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» A Major Legal Victory for Climate Science


“Though most attention last week focused on the Supreme Court ruling upholding federal reform of the health-care system, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia issued the most important judicial decision on climate change in five years. That decision upholds the Environmental Protection Agency’s power to regulate greenhouse gases, and it is very good news for those who favor this approach.

In 2007 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled, in the landmark case of Massachusetts v. Environmental Protection Agency, that a statute enacted by Congress in 1970 — the Clean Air Act — authorizes EPA to regulate greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide. Not much happened for the balance of the Bush administration, but shortly after Barack Obama took office in January 2009, EPA issued an “endangerment finding” — a formal determination that greenhouse gases pose a danger to public health and welfare.  That finding is a prerequisite to further regulation.

With that in hand, EPA proceeded to issue a set of major new rules. Among other things, it and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration issued new standards (the first in decades) for fuel economy of automobiles and light trucks.  EPA also required major stationary sources of air pollution, such as power plants and factories, to obtain permits for their greenhouse-gas emissions.

Industries (led by the fossil fuel lobby) and states (led by Texas) that oppose such regulation reacted furiously. They filed more than 100 lawsuits against EPA.  Some claimed that the “Climategate” e-mails and a handful of errors in reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change had cast doubt on the integrity of the climate science underlying the endangerment finding.  They also took an opposite tack, and said EPA’s regulations of stationary sources were too lax, because they regulated only the largest sources and not the millions of small sources that exceed certain statutory thresholds.

The court held a highly unusual two days of argument on February 28-29, 2012, in its largest courtroom, but still, many would-be spectators could not get in. The fate of the regulations hung in the balance as legions of lawyers argued before the three-judge panel — one appointed by President Reagan and two by President Clinton.

The suspense ended on June 26, with the unanimous opinion in what came to be known as Coalition for Responsible Regulation v. EPA.  It was a complete win for EPA.”

Good read of the day at Columbia Earth Institute.

» On cleantech, no Newt is good Newt

In the 1990s, the Gingrich Congress tried to shut down the Department of Energy (DOE), slash all clean energy research, stop the joint government-industry effort to develop a super-efficient hybrid car, and zero out all programs aimed specifically at reducing greenhouse gas emissions and accelerating technology deployment…

Last year, Newt proposed replacing the EPA with an “Environmental Solutions Agency.” It’s no surprise that Newt is unaware we already have an Environmental Solutions Agency that develops innovative new technology — it’s called the Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, which I helped run in the mid-1990s. Gingrich tried to kill it when he became speaker in 1995. He probably thinks he succeeded…

Why is California’s air — and the country’s water — better than it was 30 years ago? Gingrich disingenuously implied the answer is “very advanced technological solutions that dramatically improve life,” but, in fact, the answer is very tough government regulations — indeed, California is allowed tougher air regulations than the rest of the country, as Newt must know since he is so damn smart., 23.01.12.

what is with the never-ending crew of idiot politicians

Jan. 28, 1940: The Huntington Beach coastline in 1940 was a forest of oil derricks. Oil discoveries in Huntington Beach, Long Beach and Santa Fe Springs in 1920 and 1921 drove massive drilling.
View 130 photos for The Times’ 130th birthday on Framework.
Photo credit:	Ted Hurley / Los Angeles Times
» Safe Chemicals Act of 2011

Dear Miss Yee :

Thank you for writing to express your support for the “Safe Chemicals Act of 2010.” I appreciate hearing your thoughts about this legislation, and I welcome the opportunity to respond.

I agree that the United States must take a close look at reforming our nation’s chemical regulatory system to protect vulnerable populations, especially children, from potentially toxic chemicals. 

On April 14, 2011, Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) introduced the “Safe Chemicals Act of 2011" (S. 847), which would require testing of the safety of all industrial chemicals.  Under current policy, the burden of proof lies with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to prove that a chemical is unsafe rather than on the chemical company to show that it is safe.  This legislation would shift that responsibility to industry by requiring manufacturers and processors to test chemicals and submit data to EPA proving the safety of chemicals in order for them to remain in or enter the marketplace. 

You may be interested to know that on January 25, 2011, I introduced the “Ban Poisonous Additives Act of 2011” (S. 136), which would ban the use of Bisphenol A (BPA) in baby bottlessippy cups, infant formula, and baby food containers. BPA is a hormone disrupting chemical and is linked to harmful health effects like cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and early puberty. I have become especially concerned with the effects this chemical may have on babies and children, who are most at risk because of their smaller size and stage of development.

Please know that I share your concerns and will keep your thoughts in mind should the “Safe Chemicals Act of 2011” or similar legislation to modernize and strengthen our nation’s chemical regulatory system come to a vote in the Senate.

Again, thank you for writing. Should you have further questions or comments, please contact my office in Washington, D.C. at (202) 224-3841. Best regards.

Sincerely yours,
Dianne Feinstein
United States Senator

I’m named after her.

» Tell the E.P.A.: No more methyl iodide!

Methyl iodide is a nasty chemical. It is a known neurotoxin and endocrine disruptor, and scientists in labs handle only small amounts using special protective equipment because it is so toxic. But do you know where else it is used? As a pesticide on strawberries and other food crops.

There is little to debate about methyl iodide’s toxicity. It is a known neurotoxin, disrupts thyroid function, damages developing fetuses, and has caused lung tumors in laboratory animals. Fumigating fields with the gas — even with the strictest regulations — would no doubt still result in unacceptable exposures to farmworkers and surrounding populations.

Urging the E.P.A. to permanently suspend and cancel all uses of methyl iodide as a pesticide is the only surefire way to keep this poison away from workers and our food.

submit your comment to the EPA.

» EPA Squeaks Through Budget, But Not Environment


It’s a sad day…

for the first time, politics rather than science removed a species from the Endangered Species List — as part of the budget debate! Representatives from Idaho and Montana wanted protection for the 1500 wolves there to end — and they got it. 

The Northern Rockies gray wolf is now removed from the endangered species list in Montana and Idaho, at the stroke of a pen from Congress.

Rep. Mike Simpson (R- ID) and Senator Jon Tester (D-MT) inserted the stealth attack on wolves, leaving them at the mercy of states that plan to kill hundreds of them. 

It is a shameful day for this nation when both parties unite behind the slaughter of an endangered species — without public hearing or debate. 

sustainablebusiness, 11.04.11.

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