Climate Capsule: Pipelines, Plug-ins, & Public Comments on Pollution

This week’s stories:

  1. Highlight of the Week: NWF Reminds House, Pipelines Dangerous
  2. Quote: Bill McKibben
  3. Economic Story of the Week: Plug it In
  4. Editorial of the Week: The Risks of the Keystone XL Pipeline
  5. Shelter from the Storms
  6. Coalition Drops More Than 600,000 Comments Like They’re Hot
  7. Butte Goes Off the Grid
  8. Happening this Week

Subscribe to the Climate Capsule RSS Feed to have your weekly update delivered automatically!

Highlight of the Week

NWF Reminds House, Pipelines Dangerous

Dr. Inkley and Rep. Brown, via NWF

In the wake of yet another tragic oil spill, NWF Senior Scientist Doug Inkley did his best to impress upon a House pipelines subcommittee that oil spills are far too frequent and better pipeline safety legislation is urgently needed.

“Montana’s people, fish, and wildlife didn’t deserve this oil spill in the Yellowstone River, but they do deserve a better response from ExxonMobil and the federal government,” Dr. Inkley testified in a hearing that included testimony from Exxon and the government’s chief pipeline safety official.

Rep. Corrine Brown, ranking Democrat on the House Transportation Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines and Hazardous Materials, later invited Dr. Inkley to work with the committee in shaping good reform legislation.

Back to top


Bill McKibben (via Energy Action Coalition)

“If you dig up huge amounts of carbon, huge amounts of ancient biology, hundreds of millions of years worth of ancient biology, and flush it into the atmosphere in a matter of decades, then it stands to reason that we’re going to have enormous effects, and now we can see those effects all around us.”

Bill McKibben, founder

Back to top

Economic Story of the Week

Plug it In

Converted Prius Plug-In Hybrids, via felixkramer/flickr

Our transportation sector is 95 percent dependent on oil, putting us at the mercy of unpredictable gas price spikes and the whims of foreign dictators who control the vast reserves of oil that are the source of our addiction. As more and more consumers from developing countries such as China and India enter the global marketplace and demand the same luxuries we are privileged to, reserves will only be strained further. How will we cope with increasing demand but dwindling reserves? More drilling is NOT the answer.

The people of Montana are learning all too well the consequences of our rush to drill without giving safety considerations a second thought. Hauntingly similar to the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, on June 30th, an Exxon Mobil pipeline ruptured and spewed thousands of gallons of oil into the Yellowstone River. The extent of the damage is still unknown.

Cheap oil is tapped out and what is left is in ever more dangerous sites and requires more destructive methods to extract. It is time we take control of our energy future and demand from our leaders real solutions to the energy crisis. The tools to cut our dependence on oil are already available. Increased fuel efficiency, electric vehicles and investment in mass transit, not only sever our reliance on oil, but save Americans money and create jobs at home.

Learn more with NWF’s new factsheet resource, “Taking Control: Real Solutions to Rising Gas Prices.”

More on this story:

Back to top

Editorial of the Week

The Risks of the Keystone XL Pipeline

(LA Times)

TransCanada has a poor record when it comes to spills. Its first pipeline, Keystone I, has already sprung more than a dozen leaks in its first year of operation. The State Department is promising to make a decision on Keystone XL before the end of the year, and the House Energy and Commerce Committee is pushing for approval by Nov. 1, but there is no rush. The environmental risks should be thoroughly studied and mitigation measures must be put in place.

The objections to Keystone XL stem at least in part from widespread concern over the production of oil from tar sands, which ravages the landscape, pollutes rivers and emits high concentrations of greenhouse gases. The best way to solve the tar sands problem is for the world to agree on a practical scheme for putting a price on carbon emissions. (More…)

Back to top

Shelter from the Storms

flooding, via Wimmera/Flickr

With hurricane season well underway and the remnants of severe floods still troubling many river communities in the country’s midsection, it is difficult to ignore the risks out-of-control waters pose to all Americans. Recently, the House of Representatives voted to reform the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), advancing measures that will better protect people, property and the environment. H.R. 1309, the Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2011, removes incentives for risky developments in flood prone and environmentally sensitive areas, applies market-based rates to flood insurance to further mitigate risk and provides technical and financial assistance to help lessen damage and protect natural features.

“Reforming the NFIP is certainly a step in the right direction. It will help put the program on firmer financial footing, and it will better protect people by using the best science to map flood zones,” said Joshua Saks, senior legislative representative for water resources campaigns at the National Wildlife Federation.

With climate change causing more intense storms, sea level rise and flooding all across the country, this reform measure could not be timelier. We look forward to working with the House, Senate and Administration to see a comprehensive reform bill signed into law this year.

Back to top

Coalition Drops More Than 600,000 Comments Like They’re Hot

via dharma comm/flickr

A coalition of more than 50 health, environmental and associated organizations held a major public event to hand over more than 600,000 public comments to the Environmental Protection Agency. These comments, collected all over the country, express concern over the impacts of mercury pollution generated by coal fired power plants and support for the EPA’s proposed safeguards.

The event was held at Norman B. Leventhal Park across the street from the regional EPA office and included a broad spectrum of speakers, including EPA Region 1 Administrator Curt Spalding. It’s not too late to submit your own comments, click here to tell the EPA how you feel about mercury poisoning our water and our wildlife.

Back to top

Butte Goes Off the Grid

Solar Panels in Butte, Great Valley Center

Butte College recently became the first college in the U.S. to go completely “grid positive,” meaning it generates more electricity (from its on-campus solar array) than it uses.

Located on a 928-acre wildlife refuge, the Oroville, CA, school boasts a long track record of leadership on sustainability and efficiency. Butte won NWF’s 2008 ‘Chill Out’ grand prize for its carbon neutrality and energy usage goals, Sustainability Studies certificate program and recycling initiatives and was later featured in the Campus Report Card, a project by NWF and Princeton Survey Research Associates International to review trends and new developments in environmental performance and sustainability on college campuses. Butte was recognized for high marks in energy efficiency, recycling and ground management.

To learn more about Butte’s sustainability work, visit
Statement from Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom

Back to top

Happening this Week

Wednesday, July 20

Examination of USDA Energy and Forestry Programs, Agriculture, 10 AM, 1300 Longworth
Hearing on Yellowstone spill, Environment and Public Works, 10 AM, 406 Dirksen
Hearing on Gulf spill, Commerce, Science and Transportation, 2:30 PM, 253 Russell

Thursday, July 21

Markup of drilling bills, Energy and Natural Resource, 10 AM, 366 Dirksen
Cool Roofs for Cooler Summers, EESI, 2 – 3:30PM, SVC 212/210 Capitol Visitor Center

Coming Soon: Wednesday, July 27

More Fight, Less Fuel: The Defense Department’s Deployment of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, 2:00 – 3:30 PM, SVC 212/210 Capitol Visitor Cent

Back to topFor more global warming news on Wildlife Promise click here.