In June 1989 President Bush proposed sweeping revisions to the Clean Air Act....(T)he President proposed legislation designed to curb three major threats to the nation's environment and to the health of millions of Americans: acid rain, urban air pollution, and toxic air emissions. The proposal also called for establishing a national permits program to make the law more workable, and an improved enforcement program to help ensure better compliance with the Act.The Clean Air Act has a long track record of cutting dangerous pollution to protect human health and the environment and spur innovation. It deserves to be celebrated and protected.
By large votes, both the House of Representatives (401-21) and the Senate (89-11) passed Clean Air bills that contained the major components of the President's proposals. Both bills also added provisions requiring the phaseout of ozone-depleting chemicals....The Senate and House bills also added specific research and development provisions, as well as detailed programs to address accidental releases of toxic air pollutants.
....The President received the Bill from Congress on November 14, 1990 and signed it on November 15,1990.
American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE) has spent more than $16.3 million in 2010, including $3,005,540 on a national ad and buys in Washington, D.C., Montana, and Texas over the last three months. The group has budgeted $20 million for online campaigns. This Big Coal front group is infamous for its forged letters to members of Congress opposing clean energy and climate legislation that resulted in a congressional investigation.But the shady politics don't stop there. If you ever wanted evidence that the coal industry is corrupting our politics, look no further than the state of Kansas and the decision Tuesday by Governor Mark Parkinson to fire his chief environmental official Rod Bremby.
In filing for a preliminary injunction in U.S. District Court, the government cites persistently dangerous conditions in Massey Energy's Freedom Mine No. 1 in Pike County....The Freedom Mine employs about 130 miners and was cited for safety violations more than 700 times this year alone.Coal is dirty and dangerous, and our politics and our health are at risk as long as the coal industry maintains its lock on our energy sector.
Tomorrow, November 5th, the United
States Export-Import (Ex-Im) Bank is scheduled to consider greenhouse gas
impacts of the controversial Kusile coal-fired power plant proposal in the
built, Kusile would be one of the largest greenhouse gas-emitting power plants
in the world, which will also emit other forms of toxic pollution into the
local environment. Kusile would increase
Ex-Im Bank must respect the Integrated Resource Plan and Climate Strategy
processes. South Africans must be able to pursue our own energy development
path” said Sunita Dubey coordinator with groundWork in
The project, and the South African state energy utility, Eskom, are the focus of growing opposition from local communities who will bear the brunt of such a disastrous decision.
“Eskom and their large industrial customers hide behind the
rhetoric of solving energy poverty when it’s clear that it is the poor who will
pay the most
While Ex-Im Bank meets to discuss the carbon implications of the project, controversies surrounding the finances of Eskom continue to mount. With public anger over financial bailouts to failing industries and banks still fresh in the minds of many American voters, civil society organizations are also questioning the financial wisdom of Ex-Im Bank bailing out Eskom.
Eskom has thus far only secured 11 percent of the $19 billion price tag required to move the project forward. This comes despite billions in direct loans and loan guarantees from the South African government. With project delays and costs rising every year, a shadow of doubt has fallen over this troubled project, which has consequently been unable to attract adequate private financing to fill the enormous financial gap. Ex-Im Bank’s financing is sought to help prop up this fiasco.
“As if bailing out Wall Street wasn’t enough, the
In addition to the risks posed by Kusile, large capital
needs for another enormous and highly controversial coal power project in
“Eskom has over-reached on these enormous dirty coal-fired power projects. They simply can’t secure the capital needed from foreign investors who see the clear risks associated with these investments,” said Karen Orenstein with Friends of the Earth U.S.
Meanwhile, President Obama’s National Export Initiative, which seeks to double exports over five years, has created a perverse incentive for Ex-Im Bank to prioritize large-scale fossil fuel financing, at the expense of the nascent clean technology sector.
“The Ex-Im Bank must say no to this project. What the U.S. needs is dramatically ramped up investments in clean energy technology to help revitalize our economy and launch commerce into the 21st century, not bailouts for irresponsible utilities like Eskom,” said John Coequyt, Director of International Climate Programs at the Sierra Club.
Eleven influential senators led by Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR) wrote a letter to Secretary Hillary Clinton urging her to answer some critical questions before granting approval to the massive Keystone XL pipeline, which would pump tar sands crude from Montana to Texas and through the largest aquifer in the US.
The senators highlighted ten concerns with the current proposal, including a failure to account for dramatic increases in greenhouse gas emissions, lack of proposed alternatives to the pipeline like efficiency measures and bio-fuels, and increased pollution in American communities already suffering from toxic refineries. The Senators also pointed to the possibility of the Keystone XL opening up an international market for tar sands in the Gulf, increasing our risk from more toxic spills without providing the energy security proponents tout.
This letter adds to the growing wave of resistance to the Keystone XL project. Thousands of citizens have written to Secretary Clinton opposing the pipeline, the EPA and the Department of Interior gave the State Department’s initial environmental impact analysis a failing grade, and the Department Of Energy has questioned the purported energy security benefits of this risky project.
“As you recently stated, tar sands oil is “dirty oil.” Approval of this pipeline will significantly increase our dependence on this oil for decades,” the senators wrote. “We believe the Department of State (DOS) should not pre-judge the outcome of what should be a thorough, transparent analysis of the need for this oil and its impacts on our climate and clean energy goals.”
The letter comes as a response to remarks Clinton made last week indicating her department was “inclined” to support the Keystone XL. In addressing the pointed concerns raised by this influential group of lawmakers, Secretary Clinton will find it difficult to simply rubber-stamp to another oil industry mega-project, especially in light of the Obama administration’s stated goals of reducing oil consumption and carbon emissions.
In determining if the Keystone XL is truly in the “national interest”, Secretary Clinton must realize that the interests of major oil companies do not align with the nation-wide effort to reduce our costly and deadly addiction to dirty fossil fuels. The concerns raised by these Senators make it increasingly clear that locking in dependence on more of the world's dirtiest oil is the wrong decision for America's clean energy future, and Secretary Clinton must deny the Keystone XL pipeline.
At least 230 ducks died yesterday after landing on toxic tailings ponds at several tar sands mines in Alberta. This event is as ironic as it is depressing, as just last week major tar sands producer Syncrude was fined $3.2 million for the death of over 1,600 ducks that landed on its tailings lakes in April 2008.
The recently settled court case with Syncrude led to the installation of better deterrents, including air cannons and scarecrows, at tailings ponds designed to scare birds away. That doesn’t seem to matter, as company officials claim their deterrents were fully operational yesterday as hundreds of migrating waterfowl perished in the poison lakes.
Alberta Environment Minister Rob Renner called the newest incident "discouraging in the extreme". Though Minister Renner’s comments refer to the public relations disaster this event will surely create for tar sands producers and their complicit government regulators, what is truly discouraging is continued lax regulation of these massive health threats despite repeated events illustrating just how dangerous they are. New tailings ponds continue to be proposed and permitted, companies continue to self-regulate, and the public and environmental health of Alberta continues to suffer.
Tailings lakes currently cover 170 square kilometers of Alberta’s landscape, posing an ongoing threat not just to wildlife but human health as well. Acutely fatal to animals that wander into these vast toxic ponds, the long-term effects of millions of gallons of toxic seepages on Alberta’s groundwater also pose a serious health threat to those living nearby. Studies by leading Canadian scientists have revealed elevated concentrations of toxic heavy metals near and downstream from tar sands operations, and nearby indigenous communities report abnormally high rates of rare cancers.
These toxic lakes and the tar sands that create them are a public health threat, and continue to wreak havoc on the wildlife of Alberta despite the industry’s efforts to make them ‘safe’. There is no such thing as a safe tailings pond, and there never will be. The only way to truly safeguard the health of Alberta’s people and environment is to eliminate tailings ponds entirely, or, better yet- kick our oil addiction and power our economy on clean renewable sources instead of increasing production of the dirtiest fuel on Earth.
The health threats of tar sands are not limited to Alberta’s failed struggle to manage the environmental and health crisis created by poison tailings ponds.
A new pipeline, called the Keystone XL, is being planned to pump tar sands crude through six states, crossing America’s largest aquifer that supplies water to one fifth of cattle, corn and wheat grown in the United States. Opposition from citizens and national leaders has been strong, but some officials seem willing to allow Alberta’s toxic tar sands to threaten our water and health. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recently indicated she is “inclined to approve” the Keystone XL pipeline, which would expose US citizens to more toxic spills and lock us into dependence on the world’s dirtiest oil for decades.
Contact Secretary Clinton today and tell her the Keystone XL is not worth the health risks, and tar sands have no place in America’s clean energy future.
Coal-fired power plants are commonly identified as the nation's biggest emissions villain. But that notoriety hasn't slowed the rush to build them in Texas, where there are nearly 30 coal plants either operating, permitted or proposed.Moving on to natural gas news, yesterday Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell announced a moratorium on any future natural gas drilling on public lands in the state.
What has given many folks pause is the amount of water consumed by the plants.
Thermoelectric power plants - those that use heat to generate power, such as nuclear, coal and natural gas - are the single largest user of water in the United States. In Texas alone, they consume 157 billion gallons annually - enough water for more than 3 million people, each using 140 gallons per day, a recent University of Texas at Austin analysis found.
"The Sierra Club applauds this stopgap measure, but it is not enough," said Pennsylvania Sierra Club Director Jeff Schmidt. "We are appalled that the Pennsylvania Senate failed to pass a natural gas severance tax, a state forest protection bill, or other Marcellus gas-related legislation before adjourning. Senate leadership has chosen to put political campaigning ahead of the needs of the people of Pennsylvania."The Keystone State is a natural gas battleground right now, with residents uniting to express their concerns about "fracking." On Nov. 3rd, the Pennsylania Sierra Club is joining a massive coalition protesting a natural gas conference in Pittsburgh. The Sierra Club nationally and in Pennsylvania are working hard to call for safe natural gas as a transition fuel.
"We are delighted with this solar power project in the two south Houston schools -- It not only demonstrates the best direction for Texas clean energy future, it also provides real benefits to the schools and the young people," said Sierra Club's Jennifer Powis. "The school district is expected to save over $10,000 annually in reduced electricity bills and the students will study and learn how solar power works."More good energy news, this time on the efficiency front. Yesterday EPA announced the winners of its First National Building Competition to Save Energy.