May 21, 2013. Source: Biofuelwatch
Drax coal plant. Photo: Bloomberg News
New data obtained by Biofuelwatch through a Freedom of Information request to the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has highlighted how Drax Plc are misleading MPs and the public over biomass sustainability claims.  This comes as the Energy and Climate Change Committee are due to take evidence on issues of sustainability and supply for bioenergy on Tuesday 21st May. 
The documentation received from DECC shows that Drax requires wood from whole trees  and not forestry residues or energy crops to run its power station, and that current supply of this is insufficient for the UK’s expected demand. It also shows that, following discussions between DECC and Drax, the company started fundraising for its conversion to biomass three months before new subsidy bandings crucial to Drax’s plans were agreed in parliament.
In May 2012 following biomass burning trials at Drax power station, Drax Plc reported to DECC that they require wood from slow-growing, Northern Hemisphere trees, low in bark and that residues like straw, or short-rotation coppicing such as miscanthus were unsuitable because of how different kinds of biomass affect the boilers of converted coal plants.  Due to the technology used, this will indeed be the case for all 5 power stations currently converting to burn biomass.  Continue reading
Filed under Bioenergy / Agrofuels, Climate Change, Climate Justice, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Energy, False Solutions to Climate Change, Forests, Forests and Climate Change, Green Economy, Pollution, The Greed Economy and the Future of Forests
May 21 2013. Source: Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation
The Hague, Netherlands - Today members of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation (ACFN) and the Native Village of Point Hope, Alaska attended the Royal Dutch Shell AGM to confront the Chairman and Board over Shell’s decision to pursue highly risky ‘extreme energy’ projects without adequate consultation and accommodation of Indigenous communities. Projects such as Arctic off-shore drilling and tar sands will have little long term benefit for the company, and expose it to reputational damage, political and financial risk, including litigation.
“The ACFN leadership has made a commitment to protect our lands, rights and people currently being threatened by tar sands development. Our leadership has repeatedly tried exploring amenable agreements and options with Shell regarding their current tar sands proposals for the Jackpine expansion and the Pierre River mine projects. We want to work directly with the company to adequately identify direct impacts and solutions. However, Shell has repeatedly denied our requests and we have been disappointed by their inability to make concessions to work with us,” stated Eriel Deranger, member and Communications Coordinator of the ACFN. “Today I brought forward our concerns to Shell’s Board about current and proposed tar sands projects and the lack of adequate consultation.[i] I sincerely hope the Board keeps its word to speak with their Canadian president to address our concerns and potentially adjust the environmental impact assessment process. If Shell continues to move forward in project development without working directly with our community it will continue to lead toward more delays in project approvals, litigation and severe financial risk for Shell,[ii]” continued Deranger. Continue reading
Note: One more mega-storm in the era of extreme weather.
-The GJEP Team
By John Eligon and and Michael Schwirtz, May 21, 2013. Source: NY Times
Photo: Nick Oxford for the New York Times
Emergency crews and volunteers continued to work through the early morning hours Tuesday in a frantic search for survivors of a huge tornado that ripped through parts of Oklahoma City and its suburbs, killing at least 91 people, 20 of them children, and flattening whatever was in its path, including a hospital and at least two schools.
Much of the tornado damage appeared to be in the suburb of Moore, where rescue workers struggled to make their way through debris-clogged streets and around downed power lines to those who are feared trapped under mountains of rubble.
The risk of tornadoes throughout the region remained high Tuesday, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Storm Prediction Center in Norman.
Amy Elliott, the spokeswoman for the Oklahoma City medical examiner, said at least 91 people had died, and officials said that toll was likely to climb. Hospitals reported at least 145 people injured, 70 of them children.
Note: While these newly proposed rules allow the fracking industry to essentially regulate itself, McFeeley’s analysis falls short at the end. While we certainly “deserve better than rules that risk our most treasured places, our environment, and our health,” the health of land and communities won’t be protected without an outright ban on fracking. No regulations will ever make a process that blasts a highly toxic chemical cocktail thousands of feet below the surface of the earth, despoiling millions of gallons of water along the way.
-The GJEP Team
By Matt McFeeley, May 16, 2013. Source: Switchboard
This afternoon, the federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) released new proposed rules to govern fracking on publicly owned lands managed by the federal government. This includes wild places like National Forests and National Wildlife Refuges. But it also includes places that supply drinking water to millions of Americans – from larger municipal supplies like that of Washington, D.C., to private water wells (in cases where the federal government owns rights to the minerals below the surface of a homeowners’ property).
The new proposed rules are a significant step backwards even from the weak proposal the Administration released in May of 2012, and, if enacted, will allow fracking to continue to pose unacceptable risks to the environment and public health.
The new proposal is weaker than the previous proposal in a number of ways:
Note: Global Justice Ecology Project has always maintained that the only solution to prevent runaway climate chaos is to confront the root causes of the problem. Economic domination and the spread of neoliberalism, through free-trade agreements like NAFTA, are the driving forces preventing real solutions to climate change. These agreements, and the institutions like the WTO and World Bank that support them, have us in a chokehold of the entrenched powers of the global economic elite. GJEP has witnessed this dynamic of top-down control first hand, from the local level all the way to the halls of the UN climate negotiations. Until we cast away the chains of free trade agreements and the neoliberal doctrine, our communities will continue to suffer, pipelines or not.
-The GJEP Team
By Farron Cousins, May 13, 2013. Source: DeSmog Blog
As the public anxiously awaits the U.S. State Department’s final decision on the fate of the Keystone XL Pipeline, the discussion has largely ignored the elephant in the room: the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA.)
Thanks to NAFTA, signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1994, the State Department will likely be able to do little more than stall the pipeline’s construction. In its simplest form, NAFTA removes barriers for North American countries wishing to do business in or through other North American countries, including environmental barriers. The goal of the agreement was to promote intra-continental commerce and help the economies of all involved in the agreement.
Before diving into NAFTA, it’s important to take a look at what the State Department and the media have done so far in regards to Keystone XL. Before she left office and was replaced by John Kerry, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s ties to the project were almost too many to count. Most notable was the fact that many of her former staffers and associates were lobbyists for Keystone, and they had a direct line into both Clinton and President Obama.
It is likely a result of these connections that the State Department’s environmental assessments were strikingly flawed and inadequate. As the NRDC pointed out, many of the so-called “standards” that the State Department put in place regarding the pipeline were simple “smoke and mirror” schemes to distract the public, and they failed to do their due diligence by considering alternative paths for the pipeline. Furthermore, climate impacts from operation and construction were almost completely ignored.
May 16 2013. Source: Market Wired
Gitga’at First Nation reminds Enbridge that Northern Gateway pipeline and oil tanker project is not welcome in Gitga’at territory
HARTLEY BAY, BRITISH COLUMBIA - The Gitga’at First Nation has instructed Enbridge to leave its territory after the company and a team of oil spill response surveyors showed-up uninvited, during the nation’s annual food harvesting camp, a time of rich cultural activity and knowledge sharing.
Enbridge representatives were instructed to leave Gitga’at council chambers and Gitga’at territory, Wednesday morning, after councillors voiced their displeasure at not being consulted on an Enbridge oil spill response survey.
The dust-up comes on the eve of final oral arguments before the Joint Review Panel, which is reviewing the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline.
“Despite an ongoing review process, Enbridge has entered our territory and begun project work before their proposed oil tanker and pipeline project has even been approved,” said Arnold Clifton, Chief Councillor of the Gitga’at First Nation. “This is disrespectful to the Gitga’at First Nation, the review process, and the people of British Columbia, who oppose oil tankers in our coastal waters.” Continue reading
By James A. Foley, May 14 2013. Source: Nature World News
In Alaska, the entire village of Newtok is being relocated because coastal erosion threatens to put the village’s highest point underwater by 2017, according to the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, which points to climate change in Alaska as the cause of the erosion. Photo: Newtok Planning Group
In Alaska, the entire village of Newtok is being relocated because coastal erosion threatens to put the village’s highest point underwater by 2017, according to the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, which points to climate change in Alaska as the cause of the erosion.
This week, the Guardian is running an in-depth series on Newtok, calling the villagers “America’s Climate Refugees.”
Newtok is a riverside village of about 350 indigenous people on the west coast of Alaska, about 400 miles south of the Bering Strait that separates the state from Russia. The Ninglick River snakes around Newtok before emptying into the Bearing Sea. As it flows, the river erodes the land, some years carrying away more than 100 feet of earth, the Guardian reports. The community experienced major floods in September 2005 and February 2006, and talk of having to relocate the village has been happening since as early as 1994.
The erosion rates in Newtok have been exacerbated by thawing permafrost, declining sea ice protection, increased storm surge exposure, and warming temperatures, according to the Newtok Planning Group. Continue reading
By Chris Lang, May 14, 2013. Source: redd-monitor
WWF loves “sustainability”. With “sustainability”, there’s no need to address over-consumption, or the never-ending growth of capitalist expansion. Consumption can increase, as long as it’s “sustainable”.
Palm oil plantations destroying vast areas of rainforest? No problem. Here comes “sustainable” palm oil. In 2001, WWF started discussions with palm oil companies and industry bodies. Three years later the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil was formed.
Today there are more than 500 members of the RSPO, including palm oil producers, processors, traders, retailers, banks and a few NGOs. But buying palm oil from RSPO members does not mean that the palm oil complies to RSPO’s standards. For that you need to buy RSPO-certified palm oil – from companies that have been assessed by an RSPO-approved certification body. But RSPO certification does not mean that companies have stopped clearing forests. TFT’s Scott Poynton pointed this out recently to Jason Clay, Senior Vice President, Markets, World Wildlife Fund US:
Deforestation of secondary yet still important forests is perfectly acceptable and is happily done by companies celebrated under the RSPO standard which only obliges protection of primary and HCVF [high conservation value forest] areas. Likewise, the RSPO standard doesn’t preclude the clearance of peatlands.
By Emilio Godoy, May 13 2013. Source: Inter Press Service
Sea turtles are among the larger animal species whose reproduction was hurt by the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill. Credit: Mauricio Ramos/IPS
MEXICO CITY – A group of Mexican citizens are preparing the first civil lawsuit in the Mexican courts against British oil company BP for the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
The plaintiffs are bringing the class action lawsuit under a 2011 reform of the Mexican constitution that allows a large number of people with a common interest in a matter to sue as a group.
The civil lawsuit encompasses “damages to people living in the area or who own residential and commercial property along the coast, and people indirectly affected” by the spill, lawyer Óscar Preciado, with the law firm Rincón Mayorga Román Illanes Soto y Compañía, told IPS.
“Without a doubt, this will set an important precedent. Class action lawsuits have been brought, but in questions relating to consumer, rather than environmental, rights,” said the lawyer, whose firm is representing the plaintiffs. Continue reading
Note: Bolivia hosted the World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth in 2010. The Cochabamba Agreement included the adoption of the Rights of Mother Earth. So much for that…
-The GJEP Team
May 13, 2013. Source: Latin American Herald Tribune
Bolivian President Evo Morales inaugurated his country’s first natural gas liquids separation plant, saying it marks the start of a new era.
He presided over the start-up of the plant in the eastern town of Rio Grande, Santa Cruz province, in a ceremony also attended by Vice President Alvaro Garcia Linera, Hydrocarbons Minister Juan Jose Sosa and the president of state energy company YPFB, Carlos Villegas.
“Today we can say that after having taken our fatherland back, now we’re building a new fatherland through industrialization,” Morales said, urging the workers at the new facility to act with “great commitment.”
The Bolivian government obtained a loan from the central bank to fund the cost of the $181.3-million plant, built by Argentine company Astra Evangelista, Villegas said.