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Emergency Declared at Nuclear Waste Site in Washington State

The Department of Energy declared an emergency Tuesday at a plutonium-handling facility at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Washington state after a tunnel partly collapsed. Federal officials said, there was "no indication of a release of contamination at this point."

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Irma Omerhodzic

People's Climate March Draws Massive Crowd in DC

More than 200,000 people took to the streets in Washington, DC, Saturday for the People's Climate March. Tens of thousands more joined via sister marches across the globe, including Japan, the Philippines, New Zealand, Uganda, Kenya, Germany, Greece, United Kingdom, Brazil, Mexico, Costa Rica and more.

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WATCH LIVE NOW: People's Climate March in DC

EcoWatch will be covering the People's Climate March all day in Washington, DC, starting with interviews around 9:15 a.m. EST of climate leaders, spokespeople and influencers. From 10:30 - 11 a.m., 10 powerful speakers will tell their stories about why they are marching. At 11 a.m., hundreds of thousands of people will start to line up for the march. There are also hundreds of sister marches around the world.

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Cedar Mesa Valley of the Gods in the Bears Ears National Monument in southeastern Utah. Bob Wick, BLM

Trump Signs Executive Order Targeting National Monuments, Could Open Up Lands for Oil and Gas Development

President Trump signed an executive order Wednesday ordering a review of the Antiquities Act and national monuments on more than 100,000 acres.

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Scientists Worldwide Speak Truth to Power

Tens of thousands of people celebrated Earth Day Saturday by taking to the streets in a historic day of action for science and truth. A massive March for Science took place in Washington, DC, and more than 600 sister marches took place in other cities around the world.

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7 Must-See Films Inspiring a Healthier Planet

One of my favorite events of the year is only one week away—the Cleveland International Film Festival (CIFF), celebrating 41 years. EcoWatch is a media sponsor, once again, and thrilled to sponsor the film RiverBlue.

CIFF, one of the nation's top film festivals, will showcase 202 feature films and 216 short films representing 71 countries from March 29 – April 9. Here's a synopsis of the seven eco-related films being featured this year, courtesy of CIFF:

1. RiverBlue

Narrated by Jason Priestley, the original concept for RiverBlue was to film renowned conservationist Mark Angelo as he toured rivers across the world. Not only would the film spotlight the beauty of nature, but also it would examine the effects of pollution.

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Army Corps to Grant Final Permit for Dakota Access Pipeline

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will grant Energy Transfer Partners the final easement to finish the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), according to a court filing Tuesday. The permit will allow construction for a tunnel under Lake Oahe, a reservoir that is part of the Missouri River.

This news comes just two months after the Obama administration ordered the Army Corps to conduct a full environmental review of the 1,170-mile pipeline and two weeks since President Donald Trump signed two executive actions to advance DAPL and the Keystone XL.

According to CNBC, the move is "almost certain to spark a legal battle and could lead to clashes at camps near Cannon Ball, North Dakota, where hundreds of protesters are still camped out in opposition to the project."

"Donald Trump will not build his Dakota Access Pipeline without a fight," Tom Goldtooth, executive director of the Indigenous Environmental Network, said. "The granting of an easement, without any environmental review or tribal consultation, is not the end of this fight—it is the new beginning. Expect mass resistance far beyond what Trump has seen so far."

This announcement comes after thousands of environmental and indigenous activists spent months living in camps near the Standing Rock reservation and pipeline construction site. Just last week, 76 water protectors were arrested following a clash with law enforcement at the reservation. The arrests came a day after federal officials claimed that the final controversial easement for DAPL had been granted.

More recently, thousands of U.S. military veterans said they are readying their return to Standing Rock. "We are committed to the people of Standing Rock, we are committed to nonviolence and we will do everything within our power to ensure that the environment and human life are respected. That pipeline will not get completed. Not on our watch," Anthony Diggs, a spokesman for Veterans Stand, said.

In addition to granting the permit to Energy Transfer Partners for the $3.8 billion project, the Army Corps said it will no longer prepare an Environmental Impact Statement, which the Obama administration ordered early December.

"The ongoing Environmental Impact Statement process was deemed a necessary step forward by both the Standing Rock Tribe and the Army Corps of Engineers," Mary Sweeters, Greenpeace USA climate campaigner, said. "The Dakota Access Pipeline poses a significant threat to the water supply of Standing Rock and to millions of other people downstream. Its construction has already desecrated sacred burial grounds and other historical sites nearby."

Robert Speer, acting secretary of the Army, said in a statement that "Today's announcement will allow for the final step, which is granting of the easement. Once that it done, we will have completed all the tasks in the Presidential Memorandum of January 24, 2017."

Outrage from the environmental community on today's announcement is immense.

"Trump thinks he's getting what he wants, but the people who've been emboldened by the worldwide fight against the Dakota Access pipeline won't quietly back away," 350.org Executive Director May Boeve said. "Indigenous leaders, landowners and climate activists are ready challenge this decision in the courts and in the streets—as we have each time the fossil fuel industry steamrolls over human rights for their own profits."

Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune concurred.

"By putting corporate polluter profits above the people's well-being, future and access to clean, safe drinking water, Donald Trump is once again showing where his priorities lie," Brune said. "Trump's dangerous and legally questionable attempt to ignore the environmental review will be met with fierce resistance by a broad coalition of 300 tribes and millions of Americans."

Friends of the Earth President Erich Pica called the announcement "sickening as it is predictable."

"We stand behind them in the #NoDAPL fight and will put financial pressure on the banks financing this destructive pipeline project. The people's resistance to keep fossil fuels in the ground will not disappear."

Renewable Energy

Huge Win for Renewables in Maryland as Lawmakers Override Governor's Veto

Lawmakers in the Maryland Senate voted 32-13 Thursday to expand the state's renewable energy target restoring the Clean Energy Jobs Act and overriding Republican Gov. Larry Hogan's veto of the measure in May of last year. The bill is now in effect.

The bill increases requirements to use energy sources like wind and solar power to 25 percent by 2020, increased from 20 percent by 2022. The renewable portfolio standard (RPS), according to the Maryland Climate Coalition, will result in an additional 250 megawatts of solar energy in the state and more than 1,000 megawatts of additional renewable energy in the region.

The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) said this bill is a big win for Maryland's economy. Wind power relies on a robust American supply chain that consists of 500 factories across 43 states, the wind energy organization touts, with wind energy already providing $380 million of capital investment in Maryland, and wind turbine lease payments generating up to $1 million a year in the state.

"Making the Clean Energy Jobs Act law is the right decision for Maryland. Renewable energy legislation is pro-growth, pro-business, and means access to more jobs in Maryland," AWEA CEO Tom Kiernan said. "From the Free State's population-hubs to majestic shores, this ensures more low-cost, homegrown American wind power reaches homeowners and businesses."

This bill will also benefit the solar energy industry. Abigail Ross Hopper, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association, said the bill will pave "the way for increased renewable energy in communities across the state. The Clean Energy Jobs Act is named that for a reason. Today, the solar industry employs thousands of Marylanders who know firsthand that when you expand clean energy, you increase the number of well-paying local jobs."

Gov. Hogan criticized the veto of his bill and said it will raise electricity costs. He called it a "sunshine and wind tax." However, as AWEA pointed out in a blog post, meeting renewable energy goals created up to $4.9 billion in reduced consumer energy prices and added 200,000 American jobs, and $20 billion to annual GDP through 2013.

Maryland is not alone in wanting to grow its economy via renewable energy generation. States representing roughly a quarter of the U.S. population—California, Oregon, New York, Massachusetts, Michigan, Rhode Island and DC—have increased their renewable energy goals in the past year.

According to the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and National Renewable Energy Laboratory, state renewable portfolio standards have created $7.5 billion in annual environmental benefits from reduced air emissions, 27 billion gallons in reduced yearly water consumption and $1.3 billion to $4.9 billion in reduced consumer energy prices, including 200,000 American jobs and $20 billion in annual GDP.

"In the current face of fear, uncertainty, and at times outright denial of environmental problems at the federal level, the Clean Energy Jobs Act proves that states like Maryland will not remain quiet on our country's toughest challenges like climate change," David Smedick, Maryland Beyond Coal Campaign and policy representative for the Sierra Club, said.

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