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Stacy Morford's articles

Today's Climate: July 2, 2009

Southern Co. Dominates Climate Lobbying (Center for Public Integrity)

Southern Company, the nation’s largest electric power generator, also had the largest force of lobbyists among the hundreds of businesses and interest groups that were seeking to influence the landmark climate change legislation that just passed the House.

Records Show Exxon Continued Funding Climate Deniers (Guardian)

ExxonMobil, the world's largest oil company, continued to fund lobby groups that question the reality of global warming, despite a public pledge to cut support for such climate change denial, a new analysis shows.

UN, WTO Call for Trade Shift to Slow Climate Change (EurActiv)

More open trade could lead to growing greenhouse gas emissions if nothing is done to shift "business as usual" trade practices and encourage the exchange of new low-carbon technologies, the WTO and UNEP said in a joint report.

Mayor’s Goal: Coal-Free Los Angeles by 2020 (Mercury News)

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, sworn in for a second term, said he would attempt to eliminate the city’s reliance on coal—which provides 40 percent of its power—by 2020.

U.S., California to Reduce Ship Emissions (Los Angeles Times)

Federal and California regulators are targeting one of the biggest sources of air pollution, big diesel-powered ships. Ocean-going vessels that enter California ports must now switch to fuel with lower sulfur content, and EPA proposed similar rules for U.S.-flagged ships.

WWF: US, Canada Last Among G8 in Curbing Warming (Boston Globe)

With only five months left before a summit on climate change, none of the Group of Eight nations is doing enough to curb global warming, WWF says.

Today's Climate: July 1, 2009

India Will Reject Greenhouse Gas Emissions Targets (Reuters)

India will not set targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and will instead focus on fighting poverty and boosting economic growth, the environment minister says.

Salazar: 13 Solar Plants On Public Land By 2010 (Red, Green & Blue)

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar set a goal of 13 “commercial-scale” solar projects under construction on public land in the West by the end of 2010, and a production goal of 100,000 megawatts of solar electricity.

Ontario Nuclear Plans Suffer from Sticker Shock (Globe & Mail)

The Ontario government is suspending its bidding for a new nuclear power plant over something everyone who has made a big purchase eventually confronts: sticker shock.

Sweden To Lead Climate Change Fight as EU President (Radio Free Europe)

As Sweden takes over the EU presidency today, Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt says Stockholm's top priority will be to curb carbon dioxide emissions.

Amnesty International Documents Big Oil Damage in Niger Delta (Guardian)

A report from Amnesty International quotes sources suggesting that in the last 50 years at least 9 million barrels worth of oil have leaked into land and rivers of the Niger Delta. It singles out Royal Dutch Shell and blames the oil industry the region’s upheaval.

Green Tech Venture Capital Stages a Comeback (Greentech)

More than $1.2 billion in venture capital investments in 85 startups during the second quarter of 2009 signals a recovery in the green tech sector. A look at the deals.

EPA OKs California Tailpipe Emissions Rules, Nation to Follow

After years of fighting the Bush administration, California and 13 other states finally won federal permission today to set tough new tailpipe standards that for the first time limit greenhouse gas emissions from cars, trucks and SUVs.

For the next two years, those states will lead the charge, pressuring automakers to build cleaner, more fuel efficient vehicles.

Then, starting in 2012, the rest of the country begins to play catch up.

Today's Climate: June 30, 2009

EPA to Grant Calif. Waiver on Vehicle Emissions (Los Angeles Times)

The EPA is expected to announce today that it is granting California's request to impose tough restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions from cars and trucks, reversing the Bush administration's position and opening the way for the state to take the lead on climate policy.

Chaos, Arm-Twisting Gave Pelosi a Climate Bill Win (Politico)

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi gambled big with a close vote on the climate bill and pulled off one of the most important legislative victories of her career, a win she views as a personal vindication.

EPA Proposes New Air Quality Standards for NO2 (Green Car Congress)

EPA has proposed revisions to the nitrogen dioxide air quality standard, the first adjustment since 1971. The proposed changes reflect the latest science on the health effects of exposure to NO2, formed by vehicle and factory emissions and can lead to respiratory disease.

US Works to Speed Solar Development in Southwest (AP)

The U.S. will fast-track efforts to build solar power facilities on public land in six Western states, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar says. He signed an order setting aside more than 1,000 square miles for study to determine where solar power stations should be built.

Report: Shell Becoming Most CO2-Intensive Oil Co. (Dow Jones)

Royal Dutch Shell is on track to become the most carbon intensive international oil company because of its focus on unconventional oil resources like Canadian tar sands, according to a study published by a coalition of environmental groups.

What Energy Companies Wants from a Climate Bill (Morning Call)

With the climate bill past the U.S. House, PPL and other energy companies are focusing on the Senate in hopes of easing provisions that call for expanded use of renewable energies and significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions – while keeping their free allocations.

New Renewable Energy Agency HQ Goes to Abu Dhabi (RTT)

Abu Dhabi, the capital of the oil-rich United Arab Emirates was chosen as the headquarters for the new International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), despite criticism of its high carbon footprint.

EPA Releases Secret List of 44 High-Risk Coal Ash Ponds

Under pressure from environmental groups, the EPA shifted course today and published the government’s once-secret list of 44 power plant coal ash impoundments that pose the highest danger to human life if they were to break.

The list is a reminder of just how unclean coal power is, not just through the pollutants and greenhouse gases that its power plants pump into the air but also in the residue left behind.

These impoundments hold millions of gallons of fly ash, bottom ash, coal slag and flue gas desulferization produced as waste by coal-fired power plants. The mixture can contain arsenic, selenium, cadmium, lead and mercury that can pose a danger to human health, water supplies and the environment.

The 44 impoundments on the list – largely in the eastern mountains, but also in Arizona, Indiana, Illinois and Montana – aren’t necessarily in danger of breaking, the EPA stressed. They made the list out of 427 nationwide because of their location and what might happen if they did.

“The presence of liquid coal ash impoundments near our homes, schools and business could pose a serious risk to life and property in the event of an impoundment rupture,” EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said in releasing the list.

Obama: House Climate Talks Were 'Constructive' Blueprint for Senate

Environmental groups that are counting on President Obama investing his political capital to strengthen climate legislation as it moves through the U.S. Senate should read his interview yesterday with energy reporters.

The president summed up his position when asked about his meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the Europeans’ push for more aggressive emissions reduction targets from the United States.

“My argument to her and to the Europeans is we don't want to make the best the enemy of the good,” Obama said.

He went on to describe his expectations for climate legislation in the Senate, where presidential advisor David Axelrod told ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday that the climate bill would likely take a backseat to health care reform and might not come to the floor before fall.

Once the Senate gets to work, don't be surprised to see the bill watered down further, and don’t expect the president to stop that from happening.

Today's Climate: June 29, 2009

Obama Warns on Climate Bill Tariffs (Baltimore Sun)

President Obama praised the House climate bill vote but expressed reservations about a provision that would slap tariffs on imports from countries that do not similarly crack down on greenhouse gas emissions.

Nuclear Industry Trying to Hijack Clean Energy Forum? (Guardian)

The nuclear power industry has been accused of trying to muscle in on plans to establish a global body to represent the renewable energy industry at a key meeting in Egypt today.

Scientists: UK Energy Bills 'Too Low' to Combat Climate Change (Guardian)

Consumers will need to pay more for energy if the UK is to have any chance of developing the technologies needed to tackle climate change, a group of leading scientists and engineers write in a Royal Society study to be published today.

Back to Petroleum: BP Shutters Alternative Energy HQ (Guardian)

BP has shut down its alternative energy headquarters in London, accepted the resignation of its clean energy boss and imposed budget cuts in moves likely to be seen by environmental critics as further signs of the oil group moving "back to petroleum."

Murky, Expensive Future for Coal Ash Disposal (Chattanooga Times)

The cost of cleaning up the TVA's massive ash spill has averaged $1 million a day and will continue for months, but the costs in health, lost property value and a necessary shift to more expensive ash-storage methods has yet to be tallied.

Clash Over Drilling in the Allegheny National Forest (Erie News-Times)

A controversy of who controls how, when, where, and if oil and gas wells may be drilled on land in the Allegheny National Forest is poised to blow like the oil gushers that first drew speculators to the region.

U.S. Climate Bill Squeaks Through the House: 219-212

Weeks of deal making just paid off for the sponsors of the American Clean Energy and Security Act (ACES). The climate bill squeaked through the U.S. House this evening, 219 votes to 212.

The list of 44 Democrats who sided with the opposition, despite pressure from the sponsors and the White House, largely reflected the long-running regional concerns about how the bill would affect agriculture and states across the South and Midwest that rely heavily on coal power.

Eight Republicans, primarily from coastal states, joined the Democratic majority to put the vote count over the top.

"With today's historic vote, Congress has taken the first step toward unleashing a true clean energy revolution," Sierra Club Executive Director Carl Pope said. "This bill sets the stage for the dawn of the clean energy future. While imperfect, it sets forth a set of goals America must achieve – and exceed.

3 Hours, 2 Amendments: ACES Climate Bill Hits the House Floor

Here we go. The U.S. House is about to launch a three-hour debate and then a vote this afternoon on the American Clean Energy and Security (ACES) climate bill.

Under the rules that were just approved, only two amendments will be considered, one from each party:

The first is a 310-page manager’s amendment submitted early this morning by ACES author Henry Waxman (D-Calif.).

Today's Climate: June 26, 2009

Close Win Predicted For Cap-and-Trade Bill (Washington Post)

The House could vote today on a measure to cap U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, with Democratic leaders predicting a tight victory for a behemoth bill that has grown more complex with each compromise.

A Rough Supreme Court Term for Environmentalists (New York Times)

Environmental interests were trounced in the Supreme Court term that ends Monday. In five major cases, the justices overturned decisions that favored environmentalists.

Anatomy of a TVA Coal Ash Spill (Knoxville News)

A report on the December spill cites a combination of factors, including a previously undetected layer of unstable ash sludge, called a slime, construction of retaining walls atop ash, the saturation of the ash and pressure that created “a perfect storm.”

Low Natural Gas Prices Cut NE Carbon Emissions 10% (Guardian)

Power plants in the U.S. Northeast slashed carbon dioxide emissions by about 10 percent during the first quarter of 2009, largely due to switch to clean, cheaper natural gas rather than coal, according to report from Environment Northeast.

Senate Hears Science, Emotion of Mountaintop Mining (Charleston Gazette)

Mountaintop removal coal mining is causing "immense and irreversible" damage to Appalachia’s hills, streams and forests, members of a U.S. Senate subcommittee heard in the first Congressional hearing on mountaintop mining in decades.

EPA: Monsanto Mine Violates Law (AP)

Federal regulators say an Idaho mine that Monsanto Co. depends on to make its Roundup weed killer has violated federal and state water quality laws almost since it opened, sending selenium and other heavy metals into the region's waterways.