In December 2014, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released long-awaited coal ash safety standards designed to increase the reliability of coal ash disposal sites. These standards had been years in the making, but stopped short of classifying coal ash as a hazardous waste material, which many advocates had been hoping for.
The new standards enacted by the EPA require stricter structural integrity standards for new coal ash disposal sites, and mandate that the ash ponds not be located near sensitive environmental areas such as wetlands or near fault lines. They also ramped up the inspection and compliance standards for existing disposal sites. The new standards also require coal companies to publicly disclose disposal operations.
While all of these new requirements are fairly common sense steps, coal industry-funded politicians in Washington are not happy, and one month after announcing the new standards, they began launching their attack to undo them.
Leading the charge is Republican Representative David McKinley from West Virginia. McKinley sponsored legislation earlier this year that would strip the public disclosure portion of the rules and allow states to take over the permitting process for coal ash disposal site construction, effectively pushing the EPA out of the way.
Officials in the state of Florida are finally taking action against climate change. They have declared war on global warming. They are taking a firm stand and making bold actions to finally end the threat of climate change.
But before you get too excited, we aren’t talking about the climate change that threatens our coastlines, water supplies, or agriculture. We’re talking about the actual language used to describe these events.
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is no longer allowed to use the terms “climate change” or “global warming” in official correspondence. The Florida Center for Investigative Reporting (FCIR) spoke with former DEP officials who told the agency that the department was forbidden from using those terms when any official communication from the agency. They were also not allowed to use the word “sustainability,” according to the FCIR.
An internal Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) document (provided in full below) warns “violent anti-petroleum extremists” driven by an “anti-petroleum ideology” pose a criminal threat to Canada’s oil and gas industry. The document, reported on today by the Globe and Mail, reveals growing concern within the RCMP about opponents of pipelines or fracking and “violent aboriginal extremists,” suggesting they have the ability to incite criminal activity across the country.
Yet representatives from Canada’s broad environmental movement say the document is another example of the Harper government’s efforts to criminalize legitimate civil dissent such as peaceful climate activism and pipeline opposition.
The document, a Critical Infrastructure Intelligence Assessment report from early 2014 originally obtained by Greenpeace, provides “intelligence and/or information” that “may be used to assist in the protection of Canada’s [critical infrastructure],” such as pipelines and other oil and gas infrastructure. In recent years, discussion of Canada’s critical infrastructure (CI) has shifted from a focus on digital and electricity networks to energy-related infrastructure.
The RCMP intelligence report suggests growing opposition movements against pipelines should be seen and treated as criminal security threats although groups mentioned in the report are quick to point out the document fits into a much larger strategy, led by the Harper government, to beat back pipeline or oilsands opponents.
“This is absolutely the criminalization of peaceful protest,” Keith Stewart from Greenpeace Canada, one of the groups named in the document, said.
In early February 2014, Duke Energy reported that a coal ash storage site along the Dan River had crumbled, releasing more than 39,000 tons of toxic coal ash into the waterway. This was not the first time that Duke had been responsible for a massive coal ash spill, and most likely not the last.
In public, the company claimed that it is making all the necessary moves to clean up the mess and prevent future disasters. But behind closed doors, the company was hard at work making sure that its negligence would never hinder its profits. Duke Energy had been paying off the right people to prevent any meaningful form of punishment.
The post-Citizens United world has led to an enormous increase in the amount of money flowing to judicial elections, which was previously an area that very few corporations gave a second look. But with a green light to throw cash around now, they’ve realized that owning the Judicial Branch of American government is just as lucrative as owning a politician.
During the 2014 midterm elections, the state of North Carolina — Duke Energy’s base of operations — became a hotbed for judicial campaign spending. In total, an unprecedented $800,000 was spent on judicial elections by a group called Justice For All NC, with more than $300,000 of that total coming solely from Duke Energy.
A recent report by the Center for American Progress (CAP) shows that elected judges are far more likely to vote in favor of corporations (those who funded their elections) than non-elected judges, explaining Duke Energy’s desire to pump hundreds of thousands of dollars into this campaign.
On January 21, Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) again displayed the same deception/incompetence that pervaded his book, The Greatest Hoax (2012).
In this video segment (3:00-5:20), he presented a poster on the Senate floor that matches the image below from “Kyoto by Degrees,” an anonymous Wall Street Journal (WSJ) Opinion piece, June 21, 2005. Both contained claims plausibly called academic or journalistic deception, created for public confusion.
Regardless of ancient temperatures, modern temperature rise is human-caused, not just natural variation: you damaged your furnace so it now ignores the thermostat. Heat varies erratically, room by room, and day by day, but each week the house is overall wamer than the last. Your attic Arctic fridge's ice cubes are melting and even the basement freezer is starting to struggle. The furnace will take months to fix, and you need to start, whether or not you believe rumors that some previous owner experienced warmer weather.
MWP's ambiguity causes confusion, so will be qualified, as Lamb MWP, BigMWP and ScienceMWP, explained below.
Following is the WSJ image Inhofe used without mentioning that source:
“Trend in average” : Deception.
The original curve was sketched in 1965 by Hubert Lamb, who grafted estimates of 900-1680AD with 1680-1961AD measurements compiled by Gordon Manley. It covered a 21x34-mile patch of England, no more, and most is an estimate, not a reconstruction. Call that Lamb MWP, honest scientific effort, although estimates at left are known to be high.
It is false to imply this curve to be global or even a reconstruction, as deniers have been doing since 1991. Call that over-claim BigMWP.
“exactly as shown”: Falsification. false citation. Real science uses captions and caveats, ignored here by cherry-pickers who plucked the graph out of context and even altered the image.
“mean”: Fabrication to explain an unprovenanced image.
Someone just made it up. The IPCC wrote: ”The dotted line “nominally represents” the start of the 20th century.”
Lamb MWP curve never global, real science improves
The attached 4-page excerpt from IPCC(1990) includes the real p.202 image in context, shown below for easy comparison with this altered version. Someone changed “Years before present” (sic) to “Year,” deleted (c), capitalized all words and converted sans-serif to serif font.
The resulting image was copied along murky paths, including onto p.33 of Inhofe's Greatest Hoax book, which cited it as “Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Climate Change, the IPCC Scientific Assessment 202 (1990). His story is clearly refuted by IPCC's surrounding text pp.199-203.
The real image was clearly captioned a schematic, i.e., a sketch. The 1990 scientists thought the LIA was global, and but they stated clear reservations about MWP (really BigMWP) as global and synchronous, while certainly accepting warmth in some areas. IPCC(1992) had other curves, not this.
Meaningful action to mitigate the impacts of climate change have been slow to materialize in the United States, and that lag in leadership is allowing the threat to grow much worse for future generations of Americans.
But political inaction has led to citizen action, particularly among the generations that will face the consequences of inaction. And they are making the case, literally, that the government needs to take action.
Teenagers Kelsey Juliana and Olivia Chernaik have filed a lawsuit against Democratic Oregon governor John Kitzhaber and the entire state government of Oregon, alleging that they are not doing enough to address the threats of climate change.
A week after their electoral victories in the 2014 midterms, Senate Republicans have already set their sights on one of their all-time favorite targets: the Environmental Protection Agency.
Republican Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, who will become the Senate majority leader when the 2015 Congress convenes, announced last week that one of his main goals was to “rein in” the EPA. One of the main items that McConnell has problems with is the agency’s power plant emissions standards that would cut down on the amount of allowable air pollution from coal-fired power plants.
McConnell said that he feels a “deep responsibility” to stop these power plant rules.
McConnell ran his campaign on an anti-environment, pro-coal platform, playing up Kentucky’s fears that the EPA’s policies would kill jobs in the coal-dependent state. McConnell’s challenger, Democratic candidate Alison Grimes, could have easily challenged those talking points, but failed to do so.
Nevertheless, the facts are there, and the coal industry has had a devastating effect on Kentucky, as I previously reported:
Two Republican members of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will be releasing a white paper later this week that will allegedly make the case that “regulations” and legislation that “raises energy costs” is damaging America’s underclass.
Senators Lisa Murkowski (AK) and Tim Scott (SC) have teamed up with the conservative Manhattan Institute for Policy Research to once again push the bogus theory that government regulations and environmental safeguards are costing American consumers too much money and destroying jobs. The paper will officially be released at a Manhattan Institute event on September 18.
According to The Hill, a representative from Murkowski’s office said that the Senators will be speaking about “the economic, political, and social consequences of allowing energy insecurity to rise in America.”
Both Murkowski and Scott have been notorious opponents of many of the Obama administration’s environmental protection initiatives and have also been on the receiving end of the dirty energy industry’s largesse. Murkowski’s two largest donor industries are electric utilities and the oil and gas industries, receiving a combined $1,490,257 over the course of her career in the Senate. Scott, a freshman Senator, has received $411,701 from the two industries during his short time in office.
Before members of Congress departed Washington, D.C. for their month-long August recess, senators attempted one final vote on a resolution that did nothing more than state that the Senate accepts the science on climate change. Noted science-denying Republican James Inhofe blocked the resolution, which required a unanimous vote by Senators in order to pass.
Thus, the resolution failed, but not before Democratic Senator Sheldon Whitehouse issued a stirring rebuttal to Inhofe’s claims of climate change being a hoax:
While a few people like Senator Whitehouse are fighting the good fight from inside the system itself, they still need help from the outside in order to hold climate change deniers and environmental polluters accountable. The NRDC Action Fund has stepped in to back them up this summer.
While members of the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate are out campaigning during their recess, the NRDC Action Fund has launched a “Dirty Denier$” campaign that will feature a different member of Congress every day.