Category Archives: Pollution

World’s biggest coal company, world’s biggest PR firm pair up to promote coal for poor people

Note: Looks like Peabody coal is taking this one right out of the UN’s “Sustainable Energy For All” playbook.  Pushing for more coal plants under the guise of reducing “energy poverty.”

-The GJEP Team

By Kate Sheppard, March 27, 2014. Source: Huffington Post

Photo: AP Photo/Jeff Roberson

Photo: AP Photo/Jeff Roberson

Peabody Energy Corp., the world’s largest private-sector coal company, launched a public relations and advertising campaign last month extolling the virtues of coal energy for poor people.

A Peabody press release announcing the campaign, called Advanced Energy for Life, argues that lack of access to energy is “the world’s number one human and environmental crisis.”

To enter the campaign website, readers encounter a drop-in screen that asks them to agree or disagree with the statement, “Access to low-cost energy improves our lives.” The site notes that there are 3.5 billion people in the world “without adequate energy” — 1.2 billion of them children. A video titled “Energy Poverty” features babies and small children, with text that implores, “We can solve this crisis.” It adds: “Affordable energy leads to better health.”

Peabody’s proposal to solve this crisis? Asking the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to stop setting pollution limits on coal-fired power plants. Those pollution rules are meant to address climate change caused by greenhouse-gas emissions, a global problem that has the greatest effect on poor countries. Burning coal generates carbon emissions as well as hazardous pollutants such as mercury, lead, and benzene, according to the American Lung Association.
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Filed under Coal, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, False Solutions to Climate Change, Mountaintop Removal, Pollution, World Bank

Duke Energy shareholders want probe of coal ash spill

By Michael Biesecker and Mitch Weiss, March 27, 2014. Source: Citizen-Times

Photo: Rick Dove, AP

Photo: Rick Dove, AP

Duke Energy shareholders called on the company’s board on Thursday to launch an independent investigation into issues surrounding a massive coal ash spill that coated 70 miles of a North Carolina river in toxic sludge.

A letter sent to Duke’s board of directors by a coalition of more than 20 large institutional investors says their confidence has been shaken by the Feb. 2 spill into the Dan River. The letter also expresses concern about an ongoing federal criminal probe and what the investors characterize as the company’s inadequate response to the environmental disaster.

The letter comes as North Carolina’s environmental agency was forced to admit state inspectors twice missed a large crack in an earthen dike holding back millions of tons of ash at a different Duke facility near the Cape Fear River.

Federal prosecutors have issued at least 23 subpoenas as part of a grand jury investigation into the spill and whether the company has received preferential treatment from state officials. Gov. Pat McCrory worked at Duke for more than 28 years, and the company and its executives have been generous political supporters of his campaign and Republican groups that support him.
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Filed under Coal, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Energy, Mountaintop Removal, Pollution, Water

BP doubles initial size estimate of Lake Michigan oil spill

By Steve Horn, March 27, 2014. Source: DeSmog Blog

Using vacuum trucks to pick up oil. Photo: U.S. EPA

Using vacuum trucks to pick up oil. Photo: U.S. EPA

Three days after spilling crude oil into Lake Michigan, BP has doubled its spill estimate to between 470 and 1228 gallons. The leak happened at its refinery in Whiting, Ind.

Although some of the oil has been cleaned up, it’s unclear how much is left in the lake, a drinking water source for about seven million Chicagoans.

Located just across the Illinois-Indiana state border, Whiting is home to the sixth largest refinery in the U.S. The refinery just went through a $4 billion “modernization project,” giving it “the capability of processing up to about 85 percent heavy crude.” That’s up from its original 20 percent, says BP’s website.
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Filed under Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Oil, Pollution, Tar Sands, Water

Ohio: Fracking blockaders plead to reduced charges

Note: Support direct action for community and eco-defense!  In a different action, last Thursday, five blockaders (and friends of ours) were arrested blocking the entrance to a frackpad in Tiadaghton State Forest, PA, and have been held since then on $57,500 bail.  Click here to learn more and offer financial support!

-The GJEP Team

By Jim Phillips, March 24, 2014. Source: The Athens News

Gilbert "Kip" Rondy, far left, reads a statement in court on behalf of the eight protesters.  Photo:  Jim Phillips  Photo Caption:

Gilbert “Kip” Rondy, far left, reads a statement in court on behalf of the eight protesters. Photo: Jim Phillips

Eight protesters who last month briefly shut down an eastern Athens County injection well for oil-and-gas drilling wastes took a plea bargain in Athens County Municipal Court this morning (Monday).

The eight, whose individual cases were handled by the court en masse, had all been charged with criminal trespass, a fourth-degree misdemeanor. All agreed to plead no contest to a lower charge of disorderly conduct, a minor misdemeanor, and each received a fine of $150, with $100 of that amount suspended.

As a condition of the deal, the protesters must remain law-abiding citizens for one year, and have no contact with the well site where the demonstration took place.

Arrested Feb. 1 for their involvement in a protest at an injection well near Torch, Ohio, operated by the West Virginia firm of K&H Partners, LLC, were More (Smiles) Welch of Athens; Sean Pavlac of Cleveland; Caprice Huffman of Sunbury, Ohio; Gilbert (Kip) Rondy of Amesville; Michelle Ajamian of Millfield; Christine Hughes of Athens; Timothy Fultz of Athens; and Elizabeth Florentino of Athens.

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Climate Change, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Energy, Fracking, Pollution, Waste, Water

BP confirms tar sands spill into Lake Michigan from Whiting refinery

By Michael Hawthorne, March 25, 2014. Source: Chicago Tribune

Photo: E. Jason Wambsgans, Chicago Tribune

Photo: E. Jason Wambsgans, Chicago Tribune

Less than a year after BP started up a new unit to process Canadian tar sands at its Whiting refinery, the company reported today that a malfunction allowed a slug of crude oil into Lake Michigan a few miles away from the Chicago city limits.

It remains unclear how much oil spilled into the lake or how long the discharge continued. Workers at the refinery reported an oil sheen on the water about 4:30 p.m. Monday, and an official from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said the leak was plugged by the time he arrived at 9 p.m.

Mike Beslow, the EPA’s emergency response coordinator, said there appeared to be no negative effects on Lake Michigan, the source of drinking water for 7 million people in Chicago and the suburbs. The 68th Street water intake crib is about eight miles northwest of the spill site, but there were no signs of oil drifting in that direction.

Initial reports suggest that strong winds pushed most of the oil toward a sandy cove on BP’s property between the refinery and an Arcelor Mittal steel mill. A flyover Tuesday afternoon revealed no visible oil beyond booms laid on the water to prevent the oil from spreading, Beslow said.

“There is no known impact to wildlife or human health at this time,” Beslow said.

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Filed under Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Oil, Pollution, Tar Sands

Oils spill cleanup impedes major Texas ship channel

March 24, 2014. Source: Associated Press

A barge loaded with heavy oil was partially submerged Saturday, March 22, 2014, in the Houston Ship Channel in Texas after colliding with another ship.  Photo: US News and World Report

A barge loaded with heavy oil was partially submerged Saturday, March 22, 2014, in the Houston Ship Channel in Texas after colliding with another ship. Photo: US News and World Report

TEXAS CITY, Texas (AP) — A barge that once carried some 900,000 gallons of heavy tar-like oil was cleared of its remaining contents Sunday, a day after the vessel collided with a ship in the busy Houston Ship Channel and leaked about a fifth of its cargo into the waterway.

Coast Guard officials said that up to 168,000 gallons were dumped after one of the barge’s tanks ruptured and that oil had been detected 12 miles offshore in the Gulf of Mexico as of Sunday afternoon.

“This is a significant spill,” Capt. Brian Penoyer, commander of the Coast Guard at Houston-Galveston, said.

But he said the emptying of the barge Sunday, a process known as lightering as contents are transferred to other vessels, was an important step as it had eliminated the risk of additional oil spilling.

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Filed under Energy, Oil, Pollution, Water

Exxon Valdez: What lessons have we learned from the 1989 oil spill disaster?

By Martin Robards, March 24, 2014. Source: The Guardian

Staining the vista of the Chugach Mountains, the Exxon Valdez lies atop Bligh Reef two days after the grounding on 25 March 1989. Photograph: Natalie B Fobes/NG/Getty Images

Staining the vista of the Chugach Mountains, the Exxon Valdez lies atop Bligh Reef two days after the grounding on 25 March 1989. Photograph: Natalie B Fobes/NG/Getty Images

Even after the recent Deepwater Horizon incident in the Gulf of Mexico— a much larger accident in terms of the amount of oil released — the spectre of Exxon Valdez remains fresh in the minds of many Americans old enough to remember the wall-to-wall media coverage of crude-smothered rocks, birds, and marine mammals.

In the quarter century since the Exxon Valdez foundered, changing economic and climatic conditions have led to increased Arctic shipping, including increasing volumes of petroleum products through the Arctic. Sadly, apart from a few areas around oil fields, there is little to no capacity to respond to an accident – leaving the region’s coastal indigenous communities and iconic wildlife at risk of a catastrophe.

Local Alaskans and conservationists like myself – who witnessed the Exxon Valdez impact at close range – will never forget the damage. The wake of oil spread far from Bligh Reef, devastating life in Prince William Sound, killing over a quarter of a million seabirds at the large colonies in neighbouring Cook Inlet, before moving along the coast of Kodiak and to a point on the Alaska Peninsula 460 miles to the south. Continue reading

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Filed under Biodiversity, Energy, Oceans, Oil, Pollution, Water

Mass scallop die off a ‘red flag’ for the world’s oceans, and climate change is to blame

By Jacob Chamberlain, March 17, 2014. Source: Common Dreams

Photo: Flickr / thumeco / Creative Commons License

Photo: Flickr / thumeco / Creative Commons License

An increase of acidity in the Pacific Ocean is quickly killing off one of the world’s most beloved shellfish, the scallop, according to a report by the British Columbia Shellfish Grower’s Association.

“By June of 2013, we lost almost 95 per cent of our crops,” Rob Saunders, CEO of Island Scallops in B.C. told Canada’s CTV News.

The cause of this increase in acidity, scientists say, is the exponential burning of fossil fuels for energy and its subsequent pollution. Oceans naturally absorb carbon dioxide, a byproduct of fossil fuel emissions, which causes acidity to rise.

An overdose of carbon in the atmosphere subsequently causes too much acidity in the world’s oceans, Chris Harley, a marine ecologist from the University of British Columbia, told CTV News. Overly acidic water is bad for shellfish, as it impairs them from developing rigid shells. Oyster hatcheries along the West Coast are also experiencing a steep decline,CTV News reports.

“This is a bit of a red flag,” said Harley.

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Filed under Biodiversity, Climate Change, Oceans, Pollution

Study: Nuclear reactors are toxic to surrounding areas, especially with age

By Candice Bernd, March 11, 2014. Source: TruthOut

Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant, Units 1 and 2. (Photo: Nuclear Regulatory Commission / Flickr)

Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant, Units 1 and 2. (Photo: Nuclear Regulatory Commission / Flickr)

Is the baby tooth under your child’s pillow radioactive? It could be if you live relatively close to a nuclear power plant that has been operating normally and in accordance with federal regulations, according to a new study.

The study, released last week by the Santa Barbara-based think tank World Business Academy for its Safe Energy Project, found that public health indicators such as infant mortality rates and cancer incidence in surrounding areas rose dramatically after Pacific Gas and Electric’s (PG&E) two nuclear reactors at the Diablo Canyon power plant began operations in 1984 and 1985.

“This should be a concern for any nuclear reactor and its health risks, whether it’s been operating for a day or 30 or 40 years because these reactors create over 100 cancer-causing chemicals; much of it is stored as waste at the plant, but a portion of it is released into the environment and gets into human bodies through the food chain,” said Joseph Mangano, who authored the study. He is the executive director of the nonprofit Radiation and Public Health Project (RPHP). Continue reading

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Filed under Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Energy, Nuclear power, Pollution, Water

Bonfire of insanity: UK’s Drax power station sourcing wood from 3,800 miles away

Note: The biomass rush risks having an even greater impact on our climate and native forests if companies like ArborGen are able to realize their plans of converting vast areas of our southern forests into monoculture tree plantations of genetically engineered (GE) eucalyptus and other species.

Take a stand by calling for a ban on GE trees now!  http://globaljusticeecology.org/petition.php

-The GJEP Team

By David Rose, March 15, 2014. Source: The Daily Mail

Photo: The Daily Mail

Photo: The Daily Mail

On a perfect spring day in the coastal forest of North Carolina I hike along a nature trail – a thread of dry gravel between the pools of the Roanoke river backwaters. A glistening otter dives for lunch just a few feet away.

Majestic trees soar straight and tall, their roots sunk deep in the swampland: maples, sweetgums and several kinds of oak. A pileated woodpecker – the world’s largest species, with a wingspan of almost 2ft – whistles as it flutters across the canopy. There the leaves are starting to bud, 100ft above the ground.

The trees seem to stretch to the horizon: a serene and timeless landscape.

But North Carolina’s ‘bottomland’ forest is being cut down in swathes, and much of it pulped and turned into wood pellets – so Britain can keep its lights on.

The UK is committed by law to a radical shift to renewable energy. By 2020, the proportion of Britain’s electricity generated from ‘renewable’ sources is supposed to almost triple to 30 per cent, with more than a third of that from what is called ‘biomass’.

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Filed under Biodiversity, Bioenergy / Agrofuels, Climate Change, Corporate Globalization, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Energy, False Solutions to Climate Change, Forests, Green Economy, Pollution, The Greed Economy and the Future of Forests