Tag Archives: Obama

When it comes to ‘energy,’ politicians can’t see through the smog

The energy world portrayed in the debates – one in which coal is ‘clean’ and oil and gas companies will lead the US to a new era of energy abundance – is an illusion carefully crafted by the fossil fuel industry. Oh, and be sure and look over the muddy filth contained in the photograph accompanying this feature-length article from today’s Christian Science Monitor. That, my friends, is what is happening to our natural heritage, in Pennsylvania and elsewhere.

Some good news for the planet

This NY Times headline is a bit of a stretch, I’d say, as a much better bit of news for the planet would be a joint decision by “consumers” to begin parking their cars and trucks and walking and bicycling instead. And I mean a major change in behavior.

Obama moves to beefup oil drilling in Gulf, eslewhere

This is a bad move. Sure, some ignorant motorists (who have forgotten how to walk) will applaud it, the president’s decision today to make drilling easier in the Gulf of Mexico and elsewhere is a big mistake. Folks like me, who have served in the military in the Middle East, know this to be the case. The president should not be searching for goodwill among voters but taking steps to break America’s addiction to oil – period.

Gas prices and a sane energy policy

That’s the headline over this NY Times editorial in today’s edition. As usual, it’s a good piece with good arguments. But, still, Americans are mindless when it comes to the very landscape we live and toil in – a landscape made intolerably noisy, polluted and trashed with development by the very presence of the single-family car. Where in this editorial, for instance, is the plea for Americans to live nearer their workplaces and actually walk there rather than commute in their personal automobile?

Critics say Obama team dragging its feet on endangered species

Well, the numbers do indeed tell a story, a story you can review in this AP article I found in a central Georgia paper (of all places). But, Americans ought to looking at their own lifestyles and personal choices. Where I sit, for example, suburban sprawl is directly responsible for the loss and fragmentation each year of hundreds of acres of wildlife habitat. By and large, Americans, by the way, have forgotten how to walk and burn calories. Instead, we drive personal automobiles all day long — polluting all the way.

PEER: Ban coal ash from federal procurement

This is from Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, or PEER:

Huge Carbon Footprint Should Disqualify Combustion Wastes under Obama Order

Washington, DC – An Executive Order directing federal agencies to reduce the carbon footprint of their purchases should disqualify purchases of coal ash and other coal combustion wastes, according to a filing today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).  If federal procurement rules are changed to bar coal combustion wastes, the coal industry would lose access to a sizeable portion of construction market.

On October 8, 2009, President Barack Obama issued Executive Order 13514, entitled Federal Leadership in Environmental, Energy, and Economic Performance.  One of the directive’s main purposes is to leverage the federal government’s significant purchasing power to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  Significantly the order covers both direct greenhouse gas emissions from the use of the finished product as well as indirect emissions used to create the product in the first place.

Coal-fired power, which creates the ash and other combustion wastes, is a main source of greenhouse gases in the nation.  In response to a similar petition filed last month by PEER, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency removed a center on its own website promoting the re-use of coal ash on the grounds of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, among other claims now “being re-evaluated” according to the disclaimer on now-blank EPA web pages.

“If the federal government is truly going to reduce its carbon footprint, banning coal ash is an unavoidable step,” stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch, noting that EPA is now deciding whether to classify coal ash as a hazardous waste.  “Right now our system has backward incentives, giving ‘green’ credit for using the ultimate ‘brown’ product – coal ash.”

Highly toxic coal combustion wastes are today used an array of consumer, agricultural and commercial products.  Coal ash is also widely used in construction, particularly cement, drywall and tiles.   Current purchasing guidelines mandate federal procurement of coal combustion fly ash cement and concrete products since they are classified as recovered content or recycled products.  PEER advocates revising these procurement guidelines because they now conflict with the Obama Executive Order.

Each year, the federal government directly purchases more than half a trillion dollars in goods and services.  Federal purchasing accounts for between a quarter and a third (recent recovery spending has pushed up the federal share) of the construction sector.  Public construction projects represent 25% of total construction uses of U.S. coal combustion residuals.

The PEER comments are directed to the White House Council on Environmental Quality as it prepares guidelines for greenhouse gas accounting to implement the Obama order.  A major task before CEQ is how to account for indirect emissions of greenhouse gases, the area where coal ash carries a huge liability.

“Current policy provides a federal market subsidy to the greenhouse gas intensive coal industry,” added Ruch.  “Reducing greenhouse gas emissions requires that we recognize the full lifecycle costs of coal.”

Read the PEER comments to CEQ

See the recent EPA retreat on promoting coal ash

Look at the products containing coal ash

View the effort to classify coal ash as hazardous waste

Addicted to what?

Coal and oil, of course. And, as this NY Times editorial notes, the Obama team did not fight nearly as hard as it should have for a climate/energy bill incorporating REAL caps on carbon emissions. Global warming is indeed a major threat to our nation’s security.