Climate Capsule: Keeping it Cool and Clean

Happy August Recess Climateers!

If your office is as quiet as mine take a minute to watch this trailer for an amazing new film on Climate Refugees, and check out the website to find a screening near you.


This week’s stories:

  1. Highlight of the Week: Fuel Efficiency Rules! Or, Cleaner Trucks Good for Wildlife, Economy
  2. Quote: Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA)
  3. Economic Story of the Week: Think Big, Start Small
  4. Editorial of the Week: GOP vs. Mother Nature
  5. Drilling On Up
  6. Feeling Hot Hot Hot?
  7. DOE Panel Calls for Action on Fracking Impacts
  8. Happening this Week

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Highlight of the Week

Fuel Efficiency Rules! Or, Cleaner Trucks Good for Wildlife, Economy

via Flickr/indiwench

President Obama has unveiled the first-ever fuel efficiency standards for medium and heavy duty pickup trucks, vocational trucks, and combination tractors/semis. The proposed National Heavy Duty Program will save Americans $35 billion in fuel costs, cut 98 million barrels of oil consumption annually by 2030 and clear 246 million metric tons of carbon dioxide pollution from our skies.

These standards will provide welcome fuel savings, budget relief, and pollution reduction to those who rely on heavy trucks to move America’s goods and people, haul equipment on the job, or tow a boat to the lake,” said Larry Schweiger, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation.

Coming on the heels of new standards for cars and light duty trucks, the National Heavy Duty Program would cut fuel consumption across all types of trucks from 2014-2018.

The three sets of standards would cut 639 million metric tons of greenhouse gas pollution annually by 2030 – the equivalent of about 10 percent of America’s carbon footprint today. “That’s a critical step in confronting global warming, the single biggest threat facing America’s wildlife,” said Zoe Lipman, the National Wildlife Federation’s senior manager for transportation and global warming solutions. “The standards will also cut America’s oil consumption by 3.4 million barrels of oil every single day – more than we currently import from Saudi Arabia, Nigeria and Venezuela combined.”

Check out NWF’s recently released joint report on the economic benefits of fuel efficiency standards.

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via Sen. Boxer/Flickr

“They keep trying to overturn the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, the Endangered Species Act. That’s not going to happen.”

-Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA).

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Economic Story of the Week

Think Big, Start Small

While Congress continues to squabble over energy efficient light bulbs a California nonprofit called Zilowatt is spreading energy conservation from the bottom up. The Palo Alto based organization is supplying interactive educational kits to schools this fall for outreach sponsored by the city’s utility departments.

The kits are packed with visual tools that allow students to learn at their own pace and use character superheroes Reuse, Recycle, Reduce and TIO (“Turn It Off”) to share lessons. The group’s goal is to provide materials to any school but they must first recruit a sponsor and a champion within the school to promote the program.

More on this story: NY Times

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Editorial of the Week

GOP vs. Mother Nature

(LA Times)

via Paul Fundenburg/Flickr

They loaded up the appropriations bill that funds the Interior Department and the Environmental Protection Agency with dozens of riders that would encourage deadly pollution of the air and water, set back efforts to reduce greenhouse gases and allow uranium mining near the Grand Canyon, among other things. Such riders are commonplace on annual appropriations bills, but Washington insiders say they’ve never seen such a breathtaking assault on the environment.

If there was any good news from the chaos surrounding this week’s deal to raise the federal debt ceiling, it’s that the drawn-out congressional debate over the issue distracted GOP representatives from passing this monstrosity. (More…)

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Drilling On Up

Arctic Fox, via Billy Linblom/Flickr

The Obama Administration just gave the green light to Shell Oil’s Arctic drilling exploration plan, proving once again that oil companies are held to a different standard than everyone else.

In a statement BOEMRE (the offshore regulatory agency) said that they “found no evidence that the proposed action would significantly affect the quality of the human environment.” The final outcome is contingent on a few more approvals – for safety permits and other things – but most observers believe the point is clear: the government wants drilling to happen and is working hard to make that a reality.

But just this week the British government warned that several hundred tons of oil had likely leaked into the North Sea from a Royal Dutch Shell rig, the 11th reported incident since 2009.

So what’s the big deal? A lot of folks have pointed out the obvious: there’s no way Shell or any other company could control a blowout or clean up an oil spill in these conditions.

More on this story: AP

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Feeling Hot Hot Hot?

via Mr T in DC/Flickr

New data confirms what you already knew – July was incredibly hot, one of the warmest on record. Check out the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Climatic Data Center recap of July 2011.

“We’ve had another unusually warm month and are on the way to another unusually hot year, but the reality is that these conditions are the new normals that we all need to get used to,” said Dr. Amanda Staudt, climate scientist with the National Wildlife Federation.

We’re on pace for the 35th consecutive year with global temperatures above the 20th century average. Some members of Congress may find the validity of climate change an inconvenient truth, but many U.S. cities are going above and beyond to mitigate it by lowering their carbon pollution and financing adaptation methods, for example, planting trees to increase shade to counter heat waves and elevating building foundations to account for projected sea level rise.

More on this story: Wildlife Promise, USA Today, NOAA’s State of the Climate

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DOE Panel Calls for Action on Fracking Impacts

Marcellus Shale, via Flickr/Marcellus Protest

The Secretary of Energy Advisory Board (SEAB) Natural Gas Subcommittee recently called for better enforcement, oversight and transparency for the natural gas industry, including full disclosure of the chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing, or ‘fracking.’

“The chemicals used to extract natural gas through fracking are often a mystery for local communities and state and federal regulators, so we applaud the panel for recommending the public disclosure of fracking chemicals,” said Kate Zimmerman, senior policy advisor on public lands for the National Wildlife Federation. “But this recommendation is just a tiny first step. Congress, the Department of Energy, the Department of the Interior and the EPA also need to move forward to close the gaping loopholes in our environmental laws the natural gas industry continues to exploit. Energy companies and government watchdogs need to balance economics and jobs with protecting wildlife, clean water, clean air and human health.”

The National Wildlife Federation is not opposed to the development of natural gas; however, any energy development must be done in an environmentally sound manner that does not place wildlife and people at risk.

More on this story: NWF Media Center

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Happening this Week

Congress is on summer recess until September 6th.

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For more global warming news on Wildlife Promise click here.