WonkLine: June 17, 2009

Posted by Wonk Room Wed, 17 Jun 2009 14:08:00 GMT

From the Wonk Room.

During last year’s Democratic primary, Rep. Leonard Boswell (D-IA) “relied heavily on Al Gore’s endorsement” despite having “never been out in front on global warming,” but is now threatening to “vote down” the Waxman-Markey American Clean Energy and Security Act.

Utah’s next governor, Lt. Gov. Gary Herbert (R-UT) told the Western Governors’ Association “it appears to him science on global warming is not necessarily conclusive.” He is replacing Gov. Jon Huntsman, nominated to be the ambassador to China, who entered Utah into the Western Climate Initiative.

“Aides to Sen. Robert C. Byrd (D-WV) are in southern West Virginia for what they call a three-day fact-finding tour about mountaintop removal mining,” meeting with “coal industry officials, environmentalists and citizens.”

WonkLine: June 11, 2009

Posted by Wonk Room Thu, 11 Jun 2009 13:51:00 GMT

From the Wonk Room.

Global warming “could lead to the greatest human migration in history” uprooting between 200 million and 700 million people by 2050, according to the International Organization for Migration.

New green jobs sprouted faster than the overall workforce expanded across the nation from 1998 to 2007,”according to a study released Wednesday by the Pew Charitable Trusts,” and “California led the nation in all categories measured.”

The Obama administration “plans to announce Thursday a proposal to eliminate the expedited reviews that have made it easier for mining companies to get approval” for mining “the Appalachians by blasting off mountaintops and discarding the rubble in stream valleys.”

WonkLine: April 28, 2009

Posted by Wonk Room Tue, 28 Apr 2009 15:01:00 GMT

From the Wonk Room.

Although Interior Secretary Ken Salazar made it clear he “likes coal,” the Interior Department “said on Monday it will try to overturn a Bush administration rule that made it easier for coal mining companies to dump mountaintop debris into valley streams.”

As Arctic carbon dioxide levels are growing at an “unprecedented rate,” an “area of an Antarctic ice shelf almost the size of New York City has broken into icebergs this month.”

Speaking about the Waxman-Markey clean energy bill, Rep. Gene Green (D-TX) called for free pollution permits to petroleum refiners and Rep. G. K. Butterfield called for free pollution permits to electric distribution companies. These companies have given more than $375,000 to energy committee members in the first three months of 2009.

Massey's Blankenship Calls Critics 'Communists,' 'Atheists,' And 'Greeniacs' 1

Posted by Wonk Room Mon, 24 Nov 2008 23:50:00 GMT

From the Wonk Room.

Last Thursday, Don Blankenship, CEO of Massey Energy, the fourth largest United States coal company, described his critics as “communists,” “atheists,” and “greeniacs.” In an address before the Tug Valley Mining Institute in Williamson, WV, Blankenship said those who criticize him are “our enemies” like Osama bin Laden:
It is as great a pleasure for me to be criticized by the communists and the atheists of the Charleston Gazette as to be applauded by my best friends. Because I know they are wrong. People are cowering away from being criticized by people that are our enemies. Would we be upset if Osama bin Laden was critical of us?
These are actually mild words for Don Blankenship. This spring, Blankenship was caught on tape threatening to shoot an ABC reporter and then assaulting him:
The Charleston Gazette’s coverage of Don Blankenship has included these controversial stories:
  • The Fatal Aracoma Mine Fire. In the months before the fatal 2006 fire at the Aracoma mine, which had 25 violations of health and safety laws, Blankenship personally waived company policy and told mine managers to ignore rules and “run coal.”
  • Political Corruption. Blankenship has spent millions of dollars to influence West Virginia judgeships and state legislative races, and palled around in Monte Carlo with state Supreme Court Chief Justice Elliott “Spike” Maynard and their “female friends” in July 2006. The state court reversed a $77 million verdict against Massey in 2008.
  • Mountaintop Removal. Massey Energy is the king of the incredibly destructive practice of mountaintop removal mining. The Bush Administration (which includes former Massey officials) overturned Clinton-era rules limiting the practice. Massey now plans to destroy Coal River Mountain despite lacking necessary permits.
Blankenship sits on the boards of the US Chamber of Commerce and the National Mining Association, who are running multimillion-dollar campaigns to block global warming regulations and fight the Employee Free Choice Act. Blankenship claimed that global warming skeptics like himself are being silenced by “greeniacs,” and called Nancy Pelosi, Al Gore, and Harry Reid “totally wrong” and “absolutely crazy”:
How many times have the people in this room heard, at the US Chamber of Commerce or at the National Mining Association, “I don’t believe in climate change, but I’m afraid to say that because it is a political reality”? The greeniacs are taking over the world.

Bush Administration Rushing Through Lame-Duck Energy And Environment Actions 5

Posted by Brad Johnson Fri, 31 Oct 2008 21:02:00 GMT

The House Committee on Global Warming and Energy Independence has issued a report, Past is Prologue, listing many of the energy and environmental regulations, rulemakings, and notices the Bush administration is expected to issue (or in some cases, illegally avoid issuing) in its final months in office. As R. Jeffrey Smith writes in the Washington Post, “The new rules would be among the most controversial deregulatory steps of the Bush era and could be difficult for his successor to undo.” Here’s a partial list:
  • The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) plans to finalize an NSR rule before the end of the administration that would essentially exempt all existing power plants from having to install new pollution control technology when these plants are updated.
  • In a separate NSR rule, EPA plans to exempt so-called “fugitive” emissions – meaning emissions that don’t come out of the end of a stack such as volatile organic compounds emitted from leaking pipes and fittings at petroleum refineries – from consideration in determining whether NSR is triggered.
  • EPA is also set to finalize a third rule weakening the NSR program, by allowing so-called “batch process facilities” – like oil refineries and chemical plants – to artificially ignore certain emissions when determining when NSR is triggered.
  • EPA is also working towards weakening air pollution regulations on power plants and other emissions sources adjacent to national parks and other pristine, so-called “Class I” areas. By changing the modeling of new power plants’ impact on air quality in national parks – using annual emissions averages as opposed to shorter daily or monthly periods – the EPA rule will make it easier for such plants to be built close to parks.
  • The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued proposed regulations to implement the EISA fuel economy standards (increase by the maximum feasible amount each year, such that it reaches at least 35 miles per gallon by 2020) in April 2008, and final regulations are expected soon. If NHTSA used EIA’s higher gasoline price scenario—a range of $3.14/gallon in 2016 to $3.74/gallon in 2030—the technology is available to cost-effectively achieve a much higher fleet wide fuel economy of nearly 35 mpg in 2015 – instead of the 31.6 mpg in 2015 under the lower gas prices used in NHTSA’s proposed rule.
  • EPA is expected to issue proposed regulations soon on the renewable fuels provisions passed in EISA that required America’s fuel supply to include 36 billion gallons of renewable fuels by 2022 – together with more specific volumetric requirements and lifecycle greenhouse gas benchmarks for “advanced” renewable fuels, cellulosic ethanol, and biodiesel.
  • The Department of the Interior (DOI) has already telegraphed its intention to gut the Endangered Species Act by rushing through 300,000 comments on proposed rules in 32 hours, then providing a mere 10-day public comment period on the Environmental Assessment of the proposed rules change. The proposed rules would take expert scientific review out of many Endangered Species Act (ESA) processes, and could exempt the effects of global warming pollution on threatened or endangered species.
  • DOI intends to finalize new regulations governing commercial development of oil shale on more than 2 million acres of public lands in the West.
  • DOI’s Office of Surface Mining is expected before the end of the administration to issue a final rule that would extend the current rule (which requires a 100-foot buffer zone around streams to protect them from mining practices) so that it also applies to all other bodies of water, such as lakes, ponds and wetlands. But the rule would also exempt many harmful practices – such as permanent coal waste disposal facilities – and could even allow for changing a waterway’s flow.
  • EPA has already missed several deadlines to finalize a rule addressing whether concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) are required to obtain permits under the Clean Water Act.
  • EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers may issue a revised guidance memo on how to interpret the phrase “waters of the United States” in the Clean Water Act, which determines what water bodies are subject to regulation under the Act.
  • Under the Omnibus appropriations bill for FY 2008, EPA was directed to establish a mandatory reporting rule for greenhouse gas emissions, using its existing authority under the Clean Air Act, by September 2008. EPA has been working on a proposed rule, which may or may not be issued before the end of the Bush administration. EPA will not issue a final rule before the end of the administration.

Celebrate Appalachia

Posted by Brad Johnson Tue, 08 Apr 2008 22:00:00 GMT

Please join mountain lovers from across the country to:

Celebrate Appalachia

Join citizens in the fight to protect their communities from mountaintop removal mining.

Reception Hosted By:

The Alliance For Appalachia

Appalachian Citizens Law Center * Appalachian Voices * Appalshop * Coal River Mountain Watch * Heartwood * Kentuckians For The Commonwealth * MACED * Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition * Save Our Cumberland Mountains * Sierra Club Environmental Justice Program * Southern Appalachian Mountain Stewards * Southwings * West Virginia Highlands Conservancy

With special thanks to:

Alaska Wilderness League, Appalachian Center for the Economy and the Environment, Chesapeake Climate Action Network, Christians for the Mountains, EarthJustice, Environment America, Friends of the Earth, Natural Resource Defense Council, Rainforest Action Network, and the national Sierra Club.

RSVP to J.W. Randolph at (202) 669-3670 or jw@appvoices.org