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Waxman (D-CA) Tells Sec. State Clinton to Back off Canada Dirty Tar Sands Pipeline

2:03 pm in Uncategorized by Kevin Grandia

Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), a senior member of Congress and chair of the powerful Congressional Committee on Energy and Commerce has penned a public letter to the Secretary of State, Hilary Rodham Clinton, in which he states strong opposition to a planned oil pipeline that would transport Canada’s controversial tar sands oil to the US Gulf Coast.

 

In the letter Waxman writes:

The State Department’s decision on whether to permit this pipeline represents a critical choice about America’s energy future.

This pipeline is a multi-billion dollar investment to expand our reliance on the dirtiest source of transportation fuel currently available. While I strongly support the President’s efforts to move America to a clean energy economy, I am concerned that the Keystone XL pipeline would be a step in the wrong direction.

You can download a full PDF copy of the letter from Waxman to Clinton here.

Upon completion, the Keystone XL pipeline would run 2,151 miles from Canada into the United States and then another 1,661 miles to the Gulf Coast.

The Canadian oil sands have come under ever-increasing scrutiny as the public becomes more aware of the human health and environmental impacts.

“Chairman Waxman’s letter signals that the infrastructure linchpin for the dirtiest oil in the world will no longer progress quietly through the regulatory process. The Obama Administration cannot make this decision in the back rooms; instead it must decide very publicly whether to start breaking our oil addiction now, it put it off for another time," said Kenny Bruno from Corporate Ethics International in response to the letter issued by Rep. Waxman.

Impacts of the Canadian tar sands include:

1. Oil sands mining is licensed to use twice the amount of fresh water that the entire city of Calgary uses in a year. The water requirements for oil sands projects range from 2.5 to 4.0 barrels of water for each barrel of oil produced.

2. At least 90% of the fresh water used in the oil sands ends up in tailing lakes so toxic that propane cannons and floating scarecrows are used to keep ducks from landing in them.

3. A 2003 report concluded that "an accident related to the failure of one of the oil sands tailings ponds could have catastrophic impact in the aquatic ecosystem of the Mackenzie River Basin due to the size of these lakes and their proximity to the Athabasca River."

4. In April, 2008 a flock of migrating ducks landed on a tar sands toxic lake and died.

5. The toxic tailing lakes are considered one of the largest human-made structures in the world. The toxic lakes in Northern Alberta span 50 square kilometers and can be seen from space.

6. Producing a barrel of oil from the oil sands produces three times more greenhouse gas emissions than a barrel of conventional oil. In 2004, oil sands production surpassed 160 000 cubic meters (one million barrels) per day; by 2015, oil sands production is expected to more than double to about 340 000 cubic meters (2.2 million barrels) per day.

7. The oil sands operations are the fastest growing source of heat-trapping greenhouse gas in Canada. By 2020 the oil sands will release twice the amount produced currently by all the cars and trucks in Canada.

8. The Alberta Oil Sands Operation are the largest single point source of greenhouse gas emissions in Canada.

9. By 2015, the Alberta Oil Sands are expected to emit more greenhouse gases than the nation of Denmark (pop. 5.4 million).

Here’s a recent MTV News Special on Canada’s tar sands:

The Inside Scoop on the “Climate War”

2:07 pm in Uncategorized by Kevin Grandia

The first question I had for author Eric Pooley after I finished reading his new book, The Climate War, was whether he had set up hidden cameras all over Washington, DC.

He didn’t of course, but the insider information he weaves into his story about the ongoing battle for effective climate policy both in the United States and internationally will make even the insiders feel inadequate.

The Climate War puts you at the power-broker’s table, with much of the book following two main characters who have been at the center of the debate and the controversy around climate policy for more than a decade – Fred Krupp, Executive Director of Environmental Defense Fund and Jim Rogers, CEO of Duke Energy.

Both Krupp and Rogers are polarizing figures within the climate advocacy community, with Krupp being accused of "selling out" to the big corporate machine and willing to accept inadequate policy fixes and Rogers being accused of greenwashing the company he heads which is one of the largest electrical generation companies in the United States.

Krupp and Rogers act as the central characters and around them Pooley wraps the history of how we have gotten to where we are today on the issue of climate change, ending with the failure to come to an international climate treaty in Copenhagen, Denmark in late December, 2009.

We learn more about the "deniers" and the corporate flaks that back them, like Myron Ebell at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, who toasted a crowd with Fiji Water because,

"It comes to you direct from Fiji, so it’s very energy inefficient: the only thing that could improve it would be to carbonate it."

In this book you learn about the roots of Al Gore’s high profile organization, the Alliance for Climate Protection, the dirty coal lobby’s presidential campaign push, Van Jones and Green for All, the United States Climate Action Partnership and many of the other big players, like John Podesta, the head of the influential Center for American Progress who is quoted in The Climate War as telling the leaders of the major environmental organizations that they were losing the war on climate because,

"the enviros’ extreme focus on the fine print of climate policy was preventing them from seizing this opportunity to communicate with the public. They had to pull themselves ‘out of the weeds’ and connect to things that mattered in people’s lives. ‘You guys are focused on the footnotes and the amendments and you’re blowing this whole year! if you’re not arguing this in big, transformational terms, you’re going to get killed."

While much has been written about these people, groups and the issue of climate change, the difference is that Pooley, who is also the Deputy Editor of Bloomberg Business Week, writes it in a true investigative reporting style with lots of detail and little judgment.

It is a book for anyone active on the issue of climate change to better understand why things have unfolded the way they have and it also a book for the lay person looking to understand why things have become so complicated.

The Climate War was three years in the making and Pooley deserves a lot of credit for actually finishing the book, given the fact that witnessing first-hand the politics of climate change would leave most people doing nothing more than banging their against the wall.

Fiddling in Bonn while the Gulf oil spills

10:38 am in Uncategorized by Kevin Grandia

It almost seems like there is a firewall between the urgency of the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico and the pace of the climate treaty negotiations underway in Bonn, Germany this week.

The two are very much intertwined.

A fair, legally binding and ambitious international climate treaty will have the long-term effect of reducing the chances of a major oil spill disaster like what we are witnessing in the Gulf by significantly reducing the need to drill for oil in the first place. Such a treaty would see the world move quickly to alternative ways of producing power, like wind, solar and geothermal, that do not use oil and other dirty fuels like oil, coal and nuclear.

After all, when is the last time you heard of a major "wind spill" from an offshore wind farm? Even if there was such a thing the worst you would get is a heavier than usual ocean breeze.

In response to the Gulf disaster, US President Obama announced earlier this week that he would urge Congress to end taxpayer subsidies to oil companies (estimated at around $35 billion annually) and put in place measures that will rapidly increase investments – both private and public – in renewable energy. The President stated that this transition to clean energy must happen quickly because,

"the next generation will not be held hostage to energy sources from the last century."

Whether it is climate change or oil spills, the solution is the same and the urgency of the situation must be conveyed to our political leaders. The major ingredient that has been missing in the climate negotiations for quite some time now is political will. Our political leaders have said that reducing the worldwide use of fossil fuels is a priority, but so far their urgent words have not been turned into urgent action.

If 20,000 barrels of crude oil pumping uncontrollably into the pristine waters of the Gulf of Mexico is not enough to convince political leaders that an international effort to transition to clean energy sources is absolutely necessary, then I don’t know what is.

Breaking New Underwater Video: BP Oil “Plume” from the Largest Leak

3:03 pm in BP oil disaster, Energy by Kevin Grandia

The Deepwater Horizon Incident Response Center has released a shocking new video of the BP oil pipe leak at its source 5,000 feet down on the ocean floor.

Thick black crude oil that looks like an underwater volcano can be seen pumping uncontrollably into the water:

This follows on criticism earlier today from ABC News that BP was refusing to share underwater spill footage.

Late last week a video of the smallest of the three leaks was released by the US Coast Guard – you can see the column of oil pumping into the waters of the Gulf of Mexico starting at about the 2 min. 15 sec. mark:

There are three ruptures in the oil pipeline that lies 50 miles off the coast of Louisiana in the Gulf of Mexico. The ruptures were caused by the explosion and collapse of BP’s Deepwater Horizon offshore oil rig more than two weeks ago.

While one of the three leaks has been stopped, the leak continues to pump an estimated 5,000 barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico everyday threatening fragile wildlife refuges and major commercial and recreational fishing industries.

BP Oil Spill Shifting the Politics of Clean Energy

3:00 pm in BP oil disaster, Energy by Kevin Grandia

What would you do if you were a politician these days?

With hundreds of thousands of gallons of oil spewing uncontrollably into the Gulf of Mexico and threatening the livelihood of thousands of blue-collar workers would you take a few hundred thousand for your election campaign from your friendly local multinational oil company?

With dead sea turtles showing up on beaches, would you stand up right now and pump your fist to "Drill Baby Drill"?

According to new polling out in the last couple of days looking at public opinion in light of the deadly oil disaster playing out in the Gulf of Mexico, I would suggest to any politician of any political stripe that it is a very bad time to be an oil industry cheerleader.

A poll released today by Clean Energy Works finds that 59% of voters agree that:

"Now is the time for Senators to take action. Oil companies and lobbyists have fought energy reform for decades to protect their profits. Our dependence on oil hurts our economy, helps our enemies and puts our security at risk. It’s time to put America back in control – with clean energy that’s made in America and works for America."

On a more positive note, I would suggest that it is a very good time to be talking about the need to put in place strong federal policies that shift the country’s reliance away from dirty fossil fuels like coal and oil and move quickly to replace these energy sources with things like wind, solar and geothermal power.

Read the rest of this entry →

Webby Votes for Climate Change

2:04 pm in Uncategorized by Kevin Grandia

Three top climate change campaigns of last year are up for prestigious Webby Awards in 2010.

The TckTckTck campaign is nominated for Best Activism website.

Greenpeace International is nominated for Best Green Site for their "Love Letters to the Future" project.

The 350 campaign is nominated for Best Video in the Public Service and Activism category.

Voting closes on Thursday, April 29th, so please if you have a minute, go there right now and cast your votes! 

Full disclosure: I was a consultant on the TckTckTck campaign and darn proud of it!

Earth Day Live Internet TV with Thought Leaders and Gamechangers

9:53 am in Uncategorized by Kevin Grandia

For me, more than anything, Earth Day is a great opportunity to draw attention to the many important issues affecting our environment.

Along with a great team of people we have spent the last week doing "live to tape" interviews on ClimateTV with thought leaders and gamechangers and we’re going to run all of these interviews back-to-back all day long.

Here’s a quick video we did explaining what’s all happening:

Guests for this all-day Earth Day event include:

Dr. Andrew Weaver, a climatologist at the University of Victoria and author of Keeping our Cool: Canada in a Warming World.

Josh Dorfman, author of The Lazy Environmentalist: Your Guide to Easy, Stylish, Green Living and star of Sundance Channel’s TV series The Lazy Environmentalist.

Joe Romm, popular blogger at ClimateProgress.org and author of the new book, Straight Up: America’s fiercest climate blogger takes on the status quo.


Maggie Fox
, CEO and President of Al Gore’s Alliance for Climate Protection

Erin Carlson, Director of Yahoo! Green

Kate Sheppard, Environmental Reporter for Mother Jones Magazine

JW Randolph
, Legislative Associate for Appalachian Voices, a West Virginia grassroots organization fighting to end the practice of mountain top removal

Phil Radford
, Executive Director of Greenpeace USA

Cliff Schecter,
political columnist and author of The Real McCain: Why Conservatives Don’t Trust Him—And Why Independents Shouldn’t

Katharine Hayhoe,
climate scientist at Texas Tech University and author of A Climate for Change: Global Warming Facts for Faith-Based Decisions

Nate Byer, Earth Day Network’s 2010 Earth Day Campaign Director

Nick Miller,
Founder, President and CEO of Xool Labs, Executive Producer of ClimateTV

ClimateTV will also be airing an online broadcast premiere of the award-winning documentary No Impact Man starting at 3:30pm pacific, 6:30pm eastern. The screening will be followed by a live interactive panel discussion with special guests Jennifer Prediger, also known as “Ask Umbra” on Grist.org, David Beers, founding editor of The Tyee.ca, Kim Thee, ClimateTV host and Kevin Grandia, yours truly :)

Pop on by and say hello, we’ll running a live Q & A and chat forum all day as well.

Happy Earth Day!

Who is the King Climate Teabagger?

5:24 pm in Uncategorized by Kevin Grandia

When it comes to the climate conspiracy theorists and deniers I am wondering who everyone thinks is the King Climate Teabagger?

I mentioned on my cool new Climate TV show that I was working this post up as my inaugural piece on FDL and got some great feedback from viewers.

This post is of course in celebration of Tax Day Tea Party, which by the way, Koch Industries industries the 2nd largest private company in the United States and major donor to the right-wing think tank network has nothing to do with.

At least that’s according to an official email sent to me today from a Koch Industry rep stating that:

Because you have covered tea parties in the past and we imagine you will cover tomorrow’s Tax Day Tea Party in DC, we want to reiterate some important facts.

Koch companies value free speech and believe it is good to have more Americans engaged in key policy issues. That said, Koch companies, the Koch foundations, Charles Koch and David Koch have no ties to and have never given money to FreedomWorks. In addition, no funding has been provided by Koch companies, the Koch foundations, Charles Koch or David Koch specifically to support the tea parties.

Thanks for your consideration.
Melissa Cohlmia
Director, Communication
Koch Companies Public Sector, LLC
316-828-3756 Office
316-259-1962 Cell

Whatever.

Back to my Top 5 candidates for King Climate Teabagger (would be great to hear yours):


1. Tim Phillips, head of Americans for Prosperity
whose organization has received millions of dollars over the years from oil and gas companies and runs tours across America fighting action on climate change.

2. Marc "swiftboat" Morano, former "climate truther" for Senator James Inhofe and now head climate spindoctor for the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow.


3. Lord Christopher Monckton,
forever on the hunt for the Hitler Youth and prolific climate conspiracy theorists. Likes to think he’s an expert on the science of climate change while having no educational background in the area. And he also thinks that everyone with AIDS should be permanently quarantined.

4. Senator James Inhofe. What list of King Climate Teabaggers would be complete without this man?

5. A genetically cloned Michelle Bachmann/Sarah Palin organism. Sorry, I know this will give some of you nightmares, but they’re pretty much the same when it comes to denying the realities of climate science – or any science now that I think about it.

So. Who did I miss?

Apologies if the formatting on this post is bad. I’m still learning the ropes on FDL.