Ruling protects Clearwater River and Forest

Clearwater River near Greer

Clearwater National Forest  Highway 12

Over 100 miles of a 2-lane highway between the Clearwater and Lochsa Rivers, scenic and federally protected rivers, several companies want to try to drive a 322 ton evaporator.  In response to a lawsuit brought by the Nez Perce Tribe and Idaho Rivers United, a federal district court judge has ruled that there must first be a study of the environmental, economic and tribal impacts.

The companies want to take the evaporator from Lewiston, Idaho to the tar sands of Alberta, Canada. They had ignored objections from the Forest Service and started the transport without approval. In August over 150 people blocked the highway for three hours. The Nez Perce issued a statement opposing the shipment because of risks to treaty-preserved resources, tribal commerce, health and welfare.

In Alberta, the evaporator would be used to process oil.Over two billion barrels of water is pumped yearly from the Athabasca River, and superheated to wash oil out of the sands, and much of that dirty water ends up in tailings ponds that now cover 66 square miles of what was virgin boreal forest.  The process requires a great deal of energy, to scoop out the tar sands, heat, separate and transport them. If the value of damage to the forest and water resources were included in the price of oil, our transportation costs would be lower if we develop electric vehicles instead, and solar and wind energy to charge them.


Tea Party support for clean energy

Tea Party supporters in Georgia are calling for more consumer choice in energy. Debbie Dooley, a national coordinator of the Tea Party Patriots argued for a vote by the Public Service Commission of Georgia to require Georgia Power to add solar generation to its portfolio. In an interview with Chris Hayes in ‘All In’ she said, “We care about our environment.  We believe things should be done in a conservative way. ..This solar plan will not have to be subsidized.  We believe this giant utility monopoly deserves some competition and that consumers deserve a choice. …Show us in constitution where a government can pick winners & losers and set up a monopoly and be an impediment to the free market. We believe it is wrong.  In the next legislative session we will be asking the legislators to overturn the Territorial Right Act of 1973 that actually allowed these monopolies to take place.”

Byron Dorgon, a former Senator from North Dakota agreed and went further. “If we want more clean and renewable energy in this country, we have to do something about it. Thirty states have renewable energy standards, good for them, they are the heros. States need to make choices about what kind of future they want.  …. There should be renewable standards in every state should have them. We ought to have a national energy standard.”

Encouraged by public support by both the Atlanta Tea Party and the Georgia Sierra Club, members of the Public Service Commission voted on July 11, 2013 to require Georgia Power to generate more power from solar, adding 525 megawatts by  2016.  Although the power company had argued for months that such a move would raise rates, after the vote, the company’s attorney said that the addition of more solar probably would not affect power bills. – cmComments

Clean Energy is Patriotic

A response to a comment that ‘environmentalists are anti-American’.
Top military advisors have repeatedly stated that US dependence on fossil fuels is a serious vulnerability for our national defense for several reasons.
First, the relatively small amount of oil and natural gas reserves on US territory, 4% of the world total, means that the prices and reliable provision of these fuels are not within our control. Wind, solar, geothermal, hydrogen and algae fuel could all be manufactured in America, by Americans, and purchased for American security without giving favors to other countries or obligating us to meet their demands.
Second, the disruption of the climate mostly caused by burning fossil fuels is a threat to peace. Increasing droughts, floods, rising seas, acid oceans and fires are reducing food and water supplies and increasing instability, unrest and pressures to emigrate, a serious pressure on our military.

The cost of fuel is another factor. In 2010, army installations spent $2.1 billion on electricity. A $10 rise in the price of a barrel of oil costs the military an extra billion.A strong American industry manufacturing green energy and efficiency technology would be of great benefit to our military. Changing electricity sources for military installations to clean energy would help scale up the industry and reduce prices.

Finally, there is a safety factor. Installing solar panels and insulation on tents to reduce fuel convoys saves troops’ lives. Reducing use of flammable and polluting fuels is better for our health. 

It is thoroughly American to protect the purity of our waters, the stability of our climate,  and the freedom of consumers to choose new and improved products free from unfair competition by entrenched monopolies.

Carbon Tax proposed to Congressional Committee

Three proposals listed in the House Ways & Means Committee report on tax reform call for a carbon tax: Center for American Progress (CAP) plan calls for a price on greenhouse gas emissions (CO2), an oil import fee of $5/barrel and elimination of US tax breaks for fossil fuels. and The Economic Policy Institute (EPI) calls for a tax on carbon at its source, an increase in motor fuel excise tax and elimination of tax preferences for fossil fuel production. The Roosevelt Institute Campus Network Budget for a Millennial America plan calls for an upstream carbon tax starting at $23/T and increasing 5.6% per year.

Republicans Want Green Energy Economy

Should the US use more solar, wind or geothermal energy?  77% of Republicans who answered that question said ‘Yes.’

Should the US take action to use less fossil fuel? 64% of Republicans in a poll said ‘Yes.’

In a recent poll   by the Center for Climate Change Communication, Republican adults, expressed support for pursuit of a greener path.

Republican politicians have disdained hearings about climate science, voted against environmental protection for our vital resources, and scorned the economic potential of green technology.

Nevertheless, their constituents see the advantages of clean energy, in particular: reducing dependence on foreign oil, preserving resources for our children, improving our health, 4protecting the creation, creating jobs and a stronger climate, saving species, limiting climate change and improving national security.

What they want to avoid is more government regulation, higher energy prices, fewer jobs, or interference with the free market. Sounds like something we can work with.

How to Talk About Climate Change

Climate science is really very simple. There are basically four things to know about it, four answers to all the questions and arguments.   Climate change is happening.   People are causing it.   It is serious.   There are things we can do to reduce the risks.  That’s it.

If you agree with some or all of these statements, then you can tell other people. It is useful to know details, but most important to share reasons that persuaded you.

‘Is it really happening?’ people ask this in many ways. They will suggest that the warming has stopped, or scientists are self-interested or in a conspiracy, or the Antarctic is adding ice. You can answer these comments by saying that that climate change is happening and you are convinced because, just look out the window at the weird weather. Or you may refer to news reports of record-setting high temperatures and extreme weather, or to studies by NASA, the Academies of Science and 99% of climate scientists.

‘Are people causing it?’ That is what people are really asking when they say that it’s just a natural process, or that sunspots, contrails, or volcanoes are the cause, or that nobody knows.  To answer that question, point out the gigantic number of cars, factories, houses, electric plants and airplanes that are burning trillions of tons of coal, oil and natural gas. In a simple lab experiment we can see that burning fuel produces carbon dioxide, and that carbon dioxide heats air. So, what is all that warming gas doing, if not warming the planet.

‘Is it really serious?’ People who don’t know that this is a serious problem may say that we can keep burning fossil fuels for years and years. They may argue that CO2 is not harmful, and that animals will adapt, and that we are alarmists. We can surely say that  it is serious to the million people who have died from extreme weather, accidents, hunger, and illness related to the warming climate. It is serious to the millions who are homeless, and jobless, the victims of floods, droughts, fires, and storm surges and rising oceans. It is serious to the people who will suffer increasing damages to their towns, food supplies, and health for decades more even after we stop burning fossil fuels. The military says that climate change threatens the security of America.  The World Bank talks about cascading economic effects and risk of collapse of efforts to adapt.   The Pope called “on people and nations to recognize the serious and potentially irreversible impacts of global warming…” Climate change is serious.

‘What should we do about it?’ We hear a wide variety of discouraging comments. Instead of countering each one, let’s adopt a clear vision of a path forward. Most citizens are concerned about the climate change and want more green energy. The fossil fuel companies are fighting any reduction in their share of the energy market with powerful lobbying, and media influence.   Still, this is a democracy. More and more citizens telling the facts to their elected representatives have resulted in increased clean energy and energy efficiency in many states and cities. Many local groups are fighting hard to protect their communities from fossil fuel pollution.

We have to change the Congressional gridlock on this issue and get a national policy that promoting  a green economy. If you recycle, walk more, and otherwise reduce your use of electricity and fuel, thank you. If you are active in organizations that promote clean energy and efficiency, thank you again.  Now, make others be equally responsible. Lobby for a carbon tax, for subsidies for green energy and not  fossil fuel, for regulations that require efficient buildings, for low carbon transportation, and increasing purchase of clean energy by the government.

Speak up. Go online and to meetings with Citizens Climate Lobby, Climate Reality, Greenpeace, Union of Concerned Scientists, Sierra Club or League of Conservation Voters. Millions of voices can create a new safe, healthy and prosperous green energy economy.

House Committee Refuses to Hear Climate Facts

All the Republican members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee voted against holding hearings on  “the role of climate change in causing drought heat waves, wildfires, reduced crop yields and impaired electricity generation”  on Feb 6, 2013


Denial of the science of climate change by members of Congress is a threat to our safety. Rep Waxman, who is calling for hearings on reports that climate impacts require prompt action said, “House Republicans have buried their heads in the sand.  I hope they will realize how out of step they are with the science, the public, and the business community.  We have a moral duty to act to prevent the worst impacts of climate change affecting our children and future generations.”

Congresswoman Cathy McMorris-Rodgers, representing parts of Eastern Washington, joined in the vote against climate hearings.