Climate Capsule: New EPA Action Changing the Game
Welcome to this week’s edition of the Climate Capsule!
Stories of the week:
- Highlight of the Week: New EPA Action on Mercury Changes the Game
- Quote: NWF’s Ryan Salmon on the Keystone XL Pipeline
- Economic Story of the Week: New Global Sustainable Biofuels Certification System
- Editorial of the Week: Pipeline Expensive and Unnecessary
- More Review for Risky Tar Sands Pipeline
- Attacks on the Clean Air Act Continue
- To Make Sense of Science, Google It
- Happening this Week
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New EPA Action on Mercury Changes the Game
National Wildlife Federation released a new report entitled Game Changers: Air Pollution, a Warming Climate, and the Troubled Future for America’s Hunting and Fishing Heritage, which highlights a number of wildlife species important to hunters and anglers that are harmed by toxic air pollution and climate change.
The report came the same day that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced new proposed limits on the mercury, arsenic, dioxin, and other toxic air pollutants spewing from the nation’s coal-fired power plants. The release of these hazardous pollutants into our air comes at a huge cost to our economy and poses numerous and severe impacts our nation’s public health.
As the report was released, local groups around the country urged members of Congress to support EPA’s efforts to update air pollution limits under the Clean Air Act. Congress is currently considering several proposals that would severely weaken the Clean Air Act by preventing EPA from updating air pollution standards.
“Our children, our wildlife, and future generations are being sacrificed to satisfy polluter special interests who want free rein over our air and water,” said Catherine Bowes, NWF senior policy representative. “We need a strong Clean Air Act to protect our lakes from toxic mercury, our streams from acid rain, and our forests from tree-killing smog and carbon pollution. History has shown time and again that cutting air pollution benefits our health and the economy, and it is time to update our air standards to reduce toxic emissions.”
Economic Story of the Week
New Global Sustainable Biofuels Certification System
Today the Roundtable on Sustainable Biofuels (RSB) launched the first global third-party certification system for sustainable biofuels. The RSB Certification System features a unique set of online tools that take the complexity out of compliance and streamline certification.
“All biofuels are not created equal,” said Barbara Bramble, senior advisor for the International Climate and Energy Program at the National Wildlife Federation. “It’s one thing to say your product is sustainable and another to prove it. This new system makes it easy to differentiate between biofuels that are environmentally destructive and biofuels that deliver on the promise of sustainability.”
The certification system covers the major economic, social and environmental concerns in biofuels’ production, including their contribution to climate change mitigation and rural development; their protection of land and labor rights; and their impacts on biodiversity, soil and water pollution, water availability and food security.
National Wildlife Federation played a key role in establishing this global standard with the goal that the new system will help end biofuels production practices that are harmful to the climate and environment.
Pipeline “Expensive and unnecessary”
Jeremy Symons, senior vice president for Conservation and Education at National Wildlife Federation
Beware of oil companies offering bumper-sticker solutions to our energy problems. The more we pay at the pump, the more they profit. Big Oil routinely funds campaigns to block clean energy initiatives and distract us from the real problem: our oil addiction… Oil companies now want an expensive and unnecessary pipeline to carry tar sludge from Alberta to Texas refineries. Canada is our ally, but when disruptions occur anywhere, the price for oil increases everywhere, whether it comes from the Middle East, the U.S. or Alberta’s tar sands….Everyone will pay more, but families and farmers in the Midwest will get hit hardest…When our kids grow up, they should be benefiting from American clean energy, not hooked on expensive and destructive tar sludge from Canada. (More…)
On March 15th the U.S. Department of State, which is charged with overseeing the Keystone XL pipeline proposal to carry tar sludge across the U.S. heartland, ordered more environmental review and public comment through a supplement environmental impact statement (SEIS). National Wildlife Federation was among many conservation groups urgently requesting the SEIS.
The project is highly controversial because tar sands emit three times the carbon emissions compared to conventional fuels, and cause environmental havoc in Canada where they are mined. In addition, the pipeline is likely to spill on private and public lands and could increase gas and food prices by routing oil away from Midwest states.
“State Department is acknowledging that the long list of concerns raised about Keystone XL warrants further review. Many more questions than answers have surfaced about how it could contaminate groundwater, increase air pollution, and even raise gas prices,” said Ryan Salmon, energy policy advisor for NWF. “The State Department has the chance to do right by landowners and all Americans by ensuring their actions are consistent with President Obama’s clean energy goals.”
Last week, the House Energy & Commerce committee voted to pass the Energy Tax Prevention Act of 2011 (H.R. 910), legislation introduced earlier this month by U.S. Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.). The vote passed 34-19 in support Chairman Upton’s bill, which attacks the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority to crack-down on carbon pollution. The bill could face a vote by the full House soon after the Congressional recess.
In the Senate, several bills intended to roll back the authority of the EPA to address carbon pollution under the Clean Air Act were filed as amendments to a pending small business bill. U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) introduced a companion bill to H.R. 910 that would repeal the EPA’s authority to set carbon emissions limits, while Senator Rockefeller proposed a two year delay in setting standards on stationary sources. Votes on these amendments, and the underlying bill, were tabled until after the current Congressional recess.
More on this story:
In an effort to tackle the challenge of communicating the science behind climate change, Google.org, the nonprofit arm of the technology mogul, has selected 21 Google Science Communication Fellows. The fellows were chosen from a pool of applicants of early to mid-career Ph.D. scientists working in climate research who will use new media and technologies to improve the way the science of global warming is communicated to the public and lawmakers.
The announcement comes on the heels of a recent Gallup poll on the environment that reported a decrease in American concern regarding global warming. Nearly 20 percent of those surveyed believe the effects of global warming will never happen, an increase from 11 percent in 2008.
Congress is in Recess until Sunday, March 27th.
Wednesday, March 23
“Greening the Government: How Agencies are Driving Energy, Climate, and Environmental Performance Improvement” sponsored by University of Maryland School of Public Policy Alumni Association, and the Net Impact DC Professional Chapter,
The National Trust For Historic Preservation, 2nd Floor Conference Room. 1785 Massachusetts Avenue NW, 7:45AM-9:30AM
For more global warming news on Wildlife Promise click here.