IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: New Rules for truck mileage; King Coal on the Congressional hot seat.... PLUS: Beyond Patience: Tough talk from the feds amid new accusations of corruption, as the gusher keeps on gushing, and now NUKES(?!) --- nobody in government seems to be getting the message... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): China, India Lead the Developing World in Green Building; Study projects Senate climate bill would add less than a quarter to gas prices; Google launches green-product institute; Alfalfa sprouts linked to latest salmonella outbreak; New oil spill off Singapore; How worried should we be about everyday chemicals? ...PLUS: Oil companies fund initiative to repeal California’s landmark climate law...
STORIES DISCUSSED IN TODAY'S 'GREEN NEWS REPORT'...
- Obama Administration to Establish NEW RULES for Heavy Trucks:
- Obama Limits Greenhouse Gas Emissions From Heavy Trucks, Buses (Environmental News Service)
- The propaganda campaign against Obama's tougher fuel economy rules: Predictably, the fossil fuel industry's "think tanks" are using half-truths to poison public opinion against improved fuel standards. (LA Times):
"Think tanks" funded by the fossil fuel industry have long attacked federal fuel economy rules. The reaction to Obama's announcement by the Institute for Energy Research, a Washington-based hotbed of global warming denial supported by oil and coal interests, fit the usual pattern. Among other specious claims, it posited that the existing 2016 standards would harm consumers by adding $1,000 to the price of a car, and that they would lead to smaller, lighter and therefore less safe vehicles. These statements are the very definition of half-truths.
- Coal Baron Defiant in Congressional Hearings:
- Massey CEO defends safety record in first Capitol Hill grilling since accident (The Hill)
- Upper Big Branch miner: ‘That place was a ticking time bomb’ (Coal Tattoo)
- Dead miner’s father: MSHA let us down: Quarles also told lawmakers that Massey routinely tipped workers off about impending inspections, and would hurry to fix problems when MSHA showed up at one of its mines. (Coal Tattoo)
- Massey Miner: ‘I Felt Like I Was Working for the Gestapo’: Workers, Families Tell Congress of Massey Safety Violations (Washington Independent)
- Massey CEO, Regulators Duel Over Mine Safety:
Massey CEO Don Blankenship, in his first appearance before Congress since the deadliest coal mine accident in 40 years, defended Massey's safety record and attempted to shift scrutiny to the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration. Mr. Blankenship testified that MSHA inspectors visited the Upper Big Branch mine several days before the explosion, and that they said it had "no outstanding major safety issues" and was in "good condition."
Joe Main, the head of MSHA, told the Senate Appropriations Committee that Massey thwarted stiffer enforcement action, such as closing down mines with a history of safety violations, by filing a series of appeals, and he called on Congress to free up funds to help clear up a backlog of challenges filed by companies. He said his agency received two anonymous complaints about Massey mines in late March, weeks before the explosion, and one complaint after the blast, involving illegal ventilation systems and problem levels of coal dust.
- LATEST on the BP Oil Spill Disaster:
- BP Prepares for ‘Top Kill’ Procedure to Contain Spill (NY Times)
- U.S. Declares Fishery Disaster in 3 Gulf States: (Reuters)
- Despite Moratorium, Drilling Projects Move Ahead (NY Times)
- Interior Probe Finds Fraternizing, Porn and Drugs at MMS Office in La. (Greenwire):
The investigation uncovered violations of federal regulations and ethics rules by employees of the Lake Charles, La., office of the Minerals Management Service, the federal agency that oversees offshore drilling.
Interior Acting Inspector General Mary Kendall said her greatest concern is "the environment in which these inspectors operate --- particularly the ease with which they move between industry and government."
The gift culture declined after Don Howard, the former regional supervisor at the MMS office in New Orleans, was fired in 2007 for accepting a gift, the report says.
- “It’s BP’s Oil”: Running the corporate blockade at Louisiana's crude-covered beaches: Mac McClelland at Mother Jones gives a gripping on-the-ground account of BP's efforts to keep journalists away from the oil-soaked beaches (Mother Jones)
- Experts Express Doubts on Sand-Berm Proposal (NY Times):
Gregory W. Stone, director of the Coastal Studies Institute at Louisiana State University, said that dredging and pumping large amounts of sand amid Louisiana’s complex inlets and bays could harm ocean life. Dr. Stone said any plan required closer study before it is put in place.
“I understand that time is of the essence, but I really think that we’re taking a gamble here,” he said.
- Burning, flooding among uneasy choices for clearing oil out of pristine wetlands (LA Times)
- Environmental Groups Doubt Government Can Fix the Spill (Daily Finance)
- Obama blames Gulf oil spill on "breakdown" at BP (Reuters)
- U.S. Pushes to Lift Oil Spill Liability Cap (Reuters)
- So Why is BP Still in Charge?:
- Angry Salazar threatens to push BP aside in oil spill containment effort (The Hill):
"I am frustrated that BP has been unable to stop this well from leaking and to stop the pollution from spreading. We are 33 days into this effort and deadline after deadline has been missed,” Salazar said at a press conference after meeting with BP officials in Houston
“If we find that they're not doing what they're supposed to be doing, we'll push them out of the way appropriately and we'll move forward to make sure that everything is being done to protect the people of the Gulf Coast, the ecological values of the Gulf Coast, and the values of the American people,” Salazar added.
- Pressure mounts for federal takeover of oil spill response (McClatchy DC)
- Coast Guard chief: Only BP can stop Gulf oil spill: (McClatchy DC)
- Gulf oil spill: Call to replace BP not an option (LA Times)
- BP Refuses EPA Dispersant Order:
- In Standoff With Environmental Officials, BP Stays With an Oil Spill Dispersant (NY Times)
- BP refuses EPA order to switch to less-toxic oil dispersant
Oil washes ashore on 50 miles of Louisiana shoreline as tensions mount over how to treat the spill in the Gulf of Mexico. (LA Times)
- Disaster in the Gulf: Cleansing marshlands could prove challenging: The Gulf Coast is too fragile to withstand the tactics used in Alaska after the Valdez spill. (AP):
Oil that has rolled into shoreline wetlands now coats the stalks and leaves of plants such as roseau cane – the fabric that holds together an ecosystem that is essential to the region’s fishing industry and a much-needed buffer against Gulf hurricanes. Soon, oil will smother those plants and choke off their supply of air and nutrients.
In some eddies and protected inlets, the crude has pooled beneath the water’s surface, forming clumps several inches deep.
- BP Resists EPA’s Order to Use Less Toxic Dispersant (Pro Publica)
- Disaster creates 'giant experiment' in marine toxicology: Damage to Gulf of Mexico marine life could last generations, federal scientists warned today. (Greenwire)
- Fishermen Report Illness From BP Chemicals: Toxicologist Says Chemicals Harmful, Can Lead To Death (WDSU TV)
- 360 FAIL: More Background on the BP Oil Disaster, Fed Failure, Growing Public Anger:
- U.S. Oil Drilling Regulator Ignored Experts' Red Flags on Environmental Risks (Washington Post)
- Oil companies have a rich history of U.S. subsidies: Some say the Gulf of Mexico catastrophe can be linked to Congress' policy of oil-friendly tax breaks and financial benefits. (LA Times)
- BP Had a Key Role in the Exxon Valdez Disaster (AP)
- Oil spill caused by 'a confluence of unfortunate events': Although the exact cause of the Deepwater Horizon explosion isn't certain, at least a dozen offshore drilling experts agree that cement, or pipes encased by cement, had to have failed first. (LA Times)
- GAO Report: Interior’s Oil and Gas Production Verification Efforts Do Not Provide Reasonable Assurance of Accurate Measurement of Production Volumes [.pdf] (Government Accountability Office, September 2009)
- Oil Industry Awaits Federal Spill Report: Extended Drilling Ban? Don't Bet On It (Daily Finance)
- The Great Shame: America's Pathetic Response to the Gulf Catastrophe (Huffington Post Green)
- White House in Denial; Public Wants Real Action on BP Oil Disaster NOW: 10 Things the Obama Administration Could Do Right Now (Firedoglake)
- Oil rig cementing job likely factor in blowout: The tricky process of sealing an offshore well with cement has failed dozens of times in the past, an investigation shows (AP)
- EPA Officials Weigh Sanctions Against BP’s U.S. Operations (Pro Publica)
- BP told feds it could handle oil spill 60 times larger than Deepwater Horizon: In its 2009 exploration plan for the Deepwater Horizon well, BP PLC states that the company could handle a spill involving as much as 12.6 million gallons of oil per day. (Mobile Press-Register)
'GREEN NEWS EXTRA'
(Stuff we didn't have time for in today's audio report)...
- The Plastic Panic: How worried should we be about everyday chemicals? (New Yorker):
On May 6th, the President’s Cancer Panel issued a report deploring the rising number of carcinogens released into the environment—including BPA—and calling for much more stringent regulation and wider awareness of their dangers. The panel advised President Obama “to use the power of your office to remove the carcinogens and other toxins from our food, water, and air that needlessly increase health care costs, cripple our Nation’s productivity, and devastate American lives.” Dr. LaSalle Leffall, Jr., the chairman of the panel, said in a statement, “The increasing number of known or suspected environmental carcinogens compels us to action, even though we may currently lack irrefutable proof of harm.
- China, India Lead the Developing World in Green Building: South Africa Stands Alone in Africa in Embracing Sustainable Construction, Report Says (Solve Climate)
- Study projects Senate climate bill would add less than a quarter to gas prices (The Hill)
- Alfalfa sprouts linked to latest salmonella outbreak (Baltimore Sun)
- Tanker and Bulk Carrier Collide Off Singapore: A tanker and a bulk carrier collided in waters between Singapore and Malaysia on Tuesday morning, resulting in an estimated 2,000 tonnes of oil spilled, authorities from the two countries said.(Reuters)
- Glitzy Google gathering launches green-product institute (Greenwire)
- California scheming: Oil companies fund initiative to repeal California’s landmark climate law (Grist):
Oil is nothing if not brazen, so while BP works to protect its tattered reputation in the Gulf, two Texas oil companies are on the attack in California. Their target is Assembly Bill 32, the most ambitious cap-and-trade climate plan in the nation, which was signed into law by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) in 2006 and is set to really kick into gear next year. Their weapon is a ballot initiative that would mothball the plan until state unemployment drops to below 5.5 percent for four consecutive quarters (from a current 12.6 percent), which would effectively kill the plan for the time being.
[R]efinery companies Tesoro and Valerog and private donors have poured more than $1 million into the campaign. Clean-air advocates worry that figure could reach $50 million by year's end.
The group works under the name California Jobs Initiative, which is ironic given the threat it poses to jobs in the state's growing cleantech industry...