Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Bush Tax Cuts-Deregulatory Legislation

July 24, 2012
Dear Mark,
In less than 24 hours, the U.S. Senate is expected to vote on whether to allow the Bush tax cuts on households earning over $250,000 to expire. This means every household would get tax breaks on the first $250,000 of income; those earning more would pay more on income above this level. Allowing tax cuts for the top 2 percent to expire would generate almost a trillion dollars in revenue over the next ten years — revenue that can be used to pay down the deficit and build a platform for future growth (by investing in education, infrastructure, research, clean energy, and more). Extending all the Bush tax cuts would increase the deficit by $2.8 trillion over the next ten years.
If you haven't already done so, please tell your senators that you want them to end the Bush tax cuts for the richest 2 percent. Call 1-888-744-9958 to be connected to your senators' offices.
Today, the wealthy and big corporations use their lobbyists to rig the tax system and their accountants to exploit every loophole. We need to clean this up. We can’t afford to keep giving tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans and big corporations who need them least.
They need to pay their fair share and start living by the same set of rules as the rest of us.
Please let your senators know what you think. Call them at 1-888-744-9958 right away.
Katherine McFate photo Best regards,
Katherine McFate signature
Katherine McFate
"Katherine McFate, OMB Watch" <ombwatch@ombwatch.org>


We’re on a collision course with Corporate America.

On Friday, we delivered signatures from more than 30,000 people like you who signed our petition urging Congress not to gut regulations that protect the public from corporate recklessness and rip-offs.

The 746-page stack of signatures we placed on House Speaker John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) desk should be tough to ignore.

This week, we’ll find out if he’s paying attention.

That’s because corporate cronies in Congress are trying this week to pass H.R. 4078, a corporate lobbyist’s wish list of deregulation that will halt new environmental, food safety, financial safety, worker safety and consumer product safety standards — not to mention interminably stall already-delayed Wall Street reforms.

Tell your representative to VOTE NO on deregulation.

Atrociously misnamed the “Red Tape Reduction and Small Business Job Creation Act” a better title for H.R. 4078 would be the “Let Reckless Corporations Do Whatever They Want Act.”

The bill is chock full of nonsense that should sound ridiculous to anyone outside of the corporate think tanks that cooked it up.

For example, one section of the bill would actually halt any effort to rein in Wall Street’s recklessness — the very thing that devastated our economy — until unemployment drops below six percent.

So according to this bill’s “logic,” as long as Wall Street’s greed keeps the economy in shambles, we can’t implement the public protections that would stop Big Banks from gambling with taxpayer money or preying on struggling communities.

We shouldn’t need to tell Congress that this makes absolutely no sense.

But we do.

Contact your representative today. Tell her or him to oppose H.R. 4078.

thumbnail photo of Rick Claypool
Thanks for all you do,

Rick Claypool
Senior Online Organizer, Public Citizen’s Congress Watch

Saturday, July 21, 2012

From Gaslands to Wind in Germany and Denmark

Again, having watched the documentary Gaslands by Josh Fox and Koch Bros. Exposed by ?, I have been reminded of the need to keep renewable energy options and opportunities alive and vigorous.
Today, some selections from sites about windpower in Denmark and Germany.   "Green greed is good," to coopt the Oliver Stone character based on the 1980s Ivan Boesky.

The Wind Guilds
Because of the large size, location in visible wind-swept sites, noise, effect on wildlife, and other impacts of wind turbines, landowners, planners, environmentalists, and others sometimes resist these technologies. In the United States, such "environmental" opposition frequently proves the final barrier to the development of a project. The Danish solution to this—parts of which appear to have evolved independently of any overarching guidance from the government—was to allow turbine ownership by guilds or co-operatives, and to require member-owners to live within 3 kilometers of the site. The guilds eventually organized as the Danish Wind Turbine Owners Association, which became a powerful political force. Today, 100,000 Danish families own wind turbines or shares in wind co-operatives.
In the mid-1980s, this ownership rule was modified somewhat, to require that guild members live in or within 10 kilometers of the same borough as the turbine and to limit the share of any individual owner to the greater of 6,000 kilowatt-hours (kWh) per year or 135% of that person's electricity consumption. This change was made in part because of pressure from electric utilities, which were seeking to limit private ownership of generating facilities. Under pressure from the various guilds, the law was amended again in 1992 to relax ownership requirements. The geographic area of residency was expanded to include residents of the borough in which the turbine was located and those of neighboring boroughs. The ownership share was increased to the greater of 9,000 kWh per year or 150% of consumption. The rules were expanded further in 1996 to allow ownership of up to 30,000 kWh per year by any person who lived or worked in the borough or who owned a house or real estate there.

12 10 2011 Danish government: “50 percent of power consumption from wind power in 2020”

The new Danish centre-left coalition government has increased targets on wind capacity. Wind power is set to represent 50 percent of the total power consumption in Denmark in 2020.

The new Danish government just recently released its targets on renewable energy and CO2 emissions. The new disposition increases the previous CO2 reduction target from 30 to 40 percent, measured relative to 1990.

“A green and more sustainable world does not evolve by itself,” says Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt at the Global Green Growth Forum in Copenhagen on the 11th of October.

As a part of the increased ambitions on CO2 emissions, wind power is targeted to represent 50 percent of the total power consumption in Denmark in 2020. The major role of wind power should be seen as a part of the government’s plan to phase out fossil fuels by 2050.

The ambitious targets place Denmark in pole position on renewables among the developed countries.

04 04 2011 New all time high record in exports

Backed by rising exports, the Danish wind energy sector beat expectations to register healthy growth in 2010, the Danish Wind Industry Association announced in connection with the annual meeting on March 30th.

Sectoral revenues rose by 8.3 percent in 2010, corresponding to 55.3 billion Danish kroner (10.44 billion U.S. dollars), up from 51.1 billion Danish kroner (9.64 billion dollars) in 2009.

Meanwhile, the sector's exports rose 11 percent, earning 46.2 billion Danish kroner (8.72 billion dollars) in 2010, up from 41.7 billion Danish kroner (7.87 billion dollars) the previous year, indicating that overall sectoral growth is strongly-pegged to export strategies.

With single wind turbines now routinely capable of three megawatts of output – enough to power 3,000 homes per turbine – wind power has become too cheap and too practical to ignore.

No country on earth is more determined to realize the potential of wind energy than Germany, although the Danes and the British are giving them a run for the money. With virtually no energy resources in-country other than coal, and a national consensus that pretty much rules out nuclear power, the wealthy German nation is likely to extend its lead in wind power.

German officials claim that by 2050 their country will be powered 50% by renewables – solar, wind, geothermal, and biofuels. Considering Germany is one of the world’s largest consumers of energy, over 15 quadrillion BTUs in 2003, which included over 100 gigawatt-years of electricity, they have a long way to go. Currently Germany produces only 3% of their energy from renewable sources; about (taking into account net yields) 9% of their electricity from wind. Yet Germany’s lead over other major nations in wind energy is impressive and growing. – Ed “Redwood” Ring

The German wind industry in 2003

installed 1700 propellers rated at 2,645 MW. Although this figure is 18.5% down from the 3,247 MW newly connected in 2002, it is a good in light of the mainly negative economic trends of the last months of the year. Peter Ahmels, President of the German Wind Energy Association, stated that no other country can point to such growth in absolute numbers. Last year more than 22% was added to installed capacity making Germany the world’s second most important wind market. As of the end of June 2004, the total wind energy capacity installed in Germany amounted to almost 15,327 MW. This makes Germany the world leader in the use of wind power.

Nationwide the power stations produce 14,645 MW. In a normal wind year they could produce 5.9% of the national power supply – another indicator that the use of wind power is growing.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

From Gaslands to Baywind

Gaslands the documentary was shown recently at a nearby library in Nassau County, New York where I've been visiting this July, back in the US from Brazil.  The devastating account by Josh Fox of Pennsylvania about communities across the US where corporations have been drilling and practicing "hydraulic fracturing" or fracking, shows pervasive and deadly contamination not just of water but also of the air.  The tragic suffering of too many people from toxic chemicals is just heartbreaking and outrageous.  A call to action it is, and I've been getting emails for awhile now that I value even more.  Love Canal, New York in 1978 was a community contaminated to a comparable degree in a less systematic situation, though the pervasiveness of toxic contamination is clear from the Superfund toxic waste identification legislation that passed soon after.  I worked briefly for the PIRGs in the 1980s and 1990s and we were working on those issues already at those times.
       Besides organizing to prevent and end fracking, I submit we need to keep clear the opportunities to advance decentralized renewable energy.

England's Baywind co-op was spurred by a Swedish enterprise in the 1990s.  The British citizens have shown a spirit of initiative worthy of Ian Fleming's fictional James Bond.

Consider this:  Westmill Wind Farm, in South Oxfordshire is built on land owned by Adam Twine, an organic farmer. The project consists of five 1.3MW turbines, capable of generating sufficient electricity for the equivalent of 2,500 homes. It is the largest 100% community-owned wind farm in the UK, taking over that title from Baywind Energy Co-op in Cumbria which has existed since 1996.
Adam Twine had wanted a wind farm (preferably community owned) on his land for many years and by the time it was finally built in 2008 he had invested a great deal of his own time, effort and money to bring his dream to fruition. The planning process dragged on for many years against some fierce opposition but eventually consent was given for the project to proceed, to the delight of the enthusiastic group of local activists who had campaigned for a local wind farm....


Baywind on youtube:  

Things have been happening in the US too.

Check out Co-op Power in Massachusetts for example:


Co-op Power hosted a Community Finance Summit July 14th and July 15th in Northampton.  Every day, the decisions we make about how we spend and save and invest our money shape our local economy.  We learned how to move our money from Wall Street to Main Street to transition to a more just and sustainable future.  Michael Shuman, author of Local Dollars, Local Sense, was the featured speaker. We also heard from John Cronin from the Vermont Securities Administration, Sara Ross from SunGage, Glynn Lloyd from City Fresh Foods, Mark Hensley, Todd Ford from Hampshire County Council of Governments, Rochelle Prunty from River Valley Market, and Lynn Benander, Christian Lagier, and Shakoor Aljuwani from Co-op Power.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Nuclear Plant Emergency Zones/ Fracking....

Dear Friends,

The end’s not near, it’s here! The public comment period for the Emergency Planning Zone Petition for Rulemaking expires on July 16, 2012. That’s today! Nearly 2,000 of you already have commented in support of the petition, but we could use more!
Please send in your comments in support of the petition today if you have not already done so.

In the wake of the disasters at Fukushima and Chernobyl we need to expand these inadequate and outdated emergency planning zones and strengthen emergency exercises now more than ever!

According to a report issued in July 2012 by The National Diet of Japan (Japan’s version of Congress), the Fukushima disaster was man-made and caused largely as a result of collusive efforts by the government, regulators and TEPCO to avoid developing and implementing basic safety requirements. Additionally, the report found several issues with the evacuation, specifically that confusion over evacuation was the direct result of failure to implement adequate measures to protect against nuclear accidents and poor planning by previous governments on crisis management.

The situation hasn't been much different in the U.S., where the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the nuclear industry have long colluded to resist necessary safety measures. But the NRC now has the opportunity to show that it has learned at least some of the lessons of Fukushima by adopting this petition.

Improving emergency planning rules is obviously not a substitute for closing nuclear reactors. We all would prefer that such rules not be needed at all--nuclear power should be ended and that's our goal. But that's not the world we live in right now: with 104 operating reactors in the U.S., it is essential that emergency evacuation rules reflect the real dangers each of these reactors presents.

Our petition calls for a three-tiered Emergency Planning Zone: the current 10-mile zone would expand to 25 miles, with all current requirements intact. A new zone from 25-50 miles would be established; utilities would be required to identify evacuation routes and annually notify residents of them. The Ingestion Pathway Zone, designed for interdiction of contaminated food, milk, and water, would be expanded from the current 50 miles to 100 miles. And a new rule would be established that would require emergency exercises to include scenarios of initiating or concurrent regionally-appropriate natural disasters.

We have prepared some sample comments for you to submit--
you can do so here. However, we encourage you to edit these comments to reflect your own concerns, and to discuss emergency evacuation issues in your own communities. What happens if there is an earthquake in your area, or a hurricane? Has population growth in your area outstripped road networks? What about public transportation--how would people without cars be evacuated?

The original petition, along with sample resolutions for local officials and other background information,
can be found on our Nuclear 911 website here.
Thanks for your support, thanks for all you do,

Michael Mariotte
Nuclear Information and Resource Service nirsnet@nirs.org

July 9, 2012

Dear Mark,

Do you know how many natural gas wells are operating in your state or near the watershed that supplies your drinking water? You should.

Most of those wells rely on a process known as natural gas fracking that employs toxic chemicals to crack open shale beds and release methane gas. Both the chemicals used in fracking and the methane gas released pose a risk to local water supplies and the health of those who live nearby.

Our new report, The Right to Know, the Responsibility to Protect: State Actions Are Inadequate to Ensure Effective Disclosure of the Chemicals Used in Natural Gas Fracking, finds that public information about these chemicals is spotty and incomplete at best, and important safeguards are missing.

Because of a loophole written into the Energy Policy Act of 2005, natural gas fracking activities are exempt from federal oversight under the Safe Drinking Water Act. As a result, oversight of fracking has shifted to the states, and officials have been struggling to find a way to protect water supplies and public health as natural gas drilling activity rapidly expands.

Released today, our analysis lays out what an effective chemical disclosure policy would look like, highlighting four key elements. We also assessed 13 established state disclosure policies (and four proposed policies), and we found that no state requires enough upfront collection of data and ongoing monitoring to adequately protect local water supplies and public health. Some states with significant fracking activity have no oversight rules on chemical disclosure.

Ultimately, Congress should reestablish effective oversight of fracking on the federal level under the Safe Drinking Water Act. In the meantime, we hope you will share this report with friends, colleagues, and government officials in your area and join us in encouraging state and local authorities to improve their chemical disclosure standards.

America has been blessed with an abundance of water. We can't sacrifice the sustainability of this critical resource in our search for new domestic energy supplies. Americans should not be forced to choose between clean water and affordable energy. We can have both.

Katherine McFate photo Sincerely,
Katherine McFate signature
Katherine McFate
"Katherine McFate, OMB Watch" <ombwatch@ombwatch.org>
Find OMB's report here:

Dear Mark,

Goliath GrouperThe United States is on the path to end overfishing and rebuild depleted ocean fish populations, thanks to the law and regulations that were put in place with overwhelming support from people like you. These gains may be in jeopardy, however. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has recently decided to reevaluate its regulatory framework and wants the public to participate. Urge NOAA not to weaken the rules that protect U.S. ocean fish.

If NOAA’s fisheries service makes any changes to its rules, it should place greater emphasis on promoting long-term conservation and protecting ecosystems. Unfortunately, the agency is considering alternatives that would weaken current guidelines by creating new delays and exemptions that could allow overfishing. Please write now to ensure the future of fish and fishing in America’s oceans.

Thank you,

Lee Crockett
Director, U.S. Fisheries Campaigns
Pew Environment Group  "Lee Crockett, Pew Environment Group" advocacyemail@pewtrusts.org

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Single payer

Dear Mark,
Despite the Supreme Court leaving most of President Obama's health care law intact, the prognosis is still grim for America's broken health care system.
Republican governors and conservative state legislators are already planning to reject the Medicaid expansion envisioned in the health care law.
This will leave millions of low-income Americans without any kind of health care coverage, in addition to the tens of millions we already knew the law wouldn't cover. 1
And Republicans in Congress are determined to repeal the law — and they might gain the power to do so in the next election.
We need to solve America's health care crisis, and we know it may take awhile. So with health care reform back in the public debate, we need to start advocating now for the real solution: single-payer health care.
"Matt Lockshin, CREDO Action" <act@credoaction.com>

Dear Ms. Sloane: 

I write to complain about the service provided to me by Con Edison. 

On July 1, 2012, Con Edison locked out 8,500 skilled workers and has since replaced them with management employees. I am concerned that my service will be interrupted because of the lockout. I am also concerned that the replacement workers lack the current training, skills and experience necessary to provide safe and reliable electricity, gas and steam. In addition, it is simply impossible to take 8,500 workers off the job and maintain comparable service. 

My concerns are not unfounded - service interruptions and reductions have been reported in various media outlets each day since the lockout began. More serious are the multiple reports of injuries to replacement workers. 

I respectfully request that the New York State Department of Public Service take action to ensure that the Con Edison lockout does not jeopardize safe, secure, and reliable access to electric, gas, and steam for consumers. I also request that the New York State Department of Public Service conduct an investigation to determine whether any links exist between Con Edison’s lockout and the recent injuries, interruptions and reductions. 


Are you feeling the heat? We’re sweating here in the nation’s capital. And not just because of the triple-digit temperatures, but also because these severe weather patterns we’re seeing across the country are a harsh reminder of the serious consequences if we don’t find solutions to the climate crisis soon.
The rash of extreme storms, heat waves, droughts, wildfires, and floods we’ve been seeing this past month unfortunately reflects the trends that climate scientists have been predicting would result from global warming. And it’s time that our leaders take bold steps to do something about it -- NOW.
Dirty energy interests and their allies have spent billions trying to distract and mislead people from the reality that their polluting practices are causing real problems for our planet. But you can’t distract people when there are trees crashing through their front windows, fires burning through their neighborhoods, water flooding under their doorsteps, and blackouts putting their homes and businesses out of commission.
This week, AP science writer Seth Borenstein published an article bringing together facts and quotes from leading climate scientists to attest that “what we're seeing really is a window into what global warming really looks like.” It highlights that since January “the United States has set more than 40,000 hot temperature records” and explains how “the 100-degree heat, drought, early snowpack melt and beetles waking from hibernation early to strip trees all combined to set the stage for the current unusual spread of wildfires in the West.”
"Vanessa Kritzer, League of Conservation Voters" <feedback@lcv.org

Energy Independence: How Renewables Could Produce 80% of Our Electricity by 2050
In honor of the Independence Day celebrations taking place today in the U.S., we're pleased to report that energy independence via renewables is very much a possibility within the next 40 years.

A report released last week
by the DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) found that using renewables to provide the lion’s share of our electricity by 2050, without requiring any technological breakthroughs, is a reasonable proposition. Now that's a cause for celebration! 

Not to be outdone, Denmark released its energy strategy this week which calls for reaching 100% renewables within the same timeframe. Windmills anyone?

Triple Pundit <contact@triplepundit.com>

Dear Mark RegroMontiero,
My heart goes out to all those suffering through the country's summer heat-wave and wildfire season.  Here in the DC area, our 100-degree heat-wave and related storms have left 2.5 million people without power.  This is what the leading edge of the climate crisis looks like
Still there is good news: A huge thank-you to all Green Americans who submitted their comments to the EPA in support of stronger carbon regulations on new coal-fired power plants.  Because an appeals court unanimously ruled the EPA has the right to addresscarbon as a pollutant, the EPA remains free to move ahead with implementing your recommendations, which set a record (more than 2 million comments!) for the most public engagement on any EPA regulation ever.  
What's more, you can take action where you live tosupport clean energy in your own community, starting with your own home.  This month's Faces of the Green Pages interview introduces you to Brian Higgins, owner of Green Home LLC in Hyattsville, MD, a specialist in green building, energy efficiency, and renewable energy at home. 
And check out the latest from Sungevity, a solar-leasing company with a great $0-down solar offer for select states across the country.  Our links to articles from ourGreen American magazine will point you toward even more solar-leasing companies, and energy-efficiency resources.
Finally, later this month, Green America is proud take part in actions to oppose hydraulic fracturing, another form of dirty energy.  We're supportingStopTheFrackAttack, four days of activism in Washington, DC culminating in a July 28 rally on Capitol Hill.  See below for how you can join us at the rally, if you're able to be in DC.

"Green America" <coopamericanews@coopamerica.org>