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Jim Hansen Takes on NRDC and Bank of America

November 30th, 2009 8 comments
Jim Hanson speaks to activists outside NRDC building in New York

Scientist Dr. Jim Hansen speaks to activists outside NRDC building in New York

“Cap and trade with  offsets would guarantee that we pass climate tipping points, locking in climate disasters for our children. Cap and trade benefits only Wall Street and polluters, sacrificing humanity and nature for their profits.” Dr. Jim Hansen

Will the media and policy makers finally wake up and pay attention after the world’s leading global warming scientists takes the extraordinary and unprecedented step to publicly criticize US national environmental groups for their lax posture on global warming?

Or will the mighty Obama Administration, Democratic Washington DC beltway, and corporate PR Wurlitzer continue to dominate US public opinion?

[Update: NYC Independent media: NRDC Protested For Greenwashing and Support of Carbon Trading and Coal!

Alternet: Activists Protest Environmental Agency for Collaborating With Polluters

After years of battling NJ environmental groups for their support of the symbolic political gesture known as the NJ Global Warming Response Act (see NJ Star Ledger Op-Ed: "No teeth in "tough" pollution law" ) and the fatally flawed Regional Green House Gas Initiative (RGGI) cap and trade program (e.g. see "Lame Global Warming Bill Goes to Governor", and see this and this) (both supported by NRDC), I am so glad that someone is now calling out national environmental groups for similar sell outs.

That much needed criticism could not have come from a more credible source or at a better time - Dr. James Hansen, world renown global warming scientist.

IMG_4458Today, in an effort to pierce the mounting propaganda war in the run up to the global warming treaty negotiations in Copenhagen, world renown atmospheric scientist Jim Hansen broke new ground by calling out both the Bank of America (for financing coal power) AND the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) for supporting fatally flawed "cap and trade" legislation.

I know I was livid when I learned that NRDC supports "carbon capture and storage" (CCS), when NJ Activists are fighting to block a massive $5 billion coal plant called "PurGen" planned for Linden, NJ. That CCS plant would pipe CO2 70 miles out and "store" it 1 and 1/2 miles deep under the ocean.Recently, I wrote:

Why are national “environmental groups” supporting new coal power plants and so called  “clean coal technology”? (link)

I refer to Senate testimony yesterday by Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) in support of the so called “clean coal technology” incentives in the Kerry Senate global warming bill:

Here’s the testimony of NRDC:

I was even angrier at NRDC when I learned that they had done an end run around Copenhagen global negotiations and worked with China on a bilateral US - China coal and CCS deal.

Scientist Jim Hansen speaks to crowd in front of Bankf of America - 5th Avenue and 15th, NYC.

Scientist Jim Hansen speaks to crowd in front of Bank of America - 5th Avenue and 15th Street, NYC.

On the 10th anniversary of the “Battle of Seatle” protests against the WTO, Hansen joined Climate Justice activists in New York as part of a nationwide mobilization and explained why the world is at a critical juncture that requires mandatory steep cuts in emissions, not the flawed market based cap and trade approach of the pending Waxman-Markey and Kerry -Boxer bills. (see this YouTube “The Huge Mistake” for explanation of flaws in cap/trade). Hansen said:

“Cap and trade with  offsets would guarantee that we pass climate tipping points, locking in climate disasters for our children. Cap and trade benefits only Wall Street and polluters, sacrificing humanity and nature for their profits.”

xxxxxx

Dr. James Hansen, one of the world's leading global warming scientists. It is impossible to overstate the courage and integrity of this man

Hansen has joined AL Gore and called for civil disobedience to stop mountaintop mining, block construction of new coal power plants, and force the shut down of existing plants.

Let’s hope that Hansen’s groundbreaking truth telling move to call out big national environmental groups is a game changer.

And let’s hope that the media pierces the spin machine in the run up to Copenhagen and critically scrutinizes government claims. Thus far, it seems like there are major efforts underway, including those by the Obama administration, to spin failure as a success.

Check out photo’s from today’s NYC protest event below:

Hansen joined activists to oppose the so called "cap and trade" approach

Hansen joined activists to oppose the so called "cap and trade" approach

Hansen joined activists to oppose the so called "cap and trade" approach

Hansen joined activists to oppose the so called "cap and trade" approach

NRDC came in for harsh criticism

NRDC came in for harsh criticism

carbon capture and storage was called a sham

carbon capture and storage was called a sham

bankers in top hats hope to see cap and trade the next speculative bubble

bankers in top hats hope to see cap and trade the next speculative bubble

NRDC was harshly criticized

NRDC was harshly criticized

Charles Komanoff, envrioonmental economist adfn founder of teh Carbon Tax Center stressed the need for the proice of emissions to match their  true costs. He urged the need for a policy based on scientific truth, social justice, and democracy.

Charles Komanoff, environmental economist and founder of the Carbon Tax Center stressed the need for the price of emissions to match their true costs. He urged the need for a policy based on scientific truth, social justice, and democracy.

Police had the protestors surrounded at all times

Police had the protesters surrounded at all times

Tim Keating, Rainforest Relief, objects to police blockage of access to NRDC building

Tim Keating, Rainforest Relief, objects to police blockage of access to NRDC building

In the lobby of NRDC building - NYC police block access to NRDC offices (that's me in the orange hat!) Source: NYC Independent media story above - all other photo's are mine

In the lobby of NRDC building - NYC police block access to NRDC offices (that's me in the orange hat!) Source: NYC Independent media story above - all other photo's are mine

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Beyond Talk – Global Day of Action for Climate Justice

November 29th, 2009 1 comment

If you can make it into Manhattan tomorrow, turn out to this event at noon, at 16th and 5th Avenue

Climate Pledge of Resistance Logo

NOVEMBER 30th – Global Day of Action for Climate Justice

Countdown to N30:

Actions for Climate Justice are Just 3 Days Away!

N30 Actions

The goal of our participation in the MCJ is to send a warning shot across the bows of corporate ‘greens’ who distort climate science on behalf of major polluters. As climate legislation gets redrafted next year, it is critical that these groups are challenged by a new more mobilized and informed environmental movement. We must make clear to them that we will not accept false solutions or inadequate targets, even after Copenhagen fails to result in a meaningful agreement. The new climate bill, which will be drafted for the next Congressional session (2010), must have science-based targets that give our planet and its species a fighting chance and don’t peg our survival on carbon markets, pie-in-the-sky techno-fixes, or ‘solutions’ that guarantee the long-term viability of oil, gas, or coal industries.

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Passing The Straight Face Test

November 28th, 2009 No comments
Senator Jeff Van Drew (D-Cape May)

Senator Jeff Van Drew (D-Cape May)

Wind turrbine, Atlantic CIty NJ

Wind turrbine, Atlantic CIty NJ

Senator Van Drew (D-Cape May) recently introduced legislation S3012 to promote wind power by easing current DEP coastal set back rules:

This bill allows construction of wind dependent energy facilities within 500 feet of the mean high water line of tidal waters pursuant to the “Coastal Area Facility Review Act,”(CAFRA)  provided all other requirements of law, rule or regulation are met.  Current DEP regulations permit only water dependent energy facilities to be constructed within 500 feet of the mean high water line.  This bill also directs DEP to adopt rules and regulations concerning such permits within 30 days after the date of enactment of the bill into law.

The intent of the Van Drew bill drew praise from Dave Pringle of the NJ Environmental Federation, who took the opportunity to blast DEP CAFRA wind rules:

Dave Pringle, NJ Environmental Federation

Dave Pringle, NJ Environmental Federation

David Pringle of the New Jersey Environmental Federation says despite concerns over the impact of windmills on migratory birds, the structures are less invasive than large housing developments, casinos or other structures built on piers. Pringle says current restrictions on clean energy are too stringent.

They (state government) hold clean renewables like wind energy to a higher standard than the Borgata (casino) or a large housing development,” he said. “That doesn’t pass the straight-face test.” [link to Philadelphia Inquirer article]

But we note that on September 9, 2009, DEP proposed new CAFRA regulations, which would ease current set back rules, among other things:

SUBCHAPTER 7. USE RULES
7:7E-7.4 Energy facility use rule

The Energy facility use rule contains the standards specific to various energy uses. N.J.A.C. 7:7E-7.4(b) contains standards relevant to siting of any new energy facilities, whereas N.J.A.C. 7:7E-7.4(d) through (s) contain standards specific to a particular type of energy use. The Department proposes to amend the energy facility siting standards at N.J.A.C. 7:7E-7.4(b) to reduce the existing setback for wind and solar energy facilities. The rule currently requires that new energy facilities that are not water dependent be located at least 500 feet inland of the mean high water line of tidal waters. Proposed N.J.A.C. 7:7E-7.4(b)3 would reduce the setback to 50 feet for wind and solar energy facilities, since these facilities would not be anticipated to have the same mass and impact as other energy facilities addressed by this rule. The Department believes that reducing the setback from 500 to 50 feet will facilitate siting of these renewable energy facilities while providing an adequate setback for wildlife use of tidal waters.

The DEP CAFRA rules are virtually identical to the Van Drew bill with respect to easing the current 500 foot set back to promote wind and solar power.

The Van Drew bill drew support of Pringle – the DEP CAFRA rules were denounced by Pringle.

We realize that there may be other provisions of the DEP CAFRA rules that are not addressed by the Van Drew bill. But as a matter of good government, such technical issues should be resolved by DEP in regulations, not micromanaged by legislative amendments.

Regardless, passing the straight face test requires that one read the Van Drew bill and the DEP rules, and understand the issues.

Additionally, Governor Elect Chris Christie’s proposed moratorium on new regulations would block adoption of the proposed DEP CAFRA wind rules.

Yet the Van Drew bill directs DEP to adopt rules within 30 days of passage.

In the unlikely event that the Van Drew bill were to pass quickly, it too would be blocked by the Christie moratorium.

Passing the straight face test requires full disclosure as well.


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New Jersey’s Steeples – Reaching Toward The Divine?

November 28th, 2009 No comments
groundwater monitoring well, symbol of pervasive toxic contamination (on farmland), forms foreground of church steeple (Hopewwell Borough)

groundwater monitoring well, has become NJ's symbol of pervasive toxic contamination (on farmland no less), forms foreground of church steeple (Hopewell Borough)

[Source: Wikipedia]

Steeple (architecture)

A steeple, in architecture, is a tall tower on a building, often topped by a spire. Steeples are very common on Christian churches and cathedrals and the use of the term generally connotes a religious structure. They may be stand-alone structures, or incorporated into the entrance or center of the building.

Architectural

Steeples generally serve as bell or clock towers. Towers were not a part of Christian churches until about AD 600, when they were adapted from military watchtowers. At first they were fairly modest and entirely separate structures from churches. Over time, they were incorporated into the church building and capped with ever-more elaborate roofs until the steeple resulted.

Towers are a common element of religious architecture worldwide and are generally viewed as attempts to reach skyward toward Heavens and the Divine.[1]

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IMG_4270

can you find the monitoring well?

Old barn, porta pottie, and toxic site cleanup truck. Hopewell Borough, NJ

Old barn, porta pottie, and toxic site cleanup truck. Hopewell Borough, NJ

the old (background) and the new come together in Hopewell Borough, NJ

the old (background) and the new come together in Hopewell Borough, NJ

sign of the times -

sign of the times - are we reaching toward the divine?

IMG_4277

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NJ’s Oyster Creek Poster Child for “Zombie Nuke Plants”

November 27th, 2009 2 comments
Salem, NJ nuke plant

Salem, NJ nuke plant

In a critically important article aptly titled “Zombie Nuke Plants“, The Nation magazine – spurred by recent radioactive leaks from the Three Mile Island plant – is focusing national attention and catalyzing a debate on the risks from aging nuclear power plants.

And  NJ’s own Oyster Creek is the poster child for the problem:

Oyster Creek Generating Station, in suburban Lacey Township, New Jersey, opened the same month Richard Nixon took office vowing to bring “an honorable peace” to Vietnam. This nuke plant, the oldest in the country, was slated to close in 2009 when its original forty-year license was ending. It had seen four decades of service, using radioactively produced heat to boil water into high-pressure steam that ran continuously through hundreds of miles of increasingly brittle and stressed piping.

If constructed today, Oyster Creek would not be licensed, because it does not meet current safety standards. Yet on April 8 the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC)–the government agency overseeing the industry–relicensed Oyster Creek, extending its life span twenty years beyond what was originally intended.

Nuclear power has been spun as a technological solution to the global warming crisis.  But regardless of the debate about the so-called “nuclear renaissance”, (which we wrote about in “Final Nair In Nukes Coffin?”), far more significant risks are posed by the nation’s aging fleet of 1960′s and 1970′s designed nuclear power plants that are operating beyond their design life.

Money Island - distribution lines just north of Salem plant

Money Island - distribution lines just north of Salem plant

Nuclear industry capture of and control over the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), a lax safety culture, deregulation, and economic drive for profits are creating huge risks as these plants age and are “up-rated” to produce far more power and operate at unsafe levels.

Read the complete article here:

And a few words while  we are on the topic of Oyster Creek.

BEFORE the election, I received the below “Vote Christie”  statement from the NJ Environmental Federation.

Note the deceptively parsed language alleging a contrast with Corzine on installation of cooling towers at Oyster Creek nuclear power plant to protect Barnegat Bay:

On Election Day Vote Environment-Vote Chris Christie

Contrary to Corzine, Christie has committed to the following as you already know:
• Increasing protections for our most vulnerable and important waterways through the state’s Category 1 program;
• Replenishing the state’s bankrupt open space program;
• Requiring the state’s nuclear plants to stop their destruction in and around Barnegat Bay and the Delaware River;
• Opposing the proposed coal plant in Linden; and
• Issuing an executive order to reduce killer diesel soot pollution.

Noting a lot of ambiguity and unsure of what NJEF meant by the weasel words “stop their destruction“, I went over to the Christie web page and – curiously – found a much clearer commitment with respect to the Oyster Creek cooling tower issue. Christie strongly implied a promise to install cooling towers, although the word smithing still gave him an out on the basis of “putting the taxpayers on the hook”. Regardless, one still must ask: why would a candidate – a person expected to hedge on controversial issues – express a clearer commitment than an environmental group?

Here’s what Christie promised on cooling towers:

Restoring the Delaware and Barnegat BayI will make it a priority to identify and implement strategies for better cooling systems at Oyster Creek and Salem. We cannot ignore this issue. I will not. There has to be a better way to cool Oyster Creek and Salem without putting – New Jersey taxpayers on the hook, and we will do it.

But JUST DAYS AFTER the election, Christie was asked point blank by Kirk Moore (environmental writer for the Asbury Park Press) about his views on cooling towers at Oyster Creek, to which Christie replied:

“For Barnegat Bay, Christie said he will seek a solution for the issue of cooling water discharge from the Oyster Creek Nuclear Generating Station, though he stopped short of an outright commitment to requiring that cooling towers be built at the 40-year-old reactor.”

So, WTF is going on here?

1. Why has Christie been given a pass from running away from a major – and one of his only environmental – “commitment” upon which the NJEF endorsement was based?

2. The Asbury Park Press has extensively covered and editorialized on the Oyster Creek cooling tower issue. Yet it looks like the Kirk Moore story with the Christie Oyster Creek statement was not published in the APP. It instead ran in the Nov. 7 Courier Post under an inflammatory and diversionary headline: “Christie: COAH “has to be gutted”.

Why didn’t this story run in the APP? (the headline could have been “Christie Waffles on Oyster Creek Cooling Towers”

3. Why is no one calling out Christie and NJEF for this deception?

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