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Lisa Hymas' Posts


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

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:


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

stop sign on a hand

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:


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.


InsideClimate wins Pulitzer for reporting on tar-sands spill


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


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.”


Subaru finally introduces a hybrid; crunchy yuppies rejoice

Subaru Crosstrek
These crunchy yuppies sure look happy with their Crosstrek Hybrid.

Just 16 years after Toyota first started selling the Prius, Subaru has unveiled its own hybrid.

AP reports:

Subaru is coming out with a gas-electric hybrid crossover SUV for the crunchy-granola crowd that wants to save fuel but still haul kayaks to the river.

The Japanese brand, which specializes in all-wheel-drive vehicles, unveiled the 2014 XV Crosstrek Hybrid on Thursday at the New York International Auto Show.


Senate gives a big, fat thumbs-up to Keystone XL

Keystone protestors in front of Capitol
The Senate was not listening to these guys.

The vote was non-binding but all too telling. On Friday, the U.S. Senate voted 62 to 37 in favor of building the Keystone XL tar-sands pipeline, with 17 Democrats joining all of the Republicans. It was just an amendment to a budget plan that won't even be going to the president's desk, but it shows that the political class in D.C. views the pipeline very favorably -- and believes voters view it very favorably too.

From The Washington Post:

The 17 Democrats who voted yes included every single possibly vulnerable incumbent facing reelection next year, from 34-year veteran [Max] Baucus [Mont.] to first-term Sen. Mark Begich (Alaska).

Perhaps more importantly, Sen. Michael Bennet (Colo.), who chairs the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, voted for the resolution. Bennet is not up for re-election until 2016, but his post requires him to raise money from the wealthy liberal community that is highly opposed to the pipeline.

Additionally, a crop of Democrats who survived difficult reelections in 2012 — Sens. Bob Casey (Pa.), Joe Donnelly (Ind.), Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.), Claire McCaskill (Mo.), Bill Nelson (Fla.) and Jon Tester (Mont.) — all supported the GOP Keystone amendment.

Did fossil-fuel money have anything to do with the vote? You be the judge:


Another climate delay from the Obama admin?

With Congress unwilling to do anything about climate change (or anything about anything), climate hawks have been looking to President Obama to take executive actions that don't need approval from Capitol Hill. A big one everyone is waiting for: greenhouse gas regulations for new power plants.

Well, don't hold your breath. Looks like it might still be a while. From The Washington Post:

The Obama administration is leaning toward revising its landmark proposal to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from new power plants, according to several individuals briefed on the matter, a move that would delay tougher restrictions and could anger many environmentalists.


Another George Bush runs for office in Texas, talks up oil and gas drilling

George P. Bush
Gage Skidmore
George P. Bush -- related to all those other Bushes, but Hispanic too!

George Prescott Bush has kicked off a campaign to run for Texas land commissioner next year. Haven't heard much about this Bush? Just wait -- you will. He's the 36-year-old son of former Florida governor and 2016 presidential aspirant Jeb Bush and his Mexican-born wife Columba.

"A Spanish-speaking attorney and consultant based in Fort Worth, Bush is considered a rising star among conservative Hispanics, and his political pedigree is hard to match," writes the Associated Press. As the nephew of former President George W. Bush and the grandson of more-former President George H.W. Bush, he's got quite the dynasty behind him.

In a campaign video set to aggressively swelling music, Bush notes that Texas' land commissioner is responsible for "energy policy through the leases of our public oil and gas resources," and declares, "As Texans, we recognize the need for safe and reliable energy produced right here in our Lone Star State."

Drill, baby Bush, drill!


N.Y. Times and Thomas Friedman call for killing Keystone

New York Times building

The New York Times editorial board and Times columnist Thomas Friedman have both come out swinging against the Keystone XL pipeline.

A strong editorial today calls on Obama to kill the project. The headline: "When to Say No."

[Obama] should say no, and for one overriding reason: A president who has repeatedly identified climate change as one of humanity’s most pressing dangers cannot in good conscience approve a project that — even by the State Department’s most cautious calculations — can only add to the problem. ...

Supporters of the pipeline have argued that this is oil from a friendly country and that Canada will sell it anyway. We hope Mr. Obama will see the flaw in this argument. Saying no to the pipeline will not stop Canada from developing the tar sands, but it will force the construction of new pipelines through Canada itself. And that will require Canadians to play a larger role in deciding whether a massive expansion of tar sands development is prudent. At the very least, saying no to the Keystone XL will slow down plans to triple tar sands production from just under two million barrels a day now to six million barrels a day by 2030. ...

In itself, the Keystone pipeline will not push the world into a climate apocalypse. But it will continue to fuel our appetite for oil and add to the carbon load in the atmosphere. There is no need to accept it.

In an op-ed published on Sunday, Friedman also calls for rejecting Keystone, but with a different spin. He thinks Obama will end up approving the pipeline, so he wants activists to make such a stink about it that Obama feels compelled to take other big steps to forestall climate change in exchange.