Archive

September 14th, 2010

1Sky speaks out against gutting the Clean Air Act

14
Sep
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You probably read in Jason's post earlier today that the Senate Appropriations Committee might vote this week on an amendment to gut the Clean Air Act's ability to crack down on big climate polluters like oil refineries and coal power plants. Our new Campaign Director Liz Butler issued this press statement a few minutes ago speaking out strongly against this vote:

As the EPA celebrates the 40th anniversary of the Clean Air Act this week, it is absurd that oil and coal companies and their allies in Congress want us to take a giant step backwards by gutting this landmark environmental law. The Senate must hold fossil fuel interests accountable by protecting the Clean Air Act as a critical tool to reduce global warming pollution and jumpstart investment in a clean energy economy.

Read the rest of Liz's statement in our Press Room. If you have a senator in this committee, please call the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and tell your senator to oppose this crazy amendment. This is no way to celebrate the Clean Air Act's 40th birthday!

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Policy update 9/14/10: Congress resumes

14
Sep
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Both chambers of Congress will resumed after a five-week recess. With Labor Day behind them, and football season underway, both parties are in election mode, and no major legislation is expected to be considered. Addressing the expired Bush tax cuts will take up most of the air time, but there's a chance we could see movement on some smaller energy packages, namely Home Star.

Congressional Timeline:

  • 9/13: Congress returns from recess
  • 10/8: Target adjournment for the House and Senate
  • 11/2: Election Day
  • 11/15: Beginning of Senate lame duck session (tentative)

Congressional Priorities

Last week, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) suggested that a narrow energy bill could be considered in the next few weeks, including Home Star and a package of incentives for natural gas trucks. Senator Reid does not plan on bringing up a broader energy bill before the elections, but has been saying that both a "spill bill" and a federal RES are still in play. Reid has also been more and more blunt in saying that a cap on carbon will not be considered this year. The big agenda item for both houses of Congress will be to address the Bush tax cuts, set to expire at the end of the year.

Retiring Senator George Voinovich (R-OH) has agreed to provide the 60th vote needed to push through a package of small-business incentives, including a $30 billion loan fund to improve access to credit. The bill would then bounce to the House, where it is expected to pass quickly. House Democratic leaders also plan to advance their "Make it in America" slate of smaller incentives aimed at reviving the U.S. manufacturing sector.

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September 13th

Astroturf group protests regional carbon-capping program & non-existent bill

13
Sep
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By Lauren Shuster, Esq., a 1Sky organizer at NYPIRG. -- Luis

On Wednesday, I attended the Americans for Prosperity (AFP) anti-RGGI rally in downtown Manhattan. For those of you who may not be familiar with AFP, they describe themselves as "...an organization of grassroots [emphasis added] leaders who engage citizens in the name of limited government and free markets on the local, state and federal levels."

Sounds innocuous enough, right? Well, think again. AFP has its sights set on dismantling the most successful regional greenhouse gas emissions reduction agreement in the country: the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). On Wednesday, about one hundred sign-wielding protesters arrived in two luxury charter buses bearing the name Citigroup in front of the so-called "clandestine" offices of the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to protest the RGGI auction taking place "secretly" inside.

The protesters claim that the RGGI and other cap and trade agreements like it are nothing more than a "secret tax" that will "kill jobs" and "cap our energy production." They also claim that RGGI does nothing to protect the environment and therefore, "even environmentalists should rise up against RGGI."

Let’s consider some facts about RGGI before drawing any conclusions:

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September 10th

Weekly roundup 9/10/10: Navel-gazing and direct action (and inaction) (VIDEO)

10
Sep
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How could a four-day work week after Labor Day and with the Senate in recess still feel so full? Could we possibly have much to talk about? Actually, we always have a lot to talk about, and this week it’s about contemplating the movement, direct action against mountaintop removal, pondering the failure of a comprehensive climate bill, and a wrap on Bill McKibben's excellent solar adventure.

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We won't back down

10
Sep
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It's the end of my first week as 1Sky's new Campaign Director, and I wanted to take some time to tell you about our future plans together.

But first I want to thank my predecessor Gillian Caldwell for her amazing leadership over the past three years. Her work has made the climate movement stronger than ever.

As I step into this new role after three years at 1Sky, I recognize that we face major challenges to solve the climate crisis. Extreme weather events like the record worldwide heatwave and the floods in Pakistan show that we're running out of time to act. Disasters like the BP oil spill and the West Virginia coal mine explosion remind us that dirty energy is as dangerous as ever. At the same time, the Senate has failed to enact comprehensive climate legislation; Congress is drowning in dirty energy money and crawling with lobbyists; and our president hasn't been the fierce advocate we hoped for on climate.

If you're feeling a strong urge to crawl under the covers, I don't blame you -- we've all felt discouraged before. But this isn't the time to give up -- it's time to fight back.

So let me tell you where we stand: 1Sky will not back down -- and neither will I. We won't stop fighting for the changes we need to make our planet safe and build a clean energy future. And we will not lie down and let Big Oil, Dirty Coal and their cronies hijack our democracy and our future with their dirty money.

Here's how we want to work with you in the coming months:

Fight Dirty Coal: Coal power plants are the largest source of global warming pollution in this country, so we have to take the fight to them. We're going to defend the Clean Air Act from assaults by Dirty Coal and their allies. In fact, we'll fight to make it stronger and use it to cut climate pollution. We'll also keep exposing the corrupt influence of Dirty Coal money in our politics.

Push the President: As a candidate, Barack Obama made climate and clean energy a priority; as president, his record has been mixed. Obama has pushed through the biggest investments ever on clean energy and is working to crack down on the biggest climate polluters through regulations -- but he hasn't made passing a climate and clean energy bill a high enough priority, and it shows. We're going to support the President where he's making progress and push him hard where he isn't, including his promises to provide climate assistance to developing nations and shut down subsidies for dirty fossil fuels.

Grow the climate movement: The movement has grown dramatically in just a few years, but too many Americans still sit on the sidelines. The only way we'll beat the billions of dollars that polluters spend every year buying votes in Congress is with a massive grassroots movement to hold our leaders accountable. We will help lead the charge to grow the movement in the months ahead.

This renewed push for climate action starts now with the Global Work Parties taking place around the world on Sunday, October 10, 2010. 1Sky is working with our ally 350.org, which is taking the lead around the world to organize local events that will show our leaders what people can do in their own communities to deal with climate change: plant trees, hold bike rides, install solar panels, make homes more energy efficient, and so on. Sign up here to plan your own event or find a 10/10/10 work party in your area.

I'm also interested in your opinion of the campaign and where we go from here. What's needed right now to win on climate and clean energy? What are we doing right? What can we improve? How can we help you become a more effective advocate to create the change we need? Please send me your thoughts and suggestions at info@1sky.org. You can also share your thoughts with me on Twitter and talk with me directly on Facebook. This campaign is about empowering you to take action, so we take your opinions very seriously around here.

Despite the challenges we face, I know we can win. The climate movement keeps growing and getting stronger. More and more Americans understand what's at stake and want our leaders in Washington to take action. We're ready to keep fighting for a safer planet and a clean energy future -- and we're ready to win. Let's get moving.

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September 8th

Policy Update 9/8/2010: Another oil disaster strikes the Gulf

8
Sep
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The midterm elections continue to dominate the August congressional recess. Members of Congress will go on campaigning for one more week before returning to Washington, D.C. for their final session before the midterms. This week another explosion on a Gulf oil rig entered the news cycle, increasing support for the Obama Administration's drilling moratorium.

Congressional Timeline:

  • 9/13: Congress returns from recess
  • 10/8: Target adjournment for the House and Senate
  • 11/2: Election Day
  • 11/15: Beginning of Senate "lame duck" session (tentative)

Another Gulf Oil Rig Explodes

Another oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico suffered a major explosion last Thursday, forcing all 13 crew members to dive off the burning rig. Luckily there were no fatalities or major oil spills. A small firm called Mariner energy based out of Houston, TX owns the the platform. The rig was built in shallow water, so repairs will be much easier than on the Deepwater Horizon Rig, which blew out just 135 miles away. The rig was in active production at the time of the explosion, but so far Mariner and the Coast Guard are saying that the explosion did not result in a substantial oil spill.

Industry representatives are working to minimize Thursday's incident and distance it from the well blowout in April. "We have on these platforms on any given year roughly 100 fires," said one representative. Nonetheless, the disaster has increased support for the Obama Administration's drilling moratorium.

Oil companies have been battling the Obama Administration in federal court to lift the moratorium, which they claim hurts Gulf Coast workers. Workers from Mariner were among 5,000 oil company employees who were bussed to the Houston convention center last Wednesday to protest the moratorium, claiming that "Obama is trying to break us."

Senate RES is Back on the Table

Last week Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said that the Renewable Energy Standard (RES) would be back on the table when the Senate returns this fall. Reid noted that two Republicans have expressed interest in the bill, but that he still needed to "tie them down a little more closely.”

One of these Republicans could be Senator Brownback (R-KS), who recently endorsed the RES passed through the energy committee last year. Senator Reid noted that his energy package is more likely to be passed during the "lame duck" session, held after the midterm elections. This final session of the Senate is expected to begin on November 15th, and continue as late as the December holidays.

A major renewable energy developer NextEra Energy has promised to invest $2.5 billion in solar and wind energy if an RES passes, enough to create 40,000 jobs in five years. A 2009 UCS analysis of the Senate Energy Committee's RES (.pdf) suggests that the 15% standard being proposed would not necessarily guarantee renewable energy deployment beyond business as usual levels.

EPA Holds Field Hearings to Discuss Toxic Coal Ash

Last week the second hearing on toxic coal ash regulation was held in Denver, Colorado. The Obama Administration's EPA is considering stronger regulations for toxic coal ash dumps, but their efforts are being met by major pushback from industry. 1Sky and our allies are calling on the Obama Administration to crack down on toxic coal ash.

State of the Movement:

1Sky Board Member and 350.org co-founder Bill McKibben wants to focus more on movement building and less on Washington, D.C., while Grist's David Roberts gives blunt predictions for what the coming years have in store for climate advocates.

Prepared by 1Sky Policy Coordinator Jason Kowalski. Please direct questions or comments to jason@1sky.org.

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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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