How does oil drilling in the Arctic Ocean fit in with Obama’s climate plan?

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Source: Environmental Health Perspectives, National Institutes of Health

Source: Environmental Health Perspectives, National Institutes of Health

Royal Dutch Shell is seeking once again to gain U.S. government approval to move forward next year with drilling for oil off the coast of Alaska. What will the U.S. Interior Department's environmental impact statement conclude about this high-risk, potential oil spill disaster waiting to happen? How will it consider the climate impacts from burning the oil, vis-a-vis alternatives to this activity?  Continue reading

Posted in Energy, Obama Administration | Leave a comment

White House won't use NEPA effectively on climate and clean energy -- Part 2

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Council on Environmental Quality Bldg on Jackson Place in Washington DC (Photo: Wikipedia)

Council on Environmental Quality Bldg on Jackson Place in Washington DC (Photo: Wikipedia)

Draft guidance to federal agencies on environmental impact assessment of proposed federal actions such as energy development permits, which the White House has allowed to languish for four years, could move the system toward analyzing specific proposed projects within a larger context of cumulative global warming impacts. The 2010 draft guidance on implementing the National Environmental Policy Act also called for a comparison of the emissions associated with proposed projects with the emissions associated with potential alternatives, such as renewable energy development, and with the alternative of no project development at all. Think of how such a big-picture approach to federal decisions could be applied vis-a-vis the relentless pressure today to step up U.S. permitting of new fossil fuel projects. Continue reading

Posted in Energy, Obama Climate Plan | 1 Comment

White House won’t use NEPA effectively on climate and clean energy -- Part 1

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Council on Environmental Quality Bldg on Jackson Place in Washington DC (Photo: Wikipedia)

Council on Environmental Quality Bldg on Jackson Place in Washington DC (Photo: Wikipedia)

The White House won’t use the law on federal environmental impacts assessments as an effective tool for executive action on climate and clean energy projects. The Council on Environmental Quality has let four years go by without acting on proposed guidance to federal agencies on permitting of energy projects under the National Environmental Policy Act, rejecting appeals to take stronger action and leaving the playing field tilted in favor of the fossil fuel industry. Continue reading

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On climate change and not saving the wolverine

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Photo: National Science Foundation

Photo: National Science Foundation

The decision by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to deny protection to the American wolverine as a threatened species appears to be another case of the administration setting politically inconvenient science aside. The decision overrides a scientifically based recommendation by the agency’s own wildlife biologists and peer-review panels that the last 250-300 wolverines in the continental U.S. deserve this status because global warming threatens them with loss of snowpack habitat. Continue reading

Posted in Climate Litigation, Obama Administration, Scientific Integrity | Leave a comment

EPA will review restrictive communication policy for science advisers

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In response to a letter from science and journalism organizations criticizing the agency's restrictive policy on public communications by Science Advisory Board members, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy has asked the EPA Science Adviser to review the policy. Hopefully this will create an opportunity to raise a number of issues about a complex issue -- the relationship between EPA scientists, the media, and the public. Continue reading

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EPA's restrictive communications policy for science advisers

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The Environmental Protection Agency continues its history of restrictive policy on public communication by agency scientists and science advisers. Seven science, journalism, and public interest organizations wrote to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy on August 12 calling on her to "clarify that members of the EPA Science Advisory Board (SAB) and the twenty other EPA science advisory committees have the right and are encouraged to speak to the public and the press about any scientific issues, including those before these committees, in a personal capacity without prior authorization from the agency." An earlier memorandum from the EPA Chief of Staff aims to restrict this right. Where is the EPA Scientific Integrity Official in this? Continue reading

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Press groups file amici curiae brief in 'Mann v. Steyn' defamation lawsuit

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The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and 26 other organizations filed an amici curiae brief on August 11 with the DC Court of Appeals in Michael Mann's defamation lawsuit against the Competitive Enterprise Institute and the National Review (sometimes popularly referred to as 'Mann v. Steyn'). Prof. Mann is scheduled to file an appellate response brief on September 3. Continue reading

Posted in Attacks on Climate Science and Scientists, Climate Litigation | 6 Comments

Climate and energy infrastructure: On cumulative impacts of multiple tar sands pipelines

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U.S. permits for multiple proposed Canadian tar sands pipelines should be considered in light of an overall climate change strategy, rather than the current practice of considering each energy infrastructure proposal on a project-by-project basis. "The administration’s commitment to aggressive greenhouse gas reduction policies simply cannot be squared with a piecemeal approach to tar sands infrastructure permitting," say the Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council, Center for Biological Diversity, 350.org, and other groups in an August 11 letter to Secretary of State Kerry. "The Department can only understand the true climate impacts of these pipelines by analyzing their cumulative growth-inducing effect on tar sands development." But what is the Obama administration's commitment, really, with respect to fossil fuel development and export?

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Posted in Climate Change Mitigation, Energy, Obama Climate Plan | Leave a comment

New study suggests Keystone XL emissions could be 4 times higher than State Dept estimate

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New research reported in Nature Climate Change finds that increased Canadian tar sands production would decrease global oil prices and thereby increase oil consumption. As a result, if the proposed Keystone XL pipeline led to increased tar sands production, the net annual emissions impact of KXL could be up to four times higher than found by the US State Department in its environmental impact assessment. Continue reading

Posted in Energy | 1 Comment

Global aviation emissions need regulation 'with teeth'

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With the projected continuing significant growth in air traffic and the inadequacy of proposed aviation carbon emissions reductions, new research suggests that civil aviation will become an increasingly significant contributor to global warming unless demand is reduced -- and good luck with proposing that. Reliance on the toothless UN International Civil Aviation Organization as a negotiating venue by the U.S. and other governments indicates an avoidance of this problem at the highest levels of 'leadership'. Continue reading

Posted in Climate Change Mitigation, Climate Science Watch | Leave a comment