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Posts Tagged ‘EPA’

Today’s Flickr Photo

On Fort Lauderdale beach in Florida. Flickr photo by ticktockdoc.

If you read one thing today . . .

Politico’s David Rogers sat down with outgoing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and talked about the highlights of her term — passing health care legislation and financial reform.

“We came here to do a job, and we did the job. … Those two issues, Wall Street reform and health care, were two that changed the leverage for the American people. Whether you were a consumer or a patient, the leverage is now with you. And that, for me, is why I am a Democrat: to have the leverage to be with the average person.”

There’s some denial to be sure. In the course of an interview, Pelosi repeatedly spoke of her ranking Democrats as committee “chairmen” when they won’t be in the new Congress. Four years of restrictive rules on House debate seem a lost memory: “I’m thoroughly agnostic. If Republicans have a good idea, let’s go with it.”

And by her reckoning, little or nothing about November’s losses can be attributed to the enactment of health care reform.

“If we had never passed the bill, we would still have had these losses. We were told a year ago: ‘If you’re anywhere near 10 percent unemployment, there’s no chance you can hold the majority.’”

“Nothing compares — in anything I have ever done — with passing the health care bill.”

Overheard:

Someone should really do something about those damn environmentalists and their need to protect us from companies that want to pollute our air and water.  Have no fear, Rep.-elect Bill Flores (R-Texas) is here and he’s ready to shut down the Environmental Protection Agency. Think Progress has a snippet from his appearance on something called the Tea Party Internet Radio:

I can tell you the House as a whole, the Republicans in the House as a whole want to get the EPA shut down on these bunny trails that’s going down that are throwing people out of work — particularly the way it’s abusing Texas. And I think that Texas can count on getting some relief from the EPA within the first few months of this Congress because they really have gone overboard.

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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.

Overheard:

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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The next step

Yesterday, President Barack Obama called on a federal appeals court to reinstate the moratorium on deepwater drilling. Responding to a complaint filed by the oil industry, a Louisiana judge overturned the ban back on June 24.

If we have learned anything from this spill it is that we know very little about the risks of offshore drilling. Oil companies have proven they do not have the ability to handle these massive disasters. Until mechanisms are put in place that can effectively control and regulate oil extraction, deepwater drilling must remain suspended. Even our best scientists and workers cannot handle one oil spill. We certainly couldn’t even begin to handle two, especially during hurricane season when the winds and rough seas will make cleanup and containment even harder.

The president is right that oil drilling must remain suspended. Hopefully, the appeals court will agree.

Whatever the appeals court decides, the next step will be to establish a new team to regulate the industry. Experts and commentators, including Public Citizen President Robert Weissman, have suggested these people could come from existing agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency or the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration. Suspending drilling is not enough because eventually, oil drilling will have to resume. When it does, there needs to be a strong regulation process in place to help prevent future catastrophes.

Don’t you think it’s time to develop some cleaner energy options? In the meantime, tell President Obama to ban offshore drilling.

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Can you believe that tomorrow, as oil continues to spew into the ocean, Congress is preparing to vote on a measure that would weaken regulations for the fossil fuel industry and other big polluters?

Believe it. Senator Lisa Murkowski’s (D-Alaska) amendment to take away the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) authority to regulate pollution that contributes to global warming is scheduled for a vote tomorrow.

Tell your senators to vote “No!” to the Murkowski amendment (officially “S.J. Res. 26”).

The Murkowski amendment seeks to reverse the EPA’s critical finding that greenhouse gas pollution endangers public health. This endangerment finding triggers the Clean Air Act and prompts the EPA to take action toward curbing pollution that contributes to climate change.

We know that the fossil fuel industries like the amendment — they helped write it. Jeff Holmsted, a lobbyist for energy giants like Southern Co. and Duke Energy, admitted to The Washington Post that he worked with Murkowski’s staff on the exact language of the amendment.

This is after Murkowski received more than $124,500 from Holmsted’s clients.

Don’t let big polluters use their big campaign contributions to rewrite the law to pollute more! Tell your senators to protect the Clean Air Act.

Murkowski’s attempt to eviscerate our best existing tool for reducing greenhouse gas pollution not only threatens our ability to reduce the carbon in our atmosphere but also serves as another shameful example of the role big polluters are playing in stalling climate change action.

Please tell the Senate today that we need the Clean Air Act to curb global warming and to oppose the attempts of Murkowski and big polluters to gut the Clean Air Act.

Allison Fisher is the energy organizer for Public Citizen.

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How much does a pro-pollution amendment cost? From the looks of recent reports about the relationship between Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and a big energy lobbyist, at least about $35,000. That’s how much Duke Energy, Southern Co. and their executives gave to Sen. Murkowski’s campaign and leadership PAC so far in the cycle, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

It’s no surprise then that Jeffery Holmstead, a registered lobbyist for clients Duke Energy and Southern Co., had extraordinary access to Murkowski – access to help craft an amendment to allow his clients to continue polluting. The amendment proposed by Sen. Murkowski would gut key provisions of the Clean Air Act. The Washington Post reports that Holmstead (also a former top official at the Environmental Protection Agency under George W. Bush) and another lobbyist, Roger Matella, were very hands-on in drafting the amendment:

In an interview, Holmstead said of the Murkowski amendment, ‘I certainly worked with her staff’ on the exact phrasing of the measure in September.

The Obama Administration has moved forward to regulate pollutants that cause climate change using the Clean Air Act. This critical step to rebuild our economy with clean energy, and to protect our health and our climate from global warming and pollution is under attack by the big polluters. And they have friends in high places. (more…)

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In this recent Huffington Post article from Ryan Grim, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) compares the creation of an independent Consumer Financial Protection Agency (CFPA) to the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Apparently, conservatives like Hatch think that comparing the CFPA to the federal regulator charged with preventing big business from destroying the environment and exposing the public to toxic chemicals is a good argument against it. Seriously. Does anyone actually think we would be better off without an EPA, or if industries had MORE freedom to pollute?

While so many Americans struggle in today’s gloomy economy– in no small part as a result of the toxic banking products polluting our economic environment — it’s more important than ever to realize that what’s good for Wall Street’s bottom line isn’t necessarily what’s good for the rest of us. Just like we need an agency to keep mercury and lead out of our drinking water, we need one to keep exploding mortgages and predatory loans out of our communities.

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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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