Archive for the ‘Environment’ Category

Today I taped an upcoming TV debate criticizing the House Republican vote to defund the Environmental Protection Agency’s efforts to regulate greenhouse gas emissions as ordered by the US Supreme Court. My opponent in the debate, Fred Smith, argued that Obama’s EPA was a “rogue” agency hell-bent on killing jobs and harming small businesses. I reminded Mr. Smith that Obama’s EPA ordered that small businesses be exempt from the proposed greenhouse gas emission rules, as only large entities emitting at least 25,000 tons of CO2 per year would be subject to the regulations. Now, it is unclear whether the EPA can legally exclude such small emitters from the rules, as the Clean Air Act doesn’t expressly allow for it. But instead of working with the Administration on clarifying the law to ensure that we have a science-based approach to addressing climate change that goes after major corporate polluters while holding small businesses harmless, but instead they are pursuing a cynical strategy to demonize public health protections and question the science. This is particularly appauling given the high-profile flip-flop of Rep. Fred Upton, who in the recent past acknowledged the science behind climate change and supported legislative efforts to address it – but now leads the effort to attack the science and demonize efforts to protect public health. Shame, Mr. Upton, Shame.

Tyson Slocum Directs Public Citizen’s Energy Program

Yesterday Public Citizen and the Natural Resources Defense Council filed a lawsuit under the Freedom of Information Act against the Federal Maritime Commission. The dispute dates back to last October, when NRDC tried to get records about the Commission’s unusual decision to investigate and seek termination of portions of programs at two California ports that aimed to reduce truck emissions, called the Clean Trucks Programs. Why the Commission—usually concerned with regulating shipping—took such a keen interest in a program regulating trucks, is a topic of much speculation, and you can read more about NRDC’s efforts to fight for the Clean Trucks Programs here.

However, not only the environment is at stake in this case, so are our government transparency laws. Under FOIA, requesters are supposed to be granted a waiver of all the fees associated with searching for and copying the requested records if the disclosure will further the public’s understanding of the operations of government and is not in the commercial interest of the requester. The Commission denied NRDC a public interest fee waiver, even though NRDC extensively documented how it intended to use the information to inform the public about the Commission’s investigation of the programs.

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The climate change legislation that will be debated this week is a huge disappointment. Not only will it prove a boon to energy industries, but it won’t protect consumers and may very well not even curb global warming. The first draft, penned months ago, was on track to accomplish these goals, and we applauded it as a great start. Since then, however, lawmakers have met in secret with representatives of the coal and oil industries and facilitated industry efforts to gut the bill.

The Obama administration got it right when officials released a budget that would auction 100 percent of pollution allowances. As long as pollution allowances are auctioned, the government will have the revenue necessary to mitigate energy price increases through rebates while having money to invest in the sustainable energy infrastructure we need to end our reliance on fossil fuels.

This was further reinforced by President Obama’s selection for the new chair of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Jon Wellinghoff, who said that “we may not need any” new nuclear or coal power plants because we have yet to harness the capacity of renewables and energy efficiency.

But the House of Representatives has not followed the administration’s lead.

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Our friends at Public Citizen’s Texas office have been mighty pushing the public and Texas legislature to make the Lone Star State a leader among solar states. They’ve launched an ad campaign along with Environmental Defense Fund and Environment Texas to make their case.

Check it out:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ynmERFZzHLg]

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