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Mon, 2014-02-10 11:41Farron Cousins
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Business Coalition Announces Massive Offensive Against Environmental Protections

As the Obama administration begins to take action to rein in the emissions from the dirty energy industry, big business groups all over the country have announced that they aren’t willing to stop polluting without putting up a very serious fight.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the American Gas Association, and 74 other big business groups said that they are banding together to fight the administration’s forthcoming power plant standards that will require carbon capture technologies to be in place at all plants.  According to The Hill, the groups said that they are planning “everything from lobbying to litigation” in order to fight the administration’s efforts.

These business groups say that they have seen “what Obama has done” to the coal industry, and fear that their industries could be targeted next.  They are also fearful that too much emphasis is being put on developing renewable energy, as The Hill points out:

American Gas Association President Dave McCurdy, a former Democratic congressman from Oklahoma, said the coalition would need to protect a single-minded push toward renewable energy production.

As expected, politicians in Washington saw that the industry was pushing back, so they have jumped on the bandwagon. 

Fri, 2012-05-18 11:59Farron Cousins
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House Republicans Attempt To Nix Military's Clean Energy Initiatives

Republicans on the U.S. House Armed Services Committee have decided that the military’s push for clean, renewable energy has gone far enough, and have proposed for next year’s budget that the Pentagon not spend a dime on renewable energy sources that cost more than traditional dirty energy.

This news comes on the heels of the Navy’s announcement of their new “Great Green Fleet,” which features an aircraft carrier and strike group that are all powered by renewable, cleaner energy sources.

The shift in policy came from the House Armed Services Committee, chaired by California Republican Howard “Buck” McKeon. Republicans on the committee complain that the fuel being used for the “green fleet” and other military renewable energy projects is too costly, and contend that the military should never spend more on a renewable energy source that is more costly than traditional petroleum.

Tue, 2011-12-06 17:34Farron Cousins
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Bowing to Republican Pressure, EPA Eases Boiler Emission Standards, Threatening U.S. Economy and Health

The U.S. EPA has bowed to pressure from Republican members of Congress and relaxed the proposed rules for boiler emissions. By allowing utility industry companies to make “upgrades” to existing boilers, rather than replacing them with lower-emission boilers, corporations will save an estimated $1.5 billion in their attempts to meet emission standards.

The EPA claims that allowing companies to upgrade their existing equipment will still reduce emissions. The specific emissions being targeted are mercury and other toxic chemicals that are pumped out of oil refineries, chemical plants, and industrial plants.

The new, lower standards are the result of political attacks on EPA led by Republicans on Capitol Hill. Less than two months ago, Republicans in Congress unanimously voted to delay the EPA’s boiler ruling by another 15 months, as well as to give corporations 5 years to comply with the new standards. Only 41 Democrats voted in favor of delaying the rules, compared to 234 Republicans.

However, voting to delay the rules seems to go against the wishes of the American public, as majorities of both registered Democrats and Republicans were in favor of enforcing the emissions standards immediately.

So, if the public was for the rule, why did Congress vote to delay it? According to noted climate change denier Senator James Inhofe:

Thu, 2011-11-24 12:35Farron Cousins
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Congress Says No To Free Climate Service

This week, the Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives sent a strong message to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) – they’re not concerned about climate change. The NOAA had asked Congress for permission to create a new National Climate Service within the NOAA’s own offices, but Congress decided that the agency was just fine the way it is.

At a time when Congress is fiercely debating federal spending, it would seemingly make financial sense to deny additional funding to NOAA to create their new branch. But, in a rare occurrence on Capitol Hill, the new agency wouldn’t have cost anything, and NOAA didn’t ask for a single dime to fund their new venture, completely nullifying any financial argument against this common sense proposal.

The need for such an agency is completely justified, as The Washington Post points out:

Congress barred NOAA from launching what the agency bills as a “one-stop shop” for climate information.

Demand for such data is skyrocketing, NOAA administrator Jane Lubchenco told Congress earlier this year. Farmers are wondering when to plant. Urban planners want to know whether groundwater will stop flowing under subdivisions. Insurance companies need climate data to help them set rates.

So if it wasn’t about money, then what would stop congressional Republicans from giving the OK to the organization? To put it bluntly, they don’t want scientists 'scaring' people with their creepy climate change mumbo jumbo.

Tue, 2011-06-14 15:24Farron Cousins
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Koch Money Fuels AFP Misinformation Campaign On Gas Prices

The Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity (AFP) is taking their misinformation machine on the road in an attempt to convince American consumers that President Obama is causing the spike in gasoline prices. AFP is claiming that the president is intentionally keeping gas prices high because he refuses to allow oil companies to drill for oil in protected areas of the United States.

The tour is necessary for the AFP, as Americans do not believe that President Obama should be blamed for high gasoline prices. A staggering 61% of Americans say that the blame lies on the shoulders of the energy companies, and 59% say that some of the blame lies with the oil speculators. These numbers are not sitting well with the oil industry, and the AFP tour is just one of many oil industry tactics to try to shift public opinion using misinformation.

AFP’s “Running on Empty” campaign has scheduled stops in Virginia, Michigan, and Ohio in the upcoming days, to “teach” Americans about the numerous ways in which President Obama is making them pay higher prices at the pump.

AFP conveniently ignores the fact that gas prices were north of $4 a gallon during the Bush administration, when they peaked at $4.12, as pointed out by protesters who showed up at one of AFP’s early gas tour events in Nebraska.  But in the alternate reality that AFP is creating to enable Koch’s further oil profits, it’s somehow all Obama’s fault.

Tue, 2011-03-01 11:47Ashley Braun
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Are U.S. House Republicans confusing "Americans" with the "American Petroleum Institute" by cutting pollution protections?

Kids love clean air and support EPA

Recent polls confirm that Americans across the country and political spectrum actually do agree on at least one thing: that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) should keep doing its job – and even do more – to set limits on air pollution, including greenhouse gas emissions. Unfortunately, two influential groups feel differently than nearly seven in ten Americans on this issue: Republicans in the House of Representatives and the American Petroleum Institute, a powerful lobbying group representing the oil and gas industry.

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and the National Lung Association, who represent environmentalists and American lungs, respectively, each released public polls asking whether EPA scientists or Congress should make decisions about pollution limits. A key finding of the National Lung Association poll was that “voters overwhelmingly oppose Congressional action that impedes EPA from updating clean air standards [PPT].

At the same time, Congressional Republicans are claiming a mandate to cut funding for government programs like the EPA. House Republicans almost unanimously voted to prevent the EPA from doing its job – and specifically from enacting regulations on carbon emissions this year - by cutting EPA’s 2011 budget by $3 billion in the spending bill which passed the U.S. House on February 19, 2011. 

”This is about listening to our country, listening to the people who just elected this Congress to restore discipline with respect to our spending,” Frank Guinta (R-New Hampshire) said during the debate on the budget legislation. But to whom Republicans are listening should perhaps be up for debate.

Tue, 2010-08-31 16:05Jim Hoggan
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On Factual Literacy and Media Responsibility In The Age Of Fox News and Rush Limbaugh

This New York Times online editorial last week by Tim Egan, “Building a Nation of Know-Nothings,” says a lot about the need for literacy, respect for facts and rational thought all being important building blocks for democracy.  

Egan notes the “astonishing level of willful ignorance” evident among the public, thanks to the lies and distortions put forward “largely by design” by Rush Limbaugh and Fox News, “aided by a press afraid to call out the primary architects of the lies.”

Egan correctly points out that this pattern is all too often seen on the subject of global warming:

“Climate-change denial is a special category all its own. Once on the fringe, dismissal of scientific consensus is now an article of faith among leading Republicans, again taking their cue from Limbaugh and Fox.” 

Read “Building a Nation of Know-Nothings” on The New York Times website. 

Mon, 2009-05-04 08:46Jeanne Roberts
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Ingraham vs. Gore; Half the Truth Is the Same as a Lie

During the May 1 edition of The O’Reilly Factor, talk-radio guest host Laura Ingraham used a well-known Republican tactic to smear Al Gore, former Vice President, climate activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner. Ingraham took only those parts of Gore’s Waxman-Markey testimony that supported her contention and ignored the rest.

Ingraham may consider this balanced reporting, but here in the real world we call this a convenient and highly unscrupulous oversight.

Gore’s testimony, from the April 24 House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing (on the 2009 American Clean Energy and Security Act), clearly stated that “every penny” he earned from his climate-change advocacy (i.e., books, movies, and investments in renewable energy) has gone into his nonprofit organization, Alliance for Climate Protection, which aims to persuade Americans to adopt comprehensive solutions to the approaching climate crisis.

Thu, 2009-04-23 00:32Jeremy Jacquot
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Boehner: What's the Big Deal with CO2, Anyways?

The award for this week’s most understated headline goes to Politico’s Lisa Lerer for this little doozy: “GOP grapples with climate confusion.” Though little of her article actually breaks new ground, it perfectly encapsulates the Republicans’ current predicament – that of being stuck between a rock and a hard place when it comes to taking action on climate change.

On the one hand, the Republicans need to marshall their resources and come up with a coherent alternative to the proposed Democratic plan, lest they wish to lose the PR game and suffer another legislative defeat in the House of Representatives (the Senate, unfortunately, will be a much larger hurdle to overcome); on the other, they need to be wary of not alienating their base by devoting too much time to addressing a “hoax.”

Thu, 2009-04-02 11:18Leslie Berliant
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John Boehner, the Say Anything Republican

John BoehnerYou have to give it to John Boehner when it comes to looking out for his own interests. That would be $188,700 worth of interests in the form of campaign donations from coal, oil and gas lobbyists in 2008. It seems that to keep that K Street cash cow flowing, he’ll say just about anything.

The Democrats have put out a first draft of a plan that addresses energy security and climate change, The American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 (ACES).

The energy component puts efficiency front and center. Efficiency, as in use less energy to get the same return. Efficiency, as in spend less money on energy because things are running more efficiently. Efficiency, as in let’s invest in a more efficient energy grid and more efficient cars instead of shipping money overseas to the tune of $700 billion a year in oil imports.

Efficiency, is good. Efficiency saves consumers and businesses money. Efficiency creates American jobs. According to a report released by American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, “energy efficiency initiatives that reward consumers and businesses for reducing electricity and gas usage could result in utility bill savings of $168.6 billion.” It could also result in 222,000 permanent, high quality American jobs in construction, manufacturing, and other fields. But John Boehner doesn’t seem to like efficiency. John Boehner would rob Americans of jobs and $168.6 billion. Why? Did I mention the $188,700 he gets from the corner fossil fuel pushers?

And then there’s the renewable energy component of the bill. At a time when coal rates are rising in the U.S.– by 6.9% in Virginia, 45% in Ohio and a whopping 50 – 100% in North Carolina, for example – experts recommend efficiency measures and increasing energy from natural, renewable sources (not nuclear) as the answer. But John Boehner doesn’t want us to move toward renewables, even if they are the answer. He doesn’t want to create American jobs, either – wind and solar are sources not just of clean energy but of good, American jobs. I guess he must have 188,700 reasons for being against that.

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