Daily Archives: July 29, 2014

How One Agency Could Threaten Obama’s Climate Goals

by Tom Kenworthy Posted on July 29, 2014 at 2:14 pm

Even as giant U.S. coal companies bemoan the Obama Administration’s plan to reduce carbon pollution from coal-fired power plants, a federal agency’s long history of protecting industry interests could hand coal companies a victory and threaten an otherwise impressive climate record.

The coal industry has loudly and publicly decried the administration’s Clean Power Plan, saying it would “place the U.S. economy at serious risk,” while quietly working to convince the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management to sell off billions of tons of coal owned by the American public at below-market rates.

If the coal industry succeeds, and if the Obama administration doesn’t step in to curtail major new coal lease sales proposed by the BLM in a region of Wyoming and Montana known as the Powder River Basin, those sales could lock in decades of massive carbon dioxide releases. Combustion of that coal — if not here in the U.S. then quite likely abroad in places like China — will undermine White House climate goals and achievements.

Two new reports, one by the Center for American Progress, the other by Greenpeace, highlight the costs of the BLM’s coal leasing program.

“The true cost of Powder River Basin coal is much more than the billions of dollars in lost revenue that the federal government fails to collect on behalf of U.S. taxpayers; that is only half the story,” the CAP report states. “The cost to society for mining and burning Powder River Basin coal — its social cost — is the other half.”

The report found that even using BLM’s lower estimate of 388 million tons of Powder River Basin coal sold in 2012, “the total net social loss that year was more than $19 billion dollars. These losses will continue to reach into the hundreds of billions of dollars if Powder River Basin coal remains so highly undervalued and production continues at similar levels to today.”

…(read more).

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Whitehouse schools Inhofe on climate change

ThinkProgress Video

Published on Jul 29, 2014

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) rips into Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) for blocking a resolution that would have acknowledged the reality of climate change.

See also: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/07/30/sheldon-whitehouse-climate-change_n_5633705.html?utm_hp_ref=green&ir=Green

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Livestock’s long shadow: environmental issues and options

LIVESTOCK’S LONG SHADOW: Environmental Issues and Options

FOOD AND AGRICULTURE ORGANIZATION OF THE UNITED NATIONS

Rome, 2006

The designations employed and the presentation of material in this information product do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations concerning the legal or development status of any country, territory, city or area or of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries. The mention or omission of specific companies, their products or brand names does not imply any endorsement or judgement by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

All rights reserved. Reproduction and dissemination of material in this information product for educational or other non-commercial purposes are authorized without any prior written permission from the copyright holders provided the source is fully acknowledged. Reproduction of material in this information product for resale or other commercial purposes is prohibited without written permission of the copyright holders. Applications for such permission should be addressed to the:

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http://www.fao.org/docrep/010/a0701e/a0701e00.HTM

…(read more).

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BP Oil Spill Is Much Worse Than People Think, Scientists Say

by Emily Atkin Posted on July 29, 2014 at 1:17 pmUpdated: July 29, 2014 at 2:12 pm

Marine reef ecologist Scott Porter holds coral samples he removed from an oil rig in waters, Monday, June 7, 2010, in the Gulf of Mexico south of Venice, La.

CREDIT: AP Photo/Eric Gay

Scientists at Penn State University have discovered two new coral reefs near the site of BP’s historic 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, and the impacts to those reefs from the spill have been greater than expected, according to research released Monday.

The two additional reefs found by the PSU team were both farther away and deeper than the one coral reef that had previously been found to have been impacted by the spill. That indicates not only that marine ecosystems may be more greatly affected, but that some of the 210 million gallons of oil that BP spilled into the Gulf is making its mark in the deep sea.

“The footprint of the impact of the spill on coral communities is both deeper and wider than previous data indicated,” PSU biology professor Charles Fisher, who led the study, said.

ThinkProgress spoke with Fisher to find out more about what the study says, what it means, and whether or not the findings spell trouble for the future of the Gulf.

TP: Your research noted that not all coral reefs surrounding the Macondo well were impacted by the spill. Can you explain, in your own words, what you found with regard to the corals that were actually impacted?

CF: The corals we found that were impacted were all within about 22 km of the spill site, and we could tell they were impacted by the appearance. Partially dead colonies were covered with growths of things that don’t normally grow on coral.

We know this impact was linked to the Macondo well, and that has to do with another study that we did in 2010. We found one [coral] site in 2010, and when we found it, the corals still had brown goo on it. The oil on those matched the chemical fingerprint of the oil from BP’s spill. We returned to that site and have followed the progress. So we know what a coral looks like that was impacted in 2010 looks like in 2011, and so on.

…(read more).

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The Cost of Delaying Action to Stem Climate Change | The White House

Executive Summary
The signs of climate change are all around us. The average temperature in the United States during the past decade was 0.8° Celsius (1.5° Fahrenheit) warmer than the 1901-1960 average, and the last decade was the warmest on record both in the United States and globally. Global sea levels are currently rising at approximately 1.25 inches per decade, and the rate of increase appears to be accelerating. Climate change is having different impacts across regions within the United States. In the West, heat waves have become more frequent and more intense, while heavy downpours are increasing throughout the lower 48 States and Alaska, especially in the Midwest and Northeast.1 The scientific consensus is that these changes, and many others, are largely consequences of anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases.2

…(read more).

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Full cost accounting for the life cycle of coal – Epstein – 2011 – Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences

Each stage in the life cycle of coal—extraction, transport, processing, and combustion—generates a waste stream and carries multiple hazards for health and the environment. These costs are external to the coal industry and are thus often considered “externalities.” We estimate that the life cycle effects of coal and the waste stream generated are costing the U.S. public a third to over one-half of a trillion dollars annually. Many of these so-called externalities are, moreover, cumulative. Accounting for the damages conservatively doubles to triples the price of electricity from coal per kWh generated, making wind, solar, and other forms of nonfossil fuel power generation, along with investments in efficiency and electricity conservation methods, economically competitive. We focus on Appalachia, though coal is mined in other regions of the United States and is burned throughout the world.

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New Report: The Cost of Delaying Action to Stem Climate Change | The White House

Jason Furman, John Podesta
July 29, 2014
11:26 AM EDT

The signs of climate change are all around us. The average temperature in the United States during the past decade was 0.8° Celsius (1.5° Fahrenheit) warmer than the 1901-1960 average, and the last decade was the warmest on record both in the United States and globally. Global sea levels are currently rising at approximately 1.25 inches per decade, and the rate of increase appears to be accelerating.

The scientific consensus is that these changes, and many others, are largely consequences of anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases that have led to a warming of the atmosphere and oceans.

The Council of Economic Advisers released a report today that examines the economic consequences of delaying implementing policies to reduce the pace and ultimate magnitude of these changes; the findings emphasize the need for policy action today. The report was written under the leadership of Jim Stock, who recently resigned as a Member of the Council of Economic Advisers to return to his teaching position at Harvard University.

See Full Report

…(read more).

Global Climate Change
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