Pages tagged "regulation"

The Coal Industry is Getting Desperate

Kelly.pngThe coal industry’s mouthpieces in Washington are getting desperate.

This week, Rep. Mike Kelly (R-PA) had this to say about the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed carbon pollution standards for power plants:

“You talk about terrorism — you can do it in a lot of different ways.”1

Here’s a good rule of thumb in political debate: when someone invokes terrorism out of the blue, you know they’ve lost the argument.  

Because the environmental movement has it right — pollution from coal-fired power plants kills communities and cooks our climate. That’s why the EPA’s long-overdue carbon standards, announced last month, are so important.

This new rule is a welcome step, but we need more. Tell the EPA to strengthen its limits on carbon pollution from power plants.

We already limit arsenic, mercury, soot and other air pollution from power plants—but, until now, not carbon pollution. Power plants are the single largest source of carbon pollution in the United States. Setting the first-ever federal limits on carbon pollution is an essential step to address global warming and here at RAN we absolutely support a national carbon pollution standard.

No matter what the fossil fuel industry-funded politicians like Mike Kelly may say, communities across the nation are already seeing and feeling the impacts of global warming, from increased health risks like asthma attacks and lung disease, to devastating extreme weather events like Superstorm Sandy and wildfires across the American West. The science is clear: inaction will only increase these deadly and costly threats.

This is exactly why communities from Chicago to North Carolina, from New England to New Mexico, have spent years fighting to shut down the polluting power plants in their neighborhoods.

The EPA is now accepting public comments on its proposed rule. Write the EPA today—say we need a stronger rule for a stable climate! 

To be clear, the proposed carbon pollution standard is just one step. To keep our climate stable, we must rapidly shift our energy production away from the highest-polluting fossil fuels and accelerate our transition to truly clean, renewable energy generation.

The proposed rule is not yet enough to slow global warming and not yet enough to inspire the world to make the necessary deep cuts in climate pollution. That is why we will be working hard next year to include much deeper cuts in the final rule.

We know that the coal industry and the politicians it funds will work to undermine this rule and doom communities to years of future pollution.

Please urge the EPA to ignore the naysaying polluters and do even more to address global warming and set limits on carbon pollution from power plants. 

Together, we can meet our obligation to protect our climate for our children and future generations.


1. “Congressman Compares EPA’s New Climate Rule To Terrorism”, ThinkProgress, July 28, 2014. 

Coal is Poisoning the Cape Fear River

This month, Rainforest Action Network and three allies testified at Bank of America's annual shareholder meeting, urging them to drop coal, to stop profiting from environmental destruction and human rights abuses. We're posting the statements of our three allies. Add your voice by telling Bank of America to stop funding coal—and come clean on climate change

My name is Kemp Burdette. I am the Cape Fear Riverkeeper. I was born and raised along the Cape Fear River in southeastern North Carolina.

I want to describe to you the impacts that coal is having on the Cape Fear River, because Bank of America's financing of the coal industry, and specifically Duke Energy, is supporting the contamination of groundwater, the fouling of rivers, and the poisoning of drinking water supplies for nearly a million people in the Cape Fear watershed alone. Across North Carolina, the problem is even worse.

CapeFear_720x720I’m sure you've heard about the Dan River coal ash spill.

You may not have heard about Duke's other discharge of coal ash waste water into the Cape Fear River. Less than two months ago Duke was caught illegally pumping over 61 million gallons of coal ash wastewater into the Cape Fear River—three times more wastewater than what spilled into the Dan River.

This was done above the drinking water intakes for 840,000 people, and it was done intentionally, although secretly and illegally, with no notification of the public or of state regulators.

In addition to catastrophic failures and illegal discharges, Duke's coal ash ponds have other problems—they leak like sieves into groundwater and surface waters. They leak 24 hours a day, seven days a week at every location across North Carolina.

In New Hanover County, selenium contamination from coal ash is deforming fish in a popular fishing lake.

Duke Energy and the State of North Carolina are currently under a federal investigation for inappropriate conduct and relations between state regulators and the company.

I would urge Bank of America to end its lending and underwriting of companies like Duke Energy. Duke's coal ash ponds will continue to fail. They will continue to leak. They will continue to poison water supplies. They will continue to destroy the environment. Coal is, and will continue to be, very, very risky business.

Stand with Kemp and RAN by telling Bank of America to stop funding coal—and come clean on climate change

A Legal Setback for Clean Air and a New Chance to Fight Soot Pollution

Bad news for American hearts and lungs: Last week, a federal circuit court struck down a proposed EPA clean air standard that would have reduced dangerous emissions from coal-fired power plants and other sources. In a 2-1 decision, the court ruled that the EPA’s proposed Cross State Air Pollution Rule, or “Transport Rule” (PDF), exceeded the agency’s authority under the federal Clean Air Act. If enacted, the rule would have required states to reduce power plant emissions of sulfur and nitrogen oxides, which contribute to ozone and soot (a.k.a. particulate) pollution. These pollutants pose serious risks to heart and lung health, particularly for seniors, children, and individuals with asthma or heart conditions. According to the EPA’s estimates, the Transport Rule would have eliminated emissions responsible for 13,000 to 34,000 premature deaths, 15,000 nonfatal heart attacks, and 400,000 asthma attacks each year. Power plant upgrades and other compliance expenses associated with the rule would have cost $1.6 billion annually. In contrast, the rule would have resulted in annual health benefits of between $120 and $280 billion. As the Natural Resources Defense Council noted, if the circuit court’s decision holds up on appeal, it will result in years of delay for critical air quality standards. What You Can Do: Tell the EPA to Tighten Soot Standards While the court ruling on the Transport Rule was a setback for clean air, the EPA is considering another important rule change for airborne pollutants. The proposed change would tighten clean air standards for soot pollution. If adopted, the new standards would prevent 4,650-8,100 premature deaths annually and yield $2.3 billion to $5.9 billion in health benefits (with annual compliance costs of only $69 million). The EPA’s comment period for the rule ends this Friday, August 31st. Like the Transport Rule, this proposed change would protect the air, save lives, and avoid billions of dollars in health care costs. The coal industry and other heavy emitters have demonstrated that they will fight hard against air quality regulations, but a clear demonstration of public support for the change will put pressure on the EPA to set tough new standards to protect our health and the environment. Please take a few seconds to submit a comment to the EPA in support of stronger soot standards.

Why Would Anyone Want To Work For Chevron?

Watson interview stillAhead of President Obama’s big jobs speech tonight, Chevron CEO John Watson says that Obama shouldn’t call for ending the $4 billion in taxpayer handouts Big Oil receives in order to use that money to create jobs. Instead, Watson suggested, Obama should end EPA regulations aimed at keeping his industry from destroying the planet. Presumably he delivered that line with his trademark smirk, because even he has to know that it's complete rubbish. As Think Progress reports, green jobs are the way to go, not more fossil fuels jobs: "Green jobs being created through smart investments in our energy infrastructure are expanding employment opportunities while reducing pollution of our air and water, providing an alternative to foreign oil, and allowing us to export more American-made goods abroad." But that won't make John Watson rich, now will it? No, it sure won't. Hence Watson has made his own plan. Watson’s simple and self-serving calculations go like this: The $4 billion $78-150 billion in tax breaks Big Oil receives every year are completely necessary and appropriate even though our nation — and most Americans — are up to their eyeballs in debt while the top five oil companies made $35 billion in profits in a single quarter this year. The real problem is the EPA’s rule on greenhouse gas emissions aimed at combating climate change, according to Watson. “I would be delighted to invest more in the oil and gas industry,” Watson says, but that pesky EPA regulation is hindering growth. There are all kinds of flaws in Watson’s logic, the biggest being that Big Oil's second quarter profits increased 10% over last year. So much for regulations hindering growth, eh John? Of course, Watson meant jobs growth — he knows damn well that he and the robber barons at the top of Chevron and other Big Oil companies are making out like bandits right now, and that that's because his industry is seeing record profits while everyone else is facing cutbacks and layoffs. Watson is mainly decrying any regulation that keeps his company from doing more drilling here in America, especially in the Gulf of Mexico, as he did in Washington D.C. recently. Don't be fooled: Watson is still just trying to maximize profits that he and his cronies can take home at the end of the day. But he's learned that it's more palatable to us regular folks if he couches it in terms of job creation. What Watson is ignoring is the fact that it wasn’t federal regulations that stopped Chevron and other oil companies from working in the Gulf: the work stoppage was due to oil industry malfeasance, which Chevron was very much complicit in at the time (Chevron may not have had anything to do with the Deepwater Horizon rig, which caused the massive oil spill in April of last year, but Chevron did have the same cut-and-paste emergency response plan that BP was using). Even despite the regulatory fallout from the Deepwater Horizon disaster, Chevron was permitted to get back to drilling in the Gulf this past March. And earlier this week, Chevron announced it had made a big discovery — at a depth of 31,000 feet. The Deepwater Horizon well-head was at 18,000 feet, by comparison. And to make it even scarier, guess who Chevron's major partner is in that venture? None other than BP. Let’s all pray to whatever gods we may pray to that Chevron is no longer using that cut-and-paste emergency response plan, because there is absolutely no reason to believe Chevron learned any lessons from the Deepwater Horizon disaster or has taken any measures to ensure the safety of its workers, the environment, or the communities it operates in. Consider these recent examples of Chevron’s complete disregard for anything but production and profits:
  • On June 21st, at a well near Taft, CA, a sinkhole filled with poisonous gas, super-heated steam and hot water opened up beneath a Chevron employee, 54-year-old Robert David Taylor, killing the veteran oilfield worker. Taylor was investigating a “surface expression,” which is what the oil industry calls it when the super-heated steam injected deep underground to loosen up crude oil makes its way to the surface, when another surface expression swallowed him whole and took his life. Despite Taylor’s horrific death, however, Chevron continued its use of steam injection until a major eruption occurred just a few weeks later. It wasn’t Chevron who decided to err on the side of caution, though: California officials were forced to step in and order a stop to Chevron’s use of the dangerous technology at the well, as it turned out that the eruption was actually one of three that have occurred since Taylor’s death.
  • Chevron is being fined $24.5 million by the state of California for failing to properly inspect and maintain underground storage tanks at 650 gas stations in 32 counties across the state. Since 1998, Chevron has “violated anti-pollution laws by tampering with or disabling leak-detection devices and failing to test secondary containment systems and conduct monthly inspections.” The company is also accused of “failing to train employees in proper protocols related to the tanks and of not maintaining operational alarm systems or evacuation plans.” Working on drilling operations may be inherently risky, and the workers there may have chosen to accept that risk. But I can't believe workers at Chevron gas stations are okay with the level of risk the company is putting them in.
  • A group of hundreds of Nigerian women shut down a Chevron gas-to-liquid project in their community in protest of Chevron breaking a contract it had signed with them. Chevron promised to provide clean water and electricity in exchange for the right to operate in the community, and has so far failed to honor the contract. One of the women, Ms. Edith Odafe, said: “We are in pains. Chevron has failed in its promises to us. We need these basic things of life which they promised us. The contract is far gone and they have not done anything. They are insulting our sensibility as a people.”
  • Chevron had two oil spills in Salt Lake City last year, and just settled with the city (and state of Utah) to the tune of $4.5 million. That’s $3m for cleanup, $1m to compensate the victims of Chevron’s spill, and a $500,000 civil fine. Many Salt Lake City residents are upset about how low the fine is: Peter Hayes, whose son was hospitalized and whose home was evacuated during Chevron's spill, said the fine provides no deterrent for a company the size of Chevron to continue business as usual. "The object of having fines and punishments is to alter behavior," he said. "This fine will do nothing to change their behavior. It is insufficient."

    Another critical failing of the settlement is that it doesn’t provide funds for studying and addressing future impacts to human health as a result of Chevron's oil spills, which doctors are warning could be quite severe. Dr. Brian Moench, president of Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment, says there is the potential for huge problems now and in the future, warning of a potential “cancer cluster.” “There are medical studies to suggest even brief exposure to oil can have long term consequences like cancer,” he said. In other words, many more SLC residents may experience health problems in the future, and Chevron has managed to evade responsibility for taking care of them.
As has been well-documented, Chevron puts production and profits ahead of people and planet. It even puts production ahead of its own workers. It’s not safe to work for Chevron. Hell, it’s not even safe to live near a Chevron operation. So why would anyone want to work for Chevron? The company has proven time and again it can't be trusted to ensure public health and safety. That's why the best course of action is to keep the EPA regulations in place — in fact, strengthen them — and take away the taxpayer money Chevron is using to line Watson's pockets. Creating jobs at Chevron is no solution to high unemployment. It's a dead end, in more ways than one.

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