Tag Archives: Nrdc

One More Reason to Oppose Keystone XL Pipeline: Questions about State Department Handling of Review

10/28/2011 Frances Beinecke’s Blog: One More Reason to Oppose Keystone XL Pipeline: Questions about State Department Handling of Review: Today I joined several environmental leaders in calling for the State Department to conduct an investigation into the department’s handling of the proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. More than a dozen members of Congress also requested an inquiry into potential conflicts of interest.

Our colleagues at Friends of the Earth examined relevant documents and found that TransCanada, the company behind Keystone XL, was allowed to screen the companies bidding to do the project’s environmental impact study; the company that was chosen listed TransCanada as a “major client.” It also does business for many of the same oil companies that stand to benefit from the pipeline.

Meanwhile, State Department officials coached TransCanada on messaging—and seemed to be in cahoots with them on skirting safety protections.  From the start, they have shown a disposition towards the pipeline proponents at the expense of public – exemplified by the Secretary’s comments a year ago that she was “inclined” to approve it.

The Keystone XL pipeline is a massive, destructive proposal and the more we learn about it, the more objections we have. Now those concerned about integrity in government are joining the many other Americans opposed to this dangerous project.

Citizens alarmed by climate change do not want the Keystone XL pipeline to lock America into decades of one of the dirtiest, most carbon-intensive fuels on the planet.

Farmers, ranchers, and businesspeople living along Keystone XL’s route do not want to put their communities, rangeland, and water supply at risk of pipeline eruptions.

And national security experts are speaking out about the danger of deepening America’s fossil fuel addiction with tar sands oil. Retired Army Brigadier General Steven M. Anderson wrote a powerful piece in The Hill that the pipeline the “will comfort our enemies.” He refutes TransCanada’s claims that the pipeline will enhance America’s national security and says:

This pipeline would move dirty oil from Canada to refineries in Texas and would set back our renewable energy efforts for at least two decades, much to our enemies’ delight.

Whose assessment of national security would you believe: The foreign oil company that stands to profit by exporting tar sands oil to Asia and Europe? Or the American general who served as the military’s senior logistician in Iraq in 2006 and 2007?

The drumbeat of opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline is growing louder and louder. Citizens are asking their elected officials about it at town hall meetings, and President Obama has been met with protests and questions from a range of constituents – from high donors to students as he travels the country.

You can make your protest heard by signing up for the November 6 event outside the White House here or by sending a message President Obama at www.StopTar.org.

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.

7/30/2011 NRDC Urgent: Tell your representative to remove a toxic polluter giveaway from a spending bil

7/30/2011 NRDC Urgent: Tell your representative to remove a toxic polluter giveaway from a spending bill: The House of Representatives is currently debating the funding bill for the Environmental Protection Agency and other environmental agencies for fiscal year 2012. In its present form, the bill would cause unprecedented damage to the environment and public health, not only through funding cuts but also via policy provisions that would prevent the government from safeguarding the public. These policy “riders” would not save the government one cent, but they would block protections for health, clean air and water, lands and wildlife.

One especially egregious rider would allow utilities and other polluters to continue spewing mercury, smog, soot and other toxic air pollution at current rates. The EPA intends to enact standards to reduce this pollution, which would save tens of thousands of lives and help reduce children’s exposure to mercury, a dangerous brain poison that especially affects developing fetuses, infants and toddlers. But the rider would prevent the EPA from acting.

Some members of Congress are standing up to this polluter-driven agenda. Rep. Capps (D-CA) has introduced an amendment to remove the polluter giveaway rider and allow the EPA to do its job to protect us from mercury and other toxic air pollution.

The House could vote on the Capps amendment as soon as tomorrow.

What to do
Send a message right away urging your representative to vote Yes for the Capps amendment to the Interior/EPA appropriations bill (H.R. 2584) and allow the EPA to protect us from dangerous power plant pollution.

7/13/2011 NRDC Elly Pepper's Blog: Explaining Extinction

Elly Pepper’s Blog: Explaining Extinction: Why the Interior Appropriations Bill’s Extinction Rider Is So Bad: Have you ever tried to explain extinction to a kid? It’s not easy. You’ll inevitably get questions like: “There isn’t even one?” “Couldn’t they come back some day?” “So I won’t ever get to see one?” They just can’t fathom that something could be completely erased from nature.

I can see where they’re coming from—the permanence of extinction is hard to wrap your head around. And it’s what makes it so disturbing that the GOP is messing with a law that prevents extinction in a must-pass budget bill. Indeed, the 2012 House Interior Appropriations bill contains a rider that would bar all new listings of endangered species and critical habitat designations (p. 8), but allow the delisting and downlisting of species. While Rep. Dicks (D-WA) attempted to strike this harmful provision during the Appropriations Committee markup yesterday, his amendment failed by a vote of 23-26 (notably, 3 Republicans – Reps. Dent (R-PA), Frelinghuysen (R-NJ), and Wolf (R-VA) – crossed party lines to support endangered species). Next stop: a vote by the full House.

In defending the extinction rider, Republicans claim that they’re just trying to modify the Endangered Species Act to make it more effective and more manageable for the Fish and Wildlife Service to implement. Then why does the provision prevent any new species from being protected and prohibit the Fish and Wildlife Service from doing its job? Call me crazy, but that sounds like an attempt to make the Act as ineffective as possible!

Members supporting the extinction rider don’t think enough species are being recovered under the Endangered Species Act. But species driven to the brink of extinction (which is essentially what it takes to receive protection under the Act), aren’t going to recover overnight. Instead, it takes time and hard work. Since the Endangered Species Act has only been around since 1973, most listed species haven’t been protected long enough to recover to the point of delisting. However, thanks to the Act, most of them now have stable populations, which is a huge accomplishment!

Photo Courtsey of Fish and Wildlife Service

Republicans also claim that this provision will save money. Wrong again! Instead, barring FWS from designating critical habitat for currently listed species would nullify the most effective means of endangered species protection, leading to prolonged recoveries that will cost taxpayers more money in the long run. Further, preventing listings and critical habitat designations will lead to the extinctions of species that provide us with quantifiable benefits, such as pest control that reduces pesticide costs for farmers.

Obviously, Representatives supporting this terrible rider are listening to oil companies, developers, and corporate polluters—not the American public, the vast majority of which love wildlife. A Harris Interactive Poll conducted this year found that Americans strongly support the Endangered Species Act. Indeed, 92% of respondents agreed that decisions about wildlife management and which animals need protection should be made by scientists—not politicians. Further, 90% agreed that the Endangered Species Act has helped hundreds of species recover from the brink of extinction. Plus, every year, Americans spend about $18 billion just to watch wildlife.

Kids don’t understand extinction because it’s just so horrible. On the other hand, politicians don’t understand just how horrible it is. We must continue to emphasize to them that once these plants and animals are gone, we can’t bring them back. And we must remind them that if this provision passes, we’re going to have a lot of explaining to do.