Archive - 2010

September 3rd

Weekly roundup 9/3/10: Another (not-so-shocking) offshore rig explosion

3
Sep
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There's no way to avoid starting this week's roundup with more awful news from the Gulf of Mexico: another offshore oil rig exploded yesterday -- and predictably, there's an oil slick to contend with:

A mile-long slick is spreading from an oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico after an explosion forced its 13 rig workers into the water, one of whom was injured, the U.S. Coast Guard said.

The workers told rescue crews that the slick was about 10 feet wide but hoped that no more oil would leak into the sea, Chief Warrant Officer Barry Lane told AFP.

Thankfully, all 13 workers are alive and safe and this oil leak seems relatively small, but this latest incident is part of a pattern: offshore drilling is inherently unsafe for workers and for the environment. In fact, calls are already pilling up for tighter regulation of offshore drilling:

The fire in the Gulf of Mexico “is further proof that offshore drilling is an inherently dangerous practice,” Senator Frank Lautenberg, a New Jersey Democrat, said in a statement yesterday. Obama halted deep-water exploration after BP’s Macondo well exploded in April, killing 11 workers and causing the biggest U.S. offshore oil spill in history.

Even more effective than extending the offshore drilling ban, however, would be to tackle the underlying reason why those 13 workers were out there risking their lives yesterday: our addiction to dirty energy sources like coal and oil. As Ada wrote yesterday:

What this explosion reveals is that our oil addiction (80 million barrels a day in the U.S. alone) has unavoidably dangerous consequences. The only way to avoid tragedies like this moving forward is to reduce our dependency on oil and move toward sustainable sources of clean energy. We need to take personal responsibility for our consumption, and also hold our elected leaders accountable.

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Follow the money at DirtyEnergyMoney.com

3
Sep
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By Janelle Corn, Ph.D. See bio at the end of this post. -- Luis

What happened to climate change and clean energy legislation in the U.S. Senate last month? Why did legislation that would have ensured Big Oil pays when it screws up disappear? Steve Kretzmann , director of organization  Oil Change International, wondered too:

As Congress begins August recess, those of us who care about America’s addiction to oil, climate change, and a clean energy future have been scratching our heads, wondering why, after historic levels of pressure we can’t even pass an oil spill response bill, not to mention a real clean energy or climate bill.

Kretzmann proposed we follow the money, and thus the website DirtyEnergyMoney.com  was developed, with the help of some of the nation’s top climate advocacy groups, including 1Sky. For example, you can search Clean Up the Senate  (also known as Bobbing In Petroleum) to see Big Oil contributions to U.S. Senators. As last week’s policy update noted, the site caught the attention of The Hill and Politico's Morning Energy. Recently, 1Sky’s Adi Nochur was interviewed by the Wyoming Tribune about the site as well.

The site’s objective is to increase awareness (and outrage) of the massive amounts of influence-buying money pouring into the U.S. Senate. The Hill ran this quote from Krutzmann at the site launch on August 10:

If you’re wondering why Congress can’t do anything meaningful to end our oil addiction or stop climate change, the enormous amounts of money revealed on DirtyEnergyMoney.com provide some of the answer.”

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September 2nd

Gulf Disaster, Part II? (UPDATED)

2
Sep
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This morning, another Gulf Coast oil rig exploded within four months, injuring one oil rig worker. This comes at the heels of the April BP oil rig explosion off the Gulf of Mexico, killing 11 people.

Given the tragic consequences of the April spill -- 11 dead workers, severe impacts on the fishing and shrimping industries, pollution of the coastlines of Louisiana, and hundreds of people out of work -- it's infuriating that the oil industry has done this again.

What this explosion reveals is that our oil addiction (80 million barrels a day in the U.S. alone) has unavoidably dangerous consequences.  The only way to avoid tragedies like this moving forward is to reduce our dependency on oil and move toward sustainable sources of clean energy.  We need to take personal responsibility for our consumption, and also hold our elected leaders accountable.

Find out more about how to demand Congress takes action by getting involved in an October 10th "Global Work Party" event year you.

UPDATE:  There are reports that oil is spilling into the ocean:

The Coast Guard is reporting that a mile-long oil sheen is spreading from the site of today's oil rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico, according to the Associated Press.
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September 1st

A new beginning

1
Sep
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It's hard to believe three years have passed since I joined 1Sky as its first Campaign Director, and how far we've come in such a short time because of your hard work and dedication. Which leads me to the decision I'm announcing today.

It's with a bittersweet mixture of excitement and sadness that I am stepping down from my role at 1Sky to consult on social justice issues near and dear to my heart -- including, of course, climate change.

1Sky has grown from being a start-up in 2007 with a devoted founding board of directors, just one staffer (i.e. me) and no office, into a powerful grassroots campaign that has worked tirelessly nationwide to push our leaders in Washington for bold solutions to the climate crisis.

Together, we've grown the climate movement, helped to pass President Obama's economic recovery plan that contained a whopping $87 billion in green investments, and protected the Clean Air Act from dirty polluters and their allies in Congress itching to gut it.

Even though our leaders have deeply disappointed us so far this year by failing to pass a climate bill or even an oil spill recovery bill, I'm proud of our achievements and I'm confident that we've laid a solid foundation for climate action in the future.

I am also pleased to announce that our current Deputy Campaign Director, Liz Butler, will be taking over for me as Campaign Director. With more than 17 years of organizing experience and senior leadership in the environmental movement, Liz is a great choice to lead 1Sky into its next chapter, and you'll be hearing from her in the next few weeks as she lays out the campaign's priorities for the coming year.

Liz and the rest of the 1Sky team will need our support now more than ever as we head into another challenging year in the climate fight. Please consider making a tax-deductible donation to 1Sky today.

Big Oil and Dirty Coal have lavished nearly $15 million in campaign contributions on members of Congress since 2009, and that money has bought them a pass so far on climate, clean energy and taking responsibility for the BP oil spill, just to name a few. We need to keep building and strengthening this grassroots movement to take them on, and your generous contribution will do just that.

Three years ago, I threw myself into the climate movement because I knew that the poorest and most marginalized people on the planet are being hit first and worst by the ravages of global warming. But I also did it because I wanted to leave my children Tess and Finn a cleaner, safer world.  Despite recent setbacks, I'm confident that the arc of history for the climate movement is bending towards the change we so desperately need. That's why I'll continue to support 1Sky after my departure and I know you will, too.  It's the fight of our lifetimes -- we can't just throw up our hands in despair and walk away.

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August 31st

Policy update 8/31/10: Two more weeks of recess

31
Aug
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The mid-term elections continue to dominate the August congressional recess. Members of Congress will go on campaigning for two more weeks before returning to Washington, D.C. in mid-September. 1Sky and our allies, including 350 and Energy Action Coalition, continue to hammer members of Congress to protect the Clean Air Act and work to address our addiction to fossil fuels and the climate crisis. See coverage in the New York Times.

Congressional Timeline:

  • 9/13: Congress returns from recess
  • 10/8: Target adjournment for House
  • 11/2: Election Day

Key Primary Results

In the Alaska Republican Primary, tea party candidate Joe Miller is on pace to defeat Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) with a 1,900-vote lead with only a few thousand absentee ballots still being counted. Miller is a climate denier who consistently accuses Senator Murkowski of being too moderate on energy issues. This close defeat brings the political effectiveness of Senator Murkowski's attacks on the Clean Air Act into question. Senator Murkowski moved to the right on the issue of Clean Air Act regulations, but was still attacked as a more liberal candidate on energy in general. In the process, Senator Murkowski suffered in-state public criticism for her actions, which certainly didn't help her in such a tight race.

The Anchorage Daily News honed in on the fact that lobbyists helped write Senator Murkowsk's Dirty Air Act. Meanwhile, the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) ran TV ads attacking Senator Murkowski for prioritizing out-of-state polluters over the people of Alaska:

Friends of the Earth ran Alaska radio ads (.mp3) highlighting her contributions from corporate polluters and their lobbyists, and Greenpeace's PolluterHarmony mocked her close ties to former Bush administration officials working on behalf of utilities and coal companies to gut the Clean Air Act:

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August 27th

Weekly round-up 8/27/10: Coal poisons our water and other "shockers"

27
Aug
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I have always been weary of drinking tap water without a trusty water filter. However, I neglected to think about the fact that dirty coal waste contaminates water too. It's been recently reported that contaminants in 39 waste sites in 21 states have seeped into the groundwater. Dirty Coal pollutes our water with toxic metals such as arsenic, selenium, lead and chromium. And the worst part is that not all coal-waste sites have groundwater-monitoring data, which means that there could be pollutants in water that go undetected. States such as Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Indiana, Ohio, Mississippi, Missouri, New Mexico and Tennessee are some of the states who do not require monitoring of these coal-ash "ponds".

"By not monitoring, the states are playing Russian roulette with our drinking water because we don't know exactly when and where and how that contaminant is going to show up," Evans said.
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Katrina, five years later

27
Aug
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Five years ago, our nation watched in horror as Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, taking more than 2,000 lives and displacing hundreds of thousands of others. In Katrina, concerned climate advocates like myself saw a vivid and disturbing preview of a future in which climate change continues unabated; a world in which more frequent and intense extreme weather events and natural disasters wreak havoc upon our communities, especially marginalized low-income communities and communities of color. Five years later, our government still has not taken the bold action we need to address the climate crisis, and the city of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast have yet to fully recover from the hurricane’s destruction.

Then this year the BP oil disaster spilled nearly 5 million barrels of crude into the Gulf of Mexico, again highlighting the consequences of our addiction to fossil fuels and adding insult to injury for an already struggling Gulf Coast. Yet despite taking repeated blows, the people of New Orleans remain resilient in advocating for the restoration and rebuilding of their communities. With the five-year anniversary of Katrina approaching on Sunday, 1Sky is honored to join our allies at the Hip Hop Caucus and over 40 other local and national organizations in endorsing this year’s Hurricane Katrina Commemoration March in New Orleans on Sunday, August 29.

The march will call for “a comprehensive plan to revive the economic and environmental health of the Gulf Coast.” That comprehensive plan must be matched by comprehensive solutions that address our climate crisis and move our nation to a clean energy economy. How many more oil spills, how many more hurricanes will have to happen before we get serious about addressing these challenges? How many more disasters will New Orleans and our world have to suffer? This year we saw a coal mine explosion in West Virginia kill 28 people and watched as extreme weather manifested itself all over the globe, from wildfires in Russia to floods in Pakistan to landslides in China. The consequences of our fossil fuel addiction are mounting every day, from the Gulf Coast to the Arctic Circle, and it’s time we do something about it.

If you can’t be in New Orleans this Sunday, you can still show solidarity with the Gulf Coast by adding your voice in support of a healthy recovery for New Orleans and the broader region. May the five-year anniversary of Katrina redouble our commitment to working for bold climate solutions, for a sustainable future and justice for communities across the world.

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August 26th

Cutting carbon: We can't afford NOT to

26
Aug
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By 1Sky blogger Nick Santos. See his bio at the end of this post.-- Luis

Take a good look at this graph from the Stern Review (data from McKinsey & Company). It's a graph of potential sources of CO2 reductions in Gigatons of CO2 equivalent per year (Abatement Gt CO2e/year) sorted by the cost of abatement in Euros per ton of CO2 equivalent reduced (Cost of abatement EUR/tCO2e). So, the height of a box shows the cost of that reduction, with negative costs being profits, and the width of the box shows the potential amount of CO2 we can reduce with it per year. The total area of a box is the total cost if we reduce the amount of CO2 in the box.

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August 24th

Policy update 8/24/10: With the Senate bobbing in oil, election season heats up

24
Aug
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1Sky and our allies continue to hammer members of Congress for their failure to address climate change and our addiction to dirty energy while also highlighting how much money members received from the fossil fuel industry. On the campaign trail, some candidates are using climate change to score political points and capitalize on the general mistrust among voters of the D.C. establishment. The EPA is hosting public hearings around the country on toxic coal combustion waste and the effort to reduce smog and protect the public health. Finally, the controversy continues over the White House report claiming that 3/4 of the oil in the Gulf of Mexico has "evaporated or dissolved."

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August 23rd

Time to crack down on toxic coal ash

23
Aug
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Coal power plants are by far the biggest sources of greenhouse gas emissions in this country. Their pollution is making our planet a more dangerous place to live. But these coal plants also produce a by-product waste called "coal ash."  Coal ash contains toxic chemicals like arsenic, mercury and lead that can poison the water supplies of entire communities and are known to cause birth defects and premature deaths.

The Environmental Protection Agency needs to regulate coal ash as "hazardous waste" -- and as you'd expect, Dirty Coal and their allies plan to fight these regulations tooth and nail to protect their profits. The EPA needs to hear from you today. Tell the EPA you support cracking down on Dirty Coal and their dangerous coal ash.

On December 22, 2008, a ruptured ash dike at the Kingston Fossil Plant in Eastern Tennessee released 1.1 billion gallons of coal ash -- enough to fill 1,660 Olympic-sized swimming pools. The spill covered nearly 400 acres of land, causing major property and environmental damage. The sludge contained high levels of heavy metals like arsenic, lead and selenium that can cause cancer and neurological problems. This is exactly the kind of disaster that the EPA needs to prevent in the future with tough regulations.

The EPA will hold hearings in seven cities about these coal ash regulations over the next few weeks, so it's critical that they hear from you right now. If you live near any of the following cities, please sign up to attend an EPA hearing on coal ash regulations near you:

  • Monday, August 30: Arlington, VA at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City
  • Thursday, September 2: Denver, CO at the Grand Hyatt
  • Wednesday, September 8: Dallas, TX at the Hyatt Regency Dallas
  • Tuesday, September 14: Charlotte, NC at the Holiday Inn Charlotte (Airport)
  • Thursday, September 16: Chicago, IL at the Hilton Chicago
  • Tuesday, September 21: Pittsburgh, PA at the Omni Hotel
  • Tuesday, September 28: Louisville, KY at the Seelbach Hilton

The more they hear from concerned citizens like you, the harder it will be for Dirty Coal to block these regulations. Let's protect the health of our families and communities --  send your comments to the EPA today and sign up to attend a hearing near you.

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