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EPA Coal Ash Regulations Take Effect Today, But Battle Continues

United Mountain Defense

By Rhiannon Fionn

Until the Tennessee Valley Authority’s coal ash disaster shoved homes from their foundations in the middle of the night in Dec. 2008, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, bending to pressure from industry, allowed coal plants to self monitor coal ash waste. But once the glare of the national spotlight called that conflict into question, newly appointed EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson vowed to put a coal ash regulation in place by the end of 2009.

Nearly seven years after the spill in Kingston, Tenn., that long-awaited regulation becomes effective today, Oct. 19.

A Local Watchdog's Checklist for Tackling Environmental Issues In Your Own Backyard

This is a guest post by Aaron Viles from Care2.

The environment is large, complex and cross-jurisdictional. As activists, it’s easy to jump on board with the large national and international issues—like protecting the Clean Air Act or fighting climate change—that are pursued by myriad organizations. Those causes are worthy of support, but it's easy to overlook or count out the smaller issues in your own backyard.

10 Reasons Coal Will Always Be Dirty

This is a guest post by Emily Logan from Care2.

Coal produces 44 percent of our electricity, and it’s the biggest single cause of air pollution worldwide. Now that this is becoming common knowledge, the industry has tried to salvage their reputation with complex marketing tactics and the touting of new technologies. But the environmental impacts of coal continue to be devastating.

Here are ten of the worst environmental impacts of coal, and why “Clean Coal” is just an oxymoron.

Climate Denying GWPF Wants ‘Objective Media Reporting’, Rejects UK Journalist From Annual Conference

This is a guest post by freelance journalist Victoria Seabrook, MA City Journalism graduate with work published in the Guardian and Evening Standard.

Climate change deniers assembled at a highly secretive meeting in London on Wednesday October 14 to discuss the celebration of carbon dioxide.

The Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF), a think tank and charity set up by Lord Lawson, invited Canadian climate denier Dr Patrick Moore to the Institution of Mechanical Engineers at Westminster, to deliver this year’s annual GWPF lecture.

Unfortunately I was prevented from reporting what the climate change deniers discussed. Any chancers – including myself – hoping to attend were met with three officious representatives, who would only grant entrance to those already accredited.

A Flaring Shame: Obama Could Close Gas Flaring Loophole, But Will He?

This is a guest post by Lukas Ross from Friends of the Earth

Big Oil has been subsidized to the hilt for over a hundred years. In the U.S. the spoils include everything from special interest tax breaks and accounting gimmicks to royalty-free leasing and government sponsored R&D. Add them all together and every year the costs run into the billions.

But one subsidy never seems to make the list, which is a shame because it is hardly small and incredibly polluting. What is it? Royalty-free flaring on public and tribal lands is a giant loophole that President Obama has the power to close before he leaves office.

North Carolina Settles With Duke Energy Over Coal Ash Groundwater Contamination, Ratepayers May Shoulder Costs

Rhiannon Fionn

This is a guest post by Rhiannon Fionn, an independent investigative journalist and filmmaker in post-production on the documentary film “Coal Ash Chronicles.” 

North Carolina’s Department of Environmental Quality today announced a settlement agreement with Duke Energy, ending a lawsuit over the department’s $25.1 million fine for groundwater contamination resulting from coal ash stored at the company’s Sutton plant near Wilmington, N.C. Although the settlement covers groundwater contamination at 14 of Duke’s coal ash facilities and requires accelerated cleanup of groundwater contamination at four sites, activists and residents I spoke with today were not impressed by the announcement.

Since a judge approved the settlement, there will be no opportunity for public comment.

I am again disappointed with the department, but not terribly surprised,” said Catawba Riverkeeper Sam Perkins. “This is an impressive new low,” he added. “They put a proposed fine out there, but they’ve not only reduced it, they diluted it to 14 sites.”

Edelman Wins Cautious Praise For Ditching Climate Denier and Coal Clients

This is a guest post by Dan Zegart from the Climate Investigations Center.

The world's largest public relations firm said today it will no longer represent coal producers or climate change deniers.

Edelman's change of direction was reported today in a story in the Guardian newspaper that was based on a leaked internal email.

The email revealed that the company concluded a two-year long ethical review process by deciding to ban coal companies and deniers — including front groups that espouse climate denial on behalf of companies or other interests — but will continue to work for oil and gas firms and the rest of the fossil fuel industry.

On climate denial and coal those are where we just said this is absolutely a no-go area,” Michael Stewart, the president and chief executive for Europe, who led the review, told the Guardian.

Greenwashing, fake front groups, anything like that is completely inappropriate,” Stewart continued.

How Fracking Changed the Economics of Oil Production Around the World

James Meadway, chief economist at the New Economics Foundation, explains the interrelated economics behind China’s 'Black Monday' stock market crash, Middle Eastern oil and US fracking.

The 'fracking revolution' has transformed the economics of oil production globally, with the US becoming a bigger producer than Saudi Arabia and – after decades of dependency on oil imports – even being able to export some of its surplus production.

US shale oil is unusual, too, in being privately owned: most of the world’s oil reserves (over 70 percent) are in state hands. Like the North Sea 30 years ago, in a world dominated by state-owned companies and publicly owned reserves, US shale could look like a new frontier for private operators on the search for fat profits.

EU Ombudsman Investigating Industry-Dominated Fracking Expert Group

The European Ombudsman has opened a case into the European Commission's industry-dominated Expert Group on the risky and dangerous practice of fracking for natural gas.

The Ombudsman, responsible for investigating complaints about maladministration in EU institutions and bodies, is looking into allegations that the Commission “wrongly allowed members associated with the shale gas industry to act as chairmen of the European Science and Technology Network on Unconventional Hydrocarbon Extraction.”

Despite massive public opposition to fracking, the Commission established the European Science and Technology Network on Unconventional Hydrocarbon Extraction last July with a mandate to recommend the most appropriate fracking techniques and technologies for Europe.

David Suzuki: Climate Deniers All Over the Map

This is a guest post by David Suzuki.

A little over a year ago, I wrote about a Heartland Institute conference in Las Vegas where climate change deniers engaged in a failed attempt to poke holes in the massive body of scientific evidence for human-caused climate change. I quoted Bloomberg News: “Heartland's strategy seemed to be to throw many theories at the wall and see what stuck.”

A recent study came to a similar conclusion about contrarian “scientific” efforts to do the same. “Learning from mistakes in climate research,” published in Theoretical and Applied Climatology, examined some of the tiny percentage of scientific papers that reject anthropogenic climate change, attempting to replicate their results.

In a Guardian article, co-author Dana Nuccitelli said their study found “no cohesive, consistent alternative theory to human-caused global warming.” Instead, “Some blame global warming on the sun, others on orbital cycles of other planets, others on ocean cycles, and so on.”