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Climate

31 Science Groups to Congress: Greenhouse Gases Emitted by Human Activities Is Primary Driver of Climate Change

A group of 31 of the country's top science organizations sent a letter to Congress this week highlighting the dangers of climate change and urging immediate action. The letter, representing millions of scientists, mentions several impacts of climate change, including extreme weather, sea level rise and wildfires.

Photo credit: Shutterstock

"The severity of climate change impacts is increasing and is expected to increase substantially in the coming decades," the letter goes on to say.

The effort was spearheaded by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, whose leader, Rush Holt, is a former member of Congress. The signers of the letter range from the American Public Health Organization to the American Meteorological Society.

For a deeper dive: AP, Washington Post, Independent, Huffington Post, InsideClimate News

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Climate

Industrial Fossil Fuel Use Drives Climate Chaos

Earth Policy Institute

By Emily E. Adams

Increasing global emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), a heat-trapping gas, are pushing the world into dangerous territory, closing the window of time to avert the worst consequences of higher temperatures, such as melting ice and rising seas.

Since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, carbon emissions from burning fossil fuels have grown exponentially. Despite wide agreement by governments on the need to limit emissions, the rate of increase ratcheted up from less than one percent each year in the 1990s to almost three percent annually in the first decade of this century. After a short dip in 2009 due to the global financial crisis, emissions from fossil fuels rebounded in 2010 and have since grown 2.6 percent each year, hitting an all-time high of 9.7 billion tons of carbon in 2012.

Carbon emissions would have risen even faster were it not for the seven percent drop among industrial countries since 2007—a group that includes the U.S., Canada, Europe, Russia, Australia, New Zealand and Japan. The U.S., long the world’s largest emitter until it was eclipsed by China in 2006, cut carbon emissions by 11 percent over the past five years to 1.4 billion tons. The biggest drop was in emissions from coal—which is primarily used to generate electricity—as power plants switched to cheaper natural gas and as the use of carbon-free wind energy more than quadrupled. U.S. emissions from oil, mostly used for transportation, also dipped.

Carbon emissions from fossil fuel burning in Europe—as a whole the third largest emitter—fell nine percent from 2007 to 2012. Emissions in Italy and Spain shrank by 17 and 18 percent, respectively. The United Kingdom’s emissions dropped by 11 percent to 126 million tons. Germany’s emissions fell by four percent to 200 million tons. These countries have been leaders in either wind or solar energy or both.

Russia and Japan are two industrial countries that did not see an overall decline in carbon emissions over the past five years. Russia had an uptick in oil use, increasing its emissions by two percent to 449 million tons. And in Japan, the quick suspension of nuclear power generation after the Fukushima disaster led to more natural gas and oil use, pushing emissions up one percent to 336 million tons in 2012. 

CO2 emissions in developing countries surpassed those from industrial countries in 2005 and have since continued to soar. China’s carbon emissions grew by 44 percent since 2007 to 2.4 billion tons in 2012. Together the U.S. and China account for more than 40 percent of worldwide emissions. Emissions in India, home to more than a billion people, overtook those in Russia for the first time in 2008. From 2007 to 2012, India’s emissions grew 43 percent to reach 596 million tons of carbon. Carbon emissions in Indonesia, another fast-growing economy, have exploded, growing 52 percent to hit 146 million tons in 2012. 

Although emissions from developing countries now dominate, the industrial countries set the world on its global warming path with over a century’s worth of CO2 emissions that have accumulated in the atmosphere. Furthermore, emissions estimates discussed here include only those from fossil fuels burned within a country’s borders, meaning that the tallies do not account for international trade.

For example, emissions generated from producing goods in China destined for use in the U.S. are added to China’s books. When emissions are counted in terms of the final destination of the product, the industrial countries’ carbon bill increases.

On a per person basis, the U.S. emits 4.4 tons of carbon pollution—twice as much as in China. The highest per capita carbon emissions are in several small oil and gas producing countries. In 2012, Qatar spewed out 11 tons of carbon per person. Trinidad and Tobago is next with nine tons of carbon per person, and Kuwait follows at 7.5 tons.

Fossil fuels are not the only source of CO2 emissions. Changing the landscape, for example by burning forests, releases roughly 1 billion tons of carbon globally each year. Brazil and Indonesia have high levels of deforestation and are responsible for much of the current carbon emissions from the land.

About half of the CO2 that is released through fossil fuel burning or land use changes stays in the atmosphere. The other half is taken up by the oceans or by plants. As more CO2 is absorbed by the world’s oceans, the water becomes more acidic. This change in ocean chemistry can strip away the building blocks of coral reefs, weakening an important link in the oceanic food chain. Scientists warn that the oceans could eventually become saturated with CO2, compromising their capacity to absorb our carbon emissions, with serious consequences for the global thermostat.

For some 800,000 years, the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere did not go above 300 parts per million (ppm). But in the 250 years following the start of the Industrial Revolution, enough CO2 built up to bring the average concentration to nearly 394 ppm in 2012. Throughout each year, the concentration of the gas fluctuates, reaching its annual peak in the spring. In May 2013, the CO2 concentration briefly hit 400 ppm, a grim new milestone on the path of climate disruption. Never in human history has the atmosphere been so full of this odorless and colorless yet powerfully disruptive gas.

CO2 acts like the glass of a greenhouse, trapping heat. Since humans began burning fossil fuels on a large scale, the global average temperature has risen 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit (0.8 degrees Celsius), with most of the increase occurring since 1970. The effects of higher temperatures include rising sea levels, disappearing Arctic sea ice, more heat waves and declining yields of food crops.

More warming is in the pipeline as the climate system slowly responds to the higher CO2 concentrations. Reports from international institutions, such as the International Energy Agency, based on work by thousands of scientists emphasize that little time remains to cut emissions and avoid a climate catastrophe. The World Bank notes that absent any policy changes, the global average temperature could be 9 degrees Fahrenheit warmer by the end of this century, well above what human civilization has ever witnessed.

But a different future—one based on a clean energy economy—is within our reach. Germany, not a particularly sunny country, has harnessed enough of the sun’s rays to power some 8 million homes, for example. The U.S. has enough wind turbines installed to power more than 15 million homes. Kenya generates roughly a quarter of its electricity from geothermal energy. This is but a glimpse of the enormous potential of renewable energy. The question is not whether we can build a carbon-free economy, but whether we can do it before climate change spirals out of control.

Visit EcoWatch’s CLIMATE CHANGE page for more related news on this topic.

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Climate

Legislators Call on Secretary of State John Kerry to Reject Keystone XL

All Risk, No Reward

Sen. Whitehouse (D-RI) and Rep. Waxman (D-CA) yesterday joined Gene Karpinski, the president of the League of Conservation Voters, in calling on Secretary of State John Kerry to reject the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.

During a call with press, they highlighted how the dangerous project does not meet the climate standard set by President Obama in his sweeping climate change speech last month and should be rejected by the administration.

“The approval of the Keystone XL pipeline could undo much of the good work President Obama is doing to reduce carbon pollution and address climate change,” said Sen. Whitehouse. “With the effects of climate change already harming communities across our country, I hope the administration will ultimately reject the development of this toxic pipeline.”

“I am opposed to the Keystone XL pipeline," Rep. Waxman said. "In the face of climate change, the last thing we should be doing is giving a green light to tripling production of tar sands, which are substantially more carbon polluting than conventional oil.  I believe a rigorous analysis will show that the Keystone XL pipeline fails the test the President has set forth and must be denied.”

“The President has set a justifiably high bar for the Keystone XL pipeline, and it’s a climate standard that the oil industry can’t meet. President Obama’s climate plan is the most ambitious we’ve seen from any President, and he should continue that strong leadership by rejecting the Keystone XL pipeline,” said Karpinski.

In his speech, President Obama said, “Our national interest will be served only if this project [Keystone XL] does not significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution. The net effects of the pipeline’s impact on our climate will be absolutely critical to determining whether this project is allowed to go forward.”

On the call, they praised President Obama’s leadership on climate change and strongly agreed with the test he set on approving the Keystone XL pipeline. The development of tar sands by Keystone XL would have a grave impact on our climate. Approval of the pipeline is also incompatible with the U.S.’s push to be an international role model on tackling climate change. The State Department has clear marching orders based on the bar set by President Obama in his speech and Secretary Kerry should reject the pipeline once and for all.

Whitehouse, Waxman and Karpinski made the case that the dramatic increase in carbon pollution caused by Keystone XL would fail to meet the President’s own standard for approval. This builds on the recent letter from Rep. Waxman and Sen. Whitehouse to the State Department in which they detailed all the ways Keystone XL would significantly increase greenhouse gas emissions.

Visit EcoWatch’s KEYSTONE XL page for more related news on this topic.

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Fracking

New Yorkers Call for Renewables at Anti-Fracking Rally During Cuomo Fundraiser

Frack Action

Residents gathered today to rally against fracking and for renewable energy outside of Gov. Cuomo’s (D-NY) fundraiser in Syracuse, NY. The concerned residents urged the Governor not to put New York’s clean water, air, environment and economy at risk by allow fracking. Further, they urged the Governor to aggressively invest in renewable energy, which would bring sustainable, good jobs and economic development to New York State without jeopardizing people's health and existing jobs.

"Governor Cuomo must listen to the science and ban fracking, which contaminates water, poisons air and puts our health at risk," said Renee Vogelsang of Frack Action, and a Syracuse resident.

"An overwhelming number of New Yorkers are standing up against fracking because they know it would only bring pollution and ruin to communities across New York State. Governor Cuomo should pioneer a renewable energy economy that will create long-term, safe jobs for New Yorkers,” said Vogelsang.

"If Governor Cuomo cares about the future of our state, then he will reject hydrofracking," said Ursula Rozum, a Syracuse resident with the Syracuse Peace Council. "Science overwhelmingly shows that hydrofracking cannot be done safely, that it would only lead to polluted water and poisoned communities, like it has in Pennsylvania and many other states. Fracked methane gas is not a bridge fuel—it's a dirty fossil fuel and a source of climate disrupting greenhouse gasses. Governor Cuomo needs to decide, is he with the people or with the gas industry?"

Gov. Cuomo was in Syracuse for a fundraiser at the Genesee Grand Hotel. The rally began outside of the event at 11:30.

"Fracking poses a serious threat to the health of both our natural and social environments," said Emily Coralyne, a Syracuse resident. "Historically in New York, we have made agreements to maintain stewardship of this land with our native neighbors. If New York State were to allow hydrofracking, they are yet again, breaking promises made to the original people of this land to care for what has been shared with us."

Independent observers have noted that the gas industry cannot be trusted when it describes fracking as safe. A recent investigation by the Times Tribune in Pennsylvania revealed many cases of water contamination from fracking.  And a recent study showed that fracking emits significant amounts of methane—a major contributor to climate change. A recent peer-reviewed study by Duke University in the renowned Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences linked fracking with water contamination in Pennsylvania.

The latest Siena Poll showed that upstate New Yorkers oppose fracking 52-38 percent. On June 17, 3,000 New Yorkers rallied in Albany to demand that Gov. Cuomo reject fracking and instead aggressively pioneer a renewable energy economy.

A recent peer-reviewed study detailed a plan for New York State to get to 100 percent renewable energy by 2030.

Visit EcoWatch’s FRACKING page for more related news on this topic.

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Energy

11,000+ Massachusetts Residents Call for a Fracking Ban

Environment Massachusetts

Graphic courtesy of Corporate Europe Observatory

This morning, more than 11,000 residents called on Beacon Hill to ban the dirty drilling process of fracking, in petitions presented by Environment Massachusetts and its allies at a statehouse news conference. The petitions show wide support for H.788, a bill introduced by Rep. Kocot (D-MA) and Rep. Provost (D-MA) to ban fracking and the processing of its toxic wastewater in the commonwealth.

“In states like Pennsylvania, we have already seen fracking contaminate drinking water and make nearby residents sick,” said John Rumpler, senior attorney for Environment Massachusetts. "Residents looking at this track record have one message for their legislators today: keep this dirty drilling out of Massachusetts."

Local concern about fracking has grown since the U.S. Geological Survey identified shale gas deposits in the Pioneer Valley last December. Moreover, as New York mulls large-scale fracking next door, drilling operators could soon view Western Massachusetts as a convenient dumping ground for toxic fracking wastewater.

"In light of the threats to our environment and to our health, we cannot allow fracking—or its toxic waste—to come to Massachusetts," said Rep. Provost, sponsor of H.788.

Bill H.788 would protect the commonwealth from both of these threats by both banning fracking and its wastewater. Last year, Vermont already enacted a similar law, and New Jersey legislators voted overwhelmingly for a ban on fracking waste (and citizens there are calling for an override of Gov. Chris Christie’s veto).

Laced with cancer-causing and even radioactive materials, fracking wastewater has contaminated drinking water sources from Pennsylvania to New Mexico. For Western Massachusetts, such threats are heightened by the fact that many communities in the Pioneer Valley rely on groundwater as their sole source of drinking water.

"The quantity and quality of our existing water supply is invaluable and irreplaceable," declared Mayor Michael Tautznik of Easthampton. "Gambling our water against the known dangers of this dirty drilling is a loser's proposition."

Today in Greenfield, in solidarity with the petitions gathered by Environment Massachusetts and CREDO, local residents showed their opposition to fracking through community art. Alongside the Climate Summer team, a group of youth traveling exclusively by bicycle throughout the state focused on climate action, local Greenfield community members demonstrated their concern for fracking coming to their community through visual art on the town common.

In addition to impacts on the local environment, fracking and the processing of gas releases methane—a greenhouse gas far more potent than carbon dioxide.

"It turns out that fracking contributes to global warming in a major way,” observed Dorian Sosnick Williams, an organizer with A Better Future Project. “If Massachusetts is serious about combating climate change, we cannot allow fracking here."

Rumpler ended the petition delivery with praise for all 14 co-sponsors of H.788: “By sponsoring a ban on fracking, these legislators are standing tall against the oil and gas industry. And today, thousands of their constituents are standing with them.”

Visit EcoWatch’s FRACKING page for more related news on this topic.

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Sign the petition today, telling President Obama to enact an immediate fracking moratorium:

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President Obama’s Climate Action Plan

World Resources Institute

By Jennifer Morgan and Kevin Kennedy

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

With today’s announcement of a national climate action plan, President Obama is pushing forward to tackle the urgent challenge of climate change. This is the most comprehensive climate plan by a U.S. president to date. If fully and swiftly implemented, the Obama Administration can truly reset the climate agenda for this country.

The plan looks to reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions in a comprehensive way and takes on the question of how to protect the country from the devastating climate-related impacts we are already seeing today. With a clear, national strategy in place—and concrete steps to implement it—the administration can protect people at home and encourage greater ambition internationally.

Importantly, the president is recommitting the U.S. to meet its target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020. World Resources Institute’s (WRI) recent analysis demonstrates that meeting this target is achievable, but requires ambitious action across many sectors of the economy. WRI identifies four areas with the greatest opportunity for emissions reductions—power plants, energy efficiency, hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) and methane—which are all specifically included in the plan.

The plan is also notable for addressing climate impacts and encouraging increased international engagement. Together, these steps can help the U.S. reclaim lost ground on climate change. While there are many details to be worked out, this plan is a welcome step to putting the U.S. on a pathway to a safer future.

Reducing Carbon Pollution from Power Plants

First off, the president’s plan commits the U.S. to address carbon pollution in existing power plants. Power plants currently represent one-third of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, the largest source of carbon dioxide (CO2) pollution in the U.S. The president also directs the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to move quickly to finalize the proposed CO2 pollution standards for new power plants.

These actions will be important for protecting people’s health and the planet—and WRI analysis finds that they can be implemented in a way that is flexible and cost effective. It will be important for the EPA to act with a sense of urgency in order to meet the U.S. emissions target. Just as important as the time frame for finalizing these standards is their stringency. Without sufficient ambition, the U.S. will not be able to achieve the reductions it needs by 2020 and in the years beyond.

Increasing Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency

The additional actions and goals that the President has laid out in the plan for renewable energy and efficiency will be important in allowing stringent power plant standards to be achieved in a cost-effective manner.

On energy efficiency, the president announced a new goal to reduce CO2 pollution by a total of 3 billion metric tons through 2030 through new and existing efficiency standards for appliances and federal buildings. This would be a significant reduction, the equivalent of eliminating nearly two years’ worth of emissions from coal power plants.

Energy efficiency is one of the most cost-effective ways to reduce emissions, as more efficient equipment uses less energy and therefore saves consumers money. There are dozens of products that are excellent candidates for new and updated efficiency standards—some of which are awaiting approval—and many more ways to capture this low-hanging fruit in the residential, commercial and industrial sectors. A recent analysis finds that there are a total of six standards that are waiting for approval. Each additional month of delay on these costs consumers $200 million in lost savings and pumps an additional 3 million metric tons of CO2 into the atmosphere.

The plan also calls for doubling renewable energy in the U.S. by 2020 and opening public lands for renewable energy development, to the tune of an additional 10 gigawatts of installed renewable capacity on those lands by 2020. This would be enough energy to power 2.6 million American homes.

This policy is a strong complement to the forthcoming emissions standards, as it could make compliance easier for utilities. The federal government owns roughly 28 percent of land in the U.S.; selectively opening up some public lands for clean energy projects should help ease siting concerns for utilities and project developers.

Reducing HFCs and Methane

The U.S. has been working for years to phase down the production and consumption of HFCs under the auspices of the Montreal Protocol. The recent agreement between the U.S. and China to work together toward this end is an important development in reducing emissions of this potent greenhouse gas. Both chemical and consumer product manufacturers support a planned global phasedown of HFC production and consumption. The plan also acknowledges that there is more the U.S. can and should be doing to eliminate its domestic emissions of HFCs under the Significant New Alternatives Policy Program. The plan also recognizes the importance of curbing emission of methane, another potent greenhouse gas. The President calls for development of an interagency methane strategy that improves data on methane emissions and identifies opportunities to reduce those emissions.

Preparing for Climate Impacts

Climate impacts are already happening globally. The U.S. is experiencing rising sea levels along our coasts, droughts in the Midwest, wildfires in Colorado and torrential rains in the Northeast. These impacts are taking a toll on our homes and our businesses. Drought impacts energy production and agriculture. Sea level rise threatens critical infrastructure and clean water supply. These risks are becoming a reality for people across the country.

In response, the plan aims to help Americans prepare for climate change impacts. Adapting to climate change will require striking the right balance between support and direction from the federal government and locally appropriate solutions. The plan focuses on reducing people’s vulnerability by identifying barriers and reforming policies. These actions can empower states and localities to tailor their adaptation actions to their location-specific climate challenges. It should also help create incentives for businesses to contribute to solutions. As the country rebuilds from Hurricane Sandy and other extreme weather events of recent years, it will be important to systematically learn what is working and what needs improvement.

International Climate Action

The president calls for greater engagement internationally—and this, too, is critically important. The U.S. can—and should—be a leader on this global challenge. Climate change will bring significant impacts that will affect our economy and our security.

The U.S. should re-engage in a purposeful and constructive way, working with the international community to rally toward an effective and ambitious international climate agreement by 2015. Cooperation on climate change—as signified by the recent announcement between the U.S. and China on HFCs—shows this is an area where collaboration is both necessary and possible. Enhanced U.S. action will catalyze other countries to come forward with a greater sense of ambition and urgency.

Moving Forward with Ambitious Climate Action

Today’s announcement marks a major milestone in the creation of a durable and far-ranging climate plan for the U.S. The details matter, of course, so we’ll be watching for more specific information about what the various agencies will do—and how quickly and strongly they take up this challenge.

This plan puts a marker in the ground that the Obama Administration is ready to take climate change seriously. It is a strong and broad approach—one that stakes new ground, but also builds on existing common-sense actions.

The plan makes clear the responsibility that we all have to take action for today’s communities and for future generations.

Visit EcoWatch’s CLIMATE CHANGE page for more related news on this topic.

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Click here to tell Congress to Expedite Renewable Energy.

Energy

Sierra Club Marks Milestone as 100th Coal Plant Set to Retire

Sierra Club

On Feb. 29 the Sierra Club marked a major milestone in the transition to clean energy as the Fisk and Crawford facilities in Chicago became the 99th and 100th coal-fired plants to announce retirement since January 2010. These iconic Midwest Generation owned plants are two of nine coal-fired plants from Chicago to Pennsylvania that announced plans to retire, including the Portland plant in Mt. Bethel, Pennsylvania.

The Sierra Club’s goal is to retire one third of America’s polluting coal plants by the year 2020 and replace that power with clean energy like wind and solar. Coal industry executives have called the Beyond Coal campaign “unrelenting and dramatic,” with “hard hitting messages that put local officials in uncomfortable positions.” A powerful grassroots movement has grown dramatically in recent years, made up of dozens of local and national groups and more than a million people taking action around the country.

“We are winning as city by city, communities are standing up and saying no to coal,” said Mary Anne Hitt, director of the Beyond Coal campaign. “This latest milestone underscores the movement occurring across the country, and we will not power our future with the outdated energy sources of the 19th century. Now we must ensure that the transition from coal to clean energy happens in a way that protects workers and communities.”

Pollution from coal-burning power plants contributes to a host of health problems, including respiratory illnesses and asthma attacks, heart disease and cancer. Retirement of these 100 plants is estimated to prevent more than 2,042 premature deaths, 3,299 heart attacks and 33,053 asthma attacks, according to the Clean Air Task Force.

“The Beyond Coal campaign deserves a big congratulations and thank you from everyone who values clean air,” said Michael Bloomberg, philanthropist and mayor of New York City, whose Bloomberg Philanthropies recently donated $50 million to the Beyond Coal effort. “We are clearly witnessing the end of our dependency on coal and the move toward a cleaner energy future.”

In addition to securing retirement dates for more than 100 coal plants nationwide and continuing to keep a watch on their progress to ensure they phase out on schedule, the Beyond Coal campaign has prevented 166 new coal plant proposals from being built. Preventing new coal plants and retiring existing coal plants has opened the space for clean energy. The U.S. solar and wind capacity is now over 50,000 megawatts, enough to power 11 million homes, and nearly 180,000 people are now employed by the solar and wind industries.

Many energy companies have decided not to invest in new coal plants due to economic reasons. A recent report by the Energy Information Agency predicts that coal-fired electricity will continue to decline in coming years.

Since the Beyond Coal campaign began:

  • Proposals for 166 new coal-fired power plants have been abandoned, opening market space for clean energy.
  • The campaign has helped secure retirement dates for 106 existing plants, meaning nearly 13% of current coal generation is now slated for retirement.
  • New mountaintop removal mining permits have slowed to a trickle.
  • 19 colleges and universities have won fights to phase out coal plants on their campuses, thanks in large part to the hard hitting campaigns of Sierra Student Coalition.
  • Hundreds of thousands of people have mobilized in support of strong clean air and water protections.
  • Sierra Club and its allies signed an agreement with the Tennessee Valley Authority to phase out coal plants, representing the biggest clean air agreement in the history of the Southeast.

 “As America transitions away from coal, we must ensure that the communities, workers and families who have lived with and worked with coal will have opportunities to help lead us into a clean energy future," said Beyond Coal campaign lead volunteer Verena Owen.

For more information, click here.

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The Sierra Club's Beyond Coal campaign started as a three-person campaign in 2002 and has quickly grown into a powerhouse effort that is changing the way America produces energy. In 2001, the Bush administration met with coal industry representatives as part of a closed-door energy task force, to craft plans for a new "coal rush" -- the construction of 150 new coal-fired power plants. Had the industry prevailed in building these plants, the nation would have been locked into the use of 19th-century dirty fuels for the foreseeable future. The potential for entrepreneurs to develop wind, solar and other clean technologies would have been crippled. Working with local people in neighborhoods across the country, Sierra Club organizers began fighting Big Coal’s efforts to push through these plants. Together, they achieved one victory after another.

The Sierra Club is the largest grassroots environmental organization in the country, with over 1.4 million members and supporters.

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Judicial Hearings in Landmark Clean Air Cases Conclude Today

Environmental Defense Fund

On Feb. 28 and Feb. 29, the United States Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C. will hear oral arguments in a group of lawsuits over the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) landmark clean air measures to protect American's health and well-being from climate-disrupting pollution.

“EPA’s leadership in addressing the clear and present danger of climate pollution is compelled by science, anchored in law and will help secure a healthier America,” said Sean Donahue counsel for EDF and presenting arguments for environmental intervenors.

EDF has intervened in defense of these vital protections and has compiled detailed information about the cases. You can read more about the cases and the parties involved, find the court briefs, and get more information on our website.

The EPA protections facing legal challenge include:

  • The Climate Pollution Endangerment Finding, in which EPA—following the Supreme Court’s order in Massachusetts v. EPA—determined that climate pollution endangers human health and welfare on the basis of a rigorous review of the extensive body of climate science.
  • The Clean Car Standards, which establish cost-saving fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions standards for passenger cars and light trucks. The standards are supported by U.S. auto makers and the United Auto Workers, among others.
  • Carbon Pollution Limits for Big New Power Plants and Industrial Sources, in which EPA is phasing in requirements for the best available cost-effective pollution controls—starting with new, large industrial emitters (like power plants) while shielding smaller emitters.

The U.S. auto makers and a dozen states (California, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington) have intervened in defense of EPA's clean car standards (the second case listed above). The clean car standards will reduce heat-trapping greenhouse gases. The measures are being challenged by the State of Texas and large industrial emitters.

“The historic clean car standards pending before the court show how our nation can work together to reduce dangerous climate pollution while saving families money at the gas pump and reducing our dependence on foreign oil,” said Vickie Patton, general counsel for EDF. “While some companies are hiring lawyers and lobbyists to obstruct clean air solutions for America, leading businesses are innovating and charting the path to a healthier and more prosperous clean energy future.”

The clean car standards are a compelling example of smart regulation for a stronger America. At a time when Americans are increasingly concerned about rising gas prices, the clean car standards will save Americans thousands of dollars at the gas pump by enabling families to get more mileage out of each gallon of gas, will help break our nation's addiction to foreign oil, and cut dangerous pollution.

Read more about the challenge to the clean car standards, and the other cases, by clicking here.

For more information, click here.

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Environmental Defense Fund, a leading national nonprofit organization, creates transformational solutions to the most serious environmental problems. EDF links science, economics, law and innovative private-sector partnerships.

Climate

Top Earth Scientists Warn of Global Ecological Emergency

Ecological Internet

Ecological Internet (EI) reiterates its declaration of a planetary ecological emergency 1, first issued two years ago. Since then abrupt climate change has revealed itself in all its fury. Habitat loss and extinction have intensified, food and water have become increasingly scarce, and human inequity and injustice have grown. Yet there have also been promising signs of a global awakening regarding global ecology, rights, and workers—seeds of revolutionary social change necessary to sustain global ecology.

“There is no question global ecological systems are collapsing, as important planetary ecological boundaries have been—and continue to be—crossed. The human system’s fantastical growth, based upon liquidating nature, has finally caught up with us, and key ecosystems necessary to sustain global ecology are failing,” explains Dr. Barry. “An Eco-Earth Revolution to overthrow the industrial economic growth machine destroying ecosystems may well be the only option left to sustain global ecology.”

This past week the world’s leading international Earth scientists issued their own similar warning—that we face a perfect storm of ecological and social problems driven by overpopulation, overconsumption and environmentally damaging technologies. In a paper prepared for the upcoming Rio+ 20 Earth Summit to be held in Rio de Janeiro in June, they also noted the failures of the economic “perpetual growth myth” and called for “dramatic action to avert a collapse of civilization”2.

Ecological Internet’s first declaration was based upon scientific findings in Planetary Boundaries: A Safe Operating Space for Humanity, published in 2009 in the journal Ecology and Society3. Humanity was found to have already overstepped three of nine planetary boundaries—biodiversity loss, climate change and nitrogen cycle—and to be approaching boundaries for the use of fresh water and land, and ocean acidification. An overwhelming amount of other scientific knowledge supports these warnings.

Dr. Barry continues, “Ecological Internet calls for an immediate people’s power Earth Revolution on behalf of Earth, all life, and the human family. Revolutionary actions—composed of billions of acts of personal resistance to the industrial growth machine—are required to end coal and tar sands, dismantle industrial agriculture, and protect and restore old forests and other natural ecosystems. These are some of the requirements for living well within the biosphere’s carrying capacity.”

For more information, click here.

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1. First made on April 13, 2010, Planetary Ecological Emergency Declared.
2. Environment and Development Challenges: The Imperative to Act
3. Journal Article: Planetary Boundaries: A Safe Operating Space for Humanity

Ecological Internet—leading provider of Internet biocentric ecology news, action and analysis—joins with Earth’s best scientists in warning the human family faces imminent collapse of the biosphere—the thin layer of life organized into ecosystems—that makes Earth habitable and human well-being possible.

From Earth's Newsdesk and New Earth Rising, projects of Ecological Internet (EI)
Contact: Dr. Glen Barry, Ecological Internet, glen.barry@gmail.com, +1 (608) 381-5865 for interviews

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