Laurel Whitney's blog

Thu, 2012-12-27 06:00Laurel Whitney
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How Electric Providers Use Sleazy Scams To Sell Energy

Imagine this:

You're working from home on a Friday, winding down from the week, furiously reading the latest climate news until you commute from the living room to your bed to begin your normal 3:00 brainstorming session (aka a nap). Suddenly, the door rings. Who could be stopping by on a Friday afternoon?

Groggy from your midday siesta, you drag yourself to the front door wearing your pink fluffy robe (because seriously, if you're working from home and taking a nap, you're not wearing pants), only to open it to two smiling men in business suits.

“Ma'am, there's something wrong with your energy bill, you're being charged too much. May we see it?”

In your somewhat drunken stupor, you're baffled as to how that could be, but oblige. Somehow, 20 minutes later, you're signing a contract just to get these weirdos out of your doorway and back to your nap.

All of a sudden, the realization sets in- you've been scammed by energy brokers.

Sun, 2012-12-16 07:00Laurel Whitney
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Medical And Scientific Experts Urge Halting Fracking Rush Until Medical Unknowns Are Better Understood

This week, the group Physicians, Scientists, and Engineers for Healthy Energy (PSE) declared they would submit a petition to the White House signed by 107 experts to urge the administration to slow down and consider the health effects of natural gas fracking before allowing any new permits. They want the government to consider the two ethical principles adhered to by physicians: “do no harm” and that of “informed consent.”

The petition stems from the possibility that the Obama administration might “fast-track” the permits for LNG exports. LNG, or liquefied natural gas, comes almost exclusively from the fracking process. The government wants to build export terminals to sell the gas overseas, which would increase demand and production for fracked gas within our borders.

The main concern is with flowback water produced during the fracking process that comes back up to the surface. Companies still won't reveal what's in the chemical fluid mixed with water used to extract the gas citing a potential “loss of competitive advantage.”

Even with known chemicals, doctors and scientists are still studying the ways that public health could be put at risk by exposure. The flowback water from the wells poses a high risk to communities through both water and air contamination.

Sun, 2012-11-25 06:00Laurel Whitney
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ACCCE PR Rhetoric On Low-Income Households Does Not Compute

The ACCCE PR robots suffered a bit of malfunction recently when attempting to spit out the coal industry's usual talking points. Researchers at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst released a report last week which discovered that low-income households, and often minorities that encompass the low-income bracket, are disproportionately affected by coal pollution.

The report looked at the distribution of people who live within 3 miles of coal-generating power plants. Residents living within this range are the most likely to suffer negative health effects associated with sulfate and nitric oxide pollution.

Unsurprisingly, most of the people living in this zone are low-income or people of color. So how did the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity PR bots respond?

JOBS!! ENERGY COSTS!!

Thu, 2012-11-01 15:17Laurel Whitney
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NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg Endorses Obama, Cites Climate Change

Earlier today, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg gave his official endorsement to President Barack Obama.

After a lukewarm statement yesterday about climate's effect on the storm, now climate change is front and center on Bloomberg's radar.

Our climate is changing,” penned the mayor in a Bloomberg News editorial. “One [candidate] sees climate change as an urgent problem that threatens our planet; one does not. I want our president to place scientific evidence and risk management above electoral politics.”

President Obama says he is “honored” to have Mayor Bloomberg's endorsement, and broke his own climate silence in response (other than MTV, he hasn't discussed it):

I'm honored to have Mayor Bloomberg's endorsement.  I deeply respect him for his leadership in business, philanthropy and government, and appreciate the extraordinary job he's doing right now, leading New York City through these difficult days.  

While we may not agree on every issue, Mayor Bloomberg and I agree on the most important issues of our time - that the key to a strong economy is investing in the skills and education of our people, that immigration reform is essential to an open and dynamic democracy, and that climate change is a threat to our children's future, and we owe it to them to do something about it. …” [H/T TPMemo]

Wed, 2012-10-31 17:05Laurel Whitney
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Climate Silence No More As Sandy Rips Through the East Coast

There's a question I often pose to my undergrad students after discussing the many implications of climate change:

“Do you think we'll be able to change before it's too late, or do you think it's going to take some kind of natural disaster to get us moving?”

Unsurprisingly, most students choose the latter, although melancholically. It's not that they want it to be the case, but with all the data and warnings from scientists, up against the misinformation spewing from powerful fossil fuel corporations, they logically don't see it happening any other way.

It's the sad truth considering we're on the verge of a major presidential election and not once has either candidate discussed climate change or its potential threat to our country in the debates.

And while environmentalists and climate hawks rightfully shamed the candidates for not addressing the issue, apparently Mother Nature wasn't going to let “climate silence” continue. Hurricane Sandy slammed into the coast bringing the east coast to its knees.

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