Meet the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow. There must have been some kind of mixup when the group's name was registered -- it's not actually a committee for a constructive tomorrow. It's a $3 million-a-year climate-denying group funded by the likes of ExxonMobil to try to convince the world that climate change is no big deal. (Its latest "special report" extolls the virtues of pumping more carbon dioxide, a.k.a. "the gas of life," into the atmosphere.)
The wildlife-killing honeymoon is over for the fast-growing wind energy industry.
Wind turbines are working wonders for America's renewable energy blitz. But a nasty environmental side effect is the heavy toll they can take on birds and bats, hundreds of thousands of which are killed every year after colliding with turbines' spinning blades. The Obama administration has been criticized for turning a blind eye to such environmental crimes, but the recent settling of a federal case suggests that the eye is blind no more.
Duke Energy has agreed to pay $1 million for killing 163 eagles, hawks, blackbirds, larks, wrens, sparrows, and other protected bird species at two wind farms it operates in Wyoming -- violations of the 95-year old Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Of those birds, 14 were golden eagles.
The nonprofit Compassion Over Killing recently released videos of newborn calves being horribly abused by workers at the Quanah Cattle Co. in Kersey, Colo. Within a couple of days, three workers were cited for animal cruelty -- a misdemeanor. The men, who explained to investigators that they hadn't been properly trained to not be cruel to calves, were dismissed from their jobs.
Props are in order for the activist who took a job at the cattle company and covertly filmed the abuses. But that's not how the local sheriff sees things. In an extraordinary attack against animal activism, the activist has been cited for the same crime as the cattle handlers. From a press release [PDF] issued Friday by Weld County Sheriff John Cooke:
During her employment at Quanah, [Taylor] Radig compiled many hours of animal abuse footage that was collected on an “as needed basis” The video footage was eventually provided to law enforcement by representatives of Compassion Over Killing approximately 2 months after Radig’s employment ended with Quanah Cattle Company. ...
Radig’s failure to report the alleged abuse of the animals in a timely manner adheres to the definition of acting with negligence and substantiates the charge Animal Cruelty.
The Arctic is melting, so the U.S. is rolling up there with its guns and ammo.
U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel laid out the Pentagon's first-ever Arctic strategy -- a military strategy designed to keep the fast-melting region peaceful and clean as it is plundered by drillers and traversed by shippers. From his speech on Friday [PDF]:
Climate change is shifting the landscape in the Arctic more rapidly than anywhere else in the world. While the Arctic temperature rise is relatively small in absolute terms, its effects are significant – transforming what was a frozen desert into an evolving navigable ocean, giving rise to an unprecedented level of human activity. Traffic in the Northern Sea Route is reportedly expected to increase tenfold this year compared to last year. ...
With Arctic sea routes starting to see more activities like tourism and commercial shipping, the risk of accidents increases. Migrating fish stocks will draw fishermen to new areas, challenging existing management plans. And while there will be more potential for tapping what may be as much as a quarter of the planet’s undiscovered oil and gas, a flood of interest in energy exploration has the potential to heighten tensions over other issues – even though most projected oil and gas reserves in the region are located within undisputed exclusive economic zones.
Despite potential challenges, these developments create the opportunity for nations to work together through coalitions of common interest, as both Arctic and non-Arctic nations begin to lay out their strategies and positions on the future of the region.
In doublespeak that would make any Times journalist scoff, newspaper management claimed at the time that the changes were being made in an effort to improve environmental coverage. "We have not lost any desire for environmental coverage," the paper's managing editor for news operations told Inside Climate News in January. "This is purely a structural matter."
By killing the environment desk, other desks would take a heightened interest in such wonky issues as national climate policy, greenhouse gas emissions metrics, and adaptation challenges in the Philippines. At least, that was the idea -- taking environmental coverage out of its "silo." (That, and saving money.)
But late during the two weeks of negotiations in Warsaw, Poland, known as COP19, which ended Saturday, a few drops of refreshing news splashed down. Here's a full rundown.
The big news
In 2015, each of the planet's nations will offer a proposal for contributing to a reduction in worldwide greenhouse gas emissions. This agreement didn't come until Saturday night, a day after the talks were supposed to have ended. The AP reported that the "modest deal" averted "a last-minute breakdown."
The fracking industry wouldn't lie, would it? But how else to explain the massive discrepancies between the number of jobs that it claims to create and the number of jobs that it actually creates? Perhaps it's just confused about what's going on at its own operations.
Whatever the reason, the gulf between fracking propaganda and reality has been laid bare in a new report led by the Multi-State Shale Research Collaborative, a watchdog group that studies employment trends, economic development, and community impacts associated with fracking and proposed fracking in New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia.
"Industry supporters have exaggerated the jobs impact in order to minimize or avoid altogether taxation, regulation, and even careful examination of shale drilling," Frank Mauro, one of the authors of the report, told the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle.
Seitz recently introduced legislation that would water down five-year-old state rules requiring utilities in Ohio to sell renewable power and invest in energy-efficiency measures. One of his bill's provisions would revoke a rule requiring half of renewable energy sold by utilities to be generated within the state, but that proved extremely controversial, so he says he's about to release an amended version of the bill that would delay instead of revoke that rule.
If you still don't dig Seitz's legislation, even after he's gone to all the trouble of amending it, well, then he has some strong and odd words for you. From The Columbus Dispatch:
Opponents say the bill is a giveaway to electric utilities and large businesses at the expense of the state’s “green” economy.
Seitz described the bill’s opponents as “the usual suspects,” a group that he said includes “enviro-socialist rent-seekers” who depend on government mandates, while he said its supporters include a wide array of businesses and labor groups.
Hey, that's some intelligent discourse! But guess what, Seitz, you're behind the times, even by right-winger standards.
Plastic crap that Americans are accustomed to importing from Asia is increasingly being manufactured right here in the U.S. — all thanks to the country’s crappy fracking boom.
Chemical and plastics companies use natural gas as a raw material, and now they can get it cheaply in the U.S. As Living on Earth reports, "The fracking boom has led to renaissance for the chemical industry, particularly for plastics makers in Louisiana, where the plants are major employers."
Other states are seeing growth in the plastics business too. Asia’s largest chemical producer, Taiwan-based Formosa Plastics Group, has announced that it's planning to spend $2 billion expanding its manufacturing operations in Texas. Bloomberg reports:
No longer will British taxpayers have to foot the bill for the climate-unfriendly practice of building coal power plants in developing countries.
Britain pledged Wednesday to end most financing support for coal power projects. The pledge came during U.N. climate talks in Warsaw, Poland. The U.S., Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, the World Bank, and the European Investment Bank have already made similar promises, which are aimed at curbing carbon emissions. From Bloomberg: