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DocWatch
governmental corruption
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News stories about "governmental corruption," with punchlines: http://apocadocs.com/d.pl?governmental+corruption
Related Scary Tags:
corporate malfeasance  ~ capitalist greed  ~ governmental idiocy  ~ contamination  ~ carbon emissions  ~ bad policy  ~ oil issues  ~ climate impacts  ~ health impacts  ~ economic myopia  ~ global warming  



Tue, Mar 24, 2015
from Ottawa Citizen:
New records detail how climate-change views scuttled an artist's grant
A British Columbia artist and environmental activist accuses government of misusing its censorship powers to hide a politically driven effort to silence her because of her views on climate change and the oilsands. Franke James found herself on the federal government's radar in the spring of 2011 after Canadian diplomats agreed to offer a $5,000 grant in support of a European art tour featuring James's artwork. The grant was revoked a few days later by a senior director of the Foreign Affairs Department's climate change division, who felt the funding would "run counter to Canada's interests."... In one, a departmental trade official notes that a Canadian diplomat in Europe would not help promote the show because of "the artist's views on the oilsands."... Another email sent to the NGO Nektarina stated the reasons for the defunding decision "are not something we are able to provide in writing." ...


When all else fails, shoot the messengers.

ApocaDoc
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Thu, Feb 19, 2015
from Indianapolis Star:
Indiana House panel OKs solar bill on party-line vote
Indiana's electric companies won the first round Wednesday in a contentious fight over a bill that critics say would slam the state's startup solar energy industry.... For nearly two hours, members of the House Utilities, Energy and Telecommunications Committee listened as a parade of speakers urged them to table the solar energy bill until its full impact could be studied.... just one -- Mark Maassel, the head of the Indiana Energy Association -- was there to fully support the legislation... ...


If the utilities like it then the politicians like it and to hell with what the people want or what's good for Mother Earth.

ApocaDoc
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Wed, Jan 14, 2015
from Cleveland Plain Dealer:
Ohio renewable energy policies spurred growth, now driving away business, report says
Ohio's renewable energy policies sparked tremendous investment in the industry, but recent moves by state lawmakers have slowed that growth and threaten its future, according to a report released Tuesday. Ohio was No. 13 in the country for new capacity and private investment in wind at the end of 2012, according to the Pew report. However, new investment halted in 2013 because of "uncertainty" created by legislative debate over Ohio's renewable energy standards and the expiration of a federal production tax credit, according to the report. ...


Just what the (bad) doctor ordered.

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Dec 8, 2014
from New York Times:
Energy Firms in Secretive Alliance With Attorneys General
...Attorneys general in at least a dozen states are working with energy companies and other corporate interests, which in turn are providing them with record amounts of money for their political campaigns, including at least $16 million this year. They share a common philosophy about the reach of the federal government, but the companies also have billions of dollars at stake. And the collaboration is likely to grow: For the first time in modern American history, Republicans in January will control a majority -- 27 -- of attorneys general's offices. ...


You scratch my malfeasant back I'll scratch yours.

ApocaDoc
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Sat, Sep 27, 2014
from Slate:
How Australia became the dirtiest polluter in the developed world.
The climate-conscious Labor Party is out, felled by infighting and a bloodthirsty, Rupert Murdoch-dominated press that sows conspiracy theories about climate science. In its place, Australians elected the conservative Liberal Party, led by a prime minister who once declared that "the climate argument is absolute crap." In the year since they took office, Prime Minister Tony Abbott and his Liberal-led coalition have already dismantled the country's key environmental policies. Now they've begun systematically ransacking its natural resources. In the process, they've transformed Australia from an international innovator on environmental issues into quite possibly the dirtiest country in the developed world. And in a masterful whirl of the spin machine, they've managed to upend public debate by painting climate science as superstition and superstition as climate science.... ...


The climate issue is, after all, just an opinion, right, um, I mean, after all, it's just about interpretation. And jobs.

ApocaDoc
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Fri, May 30, 2014
from Columbus Dispatch:
Kasich agrees to sign bill revamping green-energy requirements
Gov. John Kasich plans to sign a controversial pullback on renewable-energy rules that passed the Ohio House yesterday... The bill passed the House 53-38, overcoming opposition from nearly all Democrats and some Republicans who said the measure will lead to job losses and an increase in air pollution.... Senate Bill 310 is a two-year freeze on standards that apply to electricity utilities for renewable energy and energy efficiency. It also makes major changes to the rules when they resume in 2017, ending a requirement that utilities purchase half of their renewable energy from within the state and expanding the types of projects that count as energy efficiency. ...


A black eye for the buckeye state

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Fri, May 23, 2014
from E&E Publishing:
Outside groups shelled out $4.5M for agency officials' travel
...Overall, EPA has accepted more than $4.5 million to pay for hotels, meals, travel and other benefits from outside groups over the past four years. Corporations, industry associations, nonprofits, foreign governments and others with a stake in EPA's rules -- including groups with registered lobbyists -- regularly pay for EPA official travel, according to reports the agency has filed with the Office of Government Ethics. EPA has reported accepting 3,369 trips that have had some if not all private funding for employees to take tours, attend conferences and meetings, conduct training sessions, and update outsiders on the agency's research and policies since 2010. ...


Extra Perks Agency

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Tue, Apr 22, 2014
from Huffington Post:
Humpback Whale Quietly Removed From 'Threatened' Species List
The North Pacific humpback whale is no longer protected as a "threatened" species after the Canadian government quietly downgraded its classification earlier this month. Despite objections from several groups, the Harper government declared the humpback a "species of special concern" under the Species at Risk Act (SARA). The whale population off the B.C. coast has increased "significantly" since it was first listed as threatened in 2005, so it is now at a point where it can be reclassified, according to a federal government notice in the Canadian Gazette. The change is being made as two major pipeline projects are in the middle of regulatory applications. Approval would increase vessel traffic, which collides with humpbacks about three times a year in B.C. waters.... The decision "has absolutely no basis in science and is simply a political move to clear the way to approve the [Enbridge] pipeline," Karen Wristen, executive director of the Living Oceans Society, told CBC News. ...


We call it a pre-emptive strike against future regulatory impediments.

ApocaDoc
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Fri, Apr 11, 2014
from Midwest Energy News:
Hearings begin today in latest push against Ohio energy laws
Hearings begin today on an Ohio bill that would cancel requirements for additional renewable energy and energy efficiency after 2014. Senate Bill 310 would freeze Ohio's renewable and alternative energy requirements at 2014 levels. Those levels are about one-tenth of the current law's target of 25 percent by 2025. Energy efficiency requirements would stay at the 2014 level of 4.2 percent. Current law calls for a 22 percent cumulative reduction in retail electricity sales by 2025. That's about five times as much as the 2014 levels. ...


Sometimes it seems we are willfully trying to destroy our habitat.

ApocaDoc
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Fri, Apr 11, 2014
from Midwest Energy News:
Combined heat and power has promise, faces hurdles in Ohio
Ohio businesses can achieve high energy efficiency and save huge amounts of money with combined heat and power (CHP), say industry leaders who attended an Energy Ohio Network program on Wednesday. However, speakers and program attendees say, Ohio's regulatory and legislative landscape have made it harder for businesses to reap those benefits.... Meanwhile, the Ohio Senate's Public Utilities Committee continued hearings on Senate Bill 310. That bill would cancel any additional energy efficiency targets after 2014. If enacted, the bill would eliminate another potential benefit for CHP. ...


Sometimes it seems we are willfully trying to destroy our habitat.

ApocaDoc
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Tue, Mar 4, 2014
from New York Times:
Ash Spill Shows How Watchdog Was Defanged
Last June, state employees in charge of stopping water pollution were given updated marching orders on behalf of North Carolina's new Republican governor and conservative lawmakers... From now on, regulators were told, they must focus on customer service, meaning issuing environmental permits for businesses as quickly as possible. Big changes are coming, the official said, according to three people in the meeting, two of whom took notes. "If you don't like change, you'll be gone." But when the nation's largest utility, Duke Energy, spilled 39,000 tons of coal ash into the Dan River in early February, those big changes were suddenly playing out in a different light. ...


How's that customer service working out for ya?

ApocaDoc
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Thu, Feb 27, 2014
from E&E Publishing:
GAO set to probe State's environmental review -- lawmaker
Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) requested an independent audit today of the State Department's environmental review system for projects such as Keystone XL, his latest step to protest the Obama administration's handling of the controversial oil sands crude pipeline... At issue for Grijalva and many green groups fighting KXL is the selection of Environmental Resources Management, the private contractor hired to craft the final EIS for the pipeline that State released last month. ERM is a member of the American Petroleum Institute and used a senior employee on the KXL review who had previously worked for project sponsor TransCanada Corp., among other industry ties that led environmentalists to deem invalid the firm's claim to no financial conflicts that it made before winning the pipeline job. ...


That pipeline is filled with money... for just a few lucky, well-connected dudes.

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Feb 10, 2014
from Al Jazeera:
NC authorities say river has elevated arsenic from coal ash spill
North Carolina's environmental agency says it was wrong to declare the arsenic levels in the Dan River safe for people after a massive coal ash spill. An environmental group had said Friday that its tests indicated the water's chemical levels were high. The state Department of Environment and Natural Resources said Sunday a water sample taken two days after the spill was four times higher than the maximum level for people to have prolonged contact, such as swimming... Critics charge that Duke Energy and the state government are too closely aligned, and that helped the company avoid regulation. Over the last year, environmental groups have tried three times to use the federal Clean Water Act to force Duke Energy to clear out leaky coal ash dumps like the one that ruptured last week, spewing enough toxic sludge into a North Carolina river to fill 73 Olympic-sized pools. Each time, they say, their efforts have been stymied -- by the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources. ...


In the U.S. the fox often guards the hen house.

ApocaDoc
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Want more context?
Try reading our book FREE online:
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Sun, Feb 9, 2014
from InsideClimate News:
U.S. Keystone Report Relied Heavily on Alberta Govt-Funded Research
The analysis of greenhouse gas emissions presented by the State Department in its new environmental impact statement on the Keystone XL pipeline includes dozens of references to reports by Jacobs Consultancy, a group that is owned by a big tar sands developer and that was hired by the Alberta government--which strongly favors the project. ...


I am in a "state" of (not) shock!

ApocaDoc
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Tue, Jan 14, 2014
from The Independent:
Government accused of 'bribing local councils' on controversial fracking projects
MPs accused the government of seeking to bribe local councils to grant planning permission for controversial fracking projects today, just as new figures showed Britain's shale gas regulator has only six staff dedicated to fracking full time. They fear that the shale gas industry could be allowed to balloon without proper scrutiny and are especially concerned because, in only a fortnight, the regulator will be required to issue new fracking permits within two weeks, compared to the current 13-week wait. David Cameron declared that his government is "going all out for shale" as he announced that councils will be allowed to keep all of the business rates raised from fracking sites in a deal that is expected to generate millions of pounds for local authorities. His announcement came as the French energy giant Total became the first of the world's major oil companies to buy into Britain's shale gas industry, acquiring a stake in a project in Lincolnshire.... The change in business rates comes as Environment Agency – which regulates fracking as part of a much broader remit – prepares to cut about 15 per cent of its staff. An agency spokesman declined to comment on whether any of its fracking staff would be made redundant in the cuts. ...


It's so easy to make the future pay for today's convenience!

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Sat, Dec 21, 2013
from Rolling Stone:
Obama and Climate Change: The Real Story
If you want to understand how people will remember the Obama climate legacy, a few facts tell the tale: By the time Obama leaves office, the U.S. will pass Saudi Arabia as the planet's biggest oil producer and Russia as the world's biggest producer of oil and gas combined. In the same years, even as we've begun to burn less coal at home, our coal exports have climbed to record highs. We are, despite slight declines in our domestic emissions, a global-warming machine: At the moment when physics tell us we should be jamming on the carbon brakes, America is revving the engine. ...


Bafrack Coalbama

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Tue, Nov 19, 2013
from Planet Ark:
Russian court bails two of 30 Greenpeace protesters
A Russian medic and a freelance journalist who were among 30 people arrested for a Greenpeace protest against offshore Arctic drilling were granted bail on Monday in a case that has drawn fierce criticism abroad. Colin Russell, an Australian, was denied bail by a separate court earlier on Monday. He was a radio operator on the Arctic Sunrise, the Greenpeace ship used for the September 28 protest. Western leaders including German Chancellor Angela Merkel have expressed concern to Russian President Vladimir Putin over the case and Western celebrities have voiced support for the Greenpeace campaigners. Ex-Beatle Paul McCartney has asked Putin to help secure their release. The 30 arrested over the protest, in which activists tried to scale the offshore Prirazlomnaya oil rig that is crucial to Russia's drive to tap Arctic energy resources, face up to seven years in jail if convicted of hooliganism. ...


Working for Mother Earth is serious business.

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Sat, Nov 9, 2013
from Globe and Mail:
Oil industry successfully lobbied Ottawa to delay climate regulations, e-mails show
In e-mails the Alberta government released under Access to Information, the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers warns against the province's proposal that oil-sands companies be forced to gradually cut emissions per barrel by 40 per cent, and pay a $40 levy for every tonne in excess their target. That would add $1 to the cost of producing every barrel.... Greenpeace Canada researcher Keith Stewart questioned CAPP's insistence that a $1-per-barrel carbon tax would seriously undermine the oil sands' competitiveness. He noted that, in the debate over the Keystone XL project, the industry has said approval of the pipeline would not affect investment or production levels in the oil sands because companies would turn to rail to move crude, which would cost $5 more per barrel. "The industry in these documents is clearly saying delay, delay, delay and then do as little as possible," Mr. Stewart said on Friday. "And the federal government seems to be taking that as marching orders." ...


Delaying the inevitable regulatory response to climate catastrophe is an investment in the present.

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Oct 28, 2013
from Associated Press:
ND spills went unreported; state testing website
North Dakota, the nation's No. 2 oil producer behind Texas, recorded nearly 300 oil pipeline spills in less than two years, state documents show. None was reported to the public, officials said. According to records obtained by The Associated Press, the pipeline spills -- many of them small -- are among some 750 "oil field incidents" that have occurred since January 2012 without public notification.... Dennis Fewless, director of water quality for the state Health Department, said regulators are reviewing the state's policies for when to publicly report such incidents after a massive spill was discovered last month in northwestern North Dakota by a wheat farmer. State and company officials kept it quiet for 11 days -- and only said something after the AP asked about it. ...


God hath given Man the Earth to Shitteth Upon.

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Sun, Oct 27, 2013
from CBC:
New environmental review rules anger oilsands critics
The federal review is intended to look at possible environmental impacts under federal jurisdiction, such as impacts on waterways or greenhouse gas emissions. One concern that environmentalists have with the new rules is they won't require environmental reviews for a growing type of oilsands development. In-situ oilsands developments -- projects where the oil is melted directly out of the ground rather than being mined and then processed later -- were not specifically addressed in the previous list of projects requiring federal environmental assessments, said Keith Stewart, climate and energy campaign coordinator and energy policy analyst for the environmental group Greenpeace. And now, they are not included in the new list of projects requiring them. ...


"Rules?! In a knife fight?!" (Harvey, in Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid)

ApocaDoc
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Thu, Sep 26, 2013
from Charlotte Observer:
North Carolina rejects $600,000 in grants to study fracking impact
North Carolina's environment agency has taken the unusual step of returning a federal grant to study streams and wetlands that could be harmed by hydraulic fracturing for natural gas. The N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources had itself recommended last year that baseline water-quality data be collected where drilling might occur. The information would help document any problems linked to drilling. But under new leadership appointed by Gov. Pat McCrory, the department now says it doesn't want the $222,595 grant from the Environmental Protection Agency. The department also returned a second grant of $359,710 for wetlands monitoring. Division of Water Resources director Tom Reeder said the fracking study will be done, but not now and not by the unit that applied for the grant. The Program Development Unit, which housed experts in aquatic ecosystems, is being disbanded in a reorganization of the division.... "This is not a grant being imposed on North Carolina by a federal agency that doesn't really know what we need," she said. "This was a grant being sought by DENR to meet known challenges." Diggins added: "It raises the concern of whether this is part of a trend of backing away from science." ...


Who needs science, when hope springs eternal?

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Sep 9, 2013
from Huffington Post:
EPA Quietly Withdraws Two Proposed Chemical Safety Rules
The Environmental Protection Agency this week quietly withdrew two draft rules dealing with the regulation of chemicals. The potential rules were in limbo at the Office of Management for several years. One of the rules was a proposal to add Bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical included in many water bottles and other plastic products that has been linked to a number of potential health concerns, to the list of "chemicals of concern" that would be subject to more scrutiny. The EPA also proposed listing eight different types of phthalates, another group of chemicals often used in plastic products, and several types of flame retardants known as polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs).... A second rule that EPA withdrew would have forced companies to disclose to the public the chemicals used in products and the health and safety studies the companies have conducted on those chemicals -- much of which companies have been allowed to protect as "confidential business information." ...


So much for the "protection" promised by the EPA.

ApocaDoc
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Tue, Aug 20, 2013
from Philadelphia Inquirer:
GreenSpace: Who's monitoring food additives?
About 10,000 chemicals are added to Americans' food to make it taste better or look better, to thicken it, preserve it, or otherwise improve it. That's an awful lot of chemicals for the federal Food and Drug Administration to monitor. How do they do it? It turns out that, often, they don't. According to the authors of a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine this month, the agency doesn't even know what all the food additive chemicals are. ...


Thank goodness GMOs are monitored!

ApocaDoc
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Tue, Aug 13, 2013
from Midwest Energy News:
Q&A: ALEC's new tactics to weaken renewable laws
The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) continued its assault on state renewable portfolio standards (RPS) during its 40th annual conference in Chicago earlier this month, with members voting on model legislation that could limit the power of the laws to spark new clean energy construction. Though bills meant to revoke or undercut renewable standards in numerous states failed last session, clean energy advocates say the model Market Power Renewables Act and the Renewable Energy Credit Act proposed by ALEC's energy task force during the conference pose a fresh threat. The Market Power Renewables Act argues for a "voluntary market" that would allow people to invest in renewable energy if they choose without instituting mandates... ...


The only thing "voluntary" the fossil fuel industry does is voluntarily ruin the earth.

ApocaDoc
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Wed, Jul 17, 2013
from Mother Jones:
Mining Company Deploys More Masked Militiamen Against "Eco-Terrorists"
Debate over a proposed open-pit iron ore mine in northern Wisconsin went from heated to outright bizarre last week when masked guards brandishing assault rifles showed up at the site in the remote and scenic wilderness of Penokee Hills. Local activist Rob Ganson, 56, first came upon three heavily armed guards while leading a small group on a hike to view the mining site. (The drilling site is on private land, but the owner has been given a tax break in exchange for keeping it open to public use.) The guards, said Ganson, carried semi-automatic guns, were dressed in camouflage, and wore masks covering their faces. "As you can imagine, it was quite a shock for five middle-aged people out for a walk," he said. Ganson tried to engage the guards, but was "met with stony-faced silence."... Gov. Scott Walker signed sweeping changes to the state's mining regulations into law in March, thus allowing the mine to move forward. The new law, which creates a separate set of laws for taconite mining, abbreviates the permitting process, reduces the number of opportunities for public comment, and weakens rules on dumping mine waste into wetlands and waterways. ...


Wisconsin: Forward into darkness!

ApocaDoc
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Wed, Jul 17, 2013
from DeSmogBlog:
Keystone XL Conflict of Interest: Obama Attorney's Law Firm Represents TransCanada
A recent DeSmogBlog investigation reveals that Robert Bauer, former White House Counsel and President Obama's personal attorney, works at the corporate law firm Perkins Coie LLP, which does legal work for TransCanada's South Central Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) Project, formerly known as Alaska Gas Pipeline Project. Furthermore, Dan Sullivan, current Commissioner of Alaska's Department of Natural Resources, and former Alaska Attorney General and former Assistant Secretary of State in the Bush Administration, is also a former Perkins attorney. ...


It's as if everybody's in bed together!

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You're still reading! Good for you!
You really should read our short, funny, frightening book FREE online (or buy a print copy):
Humoring the Horror of the Converging Emergencies!
We've been quipping this stuff for more than 30 months! Every day!
Which might explain why we don't get invited to parties anymore.
Fri, Jun 14, 2013
from Guardian:
Pentagon bracing for public dissent over climate and energy shocks
But why have Western security agencies developed such an unprecedented capacity to spy on their own domestic populations? Since the 2008 economic crash, security agencies have increasingly spied on political activists, especially environmental groups, on behalf of corporate interests. This activity is linked to the last decade of US defence planning, which has been increasingly concerned by the risk of civil unrest at home triggered by catastrophic events linked to climate change, energy shocks or economic crisis - or all three. Just last month, unilateral changes to US military laws formally granted the Pentagon extraordinary powers to intervene in a domestic "emergency" or "civil disturbance": "Federal military commanders have the authority, in extraordinary emergency circumstances where prior authorization by the President is impossible and duly constituted local authorities are unable to control the situation, to engage temporarily in activities that are necessary to quell large-scale, unexpected civil disturbances." ...


Aren't we already Occupying the world?

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Thu, May 9, 2013
from Maclean's:
When Science Goes Silent
... It's just one of many such stories of muzzled federal scientists and suppressed research that are being brought to the union's attention, he says. All against the backdrop of sweeping cuts to water, air and wildlife monitoring programs, a total restructuring of federal environmental reviews, and the downloading of responsibility for lakes and rivers to the provinces. "It's almost like this government doesn't want any of this stuff to be open to public discussion," says the union leader. "What we're seeing is a total lockdown." Since taking power in 2006, Stephen Harper's government has rarely been caught on the wrong foot. Disciplined on the hustings, in the House, and above all with the media, Tory ministers and MPs have largely avoided the gaffes and unvarnished opinions that used to plague the conservative movement. But to many of its critics, Ottawa's obsession with controlling the message has become so all-encompassing that it now threatens both the health of Canada's democracy and the country's reputation abroad.... Current policy doesn't just seek to dampen the odd controversial story, it passes every bit of information through a political filter from which almost nothing emerges. "All the government scientists I know tell me that it's never been worse," says Hutchings. "It's like an Iron Curtain has been drawn across the communication of science in this country. And I think there's reason for all of us to be worried about that." ...


Can we create glasnost fast enough for a kinder, gentler perestroika?

ApocaDoc
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Mon, May 6, 2013
from InsideClimate News:
The Case of the Disappearing Dilbit: How Much Oil Was Released in 2010 Pipeline Spill?
A key piece of data related to the biggest tar sands oil spill in U.S. history has disappeared from the Environmental Protection Agency's website, adding to confusion about the size of the spill and possibly reducing the fine that the company responsible for the accident would be required to pay. The July 2010 accident on an Enbridge Inc. pipeline dumped thousands of barrels of Canadian dilbit into the Kalamazoo River and surrounding wetlands. But almost three years and two federal investigations later, one of the most important questions about the spill remains unanswered: Exactly how much oil spilled from the pipeline? ...


The Powers That Be are all-powerful.

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Apr 15, 2013
from Politico:
Environmentalists fear weaker fracking rule
Environmentalists fear the oil and gas industry has the Obama administration's ear as the government prepares to release a new draft rule to govern fracking on federal lands. Though the Interior Department has yet to release an official draft, each subsequent leaked version contains less of what environmental groups want, the activists say, taking the rule further away from its potential of setting strict standards for the industry. "What we see is every step of the way, these rules are getting weaker,” said Fran Hunt, senior Washington representative for the Sierra Club's Beyond Natural Gas campaign. ...


Perhaps we'll end up with guidelines instead, which are rules with wiggle room.

ApocaDoc
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Fri, Apr 5, 2013
from Treehugger:
Exxon won't pay into cleanup fund because oil spilled in Arkansas isn't "oil"
Despite spilling tens, if not hundreds of thousands of gallons of oil and chemicals into an Arkansas neighborhood, thanks to a loophole in a law from 1980, ExxonMobil will not be paying into a federal oil spill cleanup fund because the oil they spilled is not the right type of oil. It is a twisted example of the legal technicalities and lax regulations that all too often favor oil companies, but a coalition of environmental groups are working to close the loophole. ...


Nor do I pay for my methane releases charmingly referred to as "farts."

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Mar 18, 2013
from Huffington Post:
Bills Pushed By State Legislators Would Make Farm Animal Abuse Investigations More Difficult
in a pushback led by the meat and poultry industries, state legislators across the country are introducing laws making it harder for animal welfare advocates to investigate cruelty and food safety cases. Some bills make it illegal to take photographs at a farming operation. Others make it a crime for someone such as an animal welfare advocate to lie on an application to get a job at a plant...the American Legislative Exchange Council, a conservative think tank backed by business interests... has labeled those who interfere with animal operations "terrorists," though a spokesman said he wishes now that the organization had called its legislation the "Freedom to Farm Act" rather than the "Animal and Ecological Terrorism Act." ...


I say let's call it the "Freedom to Do Whatever the Hell We Want That Ensures Profit for our Shareholders."

ApocaDoc
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Tue, Mar 12, 2013
from Grist:
'State Department' Keystone XL Report Actually Written By TransCanada Contractor
The State Department's "don't worry" environmental impact statement for the proposed Keystone XL tarsands pipeline, released late Friday afternoon, was written not by government officials but by a private company in the pay of the pipeline's owner. The "sustainability consultancy" ť Environmental Resources Management (ERM) was paid an undisclosed amount under contract to TransCanada to write the statement, which is now an official government document. The statement estimates, and then dismisses, the pipeline's massive carbon footprint and other environmental impacts, because, it asserts, the mining and burning of the tar sands is unstoppable. ...


This isn't a conflict of interest, it's a confluence of interest.

ApocaDoc
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Wed, Mar 6, 2013
from InsideClimate News:
Critical Part of Keystone Report Done by Firms with Deep Oil Industry Ties
The State Department's recent conclusion that the Keystone XL pipeline "is unlikely to have a substantial impact" on the rate of Canada's oil sands development was based on analysis provided by two consulting firms with ties to oil and pipeline companies that could benefit from the proposed project. EnSys Energy has worked with ExxonMobil, BP and Koch Industries, which own oil sands production facilities and refineries in the Midwest that process heavy Canadian crude oil. Imperial Oil, one of Canada's largest oil sands producers, is a subsidiary of Exxon. ICF International works with pipeline and oil companies but doesn't list specific clients on its website. It declined to comment on the Keystone, referring questions to the State Department. ...


That fox we hired to guard hen house? He's eating all the hens!

ApocaDoc
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Tue, Feb 26, 2013
from E&E Publishing:
Senator's move to Chevron sparks ethics uproar
A California senator's decision to quit and jump to Chevron Corp. has sparked questions about whether he should have negotiated for that job while in a position to help the company politically. Former Sen. Michael Rubio (D) resigned Friday to work as manager of California governmental affairs for Chevron (E&ENews PM, Feb. 22). He had been chairman of the state Senate's Environmental Quality Committee when he accepted the oil company position. ...


Too bad we can't capture the energy generated by this revolving door.

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Feb 25, 2013
from Grist:
Not-so-smart ALEC: How the lobbying group uses bad data to fight clean energy
Renewable energy is clean, sustainable, non-polluting, reduces our dependence on fossil fuels, improves the health of communities surrounding power plants, and protects the natural environment. Who could be against it? Answer: The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a lobbying group that is active in drafting and advocating controversial state legislation.... ALEC wants to speed up the permitting process for mines, oil and gas wells, and power plants -- and to eliminate all state requirements for the use of renewable energy. The latter goal is packaged as the "Electricity Freedom Act.” ...


I hear ALEC is changing their name to Enhanced Volition for Independent Legislation (EVIL).

ApocaDoc
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Thu, Dec 13, 2012
from ThinkProgress:
AGU Scientist Asks, 'Is Earth F**ked?' Surprising Answer: Resistance is NOT Futile!
In sum, the dynamics of the global coupled human-environmental system within the dominant culture precludes management for stable, sustainable pathways and promotes instability.... Active resistance by concerned groups of citizens, analogous to the anti-slavery and civil rights movements of the past, is one of the features of the planetary system that plays an important role in his model. If you think that we should take a much longer view when making decisions about the health of the "coupled human-environmental system" -- that is to say, if you're interested in averting the scenario in which the Earth is f**ked -- then, Werner's model implied, resistance is the best and probably only hope. Every other element -- environmental regulation, even science -- is too embedded in the dominant economic system. ...


Why does it really matter if Earth is 'finked'?

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Dec 10, 2012
from Food safety news:
Brazil Kept Mad Cow Secret for Two Years
Enough beef to feed one million Americans for a year has been imported from Brazil without the bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) mitigations that are supposed to be applied to countries where BSE is known to exist. That's because for the past two years, USDA was operating under the assumption that Brazil had not experienced any BSE, or Mad Cow disease as it's commonly known. But Brazil -- the world's biggest beef exporting country -- was keeping a secret for the past two years. A secret that if known might well have seen its beef banned from the U.S., or at the very least, subjected its beef to BSE controls. That's because while the U.S. was importing 67 million pounds of beef from Brazil, South America's biggest country was keeping a Mad Cow secret. ...


This is crazy!

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Nov 5, 2012
from Postmedia News:
Federal scientists muzzled on oilsands
Environment Canada scientists have confirmed results published by researchers from the University of Alberta showing contaminants accumulating in the snow near oilsands operations, an internal federal document has revealed. Testing by the Environment Canada scientists also found contaminants in precipitation in the region. But the federal researchers were discouraged from speaking to reporters about their findings, presented at a November 2011 conference in Boston of the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, says the document, released to Postmedia News through access to information. ...


Science bites.

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Sep 3, 2012
from Chemical & Engineering News:
Romney To Focus On Fossil Fuels
Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney wants to significantly boost U.S. fossil-fuel production while ending federal subsidies and loan guarantees for most forms of alternative energy, such as solar and wind power. Romney's energy plan, which the former Massachusetts governor outlined on Aug. 23, sets an ambitious goal for the U.S. of reaching energy independence by 2020 through increased production of oil, natural gas, and coal, accompanied by reduced regulation. The plan does not mention climate change. "Three million jobs come back to this country by taking advantage of something we have right underneath our feet," Romney said at a campaign stop in New Mexico. "That's oil and gas and coal." ...


Also underneath our feet... our graves.

ApocaDoc
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Tue, Jun 5, 2012
from Associated Press:
China Tells US to Stop Reporting Beijing's Bad Air
China told foreign embassies Tuesday to stop publishing their own reports on air quality in the country, escalating its objections to a popular U.S. Embassy Twitter feed that tracks pollution in smoggy Beijing. Only the Chinese government is authorized to monitor and publish air quality information and data from other sources may not be standardized or rigorous, Wu Xiaoqing, a vice environmental minister, told reporters ...


Data from other sources might be too truthful.

ApocaDoc
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Fri, Apr 20, 2012
from UCS:
How Corporations Corrupt Science at the Public's Expense
Corrupting the Science. Corporations suppress research, intimidate scientists, manipulate study designs, ghostwrite scientific articles, and selectively publish results that suit their interests. Shaping Public Perception. Private interests downplay evidence, exaggerate uncertainty, vilify scientists, hide behind front groups, and feed the media slanted news stories. Restricting Agency Effectiveness. Companies attack the science behind agency policy, hinder the regulatory process, corrupt advisory panels, exploit the "revolving door" between corporate and government employment, censor scientists, and withhold information from the public. Influencing Congress. By spending billions of dollars on lobbying and campaign contributions, corporate interests gain undue access to members of Congress, encouraging them to challenge scientific consensus, delay action on critical problems, and shape the use of science in policy making. Exploiting Judicial Pathways. Corporate interests have expanded their influence on the judicial system, used the courts to undermine science, and exploited judicial processes to bully and silence scientists. ...


They missed "leaving a horse's head on someone's bed."

ApocaDoc
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Wed, Apr 11, 2012
from Associated Press:
AZ House OKs secrecy for environmental reports
Mining companies and other businesses will be allowed to keep environmental studies secret, even if they detail possible pollution problems, under industry-backed legislation that gained final House approval Monday. Under the measure headed to Republican Gov. Jan Brewer, environmental audits generally could not be used as evidence in civil cases. ...


A pox upon this House.

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Apr 2, 2012
from The Daily Climate:
Military sees threats, worry in climate change
...Making the SEALs into a leaner, greener tactical force is one of many such steps being taken by all branches as the U.S. military reduces its environmental footprint. The Army is targeting net-zero energy use at several bases, and the Navy and Air Force are experimenting with running jets on biofuels that use wood waste and algae and less petroleum. In Afghanistan, patrols now carry eco-friendly solar blankets and LED lamps. Connecting the military's fossil-fuel and overall energy use with risks to our national security hasn't been easy in this political environment, especially with the presidential election looming. Congressional Republicans have repeatedly questioned and criticized the Armed Forces' new-energy strategies, portraying initiatives as political favors to clean-energy businesses. But current and retired military leaders insist the policies are essential. The efforts protect soldiers and help them carry out missions. They also help curb climate change and its potential to intensify military conflicts. ...


I have an idea. Let's stop fighting other countries and start fighting Republicans.

ApocaDoc
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Fri, Mar 30, 2012
from The Independent:
Up in smoke: ecological catastrophe in the Sumatran swamps
Fires raging unchecked in an Indonesian peat swamp forest could wipe out the remaining Sumatran orang-utans which live there, conservationists are warning. The forest is one of the last refuges of the great apes. The illegal fires, started by palm-oil companies clearing land to plant the lucrative crop, are believed to have killed at least 100 orang-utans -- one-third of those living in the Tripa swamp, on the west coast of Sumatra's Aceh province. The rest could die within weeks, according to Dr Ian Singleton, conservation director of the Sumatran Orang-utan Conservation Programme. "The speed of destruction has gone up dramatically in the last few weeks... This is obviously a deliberate drive by these companies to clear all the remaining forests," Dr Singleton said. "If this is not stopped right now, all those orang-utans... will be gone before the end of 2012." Only 6,600 Sumatran orang-utans are estimated to be left in the wild, and the Tripa swamp -- where they are most densely concentrated -- is considered crucial to the species' survival. But less than one-quarter of the peat forest remains; the rest has been converted to palm-oil plantations.... Satellite imagery showing 92 fires over the past week has horrified conservationists, who are awaiting a court ruling with far-reaching implications for the protection of wildlife habitats in Indonesia. ...


It'll grow back.

ApocaDoc
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Wed, Mar 21, 2012
from Politico:
Greens see politics in EPA rule delays
The Environmental Protection Agency's silence on a slew of pending rulemakings is worrying some supporters, who fear the regulations will remain trapped in the White House when an election-year window for new announcements slams shut. Administrators have repeatedly assured interest groups and lawmakers that the EPA is preparing to release numerous proposed and final rules for greenhouse gases, coal ash, sulfur in gasoline and particulate matter. But in reality, few are moving, and announced deadlines are passing. And as the presidential election season hits full tilt, gasoline prices rise and the summer driving season approaches, it becomes less politically advantageous for the Obama administration to move on many regulations -- especially with the race focusing increasingly on energy. ...


Environmental Procrastination Agency

ApocaDoc
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Tue, Feb 28, 2012
from The Denver Post:
Hickenlooper's spiel in oil, gas ad irks environmentalists
Environmental groups on Monday urged Gov. John Hickenlooper to yank ads paid for by the Colorado Oil and Gas Association in which he claims there has been no contamination of groundwater associated with drilling and hydraulic fracturing. Hickenlooper's office declined to address that request, but COGA issued a statement saying it stands by "our Public Service Announcements." ...


This cozy relationship between government and business is fascistnating.

ApocaDoc
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Sat, Feb 18, 2012
from CBC:
Muzzling of Canadian federal scientists
Canadian government scientists are still being hampered from talking to the media about their taxpayer-funded research and that's bad news for the public, say groups representing both journalists and federal scientists. The groups appealed to delegates at an international meeting of scientists in Vancouver on Friday, arguing that democracy depends on citizens having access to research so they can make informed decisions about government policy.... Munro said that during much of her career, it was easy to reach federal scientists to talk about their published research, but in recent years that has changed dramatically. Now, the government is taking control to "quite incredible extremes," she said, citing her own recent experiences and the information she obtained by filing access to information requests about the problem. ...


But if we let scientists just, y'know, speak, who knows what they'd tell!

ApocaDoc
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Sun, Feb 12, 2012
from Globe and Mail:
Ottawa's new anti-terrorism strategy lists eco-extremists as threats
After vowing to take on radical environmentalists determined to stop the Northern Gateway pipeline, the Harper government has released a new anti-terrorism strategy that targets eco-extremists as threats. With his announcement this week, Public Safety Minister Vic Toews has increased the concern among environmentalists that Ottawa regards them as implacable adversaries to be monitored and battled, rather than well-meaning advocates to be consulted.... The minister said that, in addition to foreign threats, the government would be vigilant against domestic extremism that is "based on grievances - real or perceived - revolving around the promotion of various causes such as animal rights, white supremacy, environmentalism and anti-capitalism." ...


Exactly what animal abusers, fascists, ecokillers, and corporatists want to hear!

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Feb 6, 2012
from Center for Public Integrity:
Landmark diesel exhaust study stalled amid industry and congressional objections
Publication of a landmark government study probing whether diesel engine exhaust causes lung cancer in miners -- already 20 years in the making -- has been delayed by industry and congressional insistence on seeing study data and documents before the public does. A federal judge has affirmed the right of an industry group and a House committee to review the materials and has held the Department of Health and Human Services in contempt for not producing all of them. ...


This study is stalled... hopefully with the engine turned off!

ApocaDoc
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Wed, Jan 18, 2012
from Montreal Gazette, via Desdemona:
Canada government didn't disclose radioactive iodine in rainwater
After the Fukushima nuclear accident, Canadian health officials assured a nervous public that virtually no radioactive fallout had drifted to Canada. But last March, a Health Canada monitoring station in Calgary detected an average of 8.18 becquerels per litre of radioactive iodine (an isotope released by the nuclear accident) in rainwater, the data shows. The level easily exceeded the Canadian guideline of six becquerels of iodine per litre for drinking water, acknowledged Eric Pellerin, chief of Health Canada's radiation-surveillance division. "It's above the recommended level (for drinking water)," he said in an interview. "At any time you sample it, it should not exceed the guideline." Canadian authorities didn't disclose the high radiation reading at the time. ...


They just figured we already knew.

ApocaDoc
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Tue, Dec 20, 2011
from Greenwire:
40 percent of state drilling regulators have industry ties
...More than 40 percent of officials regulating oil and gas production in the top drilling states, records show, come from the industry they are charged with policing. It is a degree of self-regulation enjoyed by few other industries, if any. And it heightens suspicion among critics of the nation's drilling boom that companies are allowed to damage the environment with impunity. Supporters of the industry, and the regulators themselves, say it simply makes sense to have technical experts deciding technical issues. ...


That's the fox drilling the henhouse.

ApocaDoc
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Tue, Nov 8, 2011
from Truthout:
Annie Leonard's The Story of Broke
...Wait a minute. Broke? I'm sending in my share of hard-earned cash every month and so are you! Now, what we've got to work with shrinks a lot thanks to corporate tax loopholes and unprecedented tax breaks for the richest 1 percent. But even after those, we've still got over a trillion dollars. So if we're broke, what's happening to all that money? I decided to look into it and it turns out this whole "broke" story hides a much bigger story -- a story of some really dumb choices being made for us -- but that actually work against us. The good news is that these are choices, and we can make different ones. ...


The revolution will be animated.

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Nov 7, 2011
from Center for Public Integrity:
Many Americans left behind in the quest for cleaner air
...Americans might expect the government to protect them from unsafe air. That hasn't happened. Insidious forms of toxic air pollution -- deemed so harmful to human health that a Democratic Congress and a Republican president sought to bring emissions under control more than two decades ago -- persist in hundreds of communities across the United States, an investigation by the Center for Public Integrity's iWatch News and NPR shows. Congress targeted nearly 200 chemicals in 1990 amendments to the Clean Air Act, which the first Bush administration promised would lead to sharp reductions in cancer, birth defects and other serious ailments. But the agencies that were supposed to protect the public instead have left millions of people from California to Maine exposed to known risks -- sometimes for years. ...


News flash... the government doesn't give a shit.

ApocaDoc
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Wed, Oct 26, 2011
from Nature News:
Fallout forensics hike radiation toll
The disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in March released far more radiation than the Japanese government has claimed. So concludes a study1 that combines radioactivity data from across the globe to estimate the scale and fate of emissions from the shattered plant. The study also suggests that, contrary to government claims, pools used to store spent nuclear fuel played a significant part in the release of the long-lived environmental contaminant caesium-137, which could have been prevented by prompt action. ...


Only in America... I mean Russia! Wait, I mean Japan!

ApocaDoc
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Tue, Oct 4, 2011
from New York Times:
TransCanada Pipeline Foes See U.S. Bias in E-Mails
With the Obama administration about to decide whether to green-light a controversial pipeline to take crude oil from Canada's oil sands to the Gulf Coast, e-mails released Monday paint a picture of a sometimes warm and collaborative relationship between lobbyists for the company building the billion-dollar pipeline and officials in the State Department, the agency that has final say over the pipeline... The e-mails, the second batch to be released in response to a Freedom of Information Act request filed by the environmental group Friends of the Earth, show a senior State Department official at the United States Embassy in Ottawa procuring invitations to Fourth of July parties for TransCanada officials, sharing information with the company about Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton's meetings and cheering on TransCanada in its quest to gain approval of the giant pipeline, which could carry 700,000 barrels a day. ...


We're all just one big happy family burning down our house!

ApocaDoc
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Thu, Sep 15, 2011
from Guardian:
US environment agency to delay greenhouse gas proposals
New greenhouse gas regulations for US power plants are unlikely to be proposed by the end of the month, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has admitted. The agency originally aimed at producing initial proposals by 30 September, but EPA administrator Lisa Jackson told news agency Reuters yesterday that the target will not be met. "Greenhouse gases for power plants is first on the docket," she said on the sidelines of an event in San Francisco. "Although we are not going to make the date at the end of the month, we are still working and will be shortly announcing a new schedule." The delay comes after the Obama administration decided to block a tightening of national smog standards, much to the consternation of green groups. ...


Let's wait to address the most important issue on the planet until all the politics are in!

ApocaDoc
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Wed, Sep 14, 2011
from Wall Street Journal:
Coal Industry Backs Boehner
U.S. coal companies have pumped $1.5 million into House Speaker John Boehner's political operation this year, a sign of the industry's beefed-up efforts to fight new and proposed regulations from the Obama administration. The coal industry now ranks as one of the top sources of cash for the Ohio Republican, rivaling such perennial GOP donors as Wall Street and the real-estate industry. A large part of the coal industry's donations came in a single week at the end of June. ...


all that coal money / must be giving Congressman / Boehner a woody

ApocaDoc
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Fri, Sep 2, 2011
from Bloomberg BusinessWeek:
Obama Cancels Ozone Rules After Lobbying Push From Business
President Barack Obama quashed proposed rules on ozone from the Environmental Protection Agency, agreeing with Republicans and industry to withdraw the costliest regulation being considered by the administration. Obama said he is seeking to reduce regulatory burdens as the economy recovers, and said the EPA would weigh tighter standards on ozone, which causes smog, in two years.... "The Obama administration is caving to big polluters at the expense of protecting the air we breathe," Gene Karpinski, president of the League of Conservation Voters, an environmental group, said today in an e-mailed statement. "This is a huge win for corporate polluters and a huge loss for public health."... Ozone is created when hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxides combine in the presence of sunlight. Fuel exhaust and vapors are major sources of the chemicals. The resulting pollution can contribute to breathing difficulties, lung damage and reduced cardiovascular function, according to the EPA's website. ...


If only McCain hadn't won the election.

ApocaDoc
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Sun, Aug 21, 2011
from Huffington Post:
You're Appointing Who? Please Obama, Say It's Not So!
When FDA scientists were asked to weigh in on what was to become the most radical and potentially dangerous change in our food supply -- the introduction of genetically modified (GM) foods -- secret documents now reveal that the experts were very concerned. Memo after memo described toxins, new diseases, nutritional deficiencies, and hard-to-detect allergens. They were adamant that the technology carried "serious health hazards," and required careful, long-term research, including human studies, before any genetically modified organisms (GMOs) could be safely released into the food supply. But the biotech industry had rigged the game so that neither science nor scientists would stand in their way. They had placed their own man in charge of FDA policy and he wasn't going to be swayed by feeble arguments related to food safety. No, he was going to do what corporations had done for decades to get past these types of pesky concerns. He was going to lie.... The determination of whether GM foods were safe to eat was placed entirely in the hands of the companies that made them -- companies like Monsanto, which told us that the PCBs, DDT, and Agent Orange were safe. GMOs were rushed onto our plates in 1996. Over the next nine years, multiple chronic illnesses in the US nearly doubled -- from 7 percent to 13 percent. Allergy-related emergency room visits doubled between 1997 and 2002 while food allergies, especially among children, skyrocketed. We also witnessed a dramatic rise in asthma, autism, obesity, diabetes, digestive disorders, and certain cancers.... That person is Michael Taylor. He had been Monsanto's attorney before becoming policy chief at the FDA. Soon after, he became Monsanto's vice president and chief lobbyist. This month Michael Taylor became the senior advisor to the commissioner of the FDA. He is now America's food safety czar. What have we done? ...


Self-regulation by industry is so much cheaper than the alternative!

ApocaDoc
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Thu, Jul 7, 2011
from Guardian:
Chinese oil spill half the size of London went unreported for a month
Watching the 840 square km oil slick now polluting China's Bohai Sea and listening to the excuses of the companies and officials involved, it is hard to avoid a sense of deja-vu. It has taken a month for news to emerge about the leak from a well in the Penglai 19-3 field operated by the US energy company ConocoPhillips in partnership with the China National Offshore Oil Corporation and . The companies detected the problem on 4 June, but it only came to light on 21 June thanks to a microblog leak rather than an official release. After initially downplaying the accident, the authorities finally revealed this week that it covers an area half the size of Greater London.... The deja-vu is global. Industrial accidents and cover-ups happen all over the world. As my colleagues reported this week, there were more than 100 unpublicised oil and gas spills from European and American wells in the North Sea between 2009 and 2010.... China also has a dark history in this regard. I am particularly reminded of the botched cover up of the 2005 benzene spill into the Songhua river by the China National Petroleum Corporation. Company executives and local government officials insisted at the time that water supplies were contaminated. As the toxic slick flowed towards Harbin, millions of residents were initially told their water supplies needed to be cut for several days for "routine pipe maintainance". ...


They just thought outrage was more toxic than oil. At least, to their interests.

ApocaDoc
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Fri, Jul 1, 2011
from Bloomberg:
Amazon Deforestation Rates Double as Farmers Anticipate Pardons
Deforestation rates in the Amazon, the world's biggest rain forest, more than doubled in May as Brazilian farmers become more confident they'll be granted amnesty for illegal logging. Almost 268 square kilometers (66,200 acres) of protected rain forest were cut down in May, up from 110 square kilometers a year ago, the National Institute for Space Research said in an e-mailed statement. Brazil lawmakers are considering a bill that alters its forestry code and would forgive farmers who illegally cleared trees. The possibility that the government may ease these restrictions is encouraging more logging, said Marcio Astrini, coordinator of forest campaigns for Greenpeace International's Brazil unit. That would hamper international efforts to fight global warming by protecting trees that absorb greenhouse gases. "Brazil's been reducing its deforestation for the last five years and this bill comes along and now it shoots up," Astrini said yesterday by phone. "There is only one reason why deforestation is increasing: it's called the forestry code," which may be changing. ...


There's more than one way to skin a rainforest.

ApocaDoc
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Thu, Jun 30, 2011
from National Geographic:
Hold the Champagne: Highway to Split Serengeti After All?
But after a closer look at the official Tanzanian statement behind the reports, it's questions, not toasts, that are being raised, and conservationists are divided as to whether it means the highway is truly canceled.... Officially, the road was supposed to boost Tanzania's economy by linking isolated, impoverished Serengeti villages outside the park with the Tanzanian city of Arusha, to the east, and the shores of Lake Victoria and other central African nations, to the west. Some conservationists, though, have speculated that the real motive for the road is to accommodate mining interests or to lay the groundwork for a railway.... Duke's Pimm agreed. "Many in the conservation community are not popping the champagne cork just yet," he said. "This is not enough." Gravel or paved, an expanded road that bisects the park will be devastating to Serengeti wildlife, he added. "A road by any other name is still going to be a disaster," Pimm said. "I think this is sophistry. ... They're still going to build a road." ...


We just want to migrate the minerals to where they belong -- what's wrong with that?

ApocaDoc
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Thu, Jun 23, 2011
from ChronicleHerald:
Canada single-handedly keeps asbestos off UN hazardous chemicals list
Canada has single-handedly blocked listing chrysotile asbestos as a hazardous chemical, the United Nations confirmed Wednesday, even as the Conservative government maintained its silence back home. At a summit in Switzerland, Canada's delegation ended days of silence and speculation by opposing the inclusion of asbestos on a UN treaty called the Rotterdam Convention. "Yes, I can confirm they intervened in the chemicals contact group meeting this afternoon and opposed listing," Michael Stanley-Jones of the UN Environment Program said in an email. Vietnam, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan also initially opposed the listing. However, Stanley-Jones said one-by-one they switched positions after India announced it would support the listing. That left Canada as the lone voice against the listing. "All had consented when Canada announced its position opposing listing," Stanley-Jones said.... "The Conservative government is living in some other universe in which asbestos is safe, while we spend billions of dollars in Canada ripping it out of our homes." Until Wednesday, it appeared Canada's strategy was to abstain while other asbestos-exporting countries blocked the move. ...


O Conservatives, I single-fingeredly salute you.

ApocaDoc
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Wed, Jun 22, 2011
from Al Gore, in Rolling Stone:
Climate of Denial: Can science and the truth withstand the merchants of poison?
Maybe it's just easier, psychologically, to swallow the lie that these scientists who devote their lives to their work are actually greedy deceivers and left-wing extremists -- and that we should instead put our faith in the pseudoscientists financed by large carbon polluters whose business plans depend on their continued use of the atmospheric commons as a place to dump their gaseous, heat-trapping waste without limit or constraint, free of charge. The truth is this: What we are doing is functionally insane. If we do not change this pattern, we will condemn our children and all future generations to struggle with ecological curses for several millennia to come. Twenty percent of the global-warming pollution we spew into the sky each day will still be there 20,000 years from now! ... Continuing on our current course would be suicidal for global civilization. But the key question is: How do we drive home that fact in a democratic society when questions of truth have been converted into questions of power? When the distinction between what is true and what is false is being attacked relentlessly, and when the referee in the contest between truth and falsehood has become an entertainer...? The best available evidence demonstrates beyond any reasonable doubt that the reckless spewing of global-warming pollution in obscene quantities into the atmospheric commons is having exactly the consequences long predicted by scientists who have analyzed the known facts according to the laws of physics. ...


That guy is so inconvenient.

ApocaDoc
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Mon, May 30, 2011
from Ottowa Citizen:
Tories left oilsands data out of UN report
The [Canadian] federal government has acknowledged it deliberately excluded data indicating a 20 per cent increase in annual pollution from Canada's oilsands industry in 2009 from a recent 567-page report on climate change that it was required to submit to the United Nations. The numbers, uncovered by Postmedia News, were left out of the report, a national inventory on Canada's greenhouse gas pollution. It revealed a six per cent drop in annual emissions for the entire economy from 2008 to 2009, but does not directly show the extent of pollution from the oilsands production, which is greater than the greenhouse gas emissions of all the cars driven on Canadian roads. The data also indicated that emissions per barrel of oil produced by the sector is increasing, despite claims made by the industry in an advertising campaign. "The oilsands remain Canada's fastest-growing source of greenhouse gas pollution, and they're the subject of a huge amount of attention and scrutiny in Canada and internationally," said Clare Demerse, director of climate change at the Pembina Institute, an Alberta-based environmental research group. "So it's very disappointing to see Environment Canada publish a 500-page report that leaves out these critical numbers -- especially when last year's edition included them." ...


They were simply reporting their dreams. Is that so wrong?

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Thu, May 26, 2011
from The Independent:
Slash and burn: Brazil shreds laws protecting its rainforests
Brazil has taken a big step towards passing new laws that will loosen restrictions on the amount of Amazon rainforest that farmers can destroy, after its lower house of parliament voted in favour of updating the country's 46-year-old forest code. In a move described as "disastrous" by conservationists, the nation's congress backed a bill relaxing laws on the deforestation of hilltops and the amount of vegetation farmers must preserve. The law also offers partial amnesties for fines levied against landowners who have illegally destroyed tracts of rainforest. The legislation, which must still be passed by the Brazillian Senate and approved by President Dilma Rousseff, aims to help owners of smaller farms and ranches compete with under-regulated rivals in countries such as the USA and Argentina.... "It's a disaster. It heightens the risk of deforestation, water depletion and erosion," Paulo Gustavo Prado, head of environmental policy at Conservation International-Brazil, told Reuters. He believes that the new bill will result in the loss of roughly 10 per cent of Brazil's remaining rainforest. ...


Use it and lose it.

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Mon, May 9, 2011
from Scientific American blogs:
Temperature Tantrum: James Hansen Speaks Out, Gets Busted, and Now Sues to Stop Global Warming
In the 1980s, however, he became so worried about global warming that he started speaking out. At a 1988 Senate hearing on climate change, he made headlines when he asserted with 99 percent certainty that greenhouse gases from human activities were causing global warming. Since then the correlated surge in atmospheric carbon dioxide and global temperatures has borne out his assertion.... Hansen advocates civil disobedience to block fossil-fuel operations; in 2009 he was arrested along with other protestors allegedly obstructing traffic into a coal-mining operation in West Virginia. Now he is trying another tactic: suing the government. Hansen serves as a scientific advisor for Our Children's Trust, an Oregon-based nonprofit formed "to protect Earth's natural systems for current and future generations." The group has organized a lawsuit that a coalition of environmental groups filed last week against the U.S. and other nations in attempt to force them to take measures to cut fossil-fuel emissions. ...


When science fails, and foresight fails, and prudence fails, and even reason fails to convince, all that's left is the legal system.

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Wed, May 4, 2011
from Independent:
Green schemes are 'wide open to major corruption'
Corruption is threatening global steps to combat climate change, a new report from Transparency International (TI) warned yesterday. Billions of pounds will be plundered and wasted, it says, unless stronger measures are introduced against embezzlement and misappropriation. The organisation warns that 20 nations most vulnerable to climate change - where millions in grants and aid will be targeted - are judged to be among the most corrupt in the world - and stronger oversight is needed to ensure the funds are properly spent. None of the countries, which include Bangladesh, Zimbabwe, Egypt and Vietnam, scores higher than 3.6 on TI's influential Corruption Perception Index, where 0 is wholly corrupt and 10 "very clean".... Any siphoning off of green grants would undermine efforts to reduce the impact of climate change by developing projects such as wind farms or solar power plants, improving sea wall defences, irrigation systems and housing capable of withstanding natural disasters, says TI. "Corruption holds nothing sacred, not even our planet's future," said Huguette Labelle, chair of TI. "Failure to properly govern climate change measures now will not only lead to misallocated resources and fraudulent projects today, but also hurts future generations," The report, Global Corruption Report: Climate Change, estimates the total investment into combating global climate change will reach almost $700bn by 2020. "Where huge amounts of money flow through new and untested financial markets and mechanisms, there is a risk of corruption," it says. ...


Simply replace "corruption" with "corporate profiteering" in the above. If the glove fits...

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Fri, Apr 1, 2011
from Reuters, via WHNT, from DesdemonaDespair:
Government tightens lid on dolphin death probe
The U.S. government is keeping a tight lid on its probe into scores of unexplained dolphin deaths along the Gulf Coast, possibly connected to last year's BP oil spill, causing tension with some independent marine scientists. Wildlife biologists contracted by the National Marine Fisheries Service to document spikes in dolphin mortality and to collect specimens and tissue samples for the agency were quietly ordered late last month to keep their findings confidential. The gag order was contained in an agency letter informing outside scientists that its review of the dolphin die-off, classified as an "unusual mortality event (UME)," had been folded into a federal criminal investigation launched last summer into the oil spill. "Because of the seriousness of the legal case, no data or findings may be released, presented or discussed outside the UME investigative team without prior approval," the letter, obtained by Reuters, stated. A number of scientists said they have been personally rebuked by federal officials for "speaking out of turn" to the media about efforts to determine the cause of some 200 dolphin deaths this year, and about 90 others last year, in the Gulf. ...


When they try to gag scientists, it's usually because bad news is coming back up.

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Sun, Mar 20, 2011
from San Francisco Chronicle:
A new clue in the case of the toxic strawberries
It was disappointing, if not downright strange, when California's Department of Pesticide Regulation decided in December to approve methyl iodide for use on the state's strawberry crops despite more than 50,000 letters of opposition -- the most DPR has ever gotten on any proposed rule. Was DPR head, Mary-Ann Warmerdam, in the pocket of the chemical industry? There's no smoking gun, but Warmerdam had been subject to aggressive lobbying by Arysta LifeScience, the largest privately held chemical manufacturer in the world and the maker of the profitable methyl iodide. Earlier this week, Warmerdam resigned her post, announcing she would be taking a job at chemical maker Clorox. (Clorox does not manufacture methyl iodide.) DPR's approval raised eyebrows because methyl iodide is known to cause cancer, nerve damage and late-term miscarriage.... "Due to the potent toxicity of methyl iodide, its transport in and ultimate fate in the environment, adequate control of human exposure would be difficult, if not impossible."... California produces almost 90 percent of all strawberries grown in the U.S. ...


If I can pronounce a chemical's name, it can't be that bad, right?

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Thu, Mar 10, 2011
from CBC:
Monitoring of oilsands impact inadequate: panel
The province must do a better job of monitoring the impact of oilsands mining on water quality in northeastern Alberta, concludes a scientific panel. Environment Minister Rob Renner appointed the six-member panel in September 2010 after a University of Alberta study concluded industry was responsible for increased levels of toxins in the Athabasca River, a claim contradicted by government scientists.... It found industry and government monitoring is inadequate in determining the amount of toxins entering the environment.... "It's not just that we have to have more monitoring, but we have to have a more coordinated system for monitoring." NDP critic Rachel Notley said Renner has known for years that the current system was lacking but did nothing about it. "The minister can try to rewrite history, but the record shows that while the Tories barged ahead on development, their commitment to environmental protection was in spin only," said Notley. ...


So get 'em some more flatscreens! Jeez, problem solved!

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Wed, Mar 9, 2011
from ProPublica:
Former Bush EPA Official Says Fracking Exemption Went Too Far; Congress Should Revisit
When Benjamin Grumbles was assistant administrator for water at the Environmental Protection Agency in the George W. Bush administration, he oversaw the release of a 2004 EPA report that determined that hydraulic fracturing was safe for drinking water. Then he watched as Congress used those findings to bolster the case for passing a law that prohibited the EPA from regulating fracking under the Safe Drinking Water Act.... Whether it's hydraulic fracturing or any other type of practice that can have an impact on the environment, one single report shouldn't be the basis for a perpetual, never-ending policy decision. It wasn't meant to be a bill of health saying 'well, this practice is fine. Exempt it in all respects from any regulation.' I'm sure that wasn't the intent of the panel of experts, and EPA never viewed it that way. That's one reason why we were urging Congress to say 'look, if you are going to issue an exemption, ensure that it is not perpetual.' ...


The novelty of selective science to justify lucrative destruction has worn off.

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Wed, Mar 9, 2011
from ProPublica:
PA Dep't of Environment Protection Gets the Axe - Environmental Permitting To Be Streamlined
A budget proposal [1] released today by Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett emphasizes jobs creation and looks to cuts in environmental protection and permitting as one way to save money.... But a quick glance shows that the Department of Environmental Protection will face reduced funding across the board, including in its water safety and water treatment programs. The state has been under pressure recently to reign in environmental damage from its fast-growing natural gas drilling industry, and has faced criticism--including in a 2009 ProPublica investigation [2]---for its inability to handle and safely treat wastewater produced from the drilling process. In response, the DEP has added staff, implemented stricter drilling rules, and begun permitting and building new and improved water treatment plants. That momentum could now change.... "Regulatory Reform:... In addition, the DCED secretary is empowered to expedite any permit or action pending in any agency where the creation of jobs may be impacted." ...


What a great job that would be!

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Wed, Mar 9, 2011
from The Independent:
US judge halts damages claim over pollution in Amazon
An American judge has extended his temporary ban on the collection of $18bn in damages from Chevron, saying the US oil giant would be irreparably harmed if it had to pay compensation - ordered by a court in Ecuador - for pollution in parts of the Amazon rainforest.... But Karen Hinton, a spokeswoman for the Ecuadoreans, said Judge Kaplan's failure to consider key evidence or schedule a hearing to learn more facts was a "trampling of due process" and "an inappropriate exercise of judicial power".... The US oil firm Texaco, which merged with Chevron in 2001, stands accused of dumping billions of gallons of toxic waste into unlined pits and Amazon rivers between 1972 and 1992. Campaigners allege that crops were damaged, farm animals died and local cancer rates increased. But Chevron claims that Texaco spent $40m cleaning up the area in the 1990s and signed an agreement with Ecuador in 1998 absolving it of any further responsibility. District Judge Lewis Kaplan said there was evidence that lawyers for 30,000 Ecuadorean plaintiffs would move swiftly to pursue multiple enforcement actions and asset seizures around the globe, including in areas where Chevron would not be immediately able to challenge the lawsuits. He said his decision was justified because without it Chevron would be at significant risk of "missing critical deliveries". ...


Ain't justice grand?

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Mon, Mar 7, 2011
from Reuters:
Republicans launch bill to axe EPA carbon rules
Republicans in both chambers of Congress introduced bills on Thursday that would permanently stop the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating emissions blamed for warming the planet. President Barack Obama would veto a bill that blocks the agency from tackling climate change, administration officials have said. Obama has pledged to the world the United States will cut greenhouse gases to about 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020.... "The EPA is pursuing a dramatic shift in our nation's energy and environmental policy that would send shock waves through our economy," said Ed Whitfield, the chair of the House Energy and Power Subcommittee, a co-sponsor of the measure. Senator James Inhofe, a climate skeptic who is writing a book on global warming called "The Hoax," introduced a version of the legislation in the upper chamber. The Supreme Court ruled in 2007 that the EPA could regulate greenhouse gases under federal law. The EPA then declared the emissions endanger public health, which paved the way for its regulation of gases from smokestacks and vehicles, which began in January. ...


Self-regulation within the energy industry has been successful so far.

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Sat, Feb 26, 2011
from Mongabay:
Indonesian Borneo and Sumatra lose 9 percent of forest cover in 8 years
Kalimantan and Sumatra lost 5.4 million hectares, or 9.2 percent, of their forest cover between 2000/2001 and 2007/2008, reveals a new satellite-based assessment of Indonesian forest cover. The research, led by Mark Broich of South Dakota State University, found that more than 20 percent of forest clearing occurred in areas where conversion was either restricted or prohibited, indicating that during the period, the Indonesian government failed to enforce its forestry laws.... Forest loss was higher in Sumatra, which saw large areas of forest converted for pulp and paper plantations and oil palm estates. Both Sumatra and Kalimantan suffered from large-scale fires set for land-clearing purposes.... Indonesia has lately signaled an interest in slowing deforestation. In 2009, President Yudhoyono announced Indonesia would cut greenhouse gas emissions by 26-41 percent from a projected 2020 baseline, provided it receive international assistance. The country has since signed a 'REDD+' (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation) partnership with Norway that would generate up to $1 billion if Indonesia meets deforestation reduction targets. ...


That rate doesn't even keep up with inflation!

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Thu, Feb 17, 2011
from FreeSpeechAtRisk, via BoingBoing:
Using lawsuits to squelch free speech about environmental destruction
In spring of 2008, multinationals Barrick Gold and Banro Corporation filed lawsuits against authors Alain Deneault, Delphine Abadie, and William Sacher, as well as against their Montreal-based publishing house Ecosociete over the book Noir Canada. Pillage, corruption et criminalité en Afrique (Black Canada. Pillage, corruption and criminality in Africa). The multinationals allege that the book contains false statements about their activities that amount to libel. Despite the well-sourced nature of the material, including reports from the UN, Human Rights Watch, and Amnesty International, they have accused those involved of publishing defamatory statements and are pursuing them for a combined sum of $11 million ($5 million to Banro in an Ontario-based suit, and $6 million to Barrick, filed in Montreal). Our Academic Petition contains further details on the case, as well as the signatures of academic professors from around the world who are pledging their support for the authors and publishing house. Then in February of 2010 Barrick Gold issued a threat of legal action against Vancouver-based publishing house Talonbooks, author Alain Deneault, and the book's translators over their notice of intent to publish a book entitled Imperial Canada Inc. Legal Haven of Choice for the World's Mining Industries. With access to nothing beyond a short description of the material available on the Talonbooks website-with no mention of Barrick-the multinational has threatened further legal action if the book is published and has demanded access to the material prior to its publication. ...


You think you can get away with the truth?

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Sun, Feb 13, 2011
from Huffington Post:
One U.S. Corporation's Role in Egypt's Brutal Internet Crackdown
The open Internet's role in popular uprising is now undisputed. Look no further than Egypt, where the Mubarak regime today reportedly shut down Internet and cell phone communications -- a troubling predictor of the fierce crackdown that has followed. What's even more troubling is news that one American company is aiding Egypt's harsh response through sales of technology that makes this repression possible.... Narus, now owned by Boeing, was founded in 1997 by Israeli security experts to create and sell mass surveillance systems for governments and large corporate clients. The company is best known for creating NarusInsight, a supercomputer system which is allegedly used by the National Security Agency and other entities to perform mass, real-time surveillance and monitoring of public and corporate Internet communications in real time. Narus provides Egypt Telecom with Deep Packet Inspection equipment (DPI), a content-filtering technology that allows network managers to inspect, track and target content from users of the Internet and mobile phones, as it passes through routers on the information superhighway. ...


Total Information Awareness abhors a vacuum.

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Sun, Feb 13, 2011
from slashdot:
Science Programs Hit Hard By Proposed Budget
"The House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations has released a list of proposed spending cuts for the US Federal Government. The proposed cuts include reductions in spending on many science organizations and funds such as NASA, NOAA, nuclear energy research, fossil fuel energy research, clean coal research, the CDC, the NIH, and numerous EPA programs. There are also quite a few cuts proposed on domestic services, such as Americorps and high speed rail research. The House Appropriations Chairman, Hal Rogers, acknowledges that the cuts go deep, and would hurt every district across the country. But they are still deemed necessary to rein in Congressional spending. Notoriously absent from the proposed budget cuts are two of the largest spending sinks in the federal budget: the Department of Defense and Social Security." ...


I'm not feelin' that cut in "clean coal research."

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Sat, Feb 12, 2011
from Huffington Post:
Wendell Berry Joins Retired Coal Miners and Residents in Kentucky Capitol Sit-in
More than six years after Kentucky became the first state in the nation to introduce a bill that would halt the dumping of toxic coal mining wastes into headwater streams and effectively rein in the devastating fall-out of mountaintop removal operations, a group of affected coalfield residents, retired coal miners and bestselling authors have launched a sit-in in the office of Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear this morning.... "This is not something we're doing for pleasure," said Wendell Berry, who has been active in the movement to abolish mountaintop removal mining for years. "We're doing it because it's the next thing to do after all our attempts to attract serious attention to these problems have failed. We're doing this as a last resort. Our intention is to appeal first to our elected representatives and the governor, and failing that, to appeal over their heads to our fellow citizens."... While national media attention on mountaintop removal mining has largely been focused on West Virginia, organizers are reminding the nation that more than 290 mountains... have been blown to bits in eastern Kentucky. A study by the Natural Resources Defense Council last year found that while more than 574,000 acres of hardwood forests in eastern Kentucky have been irreversibly destroyed by mountaintop removal strip mining, less than four percent yielded any verifiable post-mining economic reclamation excluding forestry and pasture. ...


Don't call it "mountaintop removal." It's "landscape altitude averaging."

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Wed, Jan 26, 2011
from Rolling Stone:
12 Politicians and Execs Blocking Progress on Global Warming
No one does more to spread dangerous disinformation about global warming than [Rupert] Murdoch. In a year of rec­ord heat waves in Africa, freak snowstorms in America and epic flooding in Pakistan, the Fox network continued to dismiss climate change as nothing but a conspiracy by liberal scientists and Big Government. Glenn Beck told viewers the Earth experienced no warming in the past decade -- the hottest on record. Sean Hannity declared that "global warming doesn't exist" and speculated about "the true agenda of global-warming hysterics." Even Brian Kilmeade, co-host of the chatty Fox & Friends, laughed off the threat of climate change, joking that the real problem was "too many polar bears." ...


This is the dirtiest dozen of all.

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Wed, Jan 19, 2011
from Telegraph.co.uk:
The silver lining to Arctic global warming
In the Arctic Ocean as elsewhere, the full, destructive power of global warming appears unmistakable. Regional sea ice is retreating fast, threatening to raise global sea levels, destroy traditional habitats and ways of life, and accelerate the rate at which the planet as a whole is warming up. Yet there is one silver lining to this depressing and disturbing picture. For when last week representatives of the Russian oil company Rosneft signed a "historic" new deal with BP, it was an indication that, in the years ahead, climate change will present a more complex picture than the darker image that is often drawn.... The mere threat of resource shortages should prompt us to exploit the remaining reserves to the full, not to fight over them. ...


The sooner we use up those resources forever, the sooner we can get on with the business of resource wars.

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Fri, Jan 7, 2011
from BBC:
Dirty Business film debunks 'clean coal' myth
Dirty Business, the new documentary from the Centre for Investigative Journalism, began its nationwide screening tour last night in Berkeley, California, with the aim of debunking the myth of "clean coal" and kick-starting a debate on the future of energy in the US. The film shows scarred mountains, abandoned family homes on remote hillsides, water courses toxic with sludge, respiratory fatalities and children whose growth has been stunted by pollution as some of the side effects of coal extraction and the power stations that burn it. And, of course, it shows the effect of coal combustion on global temperatures.... Vaclav Smil, professor at the faculty of environment at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, estimates that the infrastructure of networks of pipelines for CCS would have to be twice that for oil and gas. He says: "Clearly you don't have to know anything about anything to realise that industry like that is not going to be created in five or 10 years and still it would contain only 10 percent of [emissions] we are generating today. The problem of scale is immense. It's not a technical problem, it's not a storage problem, it's just a problem scaling it up to a level where it would make a difference." Aside from the problem of building an infrastructure of a technology not yet operating at an economic scale, the real dirty business, as the film suggests, is the murky work of lobbyists, who pay large sums of money to influence political direction. ...


The "problem of scale" is so immense it becomes its own problem of scale.

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Thu, Jan 6, 2011
from Guardian:
Sustainable fish customers 'duped' by Marine Stewardship Council
The body which certifies that fish have been caught sustainably has been accused of "duping" consumers by giving its eco-label to fisheries where stocks are tumbling. The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) manages the labelling system that tells consumers which species of fish they can buy safe in the knowledge they aren't destroying stocks. It recently celebrated the 100th award of its eco-label - to the Barents Sea cod fishery - but a series of decisions allowing controversial fisheries to be granted the prized MSC label has prompted severe criticism of the organisation.... Among the most controversial rulings is the award of an MSC label to the Ross Sea Antarctic toothfish fishery which is still regarded by scientists and the industry as an exploratory fishery. The species is so little understood that researchers still do not know even basics such as where the fish spawns. Others include krill in the Antarctic, tuna and swordfish off the US coast, pollock in the Eastern Bering Sea where stock levels fell 64 percent between 2004 and 2009, and Pacific hake which suffered an 89 percent fall in biomass since 1989. ...


How will we know how much there was, if we don't use it up? Hunh?

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Fri, Dec 17, 2010
from NPR:
Long Wait May Be Over For Science Guidelines
Long-awaited guidelines ordered by President Obama last year to prevent government research from being altered or suppressed for political purposes so the integrity of government scientists can be protected could be released as early as Friday. The guidelines are nearly 11/2 years overdue. During that time, the administration has drawn criticism for its own scientific missteps. ...


Let's hope the guidelines emerge without revision!

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Mon, Nov 22, 2010
from USA Today:
Experts claim 2006 climate report plagiarized
An influential 2006 congressional report that raised questions about the validity of global warming research was partly based on material copied from textbooks, Wikipedia and the writings of one of the scientists criticized in the report, plagiarism experts say. Review of the 91-page report by three experts contacted by USA TODAY found repeated instances of passages lifted word for word and what appear to be thinly disguised paraphrases. The report was requested in 2005 by Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, then the head of the House energy committee. Barton cited the report in an October letter to The Washington Post when he wrote that Penn State climate scientist Michael Mann's work was "rooted in fundamental errors of methodology that had been cemented in place as 'consensus' by a closed network of friends." ...


At least scientists are good for cherry-pickin' and plagiarizin.'

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Tue, Nov 2, 2010
from Guardian:
Is climate science disinformation a crime against humanity?
Although there is an important role for scepticism in science, for almost 30 years some corporations have supported a disinformation campaign about climate change science. While it may be reasonable to be somewhat sceptical about climate change models, these untruths are not based upon reasonable scepticism but outright falsification and distortions of climate change science.... According the New York Times article, the fossil fuel industry has "created and lavishly financed institutes to produce anti-global warming studies, paid for rallies and websites to question the science, and generated scores of economic analyses that purport to show that policies to reduce emissions of climate-altering gases will have a devastating effect on jobs and the overall economy." Disinformation about the state of climate change science is extraordinarily - if not criminally - irresponsible, because the consensus scientific view is based upon strong evidence that climate change: * Is already being experienced by tens of thousands in the world; * Will be experienced in the future by millions of people from greenhouse gas emissions that have already been emitted but not yet felt due to lags in the climate system; and, * Will increase dramatically in the future unless greenhouse gas emissions are dramatically reduced from existing global emissions levels.... We may not have a word for this type of crime yet, but the international community should find a way of classifying extraordinarily irresponsible scientific claims that could lead to mass suffering as some type of crime against humanity. ...


The tobacco executives all retired rich.

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Sun, Oct 31, 2010
from New York Times:
Coal Industry Spending to Sway Next Congress
The coal industry, facing a host of new health and safety regulations, is spending millions of dollars in lobbying and campaign donations this year to influence the makeup of the next Congress in hopes of derailing what one industry official called an Obama administration "regulatory jihad."... Over the last two years, the coal industry, along with its allies in oil and gas, electric utilities, manufacturing and agriculture, effectively killed any prospects for climate change legislation in the near future. But after two major coal industry accidents, a huge spill of toxic ash in 2008 and a West Virginia mine disaster in April that killed 29 workers, the industry is bracing for new federal action that it fears will curtail operations and drive up costs. Industry officials believe they face a hostile administration that could seriously harm their business with a range of new federal regulations on greenhouse gas emissions, mountaintop removal mining, air pollution, coal ash disposal and mine safety.... "E.P.A.'s actions are firmly grounded in both the best available science and the law -- in fact, in many cases E.P.A. is operating under legal deadlines after rules from the previous administration were thrown out by the courts." ...


Corporate profit motives are clearly in society's best interests.

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Wed, Oct 13, 2010
from Washington Post:
U.S. lifts ban on deep-water drilling
Under pressure from Gulf Coast lawmakers warning of job losses, the Obama administration Tuesday lifted the moratorium on deep-water drilling for oil and gas in the Gulf of Mexico weeks ahead of schedule, pledging closer oversight in the wake of the worst spill in U.S. history. "We are open for business," Interior Secretary Ken Salazar told reporters in a phone call Tuesday afternoon, adding, "We have made, and continue to make, significant progress in reducing the risks associated with deep-water drilling." ...


And so another moment of reckoning has passed.

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Thu, Sep 2, 2010
from Jeffrey Sachs, in Scientific American:
The Deepening Crisis: When Will We Face the Planet's Environmental Problems?
During the four years of this column, the world's inability to face up to the reality of the growing environmental crisis has become even more palpable. Every major goal that international bodies have established for global environmental policy as of 2010 has been postponed, ignored or defeated. Sadly, this year will quite possibly become the warmest on record, yet another testimony to human-induced environmental catastrophes running out of control. This was to be the year of biodiversity. In 2002 nations pledged, under the auspices of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity, to slow significantly the planetary loss of biodiversity by 2010. This goal was not even remotely achieved. Indeed, it was barely even noticed by Americans: the U.S. signed the convention in 1992 but never ratified it. Ratifi­cation fell victim to the uniquely American delusion that virtually all of nature should be subdivided into parcels of private property, within which owners should have their way.... The Senate, true to form, sustained its 18th year of inaction on global warming since ratifying the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change in 1992.... Fifth, vested corporate interests have mastered the dark arts of propaganda, and they can use their deep pockets to purchase a sea of deliberate misinformation to deceive the public. ...


The free market of corporate politics is my friend! They told me so!

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Sun, Aug 29, 2010
from Reuters, via Scientific American:
Pakistanis too broken to rebuild in flood crisis
He has been walking for two days with a 20-kg (44 lb) sack of wheat on his back. Food shortages caused by the disaster have sent prices soaring and the only market he can afford is many kilometers away. "How can I think about rebuilding? I have no way of making money and I am just too tired," said the 50-year-old farmer. Madyan, in the northwest Swat valley, looks more like an earthquake zone than a flood-stricken area. Four-storey hotels that fueled the local economy vanished. Buildings have been flattened, with cars sandwiched between slabs of concrete. Roads were dragged down and all that's left behind are 30-meter (100-foot) dirt cliffs crumbling into a river. Pakistan's government was heavily criticized after its sluggish response to the floods, which hit about one-third of the country, made more than 6 million homeless, and threaten to the bring the economy to its knees without outside intervention.... "The government is robbing everything from us," he said. "If this continues there will be lots of angry young men here. They could join the Taliban. They have nothing else to do." ...


Act of God, or act of Man, betrayal has consequences.

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Tue, Aug 24, 2010
from PhysOrg:
The world is running out of helium: Nobel prize winner
A renowned expert on helium says we are wasting our supplies of the inert gas helium and will run out within 25 to 30 years, which will have disastrous consequences for hospitals and industry. Liquid helium is vital for its use in cooling the superconducting magnets in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanners. There is no substitute because no other substance has a lower boiling point. Helium is also vital in the manufacture of liquid crystal displays (LCDs) and fiber optics.... Professor Richardson warned the gas is not cheap because the supply is inexhaustible, but because of the Helium Privatisation Act passed in 1996 by the US Congress. The Act required the helium stores held underground near Amarillo in Texas to be sold off at a fixed rate by 2015 regardless of the market value, to pay off the original cost of the reserve. The Amarillo storage facility holds around half the Earth's stocks of helium: around a billion cubic meters of the gas. The US currently supplies around 80 percent of the world's helium supplies.... the reserve is a collection of disused underground mines, pipes and vats extending over 300 km from north of Amarillo into Kansas. He warned that when helium is released to the atmosphere, in helium balloons for example, it is lost forever. There is no chemical way of manufacturing helium, and the supplies we have originated in the very slow radioactive alpha decay that occurs in rocks. It costs around 10,000 times more to extract helium from air than it does from rocks and natural gas reserves. ...


That "Contract with America" really paid off.

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Fri, Aug 6, 2010
from SciDev.net:
Sufferers urge progress on sickle cell drug Nicosan
"This remedy changed my life," said Tosin Ola, a US-based advocate for sufferers from the disease, who had used the drug since 2007. She has written an open letter, for which she is collecting signatures, to three banks.... "Dust gathers at the Xechem factory that could be our salvation ... equipment to manufacture Nicosan [is] rusting wastefully away while you sit behind your desk ignoring all attempts to put this matter to rest," says the letter. The banks --Bank PHB, Diamond Bank and Nexim -- control Xechem's Nigerian subsidiary following the company's failure to repay loans it obtained from them. Niprisan is based on extracts from West African plants known to a Nigerian family which made a pioneering agreement with NIPRD, widely cited as a case study in "benefit sharing" -- allowing local groups to have a stake in the profits from commercialising indigenous products. The licence to produce the drug was subsequently bought by Xechem International, which held it for six years -- during the last few of which it was dogged by allegations of fraud and mismanagement. ...


The free market rises to the occasion again.

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Wed, Aug 4, 2010
from New York Times:
Pessimism Clouds Climate Meeting
This week in Bonn, negotiators are meeting to prepare for this year's annual climate meeting, COP-16 (the 16th Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change), which opens in late November in Cancun, Mexico. There is little optimism this time around. Even the few areas of agreement that were hailed as great accomplishments in the Copenhagen Accord seem to be back on the negotiating table. The negotiating document for the Bonn session, which ends on Friday, leaves open - once again -- whether the goal of a new treaty should be to limit the temperature rise to 1 degree, 1.5 degrees or 2 degrees Celsius. Delegates will have to decide anew whether developed countries should "commit to a goal of mobilizing" $100 billion to support poorer nations or should be "assessed contributions of 1.5 percent of the G.D.P." Likewise, the negotiating document suggests that delegates will be revisiting emissions reductions goals for richer nations: Should developed countries, as a group, be required to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by "75 to 85 percent," or "at least 80 to 95 percent," or "more than 95 percent" from 1990 levels by 2050? ...


And once more, we'll revisit the question "is humankind fatal to humans?"

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Fri, Jul 30, 2010
from Huffington Post:
China Oil Spill Far Bigger Than Stated, U.S. Expert Says
But Rick Steiner, a former University of Alaska marine conservation specialist, estimated 60,000 tons (18.47 million gallons) to 90,000 tons (27.70 million gallons) of oil actually spilled into the Yellow Sea. "It's enormous. That's at least as large as the official estimate of the Exxon Valdez disaster" in Alaska, he told The Associated Press. The size of the offshore area affected by the spill is likely more than 400 square miles (1,000 square kilometers), he added.... The estimates, though rough, could complicate China's efforts to move on from its latest environmental disaster: Dalian's mayor already declared a "decisive victory" in the oil spill cleanup, state media reported this week.... Steiner, who worked on the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill, announced the China estimates after touring the oil spill area as a consultant for the environmental group Greenpeace China. "It's habitual for governments to understate oil spills," Steiner told a news conference. "But the severity of the discrepancy is unusual here." An official with Dalian's propaganda department told The Associated Press he was not aware of Steiner's estimates and had no comment. ...


When the propaganda department is speechless, it's serious!

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Thu, Jul 22, 2010
from McClatchy, via DesdemonaDespair:
BP's oil spill caused by Fed's 'dangerous culture of permissiveness'
The Bush administration focused from its earliest days on ramping up domestic oil and gas production, charged House Democrats, but at the same time allowed the industry a "dangerous culture of permissiveness" that culminated in the April 20 explosion of the Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico.... The House panel interrogated former Interior Department secretaries who implemented the 2001 recommendations of former Vice President Dick Cheney's energy task force, which in turn resulted in an executive order requiring federal agencies to expedite offshore drilling and other domestic energy production. ...


Aren't these the same guys who rail about permissive parents?

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Sun, Jul 4, 2010
from New York Times:
As Oil Industry Fights a Tax, It Reaps Billions From Subsidies
an examination of the American tax code indicates that oil production is among the most heavily subsidized businesses, with tax breaks available at virtually every stage of the exploration and extraction process. According to the most recent study by the Congressional Budget Office, released in 2005, capital investments like oil field leases and drilling equipment are taxed at an effective rate of 9 percent, significantly lower than the overall rate of 25 percent for businesses in general and lower than virtually any other industry. And for many small and midsize oil companies, the tax on capital investments is so low that it is more than eliminated by various credits. These companies' returns on those investments are often higher after taxes than before. ...


Seems we are both addicts AND enablers.

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Sun, Jul 4, 2010
from Sydney Daily Telegraph:
The poison fed to our babies
The chemical, Bisphenol A (BPA), is found in plastic packaging. Latest research in the US says it may harm brain development and the prostate gland. Australian stores last week began a voluntary phase-out of plastic baby bottles containing the substance, but Food Standards Australia New Zealand has long declared it safe. A draft report to Parliamentary Secretary for Health Mark Butler includes comments indicating that the agency considered covering up international concerns. "Maybe too sensitive for the Minister to see," one comment says. Another comment, on industry moves to phase out products containing BPA, warns: "Would delete this - we do not want to be encouraging withdrawal of something we deem safe." ...


We call these sorts of spineless bureaucrats bisphenol Assholes.

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Mon, Jun 14, 2010
from New Scientist:
Extreme tactics in the battle to resume whaling
Japan's tactics in attempting to overturn the ban on commercial whaling have come under fresh scrutiny following an undercover investigation by UK newspaper The Sunday Times. Opponents of whaling have long accused Japan of offering foreign aid to small, poor countries if they joined the International Whaling Commission (IWC) and vote to resume whaling. But hard evidence of Japan's tactics have not been documented until now. The Sunday Times used undercover reporters, posing as representatives of a billionaire conservationist, to approach officials from pro-whaling countries. They offered them aid packages in exchange for their votes.... According to the newspaper, senior fisheries officials for the Marshall Islands and Kiribati said their vote at the IWC was dependent on the funds that Japan gave them. In a commentary, The Sunday Times wrote that Japan "systemically" recruits these small countries - who have little or no direct interest in whaling - onto the IWC. Japanese officials deny all of the allegations, and according to The Sunday Times "insists it is a coincidence that the countries it targets with overseas aid happen to be voting members of the IWC". ...


Bribery is just part of the "scientific exploration" of whaling.

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Sat, Jun 5, 2010
from PhysOrg:
Canada cuts greenhouse gas emissions target for 2010-2012
The Canadian government quietly cut its greenhouse gas emissions target for 2010-2012 this week, unleashing a firestorm of criticism from the opposition on Friday. The new target was published late Wednesday by the environment ministry in a report titled "A Climate Change Plan for the Purposes of the Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act." It outlines CO2 cuts of five million tonnes in 2010, followed by eight million and 10 million tonnes fewer emissions in 2011 and 2012, respectively.... "The numbers say it all: this government's inaction on climate change means actual emissions will grow in absolute terms every year until 2012," lamented opposition Liberal MP David McGuinty, describing the results as "appalling."... Canada aligned itself with the United States in January in setting a 2020 carbon emissions target of 17 percent below 2005 levels. ...


Just because your big brother does it doesn't make it okay.

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Fri, May 28, 2010
from Fort Worth Star-Telegram:
Texas agency gave inaccurate air pollution test results to Fort Worth
The state agency in charge of testing for air pollution gave inaccurate test results to the city of Fort Worth about toxic emissions from gas wells in January, and when it realized what it had done, it failed to notify the city or the public for weeks, according to an audit made public this week....At issue is a series of tests that the agency conducted in December in Fort Worth after activists raised questions about the amounts of benzene and other toxic compounds released from natural gas wells. Sadlier presented the results to the Fort Worth City Council on Jan. 12, saying, "Based on this study, the air is safe." Sadlier said the samples showed that none of the sites exceeded either the long-term or short-term screening levels for 22 airborne toxic compounds. However, state officials later discovered that the tests had been done with equipment that wasn't sensitive enough to measure some of the compounds at the long-term levels. ...


We are s'oh! sorry we bullshitted you!

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Tue, May 25, 2010
from New York Times:
Inspector General's Inquiry Faults Regulators
Federal regulators responsible for oversight of drilling in the Gulf of Mexico allowed industry officials several years ago to fill in their own inspection reports in pencil -- and then turned them over to the regulators, who traced over them in pen before submitting the reports to the agency, according to an inspector general's report to be released this week. The report, which describes inappropriate behavior by the staff at the Minerals Management Service from 2005 to 2007, also found that inspectors had accepted meals, tickets to sporting events and gifts from at least one oil company while they were overseeing the industry. ...


From an efficiency standpoint this is genius!

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Sat, May 15, 2010
from AP, via PhysOrg.com:
Asian ivory black market poses danger to African elephant
Carefully, the Chinese ivory dealer pulled out an elephant tusk cloaked in bubble wrap and hidden in a bag of flour. Its price: $17,000. "Do you have any idea how many years I could get locked away in prison for having this?" said the dealer, a short man in his 40s, who gave his name as Chen. A surge in demand for ivory in Asia is fuelling an illicit trade in elephant tusks, especially from Africa. Over the past eight years, the price of ivory has gone up from about $100 per kilogram ($100 per 2.2 pounds) to $1,800, creating a lucrative black market. Experts warn that if the trade is not stopped, elephant populations could dramatically plummet. The elephants could be nearly extinct by 2020, some activists say. Sierra Leone lost its last elephants in December, and Senegal has fewer than 10 left.... In Kenya alone, poaching deaths spiked seven-fold in the last three years, culminating in 271 elephant killings last year. The Tsavo National Park area had 50,000 elephants in the 1960s; today, it has 11,000. And at least 10 Chinese nationals have been arrested at Kenya's airport trying to transport ivory back to Asia since the beginning of last year. ...


I think the elephant decline is just natural variation.

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Wed, May 5, 2010
from Politico:
Obama biggest recipient of BP cash
While the BP oil geyser pumps millions of gallons of petroleum into the Gulf of Mexico, President Barack Obama and members of Congress may have to answer for the millions in campaign contributions they've taken from the oil and gas giant over the years. BP and its employees have given more than $3.5 million to federal candidates over the past 20 years, with the largest chunk of their money going to Obama, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Donations come from a mix of employees and the company's political action committees -- $2.89 million flowed to campaigns from BP-related PACs and about $638,000 came from individuals. ...


Say it ain't so, O!

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Tue, Apr 27, 2010
from NPR:
How Cap And Trade Was 'Trashed'
It's not clear whether climate-change legislation has any chance in the Senate this year. What is clear is that even if the chamber does manage to pass a bill, it will be much less ambitious than the version approved by the House last year. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) spent months negotiating with Sens. John Kerry (D-MA) and Joseph Lieberman (I-CT) over what was expected to be the Senate's blueprint for action on the issue. Over the weekend, Graham pulled out of the effort, canceling the bill's introduction, which had been set for Monday... Graham has been castigated in his home state for working with Democrats on the issue and had not been able to win over any GOP co-sponsors. Climate change has become an increasingly partisan issue. ...


The planet is not partisan, though the poor will suffer far more than the rich.

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Fri, Apr 16, 2010
from BBC:
Whaling peace plan to go forward this year
A proposal aimed at bridging the split between whaling nations and their opponents will almost certainly come to governments for decision this year. Sources say it could involve Japan accepting quotas below current levels; but Iceland is opposing proposed catch limits and an international trade ban. Some anti-whaling countries see such a "peace package" as the only way to constrain whale hunting.... The "peace package" would set terms for the next 10 years, with a review after five. Initial quotas could be amended downwards if scientific assessments indicated the necessity. Governments would agree not to set quotas unilaterally. Whaling nations would have to agree to a monitoring regime involving observers on boats and a DNA register designed to keep illegal whalemeat out of the market. ...


Sure, guys, keep the Einsatz going for another decade. Just keep it at lower levels. For peace.

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Wed, Apr 7, 2010
from Greenpeace:
Koch Industries: Secretly Funding the Climate Denial Machine
Billionaire oilman David Koch likes to joke that Koch Industries is "the biggest company you've never heard of." But the nearly $50 million that David Koch and his brother Charles have quietly funneled to climate-denial front groups that are working to delay policies and regulations aimed at stopping global warming is no joking matter. Charles G. Koch and David H. Koch have a vested interest in delaying climate action: they've made billions from their ownership and control of Koch Industries, an oil corporation that is the second largest privately-held company in America (which also happens to have an especially poor environmental record). It's time more people were aware of Charles and David Koch and just what they're up to. Greenpeace has released the report "Koch Industries: Secretly Funding the Climate Denial Machine" to expose the connections between these climate denial front groups and the secretive billionaires who are funding their efforts. The Koch brothers, their family members, and their employees direct a web of financing that supports conservative special interest groups and think-tanks, with a strong focus on fighting environmental regulation, opposing clean energy legislation, and easing limits on industrial pollution. ...


This is what plutocracy looks like.

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Sat, Apr 3, 2010
from Guardian:
South Africa is becoming a high-carbon zone to attract foreign investment
With its sky-high poverty levels and average life expectancy of just 51 years, South Africa is not a country we generally associate with extravagant binge-flying lifestyles, turbo-consumerism, and shopping trips to New York. How bizarre then that per capita carbon emissions in South Africa are now higher than in many European countries. While most South Africans are unlikely to ever own a plasma screen TV or Hummer, their carbon footprints still appear to be only slightly less than your average Japanese, and their national carbon emissions are now greater than those of France. The situation becomes more comprehensible when you look at South Africa's industrial base, with 60 percent of South Africa's electricity being guzzled by heavy industry, and most of that comes from dirty coal. Now this key global climate player wants another coal station that would pollute as much as the two dirtiest plants in Britain put together, and cause a further surge in its national emissions - and they want you to pay for it. Far from benefiting ordinary South Africans, they will also be forced into subsidising this artificially low-cost electricity, for the benefit of multinational mining companies. It's no wonder that African civil society movements are leading the opposition to this development.... That's why it's so odd that western governments, including our own, now seem determined to egg them on by making a $3.7bn (£2.4bn) World Bank loan to the South African state-owned power company Eskom to help build one of the most polluting power stations in the world. With one hand the government complains about major emerging economies not doing enough to embrace low-carbon development, while at the same time, it directs money that's meant for aid, into dirty coal developments that power the international mining industry. ...


Maybe this is the World Bank's way of saying "let's get this over with."

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Fri, Mar 19, 2010
from Times Online:
World votes to continue trading in species on verge of extinction
Proposals to ban trade in bluefin tuna and polar bears were overwhelmingly rejected yesterday at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites), meeting in Doha, Qatar.... Campaigners reacted with dismay. Oliver Knowles, of Greenpeace, said: "It is an own-goal by Japan. By pushing for a few more years of this luxury product it has put the future of bluefin, and the future of its own supply, at serious risk. The abject failure of governments here at Cites to protect Atlantic bluefin tuna spells disaster for its future, and sets the species on a pathway to extinction."... The Cites process, which requires a two-thirds majority for a proposal to be adopted, is vulnerable to well-funded lobbying by countries and industries that depend on trade in a species. The vested interests exploit uncertainties in the estimates of population numbers, and strike backroom deals to secure the votes of developing countries where endangered species are far down the list of political priorities. ...


The "world" didn't vote -- the moneyed status quo voted.

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Sun, Mar 14, 2010
from Post-Tribune:
Toxicity of pile remains undetermined at site
More than a year and a half after ArcelorMittal first applied for a landfill in Burns Harbor, the company has not disclosed the toxics in all the waste to be landfilled. The waste -- also known as Easterly's Pile -- has been dumped in piles up to three stories tall on open ground a couple hundred feet from Lake Michigan and the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore for more than a decade. What is certain is that some of the waste destined for the landfill is more toxic than ArcelorMittal first indicated. New test results obtained by the Post-Tribune show the waste is one step short of being considered hazardous because of high contents of lead and cadmium. ...


This pile is looking more and more like a pile of crap!

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Mon, Feb 1, 2010
from Mongabay:
Russian police raid environmental group working to protect Lake Baikal
Russian police have raided the Baikal Environmental Wave organization reports the Moscow Times. Police seized several computers, citing the reason for the raid to uncover the use of unlicensed software. A member of the group, however, linked the raid to its public stance against reopening the Baikalsk Paper and Pulp Mills on Lake Baikal, which closed due to pollution concerns two years ago. "All of our programs are licensed. They confiscated the computers without checking the license documents, saying they didn't have experts to look at them," Galina Kulebyakina, a member of Baikal Environmental Wave, told The Moscow Times. The re-opening of the mills was recently announced by Vladimir Putin after he visited the bottom of Lake Baikal in a submarine, claiming he could see no sign of environmental damage. ...


Damage? What damage? It looks exactly the way it looks!

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Fri, Jan 22, 2010
from New York Times:
Senators Want to Bar E.P.A. Greenhouse Gas Limits
In a direct challenge to the Environmental Protection Agency's authority, Senator Lisa Murkowski, Republican of Alaska, introduced a resolution on Thursday to prevent the agency from taking any action to regulate carbon dioxide and other climate-altering gases. Ms. Murkowski, joined by 35 Republicans and three conservative Democrats, proposed to use the Congressional Review Act to strip the agency of the power to limit emissions of greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act. The Supreme Court gave the agency legal authority to regulate such emissions in a landmark 2007 ruling. "Make no mistake," Ms. Murkowski said in a floor statement, "if Congress allows this to happen there will be severe consequences." She said businesses would be forced to close or move overseas, domestic energy production would be curtailed, housing would become more expensive and agricultural costs would rise. ...


As opposed to the no-consequence future of severe climate change....

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Thu, Jan 21, 2010
from Chicago Tribune:
Asian carp DNA found in Lake Michigan
The DNA of Asian carp has been found in Lake Michigan for the first time, researchers said Tuesday, igniting a new round of calls for urgent action and renewed criticism of Illinois and the federal government for allowing the voracious carp to migrate up the state's waterways. The alarming find came just hours after the U.S. Supreme Court refused to address the carp issue, rejecting Michigan's request for an injunction to force Illinois to stop its waterways from flowing into Lake Michigan. That left the issue in the hands of federal and state officials in Illinois....the discovery may bring the region a step closer to a scenario in which the carp devastate the Great Lakes' fragile ecology and commercial fishing interests. ...


Don't they get these carp are also a metaphor?!?

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Thu, Jan 21, 2010
from Reuters:
Massachusetts vote hurts US climate bill
Republican Scott Brown's upset victory on Tuesday in the special U.S. Senate race has dealt a further blow to Democrats' drive to pass a climate control bill in 2010. Last June, the House of Representatives narrowly passed a cap and trade bill that would require reductions in industrial emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases over the next four decades. It also would allow pollution permits to be traded in a new regulated market. But the global warming bill has languished in the Senate, where some members have been trying to find a compromise. Once Brown takes office, Democrats will hold 59 of the 100 votes in the Senate and the Republicans 41. The bill needs 60 votes to overcome procedural hurdles that could block passage. ...


What the hell... we have all the time in the world.

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Sun, Jan 17, 2010
from The Columbus Dispatch:
Ohio lets power plants, factories ignore federal mercury limits
Since 2004, the state has allowed 42 treatment facilities, power plants and factories to ignore federal limits on dumping mercury into lakes, rivers and streams. This year, the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency is considering more than 30 new requests for variances from companies that argue that the cost of keeping mercury out of the water far exceeds any benefits to wildlife and human health. Some argue that the technology needed to meet the limits set in 1995 does not exist. "There is no treatment technology available to get to these low levels," said Pat Hemlepp, a spokesman for Columbus-based American Electric Power. But critics say governments are doing little, if anything, to make businesses develop cheap, reliable filters to remove mercury. ...


Government + business versus you + me.

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Sat, Dec 26, 2009
from New York Times:
Earth-Friendly Elements, Mined Destructively
Some of the greenest technologies of the age, from electric cars to efficient light bulbs to very large wind turbines, are made possible by an unusual group of elements called rare earths. The world’s dependence on these substances is rising fast. Just one problem: These elements come almost entirely from China, from some of the most environmentally damaging mines in the country, in an industry dominated by criminal gangs. ...


I dunno... sounds a lot like the coal industry to me!

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Thu, Dec 3, 2009
from BBC (UK):
Climate e-mail hack 'will impact on Copenhagen summit': Saudis
E-mails hacked from a climate research institute suggest climate change does not have a human cause, according to Saudi Arabia's lead climate negotiator. Mohammad Al-Sabban told BBC News that the issue will have a "huge impact" on next week's UN climate summit, with countries unwilling to cut emissions. Other scientists say the e-mails from the University of East Anglia do not alter the picture of man-made warming.... "It appears from the details of the scandal that there is no relationship whatsoever between human activities and climate change," he told BBC News.... As the world's leading oil producer, Saudi Arabia has previously fought attempts to agree curbs on emissions, and has also argued that it should receive financial compensation for "lost" revenue, given that constraints on emissions might restrict oil sales. ...


I'm glad Saudi Arabia is an unbiased and objective voice in this matter.

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Sun, Nov 15, 2009
from New York Times:
Leaders Agree to Delay a Deal on Climate Change
SINGAPORE -- President Obama and other world leaders have decided to put off the difficult task of reaching a climate change agreement at a global climate conference scheduled for next month, agreeing instead to make it the mission of the Copenhagen conference to reach a less specific "politically binding" agreement that would punt the most difficult issues into the future. At a hastily arranged breakfast on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit meeting on Sunday morning, the leaders, including Lars Lokke Rasmussen, the prime minister of Denmark and the chairman of the climate conference, agreed that in order to salvage Copenhagen they would have to push a fully binding legal agreement down the road, possibly to a second summit meeting in Mexico City later on. ...


How sweet they agree!

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Fri, Oct 23, 2009
from Scientific American:
Editing Scientists: Science and Policy at the White House
...During the Bush era, however, the CEQ came to play a large role in setting environmental policy, particularly in the area of climate change. Lawyer Philip Cooney, a CEQ chief of staff and a 15-year veteran of the American Petroleum Institute, spent the first term of the administration editing science reports from various agencies on climate change to downplay the role of greenhouse gas emissions -- emphasizing elements of uncertainty from a 2001 National Research Council report on climate change, according to an investigation by the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. Following his resignation in 2005 immediately following reports of the editing, ostensibly for "family reasons," he joined ExxonMobil....Cooney himself made 294 edits to the administration's 364-page Strategic Plan for the U.S. Climate Change Science Program posted July 24, 2003, "to exaggerate or emphasize scientific uncertainties or to deemphasize or diminish the importance of the human role in global warming..." ...


We don't call it "editing"; we call it "softening the blow."

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Wed, Oct 14, 2009
from Greenwire:
EPA Releases Bush-Era Endangerment Document
U.S. EPA released a long-sequestered document on global warming today showing the George W. Bush administration had concluded in December 2007 that greenhouse gas emissions from motor vehicles were endangering public welfare and needed to be regulated under the Clean Air Act. The 29-page EPA analysis (pdf) -- labeled "Deliberative, Do Not Distribute" -- ticked through the climate-changing effects that heat-trapping gases have on air pollution, precipitation patterns, sea-level rise, glacial melting and wildlife patterns.... congressional investigators last year determined that Bush ultimately backed down after hearing counterarguments from the office of Vice President Dick Cheney, the Office of Management and Budget, the Transportation Department, Exxon Mobil Corp. and others in the oil industry (E&E Daily, July 18, 2008). ...


I propose that Cheney, Bush and co. be prevented from emitting carbons for the rest of their pitiful lives!

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Tue, Sep 29, 2009
from New York Times:
Climate Bill Splits Exelon and U.S. Chamber
Exelon, one of the country's largest utilities, said Monday that it would quit the United States Chamber of Commerce because of that group's stance on climate change. It was the latest in a string of companies to do so, perhaps a harbinger of how intense the fight over global warming legislation could become. "The carbon-based free lunch is over," said John W. Rowe, Exelon's chief executive. "Breakthroughs on climate change and improving our society's energy efficiency are within reach." ...


Just so's we can still have the occasional martini.

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Wed, Sep 16, 2009
from New York Times:
Clean Water Laws Are Neglected, at a Cost in Suffering
Tests show that their tap water contains arsenic, barium, lead, manganese and other chemicals at concentrations federal regulators say could contribute to cancer and damage the kidneys and nervous system. "How can we get digital cable and Internet in our homes, but not clean water?" said Mrs. Hall-Massey, a senior accountant at one of the state's largest banks.... When Mrs. Hall-Massey and 264 neighbors sued nine nearby coal companies, accusing them of putting dangerous waste into local water supplies, their lawyer did not have to look far for evidence. As required by state law, some of the companies had disclosed in reports to regulators that they were pumping into the ground illegal concentrations of chemicals -- the same pollutants that flowed from residents' taps. But state regulators never fined or punished those companies for breaking those pollution laws. ...


What's a few heavy metals, between friends?

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Mon, Aug 24, 2009
from Huffington Post:
EPA Fails To Inform Public About Weed-Killer In Drinking Water
Records that tracked the amount of the weed-killer atrazine in about 150 watersheds from 2003 through 2008 were obtained by the Huffington Post Investigative Fund under the Freedom of Information Act. An analysis found that yearly average levels of atrazine in drinking water violated the federal standard at least ten times in communities in Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, and Kansas, all states where farmers rely heavily on the herbicide. In addition, more than 40 water systems in those states showed spikes in atrazine levels that normally would have triggered automatic notification of customers. In none of those cases were residents alerted.... In recent years atrazine has been the subject of intensive debate among scientists about its effects on the reproductive systems of frogs and other vertebrate animals. In some studies, male frogs that were exposed to high levels of atrazine have been documented to grow eggs. ...


It tastes just the same as pthalates or PCBs -- so nobody noticed!

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Sat, Aug 22, 2009
from London Financial Times:
Kenya hit by mass hunger and water shortage
The number of Kenyans in urgent need of food aid has jumped by over 50 per cent to nearly 4m, according to official figures, as the country is hit by mass hunger as well as shortages of power and water. The immediate cause of the three-fold crisis is a prolonged drought, but critics of Kenya’s dysfunctional coalition government blame it for failing to mitigate the drought’s effects, in spite of clear warning signs. The government was already facing public discontent over its failure to implement political reforms pledged after last year’s post-election crisis, but the real-life impact of the food, water and power shortages is fuelling the anger. ...


A "dysfunctional government"... sounds awfully familiar!

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Sun, Aug 16, 2009
from BusinessGreen:
UN climate change chief: If we continue at this rate, we won't make it
Yvo de Boer, the UN's top climate change official, has today closed the latest round of talks in Bonn with the stark warning that a deal will not be reached at the Copenhagen meeting this December unless the pace of negotiations increases significantly.... He said that negotiators could not afford to lose sight of the scale of the challenge that they faced, reminding them that they needed to recognise that "serious climate change is equal to game over". De Boer also offered a stinging rebuke to those critics arguing action on climate change could be delayed, saying that Copenhagen offered the last best chance of avoiding catastrophe. "As Copenhagen approaches, I keep hearing those who say we can delay action on climate change, that we can survive a rise of more than two degrees in temperature, that we can safely cut costs and safely cut corners, and that there are other priorities that we need to be focusing on," he said. "I believe this is a way to a global disaster. A climate change deal in Copenhagen this year is simply an unequivocal requirement to stop climate change slipping out of control." ...


Do we then get to push "restart" on this game?

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Tue, Aug 11, 2009
from Than Nien News (Vietnam):
Slaps on the wrist as old hands pollute waters
In Dong Nai, the Tan Phat Tai Private Company in Bien Hoa Town, not far from HCMC, was last year caught twice by Dong Nai police discharging harmful waste including paint and oil into the land of nearby residents. The company was fined VND15 million (US$842). Again on June 12 this year, the footwear company was caught releasing waste into a residential plot in Long Thanh District. It was fined VND10 million on July 3 only to be caught dumping around three cubic meters of wastewater from a tanker in Vinh Cuu District just four days later. Since the company's license for transporting, treating and destroying waste was granted by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, authorities in Dong Nai said they can only impose cash penalties upon the polluter.... "The wastewater is black and smells like weed killer," a local resident had said in July, adding that she could hardly breathe when standing near the dumping site. Test results later showed that the effluent contained cyanide, phenol, lead and other heavy metals. Le Quang Thang, who drove the tanker that dumped the waste, said he had been doing so for two months, getting paid VND2 million for each trip. Thang said he was told where to throw the waste, and that he made three such trips a day. ...


Fines of about twice what the truck driver was paid that day. Ouch! That's gotta hurt!

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Sun, Jul 26, 2009
from London Observer:
Revealed: the secret evidence of global warming Bush tried to hide
Graphic images that reveal the devastating impact of global warming in the Arctic have been released by the US military. The photographs, taken by spy satellites over the past decade, confirm that in recent years vast areas in high latitudes have lost their ice cover in summer months. The pictures, kept secret by Washington during the presidency of George W Bush, were declassified by the White House last week. President Barack Obama is currently trying to galvanise Congress and the American public to take action to halt catastrophic climate change caused by rising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere... The photographs demonstrate starkly how global warming is changing the Arctic. More than a million square kilometres of sea ice - a record loss - were missing in the summer of 2007 compared with the previous year. Nor has this loss shown any sign of recovery. Ice cover for 2008 was almost as bad as for 2007, and this year levels look equally sparse. ...


While Bush fiddled, Rome melted.

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Wed, Jul 8, 2009
from Washington Bureau:
The Pentagon's War on America: The Office of the Secretary of Defense
...the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has spent years debating whether to set an enforceable regulatory standard for perchlorate... When asked why he challenged EPA's health research on perchlorate during his tenure -- initiating a lengthy review process that continues to this day -- Ray DuBois, the Bush-era Pentagon's top environmental official for more than three years, said he depended on the advice of his chemical policy expert, Shannon Cunniff. In his telling, her analysis of "conflicting science" led him to reject a draft EPA assessment showing that health and environmental limits for perchlorate might need to be tightened. During an extensive interview with DCBureau.org, he often highlighted her role in the process, emphasizing that no one else on his staff had a chemical policy background. The problem with this account is that Cunniff says none of it is true. Indeed, as the timeline shows, DuBois only hired her after the decision to challenge the studies was already made. ...


Sounds like Cunniff was his invisible fwend!

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Sun, Jun 21, 2009
from AP, Philly.com:
UN: World hunger reaches 1 billion mark
The global financial meltdown has pushed the ranks of the world's hungry to a record 1 billion, a grim milestone that poses a threat to peace and security, U.N. food officials said Friday. Because of war, drought, political instability, high food prices and poverty, hunger now affects one in six people, by the United Nations' estimate. The financial meltdown has compounded the crisis in what the head of the U.N. Food and Agricultural Organization called a "devastating combination for the world's most vulnerable." Compared with last year, there are 100 million more people who are hungry, meaning they consume fewer than 1,800 calories a day, the agency said. "No part of the world is immune," FAO's Director-General Jacques Diouf said. "All world regions have been affected by the rise of food insecurity." ...


Does that balance out the 1 billion obese people in the world?

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Mon, May 18, 2009
from Osservatorio Balcani:
Erin Brockovich in Greece
Erin Brockovich arrived in Greece to save the Asopus river, contaminated with high levels of hexavalent chrome, the same heavy metal that the American legal assistant had fought against in California.... Now, the hexavalent chrome and other heavy metals such as nickel have been detected in quantities as 100 times higher than the legal limit in the Asopus river in Boeotia, in central Greece. The river, once suitable for swimming and fishing, springs up on the slopes of Kitheronas Mountains, believed by the ancient Greeks to be the motherland of the Muses. The river provides drinking water to tens of thousands of people in its high stream areas, but its groundwater also reaches millions of residents of Athens.... The pollution of the clear waters of Asopus began back in 1969, when the colonels' dictatorship declared the area an "industrial park" and permitted many companies to discharge unfiltered waste in the river. The results are visible today. In September 2007, the first big alarm came from the agricultural faculty at the University Athens after an analysis of the groundwater that arrives from Boeotia to Attica, an area of Athens. A recent inspection by the parliamentary environmental commission shamefully found the Asopus river to be "completely pure": clearly the factories were given time to do their "spring cleaning". ...


Let's greenlight it: "Erin Brockovich" meets "Z."

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Mon, May 18, 2009
from Mongabay:
Orangutan population in Borneo park plunges 90 percent in 5 years
The population of orangutans in Indonesia's Kutai National Park has plunged by 90 percent in the past five years due to large-scale deforestation promoted by local authorities, reports The Centre for Orangutan Protection (COP), an Indonesian environmental group. According to park officials interviewed by COP, the population of morio orangutans (Pongo pygmaeus morio) declined from 600 in 2004 to 30-60 this year. COP attributes the drop to state-sponsored colonization of the Kutai, which has led to hunting and forest clearing.... "The root of the problem with the Kutai National Park is a breach of duty committed by officials to get political and financial advantages. They gave away land spaces to people to win their votes in the local administration elections. They also mobilize people to seize the national park area. Their strategy to win people's hearts by giving away the land seemed successful." ...


Orangutans are probably smart enough to vote. Too bad they're such a minority.

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Sun, May 17, 2009
from Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
FDA relied heavily on BPA lobby
As federal regulators hold fast to their claim that a chemical in baby bottles is safe, e-mails obtained by the Journal Sentinel show that they relied on chemical industry lobbyists to examine bisphenol A's risks, track legislation to ban it and even monitor press coverage. In one instance, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's deputy director sought information from the BPA industry's chief lobbyist to discredit a Japanese study that found it caused miscarriages in workers who were exposed to it. This was before government scientists even had a chance to review the study.... The FDA relied on two studies - both paid for by chemical makers - to form the framework of its draft review declaring BPA to be safe. ...


Government in bed with industry...? Sounds SEXY!

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Fri, May 8, 2009
from Charleston Gazette:
Bush EPA hid data on coal-ash risks, study shows
The Bush administration kept secret for nearly five years data that showed increased cancer risks from drinking water polluted by coal-ash impoundments, according to a new report issued Thursday. Under President Bush, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency officials never made public an October 2002 study that outlined increased risks of as high as 1 in 50 additional cancer cases. EPA later published some of the data in an August 2007 study. But even then, the agency report left out some key information about additional dangers to aquatic ecosystems and wildlife from toxic metals leaching out of unlined or inadequately lined coal-ash dumps. The Environmental Integrity Project and Earthjustice on Thursday issued a report that tries to explain in simple language the findings in both EPA documents, which examined more than 200 coal-ash landfills and surface impoundments. ...


Bush and company... nothing but a bunch of ashholes!

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Wed, May 6, 2009
from Guardian (UK):
Agenda 21 Sinks Norwegian Whaler
"We came to Henningsvaer. We saw the Skarbakk. We sank the bastard." This was the message left by the anonymous activists who scuttled the Norwegian whaling ship the Skarbakk last month. On April 23 a group identifying themselves only as Agenda 21 — named after the UN programme for sustainable development that was often talked about in the 90s but seems to have been completely forgotten about today — crept on to the boat, anchored in Henningsvaer harbour, and used an adjustable spanner to open the salt water intake and flood the engine room. Before the ship hit bottom fire crews had got to it. However, the ship had already filled with sea water, so damage was extensive and will certainly be expensive. And this is not the first time it's happened.... The Skarbakk is the fourth ship they've sunk in 12 years. Norwegian whalers pay huge insurance premiums as a result of their campaign, but it hasn't had much impact on whaling. The amount of whales caught by Norway has risen from 280 in 1994 to 592 in 2007. ...


Much as I applaud the sentiment, this is not the way to win Norwegian hearts and minds.

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Fri, Mar 13, 2009
from Telegraph.co.uk:
World's leading scientists in desperate plea to politicians to act on climate change
In what was described as a watershed moment, more than 2,500 leading environmental experts agreed a statement that called on governments to act before the planet becomes an unrecognisable -- and, in places, impossible -- place to live. At an emergency climate summit in Copenhagen, scientists agreed that "worst case" scenarios were already becoming reality and that, unless drastic action was taken soon, "dangerous climate change" was imminent.... In a strongly worded message that, unusually for academics, appealed directly to politicians, they said there was "no excuse for inaction" and that "weak and "ineffective" governments must stand up to big business and "vested interests".... Steps should be "vigorously and widely implemented", they said, to reduce greenhouse gases. Failure to do so would result in "significant risk" of "irreversible climatic shifts", the statement added... Prof Kevin Anderson, the research director at the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research in Manchester, said: "Scientists have lost patience with carefully constructed messages being lost in the political noise. We are now prepared to stand up and say enough is enough." ...


You mean... more study isn't needed?

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Mon, Mar 9, 2009
from IRIN News (UN):
Zimbabwe: On the cholera frontline
HARARE -- The number of cholera deaths in Zimbabwe has crept past the 4,000 mark and case numbers are receding, but for those on the frontline of the epidemic it is business as usual, and much too soon to talk of victory. The World Health Organisation (WHO) said on 9 March that 4,011 people had succumbed to the waterborne disease since the outbreak began in August 2008, and the total number of cases recorded had reached 89,018. ... "We thought we had gone past the peak of the epidemic, and statistics given indicated a downturn, but judging by the number of patients we have been admitting in the last few days, the storm seems far from over," said the nurse, who declined to give her real name. "There is hardly any clean water throughout the city [Harare] as we speak, and that should explain the renewed spread of cholera." ...


The news of the nondeaths may be postmature.

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Sat, Jan 24, 2009
from Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
EPA a failure on chemicals, audit finds
The Environmental Protection Agency's ability to assess toxic chemicals is as broken as the nation's financial markets and needs a total overhaul, a congressional audit has found. The Government Accountability Office has released a report saying the EPA lacks even basic information to say whether chemicals pose substantial health risks to the public. It says actions are needed to streamline and increase the transparency of the EPA's registry of chemicals. And it calls for measures to enhance the agency's ability to obtain health and safety information from the chemical industry...."This just shows that the EPA is not any better able to protect Americans from risky chemicals than FEMA was to save New Orleans or the SEC was to cope with the financial collapse," said John Peterson Myers, a scientist and author who has been writing about chemical risks to human health for more than three decades. For the EPA to be compared to the collapsed financial markets dramatically underscores the need for a complete overhaul of the regulation of toxic chemicals, said Richard Wiles, executive director of Environmental Working Group, a health watchdog organization based in Washington, D.C. "The EPA joins the hall of shame of failed government programs," Wiles said. ...


Yeah, I know things are bad, but don't be hatin'!

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Wed, Jan 7, 2009
from ProPublica:
Agencies Move to Restrict FOIA Access in Last-Minute Regs
As one of the most secretive presidential administrations in history gets ready to close up shop, it's closing a few more things -- records. Over the past few months, some federal agencies have issued rules that would eliminate public disclosure of information -- or, in some cases, make it more difficult for requesters to get information. While the federal Freedom of Information Act regulates what government information may be withheld from the public, internal rules determine how that law is carried out at the agency level. Those rules also may restrict access to information. On Dec. 9, the Department of Energy [2] proposed a rule that would eliminate the agency's "public interest balancing test" in determining whether to release information to the public. ...


What we don't know ... can only poison us!

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Sun, Dec 21, 2008
from Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:
EPA veils hazardous substances
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency routinely allows companies to keep new information about their chemicals secret, including compounds that have been shown to cause cancer and respiratory problems, the Journal Sentinel has found. The newspaper examined more than 2,000 filings in the EPA's registry of dangerous chemicals for the past three years. In more than half the cases, the EPA agreed to keep the chemical name a secret. In hundreds of other cases, it allowed the company filing the report to keep its name and address confidential. This is despite a federal law calling for public notice of any new information through the EPA's program monitoring chemicals that pose substantial risk. The whole idea of the program is to warn the public of newfound dangers. The EPA's rules are supposed to allow confidentiality only "under very limited circumstances." ...


So remind me ... why isn't this a crime? Why aren't these peope in jail? Why don't people rise up?

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Fri, Dec 19, 2008
from Boston Phoenix:
20 reasons the Earth will be glad to see Bush go
...We've selected 20 specific environmental transgressions of the Bush administration for scrutiny here, drawn primarily from conversations with and reports issued by the nation's leading environmental-advocacy groups. Were we to have written about all the ecological crimes committed by the Bush team -- the damage already done, the policies that have since been reversed, the individuals who have moved on to do their damage elsewhere -- we'd only be wringing our hands and wasting more paper. Thus, we've limited our Top 20 list to the horrific environmental scenarios still ongoing ďż˝ these are the assaults on the planet that Bush and his cronies are continuing to this day, and surely would go on doing were their time not coming to a merciful end.... ...


Really? Did I do all this? Well, if Mother Nature doesn't love me, at least my own mom does. Doesn't she?

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Tue, Dec 16, 2008
from Guardian (UK):
Report: Politics corroded Bush decisions on endangered species
Politics corroded Bush administration decisions on protecting endangered species in regions nationwide, federal investigators have concluded in a sweeping new report. Former interior department official Julie MacDonald frequently bullied career scientists to reduce species protections, the interior department investigators found. "The results of this investigation paint a picture of something akin to a secret society residing within the interior department that was colluding to undermine the protection of endangered wildlife and covering for one another's misdeeds," Congressman Nick Rahall, a Democrat from West Virginia, said late Monday afternoon. ...


My surprise knows no bounds.

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Wed, Nov 26, 2008
from London Independent:
3,000 dead from cholera in Zimbabwe
Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe's President, is trying to hide the real extent of the cholera epidemic sweeping across his nation by silencing health workers and restricting access to the huge number of death certificates that give the same cause of death. A senior official in the health ministry told The Independent yesterday that more than 3,000 people have died from the water-borne disease in the past two weeks, 10 times the widely-reported death toll of just over 300....The way to prevent death is, for the Zimbabwean people, agonisingly simple: antibiotics and rehydration. But this is a country with a broken sewerage system and soap is hard to come by. Harare's Central Hospital officially closed last week, doctors and nurses are scarce and even those clinics offering a semblance of service do not have access to safe, clean drinking water and ask patients to bring their own. ...


Zimbab-we are all connected.

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Sun, Nov 23, 2008
from London Times:
Mugabe tries to hide cholera death toll
Doctors struggling to save the victims of a cholera epidemic in Zimbabwe despite a lack of basic drugs and intravenous drips vented their fury last week outside the Parirenyatwa hospital in Harare, the capital.... The response of President Robert Mugabe's failing government has been to cover up the scale of the problem and to send in riot police.... Last week the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs identified eight outbreaks and nine places where the number of cases was increasing. Its report concluded: "It is very likely with the current water and sanitation problems in the country, low capacity of the government to deal with the outbreak, glaring gaps in response, coupled with the rainy season that has started, cholera outbreaks could get catastrophic and claim many more lives." ...


Hate, fear and lies in the time of cholera.

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Thu, Nov 20, 2008
from Financial Times:
Daewoo to cultivate Madagascar land for free
Daewoo Logistics of South Korea said it expected to pay nothing to farm maize and palm oil in an area of Madagascar half the size of Belgium, increasing concerns about the largest farmland investment of this kind. The Indian Ocean island will simply gain employment opportunities from Daewoo's 99-year lease of 1.3m hectares, officials at the company said. They emphasised that the aim of the investment was to boost Seoul's food security.... "It is totally undeveloped land which has been left untouched. And we will provide jobs for them by farming it, which is good for Madagascar," said Mr Hong. The 1.3m hectares of leased land is almost half the African country’s current arable land of 2.5m hectares. ...


Now there's a deal. Something tells me that there will be a few surprises ahead for that ecosystem.

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Fri, Nov 7, 2008
from McClatchy Newspapers:
Bush officials moving fast to cut environmental protections
In the next few weeks, the Bush administration is expected to relax environmental-protection rules on power plants near national parks, uranium mining near the Grand Canyon and more mountaintop-removal coal mining in Appalachia. The administration is widely expected to try to get some of the rules into final form by the week before Thanksgiving because, in some cases, there's a 60-day delay before new regulations take effect. And once the rules are in place, undoing them generally would be a more time-consuming job for the next Congress and administration. ...


Probably part of their "Rescue the Environment" program.

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Thu, Oct 30, 2008
from Tucson Weekly:
Grim Tally
...On Oct. 22, U.S. Rep. Raul Grijalva released a report, compiled by his staff and subtly titled, "The Bush Administration Assaults on Our National Parks, Forests and Public Lands (A Partial List)."...Grijalva said he expects a slew of last-ditch efforts to gut environmental regulations in the administration's final days. ...


Hopefully, the next president can quickly un-gut those regulations.

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Sat, Oct 25, 2008
from Washington Post (US):
Bush Administration Rushes Regulatory Changes Before Time Is Up
The Bush administration is hurrying to push through regulatory changes in politically sensitive areas such as endangered-species protection, dismaying opponents on the left, just as conservatives were irritated by rules rushed out at the end of the Clinton administration. Proposals now in final stages of review at various federal agencies affect mining, endangered-species protection, health-care policy and other areas. In some cases, the administration has set unusually short deadlines for the public to comment -- so short that one agency summoned employees across the country to Washington this week to help agency leaders vet 200,000 comments in the space of four days. ...


To save time, they can just read the comments' headlines!

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Sun, Sep 7, 2008
from Baltimore Sun:
Bighorn sheep may lose habitat
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working on the final details of a map that would cut by nearly half the habitat previously considered critical to the species' survival. The plan could be approved by the end of this month. Scientists and environmental advocates say the downsized habitat could deal a permanent setback to a species that has had 10 years of federal protection. They accuse the Department of the Interior, which governs Fish and Wildlife, of mixing politics with science, caving in to mining and tribal interests. One mining operation already has applied to expand its operation into land once listed as critical to the sheep's recovery, documents show. ...


They're ramming this through.

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Sat, Sep 6, 2008
from Kansas City Star:
An end run around expert advice
The proposed change would put the fox in charge of the chicken coop. Federal agencies that want to build dams or roads or pursue any other project could decide on their own whether they would harm a protected species. The bureaucrats -- not the scientists -- would be in charge. Federal agencies would be far more likely to to protect their own projects than to protect threatened wildlife. Currently agencies must consult biologists and other scientific experts at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service or the National Marine Fisheries Service before they are allowed to proceed on proposed projects that could adversely affect species. ...


Expertise is just a theory.

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Thu, Sep 4, 2008
from Mother Jones:
Climate of Meddling
From Exxon-lobbyist memos to White House-deleted notes on the health impact of global warming, seven key dates in the Bush administration's eight-year scuffle with a green planet. ...


You mean Nero/Bush wasn't just fiddling while the planet burned?

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Wed, Sep 3, 2008
from AFP:
Ivory Coast's toxic waste trial to start September 29
The trial of 12 people charged with involvement in the 2006 toxic waste pollution scandal in the Ivory Coast is set to go ahead on September 29, according to court documents released Tuesday. The 12 are charged with "poisoning or complicity to poison" in the illicit dumping of 500 tonnes of caustic soda and petroleum residues across more than a dozen open-air rubbish tips around the commercial capital Abidjan. The toxic sludge, brought into Ivory Coast by Dutch-based multinational trading company Trafigura, killed 16 people and caused an estimated 95,000 people to seek medical attention. ...


Not in my backyard.
In theirs -- they're poorer.

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Tue, Sep 2, 2008
from Public Campaign Action Fund:
Oil, Coal Industries Already Have Spent $427 Million On Politics, Policy, and Marketing in 2008
Today Public Campaign Action Fund, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to improving America’s campaign finance laws, released a new analysis finding that the oil and coal industries spent $427.2 million so far this year of the year to shift public opinion and to capture the eyes, ears, and support of Congress on critical energy issues.... "With spending like this, it’s clear that these polluting industries see much at stake in Congress," continued Nyhart. ...


You mean this isn't the voice of the people?

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Sat, Aug 30, 2008
from LA Times (US):
Italy mobsters block efforts to clean up toxic trash heaps
The Naples-based Camorra controls the import, transport and disposal of millions of tons of rubbish, an extremely lucrative business in which the group follows its own rules, ignores regulations on toxic waste and contaminates once-fertile farmland, country fields, forests and rivers. Beyond the ugliness of it all, evidence now suggests that the garbage is poisoning the food chain and may be causing cancer, birth defects and other health problems.... Scientists continue to study the link between the refuse and health, but already point to alarming trends, according to the World Health Organization, including a rate exceeding regional or national norms for cancers of the stomach, kidney, liver and lung, as well as congenital malformations. In some areas between Naples and the city of Caserta, residents are two to three times more likely to get liver cancer than those in the rest of the country, according to Italy's National Research Council. ...


We're here... to provide...
protection.

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Tue, Aug 26, 2008
from Ecological Society of America:
Ecological Society of America Criticizes Bush Administration's Overhaul of the Endangered Species Act
"The concept of independent scientific review has been in practice since the 18th century and is crucial to ensuring that ideas and proposed work are scientifically sound," said Alison Power, president of the Society and professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Cornell University. "This overhaul of the Endangered Species Act would place the fate of rare species in the hands of government stakeholders who are not qualified to assess the environmental impacts of their activities." ...


What, you think scientific expertise should be involved? Where have you been the last seven years?

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Sat, Aug 23, 2008
from National Geographic News:
"Water Mafias" Put Stranglehold on Public Water Supply
"Worldwide corruption driven by mafia-like organizations throughout water industries is forcing the poor to pay more for basic drinking water and sanitation services, according to a new report. If bribery, organized crime, embezzlement, and other illegal activities continue, consumers and taxpayers will pay the equivalent of U.S. $20 billion dollars over the next decade, says the report, released this week at the World Water Week conference in Stockholm, Sweden." ...


Water ... is an offer ... we can't refuse.

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Tue, Aug 19, 2008
from Washington Post:
Anti-Regulation Aide to Cheney Is Up for Energy Post
"A senior aide to Vice President Cheney is the leading contender to become a top official at the Energy Department, according to several current and former administration officials, a promotion that would put one of the administration's most ardent opponents of environmental regulation in charge of forming department policies on climate change." ...


Hey. Why don't we let the market decide how it wants to destroy the planet?

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Wed, Aug 13, 2008
from IndiaInteracts:
Powerful Friends of Posco and Sterlite
In today's world, where the real wealthy are the corporate tycoons, it is hardly surprising that they are using their wealth not just to win friends but also to buy loyalty. The brazen manner in which the Posco and the Vedanta (Sterlite) have bought the friendship of Naveen Patnaik administration in Orissa and the Manmohan Singh government at the Centre is a testimony to the bourgeoning influence of the money power.... And what has the plant done to the people? Although the refinery is not yet in full operation, it is already damaging local life. Filmmaker S.Josson spoke to the people of the area in March 2008. Sample one quote: Mukta a woman living in the vicinity of the refinery says: "The water has become bad. When we bathe the skin itches. When we drink we get sores in our mouth. Our hair is falling rapidly. The air quality has also become terrible. It is difficult to breathe. We get sores in our throat. The body itches at night. Our cattle are dying"... And this is how Naveen Patnaik and Manmohan Singh are bringing the experience of modern living for the tribal people of Orissa. ...


That's the itch of modernity! Scratch it!

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Thu, Jul 31, 2008
from Environmental Science and Technology:
Government pesticide and fertilizer data dropped
"The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has eliminated the only federal program that tracks the use of pesticides and fertilizers on American farms. The move has left scientists, industry groups, and public advocates surprised and confused about how to carry on their work without this free information. The canceled program was the only one to make freely available to the public nationwide data on the amount of pesticides and fertilizers applied to U.S. farms." ...


What we don't know can't hurt us!

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Tue, Jul 29, 2008
from Guardian (UK):
US environmental agency silences employees on climate change
Amid intensifying scrutiny of its failure to act on climate change, the US environmental protection agency (EPA) has ordered employees not to talk to internal auditors, Congress or the media, according to a leaked email released yesterday by green campaigners. The EPA has refused repeated requests from Congress to explain its December denial of California's request to regulate greenhouse gas emissions -- a move that overruled the agency's own career scientists. Three Democratic senators have scheduled a press conference today to discuss the controversy. ...


See no evil, hear no evil, and above all,
shut up about it.

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Sat, Jul 26, 2008
from Guardian (UK):
Democrats: White House must publish 'chilling' climate change document
[W]histleblowers have revealed that the White House ordered the agency to scrap its proposal. Democratic attempts to investigate the backroom dealings were stymied until this week, when senators were finally permitted a look at the plan. ... California Democrat Barbara Boxer, released a summary of the proposal to reporters. Boxer was allowed to take notes on the plan but not given a copy.... Democrats asked the EPA administrator, Stephen Johnson, to testify next week at a hearing exploring allegations of White House obstruction on climate change. But Johnson refused, citing executive privilege and forcing the cancellation of the hearing. ...


Hey little Nero -- is that the whiff of smoke I smell?

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Tue, Jul 15, 2008
from Associated Press:
EPA document ties public health problems to global warming; White House tried to bury analysis
"Government scientists detailed a rising death toll from heat waves, wildfires, disease and smog caused by global warming in an analysis the White House buried so it could avoid regulating greenhouse gases. In a 149-page document released Monday, the experts laid out for the first time the scientific case for the grave risks that global warming poses to people, and to the food, energy and water on which society depends." ...


It'll be a gas to have this administration gone.

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Fri, Jul 11, 2008
from Washington Post:
EPA Won't Act on Emissions This Year
"The Bush administration has decided not to take any new steps to regulate greenhouse gas emissions before the president leaves office, despite pressure from the Supreme Court and broad accord among senior federal officials that new regulation is appropriate now." ...


Oh well. We've gone this long, why not wait some more?

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Tue, Jul 8, 2008
from AP News:
Cheney wanted cuts in climate testimony
Vice President Dick Cheney's office pushed for major deletions in congressional testimony on the public health consequences of climate change, fearing the presentation by a leading health official might make it harder to avoid regulating greenhouse gases, a former EPA officials maintains. When six pages were cut from testimony on climate change and public health by the head of the Centers for Disease Control last October, the White House insisted the changes were made because of reservations raised by White House advisers about the accuracy of the science. But Jason K. Burnett, until last month the senior adviser on climate change to Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Stephen Johnson, says that Cheney's office was deeply involved in getting nearly half of the CDC's original draft testimony removed. ...


Why listen to experts?
They just say scary things.

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Fri, Jul 4, 2008
from Guardian (UK):
Secret report: rush to biofuels caused food crisis
Biofuels have forced global food prices up by 75 percent - far more than previously estimated - according to a confidential World Bank report obtained by the Guardian. The damning unpublished assessment is based on the most detailed analysis of the crisis so far, carried out by an internationally-respected economist at global financial body. The figure emphatically contradicts the US government's claims that plant-derived fuels contribute less than 3 percent to food-price rises.... Senior development sources believe the report, completed in April, has not been published to avoid embarrassing President George Bush. ...


Billions hungry, so W isn't embarrassed.
Hope it worked.

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Sun, Jun 29, 2008
from New York Times:
Citing Need for Assessments, U.S. Freezes Solar Energy Project
Faced with a surge in the number of proposed solar power plants, the federal government has placed a moratorium on new solar projects on public land until it studies their environmental impact, which is expected to take about two years.... "It doesn't make any sense," said Holly Gordon, vice president for legislative and regulatory affairs for Ausra, a solar thermal energy company in Palo Alto, Calif. "The Bureau of Land Management land has some of the best solar resources in the world. This could completely stunt the growth of the industry." ...


When all else fails, just delay.

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Wed, Jun 4, 2008
from Stabroek News (Guyana):
Quartz Hill mining highlights environment threat
Breaches of the mining regulations were evident during a recent visit to Quartz Hill and nearby areas, resulting in pollution and fouling of waterways even as the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) strives to enforce the rules and advocate self-regulation.... Meanwhile, unsafe use of mercury, breached tailings ponds and mining activities close to water courses were some of the infringements.... As a result of the breached tailings ponds, a section of the Omai Creek was heavily discoloured with a yellow sludge, which made its way to the Essequibo River. ...


We've noticed that when the profit motive is involved, self-regulation is appealing only to the profiteers.

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Tue, Jun 3, 2008
from Washington Post (US):
Climate Findings Were Distorted, Probe Finds
An investigation by the NASA inspector general found that political appointees in the space agency's public affairs office worked to control and distort public accounts of its researchers' findings about climate change for at least two years, the inspector general's office said yesterday. The probe came at the request of 14 senators after The Washington Post and other news outlets reported in 2006 that Bush administration officials had monitored and impeded communications between NASA climate scientists and reporters. ...


This administration? Trying to control the message? Distorting the truth? Shocking!

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Thu, May 29, 2008
from Associated Press:
White House issues climate report 4 years late
"Under a court order and four years late, the White House Thursday produced what it called a science-based "one-stop shop" of specific threats to the United States from man-made global warming... White House associate science director Sharon Hays, in a teleconference with reporters, declined to characterize the findings as bad, but said it is an issue the administration takes seriously." ...


That's why it's four years late; the White House wanted to get the report just right.

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Thu, May 22, 2008
from Associated Press:
USDA axes the sole national survey to chart pesticide use
"Consumers lost a key source of information about what's sprayed on their food on Wednesday, the last day the government published a long-standing national survey that tracks the amount of pesticides used on everything from corn to apples. Despite opposition from prominent scientists, the nation's largest farming organizations and environmental groups, the U.S. Department of Agriculture confirmed Wednesday it plans to do away the program." ...


What we don't know surely can't hurt us!

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Wed, May 7, 2008
from Associated Press:
EPA might not act to limit rocket fuel in drinking water
"An EPA official said Tuesday there's a "distinct possibility" the agency won't take action to rid drinking water of a toxic rocket fuel ingredient that has contaminated public water supplies around the country... The toxin interferes with thyroid function and poses developmental health risks, particularly to fetuses." ...


I don't mind rocket fuel in my water -- it makes me work faster!

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Sat, Apr 26, 2008
from AlterNet:
Turkey Plans to Sell Rivers and Lakes to Corporations
The water privatization fever is hitting Turkey, just a year before the country will host the World Water Forum. In March 2009 the Turkish government will host the fifth World Water Forum against a backdrop of what is probably the most sweeping water privatisation programme in the world. As well as privatizing water services, the government plans to sell off rivers and lakes.... There are private water supply contracts in Arpacay and Corlu, as well as widespread outsourcing and subcontracting of the water supply across the country. In the city of Antalya, French water giant Suez pulled-out six years into a 10-year contract after the municipality rejected their demand for another price increase. The prices had already risen 130 percent and the company had failed to invest what was promised. ...


The visible hand of the market.

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Wed, Apr 2, 2008
from Yahoo News (US):
States suing EPA over global warming
Officials of 18 states are taking the EPA back to court to try to force it to comply with a Supreme Court ruling that rebuked the Bush administration for inaction on global warming.... In a petition prepared for filing Wednesday, the plaintiffs said last April's 5-4 ruling required the Environmental Protection Agency to decide whether to regulate greenhouse gas emissions, including carbon dioxide, from motor vehicles... The EPA has instead done nothing, they said. ...


Who'd have thought the lawyers would ride in to rescue the planet?

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Wed, Mar 19, 2008
from Montgomery Advertiser:
Climatologist says global warming not alarming, carbon fuels not to blame
"The Earth is getting warmer, but Alabama's state climatologist says carbon fuels aren't to blame. John Christy, who heads the Earth System Science Center at the University of Alabama- Huntsville, told a group of civic and business leaders Tuesday that the Earth's warming is well within historical ranges. He spoke at the Energy and Environment Lecture sponsored by Auburn Montgomery and Alabama Power Co. Carbon dioxide levels have increased 38 percent in the last 100 years, Christy said, leading to an increase in the average surface temperature of about 1.26 degrees. Even if carbon dioxide doubled, temperatures would increase only about 3.6 degrees, according to Christy." ...


So, a lecture by Dr. Christy, sponsored by the Alabama Power Co....What did you think the guy was going to say?

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Wed, Mar 5, 2008
from Associated Press:
Industry trying to block smog cleanup
"WASHINGTON -- Big industries are waging an intense lobbying effort to block new, tougher limits on air pollution that is blamed for hundreds of heart attacks, deaths and cases of asthma, bronchitis and other breathing problems. The Environmental Protection Agency is to decide within weeks whether to reduce the allowable amount of ozone -- commonly referred to as smog -- in the air. A tougher standard would require hundreds of counties across the country to find new ways to reduce smog-causing emissions of nitrogen oxides and chemical compounds from tailpipes and smokestacks. Groups representing manufacturers, automakers, electric utilities, grocers and cement makers met with White House officials recently in a last-ditch effort to keep the health standard unchanged. They argued that tightening it would be costly and harm the economy in areas that will have to find additional air pollution controls." ...


Grocers? Grocers? We can understand the automakers and utilities carin' more for their bottom line than for reg'lar folks like me and you ... but the grocers? Say it ain't so, Joe!

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Sat, Feb 23, 2008
from Guardian (UK):
2004: Pentagon tells Bush: climate change will destroy us
"Climate change over the next 20 years could result in a global catastrophe costing millions of lives in wars and natural disasters.... A secret report, suppressed by US defence chiefs and obtained by The Observer, warns that major European cities will be sunk beneath rising seas as Britain is plunged into a 'Siberian' climate by 2020. Nuclear conflict, mega-droughts, famine and widespread rioting will erupt across the world.... The threat to global stability vastly eclipses that of terrorism..." ...


Funny. Four years ago. Oh yeah, we had that Iraq terrorism thing goin' on. Be very afraid.

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Thu, Jan 17, 2008
from Washington Post (US):
Scientists Take Complaints About Interference to Hill
"Two dozen scientists swarmed over Capitol Hill this week mad as vespinae (hornets) at what they say is Bush administration meddling in environmental science. Organized by the Union of Concerned Scientists and the Endangered Species Coalition, the rumpled researchers won time in the offices of more than 20 lawmakers. They are protesting what Francesca Grifo, director of the Scientific Integrity Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists in Washington, calls "the systematic dismantling of the Endangered Species Act through the manipulation and suppression of science." ...


This just in: The Union of Concerned Scientists have decided to upgrade their name to The Union of Pissed-Off Scientists.
And it's about time.

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