Posts Tagged ‘global warming’

On Friday, hundreds of activists turned out for a rally held during the final State Department public hearing on the TransCanada Keystone XL pipeline project. Among these activists were folks that traveled from states that will bear the brunt of the impact from the proposed pipeline. They came to Washington D.C., on their own dime. They were joined by activists that just a month earlier were arrested as part of a two-week sustained demonstration in protest of the pipeline. Others in the crowd had spent the entire night outside of the hearing room just to ensure an early spot on the speaking list in an attempt to thwart line holders hired by industry.

I read in one account of the public hearing and the accompanying activities that supporters of the pipeline held a counterrally at the same time as the opposition rally. I didn’t witness the counterrally, but I can imagine what it looked like.

In addition to paying folks to stand in line to register pro-industry speakers, the oil industry also bused in employees and sympathetic union members. You could tell who they were because they all were sporting the same bright T-shirt. The numbers the industry turns out are impressive, but the enthusiasm for the cause usually is lacking. The directive is for them to be in the room. Often only a few provide public comments. And the message is honed: Jobs, Jobs, and Jobs.

In this case, the erroneous jobs statistic that is echoed by proponents is that 20,000 direct jobs and thousands more indirect jobs will be created by the Keystone XL project. But the job creation numbers were supplied by TransCanada, the corporation seeking approval to build the pipeline. In fact, the State Department’s own study suggests that far fewer jobs – no more than 6,000 direct jobs – will be created, and most of them will be non-local and temporary.

Fuzzy math, like bright T-shirts, is becoming another hallmark of the oil industry.

According to a recent article in The Washington Post, for more than a year, the American Petrolem Institute (API) has been highlighting the number of jobs it says are linked to the oil and gas industry.

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President Obama announced this morning he was putting the government on a low carbon diet.  Through a series of initiatives, he hopes to decrease energy consumption through efficiency and switching to alternative energy that is less carbon intensive.

As the single largest energy consumer in the U.S. economy, the Federal Government spent more than $24.5 billion on electricity and fuel in 2008 alone.  Achieving the Federal GHG pollution reduction target will reduce Federal energy use by the equivalent of 646 trillion BTUs, equal to 205 million barrels of oil, and taking 17 million cars off the road for one year.  This is also equivalent to a cumulative total of $8 to $11 billion in avoided energy costs through 2020.

“As the largest energy consumer in the United States, we have a responsibility to American citizens to reduce our energy use and become more efficient,” said President Obama.  “Our goal is to lower costs, reduce pollution, and shift Federal energy expenses away from oil and towards local, clean energy.”

Fun fact 1: The US government uses approximately as much energy as the entire country of Austria.

Fun Fact 2: Similar initiatives made by states have netted huge results.  The state government of Utah, led by governor Jon Huntsman (who Obama named ambassador to China, you may remember), invested $1.5 million in energy efficiency for government agencies expecting a 10 year payback. They made it back in 3– and now they save over half a million dollars in energy costs a year.  Efficiency is an economy of scale– and I’m willing to be the entire government of Utah would not even fill in one of the large federal agency buildings around DC.

Fun Fact 3: Texas has its own “No Regrets” greenhouse gas reduction strategy in accordance with the passage of SB 184, which Public Citizen supported: don’t forget that Sunday is the last day to submit your energy efficiency ideas to  the state comptroller’s office.  For more info see: www.TexasNoRegrets.org

I think this is a domestic spending freeze everyone can get behind.

As of today, all four of the largest greenhouse gas polluters (China, the US, the EU, and India — no, not Texas) have announced the greenhouse gas reduction goals they want to pursue at the Copenhagen climate talks (COP-15) this week in Denmark. Here’s the rundown:

  • EU: 20% cut in emissions relative to 1990 levels by 2020
  • USA: 17% cut below 2005 levels by 2020
  • China: 40-45% relative to the size of their economy (cutting what is called “carbon intensity”–curbing growth but not cutting it)
  • India: 25% cut in carbon intensity.

Well, it’s a start, but, as we’ve said previously, is simply not enough– and we’re not the only ones who think so. Some estimates, such as the Climate Interactive Scoreboard above, show that current climate pledges put us on a path to at least another 3.5 C of warming (that’s almost 8 F).

This has caused preeminent climate scientist Jim Hansen of NASA to say he hopes the negotiations at Copenhagen will fail, so that we will have to

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Is it strange that an economist at the Office of Management and Budget would attack the cost of a new clean air rule? Not when you consider the background of the economist, Randall Lutter, who is assigned to OMB from the Food and Drug Administration.

According to emails obtained by the Washington Post, statements from Lutter such as: “Are these really instances of zero-cost emissions reductions, or are they instead instances of emissions reductions that should already be in the baseline?” provide agencies like EPA cover in weakening regulations that protect the public.

But before Lutter was at FDA, he was a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, which famously offered scientists $10,000 to undermine the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report in 2007. The AEI has taken aim at EPA’s role in combating climate change, a recent post on AEI’s Enterprise blog compared EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson to Dirty Harry: “You can just see Jackson standing there with a .44 magnum in her hand, and a steely glint in her eye, telling industry

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Ten years after protesters shut down the WTO ministerial in Seattle and halted WTO expansion, Obama faces a choice. Will he help modernize the global economy? Or will he continue the agenda of the past, which has fostered devastating economic, food and climate crises? Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch division, explores the issue in a recent piece in the Nation magazine.

She also paired up with an unlikely ally – a longtime promoter of trade agreements – to pen a Washington Post op-ed explaining how a treaty on global warming could require new trade rules and that allowing the WTO to handle trade disputes over climate matters is a recipe for discord.

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