Posts Tagged 'EPA'

Lunk’d!

What the what?  Grow meat in a kitchen gadget?  I can’t tell if this sounds more unappetizing or unlikely.

Via The Economist, a study on how greenhouse gas emissions vary across some major cities.  Cities tend to use resources more efficiently than less-densly populated areas, partly because of access to public transit, but they vary widely in how efficient they are.  This study quantifies ghg emissions for some cities and identifies reasons why some might emit so much more than others.

Environmentalists and the Colombian government try to deal with the legacy of Pablo Escobar’s zoo of invasive hippopotamaii.  Poor Pepe.

Solar is sunk without water.

The EPA is pushing ahead on greenhouse gas regulations (woop woop!), but lawmakers are hoping to forestall their efforts by passing a comprehensive bill.  The Senate put out a version of their plan today, too (the hose got to Waxman Markey in June, remember?).  I just want it to get done well, so coming at it from two sides bodes well.  There is speculation that the EPA’s action will goad Congress to a bill more favorable to reducing emissions, faster, but I have great faith in Congress’s ability to disappoint and prevaricate, so I’m expecting this to be almost as painful a show as healthcare.

Party at the Solar Decathalon!  It’s happening again this year, on the Mall- 20ish solar houses from Universities all over the world will be open for tours and other sorts of envir-oogling.  Catch it October 9th-13th and 15th-18th- all the details are here.  I’m so neglecting my homework for this.

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“Science”, “Journalism”, “Scandal”, “Irony”…

Friday I saw this headline from CBS posted at Huffpo:  EPA May Have Surpressed Report Skeptical Of Global Warming.  Shocking, yes?  After all that talk about evidence and science and facts leading to decisions, Obama might have let us down.  I cried a little inside in case it was true- after 8 years of not being able to believe a word coming from the administration, trust doesn’t come easily- but skipped reading the article until later, as I had actual work to do.

Got around to it yesterday and it does indeed sound bad.  CBS makes it sound very, very bad.

Back story:  in March, the EPA  issued a report instructing the government to regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act, since they endanger the US.  Historic, etc., helped lead to the initial passage of Waxman-Markey last week.  Here is the EPA page detailing that recommendation, providing supporting documents and such.  From here on, I’ll call that the ‘endangerment finding’.

Last week, a conservative think tank, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, provided CBS with internal EPA emails that are the basis of this uproar.  An EPA employee, Alan Carlin- an economist, not a scientist- wrote a report critical of the scientific basis of the endangerment finding- which relied on the 2007 IPCC report on climate change- as being outdated.  He also contended that the cost of mitigating the impact of climate change would be less than the cost of regulating greenhouse gases.  The CEI’s emails from his supervisor seem to indicate that the report was not taken into account for the final EPA report on climate change sent to the White House a couple months ago.  The EPA says they did send his report around for peer review, however, and dealt with some of his objections in the final document.

The CBS article speculates that the EPA put out its report too quickly to be fully researched (you will find the same charge on the CEI website linked above), dwells on the irony of the new administration suppressing science (while hedging that it only ‘might’ have suppressed science, but wouldn’t it be ironic if they did!), and quotes several Republican congresspersons and a representative of CEI as decrying the EPA for ignoring the report.  Which again, the EPA says it didn’t.  CBS did not check the contents of the employee’s “suppressed” report against the published EPA report, to see if his concerns were indeed mentioned, as the EPA claimed.  CBS also did not double check to see if his “suppressed” report made any sense.

Shocking!  What depths will the EPA sink to next?  Bush and Co. suppressed real science, and now Obama’s suppressing…um, fake science.  Turns out that Carlin’s report was largely cut/pasted from a few anti-climate-science blogs and lobbyist groups, with pronouns changed.  Deepclimate has an article here and here detailing Carlin’s sources, and the good folks at RealClimate go more in depth here on the origins and veracity of the report  (if you just read one, read that one).  It’s ok for CBS to have missed that whole thing, since they don’t have access to the internet or basic accepted climate science or anything.  Bah.

And the charge the the EPA ignored Carlin’s report altogether?  Well, let’s head to the Federal Register the endangerment finding was reported in- Vol 74, no 78, from April 24th, 2009.  Middle column of page 18894 (or page 10 of this 26 page pdf excerpting that Federal Register that the EPA website above happily and transparently links you to) reads:

This addresses a number of concerns raised by commenters about the July 2008 version of the TSD, arguing that it relied too heavily on the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report (published 2007), which some argued was either not current enough or not specific enough to U.S. conditions. We note that the IPCC North American chapter (of the Working Group II volume) on impacts, adaptation and vulnerability covers the U.S. and Canada (not Mexico) and that the general findings in that chapter (drawn from many individual studies for the U.S.) are indeed applicable to U.S. conditions. Even with more recent information available, the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report remains a standard reference, essentially serving as the benchmark against which new findings over the next few years will be compared. Therefore it also serves as a robust and valuable reference for purposes of this proposal. The TSD has also been edited or updated in a number of places to reflect specific comments received on the July 2008 version, and to reflect comments from an additional round of review by the federal scientists following the incorporation of the more recent scientific findings.

Sounds like they considered concerns that the 2007 IPCC report was not current enough to me.   And Carlin’s accusation that they hadn’t taken into account his cost analysis of mitigation vs. regulation?  From the same page 10 of that pdf, third column:

The Administrator also believes it is inappropriate, in considering whether greenhouse gases endanger public health or welfare, to consider potential private behavior aimed at alleviating some of the effects of climate change. Just as the Administrator would not consider, for example, the availability of asthma medication in determining whether criteria air pollutants endanger public health, so the Administrator will not consider private behavior in the endangerment determination at hand. On the contrary, ameliorative steps of that kind would attest to the fact of endangerment.

Brava- and oh snap, Administrator Jackson.

Ok, so Carlin’s report is lifted from lobbyists and science-challenged blogs, and doesn’t really address the EPA report question of whether greenhouse gases are a danger to human health in the US in the first place, and the EPA acknowledges his two main concerns in their report anyway.  Hasn’t stopped him or the CEI from making this a big deal, but now we know.

CBS: WHY would you report this story this way?  With your “well the EPA saiiiid, buuuuuuuut… all these other people said so who knows!?” It took me less than 10 minutes to find that EPA report, read the contents list, and double-check Carlin’s assertions.  AND I was drinking a beer doing it.  You people are supposed to be the reporters.  Report, don’t regurgitate.  Sheesh.  Makin’ me look stuff up when I could be watchin’ Star Trek.  Nuts to you guys.

Inauguration Photos and the Aftermath

I’ve got an album of the night prior and the day of up here.  Photos are of the wandering around the streets we did the night before, scoping out some of the parade floats people had left around near 4th St (with keys in the ignition?).  The day of, we walked up from SW, hung out for the speech by the Monument, and then headed back around the tidal basin- you may recognize these places under thousands of people, which is what the pictures are mostly of.

The first picture is of the cookies our lovely host made us for the occasion.

Less than a week after all this coldness and swearing in and bunting, we’ve already got some promising environmental actions coming up!  I mean, I’m cool that President Obama spent last week renouncing torture and closing illegal prisons and refunding programs that offer full reproductive health care services to women, but I was starting to wonder where all the green was.  Today though, Pres O ordered the EPA to reconsider the rejection of California’s request to set their own stricter emissions standards, and asked the Department of Transportation to actually write up the rules to enact a 2007 law requiring a 40% emissions reduction in cars and light trucks.  We’ve had that law since 2007!?  Good grief, and good riddance.  (No use wasting energy on revisiting how much the previous administration made me angry, but I am tempted to add some OMG W SUX everytime I read something like this, for extra catharsis.)

But, oh, we’re getting a Climate Change envoy for the state department too!  I’m happy again.  Working internationally on international problems…it’s like a whole new world that we get to talk to!

About time we got started on that whole thing, too, since evidence is mounting that climate change is practically irreversible by now, and will affect our planet for hundreds of years even if we reduce emissions to almost nothing now.

P.S. Check out EcoCheap’s Inaug story and pictures of the WABA Bike Valet, too!

We Will Make Decisions Based On Facts

Governance is in a sorry state when you have to make that promise, but Obama spelled it out when he introduced his environment team– Chu, Jackson, and Sutley, just as leaked earlier.  At that link, you can watch the announcement and rea a text of the speech, which goes on to promise that, not only will the administration employ facts, they will also take actions based on those facts.

Wow, why does acknowledgment of that basic, logical decision-making process make me so excited about these new people?  How did we the people let things get so bad in our government that reliance on facts to decide actions is just now a plan?

Anyway, hurrah I guess, but there are questions about Lisa Jackson’s record at the New Jersey EPA (it appears she was good on greenhouse gases and not so good on cleaning up Superfund sites?), so that should keep us on the edge of our seats.  Hopefully this new focus on facts and action in the administration will inspire each of these people to greener heights.

To round out the people working on energy and environment issues, Obama needs to pick an Interior Sectretary to replace Dirk Kempthorne- remember him!?– and word is he’s got Ken Salazar lined up for that.

New Names for the Environment

The most recent wave of appointments for the new Administration are the Energy and Environment positions.  Steven Chu will likely be Energy Secretary.  He’s got a Nobel Prize for his work in Physics.  Lisa Jackson will be the EPA head- she’s got two chemical engineering degrees and has worked at the EPA under Clinton.  Nancy Sutley will lead the White House Council for Energy Quality, and the new Energy Czar position will be filled by Carol Browner, former head of the EPA under Clinton.  You can read more about their positions and credentials here and here.

I need to get going this morning, so instead of waxing lyrical about how much I love honest, practicable science and the men and women who pursue it, I’ll just say that every single one of these picks is going to be worlds better than the ascientific clowns they’ve got in there today.  Good riddance!  Out, out, Stephen Johnson!

Oh, Thank Goodness

From the WaPo (free sign-up necessary to see the whole thing, typically):

Transition advisers to President-elect Barack Obama have compiled a list of about 200 Bush administration actions and executive orders that could be swiftly undone to reverse White House policies on climate change, stem cell research, reproductive rights and other issues, according to congressional Democrats, campaign aides and experts working with the transition team…

The president-elect has said, for example, that he intends to quickly reverse the Bush administration’s decision last December to deny California the authority to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from automobiles…

Before the election, Obama told others that he favors declaring that carbon dioxide emissions are endangering human welfare, following an EPA task force recommendation last December that Bush and his aides shunned in order to protect the utility and auto industries…

They’re reportedly keeping the list open to reverse Bush’s parting blows to the country planned for the next few months.

It’s hard not to be giddy about the administration-elect, actually.  I’m sure they’re going to bug me one day, but for now, I will float upon the realization of my wildest dreams.

The Lamest of Ducks

America did a serious, considered, and inspiring thing yesterday.  Let us savor this for a minute.

Now let us take a deep breath, and smile.

Now let us dance in the streets!

Good.  Now to work.  The current administration still has 76 more days to pile up the mess they’re leaving behind.  With the help of the his flacks Stephen Johnson and Dirk Kempthorne at the EPA and the Interior Department, Bush will spend his last days rolling back environmental regulations around the country.  From a NYT editorial summarizing the planned changes:

In coming weeks, we expect the Environmental Protection Agency to issue a final rule that would weaken a program created by the Clean Air Act, which requires utilities to install modern pollution controls when they upgrade their plants to produce more power. The agency is also expected to issue a final rule that would make it easier for coal-fired power plants to locate near national parks in defiance of longstanding Congressional mandates to protect air quality in areas of special natural or recreational value.

Interior also is awaiting E.P.A.’s concurrence on a proposal that would make it easier for mining companies to dump toxic mine wastes in valleys and streams.

These men have betrayed their public trust time and again:  it should not surprise us that they will continue to do so as long as they hold any power.  It should, however, make us mad.  The Obama administration must reverse these policies, and take the responsibilities of the Int. Dept. and EPA seriously.  Fortunately, as with most things, the Pres-elect is on it already.

He’s considering Robert F. Kennedy Jr. for the position of EPA head.  Kennedy is an environmental lawyer and environmental activist.  Puttin’ the protection back in the Environmental Agency, whoop!  Well, except for that time he was all against the wind farm off Cape Cod, that was not very helpful.  So, mixed bag, but overall good.

I’m looking forward to hearing more on the cabinet over the next few weeks, but the first news is all right.


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virescent.blog (at ) gmail.com

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