Workers on a strawberry farm in Southern California were fired last week when they became worried about smoke from a nearby wildfire and left mid-shift. After a media backlash, the farm offered the workers their jobs back, but the workers said, essentially, "Screw you."
The strawberry pickers had taken shelter inside from choking smoke and falling ashes from the Springs Fire, defying an order from a foreman who told them to suck it up and keep on picking. From NBC4:
The ashes were falling on top of us, one of them explained, adding “it was hard to breathe.”
Vineyards won't be the only things flourishing when the sun shines on the fertile city of Sebastopol, Calif., in Sonoma wine country. The liberal stronghold of fewer than 8,000 residents this week became California's second city to require that new homes be outfitted with panels to produce solar energy.
A vote by the City Council on Tuesday evening came less than two months after a similar program was approved in Lancaster, Calif., a conservative desert city with 150,000 residents nearly 400 miles away.
Republicans on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee refused to show up for work Thursday morning, basically because they really don't like the EPA.
The committee was scheduled to vote on the nomination of Gina McCarthy, President Obama's pick to head the EPA. The vote had already been delayed three weeks to accommodate grumbling Republicans, according to committee chair Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.). Then, this morning, right before the scheduled committee hearing, the eight GOP members sent a letter saying they were going to boycott.
Electric-car pioneer Tesla just reported its first ever quarterly profit, jolted into the black by strong sales of its all-electric sedans and by a form of carbon trading under California's clean-cars program.
And with that achievement under its belt, the Californian company is moving on to conjuring another type of magic. Tesla is in talks with nearby Google to develop a car that can run not only without any gas in the tank, but without anybody in the driver's seat.
“Do coal and diesel trains make for unhealthy air?”
Dan Jaffe, an atmospheric sciences professor at the University of Washington-Bothell, thinks that’s a fair question to consider as Washington state grapples with whether to allow the construction of coal-export terminals that could triple the amount of daily coal-train traffic chugging through the state.
But Jaffe, whose lab has published more than 100 peer-reviewed papers on air pollution, hasn’t been able to scare up funding to research the potential air-quality impacts of those coal trains. In the absence of dollars from the usual government or corporate channels, he has turned to the internet to crowd-fund this vital research. Jaffe started a page on Microryza, a sort of Kickstarter for scientific research (a great idea with a name that unfortunately does not roll off the tongue). He writes:
While the veep was working the crowd at an event in South Carolina, Elaine Cooper got a moment with him:
I asked him about the administration’s commitment to making progress on climate and whether the president would reject the pipeline. He looked at the Sierra Club hat on my head, and he said “yes, I do -- I share your views -- but I am in the minority,” and he smiled. ...
I know that this vice president is a man who isn’t afraid to speak from his heart, and who sometimes gets out in front of the rest of the administration on moral issues. It was nearly a year before, on May 6, 2012, that Biden said that he was “absolutely comfortable” with marriage equality. What the vice president said to me on Friday was equally brave and equally right.
Last summer, a leaky tank led to the shutdown of the Palisades nuclear power plant in Michigan. So plant owner Entergy patched up the leak, fired back up the reactor, and hoped for the best.
Unfortunately, the best did not materialize.
The tank began leaking again. But no worries, thought the Einsteins at Entergy, it was only leaking a gallon a day. That was OK, they figured, because the NRC had allowed it to leak up to 38 gallons a day. As of Friday, they were still doing that whole "hoping for the best" thing.
But on Saturday the leaky drip turned into a gush, and all the hoping in the world couldn't hold back the tide of spilling radioactive water. Nearly 80 gallons of water containing small amounts of radioactive tritium and possibly trace amounts of cobalt and cesium spewed into Lake Michigan, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission told the AP.
It looks like Pacific Gas & Electric's shareholders are going to have to spend $2.25 billion on safety improvements because of a 2010 natural-gas pipeline explosion in the San Francisco exurb of San Bruno.
That was the record-breaking penalty proposed this week by staff of the California Public Utilities Commission. The agency's five commissioners will have the final say on the proposal, and PG&E will have an opportunity to try to barter down that price tag. The company says it has already spent more than $1 billion on improvements since the fatal accident.
The penalty is being characterized by the agency and media reports as a "fine," but while fines are typically paid into general government coffers, this $2.25 billion would be invested fully in improving the safety of PG&E's infrastructure. And the money would need to come out of shareholder profits; it couldn't be gouged from customers by hiking their bills.
It's great to go green and it's laudable to go local. But don't you dare try to do both at once.
That's the message the World Trade Organization sent this week went it ruled -- again -- that Ontario’s Green Energy Act illegally discriminated against international renewable energy companies. Similar green jobs programs in other countries might also have to be disbanded following the ruling.
The Green Energy Act aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while encouraging energy conservation and fostering a jobs-rich renewable energy sector. Under the controversial elements of the act, electricity suppliers could charge premium prices for clean energy, but only if they produced that electricity using a certain amount of locally manufactured equipment like solar panels.
Uber-conservative Beltway newspaper The Washington Examiner has revealed its secret crush on Barack Obama and his administration's fracker-friendly ways.
It's not often that the newspaper says anything nice about the president. The Examiner is owned by Philip Anschutz, an oil-drilling magnate, and the newspaper sometimes seems to exist only to beam its owner's conservative views into the brains of D.C. insiders.
In March, for example, the paper's editorial writers likened the president to "a desperate gambler who doubles down on a losing bet" after he called for more green energy spending. In January, the editorial writers charged that "Obamacare threatens states' fiscal autonomy." And, famously, back in 2009, Examiner political correspondent Byron York argued that Obama's "sky-high ratings among African-Americans make some of his positions appear a bit more popular overall than they actually are" -- as if the opinions of blacks shouldn't count.
But when it comes to the Obama administration's complicity in the nationwide fracking spree, the Examiner has nothing but love. Here are some excerpts from "Two cheers for Obama on fracking," the newspaper's May 5 editorial: