IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Oil prices spike on Libya unrest; Gettin' gassy at the Oscars; Hidden costs of coal; Air pollution deadlier than cocaine ... PLUS: Unrest in the Midwest, powered by Koch (the Billionaire Koch Brothers, that is) ... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Scientist finds Gulf bottom still oily, still dead; Americans trust the EPA over Congress; 10 Ways Rising Oil Prices Endanger the U.S. Recovery; Solar street lamp generates more energy than it uses; Solar Decathlon 2011 on the National Mall after all; Ways to lower your elec. bill even more; What to read when you're seeking out the actual science in climate science; Global warming skeptics unite to denounce VA AG's climate witch hunt; How Clean Is Clean Enough For Recycling?; Fed gov't. hides threat of toxic HF acid releases; "Climategate" climate scientists cleared yet again; Climate change fuels "dire" threat to coral reefs ... PLUS: Are Americans hardwired for extinction? ...
STORIES DISCUSSED IN TODAY'S 'GREEN NEWS REPORT'...
- Oil Prices Spike on Libya Unrest:
- Oil price spike threatens global recovery: Turmoil in Arab states threatens to crimp global crude production (MSNBC)
- Oil holds gains after spike on Libya violence (Reuters):
Oil held near 2-1/2 year highs on Tuesday, with worries about turmoil in Libya that sent prices soaring the previous session eased by expectations that OPEC and the International Energy Agency could meet any shortfall in oil supplies.
At least three international oil companies have halted production in Libya, which pumps nearly 2 percent of world output.
- IEA: Oil over $100 in '11 may trigger '08 repeat (Reuters)
- Gettin' Gassy at the Oscars:
- WATCH: GASLAND Trailer 2010 (YouTube)
- Hidden costs are still costs (David Roberts, Grist)
- Gas drillers make waves in Pa. with NFL tickets (Pro Publica)
The industry, which is pouring billions of dollars into drilling across Pennsylvania, also is spending millions more in lobbying and political campaign contributions. Unlike most states, Pennsylvania has no limits on individual campaign contributions or gifts to public officials.
Consol, traditionally a coal company based in Canonsburg, found at least two takers for the Steelers' appearance earlier this month in the Super Bowl: two state senators, including their chamber's highest-ranking member, who flew at Consol's expense to Dallas.
- Fears over gas drilling more than hot air (Australia Broadcasting Co.):
It raises the question of why an advanced wealthy country is so compelled to sacrifice the integrity of swathes of productive land for financial gain from exporting a resource which we don't need for our own energy needs. This sacrifice flies in the face of a Federal Government report from its Science, Engineering and Innovation Council indicating that Australia could become a net importer of food, ifas seems inevitable the country's population continues to grow and climate change cuts agricultural production.
- Anatomy of a Smear Campaign: ‘Energy In Depth’ Was Created By Major Oil and Gas Companies According to Industry Memo (DeSmog Blog)
- Fracking Democracy: A two-day spectacle carved into two-minute chunks (Orion Magazine)
- Strong Debate Rages on Gas Drilling in Delaware River Basin (Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin)
- Hundreds Attend Hearing on Gas Drilling Along Delaware River (Pottstown Mercury)
- Drillers Set Sights on Shale Reserve Deeper Than the Marcellus (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review)
- Pa. Gov Scales Back Drilling Policy on Public Land (AP)
- The Onion: Who's Ready For Some Oscars! (The Onion)
- The HIDDEN COSTS of Coal: $345 Billion, Paid by Taxpayers
- Coal's Hidden Costs Top $345 Billion In U.S: Study (Reuters) [emphasis added]:
The United States' reliance on coal to generate almost half of its electricity, costs the economy about $345 billion a year in hidden expenses not borne by miners or utilities, including health problems in mining communities and pollution around power plants, a study found.
The estimate of hidden costs takes into account a variety of side-effects of coal production and use. Among them are the cost of treading elevated rates of cancer and other illnesses in coal-mining areas, environmental damage and lost tourism opportunities in coal regions where mountaintop removal is practiced and climate change resulting from elevated emissions of carbon dioxide from burning the coal.
"This is effectively a subsidy borne by asthmatic children and rain-polluted lakes and the climate is another way of looking at it," said Kert Davies, research director with the environmental activist group Greenpeace. "It's a tax by the industry on us that we are not seeing in our bills but we are bearing the costs."
- Life-cycle study: Accounting for total harm from coal would add “close to 17.8¢/kWh of electricity generated” (Climate Progress)
In a groundbreaking article to be released this month in the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, Dr. Paul Epstein, associate director of the Center for Health and the Global Environment at Harvard Medical School, details the economic, health and environmental costs associated with each stage in the life cycle of coal – extraction, transportation, processing, and combustion. These costs, between a third to over half a trillion dollars annually, are directly passed on to the public.
In terms of human health, the report estimates $74.6 billion a year in public health burdens in Appalachian communities, with a majority of the impact resulting from increased healthcare costs, injury and death. Emissions of air pollutants account for $187.5 billion, mercury impacts as high as $29.3 billion, and climate contributions from combustion between $61.7 and $205.8 billion. Heavy metal toxins and carcinogens released during processing pollute water and food sources and are linked to long-term health problems. Mining, transportation, and combustion of coal contribute to poor air quality and respiratory disease, while the risky nature of mining coal results in death and injury for workers.
- Power company holds off on cleaning up Chicago-area coal plants: Midwest Generation faces protests, federal suit over aging sites that churn out toxic soot (Chicago Tribune) [emphasis added]:
In recently filed documents, Midwest Generation signaled it might delay installing pollution controls at its six coal-fired power plants "for the maximum time available," making it more likely the aging units will keep churning out high levels of lung- and heart-damaging soot for most of the decade.
With Republican lawmakers in Washington seeking to block tougher pollution limits proposed by the Obama administration, Midwest Generation now appears to be hedging on its next steps.
Late last year, the company secured state permits to install pollution-control equipment that would reduce soot- and smog-forming emissions from its power plants. But whether it actually makes the $1.2 billion investment depends in part on "regulatory and legislative developments," according to its latest financial documents.
- EPA: Chesapeake illegally buried W.Va. streams (Charleston Gazette)
- Air Pollution May Hurt School Kids' Lungs (Reuters)
- Air Pollution Deadlier Than Cocaine
- Dirty air triggers more heart attacks than cocaine (Reuters):
Air pollution triggers more heart attacks than using cocaine and poses as high a risk of sparking a heart attack as alcohol, coffee and physical exertion, scientists said on Thursday.
The findings, published in The Lancet journal, suggest population-wide factors like polluted air should be taken more seriously when looking at heart risks, and should be put into context beside higher but relatively rarer risks like drug use.
- EPA compromises on industrial pollution rules (Reuters)
- US Top Ten States for Air Pollution: Texas #1!
- U.S. State CO2 Emissions: Top 10 Polluters From Power Plants In 2010 (Huffington Post Green):
Texas power plants emitted 244,248,050 tons of CO2 in 2009. They emitted 256,903,967 tons in 2010. According to the report, Texas power plants emitted more than 7 times the total CO2 emissions from power plants in California. The state has a favorable climate for wind energy, and yet Texas reportedly opened three new coal plants near the end of 2010.
- The WI gov's attack on labor and renewable energy, brought to you by the Billionaire Koch Brothers:
- The Koch Brothers' End Game in Wisconsin (Daily Kos) [emphasis added]:
State of Wisconsin SENATE BILL 11 [pdf]:
[Bottom of Page 23:]
SECTION 44. 16.896 of the statutes is created to read:
16.896 Sale or contractual operation of state-owned heating, cooling, and power plants. (1) Notwithstanding ss. 13.48 (14) (am) and 16.705 (1), the department may sell any state-owned heating, cooling, and power plant or may contract with a private entity for the operation of any such plant, with or without solicitation of bids, for any amount that the department determines to be in the best interest of the state. Notwithstanding ss. 196.49 and 196.80, no approval or certification of the public service commission is necessary for a public utility to purchase, or contract for the operation of, such a plant, and any such purchase is considered to be in the public interest and to comply with the criteria for certification of a project under s. 196.49 (3) (b).
- Plutocracy Now: What Wisconsin Is Really About (Mother Jones)
- Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker: Funded by the Koch Bros. (Mother Jones):
Wisconsin Republican Governor Scott Walker, whose bill to kill collective bargaining rights for public-sector unions has caused an uproar among state employees, might not be where he is today without the Koch brothers.
Charles and David Koch are conservative titans of industry who have infamously used their vast wealth to undermine President Obama and fight legislation they detest, such as the cap-and-trade climate bill, the health care reform act, and the economic stimulus package. For years, the billionaires have made extensive political donations to Republican candidates across the country and have provided millions of dollars to astroturf right-wing organizations. Koch Industries' political action committee has doled out more than $2.6 million to candidates. And one prominent beneficiary of the Koch brothers' largess is Scott Walker.
- Priorities? GOP Governors Shift Burden To Poor, Middle Class To Pay For Tax Breaks For Rich, Corporations (Think Progress):
State budgets across the country are in disarray as a weak economy, the end of tens of billions in Recovery Act funds, and a GOP-led House that is pushing for deep cuts to many programs that benefit state and local governments set the stage for massive in shortfalls over the next two years. Instead of making the tough choices necessary to help their states weather the current crisis with some semblance of the social safety net and basic government services intact, Republican governors are instead using it as an opportunity to advance several longtime GOP projects: union busting, draconian cuts to social programs, and massive corporate tax breaks.
- It's the Inequality, Stupid: Eight charts that explain everything that's wrong with America (Mother Jones)
- Governor Scott Walker blowing wind power jobs to Illinois (Milwaukee Examiner)
- Montanans Protest Republican Assault on Workers, Environment (Environmental News Service):
Protests against union-busting state bills and cuts to state programs are spreading from Wisconsin across the country today. In Montana, the environment is front and center as protesters challenge Governor Brian Schweitzer, a Democrat, on his budgetary plans, which they say cut health, environmental, and labor programs to pay for corporate tax cuts.
- The Republican War on the EPA Begins-But Will They Overreach? (TIME's Eco-centric blog)
- Energy Industry Sways Congress With Misleading Data (Pro Publica):
The two key arguments that the oil and gas industry is using to fight federal regulation of the natural gas drilling process called hydraulic fracturing --- that the costs would cripple their business and that state regulations are already strong --- are challenged by the same data and reports the industry is using to bolster its position.
- WATCH: Look for the Union Label 1978 ILGWU ad (YouTube)
'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (Stuff we didn't have time for in today's audio report)...
- New polls: Americans trust the EPA over Congress (Grist)
- Scientist finds Gulf bottom still oily, dead (AP)
- Green Machine: solar street lamp feeds energy to the grid
- 10 Ways Rising Oil Prices Endanger the U.S. Recovery
- Solar Decathlon 2011 Will Stay on the National Mall
- Did all the right things to lower energy costs, but your bill still seems high? Here's why (Treehugger)
- What to read when you're seeking out the actual science in climate science (NY Times)
- Global Warming Skeptics Unite to Denounce Attorney General's Climate Witch Hunt (Treehugger)
- Are Americans hardwired for extinction?
- How Clean Is Clean Enough For Recycling?
- Refineries Threaten Lives of 16 million Americans with toxic HF acid; govt hides threat at industry urging (CPI/ABC )
- Report on 'Climategate' clears government scientists of wrongdoing
- Climate change fuels "dire" threat to coral reefs