Tag Archives: Global Warming

10/14/2011 Let's Unplug Dirty, Old Coal Plants – Political weakness keeps them polluting 30+ years too long

10/14/2011 EarthJustice Blog: Let’s Unplug Dirty, Old Coal Plants – Political weakness keeps them polluting 30+ years too long: Across the nation, old coal-fired power plants are gasping for their last breath, having survived long past their prime because of political favors and weak government regulations. They would have died decades ago if not for a fateful policy compromise in the late 1970s that exempted existing power plants from new air quality standards in the Clean Air Act.

The compromise was based on a prediction that the plants would be retired soon, but instead it gave them a whole new lease on life, with a free pass to pollute for another 30 plus years. And until recently, there was no end in sight.

These plants continue to cough up toxic pollutants like mercury, lead and arsenic into the air. They are by far the biggest producers of the power sector’s pollution, forcing millions of Americans to seek their own life support – in the form of respirators and inhalers – just to get through each day without an asthma attack.

Earthjustice litigation is taking steps to close the loopholes and retire dozens of the old plants, while cleaning up those that continue to operate. We are employing a multi-prong strategy to compel the Environmental Protection Agency to strengthen pollution standards based on the best available science and technology.

National environmental laws like the Clean Air and Clean Water acts are meant to be updated regularly to reflect the current science. Thanks to our litigation, the EPA has recently begun to deliver on the promise of our nation’s environmental laws by taking long overdue action on limiting mercury from coal, cleaning up the air in our national parks that is obscured by power plant haze, and setting national standards on water pollution. In addition, the EPA is currently on the hook for enforcing greenhouse gas emission standards, updating national standards for smog and soot.

Our goal is to end what amounts to government subsidizing of the coal power industry, and to invigorate the clean energy economy. That’s good for the climate, for our health—and for jobs. Early this year, a report by Ceres showed that the EPA’s two new air quality rules would create nearly 1.5 million jobs over the next five years because of pollution control equipment and jobs from clean energy development.

As EPA does its job and these new regulations are adopted, dirty coal plants are being forced to decide whether to pay the price of significant pollution upgrades – or shut down and replace that power with cleaner choices.

Of course, coal plant owners and their allies don’t want to have to make that choice. Even now, instead of focusing on ways to fix the economy, the coal industry is waging an all-out defensive attack on environmental protections that are good for the nation but threaten their industry’s bottom line.

Some coal plant operators have seen the writing on the wall. Since many plants are already past their prime, some are choosing to retire—a hard decision made all the easier by our litigation. For example, this spring the owner of the Trans Alta coal plant, Washington state’s largest source single source of air pollution, agreed to shut down the plant by 2025 after coming to the realization that installing the air pollution controls necessary to comply with air and water pollution standards was not a profitable venture. Currently we’re also stepping up efforts to shut down dirty, outdated coal plants in New York, Pennsylvania, Florida, Montana, Nevada, Texas, Tennessee, and the Midwest.

We’re also working to encourage clean energy alternatives. Our clean energy program includes preventing construction of transmission lines that favor coal over renewable energy sources and encouraging smart grid developments that rely on clean energy sources like wind and solar, strengthening efficiency standards for appliances and buildings, and pushing full implementation of state-level climate and renewable energy policies.

The nation is at an energy crossroads. One path cuts old ties and moves on to a clean energy future powered by a mix of next generation power sources. The other path prolongs our dependence on an energy source that is cooking the planet and making us sick. The choice is clear. Thank you for joining with us as we help build the clean energy path.

American Physical Society (APS): Nobel physicist quits US group over climate stance

Nobel physicist quits US group over climate stance: Norwegian physicist and Nobel laureate Ivar Giaever has quit a major US physics society due to its stance on global warming, a spokeswoman for the group told AFP Thursday. “I can confirm he has resigned,” American Physical Society spokeswoman Tawanda Johnson said, noting that Giaever, 82, sent a letter to that effect to the group’s executive director Kate Kirby on Tuesday. “His reason is that he takes issue with APS’s stance on climate change.”

The APS, which is a member organization of 48,000, adopted a national policy statement in 2007 which states: “The evidence is incontrovertible: Global warming is occurring.”

Last year another climate change skeptic, University of California professor Hal Lewis, left the group, claiming global warming was a “scam” and a “pseudoscientific fraud.”

In a statement issued after Lewis’s departure, APS said that “on the matter of global climate change, APS notes that virtually all reputable scientists agree… carbon dioxide is increasing in the atmosphere due to human activity.”

Giaever, who shared the 1973 Nobel Prize in Physics for his “experimental discoveries regarding tunneling phenomena in semiconductors,” did not respond to an AFP email requesting comment.

Johnson stressed that Giaever’s position represented the minority in the scientific community, and that while APS is “disappointed” at his departure it does not intend to change its position.

“We don’t have members resigning in droves or anything like that,” she said

Copyright © 2011 AFP. All rights reserved. More »
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Reuters: More Americans believe world is warming

Reuters: More Americans believe world is warming: by Timothy Gardner: WASHINGTON (Reuters) – More Americans than last year believe the world is warming and the change is likely influenced by the Republican presidential debates, a Reuters/Ipsos poll said on Thursday. The percentage of Americans who believe the Earth has been warming rose to 83 percent from 75 percent last year in the poll conducted Sept 8-12. Republican presidential candidates, aside from Jon Huntsman, have mostly blasted the idea that emissions from burning fossil fuels and other human actions are warming the planet. The current front-runner, Texas Governor Rick Perry, has accused scientists of manipulating climate data while Michele Bachmann has said climate change is a hoax.

As Americans watch Republicans debate the issue, they are forced to mull over what they think about global warming, said Jon Krosnick, a political science professor at Stanford University.

And what they think is also influenced by reports this year that global temperatures in 2010 were tied with 2005 to be the warmest year since the 1880s.

“That is exactly the kind of situation that will provoke the public to think about the issue in a way that they haven’t before,” Krosnick said about news reports on the Republicans denying climate change science.

WEATHER DISASTERS

This year has been a record year for the kind of costly weather disasters — including Hurricane Irene, which raked the East Coast — that scientists have warned would be more frequent with climate change.

The United States suffered 10 natural disasters in 2011 with economic losses of $1 billion or more, according to the National Weather Service.

Unlike many other issues that divide Republicans and Democratic voters, such as healthcare or how to deal with the deficit and debt, a majority of Americans from both major parties agree on global warming, the poll found. Some 72 percent of Republicans believe global warming is happening and 92 percent of Democrats do, it found.

Global warming could be an important issue in next year’s election, because some 15 percent of voters see it as their primary concern, said Krosnick, who is also a university fellow at the Resources for the Future think tank.

If President Barack Obama, a Democrat, can define himself as the environmental candidate, he could have a large advantage over a Republican, Krosnick said. If however, a Republican softens his or her stance on climate and Obama, who has failed to pass a climate bill in his first term, moves more to the center, it may not be a factor in the election.

Some 71 percent of the Americans who believe warming is happening think that it is caused either partly or mostly by humans, while 27 percent believe its is the result of natural causes, the poll found.

While more Americans believe in global warming, the skeptics are becoming more entrenched in their belief that it is not happening. In 2010 the certainty of skeptics was 35 percent, while it was 53 percent in 2011. Again, the Republican climate skeptics are influencing that, Krosnick said.

The Reuters/Ipsos poll of 1,134 adults, including 932 registered voters, had a margin of error of 3 percentage points for all respondents and 3.1 points for registered voters.

(Reporting by Timothy Gardner, Editing by Sandra Maler)

CENSORED NEWS: Navajo government ignores elderly without water

Navajo government ignores elderly without water: Navajo Nation government caters to coal mines and power plants, while Navajo elderly go without water By Brenda Norrell Censored News BIG MOUNTAIN, Ariz. — While Peabody Coal and power plants use the precious aquifer water here, Navajo elderly go without. Forgotten People shares the voices of Navajos resisting relocation, where Navajo elderly are forced to haul their water, elderly who are often ill and without transportation. The wells have been capped off and the springs are drying up. Still, the Navajo Nation leaders only make an occasional, superficial gesture at caring about the suffering of Navajo elderly without water. Instead, the Navajo government continues to focus on polluting and disease producing industries.

By ignoring the suffering of Navajos on Black Mesa, and instead catering to the needs of Peabody Coal, the United States government and other mining and power plant operations, the Navajo Nation government has engaged in a crime against humanity. While providing the Southwest cities with electricity produced with large quantities of pure water, the Navajo government has neglected to provide water for their own people.

The media has been a complicit partner in this crime. While failing to expose the suffering and injustice on Black Mesa, the media has continued to promote the polluting industries on the Navajo Nation, even cheerleading for more coal-fired power plants.

Coal-fired power plants not only use excessive water, but they are the primary cause of global warming and the melting of the Arctic, now causing Native villages to crash into the waters. The pollution from coal-fired power plants has resulted in habitat change in the far north, causing the deaths of polar bears, walruses and other wildlife.

Black Mesa comments from Forgotten People:
Pauline Whitesinger, Big Mountain speaks: We want to participate in a water hauling project. The wells throughout HPL (Hopi Partitioned Lands) have been capped off, fenced off, bulldozed and the natural water source near me is contaminated and unregulated. When I drink the water it hurts my throat and I have a reaction when I swallow it and get sick. I have no vehicle and have no access to safe drinking water. My livestock are thirsty. We are living under a State of Emergency! We are endangered, denied access to water, forced to travel over unpassable dirt roads and endure violations during our ceremonies that the Hopi Tribe says requires a permit to conduct. There are other water sources near me and they are all denied to me for my use. When I was offering a sacrament to the water the Hopi told me to leave the water alone, it does not belong to me. I speak on behalf of my people. We have brought our case and our words (as attached) to the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner (see link for UN OHCHR website), Congressional, federal, and tribal forums advocating for our human right to water and sanitation.

Caroline Tohannie, Black Mesa speaks: Our springs were our wetlands with cat tails and other wetlands growth. But they are no longer here. This is where we make offerings and get our healing medicine like cat tails or wreaths for ceremonial purposes. These are our sacred sites. The BIA made wells that had concrete covers and manual pumps. But BIA Rangers came around and disassembled them, taking the pumps out, unscrewing parts, taking off pipes. All the windmills in our region were capped off by the BIA. At first one windmill was capped off but we could reopen it at first but then found the BIA welded the cover shut with dirt over the well opening. There was no longer any way to get water from the well. At another windmill in the area, the BIA disassembled the windmill pump so it would not work. We have been fenced and capped off from access to water. This has created many problems for living things, even insects that need water, animals, birds and people. These tactics are being done to force us off our land so Peabody Coal Company can expand their mining operations.

Read more statements from Navajos on Black Mesa:

http://www.scribd.com/doc/61460412/8-2-2011-FP-SUBMITTED-Comments-to-President-Shelly-HPL-Right-to-Water

7/29/2011 NRDC Blog: With Media, Americans Focused on Debt Drama, Congress Attacks Environment

7/29/2011 NRDC: With Media, Americans Focused on Debt Drama, Congress Attacks Environment: Bob Keefe blog: It’s tough getting any news out of Washington these days that doesn’t involve the debt ceiling. Understandably, the political firestorm that has led our country to the brink of financial default has dominated headlines. With Washington and the world focused on the debt ceiling drama, hard-right House Republicans have launched the biggest congressional assault on the environment in history, attacking our fundamental environmental and public health protections in order to appease Tea Party ideologues and big business donors.

Weekends also find fewer Americans paying attention to what’s happening in Washington. And this weekend, the GOP-led House will take an unusual step and remain in session so they can take up more of the nearly 40 anti-environmental “riders” Republicans have attached to the Interior/EPA appropriations bill.

While you’re hopefully off enjoying the Great Outdoors, House Republicans will be pushing legislation that promises to destroy it.

Under GOP plans, coal mines will be able to dump more debris in our rivers and streams. Power plants and cement kilns will be able to pump more pollution into our air. And lands near the Grand Canyon could be opened for uranium mining.

Fortunately, the media is beginning to realize the unprecedented damage these anti-environmental riders could do to our environment and to America as we know it.

Leslie Kaufman of The New York Times picked up on the story Thursday.

“With the nation’s attention diverted by the drama over the debt ceiling, Republicans in the House of Representatives are loading up an appropriations bill 39 ways — and counting — to significantly curtail environmental regulation,” she points out.

The Washington Post’s Darryl Fears and Juliet Eilperin meanwhile, just logged in here.

In the Grand Canyon State, the Arizona Republic weighed in with one of the best editorials I’ve seen on what’s at stake.

“This bill does much more than just spread the pain of inevitable budget cuts,” the Republic writes. “It imposes changes that will undo things the American people want done. This is at odds with this nation’s commitment to preserving its astonishingly rich natural heritage.”

In Ohio, where the Cuyahoga River once caught on fire before we had the Clean Water Act that we (at least for now) still have, the Toledo Blade has describes the state of our the environment and our public health simply but succinctly: “Under Seige”

The debt ceiling and the separate deficit debate will likely be front page news for a while. Rightfully so.

But it’s important to look behind the top headlines of the day to see what our elected officials are doing when our attention is diverted.

Fortunately, the press is starting to make it clear what out-of-touch House members are doing to our environment and public health protections.

Hopefully, we’ll all pay attention.

4/26/2011 Grist: Climate Change Climate legislation advances in 16 major countries

4/26/2011 Grist: Climate Change Climate legislation advances in 16 major countries by Jake Schmidt Default badge avatar for Jake Schmidt A new study [PDF] released by GLOBE international — a coalition of legislators from around the world — found that “climate change is featuring prominently on the legislative agenda across the 16 major economies.” The study, conducted by the Grantham Institute for Climate Change at the London School of Economics, documents the kinds of actions that countries are taking at home to reduce their emissions. While it doesn’t tell us the impact of those measures, it does show a growing commitment of countries to change their laws, policies, and regulations to address their carbon pollution. This is a focus that recently emerged at the global warming negotiations when developed and developing countries presented details on the actions they are taking to meet their commitments to reduce emissions. These are the kinds of actions that are essential to addressing global warming as we ultimately need countries acting, not just saying they’ll act.

While not intended to be a full list of all the measures that a country is taking — they don’t include state/provincial measures — the report does provide a good glimpse into the actions in these 16 countries (the report provides good details for each country). The countries documented are the biggest emitting countries and collectively account for over 70 percent of the world’s emissions, so the actions that they take at home are crucial to solving this challenge. Here is a quick summary of the types of actions that these countries are taking and the coverage of those actions:

international climate legislation As the report [PDF] notes:

This activity suggests that the difficult talks in Copenhagen, and the subsequent slow progress in the formal negotiations, has not diminished countries’ appetite for developing climate change legislation, perhaps recognizing that many of the actions required to reduce emissions and to adapt to a changing climate, are directly in the national interest.

This is a very positive development, as countries are now motivated by self-interest to act. The global negotiations put a spotlight on this action and reinforce the need for countries to come prepared with commitments and actions. In the lead-in to Copenhagen, countries knew that the spotlight would be on them, so they needed to come prepared with real commitments to address their carbon pollution.

In the lead-in to the next annual high-level global warming negotiations in Durban, South Africa, let’s hope that countries don’t lose sight of what ultimately matters: what actions countries are taking at home and what kind of impacts are those actions having in reducing carbon pollution.

They’ll have another chance in Durban this December, and then in June 2012 when world leaders meet at the Rio+20 Earth Summit to take further steps to deploy clean energy, improve their energy efficiency, and reduce deforestation emissions. I hope they take advantage of these opportunities. The spotlight will be on them.

I’m the international climate policy director at Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). I blog regularly on international climate change issues and the negotiations on NRDC’s Switchboard. And I twitter at: http://twitter.com/jschmidtnrdc

Forgotten People pull out of Navajo Generating Station (NGS) EN3 meetings

http://en3pro.com/ Forgotten People pull out Friday, March 18th, 2011: Forgotten People decided after much thought and discussion to join all the grassroots and environmental organizations pulling out of the NGS EN3 process. Instead, we will all spend Friday, March 25th together to discuss our next steps to ensure US EPA Clean Air, BART compliance and a transition to renewable energy. Forgotten People does not want to be used as a “checklist” for community input to stall US EPA BART regulations. As directly affected people we see NO real timeline for a transition to renewable energy on the table, NO serious community input in your processes, no series of community tours to allow real input, NO response to our United Nations case submitted 3/1/2011 for the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation…

From the beginning of our participation in this process, we have clearly stated our goal and objective for a transition time line to clean energy.

Unfortunately what we see is a process that seeks to keep the NGS running and stall US EPA Clean Air regs. What the NGS owners and stakeholders will miss seeing first hand on a community tour is significant: Coal dust over Black Mesa, desecrated cemeteries, burial and sacred site desecration, open graves marked by archeologists stakes, people who do not know where their family members are buried in areas that were mined, dismantled wells, water sources degraded and diminished like sacred Sagebrush Spring, people living without electricity and piped water, and impassable, ungraded dirt roads that Peabody refused to grade under a Navajo Nation State of Emergency. It is for these reasons that the people cannot afford to be used to keep the NGS operating. We strongly believe the time for burning fossil fuels is coming to an end and it is time to consider the health of the people and the environment.

Please check out Forgotten People’s case submitted to the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on 3/1/2011.

scribd.com Scribd.com Scribd is the world’s largest social reading and publishing site.

Please check out Forgotten People’s PowerPoint Presentation on the NGS website: Forgotten People and NGS – Securing Economic & Climate Justice

Forgotten People NGS PowerPoint Presentation link.

Please check out the US EPA News Release: EPA Proposes First National Standard for Mercury Pollution from Power Plants / Mercury and air toxics standards represent one of strongest health protections from air pollution since passage of Clean Air Act

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Category: NGS Project
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