Politics

Spotlight on Green News & Views: Despair in denierland; coral reefs rehab; Koch seeks redemption

CRITTERS AND THE GREAT OUTDOORS

6412093 writes—The Daily Bucket–Even a Boring Volcano can surprise you: “[T]here are 40-odd cinder cones of once-active volcanos clustered near the bucolic town of Boring, just east of Portland Oregon. These, and the related lava flows, are part of the Boring formation.

I live off this map to the left (west of Beaverton).

I am intensely interested in this Boring volcanic activity north of Beaverton in the upper left of this map, which is close to my house. A few weeks ago I found a warm groundwater seep in the Park near my house and it made me think. I approach problems by first assuming the most dramatic solutions and then working my way to the plainest explanation; sort of a reverse Oxxam’s Razor. An Oxxam’s Hammer, perhaps. Please bear with me although the topic is Boring. (Trigger warning. Not the last pun).”

funningforrest writes—The Daily Bucket: Forces of Nature; Tectonic, Atmospheric, Biotic. Part 1, Tectonic:On May 22, 1915, at about 4:00 p.m., Lassen Peak produced a violent explosive eruption that ejected rock and pumice and formed a larger and deeper crater at its summit. Within 30 minutes, volcanic ash and gas formed a column that reached altitudes of more than 30,000 feet (9,100 m) and could be seen from the city of Eureka, 150 miles (240 km) to the west. This column underwent a partial collapse, generating a pyroclastic flow composed of hot ash, pumice, rock, and gas that destroyed 3 square miles (7.8 km2) of land and spawned a lahar extending 15 miles (24 km) from the volcano and again reaching Hat Creek Valley. Smaller mudflows also formed on every side of the volcano, as well a layer of pumice and volcanic ash that reached as far as 25 miles (40 km) northeast; volcanic ash was detected up to 280 miles (450 km) east at the city of Elko, Nevada. Additionally, the lava flow on the volcano’s northeastern flank was removed by this eruption, but not the similar deposit on the western flank. […] Quincy, California, where I live, is less than fifty miles away from Mt. Lassen.  If it ever blows again during my lifetime I’ll probably know it as happens.  Although very unlikely to happen, what an experience that would be.  Over my lifetime I’ve visited Lassen Volcanic National Park many times.  It’s a wondrous place, sort of a mini-Yellowstone, and within a mere couple of hours driving time from here.  In 2009 I finally got the chance to hike to the peak of Mt. Lassen.]

funningforrest writes—The Daily Bucket: Forces of Nature; Tectonic, Atmospheric, Biotic. Part 2, Atmospheric: “’Oh oh, I’ve seen fire, and I’ve seen rain, I’ve seen sunny days I though would never end.’ ‘I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now.’ Well, you knew I was going to have to go there.  So I just got it out of the way right off the weather vane.  Thank you James Taylor, and thank you Joni Mitchell. The atmosphere. It’s like the Department of Motor Vehicles; sometimes you hate living with it but you just can’t live without it. In Part 1, Tectonic, I showed some of the ways in which the natural forces of volcanoes and the shifting of oceanic and land masses have, from not long after the formation of Earth right up to the present day, been both fundamental and essential to the evolution of life on Earth.  In today’s diary we will see how our atmosphere has likewise been a forceful driver in determining which life forms have arisen, evolved, survived, and gone extinct.  The focus will be on three facets of the atmosphere: wind, rain, and fire.”

BrownsBay writes—The Daily Bucket: The Sauk – A Wild and Scenic River: “The Sauk River flows from melting snow and ice off the flanks of one of the most isolated of the ice shrouded Cascade volcanoes – aptly named Glacier Peak.  From lowland van tage points, Glacier Peak barely stands above the surrounding peaks unlike the bold profiles of the other Cascade arc volcanoes.  Yet its eruptive history and the danger it poses to the lowlands ranks among the highest of any in the chain.  The calm and quiet of a forest walk along the banks of the Sauk ameliorate the danger.  The moss draped trees and lush forest floor muffle the sound of the nearby rushing river.  But the evidence of of a rushing lahar is here if you know what your eyes are seeing.” 

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Sauk River

OceanDiver writes—The Daily Bucket – who are these non-longtailed Longtailed ducks? “November 21, 2020. Salish Sea, Pacific Northwest. On our last excursion in the boat I was lucky enough to see four Long tailed ducks! They are uncommon in these waters. Strictly winter migrants. As deep divers they also tend to hang out farther from beaches than most of the other crustacean/mollusk-feeding diving ducks (like Buffleheads, Goldeneyes and Harlequin ducks). I’ve heard reports they flock but I never see more than a few at a time. All this means I rarely see them. It was quite exciting to catch sight of this little group, even at a distance. I don’t like to change course in the boat to approach closer, to avoid spooking birds into flight, so these pictures are the best I could do.” 

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The Lipsticked Pig writes—Dawn Chorus: A Party of Jays: “My favorite bird is the gray jay (I wrote my version of an ode to them here). But none of “my” gray jays moved with me a few years ago when I moved to a lower elevation in Colorado’s mountains.  At both homes, though, were Steller’s jays, and as the years have passed I have come to appreciate and enjoy the Lady and “Gentlemen Jays” with their iridescent blue suits in their gray-black evening cape and top hats.  The Stellar is found year-round in much of western Colorado, which is fairly mountainous. At my feeders their numbers slowly increased from one or two until they now number one to two dozen, daily and throughout the day. They are flighty (no pun intended) and skittish and raucous and sometimes a bit pompous looking, stuffing out their chest and shaking their crest. Stan Tekiela, in his Birds of Colorado Field Guide, notes that they are common residents between 6,000 and 8,000 feet elevation (though they lived with me above 10,000 feet as well), usually in conifer forest. He notes that blue jays usually live lower and gray jays higher, which is true – though I did have a blue jay move through one week this year, probably migrating. Tekiela writes that Steller’s are non-migrators.”

bumper monster writes—New species of Whale discovered off Baja! “There is still so much beauty and wonder left in our vast (but severely threatened) oceans.  But I would never have thought a species of whale could have evaded detection. Apparently it had: Ensenada, BCN, Mexico – Dec. 8, 2020 – Researchers working with Sea Shepherd Conservation Society believe that they have discovered a previously unknown species of whale off the western coast of Mexico. On the morning of November 17, scientists on board Sea Shepherd vessel Martin Sheen observed three beaked whales surfacing in nearby waters. The sightings occurred 100 miles north of Mexico’s San Benito Islands, a group of three remote islands located approximately 300 miles from the US border. […] The team set forth to identify a beaked whale species associated with an unidentified acoustic signal previously recorded in the area.”

Jeff Graham writes—The Daily Bucket: The Skagit – flowers in spring, birding in winter: “The Skagit Flats Wildlife Area. December 2, 2020. There are two major draws to the Skagit Valley in the Pacific Northwest. One draw for thousands of people is the fields of daffodils and tulips. Photos with abandon are taken of the many-colored flowers grown for bulbs or sold fresh – with Mt. Baker in the background. But this diary is of the other major draw – birds by the flock. Thousands of Trumpeter swans and Snow geese gather in avian rafts. When they take to the air, the sky is filled with, to me, a harmonious gabbling and sky full of movement. I will take you with me to discover what my wife and I saw at two sites in the Skagit Flats on a trip December 2. […] Before my wife (sidekick and spotter) and I even got to our first location, we stopped at a field with dozens of Trumpeter swans. Some were resting while others stood tall. Taking in the whole scene, we also saw three juvenile Bald eagles in one tree and two in another. A smaller hawk was in a distant tree.

CLIMATE CHAOS

ClimateDenierRoundup writes—‘Despair’ in Denierland: Are Micrometeors From Jupiter Causing Climate Change? No: “In 2020, RealClearEnergy claimed the mantle as the big new clearinghouse for professional, industry-funded climate denial, replacing the now-essentially-climate-unconcerned Daily Caller as the defacto home for Koch propaganda. But as the year (and technically, the decade!) come to a close, we’re going to take a look at how the other shining stars of the denial sky are faring. Spoiler alert: they’re not exactly thriving. Particularly not internationally, as a bunch of formerly somewhat relevant and/or climategate-y blogs have all but given up climate posting. The UK set is feeling particularly lost at the moment. Richard Drake, for example, has a blog at CliScep headlined simply ‘Despair.’ Though the context isn’t exactly clear, it seems things are not exactly exceeding its design expectations as a bustling hub for a variety of mostly England-based denier bloggers to pool their collective talents (and audience). Pete Ridley, one of the “occasional contributors and lurkers who is losing interest in Cliscep articles” laments in one comment they ‘are getting nowhere in our fight against [climate change] propaganda,’ and says they ‘appear to be fighting a losing battle’ in another.

ClimateDenierRoundup writes—WSJ Columnist Doesn’t Know What Climate Finance Could Do But Is Somehow Sure It’s Bad: “This week, the New York state pension system announced it would divest its $200 billion+ from fossil fuels, citing financial risk — rather than climate activism — as the primary motivating factor. When activists first undertook divestment campaigns, the fund’s managers were skeptical of moving their millions of public employees’ retirement funds. But after crunching the numbers, and watching the fossil fuel industry’s economic prospects dim, it became clear that continued investment in the industry is too risky.  Yet only days earlier, The Wall Street Journal, supposedly the leading institution of financial journalism, was telling readers just the opposite. Its opinion page published a column by Walter Russell Mead confessing ignorance, at best, regarding the consequences of incorporating climate change into financial risk assessments (as the Biden administration is apt to do).” 

PalmFrond writes—Simple math about Carbon Dioxide: “To effectively deal with climate change, policymakers, as well as the public at large, have to do three things: 1. Accept the science. 2. Understand the numbers in that science. 3. Understand the real world implications of those numbers and act on them. An article in Dagens Nyheter, a Swedish daily newspaper, includes this animated chart showing the various dates for CO2 reductions in order to have a two-thirds probability of avoiding a 1.5°C change, beyond which the models fall apart and things get very bad, very quickly. […] That is the year 2036 for net CO2 emissions to reach zero assuming a linear decrease. Worldwide.  Not 2050 as in the EU and Biden plans, or 2060 in the Chinese plans. We are past the point where more political can kicking is viable.  We are past the point for ‘more studies’. We are past the point for hoping for a magical CO2-sucking technology to appear. And every year we continue along our current path makes it worse.” 

Pakalolo writes—Canada shatters its warmest winter night time temperature on record: “Canada has never experienced such record warm nighttime temperatures before. The record high temperatures occurred in Canada’s maritime provinces, where temperatures should be much colder than they were this past week. ABC Columbia writes: Meteorological winter is different from astronomical winter and refers to December, January, and February. There are many reasons for this—one being that it’s easier to keep track of records by month. Just a few days ago, Canada experienced its warmest meteorological winter night on record. ‘We just witnessed the warmest winter night in Canadian history. Parts of Nova Scotia didn’t drop below 60 °F (15.5 °C) all night long. This is warmer than an average summer night!’”

Pakalolo writes—Antarctica’s Larsen C ice shelf is undergoing extensive melting from above; Marine life threatened: “The Independent writes on the intensification of melting on the Antarctic peninsula. Last year’s melt season was the highest in forty years of satellite records. Antarctica’s Larsen C Ice Shelf experienced its highest rate of melting since records began 40 years ago from 2019-2020, a new study has found. The unprecedented melt at Larsen C, which is Antarctica’s fourth-largest ice shelf, coincided with record-breaking summer temperatures at a weather station in the Antarctic Peninsula, the research says. The melting was primarily driven by a series of rare weather events that brought additional heat towards the ice shelf, causing it to melt from above, the study says.

Michael Brune writes—To Combat the Climate Crisis, We Need a Government-Wide Mobilization: “The climate crisis isn’t a single issue: It’s an everything issue. To solve it, we’ll have to change how we get around, how we grow food, how we heat and cool our homes, how we create electricity, and much else. We’ll need an economy-wide, and society-wide, transformation that will create millions of family-sustaining jobs in clean energy, energy efficiency, and more. To achieve that economy-wide transformation, we need every part of our government working toward it, as well as a powerful movement pushing officials to be even more ambitious and inclusive. Thankfully, many of President-Elect Biden’s first few cabinet picks show that he understands the necessity of a whole-government approach. Chief among them is John Kerry, who was named to the new post of special presidential envoy for climate. Kerry is a longtime climate champion who played a key role in negotiating the Paris Agreement in 2015. His cabinet-level position sits in the National Security Council, which isn’t  known for its focus on the climate crisis. But this foreign-policy role offers Kerry, and Antony Blinken, Biden’s climate-conscious pick for Secretary of State, the opportunity to mobilize the global community toward climate action.” 

Angmar writes—Greta Thunberg: ‘We are speeding in the wrong direction’ on climate crisis Angmar: “Greta Thunberg: ‘We are speeding in the wrong direction’ on climate crisis. Exclusive: Climate striker speaks before UN event marking five years since the Paris accord The world is speeding in the wrong direction in tackling the climate emergency, Greta Thunberg has said, before a UN event at which national leaders have been asked to increase their pledges for emissions cuts. Thunberg, whose solo school strike in 2018 has snowballed into a global youth movement, said there was a state of complete denial when it came to the immediate action needed, with leaders giving only distant promises and empty words. The fifth anniversary of the Paris climate accord is on Saturday and should have seen countries set out new plans to keep global heating below 2C and close to 1.5C. Current pledges would mean a catastrophic 3C rise in temperatures.

OCEANS, WATER, DROUGHT

Featheredsprite writes—Good news: Rehab for coral reefs: “Corals have multiple reproductive strategies. They can be male or female or both, and can reproduce either asexually or sexually. Asexual reproduction is important for increasing the size of the colony, and sexual reproduction increases genetic diversity and starts new colonies. In sexual reproduction, eggs are fertilized by sperm, usually from another colony, and develop into a free-swimming larva. Eggs and sperm are released in a spawning event and float up to the ocean surface. Biologists can interrupt the process at this point by capturing eggs, sperm, and larva. As the eggs are fertilized, they are placed on small tiles. The tiles (with their cargo) are kept in a nursery, fed and protected from predation, for about two years. The tiles and resident coral are then transported to the reef and glued into place. This method has been quite successful. The immigrant coral grow, reproduce, and spread. It might be necessary to do coral reef maintenance on a regular basis, during our lifetime at least. The good news is that we can make a difference.”

Pakalolo writes—US Appeals Court rejects Trump’s attempt to create a dead zone in the Beaufort Sea: “Donald Trump has been plotting to screw our climate and kill off the diversity of life for four years.  This isn’t hyperbole; he has devasted critical habitat and created scars over 400 miles long through National Parks, private and public lands along the US and Mexican borders with his racist wall. By changing the Endangered Species Act, he has assaulted the country’s biodiversity by changing the rules that define critical habitat. The list is endless, really, but yesterdays ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit shut down one of his more reckless assaults on wildlands that are critical to giving our biosphere a fighting chance to defy the odds and continue to pull carbon out of the atmosphere whether at the sea bottom or in tropical rainforest soil. Determined to drill in the Arctic Ocean, he fast-tracked the first offshore development in the Beaufort Sea in Alaska, risking the lives of all the marine species that evolved to thrive in the Arctic by seismic blasting and oil spills.”

Dan Bacher writes—MWD approves $59 million for Delta Tunnel planning despite massive opposition: “The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California Board of Directors voted to approve $59 million for funding Delta Tunnel planning on December 7, despite over three hours of testimony by Southern California water ratepayers, environmentalists and Tribal advocates against the funding. Out of the 80 people who spoke at the meeting, the overwhelming majority, 60, spoke against the tunnel. Only 20 people, including representatives of water districts, spoke on behalf of the the project. There were four options before the board: 1) pay for MWD’s portion & Kern County’s portion at $75 million; 2) pay for MWD’s portion at $59 million; 3) wait until the Integrated Resources Plan (IRP) is finished in April to vote, or option 4) stop the tunnel by not financing it. The board chose option 2, while opponents urged the board to vote for option 4 or to delay the decision.” 

Egberto Willies writes—The rich want to steal our abundant water and then sell it back to us, another economic fraud: “One of our Politics Done Right listeners sent an article that upset him. The CME Group is set to launch futures contracts tied to the spot price of water for the first time ever this week. The contracts will allow investors and farmers alike to bet on the future price of water. … It should upset everyone. Realize this; there is no water shortage. There is a false scarcity in potable form. Interestingly, the rich profit by polluting the drinkable fluid we need. They then make it a scarce resource they profit from as they sell it back to us. And that, that this precious fluid surrounds us. It is not difficult to understand what is going on. The problem is that we have defined the problem in a manner all can understand. That is our attempt with the video in this post from one of our recent programs.”

CANDIDATES, STATE AND DC ECO-RELATED POLITICS

Dan Bacher writes—Advocates Urge Gov. Newsom to Appoint Climate Justice Leaders to Vacant Positions: “On Sunday, December 6, President-elect Biden’s transition team announced that it had picked California Attorney General Xavier Becerra as Secretary of Health and Human Services, according to a press release from the Last Chance Alliance. ‘Should Becerra be confirmed by the Senate, Governor Newsom faces the opportunity to fill both his position and the seat in the US Senate left vacant by Vice President-elect Kamala Harris,’ the alliance stated. ‘While California has long paved the way for progressive national policy, Governor Newsom has fallen shamefully short of offering even basic health protections to the millions of Californians who live on the frontlines of fossil fuel extraction and production.’  Climate and Environmental Justice advocates, along with Last Chance Alliance, are urging Newsom to use this historic wave of new appointments to show his commitment to racial justice and the climate for both California and the nation. […] Local, state and federally elected officials like Representative Nanette Barragán and Los Angeles County Supervisor Holly Mitchell are already committed to protecting people from these reckless polluters. We urge you to immediately nominate climate justice leaders to the Senate and the role of state Attorney General, and any other open positions.”

Meteor Blades writes—Unlike their GOP foes, Warnock and Ossoff want to do something serious about the climate crisis: “If you check out the issues section of Georgia Republican Kelly Loeffler’s Senate campaign website, you’ll find the thinnest of statements on a variety of subjects ranging from immigration to trade. But not a word about the climate crisis. Republican Sen. David Perdue’s campaign website provides more detail about his views and actions on issues, but there, too, not a word about the climate crisis despite the impacts it’s already having on Georgia. Perhaps that’s because when Perdue does talk about climate, everybody gets to see scientific illiteracy in action. Meanwhile, both their foes in the Jan. 5 election runoff—Democrats Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff respectively—have put dealing with climate among their highest priorities. Which is a key reason the League of Conservation Voters and Climate Hawks have endorsed Warnock and Ossoff. Said Brionté McCorkle, director of the Georgia Conservation Voters, ‘We need leaders in the Senate like Ossoff and Rev. Warnock who put people over polluters and prioritize climate justice, clean energy, and clean water. […] Climate change is an ongoing crisis. It continues to get more urgent as we start to see more extreme weather’.

ENERGY

Fossil Fuels & Emissions Controls

tjlord writes—Activist hedge fund targeting ExxonMobil for their commitment to “drill, baby, drill”: “One of my energy industry feeds on Twitter was covering the filing by Engine No 1 (an investment firm) for a proxy campaign against ExxonMobil. This is a filing that proposes a slate of four new directors for ExxonMobil (this is from the letter on their website here: We have therefore identified four highly qualified, independent individuals who have agreed to be nominated, if necessary, for election to the Company’s Board of Directors (the ‘Board’).  We have reviewed the qualifications of these individuals with the second largest pension fund in the U.S., the California State Teachers’ Retirement System (“CalSTRS”), which owns over $300 million in value of the Company’s stock.  CalSTRS has informed us that, based upon the qualifications of such individuals, it intends to support them if nominated for election to the Board, and we believe that other long-term oriented investors will share this view.”

ClimateDenierRoundup writes—Beware Industrial Olive Branches: Bloomberg Reveals Disney-Sized Loopholes in Carbon Offset Forests: “Last week, the conservative Washington Examiner reported that Arkansas Republican House member Bruce Westerman thinks that the GOP should be “in the conversation” when it comes to Biden’s climate policies. Specifically, Westerman wants trees and forest management involved, which might be surprising coming from the party of fossil-fuel-funded climate denial, but makes perfect sense once you remember his political career is funded in large part by the timber industry. Unfortunately, as great as it would be to find a climate solution Republicans support, it’s hard to imagine a policy that’s supported by the industry that makes its money cutting down trees will be particularly helpful in keeping trees from being cut down. And even if it were, there can still be trouble with how forests are used to store carbon as a way to offset emissions elsewhere, even when intentions are good. Because as this month’s Bloomberg Green cover story by Ben Elgin exposes, there are big problems with how The Nature Conservancy, one of the biggest and oldest environmental groups, manages its carbon offset program.” 

TRANSPORTATION & INFRASTRUCTURE

ClimateDenierRoundup writes—RealClearEnergy’s Posts Range From Why Electric Cars Are Bad To Why Oil and Gas is Good: “Though RealClear is known as an aggregator, and not necessarily the conservative propaganda megaphone it is, the energy pieces it publishes as originals are classic denier blogspam from a variety of sketchy sources. With California Governor Gavin Newsom and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson joining Norway and other countries in announcing bans on ICE in the 2030s and on, it’s clear the oil industry is ramping up its denial. That said, the first of the most recent wave of EV-fearmongering was authored by the least-sketchy author of the bunch, James Clad. His byline notes that he was ‘former deputy assistant secretary of defense for Asia’ and a ‘senior adviser to Arcanum,’ which is basically a privatized international intelligence agency. Somewhat ironically, it’s this international spy who makes the most down-to-Earth argument, essentially warning that EVs and other technology relies on particular metals, like lithium, which are largely mined in China. So to meet the coming demand for batteries for EVs and everything else, Clad argues, the US should increase its own green energy production instead of relying on China. Perhaps a tad sinophobic, but not necessarily rife with disinformation.” 

AGRICULTURE​, FOOD & GARDENS

ninkasi23 writes—Saturday Morning Garden Blog V.16.50: Season’s Greenings! “Good morning fellow garden bloggers! I really enjoy the decorating and cooking associated with the fall holidays and I take tons of pics to share with friends who live elsewhere. This year it really is the best way to share the cheer of the season. I have always been particular about decorating the tree and enjoy doing my slow and pensive ornament placement. Then spend the next few days rearranging bits here and there as I catch something at a different angle. Or I notice in the daylight there’s a blank spot. Or there are two same-color things too close.  Or the garland seems to droop too much on this branch so I need to adjust it but then that means I have to adjust further along the garland to even it out. Oh and now that ornament is crowded and it needs to move just a smidge. . . I know, I am weird. But I have fond memories of my mom fussing with the tree for nights after we trimmed it so I thought everyone did that!  I love the decor and the cheeriness of the winter holidays because otherwise it is a dark, dreary, and cold time in the Northern Hemisphere. Deck those halls if for no other reason than to beat back the darkness. The Longest Night will soon be past us and once again the daylight will grow!”

NAT’L FORESTS, PARKS, MONUMENTS & OTHER PUBLIC LANDS

Username4242 writes—Wandering an utterly magical snowy mountain forest in Southern California (Video): “Can’t express how amazing mountain forests are after fresh snowfall… all of the trees on a bluebird day were shedding the snowfall, filling the air with snow particles that illuminated the air in astonishing ways. Beautiful place to an adventure with a dear friend. 🙂

Username4242 writes—From the frying pan to the fire! Wandering the astonishing Death Valley and Valley of Fire (Video): “Two more stops on my recent journey… both utterly beautiful and breathtaking places to adventure in (with some amazing history to boot).” 

StormBear writes—The Myth Of Raking California: “The California wildfires have been in the news and some have advocated the simple solution of ‘raking the forest’ will clear that problem right up. So why are other states with superb forest management on fire and other wooded states with no real forest management have no wildfires? I answer that question here.” 

Ojibwa writes—Public Lands: Rocks (photo diary): “Located just seven miles west of Montana’s Flathead Lake is the Lake Mary Ronan State Park. The park has 120 acres nestled in a forest of Douglas Fir and Western Larch adjacent to a mountain lake. In addition to a boat launch area, there is a day use area, 25 campsites, a group camping area, and nature trails. Shown below are some of the rocks found on the lake’s beach.

POLLUTION

ClimateDenierRoundup writes—Merchant Of Death Milloy Triumphant in 20-Year Fight To Delay Soot Regulations Another 5 Years: “With the clock counting down on the Trump administration’s one term in office, Trump’s EPA is finishing up whatever it can to protect polluters’ profits from public health protections before the agency returns to its original and statutory purpose doing almost exactly the opposite. For example, this week former coal lawyer, and vice president and president of the Washington Coal Club, Andrew Wheeler, Trump’s EPA administrator, announced that they will not be strengthening air quality standards for soot. Known formally as PM2.5, the soot from burning anything, be it coal or cigarettes, has been epidemiologically proven to be a threat to human health — those tiny particles work their way into the lungs and, to put it mildly, cause lots of problems. The decision to abstain from lowering the safe limit was the result of a regular 5-year assessment, meaning that the level set by the Obama administration in 2012 won’t be changed now. But the next round of assessment begins as soon as this one ends, so if the Biden administration doesn’t overturn the flimsy rule-making, it could just start fresh on its own.” 

MISCELLANY

Meteor Blades writes—Earth Matters: Trumpsters burrow into federal agencies; GE wind turbine blades to be recycled: “2020 has been a year decidedly short on uplifting news, so here’s some: Earlier this year, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration estimated that just 366 of the critically endangered North Atlantic right whales remain. And then the first baby born this calving season washed up dead in North Carolina. But last week two live right whale calves were sighted off the coasts of Georgia and Florida. That obviously doesn’t mean that the species—once hunted to near extinction—is out of danger. Human activities are still a threat to the whales’ survival, as many become entangled in fishing gear or hit by propeller blades. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation (FWC) Commission warns that the whales are especially at risk during calving season. “Every winter, many right whales travel more than 1,000 miles from their feeding grounds off Canada and New England to the warm coastal waters off the southern United States,” the FWC Fish and Wildlife Research Institute wrote on Facebook. “These waters are where right whales give birth and nurse their young. This is a vulnerable phase, making it extremely important for boaters to be aware of the whales’ presence and tendency to rest near the surface of the water. #GiveThemSpace.”

Bill Berkowitz writes—The Dangerous and Disingenuous Mea Culpa of Charles Koch: “After years of trying to bend the political process to his will by dropping hundreds of millions of dollars into the pockets of conservative causes and the pockets of conservative candidates, and in the wake of Joe Biden’s presidential victory, Charles Koch, in a rare mid-November in-person interview, told Axios on HBO that he “screwed up by being partisan,” rather than pursuing a more non-partisan course. Koch’s personal revelation, however, has not stopped his super PAC, Americans for Prosperity Action, from pouring hundreds of thousands of dollars into electing Republicans in Georgia, where two Senate runoffs on January 5, will determine control of the U.S. Senate. […] Koch’s ‘greatest and most passionate interest is making sure that the U.S. government does nothing to ameliorate climate change because most of his money comes from fossil fuels,’ Jane Mayer told MSNBC.




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