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Lisa Hymas' Posts

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Obama’s group Organizing for Action finally takes up climate change … sort of

"Organizing for Action" buttonIt's about time. So far this year, President Obama and his advocacy nonprofit Organizing for Action have been making big pushes for gun control and immigration reform, while largely ignoring climate change. Today that's starting to change.

From The Huffington Post:

Organizing for Action, the advocacy arm pushing the Obama administration's agenda, will begin its next big policy push on Thursday with a focus on climate change.

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Court hands EPA a victory in fight against mountaintop-removal mining

mountaintop-removal coal-mining site
SouthWings / Appalachian Voices
Mountaintop-removal coal mining: It's damn ugly.

Score one for the EPA -- and everyone else who doesn't like the idea of a coal company blasting the tops off mountains and dumping the waste into streams.

From The Wall Street Journal:

The Environmental Protection Agency won an important legal victory Tuesday in a long-brewing battle with Arch Coal Inc. over a coal mining project in West Virginia known as Spruce No. 1.

The case tests whether the EPA can revoke a permit for the controversial practice known as mountaintop mining after another federal agency, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, has already approved it.

The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the EPA can indeed revoke such a permit, acting under the authority of the Clean Water Act. (Turns out that dumping tons of dirt and rock into streams does not promote clean water.)

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EPA bashes State Department’s ‘insufficient’ Keystone report

protest banner: "Keystone XL pipeline not in our national interest"
Fibonacci Blue
The EPA kind of said this, but with a lot more words.

The EPA has a special Earth Day message for the State Department: You still haven't done your homework on the Keystone XL pipeline's potential environmental effects.

That's the gist of the EPA's official comments [PDF] on the State Department's draft environmental impact statement for the proposed pipeline, submitted on the final day of the comment period. (Procrastination: It's not just for college students.) State's report found that Keystone would not have significant environmental impacts, but EPA says the report included “insufficient information” to reach a conclusion on the impacts.

From The Hill:

EPA said [the State Department] failed to fully consider alternative routes for the Canada-to-Texas pipeline. ...

Further, EPA urged the State Department to revisit its suggestion that Keystone would not expedite production of Canada’s carbon-intensive oil sands or significantly ramp up greenhouse gas emissions — two major assertions made by the pipeline's critics.

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Koch brothers want to buy L.A. Times, Chicago Tribune, six other papers

Charles and David Koch
Charles and David Koch, aka the Kochtopus.

Charles and David Koch -- the billionaire oil-baron brothers who've poured mega-millions into climate denial and right-wing causes and candidates -- are looking to get into the media business. Watch out.

From The New York Times:

Koch Industries, the sprawling private company of which Charles G. Koch serves as chairman and chief executive, is exploring a bid to buy the Tribune Company’s eight regional newspapers, including The Los Angeles Times, The Chicago Tribune, The Baltimore Sun, The Orlando Sentinel and The Hartford Courant.

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This bipartisan energy-efficiency bill might actually be able to pass Congress

Jeanne Shaheen and Rob Portman
U.S. Senate
A Democrat and a Republican, working together. Weird.

Sens. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio) have come up with an energy-efficiency bill that they think has a real chance of passing the U.S. Senate. And then the U.S. House. In this Congress. Really!

From Politico:

The legislation, known as the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act, focuses on improving energy efficiency in commercial buildings, the manufacturing sector and the federal government.

Among other things, the bill strengthens building codes to make new homes and buildings more efficient, creates a new Energy Department program called SupplySTAR to improve the efficiency of companies’ supply chains and requires the federal government — the country’s largest energy user — to adopt strategies to conserve the electricity used for computers.

It's a scaled-back version of a bill they introduced last year. To preempt conservative objections, it drops a provision that would have expanded a Department of Energy loan program. After Solyndra, "Department of Energy loan program" is not a phrase Republicans are warm to.

A bipartisan duo -- Reps. David McKinley (R-W.Va.) and Peter Welch (D-Vt.) -- will be pushing a similar bill in the House.

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10 states to sue Obama admin for dragging feet on climate rules

delayed
Delay after delay ...

While there's virtually no chance of meaningful climate legislation passing through Congress, there are meaningful climate actions that the Obama administration can take on its own. Two big ones would be regulating carbon dioxide emissions from new power plants and from existing power plants.

But the administration is dragging its feet on both counts. A draft regulation for new plants was proposed more than a year ago, but the EPA missed a deadline this past Saturday for making it final. "EPA is likely to alter the rule in some way in an effort to make sure it can withstand a legal challenge," The Washington Post reported on Friday, noting that the agency has not set a timetable for its finalization.

As for regulation of old power plants -- which spew about one third of U.S. greenhouse gases -- an EPA official said last week that the agency intends to propose a standard within 18 months.

Ten states, two major cities, and three big green groups are fed up with the delays. On Wednesday, they gave notice of their intent to sue. From the Los Angeles Times:

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Activists to Interior: Stop letting coal companies pillage our land, atmosphere, and treasury

stop sign on a hand
Shutterstock

On her first full workday at her new job, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell got a loud message from green groups: Stop selling publicly owned coal for a pittance and destroying our atmosphere.

AP reports:

Environmental groups are calling for a moratorium on coal leasing in the Powder River Basin of Montana and Wyoming until the federal government reviews the program.

Representatives of 21 groups including Greenpeace and the Sierra Club requested the moratorium Monday in a letter to newly confirmed Interior Secretary Sally Jewell. ...

As companies seek to ramp up coal exports, the environmentalists say the government needs to make sure companies are paying proper royalties. They also want more attention given to the climate change impacts of greenhouse gasses emitted when coal is burned.

On the royalty issue, the enviros put it a little more sharply in their letter:

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You’re forking out $9,000 a year to own your car

car spewing moneyForget, for a moment, the environmental costs of driving a car. The financial costs alone should be enough to shock you into walking, biking, busing, and sharing.

From USA Today:

The average owner of a sedan has to shell out nearly $10,000 a year to own and operate that car, according to auto club AAA.

A new AAA report shows, on average, the cost of driving 15,000 miles a year rose 1.17 cents to 60.8 cents per mile, or $9,122 per year. Overall, that's a roughly 2% increase on the cost of operating a car last year.

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InsideClimate wins Pulitzer for reporting on tar-sands spill

pulitzer

Nonprofit news site InsideClimate has done killer work reporting on the dangers of tar-sands pipelines, work that's gotten far too little recognition -- until now. On Monday, three reporters at the organization were honored with a Pulitzer Prize for reporting on national affairs. The Pulitzer site notes that the prize was awarded to ...

Lisa Song, Elizabeth McGowan and David Hasemyer of InsideClimate News, Brooklyn, N.Y., for their rigorous reports on flawed regulation of the nation’s oil pipelines, focusing on potential ecological dangers posed by diluted bitumen (or "dilbit"), a controversial form of oil.

More from InsideClimate:

Read more: Climate & Energy

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Sally Jewell will now be your interior secretary

Sally Jewell. Even some Republicans like her!
Burke Museum
Sally Jewell: Even some Republicans like her!

By a vote of 87 to 11, the Senate on Wednesday confirmed Obama's pick to be the next secretary of the interior: Sally Jewell.

Many enviros like her because she's a longtime conservationist who has worked for the last eight years as CEO of big outdoor equipment co-op REI. She takes climate change seriously and has spoken favorably about a carbon tax.

The extractive industries don't loathe her because she started her career as a petroleum engineer and went on to become a commercial banker working with natural resources companies. “It’s been a while since I fracked a well; I think it was 1979,” she said at her confirmation hearing last month.

“How’d you get appointed by this administration?” GOP Sen. Lamar Alexander (Tenn.) joked at that hearing. “Sounds like someone a Republican president would appoint. That’s a remarkable background.”