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Natural Gas isn’t a Bridge Fuel, it’s a Gateway Drug

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In his State of the Union, President Obama added to the conventional wisdom that supplanting coal with natural gas will act as a bridge toward a climate solution. Unfortunately, gas is more of a gateway drug than a bridge to a clean energy future. 1) It’s still a major greenhouse gas.  Sure, natural gas is cleaner than coal, but that’s setting a pretty low bar.  Even if my shit smells sweeter than most, it’s still shit. Natural gas powered electricity still pours 1.22 lbs of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere for every kilowatt-hour of electricity it produces. That’s 6 tons …

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At Last! EPA Required to Finish Coal Ash Safeguards

Late Wednesday we saw a victory for clean water and public health: The Sierra Club is pleased to be a part of a legal agreement with 11 organizations compelling the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to finalize safeguards against coal ash pollution by the end of this year. EPA first proposed these standards in 2010, and they have been mired in red tape ever since. If the final protections are strong, getting them over the finish line will be a major victory for public health, safe communities, and clean water. Coal ash is the toxic by-product left over when coal is …

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Cove Point is “Keystone” of the East

For those of you in the Marcellus Shale region, this is an urgent request that you mark your calendar for Thursday, February 20th and make plans to get to Baltimore and bring as many people with you as you can. Why? Because fracking fighters like you from across the Mid-Atlantic are converging on February 20th to take a stand against the biggest single gas drilling threat we face: Cove Point. This proposed $3.8 billion export terminal would take fracked gas from throughout the Marcellus Shale, liquefy it on the shores of the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland, and ship it to Asia. If Cove Point gets …

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Who’s Your Energy Daddy?

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Michael Kappel

For now it remains large, investor-owned utilities, and ostensibly locally-focused rural cooperatives and municipal utilities. But the energy landscape of today gives me uncomfortable reminders of the Athenian tragedy by Sophocles - the Oedipus tale. John Farrell, ILSR’s Director of Democratic Energy, gave this panel presentation at the 23rd annual conference of the Society for Environmental Journalists in Chattanooga, TN, on Oct. 4, 2013. For those who don’t recall their college or high school English class, that’s the tale of the man who grows up to murder his father the king and marry his mother.  And in this 21st century version, the …

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The News Just Keeps Getting Worse for West Virginia (and It Doesn’t Stop There)

Earlier this week my West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin said the following about whether people should be drinking the water in Charleston and downstream: "It's your decision....I'm not a scientist." For the 300,000 people affected by the coal chemical spill from two weeks ago, I bet that's very reassuring. Quite a profile in courage, our governor. Even less reassuring, the news came out Wednesday that there was another mysterious chemical spill in that leak, and officials are now testing to make sure the water treatment facility removed that chemical. And it gets worse - how about this article featuring …

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Arctic Sea Ice Freefall is Mirror Image of Carbon Dioxide Ascent

By Emily E. Adams The amount of Arctic sea ice has plummeted in recent decades—a bold manifestation of the rise in temperature resulting from the rapid increase in carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere. After staying below 300 parts per million (ppm) for some 800,000 years, the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere skyrocketed as humans started burning more and more fossil fuels. In 2013, atmospheric CO2 averaged 396 ppm. Carbon dioxide traps heat, reducing the amount escaping into space, thereby warming the globe. Together with other heat-trapping gases, the additional CO2 has so far raised the Earth’s temperature by …

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Washington Post acquires climate-conspiracy blog

Jeff Bezos visits Washington Post

The Volokh Conspiracy, a blog of climate conspiracy theorists, is now part of the Washington Post. When Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos took over the Post, some climate activists hoped he would close down the Post’s editorial support for climate-science deniers such as George Will and strengthen the influential paper’s focus on the climate threat. But it was not to be. In the first major move since the acquisition, Bezos' Post has simultaneously dropped liberal “wunderkind” blogger Ezra Klein and added the corporate-right lawyer blog Volokh Conspiracy, founded by Eugene Volokh in 2002. The Volokh Conspiracy bloggers are aptly named, as many of them have promoted conspiracy theories about anthropogenic climate …

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Election Year Surprise from Enviro Groups

“In the speech, you referenced that in the past year you had put forward an ‘all of the above’ energy strategy, yet noted that we cannot just drill our way out of our energy and climate challenge. We believe that continued reliance on an ‘all of the above’ energy strategy would be fundamentally at odds with your goal of cutting carbon pollution and would undermine our nation’s capacity to respond to the threat of climate disruption.” -from open letter to Obama: http://ecowatch.com/2014/01/16/obama-climate-keystone-xl-fracking-arctic/ On January 16th 18 national environmental organizations sent a letter to Barack Obama in which they essentially called …

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Media for Sale: Coal Lobby Buys Politico, Real Clear Politics Events

Last week, the political news website Real Clear Politics hosted a Washington DC event (video) targeted at an elite media and policy audience. Held at the gleaming Newseum, site of many such events, it was entitled, "U.S. Energy Policy: The Road Ahead," and appeared to be a genuine policy discussion. It was, in fact, an infomercial. The event was sponsored by the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE), a major trade organization for the U.S. coal industry. ACCCE was paying to have an energy discussion before journalists and policymakers – and for the opportunity to have ACCCE’s CEO Mike Duncan lead …

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Recovery from WV Coal Chemical Spill Continues – What Next?

As a West Virginian, this has been a sad, frustrating, and infuriating time for me, though I do not live in the area affected by last week's coal chemical spill. More than 300,000 people in the WV capital of Charleston and downstream counties have been without water for eight days and counting. The chemical that spilled is used to process coal after it's mined, to separate the coal from other substances before it's carried away on trains or river barges. A tank of this chemical, located immediately above the largest drinking water intake in WV, leaked. Very little is known …

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