Climate Capsule: America’s Hunters, Anglers Call for Clean Air

It’s that time again…

To avoid those humid climate blues, check out planet Earth’s press statement in The Onion.

This week’s stories:

  1. Highlight of the Week: Sportsmen Say No to Clean Air Act Cuts
  2. Quote: Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney
  3. Economic Story of the Week: Turning Garbage Into Car Fuel?
  4. Editorial of the Week: Sticker Shock
  5. Critics Decry Keystone XL Pipeline
  6. Getting Along on the Gulf Coast
  7. Carbon Pollution Reaches All Time High in 2010
  8. Happening this Week

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Highlight of the Week

Sportsmen Say No to Clean Air Act Cuts

via NWF

While members of the House Energy and Power Subcommittee craft bills to delay pollution rules and promote Big Oil’s agenda, more than 300 hunter and angler groups from across the U.S. called on Congress to allow the Environmental Protection Agency to hold polluters accountable and back off House and Senate attacks on the Clean Air Act.

Citing the law’s bipartisan origins, the signers said that the act “has a long history of success in reducing pollution such as acid rain and smog that threatens fish and wildlife and their habitats.” But today, as the EPA strives to reduce airborne toxins that cause mercury contamination and to limit carbon pollution, the Clean Air Act faces new threats from a number of bills in Congress.

“Anglers across the country are getting out on the water this spring, hoping to hook the big one. But this fundamental American pastime is being ruined by pollution that is causing harmful mercury levels in many fish,” said Larry Schweiger, NWF president and CEO. “Our message to Congress is simple. Let EPA do its job and clean up the pollution that fouls our rivers, streams and lakes.”

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World Affairs Council

“I believe the world is getting warmer, and I believe that humans have contributed to that.”

Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney said at a town hall meeting in Manchester, New Hampshire.

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Economic Story of the Week

Turning Garbage Into Car Fuel?

via colindunn/Flickr

Enerkem, a Montreal-based ethanol producer, is starting up a plant in Quebec that converts waste into motor fuel with new investment from independent major oil refiner Valero and Waste Management. The plant will have a commercial scale capacity of 1.3 million gallons per year and Enerkem is on track to open another facility in Edmonton, Alberta that would produce another 10 million gallons.

As gasoline prices top $4 a gallon many companies are looking for alternatives, such as using waste materials to make ethanol. Almost all of them have to pay for the raw materials, but since Enerkem is already paid to dispose of garbage, its feedstock is “cost-negative.”

The ethanol is considered an advanced cellulosic biofuel, one that comes from plant material but not from food. Making ethanol from garbage produces lower carbon pollution than making it from corn. Corn ethanol requires large amounts of natural gas, but the Enerkem process uses heat given off by the process itself so no fossil fuels are burned except during start-up. The process also diverts this trash from landfills, where it would give off methane, another potent global warming pollutant.

More on this story: NY Times

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Editorial of the Week

Sticker Shock

(The New York Times)

via worldtechguy/Flickr

Lots of happy talk accompanied the Obama administration’s unveiling of new fuel economy stickers for cars and light trucks that will include annual fuel costs and information about emissions. The new stickers, mandatory starting with the 2013 models, are a big improvement on the simple miles-per-gallon estimates on the present label. If they were there right now, we suspect many car buyers would be experiencing a new sort of sticker shock.

Mr. Obama should hang tough. Given the vanishingly small prospects for serious energy legislation on Capitol Hill, the new standards represent his and the country’s most promising opportunity to make significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and America’s dependence on foreign oil. (More…)

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Critics Decry Keystone XL Pipeline

via DianeWorth/Flickr

As the State Department wrapped up a comment period on the second round of environmental review for the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, the US Department of Transportation issued a first-ever “Corrective Action Order” for the leak-prone one year old Keystone pipeline. In the order DOT’s Associate Administrator for Pipeline Safety Jeffrey Wiese stated “that the continued operation of the pipeline without corrective measures would be hazardous to life, property and the environment.”

In a press teleconference critics of TransCanada’s massive Keystone XL tar sands pipeline proposal including Jeremy Symons, senior vice president, National Wildlife Federation, Matthew Tejada, executive director, Air Alliance Houston, and Carl Weimer, executive director of the Pipeline Safety Trust, addressed the second environmental assessment and its handling of the comment period that closed June 6th.

The State Department neglected key issues like the pipeline’s safety and route, even though TransCanada’s brand new Keystone tar sands pipeline has already had 12 leaks during its first year of operation. Also ignored were numerous requests from landowners such as Randy Thompson of Nebraska, farmers, members of Congress, and environmental groups to extend the comment period beyond the bare minimum of 45 days and hold field hearings so the voices of rural Americans could be heard.

More on this story: NY Times

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Getting Along on the Gulf Coast

via NWF

Eleven lawmakers from the Gulf Coast have formed a bipartisan caucus with its first priority convincing Congress to devote 80 percent of the tens of billions of dollars in penalty payments expected from last year’s Gulf oil disaster to the area’s economic and environmental recovery efforts. If not recovered, the penalty money will flow into the U.S. Treasury and be spent elsewhere.

Over the past decade, the Gulf Coast has suffered a litany of trauma including hurricanes, a massive oil spill, and ongoing debate over the future offshore oil drilling. Members of the caucus, which include Sens. Mary Landrieu (D-La) and David Vitter (R-La) and Reps. Steve Scalise (R-La) and Kathy Castor (D-Fl), have a variety of ideas on how the money should divvied up.

Some bills recommend sending a majority of the money to Louisiana, which bore the brunt of the oil disaster’s environmental impacts, while others suggest dividing the money up based on coastline miles. It is critical that the solutions address environmental and economic recovery, which go hand in hand.

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Carbon Pollution Reaches All Time High in 2010

The International Energy Agency (IEA) reported that global emissions of carbon pollution reached their highest level ever in 2010. At least three quarters of the growth was mainly driven by booming coal-reliant emerging economies such as China or India.

Fatih Birol, IEA’s chief economist, warned that this is the highest-ever growth in recorded history. “Every year we don’t have a (climate change) agreement, every year we don’t give a clear signal to pave the way for renewable energies and other clean energy technologies, the room for maneuver to get to the 2020 target shrinks,” he said.

This is one record we don’t want to set. IEA’s announcement strengthens the need for united and urgent action on climate change.

More on this story: AFP, Reuters, Guardian

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Happening this Week

Wednesday, June 8

Markup: S. 183 Deepwater Horizon Survivors’ Fairness Act, Senate Commerce, 10 AM, 253 Russell

Hearing: “Air Quality and Children’s Health,” Subcommittee on Clean Air and Nuclear Safety and Subcommittee on Children’s Health and Environmental Responsibility, 10AM, 406 Dirksen

Thursday, June 9

Hearing: Energy Efficiency bills, Senate Energy & Natural Resources, 9:30AM, SD-366

Monday, June 13

Hearing: Energy and Revenue Enrichment Act of 2011, House Energy & Commerce, 1:30PM, 2123 Rayburn

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