Posts Tagged ‘clean air act’

Government rules play a major role in all our lives. They are necessary to protect the most vulnerable among us – the young, the old – those who cannot protect themselves. They shield us from companies that are willing to pollute, to cheat, or to skimp on safety in the name of profit. These rules are one of the foundations of a civilized society.

Few government agencies better demonstrate serving the public interest than the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and today’s announcement of the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule offers a perfect example. The rule will tighten limits on the amount of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide pollution that power plants in more than two dozen eastern states are currently allowed to emit. Sulfur dioxide is a component of acid rain while nitrogen oxide is an element of smog.

The Cross-State Air Pollution rule was issued under the “Good Neighbor” provision of the Clean Air Act, which makes sure emissions from a power plant in one state doesn’t cause unsafe pollution levels in another.

The rule will have a positive impact on the economy and in people’s lives. The EPA report “Final Air Pollution Cross-State Air Pollution Rule: Reducing Air Pollution, Protecting Public Health” shows millions of Americans will live healthier lives. The rule will begin to phase in on January 1, 2012, but by 2014 the rule will save up to 34,000 lives a year, save 420,000 from upper and lower respiratory symptoms per year, annually avoid 1.8 million sick days and will “result in $120 to $280 billion in annual benefits.”

This is not proof of a government “run amok,” but instead a shining example of what government is supposed to do.

Check out this link for more information on the rule.

 

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T. Boone Pickens has abandoned wind, no thanks to the lack of proper incentives from the federal government. His next big idea, detailed in an environment360 blog post, is to revolutionize our highways and climate by pushing for a tax incentive that would help tractor trailer trucks make the conversion from diesel to compressed natural gas.

In theory, the plan is tempting. However, Fen Montaigne of environment360 consulted with Public Citizen’s energy program director Tyson Slocum who pointed out that:

. . . much of the natural gas Pickens is counting on to power the U.S. trucking industry will come from the hydro-fracturing, or fracking, of shales — a process in which a mixture of water, sand, and chemicals is forced at high pressure deep underground to free natural gas trapped in shale formations.

"Frackaholic"
The problem is because fracking was given an exemption from the Clean Air Act during the Bush administration, we don’t know what chemicals are being used. We do know that these  unknown chemicals are affecting the water tables and often health of residents in communities across the country where fracking is taking place.

Yesterday, The Hill broke word of a damning study by Cornell University that said that shale gas, which is obtained by hydraulic fracturing, would contribute more to greenhouse warming than coal over the next twenty years.

This is bad news for Obama. Raw Story pointed out that just weeks ago while giving a speech about energy at Georgetown University Obama said,

‘Recent innovations have given us the opportunity to tap large reserves — perhaps a century’s worth of reserves, a hundred years worth of reserves — in the shale under our feet,’

In the Huffington Post, Brendan DeMille just wrote:

Fracking, sadly, has been given the green light for now by the Obama administration . . .  The Energy Information Administration currently estimates that the U.S. will rely on shale gas for roughly 45% of our energy needs by the year 2035.

Are we trading one bad addiction for another? Do we really want to become a nation of frackaholics?

Learn more about the unsafe and unregulated practice of fracking
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Today’s Flickr photo

East Village, NYC. Flickr photo. Flickr photo by WanderingtheWorld (www.LostManProject.com)'s photostream.

If you read one thing today . . .

Eugene Robinson’s oped in Truthout says the 112th Congress isn’t necessarily a doom-and-gloom scenario for Democrats. True the Dems lost the House and gave up their filibuster-proof majority in the Senate but if the closing days of the 111 Congress tell us anything, it’s that the GOP may have a harder time holding its ranks in the new year.

In the Senate, there could be as many as 11 Republicans who might defect and vote with the Democrats, depending on the issue. There’s a small but newly assertive group of moderates — Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins of Maine, Scott Brown of Massachusetts and independent Lisa Murkowski of Alaska — along with newcomer Mark Kirk of Illinois, who seem likely to fit that mold. And judging by the vote tallies in the lame-duck session, a half-dozen other GOP senators are willing to go their own way.

This means that if Majority Leader Reid plays his cards well — and recently he has been playing very well indeed — it will be difficult for Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to keep enough of his troops together to sustain a filibuster. The new Senate will be considerably more Republican than the old Senate, but whether it’s actually more conservative remains to be seen.

Overheard:

Just in case you weren’t certain how incoming House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) feels about the Environmental Protection Agency and its ability to regulate greenhouse gases through the Clean Air Act, there’s this quote in Robin Bravender’s Politico piece:

“The EPA has its foot firmly on the throat of our economic recovery,” he said. “We will not allow the administration to regulate what they have been unable to legislate.”

Today’s Flickr photo

Flickr photo by alkhodarev.

If you read one thing today . . .

Now that climate legislation in Congress is all but dead for at least the next two years, all eyes will be focused on the EPA, which has the authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions. The question, David Roberts write in Grist, is how much power does the EPA actually have in this area and will it use it? The answer is bound to leave those who have fought for climate change solutions a little frustrated.

Documents released early this week finally start to offer a glimpse into EPA thinking. Long story short: Climate hawks shouldn’t expect much from these upcoming regulations. They won’t be a substitute for the climate bill. Not even close.

Here’s the basic problem the EPA faces: The best way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from stationary sources — primarily power plants — is to approach the situation holistically: shut down a bunch of dirty power plants, build a bunch of clean power plants, and push hard on efficiency to cover the cost differential and protect ratepayers. Legislation could have done that. EPA can’t. EPA can’t make anybody build anything.

Overheard:

In a WaPo op-ed this past weekend former ABC Nightline host Ted Koppel compared Keith Olbermann and other partisan cable news show hosts to huckster Bernie Madoff, who told his investors what they wanted to hear, instead of the truth. Olbermann, fresh off his brief suspension for contributing to three Democrats, fired back at the end of his Monday show:

“I may ultimately be judged to have been wrong in what I am doing. Mr. Koppel does not have to wait,” Olbermann said. “The kind of television journalism he eulogizes failed this country because when truth was needed, all we got were facts — most of which were lies anyway. The journalism failed, and those who practiced it failed, and Mr. Koppel failed. I don’t know that I’m doing it exactly right here. I’m trying. I have to. Because whatever that television news was before — now we have to fix it.”

How much does a pro-pollution amendment cost? From the looks of recent reports about the relationship between Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and a big energy lobbyist, at least about $35,000. That’s how much Duke Energy, Southern Co. and their executives gave to Sen. Murkowski’s campaign and leadership PAC so far in the cycle, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

It’s no surprise then that Jeffery Holmstead, a registered lobbyist for clients Duke Energy and Southern Co., had extraordinary access to Murkowski – access to help craft an amendment to allow his clients to continue polluting. The amendment proposed by Sen. Murkowski would gut key provisions of the Clean Air Act. The Washington Post reports that Holmstead (also a former top official at the Environmental Protection Agency under George W. Bush) and another lobbyist, Roger Matella, were very hands-on in drafting the amendment:

In an interview, Holmstead said of the Murkowski amendment, ‘I certainly worked with her staff’ on the exact phrasing of the measure in September.

The Obama Administration has moved forward to regulate pollutants that cause climate change using the Clean Air Act. This critical step to rebuild our economy with clean energy, and to protect our health and our climate from global warming and pollution is under attack by the big polluters. And they have friends in high places.

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