Category Archives: Climate Change & Environmental Issues

In Latest Legal Blow to Trump and Dirty Energy, Federal Appeals Court Upholds Block on Keystone XL Permit

“Contrary to what the Trump administration has argued, the law is clear. We won’t sacrifice imperiled species so giant corporations can profit from the dirty fossil fuels that pollute our waters and climate.”

By Jon Queally, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 5-28-2020

“The Trump administration has repeatedly violated the law in its relentless pursuit of seeing Keystone XL built, and it would have been unconscionable to allow this pipeline to be built through rivers, streams and wetlands while it remains tied up in court,” said Doug Hayes, a senior attorney with Sierra Club, following the ruling by the Ninth Circuit. (Photo: Tar Sands Blockade)

In another legal victory for opponents of Keystone XL and similar pipelines, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit on Thursday upheld a lower court ruling that suspended a federal fast-track permit for the controversial tar sands project that campaigners for nearly a decade have opposed as a climate-destroying effort of the first order.

Siding with the previous ruling and against the Trump administration, the court’s ruling said the government and fossil fuel companies behind the project “have not demonstrated a sufficient likelihood of success on the merits and probability of irreparable harm to warrant a stay pending appeal.” Continue reading

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Trump-Connected Fossil Fuel Companies Permitted to Delay Payments of $56 Million in Pollution Fines During Pandemic

“People are struggling to find rent money for next month, but thank god the Trump administration is providing relief for the millions these poor, vulnerable corporate polluters owe.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 5-27-20220

The Sherburne County (Sherco) Generating Station, a coal-fired power plant owned by Xcel Energy and located in Becker, Minnesota, shown in 2016. (Photo: Tony Webster/Flickr/cc)

Corporations with close ties to Trump administration officials are among 10 companies being permitted to delay payments of millions of dollars in fines for pollution they caused, according to The Guardian and government watchdog Accountable.US.

The companies had agreed to pay a collective total of $56 million in civil penalties for contributing to pollution in communities across the country, but they were informed in April by the Department of Justice that they can pause their payments during the pandemic. Continue reading

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Oil Companies Can Set Their Own Rates for Royalties From Drilling on Public Lands Thanks to Trump: Report

“Oil and gas corporations already pay pennies compared to what they make in profits from plundering public lands—land that belongs to the American people—and now they’ll pay even less.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 5-22-2020

A drilling rig in the Uinta Basin in Utah, with the Uinta Mountains shown in the background. (Photo: WildEarth Guardians/Flickr/cc)

In a display of loyalty to what Greenpeace called “the most polluting industry in history,” the Trump administration is allowing dozens of oil and gas companies to set their own rates for royalties they’re required to pay on revenue generated from drilling on public lands.

As High Country News reported Thursday, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) contacted its state offices the day after global oil prices plunged to below $0 per barrel as the Covid-19 pandemic caused an unprecedented drop in demand. Continue reading

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Scientists have found oil from the Deepwater Horizon blowout in fishes’ livers and on the deep ocean floor

Researchers use Atlantic mackerel for bait on long-lining fishing sampling expeditions in the Gulf of Mexico.. C-IMAGE Consortium, CC BY-ND

Steven Murawski, University of South Florida and Sherryl Gilbert, University of South Florida

Over the decade since the Deepwater Horizon spill, thousands of scientists have analyzed its impact on the Gulf of Mexico. The spill affected many different parts of the Gulf, from coastal marshes to the deep sea.

At the Center for Integrated Modeling and Analysis of the Gulf Ecosystem, or C-IMAGE at the University of South Florida, marine scientists have been analyzing these effects since 2011. C-IMAGE has received funding from the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative – a broad, independent research program initially funded by a US$500 million grant from BP, the company held principally responsible for the spill. Continue reading

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‘Shameful Does Not Even Begin to Describe’ Trump EPA Decision on Chemical Known to Damage Children’s Brains

“Yet another abdication of duty by those that are entrusted with protecting Americans from needless and preventable harm.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 5-15-2020

The EPA signaled Thursday it will not regulate perchlorate, a chemical used in rocket fuel, in drinking water. (Photo: wonderisland/Shutterstock)

Environmental campaigners vowed to fight President Donald Trump’s EPA Thursday after the agency said it would propose that the rocket-fuel chemical perchlorate does not need to be regulated, despite its links to cognitive damage in fetal and child development.

According to the New York Times, the EPA plans to tell the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) that it is “not in the public interest” to regulate the chemical at all, a year after the agency recommended the allowable amount in drinking water be limited to 56 parts per billion (ppb). Continue reading

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Again Finding US Permit Invalid, Federal Court Upholds Block on ‘Climate-Busting’ Keystone XL Construction

Again Finding US Permit Invalid, Federal Court Upholds Block on ‘Climate-Busting’ Keystone XL Construction

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 5-12-2020

“Bedrock laws that protect our water and the livelihoods of farmers, ranchers, tribal members, and rural communities cannot simply be ignored as the court recognized again today,” said Dena Hoff, a Northern Plains Resource Council member and a farmer in Montana. (Photo: Elvert Barnes/Flickr/cc)

A federal judge on Monday denied the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ request to amend his earlier ruling regarding TC Energy’s Keystone XL pipeline, reaffirming that a permit issued by the Army Corps was invalid.

Chief U.S. District Judge Brian Morris ruled again that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) violated the Endangered Species Act when it issued Nationwide Permit 12, which allows companies to construct energy projects at water crossings. Continue reading

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‘Conflicts of Interest Abound’: Progressives Sound Alarm as BlackRock Prepares to Lead the Fed’s Covid-19 Corporate Bailout Program

“We cannot afford to allow the interests of private corporations to supersede the needs of the American people and the long-term stability of our economy.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 5-11-2020

BlackRock CEO Larry Fink. Screenshot: CNBC

BlackRock, the largest asset management firm on the planet, has for years faced criticism and protests from progressives over its massive investments in fossil fuelsprivate prisons, and the arms industry—and now the financial behemoth is set to take on a leading role in the Federal Reserve’s sprawling coronavirus bailout program.

The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday that BlackRock—which manages over $7 trillion in assets—will in the coming days help the central bank funnel “money into both new and already-issued corporate bonds, assisting the Fed in its recently adopted role as lender of last resort for businesses.” Continue reading

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Ex-EPA Officials Mark 50th Earth Day With Scathing Snapshot of How Trump ‘Is Hurting People and the Natural World’

“Critical public health and worker protections are being rolled back solely to maximize corporate profits.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 4-22-2020

Demonstrators at an Earth Day 2017 event carry signs promoting science and challenging President Donald Trump’s agenda. (Photo: Takver/flickr/cc)

An organization launched in 2017 by former staffers of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency marked the 50th annual Earth Day Wednesday by releasing a report about the efforts of President Donald Trump’s administration to gut regulations enacted under his predecessors to preserve public health and the planet.

“The actions by the Trump administration to undermine environmental and public health protections are not acceptable,” Michelle Roos, executive director of the Environmental Protection Network (EPN), said in a statement. “Fortunately, EPN members, EPA alumni with decades of expertise and experience, have volunteered their time to detail how this administration is hurting people and the natural world on which we all depend.” Continue reading

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Earth Day 2020: Hope Gardens for your future

 

During WWII, America united in the war effort. We had a unified voice in all things that would help win against an enemy that most Americans would not see personally. Children rushed to dump the contents of their piggy banks because we needed copper for bullets. Women became workers that built ships, tanks and airplanes for the war and we celebrated Rosie the Riveter. We planted Victory Gardens and encouraged food preservation through canning because tin was needed for the war and workers were needed for the war effort. In 1942, roughly 15 million families planted victory gardens; by 1944, an estimated 20 million victory gardens produced roughly 8 million tons of food—which was the equivalent of more than 40 percent of all the fresh fruits and vegetables consumed in the United States.

Key to America’s survival in the homeland was the national push for Victory Gardens; symbolizing independence and American’s ability to adapt. Those who did not garden were left at the mercy of survival solely by governmental rations of food, long bread lines and ration stamps. Those who planted Victory Gardens had the needed food to continue working as the nation struggled toward victory. Only two of these original Victory Gardens survive to today. One is located at the Richard D. Parker Memorial Victory Gardens in Boston’s Fenway and the other is the Dowling Community Gardens in Minneapolis.

Jump forward to today. We are once again fighting an enemy we can not see with our only defense being equipment and supplies that are hard to come by. Our meat processing facilities are threatened by outbreaks while our grocery stores can not keep enough stock on hand to meet the needs of everyone eating at home. Production in the United States has always focused on two separate markets; the consumer market and the commercial market. There is no adaptability between the two systems that have been specialized to specific markets. Packaging, size, quality, preparation, transportation and pricing all affect these two separate supply chains.

The problem is compounded by extreme weather associated with climate change. The western United States in undergoing a drought that makes the Dust Bowl of the 40’s appear meaningless. Bee and pollinator populations continue to plummet after the current Administration approved broad, expansive insecticides that are known to kill bee and pollinator populations.

Absent a federal response that meets the gravity of the moment, we are left to figure out how we are going to move forward with hope for our families and our future. Your grandmother would most likely encourage you to plant a garden to supplement your food needs for the short term. Chances are, she did it when your parents were young.

In a space of 20 x 30 feet (600 square feet), you can grow enough food to feed two adults for close to 8 months. If your family is larger, you can use more space to grow your Hope Garden. There is a plethora of information available online. Your county extension office, local DNR or any Master Gardener site can also assist you.

Preservation of food has come a long way since 1943. Options now include traditional canning, freezing or dehydration. All are effective and fairly simple to accomplish even at beginning levels. Fresh apple pie in the dead of winter is as American as pot roast with potatoes, gravy and a side or two of garden vegetables. Home made jelly on a slice of home-baked bread still warm from the oven has a certain nostalgia that is hard to beat. Sweet corn in January that tastes like it was picked yesterday is beyond rewarding.

This is the time to make your decision. This is the time to remove the sod from the space you want to garden in, so you are not fighting weeds and grasses among your vegetables. This is the time to choose vegetables based on your family’s preferences and source seeds or bedding plants to get the most from your growing season.

Yes, gardening is a commitment. So is marriage, being a parent or having a career. But food is essential to survival. Being totally dependent on others for your food places you and those you provide for at risk. Reduce your risk by realizing you can do this, you can have hope, and you can have a Hope Garden to gain that edge up in what appears to be a crumbling system whose consequences are not fully understood yet.

 

 

 

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PG&E Pleads Guilty to Involuntary Manslaughter for Sparking California’s Deadliest Fire

The California utility faced felony charges in connection with a 2018 wildfire that killed over 80 people.

By Olivia Rosane,   Published 3-24-2020 by EcoWatch

California utility Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) will plead guilty to involuntary manslaughter for sparking the state’s deadliest wildfire, the company announced Monday.

The announcement comes a little less than a year after an investigation confirmed that power lines owned by the utility sparked the Camp Fire, which burned 153,336 acres, killed 85 people and scorched the town of Paradise.

“We cannot replace all that the fire destroyed, but our hope is that this plea agreement, along with our rebuilding efforts, will help the community move forward from this tragic incident,” PG&E Chief Executive Bill Johnson said in a statement reported by Reuters.

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