Archive for April, 2009

PostHeaderIcon Act Green: New PBS Documentary on Water Highlights Need for Clean

Posted on: Monday, April 20th, 2009 at 4:35 am

Last week, LCV joined EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson at a special preview of a new PBS Frontline special, “Poisoned Waters,” a two hour documentary about the state of water quality in the U.S. The documentary airs tomorrow night at 9 Eastern on PBS.

Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist Hendrick Smith uses the film to examine the risks to our health and safety posed by the over-polluted waters we are exposed to everyday. The film focuses on two waterways, the Chesapeake Bay and the Puget Sound, that exemplify the state of water quality across the country.

The scariest theme of the film is that while factories are still a major sources of water pollution, it’s chemicals from everyday products like shampoos, hairsprays, pharmaceuticals and such that are an increasingly dangerous pollution source as well.

“Clean water has slipped off the national agenda in recent years. The Clean Water Act said our waters were supposed to be fishable and swimmable by 1983, but we’re nowhere near close to that,” writes Mr. Smith.

That’s why Hasan Nazar, who leads LCV’s water policy work has been fighting so hard for the Clean Water Restoration Act.

“The Clean Water Restoration Act will plug many of the holes punched in the original act by the Bush Administration and hostile courts,” Nazar said. “As this documentary shows, passing the Restoration Act should be an urgent priority for everyone who likes safe drinking water, clean lakes, and showers free of things they can’t pronounce.”

Frontline Presents “Poisoned Waters” airs tomorrow night, April 21 from 9-11 PM EST on PBS. Watch the trailer at here and be sure to check this program out.

PostHeaderIcon What is a Green Energy Home?

Posted on: Saturday, April 18th, 2009 at 10:15 am

Green Energy Home, Green HomesGreen energy homes are energy efficient homes that usually utilize renewable sources of energy like wind and sun. Electricity and hot water can be easily and efficiently gained through these resources. More and more people are opting to have a green energy home to save the planet and also to save a lot of money and energy for themselves. Passive solar energy is usually used in these homes for heating water and also for heating the entire home during winters.

If you are planning to build a new home for yourself, then getting it green is the most important thing you should consider. Install energy efficient windows in it and build heat sinks of bricks, rock or concrete to gain maximum advantage of solar energy. The energy stored in it can be sent over to the house with the help of fans, thus keeping your home warm which will result in a massive reduction in your power bills.

PostHeaderIcon Act Green: Soot, Stoves, Solutions

Posted on: Friday, April 17th, 2009 at 9:40 am

Imagine solving (okay, curbing) both global warming and the public health issues related to indoor pollution with just $20. It could be as simple as converting indoor cooking stoves in places like rural India to existing, cleaner technologies at the cost of $20 per stove—and would reap immediate results that would put a dent in worldwide global warming levels.

This article, Third-World Stove Soot Is Target in Climate Fight, examines black carbon, triggered by “recent studies estimating that it is responsible for 18 percent of the planet’s warming, compared with 40 percent for carbon dioxide.” Reducing black carbon emissions is one example of “low hanging fruit” to seize because there are relatively inexpensive and accessible measures that could rapidly decrease the amount of black carbon in the atmosphere. Unlike carbon dioxide, which lingers for years, black carbon (or “soot”) disappears within weeks.
The New York Times article explains that while it travels in the air, soot radiates heat, and then lands on ice caps (like Himalayan glaciers), for example, and the dark matter accelerates the melting of these bodies of ice. So, soot generates heat, thereby contributing to global warming. But the article paints a clearer, more complete picture of the problem by taking readers into a village, and into a home in that village. A mother cooks roti for her family in Kohlua, India and the open fire releases black carbon into her own home and her children cough and wheeze—the effect of black carbon is immediate and extraordinarily hazardous.

Replacing mud cook stoves with alternative stoves (some models are solar-powered, all are more efficient) would cut soot by 90%, and cost about $20 per stove. Project Surya, a pilot program, is testing different models in villages in India, and balancing sensitivity and understanding of the cultural impact with urgency on taking action.

In the United States, Congressman Inslee (WA-01) introduced the Black Carbon Emissions Reduction Act of 2009 in March, which will require an assessment of the impact of black carbon and enforce regulations in the U.S. and spur the State Department and EPA to provide international assistance to further reduce black carbon pollution. We applaud this bill for its swift call to action, and it has been included in the Congressman Waxman and Congressman Markey’s recently released American Clean Energy and Security Act, a comprehensive piece of clean energy and global warming legislation.

PostHeaderIcon Act Green: Sheriff, Er, Secretary Salazar in Rolling Stone

Posted on: Thursday, April 9th, 2009 at 11:34 am

Last week, Rolling Stone published an article, “Obama’s Sheriff,” about our new Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar, because government affairs are sometimes the most juicy public interest stories out there.

Interior Secretary Salazar is shaking things up by putting an end to the shenanigans that took place in the Department of the Interior under the Bush Administration. We’re not just talking about the “coke-and-sex-crazed atmosphere” of the Mineral Management Service (remember this absurd real life scandal that broke last September?).

Other shady business in the Department of the Interior has cost taxpayers billions of dollars. The Mineral Management Service essentially stopped collecting royalties from oil and gas companies when Bush took office. When the government leases out government land to energy firms, these companies are supposed to return a portion of the profits from oil and gas to taxpayers. In the last eight years, audits of the oil companies fell by the wayside and collections drastically decreased. Additionally, “the Bush administration fought to let oil companies keep the money, and a judge appointed by Bush recently overturned royalty collections on 75 percent of all oil produced in the Gulf. Should the ruling stand, taxpayers will forfeit as much as $53 billion owed by Big Oil.”

Check out the article to read more about the increased drilling, corrupt deals, and disregard for science over the past eight years that amount to one big, tangled mess for Secretary Salazar to deal with. As Salazar said, “The ‘anything goes’ era is over.”

PostHeaderIcon Act Green: Day at the Beach

Posted on: Monday, April 6th, 2009 at 9:39 am

ATLANTIC CITY – The Department of the Interior is holding the only East Coast public meeting and hearing on plans for offshore drilling Monday in daylong sessions here at the Convention Center.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar is presenting findings from the newest federal Minerals Management Service on the status of energy sources on the continental shelf, including wind and tidal generation and oil and natural gas exploration. Findings from the public meetings could shape a final decision by the Obama administration on whether to grant five-year leases on the outer continental shelf to energy companies.

Set to testify are New Jersey Gov. Corzine, Sens. Lautenberg and Menendez and Congressmen Frank LoBiondo and Rush Holt, all great conservation champs.

PostHeaderIcon Act Green: Senators Feingold, Bingaman Introduce Key Bills

Posted on: Thursday, April 2nd, 2009 at 6:00 pm

Senators Feingold, Bingaman Introduce Key Bills

In what was already a frenzied day on Capitol Hill as both chambers race towards passing a budget, Sen.
Russ Feingold (WI) and Sen. Jeff Bingaman (NM) both introduced priority pieces of legislation this afternoon for the environmental community.

Sen. Feingold re-introduced the Clean Water Restoration Act (S. 787), which seeks to restore the protections of the original Clean Water Act, which were gutted during the Bush Administration. As it stands, the drinking water of 110 million Americans are currently in jeopardy due to the weakened safeguards, according to USGS data, and about 2 million acres of stream miles, or 59% of streams in the U.S., have lost protections. Read more in LCV’s press release or from the office of Sen. Feingold.

Meanwhile, Sen. Bingaman, who chairs the influential Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, introduced his own legislation that would reform the archaic law that currently governs hardrock mining on Western lands. The Hardrock Mining and Reclamation Act (S. 796) would at long last reform the General Mining Law of 1872, which allowed large-scale mining operations to extract minerals from public lands absent reasonable environmental safeguards or financial accountability, leaving taxpayers the burden of cleaning up the messes left behind. Mining pollution is blamed for polluting over 40% of Western watersheds with such toxic extraction chemicals as arsenic and cyanide. Here’s LCV’s statement and the official scoop.

All in all, a busy day on the Hill, with budget proceedings ongoing. One thing is for sure, with debate on global warming and energy legislation set to commence after the Easter recess, this portends an even busier spring than anyone could have imagined.

Which is obviously a good thing!