Sunday, September 18, 2005
Work To Save Planet Earth
Natures Bounty by Severin Roesen
The truth is where the truth is, and it's sometimes in the candy store.
I played the wrong wrong notes.
The path up and down is one and the same.
There are some people in the United States whose faith is shaken in private initiatives to confront various challenges to continued life on this great globe. The news these last few days has been particularly daunting. We need to go through it, and I hope this entry will be helpful to establish your focus in the coming week at least.
Let's begin with the exhaustive chronicle of the Katrina disaster to the Gulf Coast assembled by FactCheck.org on Friday. The group already has edited the timeline twice as additions and corrections have been offered, including one from FEMA. They begin with warnings about the Lake Pontchartrain levees from FEMA itself in July of 2004. Bookmark this one for future reference~~~http://www.factcheck.org/article348.html
Then we have some Federal responses from a couple of sides. First is an article Friday in the Jackson (Mississippi) Clarion-Ledger that reports an email has circulated within the Department of Justice. The message requests various US attorneys' offices to forward information of any lawsuits by environmental groups that may have interfered with the work of the Army Corps of Engineers around New Orleans. Let's see, wasn't the buzzword around DC the "blame game" last week? http://www.clarionledger.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20050916/NEWS0110/509160369/1260 The second move was reported Thursday in the Washington Post, as Republican Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma announced new legislation he is proposing to suspend the authority of the EPA for the Katrina cleanup. Inhofe is chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, which group just had concluded a briefing with the administrator of the EPA who had asked that no waivers be applied. Reaction was swift~~~
"Sen. James Jeffords, I-Vt., the committee's senior non-Republican, said Johnson told the committee 'that current environmental laws and regulations do not stand in the way of EPA's response to Hurricane Katrina.
'"'Based on the administrator's response, I am opposed to a blanket waiver for environmental laws,' Jeffords said. 'If adopted, this waiver could undermine public health protections. We should be focusing our energy on protecting the health and safety of people impacted by this hurricane, not paving the way for environmental abuse.'
"Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., said he would fight Inhofe's 'sweeping, unnecessary and ill-conceived' plan, and any attempt to attach it to a bill authorizing relief from Katrina. He said it could allow EPA to put off telling Congress of any waivers for up to two weeks afterward. A provision also says the EPA can seek an extension to continue issuing waivers after the 120 days laid out in the bill.
"Environmentalists also denounced the emerging proposal. 'Here comes the mother of all environmental rollbacks,' said Frank O'Donnell, president of the Clean Air Watch advocacy group. 'This could become a blank check for big polluters. It would also be a terrible precedent.'" http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/09/15/AR2005091501223.html
Also on Friday came a headline in The Sacramento Bee (California) that read "Greenhouse-Gas Suit Tossed Out By Judge." SacBee.com is requiring free registration to its site now, so I'll post this whole article for the time being~~~
California, 7 other states had sought emission limits on power plants.By Chris Bowman -- Bee Staff WriterPublished 2:15 am PDT Friday, September 16, 2005Story appeared on Page A3 of The Bee
California's pioneering lawsuit to cap global warming gases from coal-fired power plants as distant as Kentucky and Florida was tossed out of federal court Thursday on jurisdictional grounds.
U.S. District Judge Loretta A. Preska in Manhattan ruled that the case brought by state Attorney General Bill Lockyer and prosecutors for seven other states and New York City raised sweeping questions of public policy best resolved by Congress and the president, not the courts.
At issue were emissions of carbon dioxide, the primary heat-trapping gas that alters the Earth's temperature, and the nation's highest emitters of the gas - old coal-fired power plants, mainly in the Midwest and the South.
Lockyer and an attorney for a companion complaint brought by three Northeast land conservancies said they would appeal the decision.
The plaintiffs - including Connecticut, Iowa, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Vermont, Wisconsin and New York - sought a court order requiring the nation's top five power producers to cut carbon dioxide emissions every year for at least a decade, by an amount to be determined later by the court.
The electric power industry argued that the technology to capture these gases in the plant doesn't exist, at least not at affordable prices
In her ruling, Preska said the plaintiffs sought "to impose by judicial fiat" limits on carbon dioxide emissions that Congress and President Bush explicitly refused to mandate.
"These actions present non-justiciable political questions that are consigned to the political branches, not the judiciary," Preska concluded.
Lockyer said the opposite is true.
"When Congress has not taken action on a pressing environmental issue, states have the right to take legal action to protect themselves," Lockyer said in a press release responding to the dismissal.
"We filed this lawsuit because global warming poses a serious threat to our environment, our public health, and our economy. We must act now, not later, to combat this threat."
Attorneys for the targeted power companies said they were not surprised by the dismissal.
"We were curious why we were included in the first place," said Pat Hemlepp, spokesman for American Electric Power Co. of Columbus, Ohio.
"We were doing much of what they were seeking through voluntary reductions of carbon dioxide."
The other four companies named in the suit were Southern Co., Xcel Energy, Cinergy Corp. and the Tennessee Valley Authority.
The companies own about 175 plants in 20 states that together emit about 652 million tons of carbon dioxide every year, roughly 25 percent of the carbon dioxide from power plants in the nation, according to the suit.
About the writer:The Bee's Chris Bowman can be reached at (916) 321-1069 or firstname.lastname@example.org.Copyright © The Sacramento Beehttp://www.sacbee.com/content/politics/ca/story/13572818p-14413223c.html
And all of this comes on top of a most disheartening report Friday by the Science Editor for the UK's Independent Online Edition. Here we read a consensus that global warming now is "past the point of no return." Analysis and evidence is presented in the article of a vicious cycle that has begun in the melting of Arctic sea ice. If you want a refreshment course on what that means, here's the link~~~http://news.independent.co.uk/world/science_technology/article312997.ece
At this point, I certainly wish I had some comfort to offer. I think the best we all can do is spread the word of these developments and enter into discussion with those who doubt the reports and who have opposing views. In this country it is clear there are many people whose heads just are in the sand---and I do mean sand.