Posts Tagged ‘coal power’

Contrary To Some Claims, Environmental Stewardship Is Good For Business

March 13th, 2010

The Next 20 Years Will Be Nothing Like the Last 20 Years…

Paper Money and Compass by Paul Cowan. (Royalty Free Photo)

Green Fact: Wind power now employs more people than coal mining across the United States. Coal mining employment has plummeted, from 126,000 miners in 1948 to only 15,000 miners today. Much like the whaling industry, many wasteful, resource-exploiting enterprises must either transform or die.

Denial, Short-term Greed, Lack of Vision and Failure to Plan Can Obstruct Positive Change

Corporations have long threatened employees with losing their jobs if manufacturing and services have to conform to environmental standards. It is hard to get people to see through these fear-based manipulations, when companies create loyalty by giving employees benefits, but blame layoffs on the environment. In reality, environmental regulations protect the health of the very people who resent them. Over 70 percent of all cancers are induced by pollution and other factors in the environment. Besides, the same company leaders who ask for loyalty from employees to help fight pollution controls, do not hesitate to lay people off when company profits slow down, regardless of whether it has to do with the environment.

Environmentalists Planted the Seeds for Business Opportunities

David Brower’s successor as Sierra Club Executive Director, Michael McCloskey, back in 1981 wrote an article called, “Environmental Protection Is Good Business,” in the Sierra Club Bulletin. “Environmentalists have been accused of being radicals,” Michael McCloskey said. “Of course none of this is true. Environmentalists seek responsible behavior by business people, behavior that does not degrade the environment others must share, or impoverish the future. We are against the brand of progress that means that only a few gain and most lose.”

“Pollution-control programs,” Michael McCloskey continued, “Far from being a burden on the economy, have produced one of the fastest growing industries in America. There are now more than 600 companies manufacturing control equipment. Others make cooling towers, scrubbers, precipitators, catalytic converters, pyrolitic processors and mufflers. As many as a million workers may soon be employed in this work.” Michael McCloskey goes on to outline how environmental advocacy has helped to provide business opportunities in “processing recycled materials, manufacturing buses and trains for mass transit, building and selling solar collectors, rehabilitating older homes and installing insulation and energy-conserving equipment.” Remember, this was back in 1981. The opportunities are much more diverse and larger now.

Pollution Controls Save More Than They Cost

Though even in 1981, investments by business in pollution controls, often saved as much or more than they cost. “One division of Dow Chemical found that new investments in pollution control cut operating costs by the $2 million that the control equipment cost,” Michael McCloskey wrote. “Alcoa cut energy consumption in its plants by 30 percent when it introduced new technology to reduce flouride and tar emissions. The 3M Company changed its processes to reduce air and water pollution and saved $11 million in costs. The Great Lakes Paper Company found a water-pollution treatment system that reduced annual operating costs by $14 million a year.” Environmental retooling has produced savings and increased profitability for many years. Yet in the dirtiest industries, a few prominent players with the most influence, still perpetuate an outdated public perception that conservation is bad for business. On the flip side, consumers and shareholders are instigating change themselves in many cases. See these recent articles: “Home Depot Shoots For 20% Reduction,” “Home Depot Faces Shareholder Wrath Over Energy Efficiency,” and “Record Number of Shareholder Actions Target Climate Change.”

A New  Brand of Leadership?

While many feel betrayed by Barrack Obama’s promises of peace and promotion of war, as well as his misguided continuation of George W. Bush’s uncontrolled spending, Obama’s leadership in developing green jobs is the best of any president ever. It is refreshing to see our national leader demonstrating that going green does not cost jobs, but creates them, does not undermine the economy, but boosts it. This is the change we need to make in our generation and the sooner the better before we destroy not only the habitat of small endangered species, but enough of their habitat to add up to the destruction of our own.

A Taste of the Future…

Many people don’t realize that the recession is really a reordering and shakedown. We are in a transition from a brick and mortar reality to an internet reality, from dirty energy sources to clean ones, from black to green, from health profit to health care and from self-denial to self-awareness. There are certainly many people and factions of government who will hold on hard to the old ways and hope that we can revitalize them, but the new ways are much more resilient, flexible, dynamic, healing and expansive, a much better recipe for long-term success, even if the transition is bumpy.

“The Earth will survive but will humans survive on the Earth?” – Philip Hyde

What do you think, will humanity survive? Please share your views in comments.

Big Oil and Coal Attack Clean Air Act

February 14th, 2010


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.