"Shhhh ... don't tell anybody how much we're wrecking the climate ... that's a trade secret."
Energy and chemical companies are urging the Obama administration to dump a proposal on greenhouse gas emissions reporting. They say new reporting requirements could put their trade secrets at risk. From The Hill:
The White House is currently reviewing a proposal from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that could require companies to publicly release the information they use to calculate the emissions, like the volume of production or raw materials that are used.
Companies and market regulators worry that that data can be "reverse-engineered and reverse-calculated to basically give away trade secrets," according to Lorraine Gershman, director of the environmental, regulatory and technical affairs office of the American Chemistry Council.
At the time of the Arab oil export embargo in the 1970s, the importing countries were beginning to ask themselves if there were alternatives to oil. In a number of countries, particularly the United States, several in Europe, and Brazil, the idea of growing crops to produce fuel for cars was appealing. The modern biofuels industry was launched. This was the beginning of what would become one of the great tragedies of history. Brazil was able to create a thriving fuel ethanol program based on sugarcane, a tropical plant. Unfortunately for the rest of the world, however, in the United …
Last week Arnold Schwarzenegger, chairman of the R20 Regions of Climate Action, signed an agreement in Algeria to address waste and sustainable energy challenges in the Mediterranean and North Africa. At the same time, a meeting of officials in Bahrain examined technologies and strategies to help that nation evolve into one of the most energy and water efficient economies in the world. Are there lessons in those examples for the U.S. now that President Obama has reignited the debate over climate change policy? The governments of Algeria and its Oran region have realized the potential of energy efficiency measures, development …
The state of Hawaii has become a lot like the island of Dr. Moreau. Except that instead of Dr. Moreau -- the mad scientist in H.G. Wells's 1896 novel who vivisected animals into beast-people -- Hawaii is ruled by the GMO industry.
Monsanto, Dow AgroSciences, Syngenta, DuPont Pioneer, and BASF use the Pacific archipelago as open-air testing grounds for their experimental genetically modified crops, and they spray those crops with herbicides and other chemicals to test how they respond.
But now many residents, including lawmakers, are saying they have had enough of this science-fictionesque madness.
Many of Obama’s nominees have not been popular with Republicans in the Senate, but Gina McCarthy has faced a particularly tough fight. GOP senators boycotted a committee vote on her nomination two months ago, mostly because of their knee-jerk hatred of all things related to the EPA (or, as some prefer to call it, the job-killing organization of America).
McCarthy has a reputation as a tough and experienced policymaker committed to fighting climate change, whose work as Massachusetts’ top environmental advisor contributed to the Supreme Court’s landmark 2007 ruling giving EPA the authority to regulate greenhouse gases. She's worked for Republicans as well as Democrats and collaborated constructively with industry, but that background hasn't calmed GOP worries about what the EPA might do on climate change.
Over recent months, McCarthy repeatedly assured senators that the EPA was not working on carbon regulations for existing power plants. But then last week, Obama announced in his big climate speech that he planned to order EPA to develop just such regulations. Politico reported last week that this could further endanger McCarthy's nomination because GOP lawmakers might accuse her of misleading them or argue that she was out of touch and incompetent (although the only people Politico quoted to support that theory were an oil-industry lobbyist and a GOP energy strategist).
But now, a week later, Politico reports that, on the contrary, a McCarthy confirmation is looking increasingly likely.
President Obama said on Monday that it's "unacceptable" that more than two-thirds of sub-Saharan Africans don't have access to electricity, and he has a plan to help solve the problem. On Sunday, he unveiled a new Power Africa initiative intended to double electricity access in the region.
The initiative calls for more than $7 billion in U.S. funding over five years to help build new power plants in six African countries and bring electricity to more than 20 million households and businesses. It's also intended to help American companies get a foothold in Africa.
Now we’re going to talk about power — Power Africa — a new initiative that will double access to power in sub-Saharan Africa. Double it. We’re going to start by investing $7 billion in U.S. government resources. We’re going to partner with the private sector, who themselves have committed more than $9 billion in investment. And in partnership with African nations, we’re going to develop new sources of energy. We’ll reach more households not just in cities, but in villages and on farms. We’ll expand access for those who live currently off the power grid. And we’ll support clean energy to protect our planet and combat climate change.
You know how old people start to tell the same stories over and over again? Well, old bloggers start quoting themselves. In October 2011, I wrote this about Republican intransigence on climate change:
The climate change situation in U.S. politics is not stable. There's only so long a political party can wall itself off from reality when Americans in business, state and local government, and the military are acknowledging it. It's evident even now that Republicans are vulnerable on the issue. When pressed, they grope around for some position that's short of crazypants denialism, since they know that doesn't look good and perhaps have some vestigial sense of shame. They are stung by charges of being "anti-science," or they wouldn't spend so much time trying to rebut them. But they also want a position that doesn't obligate them to do anything. Right now they're dancing around with various versions of "there's warming but we don't know if humans are causing it." Their stumbling incoherence gives them away.
All of that remains true. The Republican position on climate change has always been internally incoherent and confused, but it has stumbled along because nobody, including the media, pushes them on it. It can't last. And indeed, it is showing new signs of stress. That's got "reasonable Republicans" casting about for a new approach. Their efforts so far are ... uninspiring.
On climate change, the GOP faces the same situation it faces on many other issues (gay marriage, immigration, guns): The right-wing base holds extreme positions that embarrass more reasonable Republicans. But the party leadership remains terrified of the base, especially after the primary massacres of the last few cycles. So Republican politicians have to be extremely careful not to publicly cross the crazies. At the same time, they are trying to "rebrand" the party to appeal to new demographics (young people, minorities, women). It's a difficult -- perhaps impossible -- tightrope to walk.
“Those of us in positions of responsibility will need to be less concerned with the judgment of special interests and well-connected donors, and more concerned with the judgment of our children.” Barack Obama, June 29 national radio address I’ll admit it—I was moved several times as I watched and listened to President Barack Obama’s major speech on the climate crisis on June 25th. As much as I have been angered so many times over the last 4 ½ years since he came into office by the weakness of many of his actions and his pretty-close-to public silence on climate, it …
Fraley shares the prize with two other scientists responsible for launching the “technology” behind the biotech business three decades ago, after developing a method for inserting foreign genes into plants. For an award that claims to honor those who contribute to a “nutritious and sustainable food supply,” genetically modified organisms miss the mark on both counts.
GMOs do not create a more nutritious or sustainable food supply. Twenty years after the commercialization of the first GMO seed, almost all are limited to just two types. Either they’ve been developed to resist a proprietary herbicide or engineered to express a specific insecticide. (No surprise, since the product development is led by chemical companies like Monsanto and Syngenta.) While these crops have proven profitable to the companies producing them, they’ve been costly to farmers. And for the cash-poor farmers, who make up 70 percent of the world’s hungry, this technology worsens dependency on purchased seeds, fertilizer, and chemicals. As GMOs exacerbate farmers’ dependency on these inputs -- all at volatile and rising prices — many small-scale farmers are driven to despair.
In terms of sustainability, GMOs also do nothing to reduce the agriculture sector’s reliance on fossil fuels, mined minerals, and water -- all natural resources that will only get more costly as they become more scarce.