be regulated like other kinds of air pollution, despite an April 2007 Supreme Court ruling that said carbon dioxide fit the definition of a pollutant that could be regulated under the Clean Air Act.

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) has formally requested for a Department of Justice investigation into the potential criminal conduct of EPA head Stephen Johnson. Whitehouse said that Johnson put "the interests of corporate polluters before science and the law” in ozone, lead, soot, tailpipe emissions, and global warming pollution. In a speech on the senate floor, Whitehouse said, "The American people cannot accept such a person in a position of such great responsibility. I am sorry it has come to this, but I call on Administrator Johnson to resign his position."

To see EPA head Stephen Johnson in 'inaction', watch this video. His middle name should be Stonewall: Stephen "Stonewall" Johnson. He deserves a Fossil Fool Award for his actions as well as his inactions on CO2 emissions and global warming.

A change to President-elect Obama's newly selected team on environment and energy can not come fast enough.

For the full reports, see: New York Times, Washington Post, Wonk Room

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Victory for Mountaintops!

An earlier blog post described the devastating effects that coal extraction by mountaintop removal has on the environment and the health and well being of nearby communities in Appalachia (watch this video). Over 450 mountaintops have been destroyed, one of which is shown in the photo [click photo to enlarge]. Environmentalists have pressured banks, including Bank of America, Citi, JP Morgan Chase and others, to stop financing coal extraction via mountaintop removal. In a victory for mountaintops, Bank of America decided yesterday to phase out financing for companies that practice mountaintop removal coal mining!

“Bank of America’s decision is a giant leap forward in the fight against mountaintop removal coal mining, which has devastated Appalachian communities and the mountains and streams they depend on,” said Rebecca Tarbotton, director of Rainforest Action Network’s Global Finance Campaign, which has pressed Bank of America since October 2007 to cease financing of mountaintop removal mining and coal-fired power plants. “We hope that Citi, JP Morgan Chase and other banks follow Bank of America’s lead.” Read more here.

Bank of America’s new policy comes just one day after the Bush administration approved a rule that will make mountaintop removal mining easier for coal companies by allowing them to dump rock and dirt from the mining operations into nearby streams and valleys. That rule has been bitterly contested by environmentalists and Appalachian communities. Edward C. Hopkins, a policy analyst at the Sierra Club, said: “The E.P.A.’s own scientists have concluded that dumping mining waste into streams devastates downstream water quality. By signing off on this rule, the agency has abdicated its responsibility.” Read more here.

The hope is that through continued pressure from environmentalists, other banks will be moved to follow Bank of America's lead and help put a complete end to mountaintop removal.

Massey Energy plans to mine more than 6,000 acres of the Coal River Mountain, one of the last mountains left intact in the beautiful Coal River Valley of West Virginia. As an alternative, local residents propose building a wind farm. To help the West Virginia residents save the mountain, and move the Governor to shift from a coal economy to a renewable energy economy, sign this petition.

Barack Obama has said that he wanted strong enforcement of the Clean Water Act, and that “We have to find more environmentally sound ways of mining coal, than simply blowing the tops off mountains.” Let's hold him to these promises. In addition, let's push him to accelerate the transition from coal to renewable energy sources. Coal is not a renewable resource, and there is no such thing as 'clean coal'. To e-mail president-elect Obama and let him know that we need Clean Energy, not 'clean coal', click here.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Obama Promises Climate Leadership

Calling climate change an urgent challenge, President-elect Barack Obama promised Tuesday that Washington would take a leading role in combating it in the United States and throughout the world. "My presidency will mark a new chapter in America's leadership on climate change," Obama said in a video message to governors and others attending a Los Angeles summit on the issue.

Said Obama: "I promise you this: When I am president, any governor who's willing to promote clean energy will have a partner in the White House. Any company that's willing to invest in clean energy will have an ally in Washington. And any nation that's willing to join the cause of combating climate change will have an ally in the United States of America." Read more Here.

In the video message addressed to the Summit's attendees, Obama emphasized his enthusiasm for the upcoming Climate Conference in Poland, acknowledging he wouldn't attend since he won't be president at the time of the meeting and the U.S. has only one president at a time.

Through a cap and trade system, he pledged to reduce carbon emissions and to make investments that would "help us transform our industries and steer our country out of this economic crisis by generating five million new green jobs that pay well and can’t be outsourced." The video is below.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Green Jobs: Stabilizing the Economy

Facing the challenges of global warming and climate change will create new economic opportunities, as the nation shifts from burning fossil fuels that generate global warming pollution, to clean, renewable energy sources. The shift to clean energy, and a rising awareness of the need to conserve energy and use it efficiently, are creating new jobs: green-collar jobs, or simply, Green Jobs.

­Investment in energy efficiency and in clean energy can create new businesses and Green Jobs, and at the same time curb climate change. A program to retrofit offices, manufacturing plants and homes with energy-efficient technologies will create a large demand for electricians, carpenters, and many other workers, skilled and unskilled. Expanding mass transit and improving freight rail will save energy and spark the demand for civil engineers, bus drivers, rail track layers, welders, locomotive engineers, conductors, and dispatchers. Incentives to develop wind, solar, geothermal power, next-generation biofuels, smart electrical grid transmission systems, and hybrid-electric vehicles will have enormous job-creation potential. One study showed that a $100 billion investment in these areas over two years would result in 2 Million new jobs across the nation, as illustrated in the US Map from a Green Jobs report by 1Sky.org.

[click image to enlarge]
This energy saving investment program will benefit both rural and urban America. An independent study concluded that 5 Million jobs would be created in rural areas alone by 2030 with the right incentives.

A business as usual approach to generating energy will only negatively affect the environment and the economy. Replacing old coal plants with new ones creates no new job opportunities and does nothing to address climate change, and neither does relying on oil. By capping global warming pollution and providing incentives for clean energy sources and energy efficiency, a fast-growing Green Job sector will more than make up for the fossil fuel jobs lost by phasing out coal and oil, and will stabilize the economy.

Friday, November 14, 2008

EPA: Coal Plants MUST limit CO2

GREAT NEWS for CLEAN, ALTERNATIVE ENERGY

Sierra Club
press release: November 13, 2008

In a move that signals the start of our clean energy future, the Environmental Protection Agency’s Environmental Appeals Board (EAB) ruled today EPA had no valid reason for refusing to limit from new coal-fired power plants the carbon dioxide emissions that cause global warming. The decision means that all new and proposed coal plants nationwide must go back and address their carbon dioxide emissions.

“Today’s decision opens the way for meaningful action to fight global warming and is a major step in bringing about a clean energy economy,” said Joanne Spalding, Sierra Club Senior Attorney who argued the case. “This is one more sign that we must begin repowering, refueling and rebuilding America.”

“The EAB rejected every Bush Administration excuse for failing to regulate the largest source of greenhouse gases in the United States. This decision gives the Obama Administration a clean slate to begin building our clean energy economy for the 21st century,” continued Spalding.

The decision follows a 2007 Supreme Court ruling recognizing carbon dioxide, the principle source of global warming, is a pollutant under the federal Clean Air Act.

“Instead of pouring good money after bad trying to fix old coal technology, investors should be looking to wind, solar and energy efficiency technologies that are going to power the economy, create jobs, and help the climate recover,” said Bruce Nilles, Director of the Sierra Club’s National Coal Campaign. Read more HERE.

Associated Press reports: "All permits in the pipeline are now stymied," said Jason Hutt, an attorney representing a number of utilities, merchant energy developers and refineries seeking permits. He said it also would affect permits for oil refinery expansion.

David Bookbinder, a Sierra Club attorney, the court ruling will "stop permitting of any coal burning power plants "while EPA mulls over what to do next" about how the federal Clean Air Act is to be used to control carbon dioxide. He said as many as 100 coal power plant permits — both those in process and others under appeal — will now be decided by the EPA, or state agencies that closely follow EPA's direction, after the Bush administration leave office. Read more HERE.

Proposed NY Pet-Coke Gasification Plant

This is a guest post by Walter Simpson of the Western NY Climate Action Coalition.

Lackawanna Clean Energy (LCE) is proposing a petroleum coke gasification plant to be constructed at the Bethlehem Steel site in Lackawanna, NY, adjacent to the Steel Winds wind farm. For those of us concerned about greenhouse gas emissions and the serious problem of global warming and climate change, the impact of this plant deserves serious study.

The project is in the draft environmental impact study stage of the State Environmental Quality Review Act process and appears to be moving along at a rapid rate. Petroleum coke is a refinery waste product which is more carbon intensive than coal. According to literature provided by LCE, their proposed gasification plant will convert 6,000 tons of pet coke a day to 85 million cubic feet per day of pipeline quality natural gas that could heat 450,000 homes a year. The project is being presented as good for our local economy. LCE says as many as 1,500 jobs will be created during a two year construction period and operating that plant will require up to 200 jobs. Local tax-base benefits are also touted. LCE would like to have the plant built and in operation by 2012.

According to documents supplied by LCE, conventional pollutants would be addressed with the best available control technology (BACT). GHG emissions from the plant are estimated to be 4,257,000 tons if CO2e/year. For comparison, consider that the proposed new Jamestown NY coal plant would emit approximately 300,000 tons of CO2e/year without carbon capture and storage (CCS) and approximately 150,000 tons per year with the level of CCS required by Governor Paterson. UB’s recently conducted greenhouse gas inventory indicated that total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from UB’s both campuses is 142,000 tons of CO2e/year. Thus the LCE gasification plant would produce 28 times the emissions of the Jamestown plant with CCS and 30 times those associated with operating UB. 4,257,000 tons of CO2e/year represents a full 2% increase in GHG emissions for all of New York State.

The above numbers are striking and suggest environmental groups should be very concerned about this plant. However, proponents of the project argue that it will use clean energy technology and that they are responsibly addressing the plant’s environmental impact, including GHG emissions.

According to LCE’s CO2 Management Plan (dated July 2008 and obtained from the NYS DEC through a Freedom of Information request), LCE’s gasification plant would actually produce a net reduction of GHG emissions of 2,466,000 tons of CO2e/year. They arrive at this figure by considering the fossil fuel energy and GHG emissions which will be avoid by (a) transporting pet coke to Lackawanna instead of other locations where it would be burned, (b) eliminating GHG emissions associated with producing natural gas through other means, and (c) creating less GHG emissions by gasifying pet coke compared to burning it. In addition, LCE is proposing to purchase carbon offsets for 432,000 tons of CO2e/year, create a CO2 emissions research center, and demonstrate carbon capture and geo-sequestration (burying emissions underground) for some portion of the plants GHG emissions.

Would the LCE pet coke gasification plant be an environmental benefit or cost? Is it part of the solution to climate change or a potentially very large contributor to the problem? Clearly it depends on the accuracy and fairness of LCE’s analysis and one’s perspective. Minimally, we can say this is a very interesting proposal deserving of careful public scrutiny.

On November 18, here will be a presentation of the proposal for petroleum coke gasification by Lackawanna Clean Energy, followed by a panel discussion open to the public. For further information, click here.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Risks of Coal Power Investment

NEW YORK - Coal-fired power plants are among the top emitters of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas contributing to global warming. A major owner of coal-fired power plants has agreed to let investors in on the financial costs of global warming. NY Attorney General Andrew Cuomo announced Thursday that the energy company Dynegy Inc. has agreed to put detailed information in its financial filings on any material business risks posed by the outcry over climate change. That could include warning investors about looming government regulations that might make it more expensive to emit carbon, or the possibility that the company could be sued over pollution.

"You must disclose the risks that you are taking, and when you're building a coal-fired plant, you are truly creating many issues for years to come," Cuomo said. About the disclosure, he said, "It's not just good public policy, it's the law".

The agreement is the second of its type. Xcel Energy made a similar promise to Cuomo's office in August and the attorney general has pressured three other power firms to follow suit: AES Corporation, Dominion Resources and Peabody Energy.

Environmentalists applauded the deal. Former Vice President Al Gore, who appeared alongside Cuomo as he announced the arrangement in Manhattan, called the disclosure requirement "a new model to combat global warming."
The full reports are here and here.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

HEAT is On...PBS Tonight

Tonight on PBS: watch HEAT
For years, big business--from oil and coal companies to electric utilities to car manufacturers--has resisted change to environmental policy and stifled the debate over climate change in America and around the globe. Now, facing rising pressure from governments, green groups and investors alike, big business is reshaping its approach to the environment. With the election looming, FRONTLINE producer Martin Smith investigates what some businesses are doing to fend off new regulations and how others are repositioning themselves to prosper in a radically changed world.

Watch on TV tonight at 9pm-11pm, or watch at PBS.org anytime.
Here is a Preview:

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Washington Post: Obama for President

Washington Post -- EDITORIAL -- Friday, October 17, 2008
The nominating process this year produced two unusually talented and qualified presidential candidates. There are few public figures we have respected more over the years than Sen. John McCain. Yet it is without ambivalence that we endorse Sen. Barack Obama for president

Mr. Obama is a man of supple intelligence, with a nuanced grasp of complex issues and evident skill at conciliation and consensus-building. At home, we believe, he would respond to the economic crisis with a healthy respect for markets tempered by justified dismay over rising inequality and an understanding of the need for focused regulation.

Mr. Obama's temperament is unlike anything we've seen on the national stage in many years. He is deliberate but not indecisive; eloquent but a master of substance and detail; preternaturally confident but eager to hear opposing points of view. He has inspired millions of voters of diverse ages and races, no small thing in our often divided and cynical country. We think he is the right man for a perilous moment.

The full text of the endorsement at the Washington Post web site, Click HERE.

Many Americans agree with the endorsement. Today, a record crowd of 100,000 people turned out in St. Louis, MO, to hear Senator Obama speak!
A picture is below, and the full text of the speech is HERE.
[click Image to enlarge]

UPDATE: Sunday, Oct.19, 2008 -- Buffalo News -- EDITORIAL
Obama for president
Voters should seize the chance to elect a transformative leader

The only thing we have to fear, a great president once said, is fear itself. Barack Obama is not afraid. Concerned. Alert. Maybe even a little alarmed. But the Democratic candidate for president of the United States is not afraid and, of perhaps even more importance, he does not seek to be elected by making us afraid.

For the full endorsement, visit BuffaloNews.com.

Obama: Smart AND Humorous

Presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama showed that he not only has the intellect that many would love to see reinstated at the White House, he can also deliver a joke with the best of comedians. Obama spoke at the Annual Charity Dinner sponsored by the Al Smith Memorial Foundation in NYC. Obama roasted opponent John McCain (and vice versa), as well as a number of other politicians present. The event provided a great opportunity for Obama to put aside the pressures of the campaign, display his wit and share some laughs with his opponent.

Some of Senator Obama's best lines:
To Al Smith, IV, Obama said: "I obviously never knew your great-grandfather, but from everything Sen. McCain has told me..."

The housing crisis "has been eight times harder on John McCain."

My middle name, it's not what you think. It's actually "Steve."

"There was a point in my life when I started palling around with a pretty ugly crowd.... no-good punks. That's right, I've been a member of the United States Senate."

"Recently one of John's top advisors told the Daily News that if we keep talking about the economy, McCain's going to loose. So tonight, I'd like to talk about the economy."

To hear these lines, and many more, view Part 1 of the Video, below:


Part 2 of the Video is HERE:

McCain's speech is HERE:

Sunday, September 28, 2008

GOP Presidential Campaign: McCain Cancels, Palin Chokes

Along with the Presidential candidates' stances on energy and economy, we need to evaluate their character, intelligence and decision-making skills. If elected, will they do what they say they will do? Are they smart enough to make the right choices? How do they answer probing questions under pressure? McCain and running-mate Palin have not fared well in these areas. Some of their shortcomings have been revealed during the past week in news interviews and commentaries, and also by comedians.

John McCain canceled his appearance on David Letterman's "Late Show" in NYC just hours before he was slated to tape the show on Sept. 24. Letterman said that McCain phoned him to cancel because he suspended his campaign to race back to Washington in order to save the economy. HOWEVER, during the Letterman taping, McCain appeared live in NYC on the CBS "Evening News" with Katie Couric. As only Letterman could get away with, he cut to the CBS "Evening News" during his show to demonstrate McCain's hypocrisy. Click Here for the video.

In addition to thoroughly blasting McCain for lying his way out of his scheduled appearance, Letterman continued turning the screws using his Top 10 List entitled "Questions People Are Asking The McCain Campaign", now that it had been suspended. Number 10 was my favorite: "I just contributed to your campaign--How do I get a REFUND?"

McCain didn't have to worry about the suspended presidential campaign. His second-in-command, running-mate Sarah Palin, was out stumping...and stumbling. Palin, the darling of the GOP, told Katie Couric in a news interview that the financial bailout is about healthcare reform, job creation, spending reductions, reducing taxes, and, oh yeah, trade too...Unbelievable! To see it for yourself, and hear Jack Cafferty's cutting comments, Click Here.

Fortunately, Saturday Night Live's Tina Fey did not suspend impersonating Sarah Palin. Fey mocked Palin's interview with Katie Couric (SNL's Amy Poehler), and talked about Palin's trip to NYC, her comments about Russia, and the financial bailout. Many of her funniest lines were not the work of comedy writers, but were direct quotes from Palin's original interview! The full SNL video is HERE.

By week's end, McCain did not save the economy by racing off to Washington. He reversed his "decisions" about suspending his campaign until the financial bailout was resolved and canceling the debate with Obama in Mississippi, and ended up traveling to the debate. Obama reacted in a more calm and consistent manner to the financial bailout: he traveled to Washington to meet with the President and McCain, but stood by his decision to hold the debate regardless of the outcome on the bailout. All in all, McCain's decisions about his campaign, including its suspension as well as his choice of Palin as Vice President, were hardly of presidential quality.

It's time to get serious about the upcoming Presidential AND Vice Presidential Election! McCain lacks good judgement and decision-making skills. Palin, potentially a "72 year old's heartbeat away" from inheriting the Presidency, is totally out to lunch. In a Face the Nation interview today, Obama wisely left the judgement of Palin's qualifications up to us, the voters. Do the right thing for America and for a clean energy economy in the upcoming election. Elect Senator Obama as President along with Senator Biden as Vice President on November 4.

[UPDATE, Oct.18: McCain appears on the Letterman show to beg forgiveness for the earlier cancellation. He get's grilled by Letterman, who exposes McCain's negative campaign and his association with Gordon Liddy. Click here]

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Coal Power: Clean and Green?

While traveling along Interstate 70 in Pennsylvania, I saw several billboards like the one shown here. The message reads: "Welcome to Coal Country. COAL. Pennsylvania's #1 fuel for Electricity. NOW Clean and Green with New Technologies".

Amazing! Coal power is not only Clean, but also Green? Really? Ironically, one of the billboards was sited right in front of a wind farm! The wind turbine blades were spinning around, generating REAL Clean and Green Electricity. No need for a billboard advertising clean and green wind power when you've got the real thing! Big Coal is funding ads for the clean & green coal myth in order to remain in power, in more ways than one. Who are they fooling?

I don't know about you, but my image of coal is quite different than that portrayed by the coal power industry and their advocates. Everything about coal is dirty, and certainly not green: from extraction (including mountaintop removal, mining, and toxic runoff into waterways), to transportation (CO2 emissions plus coal dust from open railroad cars), incineration (massive CO2 emissions plus mercury, oxides of sulfur and nitrogen causing smog and acid rain, ozone pollution) and waste disposal. The photo of the two coal miners portrays some of the realities of coal...Not clean, Not green. Everything about coal is also Not healthy for people and other living things.

Coal power is on the way out, and renewable energy is moving in. Al Gore recently raised the bar on the clean energy time-line, calling for 100% renewable energy within 10 years. The coal industry is desperately fighting this sort of thinking, and is struggling to clean up its act and even trying to green it's image. Don't buy it. There's no such thing as clean coal power, and there never will be. And coal will be green...when pigs can fly.

A transition to 100% renewable energy would mean that coal miners will loose their jobs. Aware of that important concern, Al Gore said "We should guarantee good jobs in the fresh air and sunshine for any coal miner displaced by impacts on the coal industry. Every single one of them." I agree wholeheartedly.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Sustainability & Global Warming: Get It?

Once we've sucked out all of the oil and natural gas from under the land and the sea floors, blown up every mountaintop and stripped the Earth of all of it's coal, burned all of the oil, gas and coal, and reached 1000 parts per million CO2, enjoy the weather because our planet will be transformed from a magnificent globe inhabited by billions of people and other living things to something that looks like THIS.
Tom Toles Gets It!

A major problem for us and for future generations is that our old fossil fuel economy is not sustainable and can't prosper without polluting and destroying the planet. We need to transition to a clean energy economy that will create new jobs in support of renewable energy sources that don't pollute the planet. Unfortunately, not everyone gets it.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Put a Price on Global Warming Pollution

People take action when prices increase. With rising gasoline prices, people react by driving less, using more mass transit, carpooling, biking and moving from over-sized SUV's to smaller, fuel-efficient cars and gas-electric hybrids. In response to public demand to use less gasoline and save money, U.S. automakers are finally taking action to increase the fuel efficiency of their fleet. Suddenly, GM plans to close four SUV and truck plants, increase production of compact and mid-size sedans, and offer an electric hybrid in 2010. Now that's rapid change that will reduce global warming pollution and help stabilize the climate. [click image to enlarge]

Utility, coal and oil companies will also take action on global warming pollution when they have to pay for it. As long as polluting the air is free, they will continue to spew out global warming pollution and other pollutants that negatively affect the health of people and the planet. Putting a price on polluting the air is the only way to stop it. When the government enacts a sufficiently high price for polluting the air, pollution will go down. Investments will then move toward alternative energy sources that don't pollute the air.

It's time to put a price on carbon emissions that cause global warming and climate change. Scientists recommend emission cuts of 80% by 2050. To achieve this target, companies that profit by polluting our air must pay. New legislation is being proposed that will help compensate consumers for increases in energy costs and facilitate the transition to clean energy sources.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Markey Announces iCAP Climate Bill

WASHINGTON (May 28, 2008) – Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Chairman of the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, introduced a revolutionary new bill that would reduce global warming pollution according to scientific targets, reinvest any revenue back to American workers and technology, and would establish America as a leader in solving climate change.

The bill offers a new paradigm for global warming legislation: the Cap-and-Invest system. It caps pollution at 85 percent below 2005 levels by 2050. It uses an auction system that sets a price on carbon, and allows companies to compete for reductions, or buy or trade credits within the system. It then takes the $8 Trillion in revenues expected from polluters over the length of the bill, and reinvests that money back to American families and workers and into promoting a clean energy economy.

The “Investing in Climate Action and Protection Act” (iCAP Act) amends the Clean Air Act to establish an economy-wide cap-auction-and-trade system that adheres to five core principles:
  • Reduce U.S. global warming pollution by 85 percent by 2050, the necessary U.S. contribution to stabilize atmospheric concentrations of heat-trapping gases and avoid dangerous global warming.
  • Auction pollution allowances, instead of giving them free-of-charge to polluters, to avoid windfall profits for polluters, ensure fairness and effectiveness, and reduce social costs.
  • Return over half of auction proceeds to low- and middle-income households to help compensate for any increase in energy costs as a result of climate legislation.
  • Invest the remaining auction proceeds in programs that will further reduce the costs of climate policy, spur the development of advanced low-carbon technologies, grow the U.S. economy, and address unavoidable impacts of climate change.
  • Include policies that will encourage major-emitting developing countries, like China and India, to take comparable action to reduce global warming pollution to protect the competitiveness of U.S. industry.
A video of Rep. Markey announcing the climate legislation is here.
An executive summary of the legislation here, and a report from 1Sky is here.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Plug-in Prius: Mayor of Minneapolis

The Mayor of Minneapolis drives a plug-in hybrid. The plug-in conversion of a standard Prius hybrid was done by A123 Systems. The mayor says he gets 70MPG in his driving, and A123 claims up to 150MPG in city driving. Check out this video of the Mayor and his Cool car.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Forget Gasoline: Plug-In to Clean Energy

Gasoline makes us dependent on foreign oil suppliers, and it gets our country involved in sticky military situations. Using gasoline to fuel transportation is also a major source of global warming pollution and is not sustainable. Our reliance on foreign oil is draining our economy and is a threat to national security. To reduce our dependence on oil and gasoline, we need more efficient vehicles. Improvements in efficiency could occur at the level of fuel usage, or in other areas such as the engine and the weight of materials used.

A real breakthrough in fuel-efficiency came with hybrid cars, like the Toyota Prius and Honda Insight, getting 45-50 MPG. The soaring cost of gasoline has fueled the hybrid market over the past year, with Toyota Prius sales way up (+54%). In contrast, sales of gas-guzzling pickup trucks, like the Dodge Ram, are way down (-29%).

Hybrid cars introduced electricity as an alternative fuel. This innovation has opened the possibility to fuel-up by plugging your car into an electrical outlet. Just think of it, a future with plug-in electric vehicles fueled by clean, renewable energy from wind, solar or hydro power!

Toyota may be the first to market a plug-in hybrid electric car. The next generation Prius, due around 2009, will likely use a plug-in system. Toyota is now using their proven nickel-metal hydride battery in prototype Prius plug-ins, but will likely switch to a lighter, more compact lithium ion battery later, once the technology is ready.

The future is now in California, where renewable energy is more plentiful and where American ingenuity has converted a Prius Hybrid to a Plug-in Hybrid that gets 100+ MPG. If you 'fill up' from a regular electrical outlet at home, the equivalent cost is under $1/gallon. If your driving is mostly local, you'd almost never need gasoline! What are we waiting for?

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Bush clueless, Big Oil PROFIT$, Americans PAY: Take Action!

Question to President Bush from news reporter Peter Maer: "What's your advice to the average American who is hurting now, facing the prospect of $4-a-gallon gasoline, a lot of people facing ... "
President Bush: "Wait, what did you just say?" the president interrupted. "You're predicting $4-a-gallon gasoline?"
Peter Maer: "A number of analysts are predicting $4-a-gallon gasoline."
President Bush: "Oh, yeah? That's interesting. I hadn't heard that."

While our President appeared clueless, oil prices continued to soar and set a new record of $106 per barrel on March 7, 2008. Big Oil continues to pull in record, multi-Billion dollar profits. Here are the top five US companies and their 2007 profits in $ Billions: Exxon Mobil, 40.6; Shell, 31.3; BP, 20.8; Chevron, 18.7; and Conoco Phillips, 11.9.

Back when Exxon Mobil was called Esso, their commercial slogan was "Happy Motoring!". Not so these days as Americans fume over the high cost of gasoline at the pump. The National average price per gallon for gasoline is now: $3.19 Regular, $3.39 Plus, $3.51 Premium, and $3.74 Diesel. $4-a-gallon gasoline is anticipated by this summer. The Shell gas prices shown in the photo are from a station in San Francisco.

About three years ago, President Bush said, “With $55 oil we don't need incentives to oil and gas companies to explore. There are plenty of incentives.” Since then, oil prices have nearly doubled, gasoline prices have risen out of sight, and Big Oil has enjoyed the largest profits in history. Nonetheless, Mr. Bush continues to defend tax loopholes for the oil companies.

Americans can take action by urging the Senate to pass the Renewable Energy and Energy Conservation Tax Act of 2008, H.R. 5351, which will extend and create incentives to invest in wind, solar, biofuels, and other clean energy sources. Extending tax breaks for wind and solar energy would prevent the loss of over one hundred thousand jobs in those rapidly expanding industries, whose tax breaks are set to expire at the end of 2008. These important incentives for clean energy can be paid for by repealing the $1.3 billion annual tax loophole that subsidizes Big Oil. This is small money for Big Oil, only about 1% of the aggregate profits of the top five companies in 2007. Hardworking Americans have already paid dearly at the gasoline pump, and Big Oil has profited enormously.

Contact your Senators and urge them to pass H.R. 5351 (copy of the bill is here). A vigorous, concerted action will be required since the House bill which was passed and sent to the Senate has already been condemned by Big Oil and the Bush administration. Yes, this is the same President Bush who, believe it or not, spoke recently at a renewable energy conference in DC, and who told the participants "listen, let me start first by telling you that America has got to change its habits. We've got to get off oil." Mr. Bush could help to achieve this worthy goal and switch to clean, renewable energy sources by supporting H.R. 5351 instead of condemning it. Contact your Senators and urge them to pass H.R. 5351.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Tiny Alaskan Village lookin' to kick Big Oil's Gas

An Alaskan village eroding into the Arctic Ocean sued two dozen oil, power and coal companies, claiming that the large amounts of greenhouse gases they emit contribute to global warming that threatens the community's existence. The Inupiat Eskimo village of Kivalina sued Exxon Mobil Corp. and eight other oil companies, fourteen power companies and one coal company. Sea ice that forms later and melts sooner because of higher temperatures has left the community unprotected from fall and winter storm surges and pounding waves that lash the coastal community. Relocation costs have been estimated at more than $400 million. Damage to Kivalina from global warming has been documented in official government reports by the Army Corps of Engineers and the General Accounting Office.

A spokesman for Exxon Mobil said the company takes the issue of climate change seriously. "Exxon Mobil is taking action by reducing greenhouse gas emissions in our operations, supporting research into technology breakthroughs and participating in constructive dialogues on policy options with NGOs, industry and policy makers," he said.

A real opportunity could arise for Exxon Mobil to take the issue of climate change seriously and act to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by giving back a minuscule portion of their enormous profits. The House of Representatives voted in favor of a tax package to use funds from Big Oil's tax breaks to boost incentives for wind and solar energy and energy efficiency. Extending tax breaks for wind and solar energy would prevent the loss of jobs in those fast-growing industries, whose tax breaks are set to expire at the end of the year placing 116,000 jobs at risk. The bill was sent to the Senate. However, the Bush administration, Republican lawmakers and Big Oil condemned the bill.

“Since President Bush took office, the price of oil has gone from $30 per barrel to a record high price of $101 yesterday,” said Congressman Edward Markey, Chairman of the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming. “This administration’s oil-centric energy policy has proven itself to be completely bankrupt for everyone except for Big Oil. President Bush should support this bill, which helps consumers and our economy, not continue to oppose this bill for the sole benefit of the most profitable companies in the world.”

How about it Exxon Mobil...ready to really show that you take climate change seriously? Give back some small change ($) from your huge profits to help consumers, the economy and the planet. Alaskans won't be holding their breath while waiting. It's been about 19 years since the Exxon Valdez spilled 11 million gallons of crude oil in Alaskan waters and on the coastline, and still no money has been paid in punishment for that offense.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

NY Coal-fired Power Plant to be SHUT DOWN

A coal-fired power plant near Rochester NY will be shut down as early as May 2008. The plant is located upwind of both Rochester and the Adirondack Forest Preserve, and it emits harmful pollution at a higher rate than any other power plant in New York. Rochester Gas will be allowed to replace the coal-burning unit with a cleaner burning plant fueled by natural gas. The Rochester Gas & Electric unit will also will pay a $200,000 civil penalty and fund $500,000 of programs to improve energy efficiency and reduce air pollution in the Rochester area, according to NY Attorney General Cuomo.
Studies have linked coal-fired power plants to hotspots of mercury pollution in the Adirondack Forest Preserve. The Adirondack region is located downwind of many coal plants that emit even higher levels of mercury pollution than does the Rochester plant. Ninety-six percent of the lakes in the Adirondack region exceed the recommended EPA action level for methyl mercury in fish.
Mercury is present in two-thirds of Adirondack loons at levels that negatively impact their behavior and reproductive capacity, posing a significant risk to their survival. The survival of
the loon in this polluted environment is viewed as the proverbial "canary in the coal mine", warning us of potential disaster. This dire state of affairs prompted the Adirondack Mountain Club, along with other organizations and states, to file a legal brief with the US Court of Appeals last year. Loons eat fish, and high levels of mercury in fish have elicited advisories that children as well as women of childbearing age should not eat any fish from waters in the Catskill reservoirs. Mercury can damage developing brains of fetuses and young children, and scientists fear this could cause neurological problems in 60,000 newborns per year in the USA. Fortunately for humans and loons, the federal appeals court recently struck down a 2005 EPA mercury-control plan which imposed less stringent requirements on power plants to reduce mercury pollution.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Sustainabilty and the Story of STUFF

Annie Leonard, an expert in international sustainability and environmental health issues, made an informative and humorous video-cartoon called "The Story of Stuff". It explores the costs and consequences of our consumer culture and its impact on the environment, third-world nations, working class Americans, personal health and our general state of happiness. To learn more about sustainability, and how our consumer culture works against it, click here to watch Annie Leonard's video.
Sustainability is defined as "a characteristic of a process or state that can be maintained at a certain level indefinitely. The term, in its environmental usage, refers to the potential longevity of vital human ecological support systems, such as the planet's climatic system, systems of agriculture, industry, forestry, and fisheries, and human communities in general and the various systems on which they depend."
Since sustainability has to do with the environment, ecology and people, I went to the Environmental Protection Agency web site to see if they knew about the concept. They cite it, but they define it a little differently. According to the EPA, sustainability is "the ability to achieve economic prosperity while protecting the natural systems of the planet."* Hmmmm, economic prosperity wasn't mentioned in the previous definition. And why does economic prosperity come first, before the more important part about protecting the planet?
A major problem for us and for future generations is that our dirty energy economy can't prosper without polluting the planet and increasing global warming. Simply put, our current system is not sustainable! We need to transition to a clean energy economy that will create new jobs in support of renewable energy sources that don't pollute the planet. And oh yes, contrary to Bush's advice to "go shopping", we could all do the planet a big favor by purchasing LESS STUFF!

[*UPDATE, September 2008: the EPA has now adopted a more reasonable definition of sustainability: “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”]

Sunday, February 10, 2008

EPA: is "P" for POLLUTION?

EPA stands for the Environmental PROTECTION Agency. So why aren't they protecting the environment? An earlier post described the public health hazards of mercury pollution and that the EPA was slow to respond to the problem back in 1999. It's not that the EPA wasn't aware of mercury pollution, as seen in EPA's own 1998 data on national atmospheric mercury (Hg) deposition. The most polluted region on the USA map is the North East (red > orange > yellow > gray > white). The Centers for Disease Control found that about 10% of women carry enough mercury to put a fetus at risk of neurological damage. The single largest source of mercury pollution is coal-fired power plants.

Recently, a three-judge panel of the federal appeals court unanimously struck down a mercury-control plan imposed by the EPA in 2005. The court said that the Bush administration ignored the law when it imposed less stringent requirements on power plants to reduce mercury pollution. For the full story, click here.

Is it the role of government to serve Big Coal and other corporations? What has happened to a government FOR the PEOPLE? Where have all the PUBLIC SERVANTS gone? WANTED: real public servants for the 2008 election, and an EPA that Protects.

Friday, February 8, 2008

'Clean Coal'? NEVER WILL BE !

Earlier posts here discussed 'clean coal' (No Such Thing), the negative impacts on the environment of extracting coal by mountaintop removal and the detrimental effects of mercury and other pollutants on human heath. Recently, Frank Hugar wrote a letter to the Buffalo News Editor raising yet another hazard of burning coal: radioactive isotopes in the gaseous and particulate combustion products. To see his letter, "There’s no such thing as clean coal, never will be", click here.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

'CLEAN-COAL' ELECTRICITY UNPLUGGED

WASHINGTON — The Energy Department canceled its program for demonstrating how to use coal for electric power without adding to global warming, saying the project needed an overhaul to rein in soaring costs. $1.8 Billion was proposed to fund FutureGen, a 275 megawatt coal-fired plant, and officials feared the cost would increase. The Department said, however, that the cancellation did not represent a step away from coal as a fuel. About $40 Million of taxpayers money has already been spent on the project, and the final subsidies were projected to be about $1 Billion. For the full NY Times report, click here.

The new proposal is to have industry add carbon-capturing systems paid for by taxpayers to planned commercial plants built by industry. Is Capturing CO2 a Pipe Dream? Click here for more.

SIDNEY -- Australian coal companies contributed more than $50 million to the FutreGen project. A Greens senator, Christine Milne, called on the Australian Government to pull taxpayers money out of FutureGen and other projects saying the clean coal strategy had collapsed. "Government funding for FutureGen and any other clean coal pipedreams should be withdrawn in favour of renewable technologies that are up and running now." For the full story, click here.

The above articles discuss only the monetary costs. What about the environment? Environmental destruction by strip mining and mountaintop removal, and the pollution generated by coal transportation by rail will remain. What about future generations? Coal is not a renewable energy source. Give clean, renewable energy sources like wind, solar and geothermal a chance, and grow new 'green-collar' jobs!

Saturday, February 2, 2008

February 5th: Super Tuesday at the Polls


Check out the Primaries and Caucuses across the country at the Washington Post.
Twenty-four states will hold primaries or caucuses, with 52% of all pledged Democratic party delegates and 41% of the total Republican party delegates at stake.

Who will you vote for ? See 'How GREEN is your Candidate', below.

VOTE FOR THE PLANET !

Vote for RENEWABLE ENERGY and GREEN JOBS
Democrats, Republicans and Independents alike are interested in how renewable energy and energy efficiency measures can bring us 'green-collar' jobs and stimulate our ailing economy. For reports from the primaries by 1Sky.org, click here and here.

VIDEOS:
- Exit poll on clean energy and energy efficiency in SC, click here.
- Climate activists flipped out over 'clean coal' lobby, click here.

Friday, February 1, 2008

How GREEN is Your Candidate?

Grist Compares the Candidates
A table showing at a glance where the presidential candidates stand on climate and energy issues, click here.

Interviews and information on the presidential candidates' environmental positions, click here.

Where Candidates stand on Science & Technology

The American Association for the Advancement of Science compares candidates stance on Energy and Environment and on other science and technology (S&T) issues including: Competitiveness & Innovation; STEM Education & Workforce; Better Health for Americans; and National & Homeland Security. Click here.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

CLEAN ENERGY: a HEALTHY ALTERNATIVE to COAL

Coal is by far the dirtiest and most damaging of our existing energy sources. Burning coal not only causes global warming, it also is the single largest source of mercury pollution in the U.S.. Mercury compounds are toxic, carcinogenic, and are linked to birth defects and damage to lungs and the nervous system. Many waterways are now so polluted with mercury that fish caught there are unsafe for human consumption. Burning coal also generates smog and soot, and causes acid rain which pollutes water and kills fish and plant life. Air pollution from coal-fired power plants is linked to premature deaths, asthma attacks and heart attacks. The serious impact on public health and the environment should be more than enough reason to stop burning coal. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency was slow to respond to the problem (see this 1999 document addressed to State Governors), and the coal industry has been even slower to comply with laws. Additionally, coal-fired power plants are generally located in poor or rural areas where the local citizens lack representation, and where the plants are out of the sight and mind of the general public.

With new laws to fight global warming pollution anticipated soon, the coal industry is rushing to build as many new plants as possible before those laws are in place. Over 150 plants have been proposed since the year 2000. The estimated lifetime of a coal power plant is about 50 years, and most of the new plants would use the same old dirty technology. If new plants are built now, we will lock ourselves into a lifetime of dirty coal. With the help of pressure from environmentalists and climate activists in 2007, 59 of the proposed plants were either canceled by regulators, put on hold, or abandoned by utilities. Fortunately, clean energy alternatives can provide electricity, and cutting back on coal power will reduce global warming pollution and improve public health. Let's promote the switch to clean energy sources, if only for our health!

Friday, January 25, 2008

EARTH to PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES: STOP BURNING COAL !

An earlier blog entry highlighted John Edwards' call for a moratorium on building new-coal-fired power plants in the absence of technology to remove CO2, and the contrary stance of Clinton, Obama as well as the Republican candidates to keep the coal fires burning based on the industry myth of "clean coal". Edwards stands solidly on facts, while Big Coal stands on greed and lobbying, and their political benefactors stand on campaign contributions and elections. Fortunately, students and conservationists with the intelligence to see through the "clean coal" myth are rising up at the South Carolina primary and fighting against the Big Coal lobby. Click here for a report from the front lines.
It is crucial that we elect leaders who have the intelligence and political will to oppose the "clean coal" myth, and who aim to lead the world in stopping global warming pollution. According to NASA climate scientist, Dr. James Hansen, "Coal will determine whether we continue to increase climate change or slow the human impact. Increased fossil fuel CO2 in the air today, compared to the pre-industrial atmosphere, is due 50% to coal, 35% to oil, and 15% to gas. As oil resources peak, coal will determine future CO2 levels." Memo to presidential primary candidates: re-think your position on so-called "clean coal", and give clean energy alternatives and the planet a chance.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

BIG COAL'S DIRTY SECRET - MOUNTAINTOP REMOVAL: Watch This VIDEO!

More than 450 mountains in Appalachia have been destroyed by mountaintop removal coal mining. This Video is part of the National Memorial for the Mountains, hosted by www.ilovemountains.org. Click here to watch the video, and see the harm and heartbreak in Appalachia. Stop it...No New Coal !
For a virtual flyover of mountaintop removal sites in Eastern Kentucky and West Virginia using Google Earth, and a narration of the process of environmental destruction and water pollution, click here.

The Big Coal lobby has had a huge presence ($1.3 Million) in South Carolina and elsewhere for the presidential debates and primaries. The myth of "clean coal" is being promoted on placards and t-shirts. In striking contrast to the realities of mountaintop removal, vehicles with images of pretty blue skies bear the "clean coal" message. Big Coal has also sponsored "clean coal" TV commercials for the last few presidential debates! Could this help explain why TV reporters ask candidates no questions about global warming and their proposed solutions? Clean energy advocates can't match the money of Big Coal, but they can speak out, write to newspapers and politicians, demonstrate and spread the word, as in this video taken at the Dem debate in S.C. THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS CLEAN COAL! Vote GREEN in 2008!

EDWARDS TAKES ON 'BIG COAL' in DEMOCRATIC DEBATE in LAS VEGAS

John Edwards said, "But I'd go another step that at least I haven't heard these two candidates [Clinton & Obama] talk about. They can answer for themselves. I believe we need a moratorium on the building of any more coal-fired power plants unless and until we have the ability to capture and sequester the carbon in the ground. Because every time we build a new coal-fired power plant in America when we don't have that technology attached to it, what happens is, we're making a terrible situation worse." Way to go John! Click here for the full transcript.
Obama and Clinton currently support "clean coal", even though there is no such thing. Hopefully, clean energy activists including 1Sky will help turn them around in the South Carolina campaign. Big Coal has big money and a lot of influence, on both politicians and voters. Big Coal is waging a $35 million campaign in primary and caucus states to rally public support for coal-fired electricity and to fuel opposition to legislation to cut carbon emissions. VOTERS, please spread the word: coal is not clean, mining and burning it carry large environmental and public health costs (see Mountaintop removal, above), and burning it also causes global warming...No new coal! See Coal Moratorium NOW!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

GREEN RESPONSES to the 'STATE OF THE STATE'

ALBANY, NY -- Environmental Advocates of New York is a state government watchdog. In response to the Governor’s State of the State address, the group is encouraged by the Governor's support of amending state law to promote the development of solar energy by easing restrictions on "net metering", and is also encouraged by his call to reduce our energy bills by means of "smart metering". Click here for the report.
See also an excellent analysis from the Network for New Energy Choices. NNEC’s Freeing the Grid 2007 is a comprehensive report on how to make net metering work today.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

STATE OF NY STATE in 'THE BUSINESS REVIEW'

Albany, Jan. 10, 2008 -- Energy initiatives face funding and political challenges on the cost of "smart metering" technology and Spitzer's call to confront the challenge of global warming. Click here.

Monday, January 14, 2008

GOV. SPITZER'S STATE OF NY STATE ADDRESS

Albany, Jan.9, 2008 - Encouraging remarks about Global Warming and Clean Energy: "Energy should be reliable, plentiful, and clean. On the demand side, we are committed to ... a goal of reducing statewide electricity use by 15 percent from projected levels by 2015. On the supply side...if we are going to fast-track any kind of energy production, it must also help us confront the challenge of global warming." For the full text, click here.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

GRASSROOTS EFFORT PAYS DIVIDENDS ON THE PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN TRAIL

PLAISTOW, NEW HAMPSHIRE — Activists in Snowman and polar bear costumes are frolicking at candidate town meetings. Editorials on global warming are appearing in influential newspapers in New Hampshire and Iowa. Most major presidential candidates—from liberal Democratic senator Barack Obama to former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, a conservative republican—have called for caps on the emissions of greenhouse gases. For full article in SCIENCE (Dec. 21 2007), click here.

Jason Kowalski dressed as a Snowman to make points about Global Warming with presidential candidates in New Hampshire (click here for Video interview). As Christmas approached, he switched to a Santa Claus costume, as in the photo with Hillary Clinton and his brother Adam (Snowman), and in a news Video (click here) challenging Mitt Romney on global warming.

THERE'S NO SUCH THING AS 'CLEAN-COAL' POWER

Buffalo News, Jan.1, 2008 -- Letter to Editor
The Another Voice article, “Right time, right place for clean-coal project,” by R.L. Dimming was not convincing. While Tonawanda’s proposed power plant may remove some of coal’s pollutants, it will not remove the carbon dioxide pollution that causes global warming and climate change. Although touted as a way to reduce global warming, so-called clean-coal technology that captures and stores carbon dioxide is not proven or available. Click here.

POWERFUL SPEECHES by AL GORE in BALI

Videos of speeches by Al Gore at the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Bali, Indonesia
- Particularly moving parts: Planetary emergency, Arctic ice melting, Challenge to speak out, U.S. obstructing progress, Future hope (4 min.): Click here.
- Full speech (10 min.): Click here.

ENDORSE a PETITION ONLINE

Top TV reporters, like Buffalo's Tim Russert and Wolf Blitzer, are ignoring the top issue of global warming in their interviews and reports on the 2008 elections. What Are They Waiting For?
• Demand that they publicly acknowledge that the science of global warming is settled and that the climate crisis is an urgent threat.
• Insist that they prioritize global warming in their interviews with all candidates through the 2008 election.
The American public deserves to know where all the candidates stand on the climate crisis and the solutions they propose to address it. Click here to endorse the petition from the League of Conservation Voters.