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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 11th, 2016
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

In a letter to all IISD readers of the Clean Energy List, Ms. Victoria Healey, the Project Leader at US NREL writes:

A representative from the Clean Energy Solutions Center (Solutions Center), Ms. Victoria Healey, will attend the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) General Assembly and the World Future Energy Summit (WFES) during Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week, from January 16-21, 2016. Under the joint IRENA and Solutions Center Renewable Energy Policy Advice Network (REPAN), Ms. Healey will be available to meet individually with government representatives, government affiliated practitioners, and policymakers seeking clean energy policy, program, regulation, and finance technical assistance. The REPAN was established to help developing countries to design and adopt clean energy policies and programs that support the deployment of clean energy technologies, and to identify design, and implement finance instruments that mobilize private and public sector capital, and formulate clean energy investment strategies. This support is provided free of charge. To schedule an appointment, please contact Victoria Healey at  nrel.gov.


Consultations during the IRENA General Assembly will occur at the St. Regis Saadiyat Island in a location to be determined. During the WFES the 1-on-1 consultations will take place at the IRENA networking area located in the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre.

About the Renewable Energy Policy Advice Network, the Clean Energy Finance Solutions Center, and the Clean Energy Solutions Center:

The Clean Energy Solutions Center and the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) joined forces in 2013 to launch the Renewable Energy Policy Advice Network (REPAN)—a collaboration that leverages both organizations’ resources by coordinating a global network of experts and practitioners to help countries design and implement renewable energy policies and programs. To learn more visit cleanenergysolutions.org/expert/…

The Clean Energy Finance Solutions Center of NREL assists governments and practitioners with identifying appropriate finance mechanisms and designing and implementing policies to reduce risk and encourage private sector investment; helping to achieve the transition to clean energy at the speed and scale necessary to meet local development needs and address global challenges. The CEFSC is an expanded and dedicated resource that is part of the Clean Energy Solutions Center, a Clean Energy Ministerial initiative that helps governments design and adopt policies and programs that support deployment of clean energy technologies.

signed:
Victoria Healey,
National Renewable Energy Laboratory
Project Leader for the Clean Energy Solutions Center

To learn more about how these initiatives can assist in meeting countries’ clean energy objectives, please visit cleanenergysolutions.org and finance.cleanenergysolutions.org…, and follow us on Facebook www.facebook.com/CleanEnergySolu… and Twitter twitter.com/Clean_Energy_SC

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 23rd, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

From the Boulder , Colorado, National Renewable Energy Laboratories – Victoria Healey  victoria.healey at nrel.gov
September 22, 2015

This week the Solutions Center, in partnership with the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) and other international experts, published a report, “Policies to Spur Energy Access”, which reveals policy options for developing countries to engage the private sector in creating market solutions to energy access. The report discusses the regulatory and policy frameworks that can enable decentralized solutions and attract private sector investment. The report also notes that creating a robust market for energy services requires policymakers to address broader market issues. Policymakers can catalyze private financing and build human capacity to meet the needs of an emerging market. Because energy access impacts a wide range of development goals—poverty alleviation, health, education, agriculture, disaster planning and the environment—integrating the efforts of various public ministries can streamline energy access and leverage wider resources. The second part of this two-volume report includes in-depth case studies of public-private programs for financing energy access in Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Mali, Mexico and Nepal. The case studies focus on the policy decisions that underpin each program and their impact on energy access for underserved populations. Along with this report, the Solutions Center has engaged additional international experts on energy access to offer assistance to policymakers via the Ask an Expert program.

The report can be accessed and downloaded at cleanenergysolutions.org/news/po….

If you have questions about this report you may contact Terri Walters ( terri.walters at nrel.gov) and Vickie Healey ( victoria.healey at nrel.gov).

Best regards,
Vickie Healey
Project Leader, Clean Energy Solutions Center
National Renewable Energy Laboratory

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 30th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


Sellouts: The Senate & the Keystone XL Pipeline

By Charles Pierce, Esquire
30 January 2015


Well, the Senate is now set to double-dog dare the president to veto a bill mandating the construction of our old friend the Keystone XL pipeline, the continent-spanning death funnel designed to bring the world’s dirtiest fossil-fuel down from the environmental hellspout of northern Alberta, through this country’s most valuable farmland, and down to the refineries on the coast, and thence to the world.

Instead of discussing (again) what a dreadful idea the pipeline is, let’s mention the nine (!) Democratic senators who voted to submarine the White House in favor of this catastrophe waiting to happen.

Nine Democrats joined a unanimous Republican caucus to support the bill: Sens. Michael Bennet of Colorado, Tom Carper of Delaware, Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Jon Tester of Montana and Mark Warner of Virginia.

OK, Heidi Heitkamp is about one head-scarf short of being an oil sheikh at this point, and Joe Manchin is hopeless on any issue involving the extraction industries because of coal. But what the hell is up with Tom Carper? What’s Delaware’s dog in this fight? Shipping, I guess, and the same thing could be said for Bob Casey, Jr., who is following the family tradition of bailing on his party when it suits him. (The residents of Pennsylvania, with their land fracked half to death and their water capable of being used as lighter fluid, should be alerted to the fact that their junior senator voted with the industries that have done the damage.) Donnelly of Indiana voted for it so nobody would call him a tree-hugger on the radio, and I suspect Mark Warner wanted to burnish his “centrist” credentials as well. These are all very lame excuses, but Claire McCaskill has none. Of the nine poltroons, her state is closest to the proposed route of the death funnel, and it will be most affected by whatever happens when the pipeline breaks, because it will, because it is a pipeline and they break. That doesn’t mean she hasn’t tried to cobble one together.

“It’s going to be either moved by train, or it’s going to be moved by barge, or it’s going to be moved by pipeline. The safest way for it to be moved is by pipeline. It also has the benefit of more jobs,” said McCaskill when asked about her vote for a pipeline bill offered by Senate Democrats within weeks of losing their majority in last November’s mid-term elections.

Let it be moved in all those ways, but let Canadian oil be moved through Canada, which is a harder sell, because they take their environmental regulations — and their treaties with their indigenous peoples — a lot more serious than we do. So we serve as North America’s Louisiana, with our own Cancer Corridor. Which reminds me:

The vote is a big win for Louisiana lawmakers. Before December’s Senate runoff in that state, the two candidates, incumbent Democratic senator Mary Landrieu and her challenger, GOP Rep. Bill Cassidy, both pushed bills to approve the pipeline. The House approved Cassidy’s bill, but the Senate defeated Landrieu’s and he went on to take her Senate seat in the election.


And some of the comments:

+32 # fredboy 2015-01-30 15:46
If Warner doesn’t understand clean water, he shouldn’t be representing the Commonwealth of Virginia in the U.S. Senate.

Disgraceful.

For some time now, here in Colorado, I’ve been passing on my logo for a Dem. governor, Hickenlooper:

HICKNLOOPER IS A POOPER, FOR PROMOTING FRACKING

And now, since his vote in the egregious and gonna be so damaging and health destroying Keystone Pipeline, I’ve got a similar logo for Dem. Sen. Michael Bennet:

GET BENNET OUT OF THE SENATE,
FOR HIS VOTING FOR THE KEYSTONE WAR

Yep, a political war it now is – bi-partisan effort to impeach this POTUS, Obama, should he not veto, as he said he would, this Keystone Pipeline, and a Dem. vote out of any and all obviously bought off Dem. Senators who are listed above, and who are very likely to vote to overcome a veto, should Pres. Obama keep his word and veto, as he’s said he would, the deadly Keystone Pipeline.

+32 # Luckyenough 2015-01-30 15:57
As a Pennsylvania resident, I am at a loss as to how in the name of heaven Casey could have supported this filthy oil traveling anywhere through the US. I wonder if the route had been through PA if he would have been so ready to suck up to the moneyed interests. My fingers are ready on the keyboard to send a letter telling him he is not representing MY interests, and I am one of a minority of dems in my rural very red county!

+30 # Blackjack 2015-01-30 16:05
What they all understand perfectly well is their political futures, which they think is tied to sucking up to the oil/gas industries. What they don’t give a fig about is the best interests of those of us who don’t benefit from oil/gas extraction in our back yards–you know those of us who actually voted for them so they could vote against us. And is anyone else sick of the lame-brained excuse that it will bring “jobs?” That’s the excuse that has been given forever by polluters of all stripes and what it has given us instead is ecological nightmares which we, the indentured servants, i.e., citizens, have had to pay for. . . sometimes after getting sick, and even dying, from whatever brand of poison they foisted upon us.

+3 # BillW72 2015-01-30 16:14
Does nine Democrat senators mean that Obama’s veto can be easily overridden?

+15 # Carol R 2015-01-30 16:16
“Donnelly of Indiana voted for it so nobody would call him a tree-hugger on the radio…”

BP Oil in NW Indiana (Whiting, IN) is already processing Tar Sands oil. Our air was 16th most polluted in the US, according to the American Lung Association. BP Oil puts 2 million tons of pet coke into our air every year.

Just who was Donnelly voting to help? Hoosiers or BP Oil?

AND # skylinefirepest 2015-01-30 16:39
Pipeline is the safest method of transportation for almost any product. Do you drive a car? Wear clothes? Eat food every day? If so, people, then oil put it there for you. We cannot survive without oil. Get over yourselves.

AND +25 # Blackjack 2015-01-30 17:05
It’s you who should get over yourself! You can make excuses all you want for the polluting excesses that make for part of the greed that has been a part of our country for far too many years. You can have some oil/gas for a time without being excessive and you can also look for greener alternatives and support them or you can be satisfied with excess and greed!

+13 # REDPILLED 2015-01-30 17:34
People once thought that way about whale oil. See this: James Hansen slams Keystone XL Canada-U.S. Pipeline: “Exploitation of tar sands would make it implausible to stabilize climate

 thinkprogress.org/climate/2011/06…

-45 # brycenuc 2015-01-30 17:08
Skylinefirepest is absolutely right. Besides, oil cannot produce the erroneously maligned carbon dioxide until it is refined and burned. It will produce the same amount of harmless carbon dioxide in the atmosphere where ever it is refined and burned. Once that oil is produced, it will be refined and burned.

Of all the stupid things to blame for global warming pipelines are at the top of the list.

+19 # X Dane 2015-01-30 17:19
skylinefirepest.
I wonder if you live close to a pipeline or processing plant?? if you did you would not be so flip, for it is the dirtiest most polluting oil on the planet. And it will ONLY bring destruction…. and disaster, when it breaks,

We are producing plenty of oil in our own country, we do not need Canada’s filthy crap. YOU need to inform yourself before you try to lecture us. You probably do not understand that it is also the most expensive to refine.

+16 # Cassandra2012 2015-01-30 17:49
Skyline PEST
Keystone will only benefit the Koch Bros. and Trans-Canada Oil. It will produce only 35 permanent jobs and threaten the Oglala aquifer and the farmland of eight states.

Filthy dangerous tar sands oil is NO answer to our energy needs. Time to actually develop green solutions as IS BEING DONE IN PLACES LIKE ICELAND and Scotland. We are rapidly becoming a third world country as we succumb to the machinations of the Koch/ALEC oligarchs.
Wise up!

+19 # Barbara K 2015-01-30 17:46
Not only is this crap coming from Canada, but it is not for us. It is going to the Gulf to be shipped to China. We are taking all the risks and getting none of the benefits. A foreign company is taking over farmland by eminent domain that belongs to American citizens. This should not be allowed. No foreign entity should be able to take away an American’s land. That is in the constitution. On top of all that, it is the Koch roaches who stand to gain $500Billion dollars on the deal. It is always, always, all about the money.

+6 # Laird999 2015-01-30 18:22
If this tar sands oil gets used it is GAME OVER – the climate will be ruined for humans – so for the Senator to say “this oil will be transported anyway” is idiotic. Anybody who says its ok to develop tar sands oil is essentially a traitor, a Benedict Arnold. Spills are bad, but spills are nothing compared to Game Over and Climate Ruin. The pipeline will speed up societal suicide. We used up our carbon budget, now we must make a stand and leave the vast majority of the carbon in the ground, or else we guarantee Climate Ruin.

=======================================================

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 2nd, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


Hard-Nosed Advice From Veteran Lobbyist: ‘Win Ugly or Lose Pretty’ From Richard Berman Energy Industry Talk Secretly Taped as per The New York Times of November 1st 2014 – the weekend before US elections.

By ERIC LIPTON October 30, 2014

“Endless War” and Other Rallying Points: This transcript of the speech made by Richard Berman in June in Colorado Springs to a group of energy executives, as well as other documents, provides a unguarded glimpse of Mr. Berman’s lobbying tactics. OPEN Document October 30, 2014


WASHINGTON — If the oil and gas industry wants to prevent its opponents from slowing its efforts to drill in more places, it must be prepared to employ tactics like digging up embarrassing tidbits about environmentalists and liberal celebrities, a veteran Washington political consultant told a room full of industry executives in a speech that was secretly recorded.


The blunt advice from the consultant, Richard Berman, the founder and chief executive of the Washington-based Berman & Company consulting firm, came as Mr. Berman solicited up to $3 million from oil and gas industry executives to finance an advertising and public relations campaign called Big Green Radicals.


The company executives, Mr. Berman said in his speech, must be willing to exploit emotions like fear, greed and anger and turn them against the environmental groups. And major corporations secretly financing such a campaign should not worry about offending the general public because “you can either win ugly or lose pretty,” he said.

“Think of this as an endless war,” Mr. Berman told the crowd at the June event in Colorado Springs, sponsored by the Western Energy Alliance, a group whose members include Devon Energy, Halliburton and Anadarko Petroleum, which specialize in extracting oil and gas through hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking. “And you have to budget for it.”

What Mr. Berman did not know — and what could now complicate his task of marginalizing environmental groups that want to impose limits on fracking — is that one of the energy industry executives recorded his remarks and was offended by them.

“That you have to play dirty to win,” said the executive, who provided a copy of the recording and the meeting agenda to The New York Times under the condition that his identity not be revealed. “It just left a bad taste in my mouth.”

Mr. Berman had flown to Colorado with Jack Hubbard, a vice president at Berman & Company, to discuss their newest public relations campaign, Big Green Radicals, which has already placed a series of intentionally controversial advertisements in Pennsylvania and Colorado, two states where the debate over fracking has been intense. It has also paid to place the media campaign on websites serving national and Washington audiences.

A spokeswoman for Mr. Berman confirmed that he gave the speech, but said he would have no comment on its contents.

Mr. Berman is well known in Washington for his technique of creating nonprofit groups like the Center for Consumer Freedom that secretly collect corporate donations to finance the aggressive, often satirical media campaigns his team conceives. They are intended to undermine his opponents, like labor unions or animal rights groups that have tried to spotlight the treatment of animals at meatpacking plants.

“I get up every morning and I try to figure out how to screw with the labor unions — that’s my offense,” Mr. Berman said in his speech to the Western Energy Alliance. “I am just trying to figure out how I am going to reduce their brand.”
Continue reading the main story Continue reading the main story
Continue reading the main story

Mr. Berman offered several pointers from his playbook.

“If you want a video to go viral, have kids or animals,” he said, and then he showed a spot his company had prepared using schoolchildren as participants in a mock union election — to suggest that union bosses do not have real elections.

“Use humor to minimize or marginalize the people on the other side,” he added.

There is nothing the public likes more than tearing down celebrities and playing up the hypocrisy angle,” his colleague Mr. Hubbard said, citing billboard advertisements planned for Pennsylvania that featured Robert Redford. “Demands green living,” they read. “Flies on private jets.”

Mr. Hubbard also discussed how he had done detailed research on the personal histories of members of the boards of the Sierra Club and the Natural Resources Defense Council to try to find information that could be used to embarrass them.
Continue reading the main story

Recent Comments:
Brad L.
Yesterday

This town is the county seat of the county which is the center of the oil industry in Colorado. We love the jobs here. Lies cuts both ways…
Debra
Yesterday

As someone who has worked in PR all my life I am so sickened and shamed by this. Evil for money, pure and simple.
Craig Maltby
Yesterday

Lee Atwater had a death bed epiphany: he had been wrong his entire political life to viciously attack opposition candidates with vile,…

See All Comments

But the speech, given in June at the Broadmoor Hotel and Resort, where the Western Energy Alliance held its 2014 annual meeting, could end up bringing a new round of scrutiny to Mr. Berman and the vast network of nonprofit groups and think tanks he runs out of his downtown Washington office.

Mr. Berman repeatedly boasted about how he could take checks from the oil and gas industry executives — he said he had already collected six-figure contributions from some of the executives in the room — and then hide their role in funding his campaigns.

“People always ask me one question all the time: ‘How do I know that I won’t be found out as a supporter of what you’re doing?’ ” Mr. Berman told the crowd. “We run all of this stuff through nonprofit organizations that are insulated from having to disclose donors. There is total anonymity. People don’t know who supports us.”

What is unclear is if the hardball tactics that Mr. Berman has pitched will succeed in places like Colorado. Already, The Denver Post editorial page, generally supportive of the oil and gas industry, has criticized Mr. Berman’s tactics, calling one video spot — featuring fictitious environmentalists who debate if the moon is made of cheese before calling for a ban on fracking — “a cheap shot at fracking foes.”

In fact, at least one of the major oil and gas companies that had executives at the event — Anadarko, a Texas-based company that operates 13,000 wells in the Rocky Mountain region — now says that it did not agree with the suggestions that Mr. Berman offered on how to combat criticism of oil and gas drilling techniques.

“Anadarko did not support Mr. Berman’s approach and did not to participate in his work because it does not align with our values,” John Christiansen, a company spokesman, said.

Mr. Berman probably appreciates the criticism. As he explained in his remarks, what matters is increasing the number of people who see his work, which is part of the reason he intentionally tries to offend people in his media campaigns.

“They characterize us in a campaign as being the guys with the black helicopters,” he explained. “And to some degree, that’s true. We’re doing stuff to diminish the other sides’ ability to operate.”

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 11th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)



U.S. Climate Has Already Changed, Study Finds, Citing Heat and Floods.

Declaring that the issue of human-induced climate change had “moved firmly into the present,” a major study released by the White House  found that water shortages, torrential rains, heat waves and wildfires were worsening.

——————————————————-

 

FROM THE WHITE HOUSE:

Climate Change- And President Obama’s Action Plan.

President Obama has announced a series of executive actions to reduce carbon pollution, prepare the U.S. for the impacts of climate change, and lead international efforts to address global climate change.

The National Climate Assessment:

Watch Dr. John Holdren, Assistant to the President for Science & Technology, discuss the Report. 

On May 6, the Administration released the Third U.S. National Climate Assessment, the most authoritative and comprehensive source of scientific information to date about climate-change impacts across all U.S. regions and on critical sectors of the economy.
The report, a key deliverable of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, confirms that climate change is not a distant threat — it’s affecting us now.
Explore the report
—————————–

Due to climate change,

the weather is getting more extreme.


Temperatures are rising across the U.S.

Temperatures from 2001 to 2012 were warmer than any previous decade in every region of the United States. Explore this interactive map from the National Climate Assessment to learn more.

Globally, the 10 warmest years on record all occurred since 1998.

Source: NOAA

For the contiguous 48 states, 7 of the 10 warmest years on record have occurred since 1998.

Source: NOAA


2012 was the second most extreme year on record for the nation

Source: NOAA, U.S. Climate Extremes Index

Record Heat Across the U.S.

State-by-state temperatures in 2012 – graphs provided.

Also in 2012:

Warmest Year on Record for the U.S.

Doesn’t include Alaska, Hawaii, or U.S. territories.

Source: NOAA

Record High Temperatures Tied or Broken

One-third of the U.S. Population experienced 100 degree F temperature

Above Average

6th-10th Warmest Year on Record

2nd-5th Warmest Year on Record

Warmest Year on Record

Source: National Climate Data Center/NESDIS/NOAAV

Doesn’t include Alaska, Hawaii, or U.S. territories.


Droughts, Wildfires, and Floods are all more frequent and intense

Precipitation was 2.57 inches below the 20th Century Average

Source: NOAA

15th driest year on record

Source: NOAA

Wildfires burned more than 9.3 million U.S. acres

Source: National Interagency coordination center


Extreme weather comes at a cost

Climate and weather disasters in 2012 alone cost the American economy more than $100 billion



$30 Billion

U.S. drought/heatwave

Estimated across the U.S.

$65 Billion

Superstorm Sandy

Estimated

$11.1 Billion

Combined severe weather

Estimated for incidents across the U.S.


$1 Billion

Western wildfires

Estimated

$2.3 Billion

Hurricane Isaac

Estimated

There are also public health threats associated with extreme weather

Children, the elderly, and the poor are most vulnerable to a range of climate-related health effects, including those related to heat stress, air pollution, extreme weather events, and diseases carried by food, water, and insects.


We can choose to believe that Superstorm Sandy, and the most severe drought in decades, and the worst wildfires some states have ever seen were all just a freak coincidence. Or we can choose to believe in the overwhelming judgement of science — and act before it’s too late.”
– President Obama


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We’re still contributing to the problem

Carbon pollution is the biggest
driver of climate change


Global temperatures and carbon dioxide levels are on the rise

The global annual average temperature has increased by more than 1.5 degrees F between 1880 and 2012. This interactive graph from the National Climate Assessment shows the concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide over the same time period. Climate scientists say we need to avert an additional 2-degree temperature increase to avoid the most catastrophic impacts of climate change.


U.S. greenhouse gas pollution includes:

Carbon Dioxide (CO2), 82%

Enters the atmosphere through burning fossil fuels (coal, natural gas, and oil), solid waste, trees and wood products, and also as a result of certain chemical reactions (e.g., manufacture of cement).

Fluorinated gases, 3%

Hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, and sulfur hexafluoride are synthetic, powerful greenhouse gases that are emitted from a variety of industrial processes.

Nitrous Oxide (N2O), 6%

Emitted during agricultural and industrial activities, as well as during combustion of fossil fuels and solid waste.

Methane (CH4), 9%

Emitted during the production and transport of coal, natural gas, and oil as well as from landfils.

Source: EPA

We’ve made progress thanks to:

Stronger Fuel Economy Standards

We set the highest fuel economy standards in American history that will double the efficiency of our cars and trucks by 2025.

INCREASING CLEAN ENERGY

Since President Obama took office, the U.S. increased solar generation by more than ten-fold and tripled electricity production from wind power.

Decreased Carbon Pollution

In 2012, U.S. greenhouse gas pollution fell to the lowest level in nearly 20 years.

Renewable Energy and Efficiency Targets

35 states have renewable energy targets in place, and more than 25 have set energy efficiency targets.


But we have more work to do.


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The President’s Plan to Cut Carbon Pollution in America

Reducing Carbon Pollution from Power Plants

Power plants are the largest major source of emissions in the U.S., together accounting for roughly one-third of all domestic greenhouse gas pollution.

PROGRESS:

In September 2013, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced proposed carbon pollution standards for new power plants.

PROGRESS:

EPA has met with more than 300 stakeholder groups from across the country to gather information on standards for existing power plants.


Continuing the momentum for the future:

Accelerating Clean Energy Leadership

During the President’s first term, the United States more than doubled generation of electricity from wind and solar energy.

PROGRESS:

The Department of the Interior (DOI) announced permitting the 50th utility-scale renewable energy project on public lands. The projects could support more than 20,000 jobs and generate enough electricity to power 4.8 million homes.

PROGRESS:

Since President Obama took office, the U.S. increased solar generation by more than ten-fold and tripled electricity production from wind power.


Continuing the momentum for the future:

Building a 21st Century Clean Energy Infrastructure

Heavy-duty vehicles (commercial trucks, vans, and buses) are currently the second largest source of greenhouse gas pollution within the transportation sector.


PROGRESS:

In January 2014, President Obama signed a Presidential Memorandum establishing the Federal government’s first Quadrennial Energy Review (QER) process, with an initial focus on our nation’s energy infrastructure.

PROGRESS:

In February 2014, President Obama directed EPA and DOT to develop and issue the next phase of heavy-duty vehicle fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas standards by March 2016.

PROGRESS:

In 2011, the Administration finalized fuel economy standards for Model Year 2014-2018 for heavy-duty trucks, buses, and vans. This will reduce green-house gas emissions by about 270 million metric tons and save 530 million barrels of oil.

PROGRESS:

The Administration has already established the toughest fuel economy standards for passenger vehicles in U.S. history. These standards require an average performance equivalent of 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025.


Continuing the momentum for the future:

Cutting energy waste in homes, businesses, and factories

Energy efficiency is one of the clearest and most cost-effective opportunities to save families money, make our businesses more competitive, and reduce greenhouse gas pollution.


PROGRESS:

Since June more than 50 multifamily housing partners – representing roughly 200,000 units and over 190 million square feet – have joined the President’s Better Buildings Challenge.

PROGRESS:

In President Obama’s first term, DOE and HUD completed efficiency upgrades in nearly two million homes, saving many families more than $400 on their heating and cooling bills in the first year alone.

PROGRESS:

In December 2013, the Department of Agriculture announced it will provide up to $250 million to help business and residential customers in rural areas cut their energy bills through energy efficiency and renewable energy use.

PROGRESS:

Since June, DOE has issued nine proposed and five final energy conservation standards for appliances and equipment. If finalized and combined with rules already issued, the energy savings will help cut consumers’ electricity bills by hundreds of billions of dollars.


Continuing the momentum for the future:

Reducing other greenhouse gas emissions

Emissions of Hydrofluorocardons (HFCs) — which are potent greehouse gases — are expected to double by 2020 and nearly triple by 2030 in the U.S.

PROGRESS:

Since 1990, methane emissions have decreased by 11% in part through partnerships with industry.

PROGRESS:

In March 2014, the Administration released a Strategy to Reduce Methane Emissions from landfills, coal mining, agriculture, and oil and gas systems through voluntary actions and common-sense standards.


Continuing the momentum for the future:

Federal leadership

Since 2008, federal agencies have reduced greenhouse gas pollution by more than 17 percent — the equivalent of permanently taking 1.8 million cars off the road.

PROGRESS:

In December 2011, President Obama signed a memorandum challenging federal agencies to enter into $2 billion worth of performance contracts for building energy efficiency within two-years.

PROGRESS:

On December 5, President Obama signed a Presidential Memorandum directing the federal government to buy at least 20% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020.


Continuing the momentum for the future:


Even as we take new steps to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, we must also prepare for the impacts of a changing climate that are already being felt across the country.


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The President’s Plan Will

Prepare for the impacts of climate change

Moving forward, the Obama Administration will help states, cities, and towns build stronger communities and infrastructure, protect critical sectors of our economy as well as our natural resources, and use sound science to better understand and manage climate impacts.

Assess the Impacts of Climate Change

GOALS

Provide an assessment of climate change impacts on the United States that translates scientific insights into practical knowledge that can help decision-makers prepare for specific impacts.

PROGRESS:

On May 6, the Administration released the Third U.S. National Climate Assessment (NCA), the most authoritative and comprehensive source of scientific information to date about climate-change impacts across all U.S. regions and on critical sectors of the economy. The NCA serves as a critical resource for informing climate preparedness and response decisions across the Nation.


Support climate-resilient investments

GOALS

Remove policy barriers, modernize programs, and establish a short-term task force of state, local, and tribal officials to advise on key actions the federal government can take to support local and state efforts to prepare for climate change.

PROGRESS:

Federal agencies are working to ensure grants, technical assistance, and other programs support smarter, more resilient investments.

PROGRESS:

Established the President’s State, Local and Tribal Leaders Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience, which is made up of 26 Governors, county executives, mayors and tribal leaders.


Rebuild and learn from Superstorm Sandy

GOALS

Pilot innovative strategies in the Superstorm Sandy-affected region to strengthen communities against future extreme weather and other climate impacts and update flood risk reduction standards for all federally funded projects.

PROGRESS:

From HUD grants and DOT funding for resilient transit systems to a DOI competition for support for coastal resilience projects, over $10B in Sandy recovery funds is being used to increase resilience.

PROGRESS:

On August 19 the Hurricane Sandy Task Force delivered a rebuilding strategy that is serving as a model for communities across the nation.


Launch an effort to create sustainable and resilient hospitals

GOALS

Establish a public-private partnership on increasing resilience of the health care industry.

PROGRESS:

HHS is on track to release a resource packet in fall 2014 providing best practices for increasing the resilience of healthcare facilities.


Maintain Agriculture Productivity

GOALS

Deliver tailored, science-based knowledge to farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners to help them understand and prepare for the impacts of climate change.

PROGRESS:

USDA established seven new “regional climate hubs” to help farmers and ranchers adapt their operations to a changing climate.


Provide tools for Climate Resilience

GOALS

Include existing and newly developed climate preparedness tools and information that state, local and private-sector leaders need to make smart decisions.

PROGRESS:

In March 2014, the Administration launched the Climate Data Initiative, bringing together extensive open government data and innovation competitions to develop data-driven resilience tools for communities.


Reduce Risk of Droughts and Wildfires

GOALS

Make it easier for communities to get the assistance they need to adapt to drier conditions.

PROGRESS:

Launched the National Drought Resilience Partnership and released the National Wildfire Cohesive Strategy.


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Because climate change spans international borders, the President’s plan will also

Lead international efforts to address global climate change

America will continue to take on a leadership role in engaging the world’s major economies to advance key climate priorities and in galvanizing global action through international climate negotiations. The plan will:

WORK WITH OTHER COUNTRIES TO TAKE ACTION TO ADDRESS CLIMATE CHANGE

Lead public sector financing toward cleaner energy

PROGRESS:

The President put forth an initiative to end public financing for new coal-fired power plants overseas, except in rare circumstances. Following the lead of the U.S., other nations—including the U.K., the Netherlands, and the Nordic countries—have joined the initiative.


 

Bilat cooperation with major economies

PROGRESS:

President Obama has made climate change a key issue in some of our most important bilateral relations, including China and India. Together, we are making progress around issue areas such as vehicle emissions standards, energy efficiency, and clean energy initiatives.


 

Expand clean energy use and cut energy waste

PROGRESS:

Facilitating the transition to a global clean energy economy, the U.S. Department of Energy is leading the Clean Energy Ministerial, a high-level global forum that promotes policies and programs aimed at scaling up energy efficiency and clean energy.


 

COMBAT SHORT-LIVED CLIMATE POLLUTANTS

PROGRESS:

Building on the breakthrough June 2013 agreement on hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) by President Obama and China’s President Xi, G-20 leaders in September 2013 expressed support for using the expertise and institutions of the Montreal Protocol to phase down HFCs.

PROGRESS:

The U.S. continues to spearhead the Climate and Clean Air Coalition which has expanded to 88 partners, including 39 countries. The Coalition is implementing ten initiatives to reduce emissions of methane, HFCs, and black carbon.


 

Reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation

PROGRESS:

In November 2013, the U.S., Norway, and the U.K. launched a public-private partnership to support forests in developing countries, with the goal of reducing emissions from deforestation and promoting sustainable agriculture.


 

NEGOTIATE GLOBAL FREE TRADE IN ENVIRONMENTAL GOODS AND SERVICES

PROGRESS:

In January 2014, a U.S.-led coalition of countries—representing 86% of global trade in environmental goods—announced plans to launch talks aimed at eliminating tariffs on a wide range of environmental goods under the World Trade Organization.


 

ENHANCE MULTILATERAL ENGAGEMENT WITH MAJOR ECONOMIES

PROGRESS:

The United States continues to play an active role in shaping the design of a new global climate agreement due in 2015, including through our chairmanship of the major economies forum on energy and climate.


 

Mobilize climate finance

PROGRESS:

In April 2014, the U.S., U.K., and Germany announced the Global Innovation Lab for Climate Finance, a public-private platform designed to spur private-sector investment in low-carbon, climate-resilient infrastructure in developing countries.


 

Lead efforts to address climate change through international negotiations

The United State has made historic progress in the international climate negotiations during the past four years.

Moving Forward

The U.S. has committed to expand major new and existing international initiatives, including bilateral initiatives with China, India, and other major emitting countries.

We will lead global public sector financing toward cleaner energy by ending U.S. government financial support for new coal-fired power plants overseas, with limited exceptions.


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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 17th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

    Tax Breaks That Are Killing the Planet

 The comments show how deep is the Republican brainwashing of the population. You have here pundits for whom loss of life is nothing when compared to what they think is the right of corporations to make a profit.

What is even worse, nobody asked whose oil and coal is it anyway?  If Natural Resources are the property of the Whole Nation, then why should a company get depletion subsidies for their appropriating to themselves the natural National treasures? The whole system of paying royalties is inadequate – but the payment to them for the deletion of the resources is ridiculous. Getting a bonus for gains from misappropriated resources is much more like rewarding the CEOs for being great thieves! Just give it some more rational thinking and use the babble of the comments as your guideline.   ST.info editor)

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 25th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Koch World 2014

By Kenneth P. Vogel, Politico

25 January 2014

 

f the Koch brothers’ political operation seemed ambitious in 2010 or 2012, wait for what’s in store for 2014 and beyond.

The billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch are convening some of the country’s richest Republican donors on Sunday at a resort near Palm Springs, Calif., to raise millions of dollars for efforts to shape the political landscape for years to come.

It’s the cash that can possibly kick Democrats out of the Senate majority this fall and shape the philosophy and agenda of the GOP conference – not to mention the 2016 presidential field.

The Koch political operation has become among the most dominant forces in American politics, rivaling even the official Republican Party in its ability to shape policy debates and elections. But it’s mostly taken a piecemeal approach, sticking to its sweet spots, while leaving other tasks to outsiders, or ad hoc coalitions of allies.

That’s changing. This year, the Kochs’ close allies are rolling out a new, more integrated approach to politics. That includes wading into Republican primaries for the first time to ensure their ideal candidates end up on the ticket, and also centralizing control of their network to limit headache-inducing freelancing by affiliated operatives.

The shift is best illustrated in the expansion of three pieces of the Koch political network expected to be showcased or represented at the three-day meeting in Palm Springs, whose evolving roles were described to POLITICO by several sources.

    • Center for Shared Services: a nonprofit recruiter and administrative support team for other Koch-backed groups, which provides assistance with everything from scouting office space to accounting to furniture and security.

 

    • Freedom Partners: a nonprofit hub that doled out $236 million in 2012 to an array of conservative nonprofits that is now expanding its own operation so that it can fulfill many of the functions of past grantees.

 

  • Aegis Strategic: a political consulting firm started last year by Koch-allied operatives who will recruit, train and support candidates who espouse free-market philosophies like those beloved by the Kochs, and will also work with nonprofit groups in the Koch network, like Freedom Partners, with which it has a contract to provide policy analysis.

The Koch network raised an astounding $400 million in the run-up to 2012, spending much of it assailing President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats. After the Election Day letdown, the Kochs did an in-depth analysis to find out what went wrong and what they could do better. Among the areas identified for improvement were greater investments in grassroots organizing, better use of voter data and more effective appeals to young and Hispanic voters, according to sources.

Still, the big question was whether the donors who attend the conferences would keep stroking big checks or scale back their efforts. There’s no way to measure that definitively, since most of the groups in the network don’t disclose their finances regularly or reveal their donors. Early indications, though, suggest enthusiasm is high.

Groups in the Koch network – led by the brothers’ main political vehicle Americans for Prosperity – spent $25 million between the summer and early this month on ads bashing Democrats over Obamacare, which have been credited for hurting Democratic senators who are vulnerable in 2014.

James Davis, an official at Freedom Partners told POLITICO that his group has expanded rapidly, “and we expect to continue to grow.”

The 2014 potential of AfP, Freedom Partners and the other groups in the network depends in large part on the reception they get at this weekend’s gathering – the annual winter installment in the Kochs’ long-running series of twice-a-year meetings. Koch Industries spokesman Rob Tappan declined to comment on the Palm Springs meeting, but the company’s website includes a statement describing the events as bringing together “some of America’s greatest philanthropists and most successful business leaders” to “discuss solutions to our most pressing issues and strategies to promote policies that will help grow our economy, foster free enterprise and create American jobs.”

Many of the right’s most generous benefactors – folks like Minnesota media mogul Stan Hubbard, Wall Street investor Ken Langone and Wyoming mutual fund guru Foster Friess – are regulars. The gatherings, which attendees call “seminars” and are typically held at tony resorts, routinely attract some of the top operatives and biggest names in Republican politics, as well as rising stars tapped by the Kochs’ operatives.

The last seminar, held in August outside Albuquerque, N.M., drew Rep. Paul Ryan, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez and Iowa state legislator Joni Ernst, who is running in a crowded GOP Senate primary.

The seminars typically conclude with pledge sessions that can raise tens of millions of dollars. In 2012, that cash mostly went into a pair of non-profit conduits – Freedom Partners and the Center to Protect Patient Rights – whose operatives then doled it out to a range of nonprofits blessed by the Koch operation, including some groups asked to make presentations to donors at the seminars.

But several sources suggested that Freedom Partners’ growth and expansion into a more central strategic role within the network means that the roles – and possibly funding – of the Center to Protect Patient Rights and other groups in the network will diminish. In other words, Freedom Partners will bring in-house many Koch network functions that had been outsourced. That could reduce the chances of a repeat of situations like that which the Center to Protect Patient Rights and one of its beneficiary nonprofits found themselves in California, where they paid $1 million last year to settle an investigation into alleged campaign finance violations. The settlement stipulated that the violation “was inadvertent, or at worst negligent,” but the investigation brought unwanted attention to the Kochs, who repeatedly stressed that they had no involvement in the matter and distanced themselves from the operative who ran the Center to Protect Patient Rights, Sean Noble, explaining that he was just a consultant.

Freedom Partners, by contrast, is run by Marc Short, a former Koch employee, and staffed by other Koch loyalists, although Koch Industries issued a statement saying the group “operates independently of Koch Industries.” The group, established in November 2011, is technically a business league, and its members pay at least $100,000 in annual dues. “Our membership has grown out of concern that the administration’s policies are hurting Americans by crippling businesses and our economy,” Davis said. The growth has continued since the 2012 election, he said, adding that the group is in the process of expanding its 50-employee staff.

It appears to be looking to hire a creative director to make videos for both Freedom Partners and other groups, as well as an executive to work with the groups’ donors and help raise money for it and other groups. Those postings are listed on the website of the Center for Shared Services, which sources say is filling an innovative niche recruiting talent for the entire Koch network.

The network’s ambitious plans are borne out in the Center’s job board, which has an array of posts that hint at major 2014 expansions that seem to track areas of improvement identified in the Kochs’ post-2012 analysis.

The website doesn’t actually list the groups for which it’s hiring, but sources say the Center — which was founded in mid-2011 and received $2.7 million from Freedom Partners in 2012 — is primarily devoted to boosting Koch-backed nonprofits. All the services it provides are “free or substantially below cost,” according to the group’s tax filings, which show it spent only $1.2 million through mid-2012. Center officials did not respond to requests for comment, but the group’s job board reads like a guide to Koch World.

“The leading data and technology provider for the pro-free market public policy and advocacy community” is looking to hire about a dozen positions, including developers to “help build data driven web and mobile applications systems.” The outfit is based in Alexandria, Va., where the Koch-backed voter data non-profit Themis and its for-profit arm i360 are headquartered.

A “youth advocacy organization” is seeking directors, volunteer coordinators and event coordinators in multiple states who have worked on national political campaigns, and have voter identification and turnout experience. The Koch network’s youth advocacy nonprofit is called Generation Opportunity and it, like the organization in the postings and many Koch-backed non-profits, is based in the Washington suburb of Arlington, Va. An organization dedicated to Hispanic voter outreach – much like the Koch-backed LIBRE Initiative – is hiring field directors in Colorado, New Mexico and Texas.

Americans for Prosperity, The LIBRE Initiative and Generation Opportunity have focused their efforts primarily on beating up Democrats over Obamacare, but after 2013 conservative operatives had studied the Koch operation for signs that it might throw its weight into Republican primaries. AfP’s president Tim Phillips had suggested that was a possibility for his group, which could have seriously altered the balance of power in the battle for the soul of the GOP. And, while POLITICO has learned that AfP ultimately decided against such a move, sources say that Aegis is envisioned as a way for Koch operatives to mix it up in primaries.

“They are the candidate-support operation of the Koch network,” said one GOP operative who has met with Aegis president Jeff Crank about his firm’s plans. “They’re looking at these races and looking to get involved in primaries.”

Crank, who ran twice unsuccessfully for congress in Colorado, was the director of that state’s chapter of Americans for Prosperity, before serving a stint as the interim chief operating officer for the entire organization after a post-2012 election shakeup. Another Aegis staffer ran AfP’s Nebraska chapter, while a third worked at Themis.

Crank didn’t respond to phone calls or emails for this story, but last week on the Saturday morning radio show he hosts on a Colorado station, he said one of the reasons he started Aegis was “because we’re trying to end that kind of nonsense from political consultants, who just go out and get a candidate so they can get a job.” On his show a week earlier, he praised the Koch brothers, calling them “some of the most philanthropic givers in the United States of America” — citing their donations to medical research, the Smithsonian and various arts programs in New York. “But they’re vilified if they give any money to try and keep America free.”

Sources told POLITICO that Koch network donors invested in Aegis. Crank told the Denver Post that he had financial backers, though he didn’t identify them, and said he also used his own money. He said his goal was avoiding GOP electoral meltdowns like Todd Akin, who won a Missouri Senate primary, only to implode in the general election campaign when he asserted that victims of “legitimate rape” very rarely get pregnant.

“Our effort is to find good candidates who are committed to pulling America off the fiscal cliff, whether they are gubernatorial candidates or U.S. House or U.S. Senate candidates,” he told the Denver Post. Mother Jones reported that Crank has touted his ties to the Kochs and their fundraising network and that its first client is a New Hampshire state lawmaker who has been an AfP ally.

It’s unclear if Aegis has signed any gubernatorial or congressional candidates yet, but POLITICO has learned that Aegis and i360 both made informal pitches to work for Ernst’s Iowa Senate campaign around the time that she attended the August seminar in Albuquerque, for which her campaign reimbursed Koch Companies Public Sector $242 for “event registration fee,” according to Federal Election Commission filings. They show the campaign also spent $884 on lodging at the Hyatt where the conference was held. Derek Flowers, an Ernst campaign staffer, told POLITICO that the payment to Koch was “to cover the cost of meals and expenses while at the retreat” which was paid for by the company, and said ultimately the campaign decided to go with firms other than Aegis and i360.

Ernst, though, said she was grateful for the chance to appear before the Koch network donors in Albuquerque, where she talked her campaign and why she thought she would be a good senator. “I do think it gets my name out there,” she said last year, in previously unreported comments. “Not everyone will jump on board and support just because of that, but it is good to get the name out, absolutely.”

=============================================

Sunday New York Times Review   |   Editorial

The Koch Party

Only a few weeks into this midterm election year, the right-wing political zeppelin is fully inflated with secret cash and is firing malicious falsehoods at supporters of health care reform.

As Carl Hulse of The Times reported recently, Democrats have been staggered by a $20 million advertising blitz produced by Americans for Prosperity, the conservative advocacy group organized and financed by the Koch brothers, billionaire industrialists. The ads take aim at House and Senate candidates for re-election who have supported the health law, and blame them for the hyped-up problems with the law’s rollout that now seem to be the sole plank in this year’s Republican platform.

In one typical example, the group’s ad against Representative Gary Peters of Michigan, a Democrat who is running for an open Senate seat, is full of distortions and lies. It accuses Mr. Peters of lying when he said the law bars cancellations of insurance policies. Mr. Peters happened to be right, as millions of people who once faced losing all insurance after they got sick now appreciate. The 225,000 Michigan residents who the ad said received “cancellation notices” were actually told that they could change to a better policy; they were not told they could no longer have insurance, as the ad implies. And though the ad said health care costs are “skyrocketing,” national spending on health care is now growing at the slowest pace ever recorded, in part because of the reform law.

Democrats intend to counter this campaign with the facts, but few of the candidates have the money to do so now. As a result, the campaign is taking a serious political toll, increasing the chances that Republicans who support a repeal of the law will win back the Senate majority this fall.

Naturally, Democrats are using the campaign to increase their own fund-raising, begging donors to give unlimited amounts to left-leaning super PACs and advocacy groups. But it is unlikely that they will be able to match the resources or the cunning of the Kochs, who are using vast pools of money earned through corporate revenues to build a network unrivaled in complexity and secrecy. This weekend, they are bringing together some of the biggest Republican bank accounts at a resort in Palm Springs, Calif., to collect money and plan this year’s strategy.

As Politico described it on Friday, they have already set up an operation so sophisticated it rivals “even the official Republican Party in its ability to shape policy debates and elections.” Its components include a political consulting firm to recruit, train and support like-minded antigovernment candidates, which will be active in the congressional primaries. There is also a center that provides technology and administrative services to right-wing groups and candidates, an office that compiles and analyzes voter data and a youth advocacy group.

In 2012, as The Washington Post reported, the Koch network raised $407 million, which was secreted among 17 groups with cryptic names and purposes that were designed to make it impossible to figure out the names of donors the Kochs worked with. As one tax expert told The Post, “it’s designed to make it opaque as to where the money is coming from and where the money is going.”

The Democrats have smaller versions of these operations, though they are more focused on building a super PAC to collect unlimited donations supporting Hillary Rodham Clinton in 2016, and they lack the resources to compete with the Kochs at this stage.

The clandestine influence of the Kochs and their Palm Springs friends would be much reduced if they were forced to play in the sunshine.

The Internal Revenue Service and several lawmakers are beginning to step up their interest in preventing “social welfare” organizations and other tax-sheltered groups from being used as political conduits, but they have encountered the usual resistance from Republican lawmakers. Considering how effectively the Koch brothers are doing their job, it’s easy to see why.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 11th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

 

Rachel Maddow, Chris Christie. (photo: Chris Pizzello/Josh Reynolds/AP)
Rachel Maddow, Chris Christie. (photo: Chris Pizzello/Josh Reynolds/AP)

 

ome very good investigative broadcast journalism from MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow on Thursday night.

 

On Thursday morning, New Jersey governor and, until now, Republican presidential favorite Chris Christie gave a two-hour press conference (full transcript here) in which he expressed being “stunned” and “blindsided” Wednesday morning by the blockbuster revelations published that day by Shawn Boburg of the Bergen Record.

 

The paper’s report included email and text messages [PDF] between Christie’s deputy chief of staff Bridget Anne Kelly and a number of other top appointees conspiring to shut down lanes of the George Washington Bridge leading out of Fort Lee, N.J., on the first day of school last September. The messages reveal the staffers appearing to enjoying the pain the shutdown was causing the town, joking about the inconvenience to the local children of voters of Christie’s gubernatorial opponent in last November’s election, and otherwise agreeing not to respond to queries from town officials about the closures.

 

FROM –

Rachel Maddow: There Was Another Target of Bridge-Gate.

 

By Brad Friedman, Salon

 

10 January 14

 

Maddow, noticing that Kelly’s “Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee” email was sent to Christie’s Port Authority appointee David Wildstein on Aug. 13, 7:34 a.m., wondered what else happened around that time in N.J. that might have spurred Kelly to order the lane closures on the world’s busiest bridge first thing in the morning that day?

 

Here’s Maddow’s report, finding that the evening before, Christie had unloaded on Democrats in a particularly angry press conference concerning the renomination battle of a N.J. Supreme Court judge, a battle that had been several years in the making. The woman who headed the state Senate committee causing embarrassment for Christie at the time was N.J.’s state Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg (D), who happens to represent … you guessed it … Fort Lee …

 

The points raised by Maddow are certain to raise many more questions about this entire fine mess, as if there aren’t enough already. But, for now, we’ll leave those for another day.

 

After offering her alternative theory, explained above, Maddow interviewed Weinberg about them. Here’s that interview …

 

I don’t claim to be an expert on the man. But, to be frank – having spent a fair amount of time studying Christie in advance of my 2011 exclusive revealing the secret audiotapes of the secret Koch brothers’ summit where Christie was the super-secret keynote speaker – while he can certainly be thuggish, a blowhard, and somewhat of a bully when he likes, retribution against a Democratic mayor for declining to endorse him in a landslide election seems a bit overboard, even for Christie.

 

On the other hand, retaliating against the state’s Democratic Senate Majority Leader, who he likely saw as causing him no small amount of embarrassment in the NJ Supreme Court matter, does seem more in keeping with his style. Even if he didn’t know about it (which is seeming less likely by the hour), his staff surely shared the same frustrations with Senate Democrats that Christie would have (even as he often expertly played Democrats in the state legislature like a fiddle.)

Weinberg, for that matter, led the charge in the state Senate after the Secret Koch Tapes story, to pass legislation that would keep Christie from secretly leaving the state again in the future, as he had when he appeared at the Koch Summit in Colorado.

 

Maddow’s alternative theory is smart, good reporting, might make more “sense” out of this entire matter, and is certainly worthy of further inquiry.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 21st, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

My son Daniel.

A Letter from Tom Hauser of Littlleton, Colorado, father of Daniel killed in the Columbine school shooting spree.

to me – Pincas — My son, Daniel, was a smart, quiet kid.

He’d just become a straight-A student, and he was overcoming his shyness as a new member of the debate team.

On April 20th, 1999, my beautiful and bright 15-year-old son was killed by two teenagers with guns in the library of Columbine High School — one of 12 innocent kids who lost their lives for no reason at all.

It’s been 14 years since that horrible day — 14 years of fighting so no family has to grieve like ours did.

These tragedies keep happening, and so far, Congress has failed to take common-sense action to stop them — even though nine in 10 Americans have agreed that expanding background checks would help close the loopholes that put guns in the hands of dangerous people and prevent future violence.

Today, OFA and allied organizations are standing up for a national Day of Action to ask members of Congress: What will it take to finally act to prevent gun violence?

I hope you’ll join in — say you’ll do one thing this week to show Congress you want action to prevent gun violence.

The evening of the shooting at Columbine High was the most hopeless I’ve ever felt.

Since Daniel’s death, I’ve found a way to honor him: by trying to prevent other families from feeling this pain. I’ve advocated locally and nationally for smarter gun laws — even helping achieve a statewide ballot victory here in Colorado.

In December, when I heard about the shooting in Newtown, I sat in my office and broke down. I was watching another community torn apart by guns — more parents grieving, more kids who would never see graduation, or a wedding, or a family of their own.

And in the wake of another tragedy, nine in 10 Americans agreed that it was time to act — expand background checks to close the loopholes that put guns in the hands of dangerous people.

But Congress disappointed us, putting politics above the safety of our kids.

That’s why this week, we’re asking: How many parents will have to go through what I did before we say “enough”?

You should be a part of this, too. Tell Congress you’re going to keep asking until they act:

 my.barackobama.com/Do-One-Thing-f…

Thank you,

Tom

Tom Mauser
Littleton, Colorado

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 18th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

U.S. Endures Heat Waves, Extended Drought.

WASHINGTON, DC, July 16, 2013 (ENS) – Heat waves and drought conditions are touching off wildfires, shriveling grasslands across the western states and stressing eastern urban residents, forcing lawmakers and public lands managers alike to rethink their approach to water supplies.

In Washington, the Senate Water and Power Subcommittee is holding a hearing today on the future of the Colorado River. The hearing follows recent deadly wildfires, a record-breaking heat wave and worsening drought conditions in the Southwest that have put the region’s residents, wildlife and natural resources at risk.

The subcommittee is examining the Bureau of Reclamation’s Colorado River Basin Water Demand and Supply study, released last December, which found that there is not enough water in the Colorado River to meet the basin’s current water demands or future demand increases.

Spanning parts of Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah, and Wyoming, the Colorado River Basin is one of the most critical sources of water in the West. The Colorado River and its tributaries provide water to nearly 40 million people for municipal use, supply water used to irrigate nearly 5.5 million acres of land, and is also the lifeblood for at least 22 federally recognized tribes, seven National Wildlife Refuges, four National Recreation Areas, and 11 National Parks.

Climate change will reduce water available from the Colorado River by nine percent, increasing the risk to cities, farms and the environment, the study concludes.

“This study serves as a call to action and underscores the importance of prioritizing innovative conservation solutions rather than resorting to costly pipelines, dams and other diversions,” said Matt Niemerski, water policy director at the nonprofit American Rivers. “We need to step up our efforts and manage our water wisely in order to meet the current and future needs in the basin.”

Across the country, more than 40 percent of U.S. freshwater withdrawals are used for power plant cooling. These plants also lose several billion gallons of freshwater every day through evaporation.

New research released today by the Union of Concerned Scientists indicates that increasing demand and drought are putting a great strain on water resources. Low water levels and high water temperatures can cause power plants to cut their electricity output in order to avoid overheating or harming local water bodies.

John Rogers, a senior energy analyst with UCS’s Climate and Energy Program, said, “In our water-constrained world, a 20-year delay in tackling the problem leaves the power industry unnecessarily vulnerable to drought and exacerbates competition with other water users. We can bring water use down faster and further, but only by changing how we get our electricity.”

A pathway that includes strong investments in renewables and energy efficiency, according to the UCS study, would greatly reduce power generation’s water use and carbon emissions. Under such a scenario, water withdrawals would drop by 97 percent from current levels by 2050, with most of that drop within the next 20 years.

Meanwhile, hot, dry conditions persist west of the Mississippi River, with at least 15 states experiencing drought. Wild horses and livestock compete for the same scarce water resources.

Drought conditions are taking a toll on western rangelands, leaving little water and forage for animals and livestock, prompting the Bureau of Land Management to provide supplemental water and food for wild horses, reduce grazing, and enact fire restrictions.

In New Mexico, 93 percent of rangeland and pastures are rated poor or very poor. The figure is 59 percent in Colorado; 35 percent in Wyoming; and 17 percent in Utah.

Similar conditions exist in Nevada, where more than 60 percent of the state has been in severe or extreme drought conditions since the beginning of 2013.

“Since last fall and winter, we have been working with grazers across the West in anticipation of tough conditions related to drought. In southwestern Montana, for example, the BLM worked with permitted ranchers to graze no more than 70 percent of their alloted forage on BLM-managed lands,” said BLM Principal Deputy Director Neil Kornze.

“As drought conditions continue, wild horses, livestock, and wildlife that rely on rangeland forage and water will face extremely challenging conditions that may leave them in very poor condition,” said Kornze. “We are taking action to address these situations as quickly and as effectively as we can, but our options are increasingly limited by conditions on the land.”

In Nevada, all BLM Districts have been hauling water to wild horses. There, the BLM is trucking 5,000 gallons of water per day, five days a week to four locations in the Winnemucca District at a cost of $1,000 a day.

In the next few days, a USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service veterinarian will join BLM specialists in assessing horses in Lincoln County, Nev., after BLM employees noted that horses were not drinking water from trucked-in troughs and were not eating supplemental hay. This raised concerns about the health of the animals.

Over the past week in Nevada, average temperatures have been 10 degrees above normal, hovering around 100 degrees. The state has recently had only 0.1 to 0.5 inches of rain, resulting in sparse, poor-quality forage, according to the BLM.

Scarce water sources have put pressure on all users, including wild horses, livestock, and wildlife; causing long-lasting damage to plants, stream channels, spring areas, and water quality.

The heat wave continues across the eastern United States, with highs Tuesday expected to reach the 90s across much of the eastern third of the country, says the National Weather Service. Combined with humidity, this will create heat index values of 100 degrees Fahrenheit or higher.

The heat and humidity is here for several more days for the Eastern states, including the Mid-Atlantic, Northeast, Ohio Valley, and spreading into the Midwest and Great Plains. A large upper level ridge and sinking air in the lower atmosphere are causing the hot conditions, says the National Weather Service, which says, “Although this is the hottest weather so far this season, it is less than the extreme heat observed last summer over these areas.”

In New York, Con Edison’s crews, working 12-hour shifts, are pulling cables, replacing fuses and other equipment to bring power back to customers as the heat wave blankets the metropolitan area. The heat wave is expected to extend into Saturday.

Crews have been responding to scattered outages and have restored power to more than 7,600 customers in New York City and Westchester County since the heat settled here on Sunday.

New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn called New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly personally after an intern fainted in the heat and paramedics did not arrive for more than 30 minutes.

“This whole situation is outrageous and I don’t know what happened, and I’m going to get to the bottom of it. It’s inexcusable,” Quinn told the “New York Daily News.”

Across the Great Plains, AccuWeather.com Expert Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski and Head of AccuWeather.com’s Long-Range Forecasting Team Paul Pastelok, say heat will be coming in and out of the Plains over the next 30 days.

For the next two weeks, the Midwest will have temperatures in the 80s and 90s.

Meanwhile, temperatures will remain below normal across parts of the southern and southwestern states, mainly from Texas to Arizona, where heavy rain and flash flooding are possible.

The Southwest will catch a break as building monsoon conditions ease the heat down for the Four Corners area, but temperatures will increase over the Great Basin and West, according to AccuWeather forecasters.

All this week, the odds favor above-median precipitation over western Alaska, the southern Rockies, the Northern Great Plains, Western and Central Gulf Coasts, and from the Great Lakes to the Mid-Atlantic, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, a service of the federal government.

Dry conditions are likely across the Pacific Northwest, eastern Alaska, and the Central Great Plains. Temperatures are likely to be above normal west of the continental divide, and from the Midwest to the Northeast, with below-normal temperatures favored over New Mexico and the Southeast.

AccuWeather predicts the mercury will soar come September when the Southwest region will reach its hottest point of the year.

OUR MAIN COMMENT ON THIS ARTICLE IS THAT IT SOMEHOW FORGOT MEXICO WHICH HAS RIGHTS TO THE COLORADO RIVER WATER AS WELL. THE SITUATION IS THUS MUCH MORE COMPLICATED THEN MENTIONED HERE. THE ARTICLE ALSO DID NOT MENTION THAT SOME OF THE AGRICULTURE IN ARIZONA IS SIMPLY MISPLACED – GROWING COTTON IN THE DESERT IS JUST NOT THE THING THAT SHOULD BE ALLOWED. OH WELL – YOU CANNOT MAKE SENSE EASILY WHEN YOU TALK CONSERVATION OF RESOURCES!

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 2nd, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Opinionator
Let’s Not Braise the Planet
By MARK BITTMAN

Our ability to turn around the rate of carbon emissions and slow the engine that can conflagrate the world is certain. But do we have the will?

—–

Mark Bittman – July 1, 2013 – The New York Times.
Let’s Not Braise the Planet
By MARK BITTMAN
Mark Bittman

According to a report released by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace last month, we are not running out of fossil fuels anytime soon. Since the dawn of the industrial revolution we’ve used around 1.2 trillion barrels of oil; the report estimates that with current technology we can produce roughly five times that much. With future technologies, it may well be that the suffering sky is the limit.

This reduces the issue of conversion to clean energy to one of ethics and intent. Our ability to turn around the rate of carbon emissions and slow the engine that can conflagrate the world is certain. But do we have the will?

The chief economist at the International Energy Agency recommends leaving two-thirds of all fossil fuels in the ground. Makes sense to me, but if you’re an oil executive scarcely being charged for the global damage your industry causes (an effective annual subsidy, says the International Monetary Fund, of nearly $2 trillion, money that would be better spent subsidizing nonpolluting energy sources), responsible to your shareholders and making a fortune, would you start erecting windmills?

Here’s the answer: According to Rolling Stone, just this spring, BP put its $3.1 billion United States wind farm operation up for sale. Last year, ConocoPhillips divested itself of its alternative-energy activities. Shell, with its “Let’s Go” campaign to “broaden the world’s energy mix,” spends less than 2 percent of its expenditures on “alternatives.”Mining oil, gas and coal is making some people rich while braising the planet for all of us. It’s difficult to think ahead, especially with climate change deniers sowing doubt and unfounded fears of unemployment, but we owe quick and decisive action on greenhouse gas reduction not only to ourselves but to billions of people not yet born. “People give less weight to the future, but that’s a brain bug,” the philosopher Peter Singer told me. “We should have equal concern for everyone wherever and whenever they live.”

There’s reason for optimism thanks to renewable energy standards in most states, California’s groundbreaking cap-and-trade law and President Obama’s directive to the Environmental Protection Agency last week. But this isn’t nearly enough, and you have to hope that the president is now fully engaged in progressive energy policy and isn’t merely preparing us for disappointment should he approve of Keystone XL.

Three things worth noting: Most politicians prefer adaptation to mitigation — that is, they’d rather build houses on stilts than reduce emissions; energy independence is in no way synonymous with “clean” energy; and the oft-stated notion that “since gas burns cleaner than coal and oil, we should be moving toward gas” puts us on the highway to hell.

Make no mistake: when it comes to climate change gas isn’t “clean,” because undetermined amounts of methane — a powerful greenhouse gas — leak into the atmosphere from natural gas production.

The answer is zero emission energy. Even moderate changes can help, but cuts in the use of fossil fuels must be much deeper than the president is directing, and this may not happen unless we rid Congress of friends of Big Energy. (By one count the House’s 125 climate-change deniers have taken $30 million in contributions from energy companies.)

Investments in zero-carbon energy are relatively inexpensive and good for the economy, and the cost of business as usual is higher than the cost of even expensive carbon pricing. But it’s tough — pointless? — to make these arguments to the energy companies and their Congressional lackeys, who will fight as they have been effectively paid to do.

Unless we quickly put a steep and real price on all carbon emissions, our inaction will doom our not-too-distant descendants. “Really,” says Dan Lashof, the director of the Natural Resources Defense Council’s climate and clean air program, “we need a comprehensive approach to reduce carbon pollution from all sources. What form that takes — caps, taxes, or standards — is far less important than how soon we get it in place.”

Americans and Western Europeans have been the primary beneficiaries of the lifestyle that accelerated climate change, and, of course are among the primary emitters of greenhouse gases. For the first 200-plus years of the fossil fuel age, we could claim ignorance of its lasting harm; we cannot do that now.

With knowledge comes responsibility, and with that responsibility must come action. As the earth’s stewards, our individual changes are important, but this is a bigger deal than replacing light bulbs or riding a bike. Let’s make working to turn emissions around a litmus test for every politician who asks for our vote.

Imagine a democracy across space, time and class, where legislative bodies represented not only those living in the world’s low-lying areas but their great-grandchildren — and ours. Or imagine that our elected representatives were proxies for those people. Imagine those representatives determining our current energy policy. Is there any doubt that things would change more rapidly?

================================================================================================================================================

Arizona Forestry spokesman says 19 firefighters die battling fast-moving wildfire.

View Photo Gallery — 19 firefighters killed in central Ariz. wildfire:?The firefighters were battling the fast-moving Yarnell Hill fire – the photos are front page on New York Times and Washington Post of July 1 and 2 – and all over TV – all over the globe.

By Associated Press, Published: June 30 | Updated: Monday, July 1, 12:57 AM Posted by Washington Post.

YARNELL, Ariz. — Gusty, hot winds blew an Arizona blaze out of control Sunday in a forest northwest of Phoenix, overtaking and killing 19 members of an elite fire crew in the deadliest wildfire involving firefighters in the U.S. for at least 30 years.

The “hotshot” firefighters were forced to deploy their fire shelters — tent-like structures meant to shield firefighters from flames and heat — when they were caught near the central Arizona town of Yarnell, state forestry spokesman Art Morrison told The Associated Press.

Heat wave hits western U.S.:?A heat wave gripping the western United States is one of the worst in years, with desert locations in the Southwest seeing temperatures approach 120 degrees. It is expected to continue through Tuesday.

The flames lit up the night sky in the forest above the town, and smoke from the blaze could be smelled for miles.

The fire started Friday and spread to 2,000 acres on Sunday amid triple-digit temperatures, low humidity and windy conditions. Officials ordered the evacuations of 50 homes in several communities, and later Sunday afternoon, the Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office expanded the order to include more residents in Yarnell, a town of about 700 residents about 85 miles northwest of Phoenix.

Prescott Fire Chief Dan Fraijo said that the 19 firefighters were a part of the city’s fire department. The crew killed in the blaze had worked other wildfires in recent weeks in New Mexico and Arizona.

“By the time they got there, it was moving very quickly,” he said.

He added that the firefighters had to deploy the emergency shelters when “something drastic” occurred.

“One of the last fail safe methods that a firefighter can do under those conditions is literally to dig as much as they can down and cover themselves with a protective — kinda looks like a foil type— fire-resistant material — with the desire, the hope at least, is that the fire will burn over the top of them and they can survive it,” Fraijo said.

“Under certain conditions there’s usually only sometimes a 50 percent chance that they survive,” he said. “It’s an extreme measure that’s taken under the absolute worst conditions.”

The National Fire Protection Association had previously listed the deadliest wildland fire involving firefighters as the 1994 Storm King Fire near Glenwood Springs, Colo., which killed 14 firefighters who were overtaken by a sudden explosion of flames.

Morrison said several homes in the community of Glenisle burned on Sunday. He said no other injuries or deaths have been reported from that area.

About 200 firefighters are fighting the wildfire, which has also forced the closure of parts of state Route 89. An additional 130 firefighters and more water- and retardant-dropping helicopters and aircraft are on their way.

Federal help was also being called into to fight the fire, Arizona State Forestry Division spokesman Mike Reichling said.

Prescott, which is more than 30 miles northeast of Yarnell, is one of the only cities in the United States that has a hot shot fire crew, Fraijo said. The unit was established in 2002, and the city also has 75 suppression team members.

The Red Cross has opened a shelter at Yavapai College in Prescott, the sheriff’s office said.

U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar, whose district includes Yarnell, shot off a series of tweets Sunday night sending his condolences to those affected. He said his office will remain in contact with emergency responders and would offer help to those who needed it.

Other high profile Arizonans expressed their shock on Twitter, including former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords who called it “absolutely devastating news.” U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., tweeted that he was “sick with the news.”

——-===================================================——–


Western United States swelters amid deadly heat

Date: 01-Jul-13
Country: USA
Author: Tim Gaynor
A dangerous, record-breaking heat wave in the western United States contributed to the death of a Nevada resident and sent scores of people to hospitals with heat-related illnesses.
Photo: Jonathan Alcorn
‘Blast furnace’ heat engulfs U.S. West into weekend
‘Blast furnace’ heat engulfs U.S. West into weekend

Date: 01-Jul-13
Country: USA
Author: Tim Gaynor
An “atmospheric blast furnace” engulfed the sunbaked U.S. West in dangerous triple-digit temperatures on Friday, forecasters said, raising concerns for homeless people and others unable to escape near record temperatures expected over the weekend.
Photo: Joshua Lott

==========================================================================

U.S.
Experts See New Normal as a Hotter, Drier West Faces More Huge Fires.

David Kadlubowski/The Arizona Republic, via Associated Press
The Yarnell Hill fire, which on Monday expanded tenfold, covering more than 8,000 acres.
By FELICITY BARRINGER and KENNETH CHANG

One of the deadliest wildfires in a generation vastly expanded Monday to cover more than 8,000 acres, sweeping up sharp slopes through dry scrub and gnarled piñon pines a day after fickle winds and flames killed 19 firefighters.

Multimedia -Interactive Feature – Arizona Blaze Traps Firefighters

Video: Raw Footage: Arizona Wildfire Aftermath

Related: Lost in Arizona Wildfire, 19 in an Elite Crew That Rushed In Close (July 2, 2013)
*
The Lede: Fallen Firefighters Had Prepared for Worst-Case Scenario (July 1, 2013)

Related in Opinion: Op-Ed Contributor: Living With Fire (July 2, 2013)
*
Dot Earth Blog: 19 Firefighters Fall on the ‘Wildland-Urban Interface’ (July 1, 2013)

The charred remains of an area near Yarnell, Ariz., abutted a strip of fire retardant that kept some houses safe from the wildfire there.
The gusty monsoon winds where the Colorado Plateau begins to drop off into the Sonoran Desert continued to bedevil about 400 firefighters who were defending 500 homes and 200 businesses in the old gold mining villages of Yarnell and Peeples Valley.

Scientists said those blazes and 15 others that remained uncontained from New Mexico to California and Idaho were part of the new normal — an increasingly hot and dry West, resulting in more catastrophic fires.


Since 1970, Arizona has warmed at a rate 0.72 degrees per decade, the fastest among the 50 states, based on an analysis of temperature data by Climate Central, an independent organization that researches and reports on climate. Even as the temperatures have leveled off in many places around the world in the past decade, the Southwest has continued to get hotter.


“The decade of 2001 to 2010 in Arizona was the hottest in both spring and the summer,” said Gregg Garfin, a professor of climate, natural resources and policy at the University of Arizona and the executive editor of a study examining the impact of climate change on the Southwest.

Warmer winters mean less snowfall. More of the winter precipitation falls as rain, which quickly flows away in streams instead of seeping deep underground.

The soils then dry out earlier and more quickly in May and June. “It’s the most arid time of year,” Dr. Garfin said. “It’s windy as well.”
The growing season also starts earlier, so there is more to burn.


“The fire season has lengthened substantially, by two months, over the last 30 years,” said Craig D. Allen, a research ecologist at the United States Geological Survey station at Bandelier National Monument in New Mexico.

The fire potential is exacerbated by the past policy, beginning around 1900, of putting out all fires. Fires are a natural way of clearing out the underbrush. With that natural rhythm disrupted, the flammable material piled up, so when it did catch fire, it ignited a giant fire that burned hotter and wider.

This total-suppression policy began to ease as early as the 1950s, when scientists began to see fire’s role in ecosystems. It was completely abandoned nearly two decades ago.

But in the 1970s, the Southwest entered a wet period, part of a climate cycle that repeats every 20 to 30 years. “That wet period helped keep a lid on fires,” Dr. Allen said. “And it also allowed the forests to fluff up.”

Since 1996, the climate pattern, known as the Pacific decadal oscillation, has swung to the dry end of the spectrum, and the region is caught in a long-term drought.

Stephen J. Pyne, one of the nation’s leading fire historians and a professor at Arizona State University, said, “How we live on the land, what we decide we put on public and private lands, how we do things and don’t do things on the land, changes its combustibility.”

In many landscapes, he added, “you’ve enhanced the natural combustibility” by building hundreds of thousands of homes in fire-prone areas, and for years suppressing natural fires, allowing a buildup of combustible materials like the “slash” debris left behind by logging.

“The natural conditions, particularly climate, the land-use changes that interact with it and how we add or subtract fire, those are the three parts of the fire triangle. Almost all of those are pointing in the same direction — bigger, more damaging fires,” he said.


While Yarnell is not a new community, and its population remained basically stable between 2000 and 2010, it is representative of the risk involved in the trend around the West for people to move into fire-prone areas in what social scientists call the “wild land-urban interface.”


Those expanding communities, with rural views but more urban economies, have been the focus of concern among federal and state officials for a decade or more. While such regions are more plentiful in the East, it is in the areas west of the 100th longitude, reaching from West Texas and the Dakotas to the Pacific Ocean, where the natural aridity, increasingly exacerbated by climate change, makes fires a common threat.

In the West in the 1990s, more than 2.2 million housing units were added in these fire-prone areas, according to testimony by Roger B. Hammer, a demographer at Oregon State University and a leading authority on the issue. Speaking to a House subcommittee in 2008, he called this a “wicked problem,” and predicted an additional 12.3 million homes would be built in such areas in Western states — more than double the current numbers.
Government and scientific data show that destructive sweep of wildfires covered an annual average of seven million acres in the 2000s, twice the totals of the 1990s. Michael Kodas, who is writing a book on modern firefighting, wrote in On Earth magazine last year that scientists believe that number will rise 50 percent or more by 2020.

Yet in fiscal 2013, more than $1.7 billion, or 38 percent of the Forest Service’s budget, was to be devoted to firefighting in general, with $537.8 million — a slight reduction from the previous year — specifically allocated for wildland fires. The Interior Department’s appropriation for wildland firefighting was $276.5 million, a slight increase over the previous year.

But the federal budget sequester eliminated $28 million from the Forest Service budget, although Interior’s remained nearly level. This occurred even though both agencies overspent 2012 budgets of similar size, and though federal firefighters are often first responders, working alongside their state colleagues during blazes like the Yarnell Hill fire.

“The Forest Service is being treated as a firefighter of last resort,” Dr. Pyne said. This, he added, “is not what the agency was set up for, and it’s not financed for it.”
Dr. Allen said that what was different in the recent fires — hotter, more enveloping — is that they are killing far more trees. “We’re seeing the size of postfire treeless patches merging into thousands of acres,” he said, “sometimes many thousands of acres.”
That could permanently transform much of the Arizona landscape as grasslands and shrubs fill in the empty space.

Fernanda Santos and John Dougherty contributed reporting from Prescott, Ariz., and Jonathan Weisman from Washington.

—————————————————-

The New York Times Editors’ Picks of July 2, 2013:

U.S.
Interactive Feature: Arizona Blaze Traps Firefighters.

Nineteen members of the Granite Mountain Hotshots, an elite firefighting crew, died fighting a wildfire in Yarnell, Ariz.

. Related Article – OPINION | Op-Ed Contributor
Living With Fire
By ALAN DEAN FOSTER

It may be a disaster zone, but it’s our disaster zone.

===================================================================================================================================================

header at the time States are literally burning and the US is being asked to lead on Climate Change:


Snooping on Americans’ Phone Records, Benghazi, IRS Scandal… Time to Impeach Obama?

The White House recently confirmed the NSA has been collecting the phone records and web search data of all Americans… and Obama was in on it! Allegations have surfaced that the talking points about the Benghazi terrorist attack were altered by the White House to mislead the general public. And it was found that the IRS was unfairly targeting conservative “Tea Party” groups filing for tax exempt status.

These three events have thrown the Obama Administration and the White House into “damage control.”

And the mailing asks for your opnion.

1) Given the circumstances surrounding NSA snooping, Benghazi and the IRS scandal do you think the Obama administration is lying to the American public?
Yes, they are clearly lying about the events.
No, they are telling the truth.
Not Sure.

2) Do you still trust President Barack Obama?
I still trust Obama.
I trust Obama less than I used to.
I no longer trust Obama.
I never trusted Obama.
Not Sure.

3) Based on your understanding of all three events, do you think Obama should be impeached?
Yes, he should be impeached.
No, he should not be impeached.
Not Sure.

4) Which political party do you most closely align with philosophically?
Democrat
Republican
Libertarian
Tea Party
Independent
Other

=============================

Conclusion – THE NUTS IN THE US WANT TO START AN IMPEACH OBAMA CAMPAIGN NOW in order to avoid facing real world realities.

==================================================================================================================================================

List of Crew Members Killed in Arizona Fire

By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published: July 1, 2013 at 6:17 PM ET

Related:

* Lost in Arizona Wildfire, 19 in an Elite Crew That Rushed In Close (July 2, 2013)
* Experts See a New Normal: A Tinderbox West, With More Huge Fires (July 2, 2013)


PRESCOTT, Ariz. — The city of Prescott has released the names of the 19 firefighters who were killed in a wildfire. Fourteen of the victims were in their 20s.

— Andrew Ashcraft, 29

— Kevin Woyjeck, 21

— Anthony Rose, 23

— Eric Marsh, 43

— Christopher MacKenzie, 30

— Robert Caldwell, 23

— Clayton Whitted , 28

— Scott Norris, 28

— Dustin Deford, 24

— Sean Misner, 26

— Garret Zuppiger, 27

— Travis Carter, 31

— Grant McKee, 21

— Travis Turbyfill, 27

— Jesse Steed, 36

— Wade Parker, 22

— Joe Thurston, 32

— William Warneke, 25

— John Percin, 24

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on June 14th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

 

 

Transforming the Global Economic Paradigm ASAP.

 

 

Rachel’s Network “Green Leaves
Spring Newsletter 2013
Advisor Spotlight 

 

We all  know well the challenges facing us. From reversing ecological and economic collapses to meeting the development needs of seven billion (and growing) residents of our planet, we’ve got our work cut out for us.

 

But what can one person—or one organization—do?

 

A lot.

 

Join me on an adventure to transform the global economic paradigm.

 

Nations, companies, and NGOs are all seeking a new global agenda. Many of these groups are now coalescing around the United Nations’ work to replace the Millennium Development Goals—the targets set back in 2004 for poverty reduction—that expire in 2015.

 

I’ve been asked by the King of the tiny Kingdom of Bhutan to help the world shift its development model away from the current approach of increasing the throughput of stuff and money through the economy (as measured by gross national product) to an agenda of increasing human well-being, measured as “gross national happiness.” I’m part of an International Expert Working Group, convened by the King to set forth the intellectual architecture for this new paradigm.

 

Where do you come in? The Expert Group has created the Alliance for Sustainability and Prosperity, or ASAP for short, to convene the expertise needed to bring genuine prosperity and well-being to everyone on the planet.

 

ASAP seeks your ideas. The world needs help and its leaders are asking for your answers.

 

How do we encourage governments, companies, and an economy obsessed with measuring and growing gross national product to shift to maximizing total well-being? For example, a divorcing cancer patient who gets in a car wreck has added to the GNP. Is she any better off? Clearly not. If you stay home to care for your children you add nothing to the GNP, but have contributed significantly of your family’s welfare, and to a healthier society.

 

Humankind has all of the technologies needed to solve the crises facing us.

 

Why aren’t we using them? How do we overcome the gridlock of governments, and inspire the best of the private sector to take more of a leadership role?

 

Explore the ASAP site at www.asap4all.org. The “Articles” section provides pieces written by ASAP members. See, in particular, “Building a Sustainable and Desirable Economy-in-Society-in-Nature,” with lead author Robert Costanza.

 

The “Public Forum” invites your best thinking. ASAP experts have been  working on this for over three decades.

 

But the state of the world today is a testament to the fact that we can’t do it alone. The radical utopian forecast is that we can sustain business as usual. It’s not going to be like that.

 

What sort of future do you want to see for the world? How do you think we can achieve it? What is already working that should be replicated more broadly? That has to be fixed? And what’s the purpose of the economy that we’re all a part of? Do we exist to serve it, or can we transform it, instead, to serve us?

 

If you have a good idea, but no clue how to achieve it, submit it—maybe another of you has the answer you’re seeking.
ALL of us are smarter than any of us.

 

We believe that it is possible to transform the global economy into one that delivers greater human well-being and happiness, while nestling gracefully into the larger ecosystem that sustains all life. Indeed, doing this is key to ending the global economic crisis. We can’t achieve one without doing the other.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 8th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Gov. Hickenlooper admits his absolutist positions in support of fracking are not rooted in science. (photo: Getty Images)
Gov. Hickenlooper admits his absolutist positions in support of fracking are not rooted in science. (photo: Getty Images)

 

 

How a Big Fracking Setback Got Overlooked

 

By David Sirota, Salon

 

07 May 13

 

 

 

potential 2016 contender softens his pro-fracking stance, citing unsettled science. So why is it being ignored?

 

As an oft-rumored 2016 presidential candidate, a regular subject of obsequious profiles in the local and national press (including in this week’s New Yorker), and the chief executive of one of the biggest fossil fuel states in America, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper’s declarations about environmental issues carry weight. And so his stunning admission late last week is, indeed, big news in how it so definitively proves that political money buys hostility toward environmental science.

 

With his election campaigns bankrolled by the fossil fuel industry, Hickenlooper has long ignored troubling drilling-related data from (among others) the Environmental Protection Agency, Duke University, the University of Colorado and the fossil fuel industry itself. Instead, as he rakes in massive amounts of fossil fuel campaign cash Hickenlooper has paid back his donors by publicly declaring that “there is literally no risk” associated with hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) and by claiming to Congress that fracking fluid is safe to drink (it isn’t).

 That’s where Hickenlooper’s admission comes in.

At a forum on energy issues last week, Hickenlooper simultaneously defended his assertion that fracking is perfectly safe and yet according to the Associated Press, he also “said the science on the impact of fracking is far from settled.”

 

In other words, the chief executive of a major fossil fuel state is now on record at once claiming fracking is totally safe but admitting he believes we don’t have enough science to know that his reassuring assertions are true.

Worse, he is admitting the need for more scientific research into fracking while actively working to kill legislation to scientifically study the effects of fracking.

 

When a governor admits his absolutist positions in support of fracking are not rooted in science, it should generate headlines – especially when that same governor has amassed a record like Hickenlooper. He is, after all, one of the fossil fuel industry’s chief political spokespeople; indeed, he actually moonlights as one of the industry’s official spokesmen in its paid political advertisements. Additionally, Hickenlooper is one of the industry’s best political friends: He is not only right now fighting his own party’s legislation to punish polluters, he has also publicly denied that global climate change is even happening; appointed one of his fossil fuel industry donors to a key regulatory position; fought state legislative initiatives that would have empowered municipalities to better regulate oil and gas operations in their midst; threatened to sue cities that regulate drilling; and reduced regulatory enforcement in the face of drilling-related spills.

 

Yet, despite this industry loyalist admitting his public policy positions are not supported by science, and despite the media’s obsession with the Colorado governor, Hickenlooper’s statements have garnered little attention. Why?

 

First and foremost, the Hickenlooper fans in the national press corps typically drop into Denver for a few days and produce long essays about the governor’s charisma and charm – that is, about everything other than his actual record.

 

The resulting hagiography subsequently credits him for much of the state’s high-profile progressive successes despite the fact that most of those successes have come from the Legislature and ballot initiatives in spite, rather than because of, the governor. The one thing you don’t hear much about in this kind of puffery is arguably the single most important responsibility of any Colorado governor: the responsibility to regulate our state’s most financially powerful and environmentally rapacious industry. The result is that you hear more about how goofy and fun-loving and swell ol’ Hick is than you do about the fact the Hickenlooper Era has coincided with a frightening rise in drilling-related spills, a precipitous decline in environmental enforcement and parts of Colorado becoming toxic hazard zones.

 

But obsequiousness is only part of the explanation for the media blackout. The other part is about an undying devotion to The Narrative – that is, the meme that projects all political stories through a red-versus-blue prism, and that therefore casts hostility to science as only a Republican phenomenon rather than what it really is: a transpartisan side effect of political money.

 

Yes, it’s true; whether pretending climate change is a hoax or casting aspersions at the notion of independent peer-reviewed research, Republican politicians tend to reject scientific data more often than Democratic politicians. Because of that, a press corps that seems only able to portray issues as partisan showdowns tends to portray the so-called War on Science as an exclusively Republican onslaught. That same press corps, though, simply cannot process or comprehend the notion of a Democrat helping his donors wage a war on science (especially one like Hickenlooper who touts his geology degree) because that kind of politician contradicts the preconceived story line.

 

This Narrative, of course, is only further exacerbated by what I’ve previously called the “No Money” rule. Simply put, reporters don’t like to acknowledge the role that campaign cash plays in politicians’ positions because in elite political circles, acknowledging rank corruption is considered impolite and uncouth.

 

Thanks to these dynamics, a revealing and incredibly newsworthy admission by a bankrolled Democratic governor is, thus, wholly ignored – as is the science that should be driving our energy policy.

 

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 29th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

April 15-21, 2013, I participated on a trip to Baltic Sea States of the KPV (Komunal Politische Vereignigung) of the Politische Akademie of the Austrian Peoples Party (OEVP). Above took us to Estonia  Saturday April-20 to Sunday April 21-st. This was a weekend and it might have been a too short time for serious learning about matters of Energy Policy. But I was fortunate to come back with enough information because I had the chance to meet very helpful people and I was prepared ahead with my questions.

We drove from St. Petersburg in Russia to Narva in Estonia and then continued to the capital – Tallinn. We had the luck of having a very good Estonian guide and were honored that evening with a reception at the residence of Austrian Ambassador H. E. Ms. Renate Kobler who invited as well local and Austrian resource people and made sure to establish contacts according to our interests.

I had in effect two different set of interests. One was in regard to a transportation policy instituted this year by the city of Tallinn that offers free rides on the electric street-cars to documented residents of the city while having increased charges for the out-of-towners. The idea behind this being that people will be moving back to the city from the suburbs and increase the tax roles thus making up for some of the losses and allow for gains in air quality by getting out of their cars. I learned that though nice in theory, seemingly it did not work in practice because it applied mainly to the poor – so it did not result in enhanced income from taxes leaving just the lower income from the tram-rides. The topic was originally brought to my attention by the Austrian Standard of April 5, 2013.

This was the minor interest of my two suggested topics.

The other topic – and that one of major interest these days – dealt with the use of oil-shales for energy – an issue of global importance  when Shale-Gas has become the energy interests’ battle cry. It was brought out of obscurity in the United States, and Europe is talking as if it was going to follow suit. Austria has also shales and at present media battles rage between business interests and the environmentalists – with the Eurosolar monthly table all convinced that Austria can become energy self-sufficient without touching the shales.

Estonia, as well as Spain, are countries with experience in what can happen when energy is obtained from these shales.

Under the Soviets, the shales were mined and used like a lower grade coal in thermal power plants. What was left are mountains of ash from the combustion process and mountains of  spent shales from the retorting process in which the product was a synthetic crude oil. These mountains of by-product contain heavy metals and when washed by rains these heavy metals poisoned the underground water, thus making it unusable for drinking and agriculture. Everybody I talked to told me the same thing – the losses around Narva are immense.

Wikipedia tells us: “Oil shale in Estonia is an important resource for the national economy. Estonia‘s oil shale deposits account for just 17% of total deposits in the European Union but the country generates 90% of its power from this source. The oil shale industry in Estonia employs 7,500 people—about one percent of the national work force—and accounts for four percent of its gross domestic product.[1]

 

There are two kinds of oil shale in Estonia – Dictyonema argillite (claystone) and kukersite.[2] The first attempt to establish an open-cast oil shale pit and to start oil production was undertaken in 1838.[3] Modern utilization of oil shale commenced in 1916. Production began in 1921 and the generation of power from oil shale in 1924.[4]

 

In 2005 Estonia was the leading producer of shale oil in the world. Of all the power plants fired by oil shale, the largest was in this country.[1][5] As of 2007, six mines (open cast or underground) were extracting oil shale in Estonia.[2]”

Kukersite, named after the Kukruse settlement in Estonia, is the better quality shale. Estonian kukersite deposits are one of the world’s highest-grade shale deposits with more than 40% organic content and 66% conversion ratio into shale oil and oil shale gas. They have relatively a lower content of heavy metals.

in the 1830s, although the attempt of shale oil distillation failed, oil shale was used as a low-grade fuel. Then studies of Estonian oil shale resources and mining possibilities intensified in the beginning of 20th century because of industrial development of Saint Petersburg and a shortage of fuel resources in the region. Finally – the world’s two largest oil shale-fired power stations – Balti Power Plant and Eesti Power Plant (known as the Narva Power Plants) – were opened in 1965 and in 1973. Because of the success of oil shale-based power generation, Estonian oil shale production peaked in 1980 at 31.35 million tonnes.[3] In 2004, two power units with circulating fluidized bed combustion (CFBC) boilers were put into operation at Narva Power Plant.[4] In 1984, the scientific-technical journal Oil Shale was founded in Estonia.[15]

Some of the spent shale is used in cement manufacturing and Uranium is a by-product.

Kerogen (from Greek for wax + -gen, that which produces)[1]  is a mixture of organic chemical compounds that make up a portion of the organic matter in sedimentary rocks.[2] It is insoluble in normal organic solvents because of a huge molecular weight. The soluble portion is known as bitumen. When heated to the right temperatures in the Earth’s crust, (oil window ca. 60–160 °C, gas window ca. 150–200 °C, both depending on how quickly the source rock is heated) some types of kerogen release crude oil or natural gas, collectively known as hydrocarbons (fossil fuels). When such kerogens are present in high concentration in rocks such as shale they form possible source rocks. Shales rich in kerogens that have not been heated to a warmer temperature to release their hydrocarbons will eventually  form oil shale deposits. (The name “kerogen” was introduced by the Scottish organic chemist Alexander Crum Brown in 1906.)

What above tells us is that the organic matter in shales is in the form of very large molecular weight polymers. These can be deconstructed at high temperature in retorts, and then the quality of the remaining ash (or spent shale) can be investigated and the potential damage to the environment assessed. An alternative could be to create a fire underground and collect above ground the released oil or gas created by breaking up the kerogen polymer. In such case the damage from the ash cannot be assessed without knowing the underground conditions and where the underground waters will take the released heavy metals. The Shale Gas operations now in the United States are underground production sites explained as examples of Hydro-Fracking which sounds incoherent when we do not know the operating temperatures which are needed to break chemical bonds of that polymer. Neither the new American production companies nor the EU Shale Gas production interests give us such technology details as they did not even obtain patents that would have required transparency.

This present posting has an added purpose.

I learned that  June 10-13, 2013, the Estonian users of shale-for-energy intend a Shales Symposium in Tallinn as a follow up to the 2006 Symposium that was held in Ammann, Jordan.

The Symposium in Tallinn will be followed by a Field Trip to Estonian oil shale processing industry – an extraordinary opportunity to visit the most important sites of Estonian oil shale industry, including the new, recently completed Enefit280 Oil Plant.

I would like to hope that the European Commission send some inquisitive people to that symposium in order to learn about the side-effects or the environmentally harming “externalities” that could cause harm to the underground aquifers.

Further, as mentioned at the beginning, another European location were there was experience with Oil Shale Retorting is Puertollano, in the Ciudad Real region of Spain. With information from these  sites the EU could be in a better position to judge the issues involved.

I was personally involved with the Purtollano plant of the Empressa Nacional de Pisara Bituminosa Calvo Sotelo in 1959. That plant was producing lubricants or viscous petroleum product alternatives in huge retorts and leaving behind mountains of spent shale as well. Looking at the remains of those mountains – in Puertollano and in Narva, could help the decision making process at the EU.

We realize the importance of the energy independence goal – but as it can be reached in various ways, it is important to start out with open eyes.

 ——————–

Estonia and Sweden Oil Shale Estonia and Sweden Oil Shale Map

Map of kukersite deposits in northern Estonia and Russia (locations after Kattai and Lokk, 1998; and Bauert, 1994). Also, areas of Alum Shale in Sweden (locations after Andersson and others, 1985).

 

Estonia and Sweden Oil-Shale Deposits

Reprint of: United States Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2005-5294
By John R. Dyni

Estonia

The Ordovician kukersite deposits of Estonia have been known since the 1700s. However, active exploration only began as a result of fuel shortages brought on by World War I. Full-scale mining began in 1918. Oil-shale production in that year was 17,000 tons by open-pit mining, and by 1940, the annual production reached 1.7 million tons. However, it was not until after World War II, during the Soviet era, that production climbed dramatically, peaking in 1980 when 31.4 million tons of oil shale were mined from eleven open-pit and underground mines.

The annual production of oil shale decreased after 1980 to about 14 million tons in 1994-95 (Katti and Lokk, 1998; Reinsalu, 1998a) then began to increase again. In 1997, 22 million tons of oil shale were produced from six room-and-pillar underground mines and three open-pit mines (Opik, 1998). Of this amount, 81 percent was used to fuel electric power plants, 16 percent was processed into petrochemicals, and the remainder was used to manufacture cement as well as other minor products. State subsidies for oil-shale companies in 1997 amounted to 132.4 million Estonian kroons (9.7 million U.S. dollars) (Reinsalu, 1998a).

The kukersite deposits occupy more than 50,000 km2 in northern Estonia and extend eastward into Russia toward St. Petersburg where it is known as the Leningrad deposit. In Estonia a somewhat younger deposit of kukersite, the Tapa deposit, overlies the Estonia deposit.

As many as 50 beds of kukersite and kerogen-rich limestone alternating with biomicritic limestone are in the Kõrgekallas and Viivikonna Formations of Middle Ordovician age. These beds form a 20- to 30-m-thick sequence in the middle of the Estonia field. Individual kukersite beds are commonly 10-40 cm thick and reach as much as 2.4 m. The organic content of the richest kukersite beds reaches 40-45 weight percent (Bauert, 1994).

Rock-Eval analyses of the richest-grade kukersite in Estonia show oil yields as high as 300 to 470 mg/g of shale, which is equivalent to about 320 to 500 l/t. The calorific value in seven open-pit mines ranges from 2,440 to 3,020 kcal/kg (Reinsalu, 1998a, his table 5). Most of the organic matter is derived from the fossil green alga, Gloeocapsomorpha prisca, which has affinities to the modern cyanobacterium, Entophysalis major, an extant species that forms algal mats in intertidal to very shallow subtidal waters (Bauert, 1994).

Matrix minerals in Estonian kukersite and interbedded limestones includes dominantly low-Mg calcite (>50 percent), dolomite (<10-15 percent), and siliciclastic minerals including quartz, feldspars, illite, chlorite, and pyrite (<10-15 percent). The kukersite beds and associated limestones are evidently not enriched in heavy metals, unlike the Lower Ordovician Dictyonema Shale of northern Estonia and Sweden (Bauert, 1994; Andersson and others, 1985).

Bauert (1994, p. 418-420) suggested that the kukersite and limestone sequence was deposited in a series of east-west “stacked belts” in a shallow subtidal marine basin adjacent to a shallow coastal area on the north side of the Baltic Sea near Finland. The abundance of marine macrofossils and low pyrite content indicate an oxygenated-water setting with negligible bottom currents as evidenced by widespread lateral continuity of uniformly thin beds of kukersite.

Kattai and Lokk (1998, p. 109) estimated the proved and probable reserves of kukersite to be 5.94 billion tons. A good review of the criteria for estimating Estonia’s resources of kukersite oil shale was made by Reinsalu (1998b). In addition to thickness of overburden and thickness and grade of the oil shale, Reinsalu defined a given bed of kukersite as constituting a reserve, if the cost of mining and delivering the oil shale to the consumer was less than the cost of the delivery of the equivalent amount of coal having an energy value of 7,000 kcal/kg. He defined a bed of kukersite as a resource as one having an energy rating exceeding 25 GJ/m2 of bed area. On this basis, the total resources of Estonian kukersite in beds A through F (fig. 8) are estimated to be 6.3 billion tons, which includes 2 billion tons of “active” reserves (defined as oil shale “worth mining”). The Tapa deposit is not included in these estimates.

The number of exploratory drill holes in the Estonia field exceeds 10,000. The Estonia kukersite has been relatively thoroughly explored, whereas the Tapa deposit is currently in the prospecting stage.

 -Dictyonema Shale

Another older oil-shale deposit, the marine Dictyonema Shale of Early Ordovician age, underlies most of northern Estonia. Until recently, little has been published about this unit because it was covertly mined for uranium during the Soviet era. The unit ranges from less than 0.5 to more than 5 m in thickness. A total of 22.5 tons of elemental uranium was produced from 271,575 tons of Dictyonema Shale from an underground mine near Sillamäe. The uranium (U3O8) was extracted from the ore in a processing plant at Sillamäe (Lippmaa and Maramäe, 1999, 2000, 2001).

The future of oil-shale mining in Estonia faces a number of problems including competition from natural gas, petroleum, and coal. The present open-pit mines in the kukersite deposits will eventually need to be converted to more expensive underground operations as the deeper oil shale is mined. Serious air and ground-water pollution have resulted from burning oil shale and leaching of trace metals and organic compounds from spoil piles left from many years of mining and processing the oil shales. Reclamation of mined-out areas and their associated piles of spent shale, and studies to ameliorate the environmental degradation of the mined lands by the oil-shale industry are underway. The geology, mining, and reclamation of the Estonia kukersite deposit were reviewed in detail by Kattai and others (2000).

 

 

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 30th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

THIS COULD BE ABOUT SUSTAINABILITY.  SustainabiliTank.info editor}

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 4th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

TWO TRUTH-OUT.org POSTINGS.

Jose Luis harvests onions in a field outside Olathe, Colo., Sept. 12, 2011. (Photo: Matthew Staver / The New York Times)

Jose Luis harvests onions in a field outside Olathe, Colo., Sept. 12, 2011. (Photo: Matthew Staver / The New York Times)

Care About Your Food? Then Care About Your Farmworkers Too

Laura-Anne Minkoff-Zern, YES! Magazine: People need to ask not only, where does my food come from, but also, who performs the labor to grow this food? For a food system to be truly sustainable, we must prioritize the well-being of workers as well as consumers.

Read the Article

 truth-out.org/news/item/14309-car…

——————————————-

WHAT IF?

Henry Wallace, America’s Forgotten Visionary

Peter Dreier, Truthout: One of the great “What if?” questions of the 20th century is how America would have been different if Henry Wallace rather than Harry Truman had succeeded Franklin Roosevelt in the White House.

Read the Article

 truth-out.org/opinion/item/14297-…

——————————————-

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 16th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

President Obama used his weekly Saturday address to repeat his impassioned but vague call to take “meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this,” some gun control advocates said they hoped the shooting would be a catalyst for change.

“We genuinely believe that this one is different,” Dan Gross, the president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, said in an interview on Saturday. “It’s different because no decent human being can look at a tragedy like this and not be outraged by the fact that it can happen in our nation. And because this time, we’re really poised to harness that outrage and create a focused and sustained outcry for change.”

But supporters of gun control sounded similar notes after other recent mass shootings — including one early last year in Tucson in which six people were killed and Representative Gabrielle Giffords was wounded — only to see little or no action. And as governors condemned the Connecticut shooting and expressed sympathy for its victims, their statements, from Democrats and Republicans alike, were more likely to mention prayer than gun laws.


That same day, Ohio lawmakers passed a bill that would allow guns in cars at the Statehouse garage. Earlier in the week, a federal appeals court struck down a ban on carrying concealed weapons in Illinois. And Florida officials announced that they would soon issue their millionth concealed weapon and firearm license — or, as a state news release put it, the program would be “One Million Strong.”


Exception was in Colorado, which had started a debate on gun laws earlier in the week. Gov. John W. Hickenlooper, a Democrat, had said on Wednesday that he believed “the time is right” for state lawmakers to consider new gun restrictions.

Mr. Hickenlooper, who had appeared cool to the idea immediately after the shooting at a movie theater in Aurora that killed 12 people and wounded dozens, said he hoped lawmakers would take up the issue in the next legislative session, when Democrats will control both houses.

“After the shootings happened in Aurora in July, everyone was just so empty that it didn’t feel appropriate to start talking about racing right into the sometimes contentious arguments of appropriate gun control or inappropriate gun control, depending on which side of the fence you’re on,” Mr. Hickenlooper said Saturday. He added that he hoped lawmakers would examine issues like public access to assault weapons, magazines that hold a great deal of ammunition and armor-piercing bullets, and how the state can help the mentally ill and keep them from doing harm.


With gun control efforts seen as unlikely in Washington, where the Republicans who control the House oppose them, the next frontiers of the debate may be in states like Michigan, where the bill that would allow people to carry concealed weapons in school is being weighed by Gov. Rick Snyder, a Republican.

Don Wotruba, the deputy director of the Michigan Association of School Boards, said the group was calling on the governor to veto the bill. “Putting children in closer proximity with more guns is a risk that shouldn’t be taken,” he said in an interview.

=======================================================

The massacre at the Sandy Hook Elementary School has finally grabbed the Nation’s attention – something that Hurricane Sandy did not do.

The Republicans blame their loss in the Presidential elections on the Hurricane and we find no evidence that this was the case – but we say that had the elections been held today instead, they might have been wiped out – just a Sandy closer to home.

Today’s Sunday TV programs all dealt with the woman that collected guns and made them accessible to her sick-genius son.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, on Meet the Press, said that he did put his money to work for candidates to Congress that were ready to take on the National Rifle Association. He explained that good laws and readiness to enforce them have reduced killings by guns in new York City to the point that it is now best in the country on the reduction of crime. He said it clearly – The Comforter in Chief is first The Commander in Chief and criticized the Preasident for not having put forward an actual plan to combat what is killing per year in the US more people then all the Vietnam War did in its time.

Bloomberg said that he decided to back President Obama only after he interviewed both – The President and Mr. Romney – and had the feeling that Obama knew what he has to do. But then, Obama did not go come up with a program to back up his rhetoric.

In New York City, if someone is found with a loaded concealed weapon – he gets an automatic 3.5 years.

THE PRESIDENT HAS IN HIS POWER TO ACT UPON WHAT HE TELLS THE PEOPLE THAT HE INTENDS TO DO. HE FIRST HAS TO TELL THE PEOPLE WHAT HE WANTS TO DO, AND THEN DO IT THROUGH EXECUTIVE ORDERS. My feeling was that Mayor Bloomberg, now an Independent, is ready to take the argument on a ride to the White House in 2016. He has the money and made it clear in public that he has the readiness. While the NRA’s only reason for existence in 2012 was to try to unseat President Obama, Bloombeg sees them weakened now to the point that an Obama who is not up for reelection anymore, ought to push Members of Congress to fight as if the NRA has no power over them – and indeed it does not anymore.

David Frum, who worked for President G.W. Bush said that when he grew up in Canada nobody there understood the US interest in weapons. Recently 300,000 people bought guns in one day in the US. 31 Senators for the Gun-lobby refused to speak on the Sunday programs – so they are stiff scared finally! This at a time that there is evidence that 40% of the guns sold in the US are sold at gun-shows or via the internet – no documents of any kind needed.

What is needed? For a starter something like a drivers’ license  that requires tests of health (specifically mental health), a test of skills, and a minimum age. Also, clear understanding of spacial exclusions – like schools.

We would like to see Senator John Kerry take over the leadership in Congress and the fight against folks like Senator John McCain.

For first horn – President Obama ought to nominate Susan Rice for the Secretary of State position and fight for her; forget the leveling off on the taxation of the rich. The specter of a Middle East Bazaar  bargaining between positions saying that rich is an income of one million/year or a quarter million/year are just unseemly. We would say that a special extra gun-control security tax would be fitting the present need as a clear add-on. We would then suggest that a similar add-on would qualify for climate-change effects as well because of the delayed action of dealing with the subject. Rich should be defined at the $150,000  level and taxed higher as the income is higher. Running a State is indeed the responsibility of those that were privileged to get a higher income as they got were they are mainly not by wins at the lottery, but because of the sweat of the great majority – the “others” that make up more then 95% of the Nation.  PRESIDENT OBAMA IS NOW IN THIS POTENTIALLY UNCOMPROMISING POSITION BECAUSE OF THE CONFLUENCE OF OPPORTUNITIES THAT SHOULD NOT BE MISSED –  HIS CLEAR INDEPENDENCE OF NEED TO BOW TO HIS DETRACTORS, AND THE DISASTERS OF SANDY & SANDY.


###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 23rd, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Give Pot a Chance.

By Timothy Egan, at the OPINIONATOR Column of the New York Times – November 22, 2012,

SEATTLE – In two weeks, adults in this state will no longer be arrested or incarcerated for something that nearly 30 million Americans did last year. For the first time since prohibition began 75 years ago, recreational marijuana use will be legal; the misery-inducing crusade to lock up thousands of ordinary people has at last been seen, by a majority of voters in this state and in Colorado, for what it is: a monumental failure.

That is, unless the Obama administration steps in with an injunction, as it has threatened to in the past, against common sense. For what stands between ending this absurd front in the dead-ender war on drugs and the status quo is the federal government. It could intervene, citing the supremacy of federal law that still classifies marijuana as a dangerous drug.

But it shouldn’t. Social revolutions in a democracy, especially ones that begin with voters, should not be lightly dismissed. Forget all the lame jokes about Cheetos and Cheech and Chong. In the two-and-a-half weeks since a pair of progressive Western states sent a message that arresting 853,000 people a year for marijuana offenses is an insult to a country built on individual freedom, a whiff of positive, even monumental change is in the air.

In Mexico, where about 60,000 people have been killed in drug-related violence, political leaders are voicing cautious optimism that the tide could turn for the better. What happens when the United States, the largest consumer of drugs in the world, suddenly opts out of a black market that is the source of gangland death and corruption? That question, in small part, may now be answered.

Prosecutors in Washington and Colorado have announced they are dropping cases, effective immediately, against people for pot possession. I’ve heard from a couple of friends who are police officers, and guess what: they have a lot more to do than chase around recreational drug users.

Maine (ever-sensible Maine!) and Iowa, where the political soil is uniquely suited to good ideas, are looking to follow the Westerners. Within a few years, it seems likely that a dozen or more states will do so as well.

And for one more added measure of good karma, on Election Day, Representative Dan Lungren, nine-term Republican from California and a tired old drug warrior who backed some of the most draconian penalties against his fellow citizens, was ousted from office.

But there remains the big question of how President Obama will handle the cannabis spring. So far, he and Attorney General Eric Holder have been silent. I take that as a good sign, and certainly a departure from the hard-line position they took when California voters were considering legalization a few years ago. But if they need additional nudging, here are three reasons to let reason stand:

Hypocrisy. Popular culture and the sports-industrial complex would collapse without all the legal drugs that promise to extend erections, reduce inhibitions and keep people awake all night. I’m talking to you, Viagra, alcohol and high-potency energy drinks. Worse, perhaps, is the $25 billion nutritional supplement industry, offerings pills that make exaggerated health claims and steroid-based hormones that can have significant bad consequences. The corporate cartels behind these products get away with minimal regulation because of powerful backers like Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah.

In two years through 2011, more than 2,200 serious illnesses, including 33 fatalities, were reported by consumers of nutritional supplements. Federal officials have received reports of 13 deaths and 92 serious medical events from Five Hour Energy. And how many people died of marijuana ingestion? Of course, just because well-marketed, potentially hazardous potions are legal is no argument to bring pot onto retail shelves. But it’s hard to make a case for fairness when one person’s method of relaxation is cause for arrest while another’s lands him on a Monday night football ad.

Tax and regulate. Already, 18 states and the District of Columbia allow medical use of marijuana. This chaotic and unregulated system has resulted in price-gouging, phony prescriptions and outright scams. No wonder the pot dispensaries have opposed legalization — it could put them out of business.

Washington State officials estimate that taxation and regulation of licensed marijuana retail stores will generate $532 million in new revenue every year. Expand that number nationwide, and then also add into the mix all the wasted billions now spent investigating and prosecuting marijuana cases.

With pot out of the black market, states can have a serious discussion about use and abuse. The model is the campaign against drunk driving, which has made tremendous strides and saved countless lives at a time when alcohol is easier to get than ever before. Education, without one-sided moralizing, works.

Lead:

That’s what transformative presidents do. From his years as a community organizer — and a young man whose own recreational drug use could have made him just another number in lockup — Obama knows well that racial minorities are disproportionately jailed for these crimes. With 5 percent of the world’s population, the United States has 25 percent of its prisoners — and about 500,000 of them are behind bars for drug offenses. On cost alone — up to $60,000 a year, to taxpayers, per prisoner — this is unsustainable.

Obama is uniquely suited to make the argument for change. On this issue, he’ll have support from the libertarian right and the humanitarian left. The question is not the backing — it’s whether the president will have the backbone.

=======================================

And The New York Times Editorial Of Today:

Editorial

An Ineffective Way to Fight Crime.

Published: November 22, 2012

More than a year has passed since Commissioner Raymond Kelly of the New York Police Department issued a memorandum ordering officers to follow a 1977 state law that bars them from arresting people with small amounts of marijuana unless the drug is being publicly displayed. Even so, a lawsuit filed by the Legal Aid Society in June and pending in state court makes the case that the police are still arresting people illegally in clear violation of both the commissioner’s directive and the state law. More than 50,000 possession arrests were made last year.

{For Op-Ed, follow @nytopinion and to hear from the editorial page editor, Andrew Rosenthal, follow @andyrNYT.}

Law enforcement officers have often described these arrests as a way of reining in criminals whose other, more serious activities present a danger to the public. But state statistics show that of the nearly 12,000 teenagers arrested last year, nearly 94 percent had no prior convictions and nearly half had never been arrested.

Now a new study by Human Rights Watch further debunks the main premise of New York City’s “broken windows” law enforcement campaign, which holds that clamping down on small offenses like simple marijuana possession prevents serious crime and gets hard-core criminals off the streets.

The study tracked about 30,000 people arrested for marijuana possession in 2003-4 — none of whom had prior convictions — for periods of six-and-a-half to eight-and-a-half years. The study found that about only 1,000 of them had a subsequent violent felony conviction. Some had misdemeanor or felony drug convictions, but more than 90 percent of the study group had no felony convictions whatsoever. The report concluded that the Police Department was sweeping “large numbers of people into New York City’s criminal justice system — particularly young people of color — who do not subsequently engage in violent crime.” This wastes millions of dollars and unfairly puts people through the criminal system.

In 1990, fewer than 1,000 people were arrested for minor possession. The 1977 law was intended to stop police officers from jailing young people for tiny amounts of marijuana and to allow prosecutors to focus on more serious crimes. It made possession of 25 grams or less of marijuana a violation and punishable by a $100 fine for the first offense. To discourage open use of the drug, however, lawmakers made public display a misdemeanor punishable by up to three months in jail and a fine of $500.

In the past decade, civil rights lawyers have complained that police officers were arresting and charging people with public display of the drug, even though officers had found the contraband while rifling people’s pockets or after tricking them into exposing it.

Those arrested for minor possession — even if their cases are eventually dismissed — can endure grave collateral consequences. They can lose job opportunities, access to housing and can be turned away when applying for military service.

About 80 percent of those arrested are black or Hispanic. This has led the legal scholars Amanda Geller and Jeffrey Fagan to label the city’s marijuana campaign “a racial tax” because it takes a heavy toll on minorities, while bringing little or nothing in the way of crime reduction.

The Legislature could go a long way toward ending unfair prosecutions by adopting Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposal NOT to make public display of a small amount of marijuana a violation, unless the person was smoking the drug in public. {the editorial has omitted the word NOT seemingly by mistake}

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 18th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


Dear Pincas,

We’ve come a long way since Hunter founded Natural Capitalism Solutions ten years ago—and we couldn’t have done it without you. To celebrate our decade of implementing genuine sustainability, we’re looking back on 10 of the achievements you helped make possible.

In three emails we cover what we’ve done together to advance sustainability across a global network of businesses, governments, and communities. They’re not ranked and it’s far from an exhaustive list, so if you have a favorite story or memory to share, please do: send us an email, post your story on our Facebook page, or tweet using #ncs10year.

Toby Russell (C.E.O.)

——————————-

The organization is based on the principles presented in the book Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next Industrial Revolution, co-authored by the organization’s leader Hunter Lovins.

Natural Capitalism Solutions builds on the original Natural Capitalism Principles, a leading whole-system sustainability framework. Since the books’ publication in 1999, Hunter and her colleagues have gained a wealth of experience in helping companies and communities use these principles to capture the economic advantages of sustainability. The principles have evolved to identify opportunities to reduce capital investment and operating costs and generate market leadership advantages.

The principles used by Natural Capitalism Solutions are:

1. Buy time by using resources dramatically more productively.

This slows resource depletion, lessens pollution, and increases employment in meaningful jobs. It lowers costs for business and society, halts the degradation of the biosphere, makes it more profitable to employ people, and preserves vital living systems and social cohesion.

2. Redesign industrial processes and the delivery of products and services to do business as nature does, using such approaches as biomimicry and cradle to cradle.

This approach enables a wide array of materials to be produced with low energy flows, in processes that run on sunlight, emulating nature’s genius.  It shifts to circular economies in which materials are reused, remanufactured and waste is eliminated.

3. Manage all institutions to be restorative of natural and human capital.

Such approaches enhance human well-being and enable the biosphere to produce more wealth from its intact communities and abundant ecosystem services and natural resources.
————

Next event:
Fri Dec 07, 2012
New York, NY | Bard Residency #4

The first event was at Bard Center For Environmental Policy – National Climate Seminar –
This is a Prof. Eban Goodstein Project. // January 26, 2010 It was held in New York City.

to be followed by:

Fri Dec 14, 2012
Denver, CO | Denver University SLIC course
Thu Feb 28, 2013
Ogden, UT | 4th Annual Intermountain Sustainability Summit
Mon Apr 22, 2013
Elon, NC | Elon University’s Earth Day Celebration
Thu May 02, 2013
Chicago, IL | Chicago Family Business Council

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The ten examples of achievements sent out in the three e-mails, are:

1) Paving The Way

NCS was one of only a handful of sustainability consulting groups when it was created. Today there are hundreds of such companies helping with businesses become more sustainable, cut their costs through efficiency, and drive their profitability by behaving more responsibly to people and the planet. All of the major consulting houses now have a sustainability consultancy, many trained by NCS staff, using approaches we developed, and making Hunter’s pioneering work in the business case for sustainability mainstream.

Over the past ten years we’ve watched our leadership in sustainability strategy, carbon accounting, employee engagement, and many other topics become conventional offerings by such firms as Accenture, McKinsey, Deloitte, and others. NCS has always chosen projects on the cutting edge of sustainability, pushing the boundaries of what it means to be a responsible company. A few examples of this include:

  • NCS conducted one of the first Life Cycle Assessments ever done with a food company for Clif Bar.
  • We briefed Walmart’s senior management, posing them the question, “What would a truly sustainable Walmart business model be…?”
  • NCS has helped a diverse group of stakeholders redesign accounting from the limited concept of the triple bottom line to The Integrated Bottom Line. This work is now being carried on by such groups as the International Integrated Reporting Committee and the U.S. based Sustainability Accounting Standards Board.
  • In the field of sustainability, 2012 is considered to be the year of Employee Engagement and NCS is proud to have pioneered employee engagement for sustainability since our inception.

Staying ahead of the rest of the field means that we continually assess industry best practices and push our clients to reach greater success. Our current priority is to help companies set goals that reflect an understanding of the science of climate change, and the need to achieve significant emissions reductions goals.


2) The Next Wave of Leaders

Education is at the heart of everything we do. Our higher education achievements may turn out to be our most important contribution. In the last ten years we have created two MBA programs, conducted three executive education certificates, taught in hundreds of schools, and inspired thousands of students across the world—helping to build an army of sustainability advocates.

This next wave of leaders will shape the future of our planet. Recent studies have found that 92-96 percent of recent college graduates want to work in companies that care about the environment—so our work is far from over.

Hunter currently teaches in sustainability MBA programs at both Bainbridge Graduate Institute, and Bard College. NCS continues to run the highly successful executive certificate program with the University of Denver Daniels School of Business.
NCS has just announced a partnership with Bainbridge Graduate Institute, In the Telling, a pioneer video transmedia eLearning company and Pearson, the world’s largest educational solutions company to create the first modules of The Madrone Project—cutting edge learning that integrates video stories with an array of other dynamic learning resources.

Imagine the best class you ever had…. No, imagine the best class that you wish you could have taken. What if the world’s leading sustainability thought leaders could come alive for your students using the best media of the YouTube generation. Video, social networking, and rich multimedia resources will enable the students to dive as deeply as they want into any topic.

The Madrone Project prototypes will be available early in 2013. Watch for it on our website.


3) Internship Program

One of our biggest educational accomplishment is our internship program. Over ten years we’ve educated more than 100 interns ranging from undergrads to experienced individuals looking for a career change. NCS interns gain experience at all levels of our work, from research to final product, and grow the skills they need to get a job in today’s economy. Our interns go on to grad school and gain employment at such organizations as Renewable Choice Energy, Peace Corps, UBS, Mile High Organics, the Shaw Group, Urban Farm Company of Colorado, and the Energy and Environment group at the British Consulate in Chicago.

We have loved each and every one of our interns. Each arrival brings a new energy to the office with his or her individual passions. Without their eagerness to learn about and implement genuine sustainability we wouldn’t be where we are today. Almost all of our amazing staff has been hired from our intern pool.

Meet our amazing current and past interns.

4) CLEAN Local Energy

Meeting the world’s energy challenges will require a massive and sustained scale-up of renewable energy. Public policy has driven rapid renewable energy market growth during the past decade, however, this alone will be insufficient to affect the necessary energy transformation. NCS’ CLEAN Coalition (Clean Local Energy Accessible Now), led by Craig Lewis, has been working to catalyze the adoption of distributed generation renewable energy development throughout the United States. .

The Clean Coalition has pushed the State of California to launch a 750 MW CLEAN Program in early 2013 with a vastly expanded program following within a year or two. In addition, the Long Island Power Authority has already launched a highly successful 50 MW CLEAN Program and is now seeking guidance on a vastly expanded program.

This work, in conjunction with our leadership in building the economic case for transitioning away from dirty energy and towards clean energy, contributes to NCS’ positive impact in the energy arena.


5) Small Business Solutions

For the past eight years we have been working with small businesses to help them profit by implementing more sustainable practices. Traditional energy efficiency advocacy has focused on large organizations and audits, rebates, and incentives. It’s ignored Main Street. Far too little attention has been given to no-cost changes people can make to how they do business. Over the years, NCS has helped little businesses in our towns and cities by creating tools like Solutions at the Speed of Business – an online sustainability implementation tool for small businesses that focus on what small businesses can do to implement genuine sustainability.

To spread sustainability and reach more small businesses, we developed Solutions 4 Sustainability (S4S) – a train-the-trainer program for small businesses networks. S4S helps cities, Small Business Development Centers, Chambers of Commerce and local economic developers gain the skills and tools to help their own small businesses implement profitable sustainability. We’ve offered these programs from Wyoming to the California Coast, in Iowa and in Colorado.


6) In Our Community

As a global leader in sustainability, NCS works with businesses, governments, and communities in over 30 countries to develop sustainable strategies and solutions. We use one-on-one consulting projects, cross-sector collaboration efforts, and cutting-edge research.

We also believe that it is important to drive change in our home communities and have a positive impact on our local community. From the mountains to the ranch, we love Colorado and work to strengthen its citizens and communities.

For 10 years we have implemented more sustainable programs with numerous Colorado business, cities, and local governments. We’ve worked with Boulder County Parks and Open Spaces assessing sustainable agriculture locally, helped New Belgium Brewing implement the integrated bottom line, led the Fort Carson Mountain Post initiative to set and implement the most ambitious sustainability goals in the armed forces, and assisted our own City of Longmont in conducting a feasibility study for a Colorado Energy Incubator.

Besides our local consulting, Hunter and staff continually present at local conferences including Boulder Clean Energy, Colorado Sustainability Summit, LOHAS, AREday, The City Club, Boulder City Council, Greenprint Denver and CleanMed and many more. We have assisted local events like those hosted by CORE and the Alliance for a Sustainable Colorado. Additionally we remain active with local community groups, helping them understand the business case for implementing more sustainable alternatives to solve pressing local challenges in energy, agriculture, and water.

7) Business Case for Sustainability

Building on its seminal work, Natural Capitalism, Natural Capitalism Solutions has worked the last decade building the business case for sustainability. Giving thousands of speeches presenting the business case at companies like Google and Walmart, publishing cutting edge research, and bringing the message to boardrooms and Main Street, NCS built the road now traveled by academic commentators like Harvard Business Review, and management consulting houses from McKinsey to Accenture.

Our recent report Sustainability Pays and Hunter’s new book The Way Out, cap our decade’s leadership in this field, and provide undisputable proof that business leaders can profit by integrating sustainability into all aspects of their operations. When the likes of Goldman Sachs and AT Kearny are advocating sustainability in the same breath as profitability, we know there’s a business case.

Nowhere has this shift been more pronounced than with NCS’ own clients. Diversey, a Johnson family company and an NCS client, has publically stated, “For every dollar (they) invest in sustainability, (they) get two dollars back.”

NCS continues to work with an array of clients to show them how to improve short- and long-term profitability through the adoption of sustainable practices in the following areas:

  • Natural Resource, Energy, and Operational Efficiency
  • Human Resources Management
  • Financial Operations
  • Marketing and Communication
  • Collaboration with NGOs and Government

8) International Development

NCS also shares its sustainability message across the world, working with a global network of governments, and communities to develop sustainable strategies and solutions. From advising the Energy Minister of Afghanistan to the Prime Minister of Bhutan, taking a major role at the recent United Nations Rio+20, which adopted NCS’ Bill Becker’s “Future We Want” program as the organizing theme for the conference, NCS has a key role in meeting the global challenges.

Our work internationally has helped spur progress on areas of sustainability and societal dilemmas such as:

  • In 2002 an NCS delegation to the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, South Africa, led to work to help the International Finance Corporation implement more sustainable practices in its operations. This led eventually to the creation of the Equator Principles, now governing a significant percentage of project finance loans from major banks around the world.
  • In 2008, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) engaged NCS to research and develop leading sustainable production practices for Asia, addressing how resource-efficient and low carbon manufacturing can lift people out of poverty, in such countries as China, Pakistan and India. The final report and subsequent presentations to the United Nations and Asian countries provided a blueprint to transform and support sustainable, green growth industries so they can improve financial and environmental performance while building social cohesiveness.
  • In Jamaica, NCS worked with a US AID contractor to provide economic development expertise to work with the business sector to provide clusters of industry around eco-tourism, bamboo, sauces & spices, and coffee to replace drug production. Apart from advising local staff, NCS helped write the business plan to enable UNDP funding for these ventures.
  • In Afghanistan, where Hunter was named an advisor to the Minister of Energy, NCS worked with a US AID contractor to strengthen economic development efforts. NCS analyzed the value-add of sustainable ways to produce fruits and nuts, carpets and a variety of other products.
  • More recently Hunter accepted a personal invitation from the Prime Minister of Bhutan to serve on the steering committee of a team of international thought leaders convened at the UN to reframe the global economic paradigm. This group is laying the intellectual foundations for a shift from outdated indicators of progress based around Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to one that values what is important to people, or Gross National Happiness (GNH). Read Hunter’s account of the most recent UN gathering here.

9) Publications & Speeches

NCS shares our work and inspire others to engage with sustainability through a variety of publications. Over 350 articles, book forwards, op-ed’s add to the amazing number of miles Hunter and crew have put in giving over 1,000 speeches. Some of these were small events or local publications, while others included United Nations summits and the Financial Times 100. NCS has been published from Harvard Business Review, UK Guardian, Forbes, World Affairs, and Fast Company to leading news magazines around the world. Below is a tiny sampling of some of our most interesting articles, publications, and speeches by Hunter, Bill and other NCS staff:

Books and Articles

  • The Way Out: Kick-starting Capitalism to Save Our Economic Ass (buy)
  • Climate Protection Manual for Cities (read)
  • Sustainable Industries: The High Rate of Return on Giving (read)
  • Fast Company: Reframing The Global Economy To Include Happiness (read)
  • Sustainable Brands: Engaging Employees in Sustainability 2.0 (read)
  • The Huffington Post: Rio+20 – The Young Can’t Wait (read)
  • UNIDO: The Future of Industry in Asia (read)
  • The 2018-2012 Presidential Climate Action Plan(s) (read)
  • COP15, in Copenhagen: The Business Case for Climate Protection (read)
  • Solutions Journal: Creating a Game Plan for the Transition to a Sustainable U.S. Economy (read)
  • World Affairs Journal: Development as if The World Mattered (read)
  • NCS’ BLOG (read)
  • NCS’ Corkboards – collection of online resources (read)
Speeches

  • Global Economic Forum
  • UNIDO General Assembly
  • WOMAD Earthstation
  • Financial Times Conference
  • SRI of the Rockies (slides)
  • Sustainable Brands 2012 (video)
  • LOHAS (video)
  • World Energy Forum
  • Balaton Group
  • United Nations (video)
  • Fortune Magazine Brainstorm Green
  • TEDx Mile High, San Joaquin and CSU (click location for video)
  • Chile Clean Tech Open (slides)
  • Honduras Economic Development Summit for WCSBD
  • National League of Cities (slides)
  • Sustainable Boulder: Challenges and Opportunities (slides)
  • Australian Business Leaders Forum
  • Patagonia (video)
  • University of Santa Barbara (video)
  • Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales
  • Volvo Sports Design Forum (video)
  • University of North Carolina (video)

Hunter Lovins has co-authored 13 books and hundreds of papers, including the seminal book, Natural Capitalism and it’s sequel The Way Out. The book presents hundreds of case studies—many from Natural Capitalism Solutions’ work with international corporations, small businesses, NGOs, and municipalities—to prove that innovative sustainability can solve the climate crisis at a profit. Bill Becker has published several books and papers including the Presidential Climate Action Project (PCAP). PCAP has submitted more than 200 policy and program recommendations to the Obama Administration, many of which were adopted during the President’s first year in office.


10) Awards & Accolades

The work of Hunter and NCS has been honored over the years by a number of institutions, communities, groups. While we certainly don’t mind the recognition, it is always the impact that we are after. A few of the honors of the last decade include.

Hunter Lovins

Bill Becker

  • President’s Council on Sustainable Development

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 10th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Justices to Revisit Voting Act in View of a Changing South

By
The New York Times – Published: November 9, 2012

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court announced on Friday that it would take a fresh look at the constitutionality of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, one of the signature legacies of the civil rights movement.

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Related in Opinion  – Editorial: A Supreme Test on the Right to Vote (November 10, 2012)

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Three years ago, the court signaled that part of the law may no longer be needed, and the law’s challengers said the re-election of the nation’s first black president is proof that the nation has moved beyond the racial divisions that gave rise to efforts to protect the integrity of elections in the South.

The law “is stuck in a Jim Crow-era time warp,” said Edward P. Blum, director of the Project on Fair Representation, a small legal foundation that helped organize the suit.

Civil rights leaders, on the other hand, pointed to the role the law played in the recent election, with courts relying on it to block voter identification requirements and cutbacks on early voting.

“In the midst of the recent assault on voter access, the Voting Rights Act is playing a pivotal role beating back discriminatory voting measures,” said Debo P. Adegbile, the acting president of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund.

The Supreme Court’s ruling on the law, expected by June, could reshape how elections are conducted.

The case concerns Section 5 of the law, which requires many state and local governments, mostly in the South, to obtain permission, or “preclearance,” from the Justice Department or a federal court before making changes that affect voting. Critics of the law call the preclearance requirement a unique federal intrusion on state sovereignty and a badge of shame for the affected jurisdictions that is no longer justified.

The preclearance requirement, originally set to expire in five years, was upheld by the Supreme Court in 1966 as a rational response to the often flagrantly lawless conduct of some Southern officials then.

Congress has repeatedly extended the requirement: for 5 years in 1970, 7 years in 1975, and 25 years in 1982. Congress renewed the act in 2006 after holding extensive hearings on the persistence of racial discrimination at the polls, again extending the preclearance requirement for 25 years.

But it made no changes to the list of jurisdictions covered by Section 5, relying instead on a formula based on historical practices and voting data from elections held decades ago. It applies to nine states — Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia — and to scores of counties and municipalities in other states.

Should the court rule that Congress was not entitled to rely on outdated data to decide which jurisdictions should be covered, lawmakers could in theory go back to the drawing board and re-enact the law using fresher information. In practice, given the political realities, a decision striking down the coverage formula would probably amount to the end of Section 5.

In May, a divided three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia rejected a challenge to the law filed by Shelby County, Ala. Judge David S. Tatel, writing for the majority, acknowledged that “the extraordinary federalism costs imposed by Section 5 raise substantial constitutional concerns,” and he added that the record compiled by Congress to justify the law’s renewal was “by no means unambiguous.”

“But Congress drew reasonable conclusions from the extensive evidence it gathered,” he went on. The constitutional amendments ratified after the Civil War, he said, “entrust Congress with ensuring that the right to vote — surely among the most important guarantees of political liberty in the Constitution — is not abridged on account of race. In this context, we owe much deference to the considered judgment of the people’s elected representatives.”

The dissenting member of the panel, Judge Stephen F. Williams, surveyed recent evidence concerning registration and turnout, the election of black officials, the use of federal election observers and suits under another part of the law.

Some of that evidence, he said, “suggests that the coverage formula completely lacks any rational connection to current levels of voter discrimination,” while other evidence indicates that the formula, “though not completely perverse, is a remarkably bad fit with Congress’s concerns.”

“Given the drastic remedy imposed on covered jurisdictions by Section 5,” he wrote, “I do not believe that such equivocal evidence can sustain the scheme.”

The Supreme Court has already once considered the constitutionality of the 2006 extension of the law in a 2009 decision, Northwest Austin Municipal Utility District Number One v. Holder. But it avoided answering the central question, and it seemed to give Congress an opportunity to make adjustments. Congress did not respond.

At the argument of the 2009 case, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy questioned whether the distinctions drawn in the 2006 law reflect contemporary realities.

“Congress has made a finding that the sovereignty of Georgia is less than the sovereign dignity of Ohio,” Justice Kennedy said. “The sovereignty of Alabama is less than the sovereign dignity of Michigan. And the governments in one are to be trusted less than the governments in the other.”

“No one questions the validity, the urgency, the essentiality of the Voting Rights Act,” he added. “The question is whether or not it should be continued with this differentiation between the states. And that is for Congress to show.”

In the end, the court, in an 8-to-1 decision, ducked the central question and ruled instead on a narrow statutory ground, saying the utility district in Austin, Tex., that had challenged the constitutionality of the law might be eligible to “bail out” from being covered by it. Still, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., writing for the majority, was skeptical about the continued need for Section 5.

“The historic accomplishments of the Voting Rights Act are undeniable,” he wrote. But “things have changed in the South.

“Voter turnout and registration rates now approach parity,” he wrote. “Blatantly discriminatory evasions of federal decrees are rare. And minority candidates hold office at unprecedented levels.

“The statute’s coverage formula is based on data that is now more than 35 years old,” he added,“and there is considerable evidence that it fails to account for current political conditions.”

Having said all of that, and acknowledging that the court’s alternative ruling had stretched the text of the statute, Chief Justice Roberts said the court should avoid deciding hard constitutional questions when it could. “Whether conditions continue to justify such legislation is a difficult constitutional question we do not answer today,” he wrote.

On Friday, in agreeing to hear the case, Shelby County v. Holder, No. 12-96, the court indicated that it is prepared to provide an answer to the question it left open three years ago.

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The New York Times Editorial

A Supreme Test on the Right to Vote

Published: November 9, 2012

The Supreme Court decided on Friday to review Section 5 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which has been crucial in combating efforts to disenfranchise minority voters. The justices should uphold the validity of the section, which requires nine states and parts of several others with deep histories of racial discrimination to get permission from the Justice Department or a federal court before making any changes to their voting rules.


The case, Shelby County v. Holder, was brought by an Alabama county, which contends that Section 5 intrudes unconstitutionally on the sovereign authority of states and that federal review of proposed voting changes, once needed to end legal segregation, is no longer required.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Just this year, Republican efforts to block the votes of minorities and the poor — which were rejected again and again by federal judges relying on the Voting Rights Act, including Section 5 — have made that utterly clear.

Judge John Bates of Federal District Court in the District of Columbia, rejected Shelby County’s challenge last year, noting that Congress, in renewing the section in 2006, found that “40 years has not been a sufficient amount of time to eliminate the vestiges of discrimination.”

In May, the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia upheld his ruling, saying that discrimination in voting is “one of the gravest evils that Congress can seek to redress” and that Congress’s painstaking research in its renewal of Section 5 (22 hearings and 15,000 pages of evidence) “deserves judicial deference.”

In another voting rights case in 2009, the Supreme Court said there were “serious constitutional questions” about whether Section 5 meets a current need. That comment left some legal experts with the impression that the court came close to striking down the provision. But the justices did not do so in that case, and they have even less reason to in this case. Overt discrimination clearly persists and remains pernicious in places like Shelby County.

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