IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: The President fights back; the EPA doesn't --- for now, anyway; Shell Oil one step closer to drilling in the Arctic; Massive anti-nuke protests in Japan; PLUS: Australia's prime minister faces the global warming fight head on ... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Clinton blasts Republicans on climate change denial; Poll: More Americans now believe world is warming; 3rd hottest summer globally; The Solyndra Timeline; Solyndra is the next 'Climategate'; Siemens quits nuclear industry; 'Gasland' wins Emmy; Are cosmic rays causing global warming? [No.]; Safety violations at ExxonMobil refinery; More shale well cement problems; China invests billions in Canada oil sands; Rising seas to wash out California tourism; China's crackdown on rare earth metals; New study links Gulf War vets illnesses to area of service; Missing global heat may hide in deep oceans; China closes solar panel plant after anti-pollution protests; America and oil: declining together? ... PLUS: Best way to convince deniers: Butter them up ...
STORIES DISCUSSED IN TODAY'S 'GREEN NEWS REPORT'...
- Obama Fights Back - Demands End to Oil & Coal Subsidies:
- VIDEO: President Obama on Economic Growth and Deficit Reduction (White House.gov)
- TRANSCRIPT: Remarks by the President on Economic Growth and Deficit Reduction (White House.gov):
That has to change. Our tax code shouldn't give an advantage to companies with the best-connected lobbyists. It should give an advantage to companies that invest in the United States of America and create jobs in the United States of America. And we can lower the corporate rate if we get rid of all these special deals.
Either we gut education and medical research, or we've got to reform the tax code so that the most profitable corporations have to give up tax loopholes that other companies don't get. We can't afford to do both.
This is not class warfare. It's math.
- Obama deficit plan includes repeal of US oil and gas tax breaks (Platts):
The bulk of that tax reform raises $1.28 trillion in revenue by allowing tax cuts to the wealthy individuals to expire. But an additional $300 billion would come from eliminating a number of tax breaks, including those to the oil and gas industry. Among them is the repeal of the "last in, first out" accounting method for valuing inventory, which the administration says would be worth $52 billion for 10 years.
The Obama plan also proposes saving $66 million by requiring oil and gas companies pay drilling permit fees to the Bureau of Land Management. The industry could also be hit with a 9.7-cent/barrel excise tax on crude oil and imported petroleum products, to fund cleanup of hazardous waste sites under the Superfund program.
- Obama: US will implement oil transparency initiative: "[S]o that taxpayers receive every dollar they're due from the extraction of our natural resources," Obama said (The Hill)
- Obama's Deficit Plan Cuts Billions in Subsidies To Farmers
(Minneapolis Star Tribune)
- Drill, Baby, Drill Fails: Obama Presides Over Record Growth in Oil Rigs, Still Gets Blamed by GOP for High Oil Prices (Climate Progress)
- Obama can't catch a break on oil (Grist) [emphasis added]:
"The figure reflects a huge surge in U.S. oil drilling, up nearly 60 percent in the past year and the highest total since at least 1987, when oil services company Baker Hughes Inc. began keeping track," notes the WSJ.
- EPA Caves Again --- No New Air Pollution Rules, For Now:
- As The World Warms, Environmental Protections Put On The Back Burner (DeSmogBlog)
- Oh, now we're not regulating greenhouse gases either (Grist)
- EPA delays its greenhouse-gas rules. Not a big deal - or is it? (Washington Post) [emphasis added]:
A quick recap: In 2007, the Supreme Court ruled that the EPA is required to regulate carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act, as long as the agency determines that those gases endanger public health (which, most scientists agree, they do). So far, the agency has been following those orders.
Step one was putting forward stricter fuel-economy standards for cars and light trucks. And, this year, the EPA was scheduled to outline new standards for existing power plants and refineries. It's that second part, the New Source Performance Standards program, that's getting delayed.
- Power plants can comply with green regulations: FERC (Reuters):
U.S. power plants can comply with new environmental rules without disrupting the supply of electricity if providers and local authorities have time to plan for the changes, energy regulators told congressional Republicans seeking to unwind the rules.
- EPA FAIL: Greenhouse Gas Rule Delayed (NYT Green):
To the surprise of almost no one, the Environmental Protection Agency confirmed on Thursday that it would not meet a Sept. 30 deadline for issuing rules governing greenhouse gas emissions from power plants and other major sources.
- Greenhouse Gas Proposal To Miss Deadline: EPA Chief (Reuters)
- It's A Net Benefit: Study: The Combined Effect of the Obama EPA Rules (Economic Policy Institute)
- Shell Oil One Step Closer to Arctic Drilling:
- EPA grants air permit for Shell oil drilling in Arctic (LA Times):
If you're looking for a smog-free venue, one of the last places left might be the Chukchi and Beaufort seas, the remote stretch of frigid water between Russia and Canada at the top of the planet.
To help open the door to offshore oil and gas exploration in the Arctic, though, the Environmental Protection Agency on Monday issued a final air quality permit that will allow Shell Oil's Noble Discoverer drill ship and the rest of Shell's drilling fleet to emit more than 250 tons of pollutants a year into the Arctic air while looking for oil.
- EPA Grants Shell an Air Quality Permit for Arctic Drilling (AP)
- World's Largest Firms 'Acting on Climate Change', Analysis Shows (Guardian UK)
- Interior Beefs Up Rig Safety Rules Again (The Hill)
- Big Oil Bets Against America's Energy Future, Congressional Research Service Report Finds (Climate Progress):
But that's not the least of it: the largest of these companies, ExxonMobil, pays a lower effective tax rate than the average American. Meanwhile, families across the country are forced to pay exorbitant amounts of hard-earned cash at the pump because they've got few transportation options-gasoline runs the car that they rely on to get to work and ferry their kids to school.
Now, at the request of Senator Harry Reid (D-NV), a report by the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service (CRS) has confirmed just how little the nation's five primary oil companies care to invest in the future of American energy security.
- Exxon Makes Billion-Dollar Bet Climate Change is Real, Here Now and Going to Get Worse But Keeps Funding Deniers (Climate Progress) [emphasis added]:
Exxon would like you to believe that climate change is neither real nor urgent. That is why they have spent millions of dollars over the last several years funding climate skeptics and fighting legislation that would regulate the emissions of greenhouse gases.
Actions, however, speak louder than words. And Exxon's most recent action was a thunderclap. According to reports, Exxon has just signed an extensive deal with Rosneft, the Russian state oil company, to develop promising offshore oil and gas deposits in the Arctic Ocean.
One key thing has changed: the arctic ice is melting rapidly.
- AUSTRALIA: Prime Minister Gillard Introduces Carbon Tax:
- Clean Energy Bill 2011: Prime Minister Julia Gillard's Speech to Parliament (Canberra Times) [emphasis added]:
Mr Speaker, we govern in a world of change, a world that is transforming. My task as Prime Minister, my Party's task in Government, this Parliament's task as it meets today, is to lead our country through this transformation. Not to hide from change, to make change work for us.
Because the final test is not: are you on the right side of the politics of the week or the polls of the year. The final test is this: are you on the right side of history. And in my experience, the judgement of history has a way of speaking sooner than we expect.
- Australia PM introduces controversial carbon laws (Reuters):
Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard introduced her government's controversial carbon tax plans into parliament on Tuesday, a third attempt to legislate a price on pollution.
Gillard has staked her minority government's future on passing the laws, which would force around 500 big polluting companies to pay for carbon emissions through a A$23 ($23.75) per tonne carbon tax from July 2012, ahead of emissions trading from mid 2015. Earlier plans to levy a tax were rejected in 2009.
- OP-ED: Carbon tax will define our politics (The Australian)
- AUDIO: The Carbon War (ABC Australia):
For nearly a decade Australian political leaders have been at war over the best way to tackle climate change. Former Liberal leader Malcolm Turnbull was the first casualty. He lost his job because he supported a price on carbon. The former Labor Prime Minister Kevin Rudd was next to go, after his polls collapsed when he dropped his plan to put a price on carbon. Now Prime Minister Julia Gillard faces an electoral revolt led by activists who say she doesn't have a mandate to introduce a carbon tax. And Opposition leader Tony Abbott is supporting this "people's revolt", hoping to force an early election.
- JAPAN: Massive Anti-Nuke Protests in Tokyo
- Fukushima Protesters Urge Japan to Abandon Nuclear Power (Guardian UK):
[60,000] people marched in Tokyo on Monday in the biggest show of public opposition to nuclear power since the start of the Fukushima Daiichi crisis in March. The protesters, who included residents of Fukushima prefecture, called for the immediate closure of all of Japan's nuclear reactors and a new energy policy centred on renewables.
- Tens of Thousands March Against Nuclear Power in Tokyo (AP)
'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (Stuff we didn't have time for in today's audio report)...
- Clinton blasts Republicans on climate change denial (The Hill):
"If you're an American, the best thing you can do is to make it politically unacceptable for people to engage in denial [of climate change]," Clinton said. "I mean, it makes us - we look like a joke, right? You can't win the nomination of one of the major parties in the country if you admit that the scientists are right? That disqualifies you from doing it? You could really help us there."
- More Americans Now Believe World Is Warming (Reuters):
More Americans than last year believe the world is warming and the change is likely influenced by the Republican presidential debates, a Reuters/Ipsos poll said on Thursday.
- Third Hottest Summer Globally, Second Warmest for U.S. With Stunning Weather Extremes, Texas Drought Worst in Centuries (Climate Progress)
- The Solyndra Timeline: 2005 to 2011 (Climate Progress)
- Siemens Quits the Nuclear Industry (Climate Progress)
- Josh Fox wins an Emmy for fracking documentary 'Gasland' (Grist):
The film Gasland, which exposes the dirty underbelly of hydraulic fracturing for natural gas, lost out on an Oscar, but won an Emmy...
- Video: Debunking the Deniers: The CERN Study --- Are Cosmic Rays Causing Global Warming? (Little Green Footballs):
This...is for all those right wingers who keep emailing and showing up in LGF comments gloating about a paper from CERN that "totally destroys the myth of global warming"
- Safety Risks Underscored by Violations at ExxonMobil Refinery (Center for Public Integrity):
[O]il refining is one of the country's most dangerous industries, where even seemingly small recurring events such as equipment breakdowns and fires can have fatal consequences. Yet an easily manipulated regulatory system allows companies to delay or avoid improvements. While the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration occasionally appears to take a tough stance, identifying perils and proposing fines, the fines are often small and can be appealed for long periods of time, delaying fixes.
- PA State Inspections Show More Shale Well Cement Problems (Scranton Times-Tribune):
Despite confident assurances from leaders in the go-go shale gas industry that pollution problems don't exist, records from Pennsylvania's environmental agency show that faulty casings and cement do indeed cause pollution of drinking water.
- China Invests Billions In Canada Tar Sands (Houston Chronicle):
As U.S. companies look toward oil riches in northern Canada, they're encountering increasing competition - as well as some much-needed cash infusions - from the Far East. U.S. and Canadian companies have dominated Alberta's oil sands for decades. Now, though, Chinese firms are rushing to snap up Canadian oil sands resources and invest in ongoing projects - to the tune of $15 billion in the past 18 months in Alberta alone.
- Rising Seas Expected To Wash Out Key California Beaches, Real Estate, Tourism (Reuters)
- Rare Earth Prices to Stay High As China Extends Crackdown (Reuters):
Excess exports from China's rare earth industry kept prices artificially low for years, and it was now 'unrealistic' to expect them to fall back to previous levels as Beijing reins in the sector, a senior industry official said on Thursday.
- Solyndra is the next 'Climategate' (Grist):
Conservatives are trying to use the bankruptcy of solar firm Solyndra to tar the whole renewables industry, writes David Roberts. Never mind that it was the Bush admin that originally backed the loan. In reality, Solyndra was collateral damage in a trade war with China, and the company's death doesn't mean the death of solar power.
- New Study Links Gulf War Vets Illnesses to Area of Service (Stars & Stripes):
More veterans who deployed to Iraq in 1991 and took anti-nerve-agent pills suffer from symptoms of Gulf War Syndrome than those who did not receive injections; and the illness is more prevent in troops who used pesticides on their uniforms or skin, USA Today reports, citing results of a study scheduled to be released Monday."
- Missing Global Heat May Hide in Deep Oceans (Reuters):
The mystery of Earth's missing heat may have been solved: it could lurk deep in oceans, temporarily masking the climate-warming effects of greenhouse gas emissions, researchers reported on Sunday.
- China Closes Solar Panel Plant After Anti-Pollution Protests (LA Times):
Authorities ordered a solar-panel manufacturing plant in eastern China to close after four days of protests by hundreds of villagers who have accused the facility of causing air and water pollution, Chinese media reported Monday.
- America and oil: declining together? (Grist):
Oil fueled the United States' rise as a global superpower. Now, as oil declines as a major source of energy, is it bringing the U.S. down with it?
If you want proof of that economic decline, just check out the way America's share of the world's gross domestic product has been steadily dropping, while its once-powerhouse economy now appears incapable of generating forward momentum. In its place, robust upstarts like China and India are posting annual growth rates of 8 to 10 percent. When combined with the growing technological prowess of those countries, the present figures are surely just precursors to a continuing erosion of America's global economic clout.
- Best way to convince deniers: Butter them up (Grist):
Well, it turns out Dave Roberts has been going about this talking to climate skeptics thing all wrong. If you want to get people to consider data that doesn't fit with their pet worldview, you should make them think really hard about how great they are. Then they'll be putty in your hands! And if you don't believe me, have I mentioned how fetching you look today?