Archive for ‘Environmental Issues’ category

I Would Apologize Too: A Letter To Mother Earth

August 23rd, 2012

I Would Apologize To Mother Earth Also, Except That Implied In An Apology Is The Intent To Stop Committing The Offense, Which I Am Working Toward, But Have Not Yet Achieved…

Whiz Burgers, San Francisco, California, copyright 2010 David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90. Something about fast food, the Catholic Church, electric wires powered by San Francisco’s electricity grid and a sky turned apocalyptic in a pleasant Photoshop surprise, seemed appropriate to post again with this would be apology. Available as an archival fine art digital print.

(See the photograph large, “Whiz Burgers, San Francisco, California.”)

Recently master photographer Youssef M. Ismail of Organic Light Photography wrote a blog post titled, “I’m Sorry – An Open Letter To Mother Earth.” This beautifully written expose is also an openhearted lament for what we humans have done to our home planet Earth. Echoing Youssef M. Ismail’s sentiments, talented photo blogger Monte Stevens made a blog post in his own words that he called, “I also apologize.” I would like to continue the trend and the tradition by adding my own message to the conversation.

The Holocaust?

I was also inspired to write this blog post by the holocaust that is currently transpiring. That’s right, I said holocaust: bigger than any holocaust we’ve ever seen of humans. I’m talking about the animal holocaust, the wholesale slaughter of our feathered and furry friends and relatives, directly by murder and indirectly through the destruction of their habitat.

Part of what also inspired me to write this letter to Mother Earth was an article in the current issue of Rolling Stone by Bill McKibben called,  “Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math: Three Simple Numbers That Add Up To Global Catastrophe – And That Make Clear Who The Real Enemy Is.” Bill McKibben has authored important books such as The End of Nature, The Global Warming Reader: A Century of Writing About Climate Change, American Earth: Environmental Writing Since Thoreau with Al Gore, The Age of Missing InformationDeep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future and others.

“Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math”

In his Rolling Stone article, Bill McKibben reminded us that in 2009 world leaders signed the “Copenhagen Accord” agreeing that the most our civilization can survive is a two degree Celsius increase in global temperature. Two degrees is the fatal first number. Scientists estimate that we can pollute the atmosphere with approximately 565 gigatons of carbon dioxide and still remain below the two-degree safety limit. This is the safe second number. Engineers have since calculated that the amount of carbon in proven coal, oil and gas reserves is five times what will produce the pollution to exceed the safe two-degree temperature increase. That is, we have more than 2,795 gigatons of carbon already discovered and big oil and energy companies are still looking. This third and scariest third number is the amount of carbon already known, that if burned, will produce a planet 11 degrees warmer and “straight out of science fiction,” wrote Bill McKibben. This means that we need to convince Big Oil, gas and coal companies to keep 80 percent of fossil fuel in the ground. What it comes down to is that as a species, we humans need to let go of greed, the fear of not having enough, to survive. Strange that it’s necessary to let go of the fear of death to avoid experiencing it.

Is “Big Oil” Or “You And I” To Blame?

Therefore, to begin with, after I stop doing it, I will apologize to planet Earth for my part in continuing to drive automobiles and run other engines that burn fossil fuel, thereby supporting and fueling big oil’s greed addiction. For more on Big Oil’s greed addiction, see the blog post, “Exxon Profits $11 Billion As Oil Prices Skyrocket.” I drive much less than the average American, diligently combine trips and carpool, stay home a lot rather than “going out,” but I am still part of the problem. I could blame it on the car companies for not offering me convenient and reasonably priced alternatives, but other options are out there and have been for some time. There are diesel conversions to make it possible to burn biodiesel and there are electric vehicles available now, bicycles, horses, no I’m not joking, and many other ways of getting around besides petroleum powered automobiles. I live in a rural area and notice that many of my neighbors will drive the 54 miles round trip to Quincy, California or the 212 miles round trip to Reno, Nevada, several on the same day. If these neighbors took a little time to communicate with each other, or set up a system to notify each other when they would drive to town, we could all make travel and errands into social events. We are so addicted to convenience that we often “take separate cars” to the same event.

Alternatives have existed for cleaners, detergents and other household soaps and products for many years. I am sad that I have been aware of these alternatives for at least 20 years. I have made a point of using some of them, but up until the last few years I still used some toxic cleaners and other household products. Detergents that contain phosphates inevitably work their way into streams, rivers and lakes fertilizing algae and causing it to grow out of control killing native fish and other water dwelling beneficial insects, animals and plants.

I do recycle, compost and have a grey water system saving water and energy, but I could do much more. I eat locally when I can, but I often eat foods from far away lands, thereby increasing the fuel costs and my carbon footprint. I will apologize for this too, when I stop doing it.

Is Meat A Problem?

I still eat meat, but need to cut back. Humans are meant to be omnivores, not gluttons. In North America, the sustainable practice would be to get rid of the cattle that are destructive to the land, inefficient with resources and provide a lower quality meat that has a higher fat content than meat from the original native species: buffalo, or the American Bison. It is not the eating of meat that is a problem, but the quantity that Americans consume that poses a resource problem. If Americans reduced our meat intake just 10 percent, we could feed 60 million more people around the world. Science has proven we eat many times the protein necessary for our health, not to mention the consumption of fat and grease that leads to many diseases. For the overeating of protein, I apologize.

I apologize to Mother Earth for the toxic substances I use in my everyday life. I feel remorse for being naive and thinking government agencies are here to protect the public from poisons and other harm, when agencies such as the FDA, FTC, DEA, FAA, FCC, FDIC, ICC, NIH, and SEC are corrupt. Government agencies fill their board of director seats with executives from the very companies they are supposed to regulate.

Junk The Junk

Americans receive almost four million tons of junk mail every year, the equivalent of 62 billion pieces, about 240 mail items for every man, woman and child in the country. I am sad to admit that at most times in my life I have not had time to sit down and write every company that sends me junk mail asking them to desist. One year I did do this and had about six months of blissful junk free mail where I only received the mail I wanted before the whole process started all over again. I apologize for not having gone through the process all over again.

Coffee filters, paper towels, paper napkins and other household paper products are not naturally white. I will apologize later when I have stopped adding to the use of these products and instead opt for unbleached paper products or better yet, use washable or recyclable cloth napkins and towels. The bleaching of paper creates dioxin, which is a deadly poison that wipes out all living things in its path through our disposal and waste water systems.

More Apologies To Apply?

I apologize for having kept my hot water heater on high until recent years when I turned it down to a lower setting and bought insulation to keep from wasting heat and maintaining higher energy and carbon use than necessary.

I apologize for the times in my life when I didn’t recycle. I am sad that on those occasions I didn’t take the few minutes necessary to find out what company did the recycling in the area I lived.

Toxic paint both interior and exterior has surrounded me most of my life, but whenever I had to paint anything, I didn’t necessarily use the most Earth friendly product. I didn’t want to spend the extra money or do the research. I apologize. Paint and paint products account for over 60 percent of the toxic chemicals that private individuals dump into landfills.

At certain times in my life I drove on worn out, nearly worn out, unbalanced or under inflated tires, which alone wastes up to two billion gallons of gas per year in the US. I apologize that sometimes when buying tires I have gone the most economical route rather than purchasing the longest lasting, most fuel efficient tires, or just as stated above, cutting down on driving altogether. I have often not paid attention to rotating and balancing tires every five thousand miles.

Simple Actions For A Longer Life On Earth

In the book 50 Simple Things You Can Do to Save the Earth authors John Javna, Sophie Javna and Jesse Javna explain that we can have a significant effect on the environment simply by maintaining major appliances such as refrigerators, range stoves, air conditioners and others. The American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy estimates that if each of us only increased the efficiency of our appliances by 10-15 percent, we would decrease the demand for electricity by about 25 large power plants nationally. I still use some inefficient appliances, but of course filling landfills with old ones just to replace them with new ones only compounds the waste problem. I apologize for not having phased out old, inefficient appliances a few times when I had the chance.

My list of apologies and promised apologies for the future could go on and on. Here’s just a few areas where I notice that either myself or my neighbors are doing more than our share to destroy the environment and continuing to do so, while we pay lip service to being sad and sorry about the state of our world:

–       Leaving water running while brushing teeth or doing dishes

–       Washing dishes with a dishwasher (hand washing uses half the water)

–       Forgetting to get tune-ups and other car maintenance on time

–       Buying and driving gas guzzling autos

–       Using non-rechargeable batteries

–       Not Recycling Alkali batteries. The technology does exist.

–       Not bringing our own shopping bags to the supermarket or grocery store

–       Having our own shopping bags in the car but not remembering to bring them into the store

–       Wearing bleached clothes that very often also contain formaldehyde

–       Using traditional oven cleaners

–       Using permanent ink markers and pens that contain harmful solvents

–       Maintaining a lawn in an arid climate

–       Buying food or other products from places that use Styrofoam

–       Using paper plates and plastic tableware

–       Choosing plastic over other materials in products

–       Failing to research products we buy to be sure they are not polluters or wildlife killers

–       Investing in polluting companies, big oil, and other Earth destroying industries

–       Not having your home heating system properly tested, tuned up and maintained

–       Keeping the heat on in your home or office when you are not there

–       Keeping any lights on in your home or office in rooms you are not in

–       Throwing away magazines and newspapers without recycling or donating

–       Purchasing foods that use extravagant packaging for marketing advantage

–       Using disposable landfill choking diapers rather than cloth washable diapers

–       Keeping all or most of the lights on at night in your business

–       Using disposable cups at work rather than bringing your own from home

–       What else are you wasting or neglecting to save?

If you are guilty of any of the above, you are helping to spell doom for our home planet Earth. It is easy to look at the vanishing beauty in nature and at environmental destruction and point the finger at someone else, or disconnectedly say that we will have to do better. However, if each and every one of us took more small actions each day, it would make a gigantic difference. We have to vote with our pocketbooks, as they say, and through our other choices to ensure the survival of our own planet Earth. I apologize for usually doing too little too late myself.

Our Addictions

One of the main issues is that as a society we have become addicted to convenience. We have also allowed television and other major media to program us to want more than what we have as a general practice. My father used to say that the secret to happiness in this world is to want less, to desire less. What we must seek if we are to live is long-term prosperity, not abundance at the expense of the air we breathe, the water we drink, or the wildness of the natural world within which is the preservation of the Earth, as Henry David Thoreau warned us.

Are you, dear reader, apologetic?

To learn more about living lightly through the ahead-of-their-time example set by Ardis and Philip Hyde, see the blog post, “Living The Good Life 1,” For a lively discussion on creating a sustainable world and related issues see the blog post, “Art, Earth And Ethics 1.”

Protest Obama’s Fast Track Of Tar Sands Oil Pipeline

March 23rd, 2012

Tell President Obama: We need clean energy solutions, not tar sands oil…

President Obama’s decision to fast-track the southern piece of the Keystone XL tar sands oil pipeline was the wrong one. Take action today.

America needs a clean energy future that protects clean water, public health, and the environment–not more oil addiction and the destruction that it brings. We were deeply disappointed in President Obama’s energy speech that announced a plan to fast-track the southern piece of the Keystone XL tar sands oil pipeline through Texas and Oklahoma.

Tar sands oil is not the solution to our energy problems. It won’t lower the price of gas, won’t free us from foreign oil, and will put our land and water at further risk from oil spills. President Obama listened the last time we spoke to him about the Keystone XL tar sands oil pipeline–so it’s time for us to get his attention once again. Tell the President: This decision is the wrong way to go. We need clean energy solutions, not dirty tar sands oil. Green transportation options, support for electric vehicles, and more fuel-efficient automobiles will all help us break our addiction to oil. It’s up to people like you to remind President Obama that these are the types of real solutions his administration would be wise to pursue.

Fast-tracking this export tar sands pipeline from Cushing, Oklahoma to Port Arthur, Texas is the wrong decision. It affects real people who have a right to keep their property, air, and water clean and safe. Raising Midwestern gas prices, helping the richest oil companies get richer, and violating the rights of landowners across Texas and Oklahoma is reversing progress.

Stand up against Big Oil today, and tell President Obama: Texas and Oklahoma are not sacrifice zones. We need you to fight for clean energy, not fast-track this tar sands pipeline. Oil contributes more to climate disruption than any other fossil fuel, and tar sands oil is the dirtiest of all of Big Oil’s energy schemes. It’s also a threat to clean water–the last Keystone pipeline from Canada through the U.S. averaged an oil spill a month in its first year. Put simply, there is no room in our clean energy future for tar sands oil. That’s why, from our headquarters to our organizers and volunteers on the ground, the Sierra Club is committed to fighting every inch of this oil pipeline.

Remind President Obama that he promised us clean energy, not tar sands oil and an export pipeline. Tell the President it’s time to stand up to Big Oil. We need him to reject this and other tar sands oil pipelines and to tell the American people the truth: This oil pipeline will raise gas prices in the Midwest, take landowners’ property without their permission and threaten clean water, all to provide oil to refineries that will export the finished product, not lower our gas prices. It’s up to us to break this dirty cycle and remind him of his clean energy promises.

Thanks for all you do for our environment,

Michael Marx
Sierra Club Beyond Oil Director

P.S. After you take action, be sure to forward this alert to your friends and colleagues.

Exxon Profits $11 Billion As Oil Prices Skyrocket

May 5th, 2011

Exxon Quarterly Profits Reach Second Highest Level In History As Consumers Pay More

Exxon earned nearly $11 billion in the first quarter of 2011, a performance likely to land the company in the center of the national debate over high gasoline prices. –Associated Press

Solar Panels Abstract, San Luis Obispo County, California, copyright 2011 by David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90. Alternative energy develops despite Big Oil's attempts to lobby against it. Why use up all the oil? Why not conserve it? We need it to build solar panels. The irony is that Shell Oil bought out Siemen's in 2002. Siemen's is the world's largest solar panel manufacturer.

While BP and the US Government still are cleaning up the Gulf Oil Spill and US gasoline prices average $4.00 per gallon, Exxon defends its near record profits. Exxon stated it has no control over high oil prices. The oil giant said it is one of the highest tax payers in the US. The company cast federal subsidies as “legitimate tax provisions” that keep jobs at home. Exxon in turn cast itself as a victim of Washington scapegoating.

“They feel they have to demonize our industry,” said Ken Cohen, Exxon’s vice president for public affairs. What’s more, the company argued, it doesn’t even make that much money selling gasoline. Exxon’s profit of $10.65 billion for the first quarter was the highest since it made $14.83 billion in the third quarter of 2008, a record for a publicly traded company. That was also a time of $4.00 per gallon plus gasoline prices. Meanwhile, Shell announced $6.9 billion in profits and BP earned over $5 billion during the first three months of the year.

The Push To End Taxpayer Subsidies Of Big Oil Is Considered Unfair

The industry is fighting a renewed push from President Barack Obama and Democrats to end its $4 Billion a year in taxpayer subsidies. This week the industry’s lobbying group touted the 9.2 million jobs that depend on Big Oil and rolled out a study showing that oil and gas stocks are excellent investments for public pension plans. Meanwhile, gas prices have risen for 37 straight days. High gas prices ate into the nation’s overall economic growth in the first three months of this year. The economy grew at a 1.8 percent annual rate, slower than the 3.1 percent at the end of last year.

Exxon noted that only six percent of its profit came from refining and selling gas in the US. Other parts of its business, like selling oil and natural gas overseas, accounted for much more. Exxon officials said it would be unfair for President Barack Obama to end oil subsidies while keeping similar incentives for renewable energy. The Obama Administration and clean energy advocates argue that profitable companies do not need special tax treatment, while newer industries deserve breaks until they can establish themselves. Environmental groups say the industry needs no taxpayer help.

Effects On The Economy And How The Money Could Be Spent

“Why does an industry that makes this much money need $4 Billion in tax subsidies?” Asked Bob Keefe, spokesman for the Natural Resource Defense Council. “Why can’t we use that tax money to improve and expand other alternatives, increase vehicle efficiency and better public transportation that would reduce our dependency on oil?”

I notice that in the various newspapers that carried this story, as well as the Associated Press original do not bother to explain who or what does control and manipulate gasoline prices. This is rarely discussed and no solutions are offered. We accept whatever happens to the price of gas and crude oil as handed down from someone at the top of the pyramid somewhere. My observation is that it would almost appear that they are raising the prices on purpose for a negative effect on the economy. Also, a perceived oil shortage gives Big Oil a reason to invade US and Canadian public lands for oil drilling and development of environmentally destructive new extraction methods. See the blog post, “Big Wild, iLCP RAVE Sacred Headwaters by Paul Colangelo.” I find it quite curious that the economy is being manipulated through Oil Prices. I wonder why that would happen???

New Oil Spills Threaten Fresh Water

August 19th, 2010

While One Million Gallons of Oil Spills in Michigan, President Obama Plans to Approve New Risky Oil Pipelines from Canada.

From the Sierra Club Press Room

By Bruce Nilles
Deputy Conservation Director, Sierra Club

Mt. Denali, Wonder Lake, Denali National Park, Brooks Range, Alaska, 1971 by Philip Hyde. Oil drilling and spilling have long been the primary threats and obstacles to Alaskan wilderness.

(To see the photograph full screen CLICK HERE.)

See also the blog post, “BP Oil Spill: Who Is Responsible For Oil Drilling And Spilling?

Another million gallons of crude oil spilled into fragile waters – not in the Gulf of Mexico this time but in Michigan.

Can you believe it?

Last week a tar sands pipeline spilled toxic oil into the Kalamazoo River in Michigan contaminating 30 miles of waterways and forcing residents to evacuate the area.

Yet, despite all this, the Obama Administration is considering permitting a massive new tar sands pipeline called Keystone XL that will use thinner, cheaper steel while snaking from Canada through the American Heartland to the Gulf Coast.

Send President Obama a message via email, Facebook or even Twitter – tell him that permitting another tar sands pipeline is unacceptable.

Like BP, Enbridge, the company responsible for the Michigan oil spill, has constantly assured our government and citizens that its operations are safe; yet this company alone has been responsible for over 600 spills in the last ten years.

The Keystone XL pipeline threatens American water, air, and farmland.

The pipeline will cross the Ogallala Aquifer which supplies one third of all agricultural water used in this country as well as the drinking water to eight states. Furthermore, the pipeline will lead to expanded air pollution in Texas.

Tell President Obama that increasing our dependence on tar sands oil is dangerous for our communities and does not lead us toward a clean energy future.

It’s time to end our toxic and dangerous addiction to oil and say no to new tar sands pipelines.

Thanks for helping to protect our environment,

P.S. After you take action, please spread the word to your friends!

BP Oil Spill: Who Is Responsible For Oil Drilling And Spilling?

May 27th, 2010

The Quintessential Summary of the Most Important and Bizarre Aspects of the BP Oil Spill, the Response and Who Is Responsible…

Cleaning Spilled Oil In The Mississippi River Delta from the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, 2010. Photograph courtesy of Greenpeace and the Mobile Press-Register.

See also the blog post, “New Oil Spills Threaten Fresh Water.”

A neighbor of mine installs solar power systems, lives completely off the grid and drives only restaurant oil powered vehicles. He has a sign on the side of his work truck that says, “Vegetable Oil Powered Vehicle. NO WAR REQUIRED.” He was a conscientious objector to the Viet Nam war, which if you dig a bit you will find was also a resource war like those of the 21st Century. Recently this neighbor had black T-shirts printed that have a picture of an oil drilling rig in flames sinking beneath ocean waves with a slogan across the top, “Happy Earth Day 2010.” His dark sense of irony is not humor.

Over the last 10 years, the battle has heated up over oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Oil drilling promoters claim it would ease our pain from high gasoline prices. Fact is that the total amount of oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is enough to power America’s gas guzzling habit for only a few weeks. We could “develop” far more extra oil than the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge could provide, merely by cutting down on driving and increasing car pools. Carl Donohue of Skolai Images wrote a quality blog post about the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and recent hearings held on its wilderness status. His previous well-written post was called, “A Tragedy In The Gulf of Mexico.” The controversy of oil drilling has been in the news for a long time.

‘Drill, Baby, Drill’ Has Been The Call For Too Long

On the front page of Section E of the Sunday November 6, 2005 Denver Post, the headline read, “The Big Rush To Drill.” The article covered most of the page and jumped to 4E. It discussed the future of natural gas and oil drilling in the Colorado Rockies. An area east of Parachute, Colorado called the Roan Plateau had 70 gas and oil drilling sites on it. The Roan Plateau next to Interstate 70 and the Colorado River, is rich in both energy resources and wildlife habitat. The article said nothing of what would happen to the water supplies of most of the West’s major cities if oil somehow leaked into the Colorado River.

The Earth Island Journal Spring 2010 issue had “To Drill Or Not To Drill,” splashed across the cover. Members of the Earth Island Institute will remember that cover as a timely one for years to come.

The Natural Resource Defense Council issued a press release on January 26, 2010 titled, “Oil and Polar Bears Don’t Mix. Stop Shell Now.” It said Shell gave the green light to exploratory drilling off the coast of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. It pointed out that though the NRDC won a major court victory defeating Shell’s oil drilling plan two years ago, the oil giant is back gunning for the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge again. “The shores of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge are Alaska’s main birthing ground and denning area for polar bears…. The oil industry has no proven method for cleaning up oil spills in icy water.” The press release further explained that polar bears that swim in oil slick waters or step in oil washed up on shore and try to lick off the toxic oil would die. Whales would also suffocate or be poisoned and “hundreds of thousands of birds would be killed… and seal populations would be severely impacted by the spilled oil.”

A thick black soup in our ocean waters, covering our beaches, saturating our fragile wetlands, and destroying aquatic life and industries, is not the only legacy of oil drilling and spilling. Robert Redford in 2009 warned us in an article for the Natural Resource Defense Council, “We Can’t Drill Our Way Out of This Mess.” In November 2008 just after Barack Obama was elected, Robert Redford also wrote a piece in the Huffington Post in which he said, “Part of the change Americans just voted for in overwhelming numbers was to move away from the failed energy philosophy of ‘drill, baby, drill’ to a more farsighted strategy.”

Even after the spilled oil began to wash ashore on the Gulf Coast and President Barack Obama had put a freeze on additional oil drilling permits, there were still 17 offshore oil drilling projects that were given the go-ahead without any hesitation. Isn’t it time to say enough? To find permanent alternatives? Currently it is difficult for elected representatives of the American people to make any more than small changes in any policy because corporations now legally have the same rights as citizens. This further escalates the manipulation of the political process that has been increasing for years. Is this government by the people, for the people or a free system? Our political process is like a giant Super Bowl ad, produced by the companies with the deepest pockets. What will happen in 10-15 years when fossil fuels are much more scarce? Will we keep burning fossil fuels until we can hardly breathe and have to walk in sludge everywhere? We cannot allow corporate greed and an obsession with growth to dictate our future. Growth enriches the few and leaves most of us worse off.

Who Is Responsible for the BP Oil Spill?

It’s time we snap out of our denial. Who is responsible for the BP Oil Spill? Every single one of us who drives a car, truck or bus that is powered by petroleum. I think I am doing my part. I recycle. I drive very little, less than 8,000 miles a year, even with all my traveling. I eat local, organic food. I minimize my footprint. However, I realize none of this is enough as long as I am contributing to the need for offshore oil drilling or any kind of oil drilling. Now that I have been jarred out of my complacence, I plan to buy an all-electric car as soon as possible. Hello, they have been available for some time. And, don’t believe the propaganda about batteries not being good enough yet. I highly recommend the documentary film, “Who Killed the Electric Car?” It is an eye-opener.

For weeks now I have been inundated with BP Oil Spill press releases from the environmental organizations to which I subscribe. I have been listening every day on NPR for blow-by-blow updates on the unfolding tragedy. If you want to make yourself sick, do an internet search on the BP Oil Spill and read the articles and comments. I feel I may have something to say about this maritime Chernobyl, but frankly I have not been sure what to add to the maelstrom, other than the idea that every one of us who uses petroleum is part of the problem and partly responsible. Here’s a timeline of the bizarre developments in this Century’s largest environmental catastrophe:

Wacky Timeline Of An Oil Drilling Maritime Chernobyl

April 20, 2010: Environmental Defense Fund issued a press release outlining how damaged ocean ecosystems are and how only 25 percent of U.S. Fisheries will be able to continue. The majority of all fishing communities are already on the brink of collapse. Catch shares, a method of regulating fishing and stabilizing the 50 fish stocks that are threatened has been working and could be expanded with introduction to Congress. Read More >>

April 20, 2010: two days before Earth Day, the Deepwater Horizon oil drilling platform located 40 miles southeast of the Louisiana coast suffered a catastrophic explosion that caused the oil drilling platform to sink. Nearly a mile below the Gulf of Mexico water’s surface an oil gusher started with an oil well blowout. Eleven oil drilling rig workers are missing and considered dead, while 17 others were injured. In Depth Summary >>

April 21, 2010: National Public Radio later said that President Barack Obama held an emergency White House meeting about the BP Oil Spill disaster.

April 22, 2010: Earth Day: Celebrations worldwide mark the 40th Anniversary of the day that commemorates environmental awareness. Much of this year’s focus is on the development of energy alternatives to petroleum and coal.

CNN Breaking Oil Spill News Story Titled: “Exploded Oil Rig Sinks! (DRILL! BABY! DRILL! HAPPY EARTH DAY!)”

April 23: The New York Times and other major media first reported the BP Oil Spill catastrophe three days after it occurred. Treehugger blog in its BP Gulf Oil Spill Cheat Sheet said the oil spill was reported on April 20 but does not identify who reported it. I can not find any reports before April 23 in the online versions of the major papers. If anyone finds it sooner, let me know which media.

April 30: The Nature Conservancy reported that the first wave of oil came ashore around noon, approximately 45 miles south of New Orleans on the Mississippi River Delta. The seas were running six to eight feet high and an abnormally high tide made it impossible for responders to employ the booms that would normally help to contain the oil slick.

An Environmental Defense Fund press release quoted an e-mail from Paul Harrison, Senior Director for Rivers and Deltas, leader of EDF’s Coastal Louisiana restoration campaign for the last four years writing from the Gulf Coast, “News accounts can hardly do justice to the epic human and environmental tragedy that is unfolding…. It is especially sad that this catastrophe threatens the fishing communities of the Gulf that have become national leaders in transforming ocean fisheries to sustainability…. It appears that the oil slick will most directly devastate the salt marshes and the species that rely on them along the coast—including hundreds of migratory bird species that are nesting and breeding as we speak. This area also produces 50 percent of the nation’s wild shrimp crop, 35 percent of its blue claw crabs and 40 percent of its oysters. We are doing everything possible to coordinate with our colleagues at National Audubon, NWF, Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana, Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation, the Gulf Restoration Network, and others—as well as coastal community contacts—to monitor the extent of the damage and provide whatever support we can. For those interested in doing what you can to help go to the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana Website, where you can sign up to volunteer.

May 2: Greenpeace issued it’s new “Spill, Baby, Spill” bumper sticker to raise awareness and funding for oil spill cleanup support and to fight new oil drilling.

May 3: Sarah Palin, former Vice Presidential candidate and the Alaskan who added the phrase “Drill, Baby, Drill” to the language said that even though the BP Oil Spill is potentially the worst ever, it is no cause for giving up off-shore drilling.

May 5: The Sierra Club’s new Executive Director Michael Brune reported on his visit to the Gulf Coast. He described oyster boats and crab nets sitting idle and out of work and the size of the spill reaching up to 76 miles from its source. “You can’t see this mess and not be angered by the impact BP has had on this entire region. Now BP is running an expensive public relations campaign in an attempt to mask the full extent of the damage in the Gulf and minimize their accountability…This disaster is a wakeup call. We need to stop the expansion of offshore drilling, immediately. We need to eliminate subsidies and giveaways to companies like BP, which had more than $5.5 billion in profits in the first quarter of 2010 alone. We need our leaders to deliver a plan to get us off of oil by promoting clean energy solutions that already exist, we just need the political will to implement them.”

May 7: Matter of Trust collected hair clippings from thousands of salons, barber shops, even pet groomers across the country, along with pantyhose and stockings — all to be used to help mop up the oil threatened wildlife and livelihoods in the oil’s path. Read More >>

May 8: The Sierra Club, fishing industry, shrimpers, and local leaders rally in Lafayette Square, New Orleans, Louisiana and call for BP disaster response and clean energy solutions. Read More >>

May 11: The U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee and the Senate Natural Resources Committee held hearings on the environmental and economic impacts of the BP offshore oil drilling disaster. Witnesses from BP America and Transocean Ltd. testified, along with fishing and tourism industry representatives and environmental scientists. Meanwhile, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced reforms to the Minerals Management Service, the agency charged with overseeing offshore drilling operations. Read More >>

May 12: The White House unveiled a legislative package to respond to the BP Oil Spill Disaster. The
 Sierra Club called for an oil drilling moratorium and a clean energy policy. Read More >>

May 13: The Big Oil Bailout Prevention Act was introduced by Senators Robert Menendez, Bill Nelson and Frank Lautenberg. It would raise the liability caps for oil companies from $75 million to $10 billion to help ensure that they pay the full costs of economic and environmental disasters caused by their negligence. Alaskan Senator Lisa Murkowski (R) blocked the act by objecting to a voice vote on the measure. Read More and see the video >>

May 17: Rush Limbaugh blamed the Sierra Club for the BP Gulf Oil Spill. He asked his listeners, “When do we ask the Sierra Club to pick up the tab for this leak?” and blamed “the greeniacs” for driving oil drilling offshore. Sierra Club supporters responded with outrage and donations to the Sierra Club. The response has been enough for the Sierra Club to launch a new fund-raising campaign in Rush Limbaugh’s name. The goal is to make Rush Limbaugh the Sierra Club’s top fund raiser.

The League of Conservation Voters sent out a press release called, “Dirty Politics Spilling Into The Gulf.” The press release said, “In 2009 alone, oil companies spent $154 million to lobby to perpetuate the oil addiction that led to the Gulf Coast Oil Disaster.”

May 20: The Nature Conservancy issued a press release announcing a video made just before the oil came ashore. The video gave insight into the role marshes have in protecting valuable wetlands in the region. The press release also directs readers to the Nature Conservancy’s blog that will feature regular Oil Spill updates from an ecological standpoint.

May 24: National Public Radio reported that independent scientists estimated the amount of oil spilling daily could be as much as 10-20 times BP’s estimates of 5,000 barrels.

May 25: The Los Angeles Times reported that Sarah Palin accused President Barack Obama of a slow response to the BP Oil Spill because he had campaign support from oil companies. She questioned whether “there’s any connection there to President Obama taking so doggone long to get there, to dive in there, and grasp the complexity and the potential tragedy that we are seeing here in the Gulf of Mexico.” White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs responded that the oil companies do not consider Obama an ally, “We proposed a windfall profits tax when they jacked their oil prices up to charge more for gasoline.” Gibbs said, “My suggestion to Sarah Palin would be to get slightly more informed as to what’s going on in and around oil drilling in this country.” The oil and gas industry donated $2.4 million to Sarah Palin’s running mate, John McCain, in the 2008 election, and $900,000 to Barack Obama, said the Center for Responsive Politics.

The U. S. Inspector General’s investigation of the Minerals Management Service that was overseeing offshore oil drilling said that MMS staff members “accepted tickets to sporting events, lunches and other gifts from oil and gas companies and used government computers to view pornography…. An inspector for the Minerals Management Service admitted using crystal methamphetamine…at work. The report cites a variety of violations of federal regulations and ethics rules at the agency’s Louisiana office.” Read More >>

The Wall Street Journal reported, “BP Decisions Set Stage for Disaster.” While the well was in progress it threw up many challenges to BP, “swallowing expensive drilling fluid and burping out dangerous gas. Those woes put the Gulf of Mexico project over budget and behind schedule by April 20… BP made choices over the course of the project that rendered this well more vulnerable to the blowout…. BP for instance, cut short a procedure involving drilling fluid that is designed to detect gas in the well and remove it before it becomes a problem, according to documents belonging to BP and to the drilling rig’s owner and operator, Transocean Ltd. BP also skipped a quality test of the cement around the pipe—another buffer against gas—despite what BP now says were signs of problems with the cement job and despite a warning from cement contractor Halliburton Co. Once gas was rising, the design and procedures BP had chosen for the well likely gave this perilous gas an easier path up and out, say well-control experts. There was little keeping the gas from rushing up to the surface after workers, pushing to finish the job, removed a critical safeguard, the heavy drilling fluid known as “mud.” BP has admitted a possible “fundamental mistake” in concluding that it was safe to proceed with mud removal, according to a memo from two Congressmen released Tuesday night.

May 28: President Barack Obama’s 30-day moratorium on new oil drilling will expire. Arctic drilling is set to proceed. Read More >>

BP Accountability, By the Numbers

[From a Sierra Club press release. Courtesy of Progressive Media.]

$450 MILLION…The estimated total BP has spent so far to clean up its catastrophic oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

$93 MILLION…BP’s daily profit during the first quarter of this year.

5…The approximate number of days of BP’s profits that would cover its total cleanup costs thus far.

11 percent…The percentage of Americans who hold a positive view of BP, according to a new poll from NBC and the Wall Street Journal.

2 percent…The size of the current leak relative to what BP promised federal regulators it could handle in its drilling permit application.

260…The number of failure modes the supposedly “fail-safe” blowout preventer used on BP’s leaking Mississippi Canyon 252 well head.   
 

6…The number of dead dolphins that have washed up along the Gulf Coast.

87…The number of dead sea turtles that have washed up along the Gulf coast.

6,414…The number of claims filed against BP so far, mostly from fishermen and others for lost wages.

400,000 pounds…The amount of hair collected and being sent to the Gulf to be used to soak up oil.  In response to the spontaneous, nationwide outpouring of hair, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration issued a fact sheet stating: “Recent reports of a need for hair are exaggerated and not helpful to the response effort.” Meanwhile BP may still attempt a widely-ridiculed “junk shot” using golf balls, old rope, and shredded tires to slow or stop the leaking oil.

With Greenpeace Pressure, Trader Joe’s Stops Supporting Destructive Fishing

April 20th, 2010

Fish At The California Academy Of Sciences, San Francisco, California, copyright 2009 David Leland Hyde. Nikon D90.

From Greenpeace press materials: After months of hearing from activists and shoppers like you about how important it is to stop destroying the oceans for profit, Trader Joe’s finally announced a plan to “green-up stores” and help put an end to destructive fishing practices.

Prior to this announcement, Trader Joe’s came in 17th out of the 20 stores evaluated in Greenpeace’s analysis of seafood sustainability policies at major supermarket chains. That was the worst ranking attained by any national chain.

For months, Greenpeace publicly campaigned to pressure Trader Joe’s to adopt sustainable seafood purchasing policies throughout all of their stores in order to help save the oceans. Trader Joe’s felt the heat from Greenpeace’s mock website (www.traitorjoe.com), relentless phone calls from supporters, thoughtful karaoke songs from shoppers and in-store demonstrations and questions to store managers from activists across the country.

Trading Destruction for Conservation

Trader Joe’s has removed many unsustainable products from its shelves, including the highly objectionable orange roughy that it sold for several years. Specifically, Trader Joe’s has announced that they will:

  • Offer only sustainable seafood in their stores by December 31, 2012.
  • Work with third-party, science-based organizations to establish definitions and parameters for addressing customer concerns about overfishing, destructive catch or production methods, and the importance of marine reserves.
  • Remove “red-listed” seafood from their shelves. Trader Joe’s stopped selling Chilean Sea Bass in 2005, Orange Roughy in July of 2009, and Red Snapper in March of 2010.
  • Provide accurate information on all seafood labels, including species’ Latin names, origin and catch or production method.
  • Use their buying power to leverage change in the seafood industry.

Greenpeace is hopeful that Trader Joe’s will continue implementing a comprehensive sustainable seafood purchasing policy to ensure they have a road map for staying green long into the future.

Consumers Demand Sustainable Seafood

In talking with environmentalists, activists and avid seafood shoppers Greenpeace discovered a common link–they all want sustainable seafood in supermarkets and are willing to speak up for the oceans. Greenpeace is poised to release the fourth edition of their supermarket scorecard, Carting Away the Oceans. The report is updated several times a year based on an analysis of sustainable seafood policies and practices among major retailers. The Trader Joe’s announcement and previous announcements from Target and Safeway are sure to shake up the rankings and raise the bar. Weigh in on fish farming practices yourself Click Here and find out more about how to effect National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) aquaculture policy Click Here

Is Climate Change A Hoax?

March 25th, 2010

Climate Change Hoax Cartoon by Joel Pett from USA Today and Royce Fullerton’s Blog.

Click Here for the original USA Today posting or see Royce Fullerton’s Blog.

What Is An Environmentalist? What Is A Conservationist?

March 19th, 2010

“Look deep into nature and then you will understand everything better.” –Albert Einstein

Foliage Illuminated, Big Basin Redwoods State Park, California, 2009 by David Leland Hyde. Camera Raw. Photoshop used only for resizing. Nikon D90, hand held.

Without letting our minds complicate or judge these words, here’s a simple definition: an environmentalist is anyone who likes to breathe, drinks water and does not want either one polluted. A Conservationist cares about maintaining the quality of wilderness, the same way everyone else cares about the quality of air and water.

The two words are sometimes used interchangeably, though conservation was the earlier version of environmentalism, with particular emphasis on land preservation. Conservation, as practiced by Henry David Thoreau and John Muir, transformed into modern environmentalism, between 1955 and 1975, when political lobbying, advertising, letter writing, grass roots organizing, book publishing and other modern methods evolved, and when activism broadened from wilderness protection into other issues such as, you guessed it, water and air pollution. Lest you doubt that the meanings are truly this simple, check a good dictionary.

Besides the obvious and logically strong argument that if we don’t protect wilderness, it will continue to disappear, why is it wise for an outdoor enthusiast, landscape photographer or anyone to care about the natural places he or she enjoys? Is there a deeper reason than just wanting to look at beautiful scenes? In future blog posts I will quote Wallace Stegner, Ansel Adams, Philip Hyde, Katie Lee, Henry David Thoreau, Edward Abbey, Rachel Carson, Anne Dillard, John Muir, David Brower, Aldo Leopold, Howard Zahniser and others on why wilderness is important. These people have some ideas. For more on Henry David Thoreau see the blog post, “Ralph Waldo Emerson On Henry David Thoreau.” For more on Edward Abbey read the blog post, “Who Was Edward Abbey?

In the meantime, let us grapple with the idea of ‘environmentalism’ and the ‘environment.’ Is it wise at this time in history, to care about the environment, particularly if you consider yourself an outdoors person, naturalist, nature photographer, or as Ansel Adams called himself and his colleagues, “a photographer of the natural scene”?

If the world is going to end anyway eventually, what does it matter if we keep it from ending sooner? If mankind’s time on this green globe is only one very small fraction of an instant compared to how long the rest of it has been around, and is likely to continue, who are we to think we can destroy or save the natural world? Why not forget about environmentalism and use everything up and trash the planet? After all, isn’t the Gross Domestic Product or GDP more important? Making a profit is what counts, right? If GDP grows a few percent, that is good for everybody, if it drops a few percent, we are all in big trouble, right?

We could also remember that at some time in our childhood, our mothers taught us to pick up after ourselves, share with others, not hoard all the toys, if you spill something, clean it up or ask mom to help you clean it up, do not just leave it, pack back inside everything you take out, and let everyone have a turn. If we just applied sandbox etiquette to the world, we might get along better and live longer.

Was the concept of the environment, as separate from Mankind and the man-made world, the idea of environmentalists? If you are an environmentalist, does it follow that you care about the ‘environment’ and not about people? Those damn environmentalists! They are the cause of our society’s woes, particularly the woes of capitalists just trying to make a living. Are environmentalists against capitalism? Heck, when you get right down to it, are environmentalists un-American? Are environmentalists terrorists? What is an “eco-terrorist”? Is he or she an ecologist-turned-bad?

I thought the term terrorist referred to someone who kills people. Do “eco-terrorists” kill people? Or do they just cause inconvenience for resource-exploiting and habitat-destroying industry? By the way, is the habitat being destroyed only that of small endangered species, or is it yours and mine?

Let’s see, Webster’s says, “Terrorism: the systematic use of terror especially as a means of coersion.” OK, then what is terror? Webster’s tells us it is,”To frighten. To cause anxiety or worry.” Under these definitions, the news media are terrorists, as are doctors, nurses, especially hospitals, ads for drugs, commercials, law enforcement, a few but certainly not all museum curators, stock brokers, bankers, credit card companies, insurance companies, airport personnel, lawyers, how could I forget lawyers, power-hungry-instant politicians who support big polluters and other big business, librarians, archivists, sometimes relatives and sometimes even neighbors. The world is full of terrorists and there is a lot to be afraid of…? Are environmentalists the worst of all? That’s what some would have you think. Are they really?

Now let’s check Webster’s again, “Eco-terrorist: sabotage intended to hinder activities that are considered damaging to the environment.” Sign me up. How do I join? OK, wait, what is the definition of ‘environment,’ “Environment: the circumstances, objects, or conditions by which one is surrounded. The complex of physical, chemical, and biotic factors (as climate, soil, and living things) that act upon an organism or an ecological community and ultimately determine its form and survival.”

OK, so let me get this straight, an eco-terrorist is not interested in hurting other people, he or she is more interested in making sure that other people are not hurtful. An Eco-terrorist sabotages activities that damage the factors that determine his or her survival. I can live with that. Fair enough. And an environmentalist works on the positive side of it, an environmentalist is interested in preserving the factors that determine his or her survival. Just wanted to clear up these various meanings, so people didn’t throw around terms that they think are insulting, but are truly complimentary.

What do you think? Are you an environmentalist? If not, why?

A River Will Run Through It

February 23rd, 2010

Savage Rapids Dam on the Rogue River, during removal looking upstream. Courtesy of the Bureau of Reclamation.

Grants Pass, Oregon–The momentum continues for removing dams and freeing America’s wild rivers. Dams on the Rogue River and Klamath River in Oregon, Hetch Hetchy Valley on the Tuolumne River in Yosemite National Park, California and Glen Canyon Dam on the Colorado River in Arizona and Utah, are just a few of the targets of dam demolition campaigns.

Nearly 90 years ago the Grants Pass Irrigation District built Savage Rapids Dam on the Rogue River to provide irrigation water for nearby farms. Farmers benefited; fish did not. Fish ladders were installed for coho and chinook salmon and steelhead, but they did not change the dams status as the biggest fish killer on the river.

A Portland, Oregon organization known as Waterwatch, spearheaded campaigns to remove Savage Rapids Dam, Gold Ray Dam, Gold Hill Dam, Elk Creek Dam and Lost Creek Dam from the Rogue River, historically Oregon’s second largest salmon spawning watershed behind the Klamath River. Projects are also in motion on the Klamath River that will eventually set the mighty river completely free, supported by the Yurok, Karuk and Klamath Tribes.

River ecosystems are the basis of all life on Earth. Not only do dams kill fish, they destroy other native species, increase the negative effects of drought as opposed to alleviating these as often publicized, increase the water’s salinity, encourage non-native trees and shrubs, remove sandbars, marshes and other habitat for small land and marine animals and waterfowl, waste more water than they save, especially in arid climates, and often lose money as they fail to produce the levels of hydro-power projected. Technologies have recently been refined that allow for hydro-power to be generated without damming rivers; by merely diverting a portion of the flow through large pipes into turbines.

Savage Rapids Dam on the Rogue River, former site immediately after breaching, looking downstream. Courtesy of the Bureau of Reclamation.

Waterwatch staff fearlessly decided three years ago that Savage Rapids Dam must go. Demolition began in October 2006, the dam was completely breached in October 2009 and one of the largest dam removal projects in the country is now almost complete. To get the project going, Waterwatch representatives argued about water rights, rallied fishermen and kayakers, and they got in touch with Earthjustice attorneys Mike Sherwood and Claudia Polsky. Earthjustice, a spinoff from the Sierra Club, started as the Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund in 1971, and changed its name to Earthjustice in 1997. Mike Sherwood and Claudia Polsky recently succeeded in gaining Endangered Species Act protection for the coho salmon. They were thereby able to charge the dam operators with illegally harming a protected species. Eventually all parties agreed that the dam would come out and be replaced with pumps that divert water straight out of the river for farms, with no impoundment necessary.

American Rivers, based in Washington DC, “has led a national effort to restore rivers through the demolition of dams that no longer make sense,” said American Rivers promotional materials. “The organization’s expertise and advocacy have contributed to the removal of more than 200 dams nationwide.” American Rivers released a statement last month that in 2009, 58 dams in 16 states, were taken down.

“In the 1950s and ’60s, a dam went up in the United States every six minutes to generate electricity, provide irrigation water and protect against floods,” wrote Matthew Preusch in the New York Times. “As a result, there are an estimated 75,000 aging dams blocking rivers large and small today.”

Hetch Hetchy Valley, Field of Stumps, Yosemite National Park, 1955, by Philip Hyde, who discovered that the water level was very low and drove straight to the Sierra Club Headquarters in San Francisco to tell David Brower. David Brower dropped everything, grabbed his movie camera and they rushed back to photograph and film. To this day Restore Hetch Hetchy uses the David Brower film and Philip Hyde photographs in their campaign to restore this paradise lost. The Sacramento Bee won a Pulitzer Prize for their series covering the Hetch Hetchy debate. Philip Hyde's widely published photograph appeared on PBS Television's Jim Lehrer News Hour in a segment about the controversy in 2008.

A California group, Restore Hetch Hetchy, continues to fight for the restoral of Yosemite National Park’s Hetch Hetchy Valley. Hetch Hetchy is a sister valley to Yosemite and at one time approached Yosemite Valley’s beauty, with waterfalls, rich grasslands and wildlife, verdant forests, and the Tuolumne River lazily winding through the center. However, after the 1906 Earthquake, San Francisco proposed damming Hetch Hetchy Valley to form a reliable water supply. John Muir, founder of the Sierra Club, led the opposition to the dam. Many say he died of a broken heart after the O’Shaughnessy Dam flooded Hetch Hetchy Valley. Gifford Pinchot, leader of the U. S. Forest Service, who many now claim was an environmentalist, was one of the leading proponents of the dam. Ironically, modern studies show that San Francisco could obtain the same amount of water with less expense downstream.

Hetch Hetchy was the first and last time any agency built a dam on National Park lands. A coalition of environmental organizations, led by the Sierra Club and David Brower, successfully defeated two dams proposed in Dinosaur National Monument in the early 1950s and lobbied Congress to pass legislation that strengthened laws preventing such development in the National Park System. However, to save Dinosaur National Monument, the coalition of environmental groups had to endorse the damming of Glen Canyon as a better alternative. Few people had ever seen Glen Canyon. By the time wilderness proponents Eliot Porter, Philip Hyde and other Sierra Club landscape photographers published spectacular images lamenting the loss of one of the world’s most beautiful wild places in the early 1960s, it was too late. The Bureau of Reclamation had already closed the gates on the Glen Canyon Dam and Lake Powell had begun to consume the canyon wilderness.

Glen Canyon Dam and "Lake" Powell, Utah and Arizona. Creatas Photos Royalty Free Photograph.

Today, the granddaddy dam removal proposal of them all is to redeem Glen Canyon and make it a National Park. The Glen Canyon Institute has piloted this endeavor since 1996 with support from David Brower, Philip Hyde and currently Philip Hyde Photography. Read Philip Hyde’s expression of grief over the loss of Glen Canyon and part of the Escalante Wilderness in the blog post, “Glen Canyon Lament By Philip Hyde.” “Lake” Powell, or Powell Reservoir to be more accurate, has drawn down over 100 feet in droughts several times and reached an all-time low in 2003. The reservoir was only completely full for a short time in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The sandstone bedrock leaks more water than the net storage for irrigation and the “lake” surface evaporates more water every year than the “lake” holds. Glen Canyon Dam has prevented the Colorado River from the periodic flooding that forms sandbars vital to the survival and propagation of plant and wildlife species downriver in Grand Canyon National Park. In contrast, small daily fluctuations due to power generating releases have carried away most of the sandbars and threatened endangered species, disrupting the natural ecosystem of Grand Canyon National Park. Reportedly, the soft sandstone that Glen Canyon Dam is anchored in, nearly failed in 1983 after a flood on the upper Colorado River. Glen Canyon Dam is aging and its lifespan is estimated at as little as 100 years by dam removal proponents and 500-700 years by the Bureau of Reclamation. The heavy-laden Colorado River and San Juan River are rapidly filling Powell Reservoir with silt that decreases electricity generation and can interfere with Glen Canyon Dam’s proper operation. A breach of Glen Canyon Dam could cause a floodwave that would top the downstream Hoover Dam by as much as 230 feet, resulting in a potential megatsunami disaster downstream. Much more on Glen Canyon Dam, “Lake” Powell, Edward Abbey and the The Monkey Wrench Gang in future blog posts. See also the blog posts, “Glen Canyon Lament 1 By Philip Hyde,” “Glen Canyon Portfolio 1” and “Glen Canyon Portfolio 2.” For more about who Edward Abbey was read the blog post, “Who Was Edward Abbey?

References:
Earthjustice Press Release.
The Portland Orgonian, Oregon Environmental News, “The Rogue River Dam Removal Moves Forward”
Waterwatch
American Rivers
New York Times, “Dams Go Down, Uncorking Rivers For Kayakers”
Restore Hetch Hetchy
Glen Canyon Institute
Scientists Struggle to Preserve Grand Canyon Wildlife

Big Oil and Coal Attack Clean Air Act

February 14th, 2010

GREENPEACE

Based On A Piece In The Monthly Newsletter

URGENT: Stop big polluters’ attacks on the Clean Air Act

The Clean Air Act is under attack by big polluters from the coal and oil industries who are trying to avoid having to reduce emissions.

Ketchican Pulp Mill, Ketchican, Southeast Alaska, 1971, by Philip Hyde. Ketchican Pulp Mill had been in violation of air pollution and other environmental laws since it opened in 1948. Louisiana-Pacific, parent company, and Ketchican Pulp Company, fought environmental regulation for many years to stay open, citing its supplying of close to 500 permanent jobs as an important reason to stay in business. But when the mill began to lose money in the 1990's, it was promptly closed. Ketchican Pulp Company had been Alaska's largest manufacturing company and the largest private employer in Southeast Alaska. Amid heated controversy, a new veneer plant opened on the site in 2000 with 20 employees. The new owner, Gateway Forest Products, harvested, peeled and sliced into green veneer old growth trees from the Tongass National Forest. The heavily taxpayer-subsidized operation lost money from inception and threatened fish, wildlife and water supplies for almost three years before also going defunct.

Alaskan Senator Lisa Murkowski recently declared her plan to exempt big polluters from the Clean Air Act. She introduced a resolution to roll back the EPA’s “endangerment finding” regarding greenhouse gas emissions – a finding required to continue to reduce global warming pollution through the Clean Air Act. Murkowski’s resolution was written by two well-connected industry lobbyists whose clients include major coal-burning utilities Duke Energy and the Southern Company. The Washington Post reports that both lobbyists, who were high-level officials at EPA under George W. Bush, even participated in a closed-door meeting last September to explain details of Murkowski’s plan to the staffers of some centrist Democrats.

The Clean Air Act has a proven track record for nearly 40 years of saving lives by reducing dangerous pollution. The EPA reported in 2007 that since 1980, the Clean Air Act has helped reduce lead pollution by 92 percent; ozone pollution by 25 percent; carbon monoxide pollution by 79 percent; and sulfur dioxide by 71 percent. These pollutants can damage the nervous system, aggravate chronic heart and lung disease and asthma, and cause breathing problems.

Not surprisingly, major polluters happen to be filling Senator Murkowski’s campaign coffers. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Murkowski is currently the top recipient of financial support from the electric utility industry for the 2009-2010 election cycle. Coal-fired power plants are some of the worst offenders of the Clean Air Act.

Our senators will choose either to stand up for the health of their constituents and the effectiveness of our environmental laws or to allow polluters to poison our air unchallenged. Please take a moment to contact your senators this week and urge them to oppose Sen. Murkowski’s plans to undermine the Clean Air Act.