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March 2018

THE NO-SENSE AND THICK-AS-A-BRICK ACTS SUPPORTED BY SMUCKER

On March 8 the House voted 215-189 on HR 1119, the SENSE act, to provide power plants that burn coal refuse from abandoned mines with relief from federal air-quality standards for pollutants including sulfur dioxide and hydrochloric acid. Voting yes: Meehan, Smucker.

On March 7 the House voted 234-180 on bill 1917, the BRICK Act, to delay public health protections limiting deadly toxic pollution – including mercury, arsenic, and chromium – from brick manufacturing facilities. Voting yes: Meehan, Smucker.

H.R. 1119, the SENSE Act, and H.R. 1917, the BRICK Act, are part of a multi-pronged effort by Republicans to undermine the commonsense safeguards found in the Clean Air Act in order to give special breaks to polluters at the expense of public health. Under these dirty air bills, Republicans make it easier for polluting corporations to contaminate the air in our neighborhoods, boosting profits for their allies, while selling out our children’s health and our future. From Democratic staff, Committee on Energy and Commerce

SENSE Act
Opposition letter to Congress from League of Conservation Voters: H.R. 1119, the SENSE Act, would permanently exempt waste coal burning power plants from meeting certain clean air standards, including limits on hydrogen chloride and sulfur dioxide, both of which can cause significant respiratory problems. The courts have already ruled on this matter and found that waste coal burning power plants are already meeting these air quality standards, and there is no evidence that allowing for higher levels of pollutants would do anything but expose our communities to dirtier air. The SENSE Act is a clear prioritization of the interests of the waste coal industry over the health of our children, families, and communities.

From NRDC opposition letter: The SENSE Act would pick winners and losers under EPA’s signature air pollution program, the Cross State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR), by favoring waste coal-burning power plants at the expense of other in-state coal power plants and the public. This would turn the neutral, performance-based legal standard maintained for 39 years under the Clean Air Act into blunt political favoritism and weaker standards, while replacing existing state decisions with new federal mandates.

The SENSE Act now heads to the Senate

Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), who advocated for the SENSE Act in 2016, has said on several occasions that waste coal plants were the “only viable option” for removing the “gob piles that blot Pennsylvania’s landscape.”

“Senator Toomey applauds the House passage of the SENSE Act and will continue, in addition to looking for opportunities for passage in the Senate, his work to encourage the EPA to address this issue through regulatory reform,” Kasia Mulligan, Toomey’s communication director, said prior to the vote.

The House passed a similar bill in 2016, which was referred to the Senate Committee on Environment and Public works, but it didn’t go further.

Letter to Senator Toomey

Your support of the Senate equivalent of H.R. 1119, the SENSE Act, is an attack on the commonsense safeguards that are part of the Clean Air Act.

Nationally, waste coal has an average of 60% of the BTU value of normal coals. It can take up to twice as much waste coal to produce the same amount of electricity.

Waste coal has a higher concentration of mercury than normal coals. In Pennsylvania, gob has 3.5 times more mercury than bituminous coal.

Bituminous waste coal has higher levels of sulfur

Burning waste coal doesn’t make the waste go away. If 100 tons of waste coal are burned, 85 tons will remain as waste coal ash.

Since far more mercury and other toxic contaminants enter a waste coal burner to produce a given amount of electricity, these high levels of toxic contaminants have to come out somewhere. Toxic metals cannot be destroyed by burning them. To the extent that they are captured in pollution controls (protecting the air), they are then concentrated in the highly toxic ash that ultimately threatens the groundwater wherever this ash is dumped. Waste coal burners have cleaner air emissions than antiquated coal plants due to their better pollution controls, but this only means that the ash is far more toxic, since the highly toxic particulates captured in pollution control equipment end up in the ash. The industry claims that 99.8% of the mercury in the fuel is captured and ends up in their ash.

Waste coal ash is dumped in communities not far from the waste coal burners, threatening the groundwater with leaching lead, mercury and other poisons. When burning any solid fuel, the resulting ash has a higher surface area than the raw, unburned material. The dangers of toxic leaching from ash can be expected to be greater than from the unburned waste coal. Just like with coffee, running water over coffee grounds leaches far more coffee out than if you ran water over whole coffee beans.

Read the complete article from energyjustice.net containing the above information here.

We should be incentivizing clean energy like wind and solar, not the dirtiest types of coal plants. Clean solutions for coal refuse disposal is a cost that belongs to the coal companies, and repurposing waste to create more toxic waste is a horrific act that transparently demonstrates your own indebtedness to a dying and monstrously polluting industry.

February

Lloyd Smucker vs. Jess King … there is no comparison
Lloyd Smucker’s anti-environment record … his votes have been in lock-step with the Trump/Pruitt/Koch-brother funded agenda … will not make America great again. These actions pave the way back to a 1960s America, when rivers and streams stank with pollution and city air was heavier and harder to breathe.

Last July, Lloyd Smucker voted to cut local governments and other agencies out of decision making on new pipelines, giving total authority to FERC and making it easier to build pipelines.

11th Congressional District (16th District prior to redistricting this month) candidate Jess King wants to overhaul FERC, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, to enable it to work on behalf of citizens, not corporations.

Jess King stands in opposition to the Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline. She actually did stand with the citizens of Lancaster County at the largest civil action against the pipeline last October.

Last September Lloyd Smucker voted to limit the EPA’s ability to regulate methane emissions.

Last February Lloyd Smucker voted to eliminate methane release oversight on 100,000 wells on public lands.

Last March Lloyd Smucker voted for the SCRUB act … a piece of legislation designed to only consider the economic benefits of fossil fuel development while literally SCRUBBING any considerations of environmental safeguards.

Jess King is prepared to act on behalf of people caught in environmental sacrifice zones. Like the thousands who now cannot drink their own well water in this state’s expanding fracking sacrifice zones.

Jess King will fight for a just transition to renewable energy.

Lloyd Smucker voted to allow mining in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge and along rivers and lakes flowing into the boundary waters of Lake Superior.

Jess King wants to end massive tax dollar giveaways to fossil fuel corporations.

Last November Lloyd Smucker voted for a House tax plan that eliminated funding for solar, wind, and electric vehicles while retaining giveaways to dirty energy.

The environment is a non-partisan issue. The Clean Air and Clean Water Acts under attack by this administration were expanded and improved upon under Richard Nixon.

We can no long co-exist with politicians like Lloyd Smucker, who refuse to address the impacts of human-caused climate change and don’t believe in public protections against profit-driven corporations

PA District 16 U.S. Rep. incumbent Smucker is in lockstep with Trump, mindlessly aligned with the Republican caucus.
U.S. Representative Lloyd Smucker’s anti-environmental vote record for Session 1 of the 115th Congress is an aggressive attack on our prospects for a livable planet, see below.
See this link for additional information on these votes.
Candidate Jess King has included concern for the planet and positive actions into her campaign platform.
Candidate Christine Hartman has no information on her campaign website addressing the environment or climate change. (okay, corporate-speak about farmland is there … but Hartman doesn’t get it: times up for traditional economic growth.)

1, 22. Your U.S. Rep. Lloyd Smucker voted to open up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and to continue massive incentives for fossil fuel production.

2. Your U.S. Rep. Lloyd Smucker voted to allow mining in national forest land along rivers and lakes that flow into the Boundary Waters of Minnesota.

3. Your U.S. Rep. Lloyd Smucker voted to eliminate important incentives for solar wind and electric vehicles.

4. Your U.S. Rep. Lloyd Smucker voted to allow companies to bypass the environmental review process for timber and logging projects.

7. Your U.S. Rep. Lloyd Smucker voted to slash funding for the EPA by $528 million and cut funding for land acquisitions by 70%.

8. Your U.S. Rep. Lloyd Smucker voted to prohibit funding to analyze the social cost of carbon.

9. Your U.S. Rep. Lloyd Smucker voted to limit the EPA’s ability to curb methane emissions.

10. Your U.S. Rep. Lloyd Smucker voted to eliminate funding for the EPA’s criminal enforcement division.

11. Your U.S. Rep. Lloyd Smucker voted to stop the National Parks Service from protecting animals in the Alaska National Preserves.

12. Your U.S. Rep. Lloyd Smucker voted to reduce EPA enforcement of the Chesapeake Bay Cleanup Program.

13. Your U.S. Rep. Lloyd Smucker voted on Department of Defense appropriations that included outrageous environmental riders, including weakening the Clean Water Rule to jeopardize the clean drinking water of one in three people without providing an opportunity for public comment or court challenge.

14. Your U.S. Rep. Lloyd Smucker voted to allow a road to be developed in the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge and Wilderness, setting the stage for similar actions to be taken around the country.

15. Your U.S. Rep. Lloyd Smucker voted to make it easier for gas pipelines to be built.

16. Your U.S. Rep. Lloyd Smucker voted to delay ozone standards.

17. Your U.S. Rep. Lloyd Smucker voted to exempt pesticide spraying into waterways from Clean Water Act permitting.

18. Your U.S. Rep. Lloyd Smucker voted to weaken the EPA Science Advisory Board.

19. Your U.S. Rep. Lloyd Smucker voted to expose confidential EPA health data.

20. Your U.S. Rep. Lloyd Smucker voted to reduce the independence of Federal agencies.

21. Your U.S. Rep. Lloyd Smucker voted to ignore the public benefits of environmental safeguards while considering only the economic costs to industries.

23. Your U.S. Rep. Lloyd Smucker voted to deregulate methane from 100,000 drilling wells on public lands.

24. Your U.S. Rep. Lloyd Smucker voted to overturn the Stream Protection Rule that prevented cancer-causing toxic mining run-off from flowing into mountain streams.

26. Your U.S. Rep. Lloyd Smucker voted to make it easier for Congress to give away public lands.

PA Senate Committee Republicans want all state forests fracked

Issue: A resolution, SR104, endorsed by 8 (R) to 3(D) members of the Senate Energy Committee calls for the end of a 3-yr. moratorium on drilling under state forest land. This would allow for horizontal drilling from wells located outside of the state forests. Call/email State Representative Scott Martin (Lancaster) to let him know his yes vote for the termination of this moratorium as a member of the Senate Energy Committee is insupportable.

Email: Senator Martin, In defiance of DCNR expertise and the State Supreme Court the Republicans on your committee have once again placed extractive industry greed ahead of all else in their vote in favor of SR104 calling an end to the 3-yr. moratorium on state forest land drilling.
You were not elected to serve extractive industries, but to serve the citizens you represent, whose stake as beneficiaries of PA state forests is of much greater significance than profits derived from fracking.
The State Constitution Article 1, Section 27 specifically grants all citizens the “right to clean air, pure water, and to the preservation” of the environment.
The DCNR is on record as stating that “both past and present DCNR officials testified that they did not recommend leasing additional public lands for drilling.” And last year the State Supreme Court ruled that royalties from state forests are not to be spent on general budget issues.
Apparently, the 40 percent of state forest that is now available for fracking doesn’t satsify. Despite the fact that fracking has devastating environmental impacts. All wells leak methane – a greenhouse gas with 86 to 102 percent greater impact than CO2 over the next 10-20 years. Fracking chemicals poison water tables and groundwater. The environmental impact of more fracking in state forests cannot be overstated. I urge to you refrain from following your fellow Republicans over a cliff and do independent research regarding the health impacts of fracking on your constituency before casting more outrageous votes.
Sources:
http://www.post-gazette.com/powersource/policy-powersource/2015/01/07/Court-Pennsylvania-DCNR-not-governor-has-authority-to-OK-natural-gas-leases-on-state-lands/stories/201501070160

https://www.thenation.com/article/global-warming-terrifying-new-chemistry/

Background:
More than 40 percent of state forest acreage over shale extraction areas is now available for natural gas development through existing leases or privately-owned extraction rights.

http://www.post-gazette.com/powersource/policy-powersource/2018/01/30/Pennsylvania-senators-urge-more-Marcellus-Shale-gas-leasing-in-state-forests/stories/201801300103

This resolution was sponsored by Camera Bartolotta, District 46. Bartolotta shares with Lancaster County’s Ryan Aument and only three others in the State Senate the distinction of zero scores on pro-environment votes for the 2015-2016 term: specifically they voted against regulations to protect the environment and public health from oil and gas operations, despite years of developing new laws with strong public input (SB279); voted no to confirmation of DEP Secretary John Quigley; voted to delay implementation of the state’s Clean Power Plan (SB1195).

Fractracker Alliance details many issues related to continued fracking in Pennsylvania in their report A Hazy Future: Pennsylvania’s Energy Landscape in 2045, published January 10, 2018, including: the average unconventional well required 11.4 million gallons of water in 2017, and 7,857 tons of sand. Longer laterals require more water and sand; a lateral portion of a well in Washington County extended 2.8 miles. Heavy equipment, pipes, chemicals must be trucked to the sites; waste products must be hauled offsite. A 2012 estimate reported 6,790 truck trips for each well. As more sites contain multi-well pads, these numbers are multiplied and extended as each well is developed sequentially. Pennsylvania had 3,733 unconventional well pads as of Nov. 28, 2017, resulting in impacts on 104,500 acres of land.

Article 1, Section 27 is Pennsylvania’s environmental rights amendment, which grants all citizens the “right to clean air, pure water, and to the preservation” of the environment.
Historically, these rights have rarely been enforced in the court of law, but the amendment was recently strengthened by a Pennsylvania Supreme court decision in June, which found that all Commonwealth agencies, statewide and local, have a duty to protect the public and its natural resources with prudence, loyalty and impartiality.

http://publicherald.org/pennsylvania-attorney-general-launches-fracking-probe-residents-call-help/

Since 2004, at least 4,108 people have reported changes to their drinking water in Pennsylvania alone due to oil and gas development during the fracking boom. Hundreds of families are now gagged by a decade of nondisclosure agreements after they were forced to settle with companies over water contamination that the state would not see remedied. Countless families report illnesses or have had to abandon their homes due to fracking development.

http://www.pennlive.com/opinion/2018/01/helmans_promotion_of_natural_g.html#incart_river_index

https://pennsylvaniaallianceforcleanwaterandair.wordpress.com/the-list-pennsylvania/

His first year in office, Pennsylvania Representative Christopher Rabb (D-Philadelphia) worked on a bill that would require all oil and gas companies to annually disclose the number of non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) they have with residents who claim the company polluted their drinking water.

http://publicherald.org/screwed-glued-trading-freedom-for-clean-water-when-regulators-walk-away/

LTE

President Trump’s imposition of tariffs on imported solar panels is hard to reconcile with current energy trends, which indicate a booming market in renewable energy. The National Geographic 2017 film From the Ashes cited 425,000 jobs in that sector, far more than in coal, Trump’s favorite fuel. His act seems inexplicable unless he’s still campaigning rather than governing; the coal states of West Virginia, Kentucky, Wyoming, and Ohio helped send Trump to the White House and he probably thinks they’ll do it again. His self-centered loyalties demonstrate a willful indifference to coal as the leading source of carbon emissions and air and water pollutants. As a West Virginia native my experience of coal as an economic force and environmental disaster is vivid. I remember climbing to the top of the mountainous pile of coal in the basement “bin,” and experiencing its ability to blacken everything it touched, including me. I remember my railroader-worker grandfather’s slow death in our house from lung disease. From the Ashesreports that between four and 17 tons of coal dust blow into the environment during an average train trip. According to the American Lung Association coal plant particulates kill about 7,500 Americans every year.

Politico notes that fewer than 1/3 of Americans support Trump’s approach to environmental policy. Congress could counteract regressive Federal Administration policies by legislating a carbon tax on fossil fuels. The version of this tax plan supported by Citizen’s Climate Lobby is revenue neutral – 100% of the net revenue will be returned directly to households. CCL’s carbon fee and dividend plan will reduce greenhouse gas emissions 52% below 1990 levels within 20 years while growing the economy and saving lives. We need to pressure Congress to reject Trump’s black future for this country by voting in a tax on carbon.

http://channel.nationalgeographic.com/from-the-ashes/

https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/10/15/trumps-love-affair-with-coal-215710

Trump’s latest profiteer/plunderer cheerleader – Kathleen Hartnett-White chosen to lead the Whitehouse Council on Environmental Quality.

Issue: Hartnett-White was re-nominated by Trump last week to lead the CEQ. The full senate could be voting on the Hartnett-White nomination in the next several weeks. Harnett-White is an oil industry tool who is capable of denying science in weirdly creative ways. Email Toomey and Casey to vote NO on Hartnett-White’s nomination to lead the Whitehouse Council on Environmental Quality.

Email:  As head of the Council on Environmental Quality, Hartnett White would be in charge of coordinating interagency science, climate, and environmental policy and would oversee things such as the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) review process and agency compliance with that law.
Do not vote to confirm Kathleen Hartnett White, the reasons are listed below and speak for themselves. A vote for Kathleen Hartnett White would be an act of bad faith in science and a refutation of our current undeniable climate crisis in order to serve your fossil fuel donors.
– KHW has an educational background in religious studies and believes, via the Texas Public Policy Foundation Fueling Freedom Project that there is a “forgotten moral case for fossil fuel.”
– She seeks, through the Fueling Freedom project, to end the regulation of CO2 as a pollutant.
– She believes, as a member of the CO2 Coalition, that increased CO2 is beneficial for life on Earth.
– She argues against a shift to renewable energy in her book Fueling Freedom.
– As leader of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, she voted to construct a new coal plant near Dallas despite opposition from mayors and officials in 24 cities and counties.
– When the coal plant’s pollution controls were found to be insufficient, Harnett White argued that the plant owner was “under no obligation to prove its pollution controls would work.”
– Under her direction of the TCEQ, limits on radiation levels in drinking water were lowered, in defiance of EPA rules.
– Writing in The Hill, Hartnett White said: “Renewables are a false hope that simply won’t work.” and “[I]ntermittent renewables are parasitic on back-up power from reliable fossil fuels” 
– She later describes climate change policies as a “civilizational threat,” and claims that “All the climate policies to date are futile.” “President Obama and his lieutenants repeatedly said that the greatest global civilizational threat is the threat of man-made global warming, in his views caused by fossil fuels” she said.
“I submit that climate policies, not fossil fuels nor CO2 is actually a civilizational threat. That’s what the book [Fueling Freedom] has kind of been about.”

Information above is from https://www.desmogblog.com/kathleen-hartnett-white

Background: Hartnett-White directs the Armstrong Center for Energy & Environment at the Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF). TPPF is part of the State Policy Network, a network of conservative think tanks across the country largely funded by Koch-backed dark money groups DonorsTrust and Donors Capital Fund. TPPF has received over $3.7 million from Donors Capital Fund and DonorsTrust, as well as almost $900,000 from the Koch-backed Claude R. Lambe and Charles G. Koch foundations and $100,000 from ExxonMobil.

This woman makes it up as she goes. Hartnett-White told POLITICO in an interview that rather than listen to the conclusions of the world’s foremost climate science experts as summarized in the IPCC reports, she favors a commission that would develop an “alternative scientific methodology” and would include the voices of the less than 3% of climate scientists who reject the consensus on human-caused global warming.

Hartnett-White touted the supposed “environmental benefits” of fossil fuels — and carbon pollution — in a 2015 column for conservative website Townhall.com: “No matter how many times, the President, EPA and the media rant about “dirty carbon pollution,” there is no pollution about carbon itself! As a dictionary will tell you, carbon is the chemical basis of all life. Our flesh, blood and bones are built of carbon. Carbon dioxide (CO2) is the gas of life on this planet, an essential nutrient for plant growth on which human life depends. How craftily our government has masked these fundamental realities and the environmental benefits of fossil fuels!”

Additionally, Rolling Stone reported that a state auditor report found Hartnett-White consistently failed to hold polluters accountable for breaking the law when she chaired the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality:

Luke Metzger, director of the non-profit Environment Texas, has spent years going head-to-head with the Texas Environmental Quality Commission. As chair, Hartnett-White “embodied the philosophy at the agency, which was to put the interests of big polluters ahead of public health and the environment,” Metzger tells Rolling Stone.

He cites a 2003 state auditor report finding that TEQC under Hartnett-White consistently failed to hold violators accountable for breaking its laws, applied fines that amounted to only about 40 percent of the profits the companies made breaking the law, and introduced policies that weakened its own regulations.

Background information above from: https://www.mediamatters.org/research/2016/10/12/media-guide-fossil-fuel-industry-players-setting-trump-s-energy-agenda/213618#hartnettwhite

Drilling more wells, this time in the oceans

Issue:  Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke announced on January 5, 2018, that 90% of the country’s coastal waters are now being considered for oil & gas drilling. The move reverses an Obama-era ban on drilling in U.S. coastal waters, as well as bans on offshore drilling in California and the Atlantic that go back decades. Submit your comment on this issue here.

Background text from the Sierra Club: In 2016, over 3.3 million people submitted public comments opposing the 2017-2022 OCS Oil and Gas Leasing Program, and thousands of people attended public meetings to show their support for protecting our oceans, coasts, and climate. The draft proposal for 2019 to 2024 completely ignores what the public overwhelmingly supports — no offshore drilling. This decision also ignores permanent protections that exist for the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans.

The previous administration did not propose drilling in the Pacific Ocean due to the steadfast opposition of western coastal states. Proposals for drilling in the Atlantic and the Arctic oceans were also dropped due to overwhelming opposition. This is true even in Republican-led states, like North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida, where 90% of coastal cities passed resolutions against offshore drilling and/or seismic testing. Similarly, Shell gave up its plans to pursue oil in the Arctic because of the strong public opposition, extreme costs, risks, and difficulty of doing so.

The huge red-alarm elephant in the room on all media reporting regarding 45’s administrative attempts to give it all up to their BFFs (big fossil fuel) is that new drilling is going to ruin any good future for humans on earth, see text below:

Notes based on 2016 article by Bill McKibben:

Late 2016 math* on how much CO2 is currently available from coal, oil, and gas wells currently in operation: 942 gigatons.
There is a broad scientific consensus** that only 800 gigatons of CO2 can be released into the atmosphere to have a 2/3rd chance of staying below a 2 deg. Celsius increase in global temperature.

942 billion tons of CO2 in operating wells > 800 billion ton limit to keep below 2.0 deg. increase

COP 21 (the United Nations Climate Change Conference) aimed to “strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change by keeping global temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit it to 1.5 degrees Celsius.”
Bill McKibben’s late 2016 article used 353 gigatons as the then-current CO2 budget necessary to stay within a 1.5 degree Celsius limit.**

942 billion tons of Co2 in operating wells > 353 billion ton limit to keep below 1.5 deg. increase

McKibben: “In the United States alone, the existing mines and oil wells and gas fields contain 86 billion tons of carbon emissions—enough to take us 25 percent of the way to a 1.5 degree rise in global temperature.”
|These numbers have shifted since late 2016, but the dynamic between fossil fuels in operating wells and allowable carbon budget has not shifted.

*Based on a report by Oil Change International, a Washington-based think tank, using data from the Norwegian energy consultants Rystad.

** IPCC, Global Carbon Project

Current Status: From EENews: Opponents include the governors of New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, California, Oregon and Washington; more than 150 coastal municipalities; and an alliance of more than 41,000 businesses and 500,000 fishing families.
It will take at least a year before any final decisions about leasing areas are finalized, the agency said. It noted that areas can be removed from the five-year plan, but not added. The release of the draft on Jan. 5 kicks off a 60-day public comment period. BOEM has scheduled 23 public meetings to gather in-person comment and will have to conduct a full environmental assessment.

Script: 

The people who President Trump has chosen to surround himself with – Secretary of the Interior Zinke, Secretary of State Tillerson, EPA chief Pruitt, fracking billionaire Harold Hamm, Peabody Energy chief Gregory Boyce, etc., etc., promote themselves as great wealth creators. But the energy policies pushed by these administration industry insiders and industry moguls are crimes. These individuals and their co-conspirators are guilty of reckless profiteering as well as plundering. There is no safe oil-exploration path for the fossil fuel industries promoted by this administration to follow.

The American people successfully defeated the attempts of the last administration to plunder coastal waters. In 2015 Obama took steps to open up the Atlantic coastal waters to the oil industry. In 2015-2016, over 3.3 million people submitted public comments opposing the 2017-2022 OCS Oil and Gas Leasing Program, and thousands of people attended public meetings to show their support for protecting our oceans, coasts, and climate. The Atlantic magazine reported that one Pawleys Island, SC, resident, Peg Howell, helped to sound the alarm. A former manager of the daily operation of an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico, Howell knows that “pollution and harming the ocean environment was part of the cost of extracting oil and gas.” She followed the Deepwater Horizon accident and saw how British Petroleum did not take immediate responsibility for the environmental devastation. She stated “the oil business forever changes the environment, it forever changes the nature of work, it forever changes how people actually live in a place.”

Citizens and environmentalists won the Atlantic coast battle in 2015. The Obama administration offered new leases only in the Gulf of Mexico and Alaskan coast.

Now, again, we must fight to keep coastal waters from transformation into fossil fuel sacrifice zones.

The scientific consensus is that no new wells can be drilled if global warming is to be kept under two degrees Celsius. Access to coastal drilling means new expensive exploration followed by local ecological devastation and long term climate disaster.

As Bill McKibben explains, as of 2016 we had 942 billion tons of CO2 in operating wells. There is broad consensus (IPCC) that approximately 800 billion tons of CO2, extracted and dispersed into the atmosphere, is the limit to keep below a 2.0 deg. Celsius increase in temperature.

And 2.0 deg. Celsius is too much.

In order to limit extreme climate disaster, the 2016 COP22 conference determined that a global average temperature of more than 1.5 degrees Celsius will have catastrophic consequences for much of the world’s population. McKibben explains that only 353 billion tons of CO2 can be released into the atmosphere to meet that limit.

The United States alone already has 86 billion tons worth of carbon emissions in its existing mines, oil wells, and gas fields.

Climate science math is hard to translate into everyday concerns. But its logic is irrefutable; allowing the willful blindness of fossil fuel corporations freedom to continue business as usual will destroy the world we know.

Resources:

https://www.carbonbrief.org/analysis-four-years-left-one-point-five-carbon-budget

https://www.sierraclub.org/sierra/america-no-oil-superpower

https://newrepublic.com/article/136987/recalculating-climate-math

https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2016/03/obama-halts-drilling-in-the-atlantic-ocean/473907/

http://priceofoil.org/

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/trump-opens-vast-waters-to-offshore-drilling/

 

 

November 2017 Action Lists

11.20.2017 STATE ACTION

Issue: Governor Wolf must act to support and ensure enforcement of new methane emission regulations first proposed in 2016 as part of the Pennsylvania Climate Change Action Plan.

Current Status: The DEP’s air quality general permits GP-5 and GP-5a, which impose methane best practice leak detection and repair on drill sites, have long passed an extended public comment period. Industry friendly legislators have fought these new regulations with SB175, which has been in committee for months, and by attempts to weaken methane regulations through budget riders, which have so far not been imposed.
From a recent LTE by Dr. Peterson, “About 1.5 MILLION Pennsylvanians live within a half-mile radius of oil and gas development. The health consequences of this are being increasingly documented. We know it can affect infant brain development, increase respiratory problems including asthma, and cardiovascular (heart and blood vessel disease), and contamination– not only of the air but drinking water also. Methane is also a leading cause of climate change being 86 times as powerful as carbon dioxide in its first 20 years after its release. Subsidies for this industry from our government do not help pay for the health and economic toil on each of us.”

Script: Governor Wolf, in 2016 you committed to take action with the DEP to reduce methane emissions. As 2017 comes to a close and PA is still being poisoned by massive cumulative methane leaks, at over 100,000 active oil and gas facilities across the state, your commitment has not been forgotten. Now is the time to put new rules in place to eliminate methane emissions.

Resources:

Shale Law in the Spotlight: DEP Addresses Oil and Gas Methane Emissions Reduction Strategy

Methane Emissions from Shale Industry Rise

11.20.2017 FEDERAL

Issue: Michael Dourson, an industry-friendly toxicologist nominated to lead the EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention

Current Status: Michael Dourson’s deep ties to the chemical industry have sparked widespread concern about his ability to lead the EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention, the nation’s top regulator of toxic chemicals. Senators Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Richard Burr (R-NC) have announced that they oppose his confirmation. One more Republican vote could remove him from consideration. Dourson would be in a position to make decisions affecting chlorpyrifos, just one of the pesticides he’s been paid to research, which can cause memory, intelligence, attention, and motor problems in children. Based on numerous studies that found that very low doses of the pesticide can harm children’s brains, the EPA proposed banning chlorpyrifos in 2016. In research paid for by Dow, the manufacturer of chlorpyrifos, Dourson came up with a safety threshold that was some 5,000 times less protective than what the EPA recommended for children between the ages of one and two.

Script for Senator Toomey: MIchael Dourson, proposed lead of the EPA Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention, has repeatedly issued standards on behalf of the chemical manufacturers that put public health at risk. Safety from noxious chemicals is a concern of all of us and Dourson is not our choice for this position. I urge you to vote no on Dourson’s nomination.

References:

The Hill

Public poll

The Intercept

 

11.30.2017 Lancaster’s Environment Action List

11.09.2017 Lancaster’s Environment Action List