Posts Tagged ‘coal’

Today’s Flickr photo

Flickr photo by alkhodarev.

If you read one thing today . . .

Now that climate legislation in Congress is all but dead for at least the next two years, all eyes will be focused on the EPA, which has the authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions. The question, David Roberts write in Grist, is how much power does the EPA actually have in this area and will it use it? The answer is bound to leave those who have fought for climate change solutions a little frustrated.

Documents released early this week finally start to offer a glimpse into EPA thinking. Long story short: Climate hawks shouldn’t expect much from these upcoming regulations. They won’t be a substitute for the climate bill. Not even close.

Here’s the basic problem the EPA faces: The best way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from stationary sources — primarily power plants — is to approach the situation holistically: shut down a bunch of dirty power plants, build a bunch of clean power plants, and push hard on efficiency to cover the cost differential and protect ratepayers. Legislation could have done that. EPA can’t. EPA can’t make anybody build anything.


In a WaPo op-ed this past weekend former ABC Nightline host Ted Koppel compared Keith Olbermann and other partisan cable news show hosts to huckster Bernie Madoff, who told his investors what they wanted to hear, instead of the truth. Olbermann, fresh off his brief suspension for contributing to three Democrats, fired back at the end of his Monday show:

“I may ultimately be judged to have been wrong in what I am doing. Mr. Koppel does not have to wait,” Olbermann said. “The kind of television journalism he eulogizes failed this country because when truth was needed, all we got were facts — most of which were lies anyway. The journalism failed, and those who practiced it failed, and Mr. Koppel failed. I don’t know that I’m doing it exactly right here. I’m trying. I have to. Because whatever that television news was before — now we have to fix it.”

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Congrats to James Ploeser and Jamie Trowbridge for wrapping up the first week of the Climate Reality Tour, a cross-country bike ride to raise awareness about the climate change crisis. The pair left Washington, D.C. on Oct. 8 and plan to arrive in Cancún, Mexico in time for the United Nations climate negotiations starting Nov. 29 . They spent their first week riding through Appalachian coal country, talking to residents and activists, ending their first week with a talk on the University of Louisville campus in Kentucky.

Ploeser, who is taking leave as an organizer for Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch division, and Trowbridge are documenting the trip on their blog at www.ClimateRealityTour.org and on Facebook. Ploeser explained the motivation behind the ride:

We’re calling our ride the Climate Reality Tour – because the U.S. needs a reality check, not just about global warming, but about the economic model that creates it, one that we’ve helped export over the whole world. We believe that to solve the climate crisis we must undo the root causes of global warming – namely our unfair global economy that pits working people against one another, and against our shared environment.

It was devastating to see already-compromised climate legislation die in the U.S. Congress a few weeks back. As concerned global citizens, we clearly need a new approach. We believe that a holistic campaign for a sustainable global economy could be a winning recipe. It’s going to take a unified, diverse, massive movement to win that sort of change. We hope that by facilitating discussions on root causes and highlighting the connections between our many movements, we’ll help sew, fertilize, and cross-pollinate the seeds of change.

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Peter Slavin writes in the L.A. Times about Bo Webb and how he became a leading organizer against mountaintop removal:

“All up and down … Coal River, people have cancer.”

[Webb] rattles off the names of neighbors and others stricken with the disease, including two boys across the river: a 12-year-old who died last year and a 14-year-old who is dying.

“They’re killing us, and purposely,” he charges. “They want us out of here.” Activists have long maintained that Massey wants to pursue mountaintop removal without people around to slow it down.

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Is it strange that an economist at the Office of Management and Budget would attack the cost of a new clean air rule? Not when you consider the background of the economist, Randall Lutter, who is assigned to OMB from the Food and Drug Administration.

According to emails obtained by the Washington Post, statements from Lutter such as: “Are these really instances of zero-cost emissions reductions, or are they instead instances of emissions reductions that should already be in the baseline?” provide agencies like EPA cover in weakening regulations that protect the public.

But before Lutter was at FDA, he was a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, which famously offered scientists $10,000 to undermine the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report in 2007. The AEI has taken aim at EPA’s role in combating climate change, a recent post on AEI’s Enterprise blog compared EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson to Dirty Harry: “You can just see Jackson standing there with a .44 magnum in her hand, and a steely glint in her eye, telling industry (more…)

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Our Texas office is taking the fight against new coal-fired power plants to neighboring Arkansas, where two proposed plants would impact the entire region. Besides adding to the problem of global warming, the pollution from coal-fired power plants is linked to numerous other health maladies, including learning defects in children. As part of the campaign against new coal plants, Public Citizen and other environmental groups recently hosted screenings of “Fighting Goliath: Texas Coal Wars,” a documentary produced by Robert Redford that chronicles the fight against several new coal power plants in Texas. Public Citizen staffer Ryan Rittenhouse blogs about the Arkansas campaign on Texas Vox, the new blog written by our Texas office. Find out more about the fight against coal on our recently revamped Coal Block Web site.

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