Category Archives: Environment

Kiss My Ash

Posted by: TheLCster

Written by Robert J. Elisberg

We’ve gotten to the point where the public today accepts glib political demagoguery from spokesmen for the Republican Party. Certainly, ideas and discourse exist in the GOP, but they’ve been elbowed out of the center ring. And of course there’s nothing acceptable about it. Because there are consequences to their words.

Mind you, I’m not referring to normal, everyday political razzle-dazzle. Lying, exaggeration, double-speak. That’s the lifeblood of all politics. Democrats included.

No, I’m talking about those who rant what they know not to be true, or don’t remotely believe in, or couldn’t care less whether it’s true or not, solely because the only thing they want is to create divisive anger in crowds and do nothing more than score political points.

There are consequences to their words.

All parties have long had irresponsible demagogues. But it has become a driving force within the Republican Party because of their lockstep march against All Things Obama.

Of course, today’s glib political demagoguery starts further back, fine-tuned during the Bush Administration which took the responsibility of national leadership and played it as if it was paintball. The whole “you’re with us or you’re a terrorist” mindset may have been great politics, but there were consequences. When your game is to destroy a CIA agent fighting that very terrorism, the points you get weaken America.

Glib political demagoguery is the thoughtless game that got Dick Cheney telling Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill, “Reagan proved that deficits don’t matter.” That too was fine politics – but there were consequences. A national debt doubling to $12 trillion. A budget deficit of $482 billion from surplus. And all America is digging ourselves out of them now.

This all hit home very clearly over the past month, as GOP glib political demagoguery has repeatedly showed its consequences, in all its devastation.

The most prominent, of course, is the agonizing disaster of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. For two years, Republicans from Sarah Palin, John McCain, Mitt Romney, Rudy Giuliani, Michael Steele and beyond, have hyperventilated with their “Drill, Baby, Drill” pontification, not caring its risks, just that it was grand politics for riling up crowds. And now we see the ghastly consequences.

Already 1.6 million gallons of oil have spilled. It could reach past 11 million. In only one day, the slick went from an unthinkable 1,150 square miles to over 3.800. It’s growing faster than The Blob, and nearing the pristine Florida Keys. This is an economic disaster of such catastrophic proportions it could impact the climate. And 11 workers killed.

(It’s a macabre observation that oil is the sole area Sarah Palin has claimed supposed “expertise.” That was never expertise, mind you, but we see the naked Emperor’s Clothes laid bare. Imagine now how empty the rest of her non-existent qualifications are. And not a word from her since the disaster.)

Yet within just the past month, this is far from the only gruesome case by Republicans of glib political demagoguery that has resulted in crushing consequences.

Think back if you will to February 24, 2009. Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal was selected by the Republican Party to deliver its response to President Obama’s State of the Union Address. With dripping ridicule, Mr. Jindal derided the Obama stimulus investment of “$140 million for something called volcano monitoring.”

Never mind that Sarah Palin, then still governor of Alaska before resigning, let the glib political demagoguery pass. The callousness of this GOP strutting showed itself only a month later, when Mt. Redoubt erupted – in Alaska. There are consequences to glib political demagoguery. Far-greater devastation was only averted because of early volcano monitoring.

But even this isn’t the point. Because, remembering Bobby Jindal and the GOP’s calculated, snide mocking of “something called volcano monitoring,” as if it didn’t matter, as if it was a fake-Socialist, Big Government waste by Barack Obama because he’s Barack Obama – only weeks ago, the entire world saw this:

When Eyjafjallajokull Volcano in Iceland erupted, airline travel came to a complete halt throughout Europe. World commerce was suspended. The world’s climate was impacted. There were a billion dollars in losses. “In terms of closure of airspace, this is worse than after 9/11,” said a spokesman for Britain aviation. “The disruption is probably larger than anything we’ve seen.”

And only a year earlier, the GOP spokesman said: “Instead of monitoring volcanoes, what Congress should be monitoring is the eruption of spending in Washington.”

I’m guessing they’d like to take back that wisecrack about “eruptions.”

This is why government monitor volcanoes. It matters. It has consequences.

It all matters. It all has consequences.

Again.

And again and again.

Like when you engage in glib political demagoguery to rile crowds and endlessly repeat a snarky mantra for political points by attacking “cap and trade” and roaring that “clean coal CLEAN COAL” is the solution, the only solution, the easy answer, you knowingly ignore that there are consequences. And one is the Upper Big Branch mine disaster with 29 men dead.

Disagreement is good. So, too, is active opposition.

But glib political demagoguery is where the line gets drawn.

Our words matters. When you create anger in others to score political points, dismissive of what the devastating results could be, you do not deserve to be on the stage.

The gravest oil disaster in U.S. history. The biggest airline disaster in world history. A mine disaster leaving 29 me dead. All within the last month alone.

The longer list makes it more shameless.

There are consequences for your words.

Far too many Republican spokesman have tried to gut the United States with a shiv, all for 30 pieces of silver and craven political expedience. Too many others in the GOP have quietly, sheepishly acquiesced and enabled them.

Go. Let the adults talk. Let the good and serious people still in your party – and all parties – have the microphone back. You’ve shown your worth. The world can no longer afford you.

Robert J. Elisberg has been a commentator and contributor to such publications as the Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Daily News, Los Angeles Magazine, C/NET and E! Online, and served on the editorial board for the Writers Guild of America. He has contributed political writing to the anthology, “Clued in on Politics,” 3rd edition (CQ Press).

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President Obama Makes Statement on Economy and Oil Spill

Posted by: Audiegrl
Written by: Jessie Lee

REUTERS: ANOTHER OIL RIG OVERTURNS IN GULF COAST… DEVELOPING…

That Economic Heartbeat is Growing Stronger

President Obama comments on the first quarter 2010 GDP numbers in the Rose Garden of the White House, April, 30, 2010. President Obama is joined by representatives and workers from two U.S. manufacturers, Itron, a Washington state based manufacturer of smart energy meters, and A123 Systems, a Massachusetts based advanced battery manufacturer, that are expanding production and hiring as a result of Recovery Act investments in innovation and technology. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

Earlier today, President Obama delivered remarks on the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico before talking about the economy. He explained that while BP is ultimately responsible for the costs of cleanup operations, the government has been discussing the response effort with BP and is prepared to help affected communities.

He announced that there are now five staging areas to protect sensitive shorelines along with federal response personnel in the area and response vessels and aircraft on the scene. The President also said that Secretary Salazar will conduct a thorough review of the oil spill and report on additional precautions and technologies that should be required to prevent future accidents.

So, let me be clear.  I continue to believe that domestic oil production is an important part of our overall strategy for energy security, but I’ve always said it must be done responsibly, for the safety of our workers and our environment.  The local economies and livelihoods of the people of the Gulf Coast as well as the ecology of the region are at stake.  And we’re going to continue to update the American people on the situation in the Gulf going forward.

The President then discussed the GDP report released today, which shows that the economy grew at a rate of 3.2 percent as opposed to last year during the quarter when it shrank at a rate of 6.4 percent. He explained that the number shows that the “economic heartbeat is growing stronger,” but that he measures progress by a different pulse – “the progress the American people feel in their own lives day in, day out.” The President stated that “the work of moving the economy forward remains our focus every single day.”

Now, government can’t replace every job that has been lost. That’s not government’s role.  It is America’s business all across the country — the private sector, businesses — that have always been and will always be the engines of our job creation.  Our task, then, is to create the conditions necessary for those businesses to open their doors, expand their operations, and ultimately hire more workers.

That’s precisely what we’ve tried to do by cutting taxes for small businesses; by backing thousands of loans supporting billions of dollars in lending; and by making targeted investments in the areas of our economy where the potential for job growth is greatest -– areas like clean energy.

He talked about Itron and A123 Systems, both companies that were able to capitalize their growth by taking advantage of the Advanced Manufacturing Tax Credit in the Recovery Act, which helped several companies hire more workers, add equipment, boost output, and promote American business in the clean energy industry.

In fact, this program was so successful that it was oversubscribed by a ratio of three to one.  That’s why I’ve called for an additional $5 billion in investment into these projects to accelerate the creation of clean-energy jobs in America’s factories.  Because every time a new factory or plant opens or expands in America, it becomes important to more people than the workers it employs; it becomes an economic lifeline to a community, capable of supporting dozens, or hundreds, or even thousands of jobs indirectly.

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The Winds of Change ~ Cape Wind Farm Project Approved

Posted by: TheLCster

After Years Of Legal Battles, America’s First Offshore Wind Farm Is A Go

AP~The Obama administration has approved what would be the nation’s first offshore wind farm, off Cape Cod, inching the U.S. closer to harvesting an untapped domestic energy source – the steady breezes blowing along its vast coasts.

U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar

U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced his decision Wednesday in Boston, clearing the way for a 130-turbine wind farm in Nantucket Sound. Cape Wind was in its ninth year of federal review, and Salazar stepped in early this year to bring what he called much-needed resolution to the bitterly contested proposal.

We are beginning a new direction in our nation’s energy future,” Salazar said.

Cape Wind says it can generate power by 2012 and aims to eventually supply three-quarters of the power on Cape Cod, which has about 225,000 residents. Cape Wind officials say it will provide green jobs and a reliable domestic energy source, while offshore wind advocates are hoping it can jump-start the U.S. industry.

America’s onshore wind industry is the world’s largest, but higher upfront costs, tougher technological challenges and environmental concerns have held back the development of offshore wind farms.

Denmark installed the world’s first offshore wind turbine 20 years ago. China has built its first commercial wind farm off Shanghai and plans several other projects.

The U.S. Department of Energy envisions offshore wind farms accounting for 4 percent of the country’s electric generating capacity by 2030.

The Cape Wind Fact Sheet, Project Site Map and the Secretary’s Response to the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation are available here or here. More information on the project can be found here.

Seven Must-Know Facts About the Cape Wind Project

  • Cape Wind will be the country’s first offshore wind farm. The US Department Of Energy predicts that offshore wind farms alone will handle 4% of the country’s electricity generating capacity by 2030.
  • The project will be ready to generate power in 2012, and Cape Wind plans on supplying 75% of Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard, and Nantucket Island’s power combined with the clean energy technology. At peak capacity, the project has the capability to meet 4% of the entire New England region’s power needs.
  • When announcing the approval of the offshore wind farm, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar said, “With this decision we are beginning a new direction in our Nation’s energy future, ushering in America’s first offshore wind energy facility and opening a new chapter in the history of this region.”
  • The 130-turbine wind farm in Nantucket Sound will be no closer than 5 miles to land, and 14 miles away at its furthest. On a clear day, the turbines would only be a half-inch tall on the horizon when viewed from the nearest point of land. The number of turbines have been reduced from an original proposal of 170 to 130 to address concerns about harming views.
  • Cape Wind will create 600 – 1,000 construction jobs and 50 permanent wind power jobs.
  • The United Kingdom and Denmark are the leaders in offshore wind power, though many countries, like Germany, Norway, The Netherlands, and China, have invested in the renewable energy source as well. In 2007, Denmark (who built the first offshore wind farm decades ago) generated 19.7% of their electricity production from their combined wind power farms. That same year, 1.5% of electricity in the UK was generated by wind.
  • The green light for Cape Wind gives a lot of hope to the many other offshore wind farms being proposed in places like Texas, Delaware, and New Jersey. The Department Of The Interior writes, “the project would […..] be one of the largest greenhouse gas reduction initiatives in the nation, cutting carbon dioxide emissions from conventional power plants by 700,000 tons annually. That is equivalent to removing 175,000 cars from the road for a year.”

President Obama Visits Wind Turbine Blade Plant in Iowa

The President visits a Siemens wind turbine blade manufacturing plant in Fort Madison, IA on his White House to Main Street tour and speaks about how his Administrations investments in clean energy are creating jobs and new industries.

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Earth Day 2010 Round Up from Across the Obama Administration

Posted by: Audiegrl

It’s been a busy Earth Day here at the White House and around the Administration.  Yesterday Vice President Biden kicked off the Administration’s Earth Day Celebration by announcing $452 million in Recovery Act funding to support a “Retrofit Ramp-Up.” This program will create thousands of jobs and allow these communities to retrofit hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses while testing out innovative strategies that can be adopted all over the country.  President Obama also issued a Presidential Proclamation on Earth Day calling on Americans to join in the spirit of the first Earth Day forty years ago to take action in their communities to make our planet cleaner and healthier.

This afternoon, Carol Browner, Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change, hosted a live chat on WhiteHouse.gov to answer your questions about how the Administration is working to improve the environment and build a clean energy economy that supports the jobs of the future.  This evening, the President hosted an Earth Day reception in the Rose Garden at the White House where he discussed some of the challenges that lie ahead in achieving a clean energy economy:

I think we all understand that the task ahead is daunting; that the work ahead will not be easy and it’s not going to happen overnight.  It’s going to take your leadership.  It’s going to take all of your ideas.  And it will take all of us coming together in the spirit of Earth Day — not only on Earth Day but every day — to make the dream of a clean energy economy and a clean world a reality.

Over on the Social Innovation and Civic Participation blog, guest blogger and former Peace Corps volunteer Kelly McCormack shares here story about a community solution to an environmental problem in Gautemala.

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Finally, President Obama’s cabinet and other senior government officials fanned out across the country as part of the Administration’s 5-day celebration of the 40th anniversary of Earth Day.  From live chats, to announcing major investments in renewable energy, to appearing on the David Letterman show – all-in-all a busy day!

  • Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson
    Both EPA and Earth Day celebrate their 40th birthdays this year!  On Earth Day, Administrator Jackson joined Green For All at the Grant Houses Community Garden in Manhattan to take a tour of the garden, deliver remarks to students and volunteers and participate in a planting activity with volunteers.  Later tonight catch her on the David Letterman Show to talk about the 40th anniversary of Earth Day and the President’s clean energy and green jobs agenda. Check out EPA’s Earth Day website to learn more about what they are doing to celebrate 40 years of going green!
  • Energy Secretary Steven Chu
    On the 40th Anniversary of Earth Day, Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced that the Department will invest more than $200 million over five years to expand and accelerate the development, commercialization, and use of solar and water power technologies throughout the United States.
  • Commerce Secretary Gary Locke
    Secretary Locke spoke in Jersey City, N.J., at the Lincoln Park restoration project that is turning a landfill into a healthy wetland. NOAA funded this habitat restoration project through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
  • White House Council on Environmental Quality Chair Nancy Sutley
    Chair Sutley will deliver remarks at the Earth Day Network’s 40th Anniversary of Earth Day festivities on the National Mall this Sunday.  Today she shared her personal reflections on Earth Day on the White House blog.
  • Labor Secretary Hilda Solis
    Earlier today Secretary Solis hosted a webchat to discuss issues and opportunities related to Earth Day. The Department of Labor also issued a report detailing green job training opportunities made available over the past year, including $490 million in Recovery Act funding for green jobs training.
  • Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki
    Secretary Shinseki awarded $20.2 million to install solar energy systems at 18 VA medical centers through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
  • Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus
    Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus celebrated Earth Day by attending a flight test of the “Green Hornet,” an F/A-18 Super Hornet multirole fighter jet powered by a biofuel blend. Secretary Mabus has made the exploration and adoption of alternative fuels a priority for the Navy and Marine Corps.
  • Interior Secretary Ken Salazar
    Secretary Salazar joined hundreds of children on the National Mall for a Buddy the Bison Hike sponsored by the National Park Service. Later he joined the Earth Day Network event on the mall to talk the need to address urgent environmental crises such as climate change.
  • Transportation Secretary  Ray LaHood
    Secretary LaHood celebrated Earth Day at a rally in Chicago with Mayor Daley and the Chicago Climate Action Plan.  You can read more about his day on his blog Fastlane.
  • Education Secretary Arne Duncan
    Secretary of Education Arne Duncan delivered remarks at a ceremony commemorating the 40th anniversary of Earth Day Thursday at the National Mall in Washington.
  • Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Thad Allen
    Coast Guard Commandant Thad Allen reflected on his blog “iCommandant” on the Coast Guard’s mission of saving lives and saving the planet by helping to protect and preserve marine life and habitats.

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Obama then and now: Opens Offshore Areas to Oil Drilling for First Time

cross-posted from T-Time

Then: “When I’m president, I intend to keep in place the moratorium here in Florida and around the country that prevents oil companies from drilling off Florida’s coasts,” Obama told reporters in Jacksonville in late June. “That’s how we can protect our coastline and still make the investments that will reduce our dependence on foreign oil and bring down gas prices for good.” Candidate Obama 2008

Now: This announcement is part of a broader strategy that will move us from an economy that runs on fossil fuels and foreign oil to one that relies more on homegrown fuels and clean energy. And the only way this transition will succeed is if it strengthens our economy in the short term and long term.

He added: “To fail to recognize this reality would be a mistake.” (today’s announcement)


Obama to allow gas and oil drilling off Virginia coast

President Obama is set to announce that he will allow oil and gas drilling 50 miles off Virginia’s coast, including a possible sale two years from now of leases off the state’s shores.

The decision, which Obama will announce with Interior Secretary Ken Salazar at Andrews Air Force Base this morning, ends a long-standing ban on drilling along much of the East Coast, from Delaware to central Florida.

Obama’s move will represent a victory for Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, who campaigned last year on making the state the “Energy Capital of the East Coast” and using proceeds from drilling to pay for transportation. (Congress would still need to pass a bill allowing Virginia to receive royalties.)

Most Virginia leaders — regardless of political party — have expressed interest in drilling for oil and natural gas, including both U.S. Sens. Jim Webb and Mark. Warner and most members of the state’s congressional delegation.

But environmental groups and some Democratic members of Congress, including U.S. Reps. James P. Moran Jr. of Northern Virginia and Robert C. Scott of Hampton Roads, say they worry that possible spills and new infrastructure onshore and off could harm plants, animals, tourism and the naval base in Norfolk, the world’s largest.

more here: Washington Post

and here:  Obama proposes opening Alaska coastal areas to offshore drilling


Replay: President Obama Speaks on “Energy Security”

March 31, 2010 11:05 AM EDT

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Climate: The first decade of the new millennium was the warmest on record

cross-posted from T-Time

Debunking the deniers

Stephen Leahy of Inter Press Service interviews climate expert Naomi Oreskes.

PARIS—Even though 2009 was the fifth-warmest year since 1850, and 2000-09 the warmest decade ever, according to the World Meteorological Organization, surveys show that public concern about global warming in the United States and Canada has dropped sharply in the past 18 months.

Why? Because of a relentless disinformation effort from an unlikely cabal of fossil-fuel interests, Christian evangelicals and the media, says Naomi Oreskes, a professor of history and science studies at the University of California, San Diego.

“They have managed to reopen the debate over global warming in people’s minds,” she told Inter Press Service (IPS).

Oreskes and coauthor Erik Conway, a science historian at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, document similar efforts to manufacture doubt around the science on acid rain, the ozone hole, secondhand cigarette smoke and the pesticide DDT in their forthcoming book, Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming.

In 2004 Oreskes was vilified on TV, radio and in print by commentators for providing clear evidence there was, in fact, a scientific consensus on global climate change. Her essay in the journal Science examined all of the peer-reviewed scientific papers on climate over the previous 10 years and found none dissented with the theories that climate change was occurring and it was caused by humans. Her survey has never been successfully challenged, despite many attempts.

IPS environmental correspondent Stephen Leahy spoke to Oreskes over the phone. Excerpts of the interview follow.

read more: Debunking the deniers

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Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar Unveils New Ansel Adams Murals

Posted by: Audiegrl

Written by Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar

Ken Salazar, Secretary of the Interior

I recently unveiled a series of magnificent murals that highlights the legacy of two of the greatest figures in U.S. Department of the Interior’s history, Secretary Harold Ickes and renowned photographer Ansel Adams. The murals represent 26 of the photos Ickes commissioned Adams to produce as part of the Department’s Mural Project of 1941.

On display in the main hallways of the first and second floors of the main Interior building, these stunning black-and-white photos convey the beauty Adams’ saw in our Department’s diverse mission, and include: a pair of Native American children; the eruption of Old Faithful; and the intricate network of power lines at Boulder Dam.

Ickes and Adams first met in 1936, while attending a conference on the future of national and state parks. Ickes was secretary of the Interior under President Franklin Roosevelt; Adams, a renowned photographer and president of the Sierra Club. The two immediately found a common bond in a deep love for the beauty of our nation’s land and a desire to see it conserve that land for future generations.

At San Ildefonso Pueblo, New Mexico, 1942 (National Archives no. 79-AAP-04 Ansel Adams)

In fact, Adams used his photographic talent to lead a successful campaign to save the Kings River area of the Sierra Nevada and have Congress designate it as Kings Canyon National Park.

Ickes believed that the Interior building, which was completed in 1936, should be symbolic of the Department’s mission to manage and conserve our nation’s vast resources. So in 1941, he hired Adams to create a photographic mural for display in this building that reflected the Department’s mission: the beautiful land, the proper stewardship of our resources, and the people we serve.

The attack on Pearl Harbor and our nation’s entry into World War II brought the project to a halt. The more than 200 photographs that Adams took have been stored in the National Archives, but never printed or hung as murals.

Now, with our installation of the murals, we are able to share with visitors from across the nation Ickes and Adams’ timeless vision for this Department — and how we are in the business of fulfilling that vision today.

Note: Simply click on the photos to enlarge

Kearsage Pinnacles, Kings River Canyon California (National Archives no. 79-AAH-7 Ansel Adams)

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