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Sun, 2013-03-03 12:00Farron Cousins
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The Environmental Impact Of The Sequester Cuts

The failure of elected officials in Washington, D.C. to reach a deal on the “sequester” led to an automatic $85 billion cut to the federal budget on March 1st.  And, unfortunately, environmental initiatives and other projects were the first to be placed on the chopping block.

Environmental programs within the United States – everything from wildlife refuges to clean air and water programs – have already been grossly underfunded for years, and the sequester cuts are only going to make things much, much worse for our environment.

One program that was gearing up to be cut less than 24 hours after sequester took effect was the Bureau of Labor Statistics green jobs survey.  This program allowed the administration to track the creation and tally of jobs within the clean energy and other “green” sectors, a program that many Republicans in Washington had wanted to cut from day one. 

But those cuts are just the beginning.  Energy Secretary Steven Chu said that the mandatory cuts are going to severely hurt investment and research into lightweight automobile construction and fuel cell technology, investments that were aimed at helping increase automobile fuel efficiency and reducing our gasoline consumption.  Those programs will now have to wait to receive funding.

Chu said that the cuts the Energy Department is facing would significantly slow down the country’s quest to become energy independent, a goal that 64% of Americans (from both sides of the political aisle) favor.

Fri, 2011-09-02 14:16Ben Jervey
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Reality Check: New Keystone XL Report Blows Up Steven Chu's "Energy Security" Claim

Earlier this week, in an interview with EnergyNow!, U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu hinted that the administration would likely approve the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. The controversial pipeline, which would carry filthy diluted bitumen (or DilBit) crude 1,700 miles across six Great Plains states, 1,904 waterways, and the nation’s largest freshwater aquifer, needs State Department approval to cross the international border. Opposition to the pipeline is fierce – over the past two weeks over 1,000 activists have been arrested at the White House in a massive act of civil disobedience – as environmentalists, Great Plains landowners, scientists, and public health activists alike warn of the inevitable oil spills and immense carbon pollution that would result from Keystone XL’s construction.
 
Proponents of the pipeline have been pushing the claim that building this pipeline will improve our energy security and reduce our dependence on oil from Venezuela and the Middle East. Companies like TransCanada, the Canadian energy company hoping to build the pipeline, and Valero, the Texas-based refinery company that stands to profit the most from the DilBit crude that it would deliver – have been more than happy to help perpetuate that myth, even if their internal discussions and the economics of the oil industry don’t back it up.  

Unfortunately, Secretary Chu’s interview on Wednesday revealed that the administration is going to use this false claim as political cover if (or, more realistically, when) they approve the construction of Keystone XL. Here’s the interview:
Wed, 2011-06-15 16:14TJ Scolnick
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President Obama’s Fracking Panel Unmoved By Pennsylvanians’ Water Concerns

On Monday, the Natural Gas Subcommittee, from Energy Department Secretary Stephen Chu’s Energy Advisory Board (SEAB), held its second public meeting.  Around 400 people packed a cramped auditorium at Washington Jefferson College in western Pennsylvania to discuss the effects of hydraulic fracturing (a.k.a. fracking) on water supplies, air quality and other threats from the controversial practice.

The crowd split into two camps, those opposing and those supporting the highly contentious drilling method which has spread across Pennsylvania. Fracking opponents argued that fracking is a dangerous and destructive process that must be banned immediately, while those in favour yelled out “drill, baby, drill.”

Given the circumstances it was not surprising that the pro-frackers won the evening. This was due, in large part, to the work of gas industry front-group Energy in Depth who sent out emails to Pennsylvania and New York residents supportive of fracking, offering them airfare, hotels and meals to attend. Tickets to see the Pittsburgh Pirates play the New York Mets were even offered, although later retracted.

Wed, 2009-10-14 15:09Brendan DeMelle
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The Incredible Shrinking U.S. Chamber of Commerce Faces Intense Pressure Over Extreme Climate Position

It turns out that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce only has 300,000 members, not the “more than 3 million” it claimed to represent just a day ago, before Mother Jones magazine questioned the business lobby’s inflated numbers.

The Chamber has now “quietly backed off” the 3 million figure, according to Mother Jones, which reports today that:

Since 1997, the “3 million” figure has appeared in print more than 200 times in newspapers and broadcast outlets of all sizes…
By contrast, the 300,000 figure, which appears nowhere on the Chamber’s website, is cited in the news database Lexis-Nexis only three times–infrequently enough to be mistaken for a typo.”


Getting called out for such “semantic tricks” is the least of the Chamber’s problems these days.

The Huffington Post reports that MacAndrews & Forbes Holdings, the holding company owned by multi-billionaire Ronald Perelman, is debating whether to leave the U.S. Chamber of Commerce over its extreme climate position and recent “Scopes Monkey Trial” challenge to the EPA over the Clean Air Act.

The Chamber has been losing members – real members out of its actual 300,000 or less total – at a rate of several each week lately.  Apple was the most recent in a string of high-profile defections including Exelon, Pacific Gas & Electric, PNM Resources, Nike, Levi Strauss & Co. and PSEG

The exodus has weakened the Chamber’s credibility on the Hill at a critical time when business leaders are descending on Washington to lobby Congress to pass strong climate and energy legislation. Pete Altman at NRDC’s Switchboard blog has compiled a running tally of editorials from around the country criticizing the Chamber’s intransigence on climate change in a post titled “The U.S. Chamber’s Continuing Climate Credibility Crisis.”

Thu, 2009-06-18 17:34Jeremy Jacquot
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The Climate Change Hangover

Let’s assume that the Obama administration and Congress get their act together this year and make good on their pledge of enacting meaningful climate legislation by establishing the nation’s first cap-and-trade system.

Let’s further assume, for the sake of argument, that the administration, working with its international partners, succeeds in drafting a robust successor to the Kyoto Protocol at the climate talks in Copenhagen later this year.

If we accept that the U.S. climate bill, known as the American Clean Energy and Security Act (ACES), will accomplish its goal of bringing down emission levels 80 percent below 2005 levels by 2050—which is nothing to sneeze at when you consider that a substantial fraction of policymakers (including some Democrats) vehemently oppose the measure—then the question becomes: Will it be enough to prevent the worst of climate change?

Wed, 2009-02-04 12:33Kevin Grandia
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US taxpayers on the hook for Senator Inhofe's conspiracy theories

Much like trusting your mechanic when he says you need new brakes or a doctor when he tells you that your cholesterol is too high, you would hope that elected officials would listen to the experts in a particular field when it comes to developing common sense government policies.

On the issue of global warming, that is happening now for the vast majority of the world’s leaders and their political colleagues. Even former US president George W. Bush came to be convinced of the need to action on global warming. Pretty hard not to be when you consider the mountains of evidence produced, tested and re-tested by scientists at top institutes like NASA, the Royal Society and the American Academy of Sciences.

And President Obama needs no convincing, nor does his Energy Secretary Steven Chu. Today, the Nobel-prize winning Chu said that, “California could lose all its agriculture by the end of the century, and that a number of its cities are also in peril due to worsening global warming.”

The Los Angeles Times reported that Chu said the state’s award-winning vineyards, as well its farms, could be wiped out in the starkest warning yet from the Obama administration.

“I don’t think the American public has gripped in its gut what could happen,” Chu said. “We’re looking at a scenario where there’s no more agriculture in California,” adding, “I don’t actually see how they can keep their cities going.”

This is where the waste of taxpayer’s dollars comes in in the form of Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) who continues to spend his days ignoring the expertise of the best in the field and grasping onto a delusion that he and his handful of conspiracy theorists are somehow “winning,” as if science is a high school popularity contest.

Sun, 2009-01-18 12:46Sheril Kirshenbaum
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Reading The Climate Change Czars

Few challenges facing America – and the world – are more urgent than combating climate change…Many of you are working to confront this challenge….but too often, Washington has failed to show the same kind of leadership. That will change when I take office.”

So began Barack Obama in a video message addressed to the Bi-Partisan Governors Global Climate Summit just weeks after the election. However, while he supports an 80 percent reduction of emissions by 2050 through a cap and trade bill, Obama’s nominations leave us uncertain of how the new administration intends to take on global warming.  

The President-elect’s energy team marks a stark contrast from George W. Bush’s inertia on climate change. Consider Steven Chu, our next Secretary of Energy: As a leading voice in the science community on the dangers of excess CO2, he will be an advocate for the development of alternatives to limit fossil fuel consumption.

Likewise, former head of the Environmental Protection Agency Carol Browner will serve as Assistant to the president for energy and climate change. Her appointment makes additional strides toward an aggressive approach because she will coordinate agency climate change policies while balancing economic and national security considerations. Another strong pick is Lisa Jackson to head the EPA who is expected to play a critical role toward establishing cap-and-trade legislation. These nominations demonstrate that science will once again be taken seriously in government.

The science team looks equally promising. John Holdren as science advisor provides Obama with an international expert on climate and energy who has long advocated for firm government regulation of greenhouse gas emissions. Adding momentum, marine scientist Jane Lubchenco should guide the Commerce department’s focus on climate policy through her role as head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Fri, 2008-12-19 15:36Page van der Linden
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Nightmare On Coal Street: The Video

Earlier this week, President-elect Barack Obama announced his picks for his energy team, with Dr. Steven Chu to head up the Department of Energy.

Dr. Chu is not the happy holiday gift the “clean coal” folks were hoping for.

The blogosphere has been abuzz with something Chu said about coal in an alternative energy talk he gave at UC Berkeley in April 2007. The video of the talk is nearly two hours long, but we snagged the important bit, where he talks about coal.

Thu, 2008-12-11 07:13Chris Mooney
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Chuse Science

Late yesterday, reports started zinging around suggesting that the Obama transition team was ready to announce its energy and environment leaders.

By now it’s clear they are the following: former New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection commissioner Lisa Jackson will head up the Environmental Protection Agency; current Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory director Steven Chu will become Secretary of Energy; and Clinton administration EPA head Carol Browner will fill a newly created post, that of White House “climate czar.” In addition, Nancy Sutley, the current City of Los Angeles “deputy mayor” for Energy and Environment (and, of these four, the person with the thinnest Wikipedia profile), will come in as chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality.

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