Category Archives: Climate Change & Environmental Issues

Air and Water Under Threat as SCOTUS Targets Environmental Laws

“It seems like we have a new conservative supermajority on the court that is much more inclined to do a slash-and-burn expedition through our major environmental laws.”

By Julia Conley   Published 1-25-2022 by Common Dreams

Coastal Wetlands at Parker River National Wildlife Refuge in Newburyport, MA.
Ohoto: Kelly Fike/USFWS/flickr/CC

Environmental advocates and congressional Democrats are raising alarm after the U.S. Supreme Court this week agreed to hear arguments in two cases regarding bedrock regulations designed to protect the quality of the nation’s air and water.

The nine justices announced Monday that they plan to hear arguments in the case of an Idaho couple who were blocked from building a home on their land by the Clean Water Act. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Chantell and Michael Sackett’s land contained wetlands and the couple needed a federal permit to build. Continue reading

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These machines scrub greenhouse gases from the air – an inventor of direct air capture technology shows how it works

One ‘mechanical tree’ is about 1,000 times faster at removing carbon dioxide from air than a natural tree. The first is to start operating in Arizona in 2022.
Illustration via Arizona State University

Klaus Lackner, Arizona State University

Two centuries of burning fossil fuels has put more carbon dioxide, a powerful greenhouse gas, into the atmosphere than nature can remove. As that CO2 builds up, it traps excess heat near Earth’s surface, causing global warming. There is so much CO2 in the atmosphere now that most scenarios show ending emissions alone won’t be enough to stabilize the climate – humanity will also have to remove CO2 from the air.

The U.S. Department of Energy has a new goal to scale up direct air capture, a technology that uses chemical reactions to capture CO2 from air. While federal funding for carbon capture often draws criticism because some people see it as an excuse for fossil fuel use to continue, carbon removal in some form will likely still be necessary, IPCC reports show. Technology to remove carbon mechanically is in development and operating at a very small scale, in part because current methods are prohibitively expensive and energy intensive. But new techniques are being tested this year that could help lower the energy demand and cost.

We asked Arizona State University Professor Klaus Lackner, a pioneer in direct air capture and carbon storage, about the state of the technology and where it’s headed. Continue reading

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Heavily Polluted Louisiana Community Asks EPA to Step In

“Louisiana has failed to protect fenceline communities, including St. John residents, from the harms of highly polluting facilities,” said one local advocate.

By Kenny Stancil.  Published 1-20-2022 by Common Dreams

A pair of local advocacy groups in St. John the Baptist Parish, Louisiana, submitted a civil rights complaint to the U.S. EPA on Thursday, accusing two state agencies of failing to protect residents of the low-income and predominantly Black jurisdiction from toxic air.

According to the complaint—filed by Earthjustice and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law on behalf of Concerned Citizens of St. John (CCSJ) and the Sierra Club—the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (LDEQ) and the Louisiana Department of Health (LDH) have violated Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits entities receiving federal financial assistance from engaging in activities that subject individuals to discrimination on the basis of race, color, or national origin. Continue reading

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Why Did Democratic AG Kill Flint Water RICO Case?

“Political corruption poisoned Flint and political corruption shielded the wrongdoers from accountability,” said one critic following new revelations.

By Kenny Stancil.  Pubished 1-17-2022 by Common Dreams

Dana Nessel. Photo: Michigan Attorney General’s Office

Prosecutors investigating Flint’s contaminated water crisis were pursuing a racketeering case against public officials whose austerity-driven policies caused the health catastrophe, but after newly elected Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel took over in 2019, those charges were dropped.

That’s according to investigative journalist Jordan Chariton and Pulitzer prize-winning reporter Charlie LeDuff’s explosive new story, which was published Monday in The Guardian and sparked fresh questions about holding perpetrators responsible for the ongoing calamity. Continue reading

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Poor People’s Campaign Readies ‘Massive, Nonviolent’ Effort to Save Democracy

“We are not in this for a moment, but for a movement,” said Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II. “Our deadline is victory.”

By Jake Johnson.  Pubished 1-16-2022 by Common Dreams

Photo: Becker1999/flickr/CC

Don’t call it a day of action.

On June 18, the Poor People’s Campaign and its partners in organized labor, the civil rights movement, and religious communities are planning to mobilize their members and allies from across the U.S. to Washington, D.C. for what they hope will be the “largest mass assembly of poor people and low-wage workers in this nation’s history.”

But Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign, cautioned against viewing the impending “massive, nonviolent” march on the nation’s capital as a singular event, one whose energy and demands will fade as soon as that June Saturday ends. Continue reading

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Prosecutor Sought Funding From Oil Giant Enbridge to Jail Line 3 Water Protectors: Report

“First the police, now the prosecutors—who’s next to violate constitutional rights of water protectors and ask Big Oil to pay for it?”

By Julia Conley.  Published 1-6-2022 by Common Dreams

Sheriff’s deputies and police make arrests after their mobile field force (MFF) retook the occupied Enbridge Line 3 Two Inlets pumping station.. Photo: Unicorn Riot

With Canadian oil giant Enbridge pouring more than $4 million into a fund that was used by the law enforcement agencies which have arrested hundreds of people for protesting the company’s thousand-mile-long tar sands pipeline, the prosecutor who is bringing charges against the environmental defenders believed he was also entitled to benefit from the fund, according to an independent investigation.

The Center for Protest Law and Litigation (CPLL) revealed Thursday that Jonathan Frieden, the lead prosecutor seeking to jail hundreds of opponents to the Line 3 pipeline, sought more than $12,000 last July from the so-called Line 3 Public Safety Escrow Trust, which the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) ordered Enbridge to pay into as a condition of the pipeline’s construction. Continue reading

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4 New Year’s resolutions for a healthier environment in 2022

Enjoy the environment in 2022 and find ways to help nature and communities thrive.
Cavan Images via Getty Images

Viniece Jennings, Agnes Scott College

When many people think of New Year’s resolutions, they brainstorm ways to improve themselves for the year ahead. What if we expanded those aspirations to include resolutions that benefit our communities, society and the planet, too?

It might not be a typical approach, but it can broaden your horizons to show ways you can also be of service to others.

Here are four popular New Year’s resolutions with a twist for improving your relationship with nature in 2022 and beyond. Continue reading

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Warmer in Alaska Than San Diego This Week as Temperature Record ‘Pulverized’

“Climate change continues to push the envelope on what is possible all over the globe,” said one meteorologist.

By Brett Wilkins.  Published 12-29-2021 by Common Dreams

On December 26, 2021 the town of Kodiak in southern Alaska hit 67°—seven degrees warmer than the daytime high in San Diego—and shattering the December record for Alaska by nine degrees. (Photo: Scott Duncan/Twitter)

As parts of Alaska obliterated high-temperature records earlier this week, meteorologists and climate scientists warned that extreme heat and rainfall are the new normal in the nation’s largest state and other Arctic and subarctic zones.

On Sunday, the town of Kodiak in southern Alaska hit 67°F—seven degrees warmer than the daytime high in San Diego—and shattering the December record for Alaska by nine degrees, according to the National Weather Service. The town also broke the local December record by more than 20 degrees. Continue reading

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Corporate Donations Poured Into Manchin’s PAC Ahead of Final ‘No’ on Build Back Better

“This is the way things work when democracy has been weakened,” argued one progressive organization. “The powerful get special access to our government, while we’re told, ‘Sorry, we can’t help you.'”

By Jake Johnson.  Published 12-22-2021 by Common Dreams

Screenshot: ABC News

New federal disclosures reveal that major corporations poured donations into West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin’s political action committee in the weeks leading up to his pivotal announcement Sunday that he would oppose the Build Back Better Act, a stance that progressives argue is motivated by the senator’s deference to special interests.

CNBC reported late Tuesday that Federal Election Commission (FEC) filings show that donors to Manchin’s Country Roads PAC raked in 17 contributions from corporations in October and 19 in November as he pared back and repeatedly threatened to tank Democrats’ $1.75 trillion social spending and climate legislation. Continue reading

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More Than 130 Groups Call on CFTC to Shut Down ‘Dystopian’ Water Futures Market

“In this time of global-warming-induced drought in California, the last thing we need is to gamble on our precious water resources.”

By Julia Conley.  Published 12-20-2021 by Common Dreams

Drought conditions, at a filtration pond, in Campbell, CA 2014. Photo: Tyler Bell/flickr/CC

Warning Wall Street against commodifying what has been treated since ancient history as “a common right for everyone,” more than 130 civil society groups on Monday demanded that federal regulators shut down the Chicago Mercantile Exchange’s water futures market.

Food & Water Watch organized the petition, which was sent to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), a year after the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) opened the world’s first market for water futures contracts, based on water rights in drought-plagued California. Continue reading

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