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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.

Monday, March 27, 2017

California draws a line in the sand for Trump, Pruitt, and the new EPA

Our apologies for not having posted recently, but, we were in Palm Springs playing in an international team tennis tournament as well as attending some of the action at the BNP Paribas Open Tennis Championships at Indian Wells, CA.

Anyway, a lot has happened recently in the environmental world. One of the more significant is the response from California authorities to the efforts of the Donald Trump administration to effectively dismantle the EPA and roll back environmental regulations.

photo credit: St. Germaine / Marlene Swetlishoff/Tsu-tana, The Rainbow Scribe

Recent actions by the California Air Resources Board (ARB) demonstrate clearly that whatever Trump and his new EPA chief, Scott Pruitt, try to do to weaken environmental rules, California is drawing a line in the sand and effectively challenging them to a fight.

Here are a few links that clearly show the differences between the new feds and California:

CARB finds vehicle standards are achievable and cost-effective

CARB votes to move forward with greenhouse gas reductions and zero emission programs through 2025; action sets the table for accelerating programs post-2025

CARB approves rule for monitoring and repairing methane leaks from oil and gas facilities

Regulation applies to natural gas pipeline equipment and storage facilities

CARB approves broad plan for reducing climate “super pollutants”

Reductions in short-lived climate pollutants enhance 2030 climate efforts

Today the California Air Resources Board approved two critical efforts to provide cleaner air for all Californians.  

In the first action, the Board approved the State Strategy for the State Implementation Plan (State SIP Strategy), which describes CARB’s commitment for further reducing vehicle emissions needed to meet federal air quality standards over the next 15 years. The Board also approved the South Coast Air Quality Management District’s comprehensive air quality plan.

The Board also directed staff to report annually on progress on implementation of the SIP Strategy including recommendations on additional funding as well as direction to expedite implementation where possible. 

In parallel to actions at the state level, CARB will continue to call for strong federal action to develop more stringent engine standards for cars, trucks, ships, aircraft and locomotives. 

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

2016 - 2017 Check Before You Burn season ends

The San Joaquin Valley APCD announced today that the 2016 - 2017 Check Before You Burn season has ended.The APCD said that its 14th winter of the program ended with a record improvement of air quality.

The program was implemented to reduce the emissions and harmful effects resulting from the burning of wood in fireplaces and other heating devices.

“We are moving in the right direction thanks to the cooperation of Valley residents and their investments in cleaner devices,” said Seyed Sadredin, the District’s executive director and air pollution control officer. “Together with the increased funding for the Burn Cleaner program, which grants money for the purchase of cleaner devices, Check Before You Burn has had a remarkable effect on winter air quality in the Valley.”

Although the program will not kick in again until November of 2017, the APCD strongly discourages residential wood burning during this time. 

Here's how to get your money back from your dirty VW, Audi, or Porsche

This is a Public Service Announcement (PSA) for all of you unfortunate souls who were mislead into parting with your hard earned dollars by Volkswagen and its Audi and Porsche subsidiaries.

As you recall, the above vehicle manufacturers were caught in the biggest emission scandal ever, rigging certain of their products to bypass mandated federal and California air pollution controls except when the cars were undergoing a required inspection.

The vehicles - cars and SUVs - were marketed as having "clean diesel" technology, thereby misleading those whose concerns for the environment may have led them into purchasing or leasing in the first place.

Under a settlement with California and United States authorities, the company has agreed to provide the following options to the government and/or folks who got caught by this corporate scam:
  • Cash payments
  • Vehicle buybacks
  • Early lease terminations
  • Potential emission modifications & extended vehicle warranties
  • Environmental remediation
  • Promotion of Zero Emissions Vehicle (ZEV) technology
Volkswagen has been running half-page ads in major newspapers across the country with details on how to make a settlement claim. The ads say that the only vehicles affected by this settlement are certain 2009-2016 models of the VW Touareg, Audi A6, A7, A8, A8L, Q5, Q7, and Porsche Cayenne.

However, additional vehicles were also part of the emissions scandal. A complete list can be found here: ARB Volkswagen Information

For more information on what settlements are available for which vehicles, please click on the following link or call 1-844-98-CLAIM:

Emissions Scandal Settlement