IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Opening all of the floodgates on the Mighty Mississippi; Big Oil's big fight for its taxpayer welfare; Japan's nuclear nightmare: Surprise! It's worse than previously thought; Breaking the record for weather disasters; PLUS: Another blow for the climate change denial industry... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Nat'l Academies of Science study smacks climate change denial industry; At industry's request, EPA delays rule on industrial emissions; CA sea lions get death penalty for eating salmon; Solar Plane Makes Maiden International Flight; GOP's presidential contender Hunstman says 'listen to the scientists'; Produce Industry Presses USDA on Pesticide Report; Climate Change to Create a Dustier Southwest; Noxious Odor Plagues Poor Desert Communities; MRSA Germ Found in Supermarket Meats; US Asks Six NatGas Drillers to Disclose Waste Info; EPA Orders Chicago to Clean Up River ... PLUS: Exploding Watermelons! More fun with food in China ...
STORIES DISCUSSED IN TODAY'S 'GREEN NEWS REPORT'...
- Breaking the Record for Billion-Dollar Weather Disasters:
- A record number of billion-dollar weather disasters for so early in the year (Dr. Jeff Master's Weather Underground)
- Hell and High Water: Weather Channel labels Texas drought and Mississippi floods truly "exceptional" (Climate Progress):
Here's a question: At what point do three nearly simultaneous truly exceptional weather events in the same part of one country become something beyond exceptional?
- Another Blow to the Climate Change Denial Industry: 'Wegman Report' Withdrawn On Allegations of Plagiarism:
- Climate study gets pulled after charges of plagiarism (USA Today):
The "Wegman Report" suggested climate scientists colluded in their studies and questioned whether global warming was real. The report has since become a touchstone among climate change naysayers.
The journal publisher's legal team "has decided to retract the study," said CSDA journal editor Stanley Azen of the University of Southern California, following complaints of plagiarism. A November review by three plagiarism experts of the 2006 congressional report for USA TODAY also concluded that portions contained text from Wikipedia and textbooks. The journal study, co-authored by Wegman student Yasmin Said, detailed part of the congressional report's analysis.
- Another Chink in Climate Skeptics' Armor (Mother Jones)
- Retracted Climate Critics' Study Panned by Expert (USA Today)
- Big Oil's Big Fight to Keep Its Taxpayer Welfare:
- Top Dems dig in on nixing oil subsidies in debt fight (The Hill's E2 Wire)
- Begich Says Clean Energy Bill, Oil Subsidy Repeal Unlikely (Greenwire)
- McConnell rejects higher taxes on oil firms.
- White House supports Senate bill to end 'wasteful subsidies' to oil companies (The Hill)
- >Since 1990, Speculators More Than Doubled Their Share Of Oil Futures Market (Wonk Room)
- McConnell rejects higher taxes on oil firms (Reuters)
- McClatchy analysis: Speculation explains more about oil prices than anything else: Feel like you're being robbed every time you fill the gas tank? Not sure who to blame? Try Wall Street. (McClatchy)
- Senate Dems slam ConocoPhillips CEO over company's 'un-American' comment (The Hill)
- The facts of Big Oil's tax loopholes and windfall profits (Climate Progress)
- API Chief Economist Admits Taxes On Oil Industry Can Create Millions Of Jobs (Wonk Room)
- How Forking Over Money to Big Oil Affects the Average Taxpayer (NRDC)
- Senate Finance Committee Awash in Campaign Cash from Big Oil: Republicans take in 4x the oil money as Democrats (PriceOfOil.org)
- Experts Debunk Conservative Media's Defense of Tax Breaks For Big Oil With False Claim About Gas Prices (Media Matters.org):
Severin Borenstein, co-director of U.C. Berkeley's Center for the Study of Energy Markets: "Gasoline prices are a function of world oil prices and refining margins. The oil companies are quick to point out that they are not to blame for oil prices because the price is set in the world market, or which they are a small share. That is all true. But one implication of that is that the incremental change in production that might result from changing oil subsidies will have no impact on world oil prices, and therefore no impact on gasoline prices."
- The Truth about Rising Gasoline Prices (Union of Concerned Scientists)
- Rush Attempts To Explain Why Tax Breaks For Big Oil Do Not Constitute Subsidies (Media Matters.org)
- Exxon Pays a Lower Effective Tax Rate than the Average American
- Obama Administration To Expand Domestic Drilling
- Obama to Open Offshore Areas to Oil Drilling for First Time (NY Times)
- Bush's chief economist schools Bush and GOP: Domestic drilling won't lower gas prices (Think Progress)
- More U.S. Oil Drilling Won't Lower Gas Prices, Experts Say (Huffington Post Green)
- Obama vows to expand oil production (Raw Story)
- Obama to Expand Offshore Drilling (Mother Jones)
- Op-Ed: America, get real about the high cost of cheap gas (CNN) [emphasis added]:
[A] Greek proverb I wish every elected federal and state official would recite before starting any talks about our energy policies and challenges: "A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in."
In other words, the strength of our nation is dependent upon leaders who are able to see beyond the country's immediate needs.
- Salazar outlines administration wish list for drilling reform bill (The Hill)
- >Obama: Let's drill more in the Gulf, Alaska (on and offshore), maybe even Atlantic seaboard (Politico)
- UPDATE: The Mighty Mississippi Flood of '11:
- New Orleans Times-Picayune Flood Portal (NOLA.com)
- Levees Hold As Mississippi Reaches Historic Levels; Cresting Mississippi River floods Arkansas, Mississippi, Louisiana (CNN)
- Coast Guard says Mississippi River closed near Natchez: The key waterway for U.S. grain exports was cut off on Monday when the U.S. Coast Guard closed the Mississippi River near Natchez, Mississippi. (CNN)
- Costly Miss. River closure meant to protect levees (AP)
- Mississippi River Flooding: More Floodgates Opened at the Morganza Spillway (ABC News)
- Rep. Ron Paul Slams Government Aid for Victims of Natural Disasters. (TPM)
- Mississippi flooding to affect national economy:
Risk to refineries and shipping areas largely diverted - for now - but farmland ruin may raise corn prices. Just how much will the flooding cost the southern flooded areas - and the rest of the U.S.? (CBS News)
- The nightmare Mississippi flood scenario: [I]n a nightmare scenario, it could damage significant sectors of the U.S. economy, affecting investors everywhere in addition to those with homes and businesses in the South and Southeast. (MarketWatch)
- Mississippi flooding: In impoverished Delta, echoes of 1927 disaster: Residents are using tractors and building makeshift levees to avoid a repeat of the 1927 floods. (CS Monitor)
- President Comforts Flood Victims, Encourages Students in Memphis (Voice of America)
- In Louisiana, a choice between two floods (Washington Post) [emphasis added]:
[T]he corps is confronted with a Devil's choice: cause a flood that would drown the livelihoods of central Louisiana farmers and fishermen, or let the high river roll and frantically sandbag 200 miles of levees to try to prevent flooding in the state's two biggest cities.
"It's going to remain high for weeks and weeks. And that's the scare. All it takes is one weak spot" in a levee to flood New Orleans.
In the 1970s and '80s, Houck led a fight to prevent real estate development in the spillway zone. His argument was simple: The corps designed the zone to be intentionally flooded. Allowing homes, farms and businesses to settle there would only make the decision to open the gates harder.
- The long-term environmental destruction that could be left behind in Mississippi River floods (Huffington Post Green)
- Floods along the Mississippi River lead to renewed calls for a change in strategy (Washington Post) [emphasis added]:
In a move that echoes the approach taken by the Netherlands, which has long wrestled with such problems, a nascent movement made up of activists and city leaders victimized by flooding is pushing for "natural river defenses." They want to set the rivers free, if just a little.
- UPDATE: Japan's Nuclear Nightmare: Full Meltdown at Reactor #1:
- Plan to flood Fukushima reactor could cause new blast, experts warn: Plant operator Tepco reveals meltdown and breach of pressure vessel, with Greenpeace warning against pumping water in (Guardian UK)
- Fukushima Reactor Has A Hole, Leading To Leakage (Reuters)
- Understanding the complete meltdown at Fukushima unit 1 (Nature):
TEPCO had suggested that only about 70% of the core had melted down. But after recalibrating its instruments for measuring water levels inside the reactor, the company now believes that the core has entirely melted down.
There's some reason to think that this "China syndrome", as it is informally known, didn't happen.
- Meltdown May Have Occurred Also at Nos. 2, 3 Reactors (Japan Today)
- Quake Took Out Fukushima Cooling System Before Tsunami (New Scientist)
- Radiation Found In Seaweed Near Crippled Japan Plant (Reuters)
- Japanese Officials Ignored or Concealed Dangers (NY Times)
- Japan evacuates residents beyond Fukushima no-go zone: Residents have been moved further away from the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant in northern Japan as the no-go zone is extended and there is a new setback at the plant. (BBC)
- Despite problems, NRC says US nuke plants safe (AP):
The problems included emergency pumps that were missing or did not work, or equipment that was stored in areas that could be vulnerable to earthquakes or floods, said Eliot Brenner, an NRC spokesman.
The NRC issued a rare "red finding," its most severe citation, against the Tennessee Valley Authority, which runs the Browns Ferry nuclear power plant near Athens, Ala. Regulators said a stuck valve could have caused an emergency cooling system to fail.
- America's Nuclear Nightmare:
The U.S. has 31 reactors just like Japan's - but regulators are ignoring the risks and boosting industry profits (Rolling Stone)
The U.S. has already had five weather disasters costing more than a billion dollars this year, which has set a record for the most number of such disasters so early in the year. We've already beat the total for billion-dollar weather disaster for all of 2010 (three), and with hurricane season still to come, this year has a chance of beating 2008's record of nine such disasters.
'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (Stuff we didn't have time for in today's audio report)...
- EPA Delays Rule on Industrial EmissionsThe regulation to limit pollutants at power plants is suspended after protests from industry. It is the Obama administration's latest concession on the environment. (LA Times)
- Salmon-Eating Sea Lions Sentenced to Die (NYT Green):
For the crime of snacking on endangered salmon, dozens of sea lions have been sentenced to die.
- Solar Plane Makes Maiden International Flight: A solar energy plane made the world's first international flight powered by the sun on Friday to show the potential for pollution-free air travel. (Reuters)
- U.S. review reaffirms embattled U.N. climate report (Climatide):
[I]f the IPCC's critics were hoping that an independent American review of climate science would vindicate their skepticism, they're in for an unpleasant surprise. In 2008, Congress tasked the National Research Council (NRC) - a branch of the prestigious National Academies of Science - with reviewing the state of climate science and our options for responding to climate change.
- White House contender Huntsman: Listen to climate scientists (The HIll)
- Produce Industry Presses USDA on Pesticide Report (Washington Post):
Eighteen non-organic produce industry groups have written the Agriculture Secretary in an an effort to muffle the impact of the upcoming USDA report on pesticide residues. The Environmental Working Group uses the annual data to highlight the "Dirty Dozen" fruits and vegetables.
- Climate Change to Create a Dustier Southwest (Salt Lake Tribune):
A warmer Southwest might very well mean a dustier Southwest. That's the conclusion of a new study by researchers at the U.S. Geological Survey and the University of California-Los Angeles that has far-reaching implications for all of Utah, where healthy range is vital to livestock, wildlife and recreation, as well as air quality and water supplies.
- Noxious Odor Plagues Poor Desert Communities (LA Times):
The source is a Coachella Valley soil-recycling plant on tribal land, regulators say. Operators defend their enterprise, but agencies have cracked down.
- MRSA Germ Found in Supermarket Meats (AP):
MRSA, a bacteria resistant to common antibiotics, has been discovered in supermarket meats, and the germ is apparently being introduced by human food handlers, a new study reports.
- US Asks Six NatGas Drillers to Disclose Waste Info (Reuters):
Environmental regulators on Thursday directed six natural gas drillers to disclose how they dispose of or recycle waste water in Pennsylvania after a recent Chesapeake Energy Corp accident.
- EPA Orders Chicago to Clean Up River (Chicago Tribune):
The Obama administration is ordering an ambitious cleanup of the Chicago River, a dramatic step toward improving an urban waterway treated for more than a century as little more than an industrialized sewage canal.
Scouring disease-causing bacteria from the Chicago River and keeping raw sewage out of its channels could cost an average Cook County homeowner less than $7 a month, federal officials concluded as part of their order to make the urban waterway safer for recreation.
- Fields of watermelon burst in China farm fiasco (AP):
Watermelons have been bursting by the score in eastern China after farmers gave them overdoses of growth chemicals during wet weather, creating what state media called fields of "land mines."
But the report underscores how farmers in China are abusing both legal and illegal chemicals, with many farms misusing pesticides and fertilizers.