Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Three Republican Senators join with Democrats to stop Trump from eliminating an Obama climate change rule

There is hope for the environment yet as the U.S. Senate today defeated an attempt by the Trump administration to overturn a rule that regulates the emissions of methane from certain oil and natural gas production operations.

A decorated pumping unit in Coalinga oil field, Fresno County, CA. Photo by W. F. Guerard, Jr. (from DOGGR website)

Republicans John McCain of Arizona, Lindsay Graham of South Carolina, and Susan Collins of Maine joined with their Democratic counterparts to defeat the measure by a vote of 51 - 49. The simple majority vote prevented President* Trump from using Vice-President Pence to break an anticipated 50 - 50 tie that never materialized.

More details are available at this link: Senate methane emissions vote

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Bakersfield and San Joaquin Valley win again - worst air in the nation

The American Lung Association released its Annual State of the Air 2017 report today and once again, Bakersfield and other cities in the San Joaquin Valley share the dubious "honor" of having the worst air in the country.

The report found that although continued improvement in air quality across the nation has occurred, nearly four in ten Americans - roughly 125 million - live in counties where ozone or particle pollution in the air is at unhealthy levels. The consequences of this are increased risks of developing lung cancer, heart disease, asthma, premature death, and developmental and reproductive harm.

Photo credit: California EPA

Bakersfield, in particular, has particularly nasty air, earning the distinction of having the number one worst short-term particle pollution (24-hour PM2.5) and the second worst ozone and long-term particle pollution (annual PM2.5).

The report demonstrates that in much of the country, the Clean Air Act has successfully reduced air pollution over the last 50 years. However, as noted by Harold P. Wimmer, National President and CEO of the American Lung Association, the report "...adds to the evidence that the ongoing changes in our climate make it harder to protect human health. As we move into an ever warmer climate, cleaning up these pollutants will become ever more challenging, highlighting the critical importance of protecting the Clean Air Act."

The Full report may be accessed here: Annual State of the Air 2017

The summary of the most polluted cities may be seen below:

Top 10 U.S. Cities Most Polluted by Short-Term Particle Pollution (24-hour PM2.5):
  • Bakersfield, Calif.
  • Visalia-Porterville-Hanford, Calif.
  • Fresno-Madera, Calif.
  • Modesto-Merced, Calif.
  • Fairbanks, Ala.
  • San Jose-San Francisco-Oakland, Calif.
  • Salt Lake City-Provo-Orem, Utah
  • Logan, Utah-Idaho
  • Los Angeles-Long Beach, Calif.
  • Reno-Carson City-Fernley, Nev.
Top 10 U.S. Cities Most Polluted by Year-Round Particle Pollution (Annual PM2.5):
  • Visalia-Porterville-Hanford, Calif.
  • Bakersfield, Calif.
  • Fresno-Madera, Calif.
  • San Jose-San Francisco-Oakland, Calif.
  • Los Angeles-Long Beach, Calif.
  • Modesto-Merced, Calif.
  • El Centro, Calif.
  • Pittsburgh-New Castle-Weirton, Pa.-Ohio-W.Va.
  • Cleveland-Akron-Canton, Ohio
  • San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles-Arroyo Grande, Calif.
Top 10 Most Ozone-Polluted Cities:
  • Los Angeles-Long Beach, Calif.
  • Bakersfield, Calif.
  • Fresno-Madera, Calif.
  • Visalia-Porterville-Hanford, Calif.
  • Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, Ariz.
  • Modesto-Merced, Calif.
  • San Diego-Carlsbad, Calif.
  • Sacramento-Roseville, Calif.
  • New York-Newark, N.Y.–N.J.-Conn.-Pa.
  • Las Vegas-Henderson, Nev.-Ariz.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

A Nittany Lion in the lion's den, Michael Mann takes on Congressional climate change deniers

The House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology held what was ostensibly a hearing on the scientific basis of climate change today, but, according to several reports, not much happened other than name-calling.

Led by climate change denier Texas Republican Lamar Smith, the committee put noted climate change researcher Dr. Michael Mann of the Pennsylvania State University on a panel with three other scientists, Dr. Judith Curry of the Georgia Institute of Technology, Dr. John Christy of the University of Alabama at Huntsville, and Dr. Roger Pielke Jr. of the University of Colorado.

It is generally safe to say that Dr. Mann represented the overwhelming consensus of world wide climate change experts that human activity is the main driver of climate change. To say he didn't get a lot of support from those convinced that they are right and 97-98% of the world's climate change researchers are wrong may be an understatement.

Today's hearing was entitled "Climate Science: Assumptions, Policy Implications, and the Scientific Method." 

However, various news reports about the hearing referred to it as a "colossal train wreck" and a "shitstorm," a "food fight among scientists," and one where both sides were referring to each other as using tactics similar to "Josef Stalin."

If you have two to three hours to spare, you can view all of the action at the video link below:

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Trump's War on the Environment begins with an Executive Order to end Obama's Clean Power Plan and other environmental protections

As promised to his many followers, particularly coal miners who cling to the belief that their jobs depend upon it, President* Donald Trump signed an executive order today that aims to undo many of the environmental protections implemented and/or planned for by the previous Obama administration.

Video Credit: The White House

The main target is Obama's Clean Power Plan, which would reduce the nation's dependence upon coal fired power plants even more than current economic conditions (cheap natural gas, increased usage of renewable energy sources, energy efficiency, etc.) are already doing.

Trump and his supporters claim the new executive order will result in more jobs for those in the energy industry, particularly coal miners. The latter group was represented by several miners at the signing who stood behind Trump as he signed the measure.

Additionally, the new order will open up federal lands to coal mining, eliminate requirements to reduce methane emissions from oil and gas production facilities, and reduce the importance of climate change impacts on permitting decisions.

The ball is now in the court of environmentalists, the alternative energy industry, and individual states who will be impacted by the potential increase in emissions and environmental degradation expected.