Climate Capsule: Turn Down the Heat

This week’s stories:

  1. Highlight of the Week: Wrong Pipeline, Wrong Oil
  2. Quote: Congressman Steny H. Hoyer
  3. Economic Story of the Week: Energy-Saving LEDs , Unstoppable
  4. Editorial of the Week: Sizzle Factor for a Restless Climate
  5. Bad News for Bears
  6. Clean Energy is Blowing in the Wind
  7. Bloomberg Boos Pollution
  8. Happening this Week

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Highlight of the Week

Wrong Pipeline, Wrong Oil

Tar Sand refinery via Pete Williamson/Flickr

While the Yellowstone River is still being cleaned after a 42,000 gallon ExxonMobil pipeline spill and we learn more about the impacts on wildlife such as bald eagles, the House of Representatives will vote to expedite the next oil disaster.

Introduced by Rep. Lee Terry (R-NE), H.R. 1938 directs the President to expedite the permitting and make a final decision by this November on TransCanada’s proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. The constant contamination of America’s lands and waters by tar sands pipelines proves that rushing this pipeline is irresponsible. Critics of the bill say it is legally flawed, would drive up gas prices, and result in more oil disasters. They also say the backers of the bill have greatly exaggerated jobs that might result.

Here are 10 reasons why Congress should not rush Keystone XL:

  1. TransCanada’s brand new Keystone tar sands pipeline has spilled 12 times in 12 months.
  2. The toxic chemicals that will flow through Keystone XL haven’t been disclosed to emergency first responders.
  3. Keystone XL’s spill frequency and worst-case scenario spill have been seriously underestimated.
  4. TransCanada is strong-arming American farmers opposed to Keystone XL’s route through the Ogallala Aquifer.
  5. Existing pipeline safety standards are failing to protect public health and the environment.
  6. Regulators have said that tar sands may cause more “wear and tear” on pipelines.
  7. Tar sands were implicated in all the worst pipeline spills in the U.S. and Canada over the last year.
  8. Pending legislation in the House and Senate acknowledge that tar sands pipelines may be risky.
  9. Michigan’s Kalamazoo River is still contaminated from a tar sands pipeline spill a year ago.
  10. Keystone XL’s environmental review has taken so long because it’s been flawed by bias.

Check out the NY Times’ take on the pipeline.

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Steny Hoyer, Center for American Progress Action Fund

“I got no message from any voter that I ought to come to Congress and undermine the air, water, land that they survive on, recreate on and rely on for the quality of their lives. Not one constituent, whether they voted for me or against me, said ‘undermine the protections of our land and water and air.’ Not one.”

-Congressman Steny H. Hoyer (MD-5) during the mini-filibuster against H.R. 2584, a bill that would significantly undermine U.S. environmental protection laws.

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Economic Story of the Week

Energy-Saving LEDs, Unstoppable

US Dept of Energy

Despite House attempts to strip funding for federal lighting efficiency standards, LEDs are driving the lighting market as commercial, industrial and outdoor sectors (96 percent of the world’s lighting energy use) realize massive savings from the growing technology.

According to the CEO of Digital Lumens, Tom Pincine, “The adoption rate of LED is so profound … and is happening at a clip that is surprising even for us in the marketplace.”

Some politicians have been targeting a 2007 energy law that would phase out traditional 100-watt incandescent light bulbs to make America’s light bulbs 25 percent more efficient. The House approved an amendment by voice vote to prohibit the use of funds to implement the federal light bulb standards and then added the measure to an Energy and Water Development appropriations bill for 2012 spending.

Meanwhile, the Department of Energy (DOE) is fighting back by launching a national education campaign with the Ad Council to help consumers save money on their energy bills by promoting sealing leaks in homes and energy efficient products. Click here to watch the advertisements.

More on this story: SolveClimateNews

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Editorial of the Week

Sizzle Factor for a Restless Climate

(NY Times)

Enjoying the heat wave? Yes, it has been a very hot summer after one of the most extreme-weather springs on record. It’s time to face the fact that the weather isn’t what it used to be. For climate geeks like me, the new normals offer a fascinating and disturbing snapshot of a restless climate. The numbers don’t take sides or point fingers. They acknowledge both powerful natural climate fluctuations as well as the steady drumbeat of warming caused by roughly seven billion people trying to live and prosper on a small planet, emitting heat-trapping greenhouse gases in the process. (More…)

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Bad News for Bears


The eastern U.S. is suffering through stifling heat and humidity, which have caused 22 deaths already. The U.S. Weather Service says heat is the number one weather-related killer in the country, claiming more lives each year than floods, lightning, tornadoes and hurricanes combined.

Had enough? Climate experts warn that our future will be hotter because of carbon pollution causing global warming. But it’s not just us, the heat waves are bad news for bears too.

Polar bears are being forced to swim very long distances because of melting sea ice due to climate change, which can be deadly for their cubs. A new study shows that when mother polar bears had no choice but to swim long distances to reach the safety of sea ice or land, nearly half of their cubs simply didn’t survive! Polar bears are outstanding swimmers, but scientists warn that these long-distance marathon swims — some more than 400 miles and lasting up to 12 days — puts them at risk of drowning, not to mention severe exhaustion if they survive.

More on this story: NY Times, Washington Post, Wildlife Promise

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Clean Energy is Blowing in the Wind

via Slaugner/Flickr

America’s offshore wind resources are immense, and it is time to get serious about bringing this significant, domestic clean energy source ashore. NWF applauds Senators Carper (D-DE) and Snowe (R-ME) for their leadership in building a bipartisan coalition of support for offshore wind energy. The introduction of the Incentivizing Offshore Wind Energy Act, which will provide much-needed incentives for investments in offshore wind projects, demonstrates a bipartisan commitment to advancing job-producing clean energy.NWF has joined more than 120 organizations in calling on the Obama Administration (Letter to Obama 3.7.11, Loan Guarantee Letter 6.10.11) and Congressional leaders to take positive steps to advance offshore wind development in a manner that is protective of our coastal and marine resources. Providing financial incentives such as an investment tax credit is a critical way to support this emerging industry that has the potential to create thousands of jobs while helping revitalize America’s manufacturing and maritime industries.

With great potential to reduce harmful pollution, create thousands of high-quality jobs, and help achieve energy independence, offshore wind energy is a wise investment in America’s future.

More on this story: Wildlife Promise, Clean Energy News

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Bloomberg Boos Pollution

Mayor Bloomberg via 32BJ/Flickr

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg recently expressed frustration with the national paralysis on setting climate change policies and is supporting the environmental campaign to shut down coal-fired power plants across the United States with a donation of $50 million. The plants produce nearly half the nation’s electricity, but they also pump out pollution that contributes to our warming climate, makes people sick and causes premature deaths.

“If we are going to get serious about reducing our carbon footprint in the United States, we have to get serious about coal,” he said in a statement. “Coal is a self-inflicted public health risk, polluting the air we breathe, adding mercury to our water, and the leading cause of climate disruption.

More on this story: NPR, NY Times

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Happening this Week

Tuesday, July 26

Hearing on EPA power plant rules, House Oversight and Government Reform, 1:30 PM, 2154 Rayburn

Wednesday, July 27

Hearing on U.S. economic interests in Arctic, Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries, and Coast Guard Subcommittee, 10:30 AM, 253 Russell Senate Office Building

Thursday, July 28

Hearing on endangered species bills, Natural Resources Committee, 10AM, 1324 Longworth

Hearing on land and water bills, Energy and Natural Resources Subcommittee on National Parks,
9 AM, 366 Dirksen

Hearing on DOE, Fish and Wildlife nominations, Energy and Natural Resources, 10AM, 366 Dirksen

Hearing on long-term budget issues of climate, Appropriations Committee, 2 PM, 138 Dirksen Senate Office Building

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For more global warming news on Wildlife Promise click here.