Climate Crossroads Blog
Posted by: Heather M at 10:39AM PST on June 30, 2009
This is a guest post from Jesse Prentice-Dunn of the Sierra Club Green Transportation Campaign.
Great news! After four years of waiting and a misguided rejection by the Bush Administration, the EPA has finally granted California the waiver necessary to implement its clean car standards. This is a real victory for California and the fourteen other states that have adopted the greenhouse gas emissions standards for vehicles.
California's standards, which require automakers to sell cleaner, more efficient vehicles, are more stringent than the current national fuel economy regulations and will cut oil consumption and global warming pollution. While new national greenhouse gas standards for vehicles will apply to vehicles in 2012-2016, this decision will allow California and other states to implement tailpipe standards in the years leading up to 2012. In 2010, automakers will have to meet California's greenhouse gas standards (PDF) in California, Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Washington. In 2011, Maryland and New Mexico will join the program.
It's important to note that California retains the Clean Air Act authority to set global warming standards in the future. In adopting clean car standards, California has proven that it can lead the nation in developing policies that will curb global warming and drive innovation.
Also, check out California's Environmental Performance label for vehicles (the image above), which allows consumers to see how a new vehicle stacks up against others in terms of greenhouse gas and smog forming emissions. Eight states have adopted California's Environmental Performance label. While automakers must make cleaner vehicles, providing consumers with this information will allow them to factor global warming and pollution into their purchasing decisions.
So happy Waiver Day, everyone! Granting the California waiver is yet another concrete step by the Obama Administration to reduce emissions – let's keep this snowball rolling downhill!
Posted by: Heather M at 6:24AM PST on June 30, 2009
This is great news for the public's right to know. On the heels of the Sierra Club filing a Freedom of Information Act request two weeks ago requesting that the government release the list of 44 coal ash storage sites deemed "high risk" - today the Environmental Protection Agency did release that list.
UPDATE: We've mapped all 44 sites onto Google Maps so you can see just where all these high-risk coal ash storage sites are. Take a look.You can find the list right here on the EPA website. The list breaks down like this:
So Arizona, North Carolina, Kentucky and Ohio have the brunt of these high-risk coal ash storage sites. When thinking back to the Tennessee Valley Authority coal ash tragedy in Harriman, TN, this past December, this certainly makes one nervous.
Looks like the EPA is feeling similarly:
“The presence of liquid coal ash impoundments near our homes, schools and business could pose a serious risk to life and property in the event of an impoundment rupture” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. “By compiling a list of these facilities, EPA will be better able to identify and reduce potential risks by working with states and local emergency responders.”
EPA needs to regulate coal ash because it is a hazardous substance. You can tell your Senators to stand up to the coal industry and support strong coal ash regulations.
You can also read our statement about the coal ash site posting. To learn more about coal ash and its risks, please take a look at the coal ash fact sheet we produced with EarthJustice (PDF).
Posted by: CityCyclist at 5:03PM PST on June 29, 2009
While Congress sort of acts like it's finally taking climate change seriously by passing an energy bill, the folks at Taco Bell have truly thought "outside the bun." Who knew that eating a taco could scrub CO2 from the atmosphere? (Apparently, the folks at The Onion.)
Posted by: Nithin Coca at 4:20PM PST on June 29, 2009
Welcome Malia, one of our media interns for the summer. she'll be posting on CC weekly!
Yesterday, the California Air Resources Control Board voted in favor of several green regulations.
Among the most effective of these regulations requires all new cars sold in the state of California to have energy efficient windshields by 2012. These windshields will prevent 45% of the sun’s total heat producing rays from entering the car meaning a reduction in the use of the air conditioner, an increase in fuel efficiency and an overall reduction of greenhouse emissions. Moreover, by 2016, car manufacturers will be mandated to install windows in new cars that prevent over 60% of heat producing rays from entering the car.
Experts calculate that these two new measures will be the equivalent to taking nearly 140,000 cars off the road. Of course, we could just ask people to stop using their air conditioning to eliminate even more greenhouse gasses, but this is just one small step in making California comfortable and even more ahead of the curve.
On top of the new car regulations, the board also voted to require methane controls in 14 city landfills by 2012 and is estimated to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 1.5 million metric tons! This is great news, but why not require methane controls on all landfills? 14 sounds like a pretty slim number.
Although more can always be done, all of these new regulations are small steps to making California the fleeting example of how green the USA can be. One last question, why wasn’t this done earlier?
Posted by: CityCyclist at 8:45AM PST on June 29, 2009
Last week's issue of The New Yorker featured a profile of NASA scientist James Hansen that coincidentally coincided with his being arrested at a coal demonstration. The profile was by Elizbeth Kolbert, who's written more must-read articles about the climate crisis than just about anyone I can think of. So why-oh-why did the magazine make that piece available online only for subscribers?
Well, Kolbert did blog about Hansen's arrest, and you can find The New Yorker in just about any library. Or, for $4.99, you can access that whole issue online.
Or you can take it from someone who did read the article: Big Coal must be stopped.
Posted by: Carl Pope at 8:20AM PST on June 29, 2009
Late last Friday afternoon, my cell phone signaled I had a text message -- one that I had been waiting for.
It was from our policy director, Debbie Sease, letting me know that, by the narrowest of margins, 219 to 212, the House of Representatives had just passed the Waxman-Markey climate bill, a critical next step in the success of America's struggle to become part of the solution, not the problem, in solving the climate crisis.
This victory came only after the Club, its allies in the faith community, the hip-hop community, organized labor, business, scientists, and the environmental community pulled out all the stops in an unprecedented mobilization. And it came for a piece of legislation that lays the groundwork -- but does not do the job. A shift of the votes of only four members of the House would have defeated it, and sent us all back to square one.
Depending on how you look at it, that is all either good news or bad news. The bad news is how far America had to go -- and still has to go -- in creating a national dialogue about energy and climate, one that looks to the future and not the past, one that brings us together as a nation in a transformational effort to redefine the meaning of the 21st century. This bill should have been able to be stronger -- the vote should not have been this close -- we should not have had to work this hard.
The good news is that, thanks to leadership by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman, Subcommittee Chairman Ed Markey, and President Obama, we kept on moving -- America did not stall out. And the Sierra Club was a critical part of the chorus of hope that kept this momentum going.
But now we must make this moment signify not just the laying of a cornerstone but the launch of a continuous commitment to the construction of a great Cathedral of the future -- one in which people don't measure their success, or their prosperity, or their power, by the short-sightedness of their vision and the rapidity with which they are spending down their inheritance.
As is always true in the legislative process, there was ugly sausage-making -- and much that was transactional, compromising, and inadequate. But as Winston Churchill said, "You can count on the United States of America to do the right thing -- after exhausting all the alternatives." Perhaps, tonight, we had exhausted all the alternatives.
Posted by: Nithin Coca at 11:32AM PST on June 26, 2009
This week's post from Sierra Club Media Intern Natalie Gaber
In case you hadn’t noticed, life is more expensive these days, and it doesn’t seem to be getting any cheaper.
As a Berkeley resident commuting to San Francisco three days a week, I’ve especially noticed this cost-of-living increase in public transportation Three of the Bay Area’s largest public transportation agencies, BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit), AC Transit, and MUNI, are all sticking customers with fare increases starting July 1.
BART, the local subway system, is faced with a $249 million budget deficit over the next four years and is implementing a 6.1% cost-of-living based fare increase, which amounts to an average fare increase of 20 cents.
To add insult to injury, the San Francisco Chronicle reports that AC Transit is considering service cuts of up to 15%, which translates to 905 hours of weekday operation and 458 hours of weekend operations disappearing. Clarence Johnson, spokesman for AC Transit, says he hopes the cuts won’t be “too draconian,” but who is he kidding? If AC Transit revenue is down, then they should be providing incentives for people to ride the bus, not reasons to avoid the bus (i.e. increasing fares and cutting service).
The epidemic of rising fares and service cuts for public transit is not unique to San Francisco, or even to California. The New York Metropolitan Transit Authority, the Capital Metro system in Austin, Texas, the Kalamazoo County Transportation Authority, the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority, and countless other agencies across the nation are hiking fares and slashing service, all in the name of hulking budget deficits.
So, what’s a working girl to do?
The answer: bike to work.
Fortunately, biking in San Francisco is set to get a whole lot easier if all goes according to plan. After a 3-year battle between various city agencies, organizations, and courts, approval is expected this week for a plan to improve biking conditions on San Francisco’s streets. According to the Chronicle, the approval would give a green light for the city to start striping 34 miles worth of new bike lanes, installing bike racks, and engaging in 46 other neighborhood-specific projects, such as removing traffic lanes on Second Street and prohibiting left hand turns at various intersections. All these plans are consistent with San Francisco’s “transit first” policy, which has been mandated by voters and encourages alternatives to personal car transportation.
San Francisco’s plans come in the wake of similar measures taken by New York City, where the Department of Transportation is already leading the way for bike-friendly cities with its “Sustainable Streets” program. The program includes expanding “alternative mobility strategies,” such as biking, and D.O.T. Commissioner Sadik-Khan says that NYC is poised to “become the biking capital of the nation.” This is a bold claim, but with over 200 miles of new bike lanes installed in the city and a public bike-sharing program in the works, Sadik-Khan may be justified in her audacity. Other cities, such as Portland, Oregon, have enacted similarly impressive bike programs, showing that bicycle commuting is feasible, and, given the current state of the financial world, an increasingly attractive alternative.
The bottom line: public transportation is expensive, and it’s about to get more expensive. It’s still cheaper than driving in most circumstances, and it definitely has a lower carbon footprint, so if faced with the choice between driving somewhere and taking public transportation, definitely opt for the latter. But, whenever possible, your go-to transportation method should involve two wheels and a set of handlebars. It’s free, it’s convenient (and getting more convenient every day), it’s good exercise, and it’s downright fun.
Posted by: Heather M at 7:35AM PST on June 26, 2009
We're all closely watching C-Span this morning as the U.S. House of Representatives debates the American Clean Energy & Security Act (ACES). We've been hearing that a vote will come around 2pm. If you can't watch C-Span to hear all the debate, then you can follow along on Twitter. Many reporters and other folks are tweeting the debate and using the #aces hashtag, including excellent Grist reporter Kate Sheppard.
Want to learn more about ACES? Check out our information page - and take action by calling or emailing your member of Congress right now to tell them to support ACES. Reach your member at 202-224-3121, or use this webpage.
Stay tuned - it's a big day for clean energy and the fight against global warming.
Posted by: John Byrne Barry at 4:03PM PST on June 25, 2009
When I started this writing this Lazy Organic Gardener blog last fall, I wrote a manifesto of sorts entitled “Who am I to Write About Gardening?” We were just getting started with Climate Crossroads and so the number of readers of that post was in the low single digits, if that high. Now that I’ve been writing for the past couple of months, I thought I’d revisit that introduction.
I am a gardener, as in a gardener is one who gardens. But I am surrounded by serious gardeners – my next door neighbor Sally and my across-the-street neighbors Keenie and Carol – that I feel like an amateur compared to them.
Their gardens are prettier and more prolific than mine.
They know the latin names of plants. They have more flowers and fewer weeds.
Most of all, they work harder.
But last year, one of them called me the smartest gardener on the block -- and I took that as a compliment even though I know it's hyperbole.
I earned my reputation because I manage to have a relatively attractive and productive garden without investing anywhere near as much time or money as they do.
[Here's a slide show of my backyard garden from last weekend. The flowers – those magenta ones are lavatera and the orange ones are peruvian lilies, both easy plants that I rely on for bursts of spring color – are a little past their prime and the vegetables are mostly just getting started. You can see the baby sunburst squashes as well as my first-ever blueberries.]
In my humbler, younger years, I might have said I'm not a real gardener. But I am. What I'm not is an expert. My goal in writing this blog is to share my experiences and ideas and encourage you to share yours.
One of my gardening books is an counterculture classic by John Jeavons called "How to Grow More Vegetables Than You Ever Thought Possible on Less Land Than You Can Imagine." A friend used to call it "How to Grow More Vegetables Than You Ever Thought Possible By Doing More Work Than You Could Possibly Imagine." Jeavons is a proponent of bio-intensive farming, which uses less water, land, machinery, and fertilizer, but which, he would freely admit, requires more human labor.
I support that theoretically, and I even live it more often than I care to admit, but over the years, I've developed my own system based on doing less. Spending less. Watering less. Sweating less. Weeding less.
I'm not advocating laziness per se, only making gardening a pleasure instead of a burden.
And I'm not saying my way is better -- I promise to keep my soapbox rants to a minimum -- but I do have one guiding principle that I'm absolute about, which is that my garden is organic.
If my livelihood depended on what I grew, and some pest or weed was wreaking havoc, maybe I'd consider using some toxic substance to get rid of it. Maybe. My goal is not hauling in the biggest harvest or sporting the showiest flowers -- it's nurturing a healthy and sustainable space, feeding and giving back to the soil, welcoming wildlife, and all that natural, groovy stuff. If a plant can't survive without pesticides or herbicides or lots of work, well, it doesn't belong in my garden.
Tell me about your garden, easy or not.
Posted by: Nithin Coca at 11:29AM PST on June 25, 2009
Sierra Club will be microblogging on Twitter from the MTR hearing in DC today starting at 3:30pm ET. Want to follow along? We've embedded a widget right here on Compass for you to follow along with.
You can watch the hearings live .
Posted by: Bruce Nilles at 9:33AM PST on June 25, 2009
This post was co-written Mary Anne Hitt deputy director of the Sierra Club Beyond Coal Campaign.
The hearing comes on the heels of major arrests during a mountaintop removal protest on Tuesday in the coalfields of southern West Virginia. NASA climate expert Dr. James Hansen, the actor Daryl Hannah, 94-year old retired Congressman Ken Hechler, and Goldman Prize winner Judy Bonds were among the two dozen people arrested in front of Marsh Fork Elementary School, which is located next to a coal processing plant and directly beneath a dam holding back billions of tons of mining waste. As Dr. Hansen told the Charleston (WV) Gazette,
"The reason I have come to West Virginia is that coal is the number one issue in solving the climate problem. It is the cause of half of the excess carbon in the atmosphere. And mountaintop removal is the place that we should start."
Then on Monday, there was a major decision related to mountaintop removal from the U.S. Supreme Court, in a ruling on the Kensington Gold Mine in Alaska. The court ruled that the mine could dump all its waste into Lower Slate Lake even though all that waste will kill everything in the lake.
"There are five proposed mountaintop removal sites within 50 miles of the nation’s most visited national park. I hope that my run will inform hikers and visitors to the Great Smokies that scenic, ancient, ancient mountains are being blown up just a stone’s throw away."
What are you doing to do to help?
Posted by: Heather M at 6:18AM PST on June 25, 2009
This is a guest post from Ann Mesnikoff, head of the Sierra Club's Green Transportation Campaign.
Yesterday President Obama signed the bill that includes the "Cash for Clunkers" program into law. So, what are we getting? For one thing, this is a smaller program – one billion taxpayer dollars toward the purchase of new vehicles in exchange for retiring “clunkers” – instead of the original four billion dollar proposal. But the fact remains that the overall structure of the program is overly weak when it comes to ensuring taxpayer dollars go toward the purchase of gas "sippers."
The Environmental Protection Agency will have just a few weeks to issue the rules that will govern this program. Cash for Clunkers will be coming to a dealer near you soon!
The one thing we can do is urge those who turn in gas guzzling clunkers – vehicles that travel 18 miles to the gallon or less – is to use their vouchers toward the purchase of the most fuel efficient of vehicles on dealer lots. There are plenty of cars to chose from – the Chevy Malibu (conventional and hybrid), the Ford Focus, the Chevy Cobalt, and more. Let’s not forget that GM advertises that it has more models that get over 30 miles to the gallon (on the highway) – but still, the point is that a $4,500 voucher should help consumers buy the best fuel economy.
Gas prices are going to go up. We need to end our addiction to oil and curb global warming pollution. This Cash for Clunkers program could subsidize the sale of 250,000 new cars – let’s make sure those are 250,000 efficient ones!
Posted by: Heather M at 1:40PM PST on June 24, 2009
I'm back from a fantastic press conference on the American Clean Energy & Security Act (ACES) over at the Capitol here in Washington, DC. We had a phenomenal list of speakers all urging members of the U.S. House of Representatives to pass ACES when it comes to the floor this Friday:
At the last minute Rep. Mike Doyle from Pennsylvania and Rep. Ben Ray Lujan from New Mexico also joined the rally. All the speakers emphasized that investing in clean energy will create more jobs, secure our energy independence and fight global warming. Some led the big crowd in cheers about clean energy, and others just got them riled up for clean energy in general.
More photos and details after the jump! (click on any of the photos to see a larger version)
Posted by: Paul Scott at 1:02PM PST on June 24, 2009
We've been waiting for several months to hear this good news. Three EV pioneers, Tesla, Nissan and Ford, are receiving loans from the Department of Energy’s Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing program. Totaling $8 billion, the funds will be used to manufacture efficient vehicles and electric drive components.
In Tesla's case, they'll receive a total of $465 million to set up their factory in Southern California for the production of their hot Model S. This car has generated a lot of interest given its superb styling, performance and efficiency. The price point of $57K makes it affordable for a large segment of the population. Part of the money will be used to set up a production line for their battery packs and electric drive trains to be sold to other manufacturers such as their new partner, Daimler.
Nissan will receive $1.6 billion to build EV and battery factories in Tennessee. Having experienced the drive train for their new EV, I am very pleased that this will enable them to ramp up quickly to 150,000 EVs annually. This car will appeal to a larger segment of the population given its price of around $30K.
Ford is the big surprise for me. They're getting the lion's share of the money at $5.9 billion. They'll use it to increase the efficiency of several of their cars and trucks. I assume some will go toward building their new EV with the help of Canadian parts supplier, Magna.
This announcement assures that large numbers of electric vehicles will be available to U.S. customers starting late next year and growing rapidly soon after. Additionally, tens of thousands of jobs will be created.
There will more announcements to come. I'm betting that Bright Automotive in Indiana will be on the next list of recipients. They sure deserve to be.
Posted by: Brian F. at 11:21AM PST on June 24, 2009
Climate Crossroads is offering free music downloads here. Every now and again we'll feature eco-musicians and their songs. Missy Higgin's "Where I Stood" is available to anyone who takes the 2% pledge.
Are you a friend of the environment? Have you recorded a song that you'd like to see posted here? Send us an mp3. We might post it! We plan on posting free downloads a few times a month.
Posted by: Brian F. at 10:59AM PST on June 24, 2009
Groups Urge Secretary Clinton: Stop Stealth Dirty Oil Pipelines
Massive Canadian Project Would Lock U.S. into Reliance on World's Dirtiest Oil
Posted by: Brian F. at 10:06AM PST on June 24, 2009
There are always new groups, actions, and sustainable recipes on Climate Crossroads.
A new group: Say No to Tar Sands. Right now, while our whole nation is working together to move into a clean energy economy, a stealth dirty oil mega project is sneaking across our border. It’s called the Canadian oil sands, a.k.a. Alberta tar sands, and it's quietly making its way into our country, pipeline by pipeline, refinery by refinery, permit by permit. Yet it is a single, massive project planned and executed by Big Oil and their allies in Canada’s government.
A new action: Strengthen and Pass the American Clean Energy and Security Act. Urge your representatives in Congress to pass this landmark legislation.
A new recipe: Strawberry jam. Two pounds of strawberries, four cups of sugar, a little lemon juice, and a whole lotta love.
Posted by: Brian F. at 9:59AM PST on June 24, 2009Dirty Energy Wednesday
Posted by: Heather M at 9:10AM PST on June 24, 2009
We're talking coal and tar sands today, friends.
First up, the good news: a planned coal plant in Nevada is now officially off the books. Yesterday NV Energy shelved its plans for the 1,500 megawatt Ely Energy Center.
We're at a critical juncture on the fight against one of the dirtiest fuels on Earth: tar sands from Alberta, Canada. While America is finally beginning to move down the path towards a Clean Energy Economy, forces are trying to slip in more dirty fuel into our mix, pipeline by pipeline, refinery by refinery, permit by permit. Yet it is a single, massive project planned and executed by Big Oil and their allies in Canada’s government.
A major piece of the project—the Alberta Clipper pipeline — is up for approval by the U.S. State Department in just two weeks. Now only one person has the power to stop the dirtiest oil project on earth: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Tar sands photos by David Dodge, Pembina Institute. Click on each to see the full size versions.
Posted by: Brian F. at 4:35PM PST on June 23, 2009
NASA scientist James Hansen and actress Daryl Hannah were among the dozens arrested today during a West Virginia protest against mountaintop removal.
These photos of the protest are provided, with permission, by Rainforest Action Network.
Moments before state troopers arrested Dr. James Hansen, he read a prepared statement, urging the end of mountaintop removal and a clean energy future. Photographs taken by Antrim Caskey for RAN.
Hannah was arrested at the front gates of Massey Energy-owned Goals Coal plant.
Former Representative for West Virginia, Ken Hechler, 94, exited the stage with exuberance after he spoke to at least 350 people who gathered for the protest in Sundial.
Posted by: Brian F. at 10:46AM PST on June 23, 2009
During his opening remarks at this morning's press conference, the president had this to say about the American Clean Energy and Security Act.
You can help Congress pass ACES by taking action here.
Posted by: Brian F. at 10:39AM PST on June 23, 2009
The Congressional Budget Office yesterday released a report that directly refuted recent claims from naysayers that cap-and-trade legislation would cost every American family more than $3,000 a year in energy bills.
From the CBO's blog:
Posted by: Natalie Gaber at 9:50AM PST on June 23, 2009
This is the first post from Natalie Gaber, Sierra Club Media intern for the summer. Give her a warm welcome, she'll be posting here weekly on various Energy/Global Warming issues.
Everyone knows that Sunday is Father’s Day (and if you didn’t know, now you do, so no excuses!), but I bet you didn’t know that Sunday, June 21 is also the first annual Solar Day. According to http://www.solarday.com/, “SolarDay™ 2009 is the first in an annual, state-by-state and national day of recognition for the growth of solar energy in the U.S. and a celebration of the growth in our energy independence.” Solar Day was created by Elevator Communications, LLC, and the company hopes to make Solar Day a first-day-of-summer tradition.
For example, San Francisco is hosting several events to celebrate Solar Day, such as a Solar Water Heating Tour & Exhibit, where various San Francisco residents and businesses will be showing off their money-saving, carbon-reducing solar water heaters. In addition to pariticpating in organized activities, the organizers of Solar Day are encouraging communities to take matters into their own hands, whether that means conducting home energy audits, hosting a solar oven competition (added bonus: use your oven to cook something delicious for Dad!), or organizng a Solar Day walk-a-thon or Run for the Sun (to burn off whatever you cooked in your solar oven). For more ideas, check out the website.
In case you’re a little rusty on your solar energy facts, allow me to remind you why solar energy deserves to be celebrated not just on Solar Day, but everyday. I’ll start with three great facts about solar energy: it’s getting cheaper, we have an unlimited supply of it, and it produces no direct pollution. According to the Department of Energy, there are two main types of solar collecting devices: photovoltaic (PV) cells and solar power plants. PV cells, which convert sunlight directly into electricity, are typically used to heat water (e.g. for a pool) or spaces (e.g. your house). In contrast, solar power plants create electricity indirectly by using sunlight to heat fluid, which creates steam that goes on to generate power. The best part about solar power is how it stacks up compared to alternative energy sources, such as coal. In a given month, a 1-kw home solar system will prevent the burning of about 170 lbs of coal, meaning that about 300 lbs of CO2 will not be released into the atmosphere, and 105 gallons of water will not be used.
Sounds like a bargain to me.
Speaking of bargains, a common concern with solar energy is its high pricetag. Many people who would love to adorn their rooftops with an array of solar panels find that the installation of said array is prohibitively expensive, and thus they are forced to remain reliant on their local coal-burning power plant. But, fear not, relief is in sight! Increasingly, solar power providers are coming up with innovative ways to make solar power more accessible to the average citizen. For example, California-based SolarCity is now offering a SolarLease™ program, whereby customers can pay as they go rather than forking over a huge upfront fee for installation. If a lease is still too expensive for you, there are many ways to harness the sun’s energy for free, such as by drying your clothes on a clothesline rather than using an electric drier.
So, this Sunday, after you have gorged yourself on brunch with Dad, be sure to celebrate the start of Summer by taking a moment to pay homage to the sun at a SolarDay event near you.
Posted by: Brian F. at 9:49AM PST on June 23, 2009
Here's a new video from 350.org. 350 happens to have a group here on Crossroads. Click here to join it!
Posted by: Brian F. at 8:53AM PST on June 23, 2009
We recently ran into actor David Alan Basche, who has starred in the TV series Three Sisters, Lipstick Jungle, and The Starter Wife, and in several movies, including United 93 and War of the Worlds. We gave him five quick questions about climate change.
What lifestyle changes have you made because of global warming?
Posted by: Brian F. at 2:34PM PST on June 22, 2009
You might ask, "Why Deutsche Bank?" From the WSJ:
The bank is already a huge investor in technologies that would help deal with the effects of climate change and help reduce emissions, with $4 billion in assets. That market could get even bigger if countries around the world start scrambling to promote energy efficiency, clean energy, and other technology.
Posted by: Brian F. at 12:33PM PST on June 22, 2009
Posted by: Heather M at 11:59AM PST on June 22, 2009
Blech, today's news has not been great so far. The Supreme Court decision came down earlier today that the Kensingon gold mine in Alaska can dump its waste into Lower Slate Lake even though the waste will kill just about everything in the lake.
Why? Because the justices referred to a Bush Administration era definition of "fill" - which can include contaminated waste. This of course is terrible news for those around Lower Slate Lake, but it also has national implications. Using this definition of fill can mean even more bad news for those of us trying to put an end to mountaintop removal coal mining - where mining companies can just dump their waste into streams in Appalachia and it's all perfectly legal.
Stay tuned, we'll soon have an action you can take to help stop this type of waste dumping.
But, related to mountaintop removal coal mining, this Thursday at 3:30pm ET on Capitol Hill is a Senate subcommittee hearing on that very practice. We'll have people there and be live-blogging the hearing right here on Climate Crossroads, so stay tuned!
Posted by: Brian F. at 11:54AM PST on June 22, 2009
In the news today, whaling negotiations in Portugal appear tepid.
Which reminds me. Take our awesome "How Green Is My Seafood?" quiz.
Posted by: Carl Pope at 11:46AM PST on June 22, 2009
It's cool and beautiful up here in the foothills of the San Bernardino mountains. I'm looking out over some of the sunniest terrain in the world, though, and I can survey much of Congressman Jerry Lewis's district from the peaks. So it's almost incomprehensible to learn that Lewis, at a recent private meeting, commented that as the Congressional representative of California's 41st district, he was "concerned about solar power because it might compete with coal." There is, after all, no coal in the 41st District to compete with its sun for its representative's attention. (I have not lately heard anyone in the West Virginia Congressional delegation criticize coal for competing with solar -- nor would I expect to -- these folks are supposed to represent their districts!) But when I go onto Lewis's website I find a screed attacking the House Commerce Committee climate bill for, among other sins, not doing enough for coal -- but no mention of its watered-down provisions for solar power, which should be the economic engine of the 41st District.
Lewis was once one of the environmental leaders in his party -- first in the California legislature, then in Congress.
Posted by: RAW at 3:26PM PST on June 19, 2009
Dirty energy interests have long held sway with the GOP's leading figures. In fact, we don't even have to merely speculate that the Bush-Cheney energy policy was written both by and for the coal, oil, and nuclear industries. We have proof.
And now we have proof that Big Coal is writing the talking points that the House GOP is using to attack the clean energy jobs plan, the American Clean Energy & Security Act, that could come up for a vote as soon as next week.
Without the facts on their side, conservative congressmen and their allies like the Heritage Foundation have been forced to turn to fearmongering and outright lies to try and defeat the Waxman-Markey bill, as the plan is also known.
The latest attack came today as the House GOP's "Rural America Solutions Group" attempted to capitalize on continued unease among Members from agricultural districts by holding a conference call to roll out a map entitled "Most States Lose Under the Pending Climate Bill." (Click here to take a look.) The map purported to use unspecified Congressional Budget Office and Energy Information Administration data to illustrate that while consumers in California, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, South Dakota, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Vermont would gain under the bill, consumers in the remaining FORTY states would lose hundreds of billions of dollars in just the first year of the cap.
The ploy initially seemed to work, with one Midwestern Democrat hurling attacks at a fellow Member from the Northwest, citing the map as evidence. Yet, despite the citations, one was left with the feeling that something didn't quite add up.
Leave it to our friends at Grist to put on their thinking caps and take a little looksee at the "properties" of the powerpoint document. Well, lo and behold, it turns out the document's "author" was listed as one Greg Boyce, with its "manager" identified as a certain Chris Taylor. Who are these gentlemen you ask? Why, the CEO and communications services manager, respectively, of one of the largest dirty energy companies in America and the world's largest coal producer: Peabody Energy (read: BIG COAL).
Now, why on Earth would these folks literally parrot one of the world's worst, dirtiest energy companies? Perhaps it's the more than $13.4 million the coal industry has funneled to the GOP since 2000 (approximately 80 percent of its total campaign contributions).
Mad as hell and not going to take it any more? Click here to find out what you can do to stop the coal industry from killing the climate bill.
Posted by: Brian F. at 2:45PM PST on June 19, 2009
There is a fantastic article in the current Atlantic that parallels the current renewable-energy surge with that of the Jimmy Carter era.
Shortly after the [Obama] inauguration, a friend up for several jobs in the new administration confessed that he yearned to wind up at the Department of Energy. “It’s like NASA in the ’60s,” he told me. “All the best and brightest want to be there.” Obama’s choice of Steven Chu, the Nobel laureate physicist, as secretary of energy only heightened the allure. In the early Obama era, romantic notions about making one’s mark on history tend to take the form of helping recast America’s economy, and by extension the world’s, in a way that will head off global catastrophe. So we’re back at the old crossroads, only with less time and more urgency to act.
Is it the old crossroads or a new one? Will this turning point flop like it did 30 years ago? Or will it prevail?
Posted by: Brian F. at 12:14PM PST on June 19, 2009This Week's Blogosphere Soup
Posted by: Brian F. at 10:23AM PST on June 19, 2009
A quick review of this past week's happenings in the blog world
The Waxman-Markey climate bill, better known as the American Climate and Energy Security Act (ACES), continues to get a lot of critiques from bloggers. It's getting battered by conservatives and liberals alike. And among those who want government action on climate change, there are grumblings that the bill has become too watered down. This past week, Waxman and Markey, authors of the ACES, talked to activists on a conference call. Some activists were less than impressed.
It is unfortunate that it was not stated on the call that the public position of the groups which organized the call, and most environmental groups, is that the bill needs to be strengthened, not just passed as is. It would have been a good thing to have Waxman and Markey specifically respond to the specific strengthening amendments which those groups are advocating for.
ACES is the only chance we have to pass a climate bill before the international negotiations to finalize a worldwide climate treaty in Copenhagen in December of this year. If the United States--one of the two largest emitters of greenhouse gasses--does not demonstrate that it is willing to get serious about climate, then there is diminished incentive for anyone else, like the Chinese, to get serious.
What do you think? For a brief rundown of what's good about the bill and what needs to be strengthened, here's a handy guide.
Other doings in the blogosphere:
Remember that massive December coal ash spill in Tennessee? Well, the clean-up -- all but ignored by the media -- is not going so well.
Is space-based solar energy gaining any feasibility?
What's next for the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED system?
And when you have a minute, here's a video of the dazzling fireflies of the Great Smokey Mountains.
Posted by: John Byrne Barry at 4:29PM PST on June 18, 2009
I'm trying two experiments in my garden this year -- and in both cases it's the tomato that's the guinea pig.
I'd read about growing tomato plants upside down somewhere, but had never seen it done until a few weeks ago, when Z and I went down to Santa Cruz to visit her family. Her dad had cut a hole in a deep black plastic pot, hung it from a tree, and there was the stalk of the tomato coming out of the hole in the bottom. Bending back up to reach for the sky.
I placed a sungold seedling in upside down, guiding the ten-inch stem and leaves through the hole, then filled the pot with potting soil and some of that composted horse manure I picked up in Santa Cruz last weekend. I planted some basil on top. Z's dad didn't plant anything on top, but I've got a deep pot and an extra basil plant, so let' see how it works.
So far, so good. The basil is going gangbusters. Of course, it's getting watered regularly by a 2-gallon per hour emitter and getting a lot of sun.
There it is below shortly after planting, and then about three weeks later.
The second experiment is something called hugelculture or hugelkultur -- it's a practice from Germany that seems to be a variation on raised beds, with the plants growing on top of a pile of rotten wood. Or on top of a compost pile.
I've done this in three places, one a month and a half ago, and it's doing pretty well, and then two more spots last weekend.
Here are the tomatoes in the new bed, first a week after planting, then a month. They're obviously thriving so far.
This technique is recommended for plants with big roots, like tomatoes, or potatoes, which grow large in those small air pockets. My neighbor, a real gardener, is doing something very much like this. She wrapped wire hardware cloth around a pile of brush to make a cylinder a couple feet in diameter and four feet high, and she's growing potatoes, which are poking their leaves out of the pile in every which way.
So the evidence will be anecdotal regardless. Delicious, too, I'm hoping, sliced with freshly ground pepper and vinaigrette salad dressing.
Posted by: Bruce Nilles at 1:19PM PST on June 18, 2009
This week’s blog post is co-written by Mary Anne Hitt, deputy director of the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign.
If you lived near a dump site where the hazardous waste was so toxic it could increase your cancer risk to as high as a staggering 1 in 50, wouldn’t you want to know about it? What if there was one near your child’s school, but you had no way of knowing about it because the list of the most dangerous sites was being kept secret? Well, it turns out there are dozens of such sites across the nation, and our government is refusing to tell us where they are.
The toxic waste is coal ash, a byproduct of burning coal to generate electricity, the same black goo that devastated a Tennessee town last December when a Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) dam failed and released 1 billion gallons of the heavy metal-laden sludge into area rivers.
Today, the Sierra Club is joining with allies to demand the release of that information. We have formally asked the Obama Administration to make public the list of 44 the nation’s most hazardous coal ash disposal sites. The Freedom of Information Act request was submitted to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Army Corp of Engineers and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) by the Sierra Club, Earthjustice, the Environmental Integrity Project, and Natural Resources Defense Council.
This comes after last week’s refusal by EPA to disclose which of the nation’s hundreds of coal ash sites pose such a threat to nearby communities that they have been deemed classified (the locations of other hazardous sites, such as nuclear plants and Superfund sites, are publicly available).
Nevermind that already living near a coal ash waste site is threatening enough to one’s health and livelihood. Coal ash sites contain harmful levels of arsenic, lead, mercury and other toxins, which can leach out slowly contaminating drinking water sources, or as in the case of the 44 “high hazard” sites, flood nearby communities with a life-threatening wave of toxic sludge as happened last year in Tennessee. These dangers are yet another reminder of the need to clean up coal’s toxic legacy and speed up the transition to cleaner, safer energy sources
Senator Barbara Boxer was so outraged by last week’s refusal to disclose the list of sites that she held a press conference to let the public know that her staff had been “muzzled” and prevented from releasing the information. (video of Senator’s Boxers press conference here)
She has been leading the change in Congress to clean up these dangerous sites. She wants the public to have this information and is sending a letter to EPA, DHS, and the Army Corps to, in her words, “ask for further information on whether the public disclosure of coal ash waste sites is consistent with the treatment of other hazardous sites.”
Senator Boxer is very committed to the public’s right to know exactly where these sites are and then to demand action to make them safe At the press conference, she said that she had been permitted to call the Senators who have the most hazardous sites in their states, but that those Senators were only permitted to talk to electric utilities and first responders – they were not even allowed to tell members of their own staff!
This news comes as EPA prepares to draft new proposed rules to ensure safe disposal of coal ash. Even though EPA is still months away from announcing a proposed rule for regulating coal ash, the coal industry has already begun lobbying to prevent any meaningful action.
A coal-industry-backed “Dear Colleague” letter being circulated by Sens. Sam Brownback (R-KS) and Kent Conrad (D-ND), urges other Senators to oppose treating coal safely. Their proposal will preserve the status quo: ensuring coal ash is treated less responsibly than household trash. —This is the approach that led to the TVA disaster and it is inadequate.
We need to treat the waste as a hazardous substance and not take away the opportunities for residents of communities impacted by coal ash disposal to provide input on the decision-making process. Please email your Senators here to ask them not to sign onto this bad letter.
Clearly, coal ash is a hazardous substance and should be regulated as such. Under the current system, toxins like arsenic and selenium have leached into waterways of dozens of documented communities around the country—communities who now suffer from higher rates of cancer and other diseases, with cancer rates as high as 1 in 50 for those living near the worst sites. Communities have a right to know about the toxic hazards near their homes.
The TVA disaster and subsequent follow up investigations have shown that we need consistent and enforceable federal regulations to prevent future coal ash disasters. These regulations can promote coal ash recycling and protect the environment from toxic leaching at the same time. And the cost of these safer, more consistent standards would be marginal, only about $1 billion annually according to EPA estimates—that’s less than one-half of one percent of utility industry sales in 1999.
Yet the coal industry continues fighting for special treatment to keep them from cleaning up their dirty business. Coal use from cradle to the grave is dirty, dangerous, and damaging, and yet the coal industry is spending millions on lobbying to retain and create more loopholes for themselves.
They’re doing it with mountaintop removal coal mining, they’re doing it with coal ash, and they’re especially doing it when it comes to burning coal for power – the coal industry’s fingerprints are all over the American Clean Energy and Security Act as they try to weaken it every step of the way. EPA must retain the authority to regulate every part of the coal cycle, especially with regards to cleaning up older coal plants.
Posted by: Brian F. at 12:00PM PST on June 18, 2009
We recently ran into Mike Richter -- one of the most successful hockey goalies in NHL history -- who led the New York Rangers to a Stanley Cup title in 1994. He is an avid environmentalist as Outreach Chair for the Sierra Club's National Advancement Council. His work helps Sierra Club reach out to a broad range of politicians and advocates in support of the Climate Recovery Partnership. So we gave him five quick questions about climate change.
What lifestyle changes have you made because of global warming?
What would you say to someone who doesn't think global warming is for real?
What do you think of our leadership’s handling of global warming?
The Bush administration was horrendous. Maybe worse than that. The world will be paying for his inexcusable irresponsibility for many years -- maybe forever -- you cannot get extinct species back.
You've just traveled back in time to London in 1750 while they are building one of the first ever coal factories. What do you tell them?
Imagine that you’re Frosty the Snowman. How would you explain global warming to a child in order to alert them of your imminent danger?
"I am going to sweat my snowballs off if we don't address global warming immediately!"
Posted by: Brian F. at 11:44AM PST on June 18, 2009
The latest quote from a Congressional global warming denier is brought to us by Rep. Collin Peterson (D-MN).
We’ve just had the biggest floods and coldest winters we’ve ever had. They’re saying to us [that climate change is] going to be a big problem because it’s going to be warmer than it usually is; my farmers are going to say that’s a good thing since they’ll be able to grow more corn.
For more quotes like these, join the group Skeptics Say Stupid Crap here on Crossroads.
Posted by: Brian F. at 9:41AM PST on June 17, 2009
Posted by: Heather M at 9:08AM PST on June 17, 2009
You've probably heard a lot by now about the American Climate and Energy Security Act (ACES, HR 2454), or as some others are calling it, the Waxman-Markey Bill (named for the two House reps who authored it). This clean energy jobs/climate plan has been winding through U.S. House of Representatives subcommittees and committees since early Spring, and it's expected to end up on the floor of the House next week.
As you can imagine, it's bringing a lot of debate, discussion and controversy along with it. There are so many people, organizations and industries involved in shaping the bill that you might be confused about it now. Let us help you figure it all out!
We have a new page up now all about ACES and what needs to be done - and there's also a way for you to take action on it. You can help strengthen the bill to bring a clean energy future to the U.S. that will boost our economy, create jobs, and fight global warming. Win, win, win.
Learn, take action - and then tell your friends to do the same. Do it all now at http://action.sierraclub.org/stronger
And as if we needed any more reminding, global warming predictions are getting more dire every day. Just look at yesterday's report out from the White House.
Posted by: Brian F. at 8:59AM PST on June 17, 2009
Bob Schildgen, aka Mr. Green, gives advice on the wisdom of buying a Prius, considering that the batteries are toxic. It's worth reading his whole blog post. Here's a snippet:
Posted by: Brian F. at 8:53AM PST on June 17, 2009
Results are in for the poll on the Crossroads homepage.
What was your first way toward going paperless?
Online bills. 38 percent.
E-cards. 13 percent.
Re-usable grocery bags. 48 percent.
More than 600 votes!
Posted by: Carl Pope at 8:28AM PST on June 17, 2009
The cleanup of the Bush administration's phenomenal mismanagement of the nation's forests continues to grind forward in federal courts. Thus far the Obama administration has not yet put in place new leadership for the Forest Service -- one potential nominee had a lobbying background and one withdrew for personal reasons. The biggest forest-management policy issue -- the Roadless Areas -- is being managed in the short-term by Secretary of Agriculture Thomas Vilsack himself. But at the finer-grained level, it's still the lawsuits filed against Bush that are, effectively, driving forest policy.
The most recent ruling was in Los Angeles. In 2005 the Forest Service revised the Forest Plans for the Cleveland, Los Padres and San Bernardino National Forests. As was its habit under Bush, the Service didn't include any management requirements to protect endangered species. The Center for Biological Diversity sued, and Judge Marilyn Hall Patel agreed that Forest Plans require Endangered Species Act protections.
But there's a lot left to do. A new study confirmed -- as the Sierra Club and I have argued for years -- that while climate change and years of forest-fire suppression and over-cutting of big trees have substantially increased the risk of wildfire to homes and communities, the Forest Service has diverted almost all of the money appropriated to minimize these risks for the benefit of the timber industry. A University of Colorado analysis of 44,613 "fuel-reduction projects" found that only three percent of them occurred in urban-wildland interfaces or the buffer strip around them. By contrast, Congress insisted that at least 50 percent of the money be devoted to community protection -- and the Sierra Club advocates spending 100 percent for five years to get rid of the worst of the backlog.
One major factor, the study's authors found, was that a majority of the most critical urban-wildland community-protection zones -- 71 percent -- are on private lands, and only 17 percent are under direct Forest Service jurisdiction. "Our results suggest the need for a significant shift in fire policy emphasis from federal to private lands, if protection of communities and private property in the wildland-urban interface remains a primary goal," the authors wrote.
The bottom line: We've spent $2 billion since 2000 without reducing the number of acres burned, homes destroyed, or firefighters killed. President Obama's new forest chief is badly needed.
Posted by: Nithin Coca at 3:51PM PST on June 16, 2009
It's time to party like its 2008 - because, the way gas prices are rising right now (prices are double what they were just a few months ago in February) it looks like we might be in for a redux of last summer. Can anyone think of a catchy sequel for "Drill, Baby, Dill"?
Why are gas prices rising? I'm no economics expert, but this article from Fortune gives a great overview for us dummies.
Deutsche Bank's Sieminski agrees that prices are going higher over time. "Our forecast has been that oil will be at $100 in 2015 and it could happen faster if the economy recovers," he says. Because oil is generally considered an "inelastic" commodity -- meaning it takes a big increase in price to produce a small change in demand -- the chances of a spike increase once supplies get tight.
"If you get close to the balance, prices can go haywire very quickly and there's very little that can be done about it," says Sieminski. "Something happens on the margin to put pressure on the market and instead of the price adjustment being gradual it's a step change. Last time gasoline had to go to $4 a gallon and crude had to go to $150 a barrel to rebalance things. And that's how we could get there again."
Diversifying our energy sources - instead of overelying on fossil fuels - would be a great solution to protect our economy from the whims of the oil market - and would help reduce the inelasticity of oil due the abundance of alternate energy sources (called "substitutes"). How many substitutes are there right now for the gas your pump into your car?
One thing not being mentioned? The strange preposity of higher gas prices resulting in higher profits for big oil. Hmmm..
Posted by: Brian F. at 12:18PM PST on June 16, 2009
This just in from the White House:
Posted by: Paul Scott at 9:41AM PST on June 16, 2009
I heard that Energy Secretary, Steven Chu, was giving the commencement address at CalTech, so I jumped in our solar-powered RAV and drove over to Pasadena to hear what he had to say.
Pasadena is a beautiful city, and the section of town where CalTech is located is old and very wealthy. Walking through the leafy campus, Jacarandas in full bloom, I admired the buildings that for decades housed some of the smartest students our country ever produced as well as a sizable number of foreign kids intent on getting the best education possible in their chosen fields of mathematics, science and engineering. My anticipation over Dr. Chu's speech grew with each step.
He did not disappoint.
Those of us in the EV movement were overjoyed when Obama picked Dr. Chu to head the Energy Department. An actual Nobel-winning PhD in physics who has a deep understanding of our predicament regarding energy and climate change in charge of the Energy Department. A true breath of fresh air!
He broke the ice by defining the term, nerd, using the Wikipedia definition, since most in his audience proudly considered themselves as such. I think it's actually on the form when you apply to CalTech.
Having dispensed with the obligatory humorous start, he got down to business by reminding the audience that, in the early 70's, scientists solved the pressing need to grow more food in order to keep millions from starvation and expressed that our problems today are every bit as important if not more so. He implored the students to take seriously the need to act fast in solving these problems and to not allow those who prefer faith over reason to interfere with the task at hand.
As one would expect, he talked about energy mostly, but my ears pricked up when he said we needed to prepare for the "inevitable transition to electricity as the energy for our personal transportation". While most may have missed the importance of this comment, it meant everything to me. Those at the top of the Obama administration understand the need to move from dirty fossil fuels to renewable electricity, and their efforts so far show they are serious.
Chu's defunding, at the federal level, of the hydrogen fuel cell vehicle means he knows we need to put our efforts toward solutions that are ready now, not some expensive, inefficient technology that requires us to continue buying our energy from oil companies.
As the speech ended and I started to go, the strains of Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 "Ode to Joy" flowed out of the loud speakers and I walked through the beautiful purple flowering Jacarandas happier than I've been for a while. Maybe these scientists, engineers and mathematicians can indeed help us to ward off the worst of what will come.
Posted by: CityCyclist at 12:49PM PST on June 15, 2009
If you weren't able to attend Carl Pope's debate with Chevron CEO David O'Reilly last week, no need to feel left out: You can listen to the entire 60-minute exchange here. The debate took almost a year to arrange, and it's more than worth hearing the whole match. But, if you're in a hurry, here's an abridged version that lasts about 27 minutes.
And if you're really in a hurry (or just more visually inclined), there's always the YouTube version that we linked to earlier, which doesn't even last long enough to soft-boil an egg (though we think O'Reilly kind of got cooked).
Not into the whole media thing? You can still read our blow-by-blow blog post or Carl Pope's own recounting of how it went.
Got your own opinion about this epic matchup? Leave a comment here or vote in this week's Sierra Club home page poll.
Posted by: Heather M at 9:11AM PST on June 15, 2009
There are some good and interesting articles in news out there on the clean energy front, so I thought I'd share a few that caught my eye.
From the article: "You know, my dad was in oil in the early '80s when it went bust," (Kim Johnson) says. "It's here one day and gone the next. But with these windmills,they put them up, they're there. They're not going away."
Next up, there's been a lot of talk lately about how painting our roofs white could help slow global warming and lower our energy bills. Now even U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu is talking about it:
In his talk, Chu cited new research from his former laboratory, the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California, which imagined the result of painting about 63 percent of the roofs white in 100 large cities in tropical and temperate areas worldwide.
It estimated that would provide about the same climate benefits as taking all the world's cars off the road for 10 years.
Third story of note - the Department of Homeland Security doesn't want the locations of the high-risk coal ash storage sites revealed to the public. DHS says revealing the sites would compromise national security.
And finally, the debate over the American Clean Energy & Security Act (ACES) continues in the U.S. House of Representatives. The bill's expected to hit the floor next week, but it's bringing a lot of controversy with it.
Posted by: RAW at 4:33AM PST on June 15, 2009
They say you can't teach an old dog new tricks. It also appears that you can't teach a bunch of old-line conservatives about New Energy for America. The leadership of the increasingly embattled GOP minority in Congress continues to circle the wagons around the failed policies of the past. As the Waxman-Markey clean energy jobs plan moves toward a House floor vote as soon as 10 days from now, the House GOP leadership unveiled their "alternative."
Unfortunately, their so-called alternative was a not-even-thinly-veiled redux of the failed Bush-Cheney energy policies of yesteryear. You know, the ones that ruined the economy, made global warming worse, and left us even more dependent on tin-pot dictators to meet our growing addiction to oil. Yeah, those.
Our friends at Media Matters for America took a little looksee at the plans put forward by Bush and Cheney and the House GOP's latest plan, the American Energy Act. The two plans looked suspiciously similar, shall we say. Almost as if a group of powerful special interests in the energy industry essentially dictated the plans behind closed doors. Not that that would ever happen…
The Bush-Cheney plan was based on increased oil drilling on the outer continental shelf, expedited construction of more oil refineries, building more nuclear power plants, opening the Arctic Refuge to drilling, increasing the production of dirty and destructive oil shale.
And what's the House GOP's plan based on, you say? Why, on increased oil drilling on the outer continental shelf, expedited construction of more oil refineries, building more nuclear power plants, opening the Arctic Refuge to drilling, increasing the production of dirty and destructive oil shale.
To be fair, their plan isn't all recycled from the Cheney era. It also incorporates John McCain's disastrous $1 trillion (yes, trillion with a T) campaign pledge to build 100 new nuclear power plants.
And, just in case you wondering -- no, the House GOP still does not believe in global warming. Thank. You. Very. Much.
Posted by: John Byrne Barry at 2:10PM PST on June 12, 2009
The morning glories are back. It's the second week in June and there are few enough blossoms I can count them. Ten. Soon there will be hundreds.
Being a lazy gardener would be impossible if not for easy plants. I've tried growing carrots -- you have to plant the seeds in sand and keep them moist for weeks to get even a pathetic crop. I've tried melons, and I got one puny one. Not enough heat, apparently.
At least 90 percent of my garden, by volume, consists of easy plants, and it's probably more if I count the easiest of them all -- the morning glory and ivy that grow on my fences. They take no care at all to grow. The only work is pulling them out.
That's my definition of easy. There's little, if any, work involved in helping the plants grow. The work is in holding it back.
I'm going to post a short video here from last fall that shows my morning glory vine. I'm still new to using the video feature of my camera and I'm pretty green when it comes to editing video, but hey, I've already copped to being lazy. If I wait until I've actually read the camera instructions on how to use video and read the user manual for iMovie, well, it would be next spring by now, and time is zipping by too quickly already.
In Berkeley, morning glories grow all over the place, and they're pretty and distinctive enough that I knew what they were without having to look them up.
About a dozen years ago, on a run to the marina from my house in the Berkeley flatlands, I took a jag through Strawberry Creek Park, when I "discovered" the morning glories for the first time. Sort of how Columbus "discovered" America. Around 1980, the city had removed the abandoned Santa Fe railroad tracks and "daylighted" a several hundred foot segment of creek that had been flowing through an underground culvert. The creek banks were mostly chunks of concrete, piled without rhyme or reason, but the view from the little footbridge over the creek was magical because the whole area was overgrown with deep blue and purple morning glories.
They require no watering, only pruning. Once or twice a year, it's a good idea to walk along the fence and yank out the dead growth, but mostly the new growth hides the brown leaves, so that's not even essential. I know I'm taking the risk of being labeled a heretic or anarchist by recommending the morning glory. Many consider it a weed. But hey, a weed is only a plant you don't want. In my garden, grass is a weed because I don't want it. Morning glory I do want, though left untouched, it would probably smother the entire garden. Once I found a tendril of morning glory that had snaked under the deck from one side of the yard to another, and there was a blossom more than 20 feet from the fence where it started. Fortunately, it's pretty easy to pull, and that's what I did.
I'm not sure of the origin of my prolific morning glory. I took some cuttings from Strawberry Creek Park, put them in a vase with water, and planted them along my fence. But I also purchased a starter plant from the nursery. I'm not sure if one or the other or both has led to my thirty-foot long vine.
At one time, I had potato vine and trumpetvine entwined in the fence, and now and then a red trumpetvine flower peeks through the morning glory, so I know it's still there, but hardly. The potato vine seems to have disappeared. Ivy, which is equally vigorous, is in the mix as well, and in the back of the yard, under the shade of the tree,
But it hasn't actually succeeded in crawling all the way across the yard and establishing itself on the opposite fence. I believe that would happen if I left the yard to its own devices. But I'm not about to.
Update: Since I started waxing rhapsodic about the morning glory, I found a tendril of it wrapped around a dodonia plant in the back of my yard, about to strangle it. I unwrapped it and all was fine, but had I not noticed it, the dodonia would surely have been smothered....
So easy, in this case, is just another word for invasive.
Posted by: Brian F. at 2:05PM PST on June 12, 2009
Posted by: Brian F. at 10:04AM PST on June 12, 2009
A quick review of this past week's happenings in the blog world
We start with urban gardens. Why are they so awesome? Because -- if you live in a city -- you get to connect with nature without having to travel great distances.
Speaking of urban gardens, kids love 'em and they provide fantastic pictures. You'll appreciate this blog. Great pics!
Elsewhere in the blogosphere...
Do you want the House of Representatives to strengthen the current climate bill? Send a letter to Pelosi.
If you're interested in installing renewable energy into your home, take a look at this article about cost-benefit comparisons.
Do you live near the coast? Consider merging exercise with beach exploration.
Lots of things going on, regionally speaking:
In West Virginia, the murmurs that we've reached peak coal there are growing louder. In New York City, with an increased number of bikes comes increased safety. In Seattle, certified green homes are selling for more money. In San Francisco, it's now illegal to throw away compostable scraps. (How are you supposed to enforce that?) In Texas, the governor loves renewable wind power and hates the federal climate-change bill.
Posted by: Bruce Nilles at 12:52PM PST on June 11, 2009
Co-written with Mary Anne Hitt, deputy director of the Sierra Club Beyond Coal Campaign.
Today the Obama Administration announced steps to end the fast-tracking of certain mountaintop removal coal mine permits and to add tougher enforcement in Appalachia, important steps that – with additional actions – could greatly reduce the devastation to communities, waterways and mountains. However, these new policies alone will not necessarily improve conditions in Appalachia unless additional steps are taken and enforcement is stepped up significantly, and hundreds of mountains remain in peril.
That is why the Sierra Club is launching a new website today, called "What’s At Stake," where you can track all the mountaintop removal permits now before the Obama Administration and learn more about the mountains and communities whose fate hangs in the balance.
After a West Virginia court ruled against it recently, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers today proposed revoking the nationwide "one-size-fits-all" permit it had used to authorize the dumping of coal mining waste into hundreds of miles of Appalachian headwater streams. The bad news, though, is that the Obama Administration says it will continue to allow mountaintop removal mining to bury streams under tons of mining waste.
There is too much at stake in Appalachia for the administration to only go this far. Without a significant change in policy, mining companies will continue to destroy our mountains and bury our streams on the Obama administration’s watch. If the Obama Administration fully enforced the Clean Water Act, which would prohibit filling streams with mining waste, and closed regulatory loopholes created by the Bush administration, mountaintop removal coal mining would become nearly impossible.
The coal industry continues to find ways to pollute and use its influence to strong-arm its way around environmental regulations. They are more interested in profits than people, and in setting up roadblocks to progress on clean energy. We must all work together to clean up the coal industry.
This is also why you should check out our new “What’s At Stake” mountaintop removal tracker website. Actor Ashley Judd has once again teamed up with Sierra Club to help launch the website.
In the next few months, if the Obama Administration allows the hundreds of mountaintop removal coal mining permits that are currently in the pipeline to go forward, it will result in the outright destruction of hundreds of miles of streams, the leveling of over 60,000 acres of diverse hardwood forests, and a new round of blasting, flooding, and water contamination for the communities of Appalachia.
The true test of these new policies – and of President Obama's legacy on this issue – will be whether they change the terrible situation on the ground in Appalachia. You can tell the Obama Administration to do just that.
Recent studies have shown that the Appalachia Mountains could support commercial scale wind energy facilities, which would bring long-term, sustainable jobs to the region – but only if the mountains are left standing. We must stop this destructive practice now.
The bulldozers are already rolling. Check out the Sierra Club's "What's at Stake" website and urge the Obama Administration to take bold action to end mountaintop removal coal mining before it is too late.
Posted by: Food Dude at 10:37AM PST on June 11, 2009
On June 10, Sierra Club Executive Director Carl Pope and Chevron Corporation CEO Dave O'Reilly engaged in a debate about America's energy future. The event, held in San Francisco and hosted by the Commonwealth Club of California, was moderated by Alan Murray, deputy managing editor of the Wall Street Journal.
Demonstrators gathered outside the debate venue, above, to protest Chevron's involvement in what many scientific experts consider the worst oil-related contamination on earth, in northern Ecuador's Amazon region. Chevron is facing a multi-billion lawsuit there for its role in devastating the Amazon with oil and gas operations conducted by Texaco before that company merged with Chevron.
The debate was the first time Pope and O'Reilly had met, and hundreds packed the ballroom of the Nikko Hotel, below, to listen to their exchange. What was immediately apparent to this listener is how far the needle has shifted in terms of acknowledging the reality and root cause of global warming.
Not only did O'Reilly agree with Pope that climate change was the result of human activity, he concurred that developing renewable energy sources and encouraging energy efficiency were imperative.
Posted by: Heather M at 8:45AM PST on June 11, 2009
As promised here is a video clip from last night's debate - where Carl Pope gets Dave O'Reilly to agree to work with him against the coal industry.
Last night out in San Francisco was a long-awaited debate between our own executive director Carl Pope and Chevron CEO Dave O'Reilly. The debate was organized by the Commonwealth Club.
We expect to have video highlights of the discussion later on today, but for now I can at least point you toward some good news articles about the debate.
First up - my favorite story on it, from Reuters: "Chevron CEO Says U.S. 2050 Carbon Goals Too Ambitious." Why is it my favorite? Because it includes this excellent back and forth between the two:
Pope criticised U.S. energy regulation for not forcing utilities to buy more low-carbon electricity.
"Well, if you can get the government to move faster, then good luck," O'Reilly said.
Pope replied, to applause: "It would help if you would get out of the way."
And then we've got four other articles up so far:
Stay tuned for video clips later today!
Posted by: Brian F. at 6:03PM PST on June 10, 2009
Join the bicycle group on Crossroads and post a picture of your instrument, er, bike.
(For the video, a hat tip to BoingBoing.)
Posted by: Heather M at 12:17PM PST on June 10, 2009
In case you're not keeping up with our awesome Big Picture Campaign (if you're not - go join the Big Picture Group right now!), we've got an update from two Sierra Club staffers who were at the Environmental Protection Agency's hearing on its proposed Renewable Fuels Standard yesterday. Read more about it on the Big Picture blog.
In other news, Pew Charitable Trusts just released a report about how the clean energy job sector experienced strong growth between 1998 and 2007. Read more on the NY Times' Green Inc blog.
Posted by: Brian F. at 12:08PM PST on June 10, 2009
Posted by: Brian F. at 3:51PM PST on June 9, 2009
Posted by: Brian F. at 3:07PM PST on June 9, 2009
Green Inc. asks: How much should poor countries be paid to fight climate change?
Fittingly, a new study has shown that "global climate change would lower the median poor country’s growth rate by 0.6 percentage points each year from now until 2099. Extrapolated over 90 years, the median poor country would then be about 40% poorer in 2099 than it would have been in the absence of climate change."
Posted by: Brian F. at 2:28PM PST on June 9, 2009
There are always new groups, actions, and sustainable recipes on Climate Crossroads.
A new group: Cool Cities has a new group, solving climate change one city at a time.
A new action: Oceans provide us the beaches and waves that Americans flock to all year round. But they also feed the world, regulate our climate, provide jobs and transportation, produce oxygen and shelter half of the world's species. There's a proposal sitting in Congress. Get behind the Healthy Oceans Act.
A new recipe: Baked ravioli. Looking for a sustainable gift for Dad on Father's Day? This'll knock his socks off.
Posted by: Heather M at 9:18AM PST on June 9, 2009
The debate over the American Clean Energy and Security bill continues in the House - and if you want to keep on the latest happenings from today, then you should definitely be paying attention to Grist reporters Dave Roberts and Kate Sheppard. Both are twittering from today's House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing on cap-and-trade pollution permit allocation.
Dave is at www.twitter.com/david_h_roberts
Kate is at www.twitter.com/kate_sheppard
Also, our friends over at PowerShift have people inside the hearing as well - we've heard that they've got folks inside wearing the green hard hats. Nice! Check out their liveblogging of this ACES hearing.
Posted by: RAW at 3:37PM PST on June 8, 2009
Everyone's favorite former Massachusetts governor, Mitt Romney, came out of the woodwork yet again last week to go on an offensive attacking President Obama. My inbox was soon flooded with google alerts as Romney mentioned the Sierra Club in interview after interview. He may not heart us, but he sure hearts talking about us.
Romney, a nominal Michigander, led the charge against both fuel economy standards and the landmark California global warming emissions standards for cars during his ill-fated presidential campaign. (He was slightly more popular than the Edsel.) Last week, as Chrysler's bankruptcy proceedings drew to a close and GM's began, Romney invoked the Sierra Club in order to try and prove some hackneyed chestnut about environmentalists killing the auto industry.
Romney's anti-Obama media tour found him declaring to one media outlet that GM ought to "focused on building the kind of cars Americans want, not the kind of cars that the Sierra Club would like to make us buy." He then told the Associated Press, "[l]ook, I don't want the Sierra Club telling General Motors what kind of cars they should build." He also repeated this point during an appearance on MSNBC.
While the Sierra Club may prove a convenient foil for conservatives' daily talking points (Rush Limbaugh usually mentions us several times every week), the truth about the auto industry is somewhat less convenient for Romney and others. The American auto industry is not in dire straits because the Sierra Club forced it to build cars people didn't want. It did that all by itself. In fact, the industry wasn't forced to do much of anything at all. Fuel economy standards languished for more than two decades. The auto industry fought California and other states that wanted to slash global warming emissions all the way to the Supreme Court.
Luckily, our president is named Barack Obama, not Mitt Romney. And luckily for the sake of the auto industry itself, our national security, and our planet, President Obama understands that the automakers must innovate and start making the kind of fuel-efficient, quality cars that all Americans -- not just the Sierra Club -- want. By essentially implementing California’s landmark standards nationwide, President Obama will renew the industry by making sure that the next generation of advanced autos are made right here in the U.S. (GM just announced one such car). Oh, and it'll slash our dependence on oil, save consumers a boatload at the pump, and fight global warming at the same time. The auto industry gets this too -- that's why they stood right behind Obama when he announced his comprehensive national plan for clean cars.
Unfortunately for Romney and other conservatives, there's no provision in the law to help people who are intellectually bankrupt. They might, however, fall under Lemon Laws.
Posted by: Carl Pope at 3:32PM PST on June 8, 2009
Americans hate Big Oil and Big Coal, and they disapprove of bailouts for even their iconic car companies. But we tend to have a soft spot for our local public utilities -- and that is turning out to be a very dangerous thing. For it's the political clout of Big Power (not all of it, but a swath of monopolies like AEP, Duke, and, above all, the mighty Southern Company, ruling over its empire from Peachtree Street in Atlanta) that is one of the biggest threats to our health. These utilities provide the muscle and the enforcement power to keep Capitol Hill in the bailout business for the coal and nuclear suppliers of their fuel, and their influence was on spectacular display last week.
The empire made its second strike against the newly reformed EPA and its engineer-turned-top-cop, Administrator Lisa Jackson. (The first came when the House Commerce Committee agreed to limit the EPA's ability to regulate carbon dioxide pollution from power plants in its compromise Climate Bill -- a bright-line rule that environmentalists must get fixed before final passage of any climate legislation.) The second was launched when Senators Kent Conrad and Sam Brownback began circulating a "Dear Colleague" letter to other senators telling Administrator Jackson that they oppose regulation of coal ash as a hazardous waste, which would require a permit from the EPA based on federally enforceable standards.
Instead, Senators Brownback and Conrad want coal ash -- a highly toxic mix including massive quantities of heavy metals -- treated like ordinary household garbage.
Posted by: Brian F. at 2:30PM PST on June 8, 2009
Join the action "No Child Left Inside" and sign the petition. In related news -- today from the Sierra Club press office:
Posted by: Brian F. at 9:53AM PST on June 8, 2009
There is something endearing about the fact that Grassley, a septuagenarian U.S. Senator and truly an elder statesman of Iowa politics, so baldly puts his whims and thoughts out there for the public at large. Quite frankly, if a staffer had done this in a Senator's name, he or she would risk getting fired. But no, the Senator himself does it.
Posted by: Brian F. at 9:44AM PST on June 8, 2009
Posted by: Brian F. at 4:22PM PST on June 5, 2009
This is a guest post by Jesse Prentice-Dunn of the Sierra Club Green Transportation Campaign.
In the hearing on Tuesday, the EPA will be asking the public to comment on the agency's program to increase the use of biofuels. We're expecting that turnout will be high and that testimony will be both highly critical and supportive of the EPA's plans.
Here’s a quick preview:
For the past two weeks, Colin Peterson, the Chairman of the Agriculture Committee in the House of Representatives, has threatened to work to defeat comprehensive energy and climate legislation unless extensive changes are made to the RFS to eliminate environmental safeguards and further prop up the corn ethanol industry. Peterson's bluster is no laughing matter, as the entire House Agriculture Committee has co-sponsored his bill (HR 2409). Similar viewpoints asking the EPA to ignore science and environmental safeguards will no doubt be expressed at Tuesday's hearing.
The recent spotlight on biofuels has made the EPA's hearing that much more important. We'll be at the EPA's hearing to show that the public supports a strong, science-based standard that makes sure biofuels reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and are a part of the solution to global warming, not the problem. It is imperative we increase our use of biofuels responsibly by taking a big picture account of the full lifecycle emissions of these fuels - from the field to the tailpipe, including consequences for land use as we grow more crops for fuel.
Get involved and join our new Green Transportation group on Climate Crossroads for more information.
Posted by: Paul Scott at 11:06AM PST on June 5, 2009
It's been a long time coming, but we have finally achieved the first "cold ironing" of a tanker in the Port of Long Beach. Cold Ironing is the term for plugging a ship's electrical system into the on-shore grid to supply power so that the ship's giant diesel engine can be turned off while it's docked. Normally, these engines crank out massive amounts of pollution, equal to "a day's worth of driving by 187,000 cars", according to estimates by the Port of Long Beach.
The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) initiated suits against the ports over 7 years ago to make this happen, and it was a long difficult fight, but the NRDC's attorneys persevered and eventually won. This event marks the first of what we hope will be the electrification of all the tanker and cargo ships while docked in the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. For too long, the people living downwind of the ports have suffered the ill effects of this pollution with heart and lung disease, cancers and asthma rates that are significantly higher than average.
Every kilowatt hour used to replace the burning of petroleum helps us to clean our environment, saves us money and reduces the need to fight wars over oil.
Posted by: Bruce Nilles at 10:54AM PST on June 5, 2009
Co-written with Mary Anne Hitt, deputy director of the Sierra Club Beyond Coal Campaign.
Everyday we see signs of the growing grassroots movement for clean energy in the U.S. Americans are not just demanding that we switch from coal to clean energy, they’re getting together to take action on a local and national scale.
We’ve got some great examples of this for you. First, on Tuesday night as part of the Sierra Club’s Big Picture campaign, more than 320 people got together at 71 house parties across the U.S. to discuss and plan our next action on the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) global warming endangerment finding.
Some of these parties attracted 20 people or more. Attendees listened to a national conference call on the issue. The conference call was even inspiring enough to get one of the operators from the conference call service to stay on afterwards to tell us that the call was fascinating and ask how she could get involved.
As a result of these parties, we now have dozens of new climate leaders involved across the nation. As one house party attendee told us: "It was such a boost to see young, new energy inspired by the campaign!"
Watch this video to see the momentum growing with our Big Picture campaign.
Posted by: Brian F. at 9:29AM PST on June 5, 2009
A quick review of this past week's happenings in the blog world
There is a lot of room for carbon offsets in the Waxman-Markey climate bill, which is currently sitting in the House of Representative waiting for a vote. This has reinvigorated the offset debate. Some feel carbon offsets are ineffective or downright immoral. Noam Scheiber at The New Republic went so far as to ponder whether offsetting adultery through Papal Indulgences is analogous.
If it's immoral to pollute gratuitously, then buying an offset doesn't somehow make it better, any more than buying a papal indulgence or an infidelity offset wipes away a sin.
This blogger thinks the comparison is kind of silly:
One reason is that I don't necessarily think of the cost associated with consuming fossil fuels as moral. It's a market failure. The issue is that there is a social cost -- an externality -- that isn't internalized by the consumer. Ordinary consumers acting in ordinary, rational ways create the problem. (Is that the case with adultery?)
Maybe adultery isn't the best way of framing the "carbon dilemma," which this writer tries to explain:
Meanwhile, ClimateProgress.org takes a very thorough look at the offsets specified in the Waxman bill.
The flaw in the Waxman-Markey bill is not the too-many offsets that domestic polluters are (potentially) allowed to purchase in lieu of actually reducing their own emissions. The flaw in Waxman-Markey is the too-mild 2020 target — a 17% reduction from 2005 levels — which will be so easy to achieve with various low-cost clean energy strategies that it’s hard to see why polluters would avail themselves of the higher-cost offsets option.
Elsewhere in the blogosphere...
Are climate change and thermonuclear Armageddon comparable?
Bill Clinton explains why he didn't do more to fight climate change during his presidency.
Do you live in the Midwest? Are you pro-High Speed Rail? Then this is the blog post for you.
The wind energy market: Signs of stagnation with a good chance of picking up again.
And read about India's goal of 200 gigawatts of solar by 2050.
Posted by: John Byrne Barry at 4:06PM PST on June 4, 2009
Here's another easy plant -- the Peruvian lily.
Looks great outside like this:
I'm just not going to go studying about how it's a tuberous-rooted plant or anything like that.
I started with one clump of these lilies in my front yard, maybe six or seven years ago, and there are two thriving patches there now. And another four or five clumps in the back.
These are photos from the front yard, taken at dusk, so they don' t look as vibrant as the ones above.
That first one is the site of the original planting, and the second one is more recent. You can in the background of the second photo that there are lot more of them. Those are in my neighbor's front yard, and she's a real gardener, so they do even better when you're not so lazy.
Case in point: It's in the backyard, on the edges of the vegetable garden, where the Peruvian Lily have kicked ass the most. (That's where the first photo, at the top of this post was taken, and where the ones in the vases came from.) The stalks are taller, the flowers more bountiful.
For two simple reasons: They're on the drip irrigation line, so they're watered more regularly, at the same time as the veggies, and they get more sun.
Talking about the garden reminds me of an email conversation I had recently with my brother Mike, whose dog Miles died in May. "He left behind surprisingly few great accomplishments," he (my brother, not the dog) wrote, "but what a great friend he turned out to be."
There are far more than enough blooming outside that I can clip another batch for indoors and still have plenty left in the garden.
Posted by: Brian F. at 11:49AM PST on June 4, 2009
The band does its best to support a culture of sustainability, using instruments built from naturally fallen trees and reclaimed woods, producing music with renewable energy, and packaging everything with recycled materials. The group's latest record has been called the "greenest of albums" because of the extraordinary environmental stewardship behind the making of the music. During the 100% solar-powered recording session, the band camped in tents in the woods, lived on local organic produce, and commuted over 500 miles by bicycle.
Are you a friend of the environment? Have you recorded a song that you'd like to see posted here? Send us an mp3. We might post it! We plan on posting free downloads a few times a month.
Posted by: Brian F. at 9:48AM PST on June 4, 2009
Scores of house parties were held across the country Tuesday as part of the Big Picture campaign, which all turned out to be a great success. This snapshot was taken by Roger Singer at a party in Boulder.
Posted by: Don Knapp, ICLEI USA at 4:17PM PST on June 3, 2009
(From ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability USA 's Local Action Blog. By Annie Strickler.)
The NBA Finals start tomorrow, tennis is in high gear at the French Open, Phil Mickelson has confirmed he will play in golf’s US Open, and baseball is fast approaching the All Star Game, but it’s the NFL that’s making headlines. And, no, I’m not talking about whether Brett Favre will play for the Vikings or Michael Vick’s recent release from prison.
The NFL is making green waves with a host of new and under-construction stadiums that have Superbowl-sized sustainability commitments.
This Saturday, the Dallas Cowboys’ new stadium in Arlington, TX, opens to the public. Given that everything is bigger in Texas, you can understand the rabid attention to the retractable roof – at about 660,000 square feet it’s the largest of its kind in the world – and two high-definition video displays that each measure 160 feet wide by 72 feet high (running from approximately one 25-yard line to the other). But those aren’t the most impressive stats.
The team, which had originally applied to be part of an Environmental Protection Agency program that has since been scrapped, has forged ahead with green initiatives in building the $1.5 billion stadium. The goals include reducing solid waste by 25 percent, energy use by 20 percent and water consumption by 1 million gallons annually. Green design elements include the stadium’s translucent retractable roof and green parking lots that facilitate stormwater runoff.
Posted by: Brian F. at 4:05PM PST on June 3, 2009
In a show of support for re-usable bags, the D.C. City Council voted yesterday to slap a five-cent charge on anyone who'll need a plastic or paper bag at the grocery store. Said one council-member: "The fact is our country is becoming inundated with plastic bags and plastic bottles. . . . This is the first step to try to address this issue." The council's action is part of a growing trend.
Do you want to get involved? Join the Plastics Pledge on Crossroads.
Posted by: Carl Pope at 3:45PM PST on June 3, 2009
Last August, then-candidate Barack Obama declared that, if elected, he would create five million new, green jobs. He's pushed that promise hard, with his stimulus package, appointments, and support of an ambitious climate-protection bill. But since he made the promise, more than five million Americans have lost their jobs. The fossil-fuel monopolies of the past -- coal and oil -- have mounted a vicious counterattack, hoping to strangle the clean-energy recovery before it can gain momentum. And Congress -- ever inclined to water things down and split the difference -- is showing more and more signs of missing the point: We need to do something BIG.
So, at this week's "America's Future Now!" conference, I urged the audience to raise our ambitions for green jobs, and start demanding not five million, but ten million new livelihoods for Americans who want to build a new energy future. I warned that while Obama has indeed been clear that he wants to move fast into the clean-energy economy: "There is something peculiar in the acoustics between the White House and Capitol Hill, something that deadens the trumpet peals of vision, disrupts the harmonics of urgency, and muffles even a clarion call to arms."
Posted by: Brian F. at 8:59AM PST on June 3, 2009
Posted by: CityCyclist at 6:50AM PST on June 3, 2009
Well, I suppose this is one way of at looking at it. From Michael Moore:
The things we call "cars" may have been fun to drive, but they are like a million daggers into the heart of Mother Nature. To continue to build them would only lead to the ruin of our species and much of the planet.
To be fair, he does try to look at the unique opportunity that "reinventing" GM gives us, as well.
Posted by: Paul Scott at 1:10PM PST on June 2, 2009
New production electric cars are being delivered at a rate of 100 per month. Teslas mostly, like you see here in the picture. But, the first BMW MINI E was also delivered last week, and we'll have about 500 more of them on the road within the month.
PV/EV -- Get it?
Posted by: Brian F. at 10:32AM PST on June 2, 2009
Posted by: Brian F. at 3:29PM PST on June 1, 2009
What's happening at these parties?
-Watch "behind the scenes" videos of the Virginia and Seattle EPA global warming endangerment hearings.
And when your party wraps up, post your pictures here.
Posted by: Brian F. at 3:15PM PST on June 1, 2009
Cool Cities has a new group, and a blog, on Crossroads. Join the group to get the latest news and actions from Cool Cities.
Speaking of actions, there are a few new ones to check out. Take action on saving habitat that belongs to the Florida Panther. And thank the Obama White House for his new CAFE standards. Of course, anyone who's a member of Crossroads can post an action of his or her own.
Posted by: Brian F. at 1:49PM PST on June 1, 2009
Posted by: Brian F. at 11:25AM PST on June 1, 2009
Poll results from the Crossroads homepage:
Which of these is your favorite eco-flick of the past year?
Disneynature's Earth. 28%
Under the Sea 3-D. 13%
There's a Green Films Fan Club group on Crossroads. Join it and discuss your favorite flick!
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