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THIS JOURNAL WILL "TELL IT LIKE IT IS" REGARDING DIFFERENT FORMS OF ENERGY AND THEIR GLOBAL IMPLICATIONS/PROBLEMS

USA SUPREME COURT FINDS AGAINST 27 COAL BURNING STATES’ POLLUTION

30 April 2014

WASHINGTON In a major victory for the USA Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the USA Supreme Court on 29 April 2014 upheld the authority of the EPA to regulate the smog from coal-fired utilities that drifts across state lines from 27 Midwestern and Appalachian states to the East Coast. The Supreme Court 6 to 2 (one abstaining) ruling bolsters the centerpiece of President Obama’s environmental agenda: A series of new regulations aimed at cutting pollution from coal-fired power plants (utilities and similar).

SUPREME JUSTICE GINBURG WROTE THE DECISION “In reining-in interstate pollution, regulators must account for the vagaries of the wind…Some pollutants stay within upwind states’ borders, the wind carries others to downwind states, and some subset of that group drifts to states without air quality problem” She quoted the Christian Book of John: “The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth.” The Supreme Court decision is only the latest blow to the coal Industry, and to coal users. Also on 29 April 2014, a Federal District Court ordered the EPA to propose by 1 Dec 2014 a new nationwide regulation to rein in smog pollution from coal-fired power plants and other major polluters. This rule would come on top of the regulation covering cross-state air pollution. Two weeks ago, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit upheld another major EPA Clean Air Act rule that would reduce coal-plant pollution from mercury.

ACADEMIA AND LEGAL EAGLES SATISFIED Jody Freeman, director of the environmental law program at Harvard U said “It’s a big win for the E.P.A., and not just because it has to do with this rule, It’s the fact that it’s setting the stage and creating momentum for what’s to come If the Supreme Court had decided against the Obama administration in Tuesday’s decision, Ms. Freeman said it would have been a shot across the bow to the EPA as it takes the next steps  Legal experts said the decision signals that the Obama administration’s efforts to use the Clean Air Act to fight global warming could withstand legal challenges. In June 2014 the EPA is expected to propose a sweeping new Clean Air Act regulation to cut emissions of carbon dioxide, the heat-trapping greenhouse gas that scientists say is the chief cause of climate change. Coal plants are the biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States.

EPA Administrator Gina Mc Carthy said:“Today’s Supreme Court decision is a resounding victory for public health and a key component of E.P.A.’s efforts to make sure all Americans have clean air to breathe…the court’s finding also underscores the importance of basing the agency’s efforts on strong legal foundations and sound science.”

EPA ARGUMENTS BEFORE THE SUPREME COURT: Stated the rules were necessary to protect the health and the environment of downwind states. East Coast states in particular are vulnerable to pollution blown by the prevailing west-to-east winds of the United States. The soot and smog produced by coal plants are linked to asthma, lung disease and premature death.

DISSENTING JUSTICES, ANTONIN SCALIA AND CLARENCE THOMAS AGREED when Justice Scalia said:”the regulation is unwieldy and suggested it was Marxist…As written, the regulation will require upwind polluting states to cut pollution in relation to the amounts of pollution each state produces, but also as a proportion of how affordably a state can make the cuts. In other words, states that are able to more cost-effectively reduce pollution will be required to cut more of it…I fully acknowledge that the proportional-reduction approach will demand some complicated computations where one upwind state is linked to multiple downwind states and vice versa…I am confident, however, that E.P.A.’s skilled number-crunchers can adhere to the statute’s quantitative (rather than efficiency) mandate by crafting quantitative solutions. Indeed, those calculations can be performed at the desk, whereas the ‘from each according to its ability ( paraphrasing Communist Karl Marx) approach requires the unwieldy field examination of many pollution-producing sources with many sorts of equipment” Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. recused (abstained) himself from the case.

REPUBLICANS AND THE COAL INDUSTRY have often blasted the proposed regulations, which use the “Clean Air Act” as their legal authority, as a “war on coal”. The coal industry has waged an aggressive legal battle to undo the rules. The interstate air pollution regulation, also known as the “good neighbor rule” has pitted Rust Belt and Appalachian states like Ohio, Michigan and Kentucky against East Coast states like New York and Connecticut. The utilities and 15 states opposed to the regulations argue that the rules, as written by the Obama administration, gave the EPA excessive authority, and placed an unfair economic burden on the polluting states; the decision will force coal-fired utility owners to install costly “scrubber” technology to curb smokestack pollution of smog-forming chemicals.

NATURALLY, COAL-FIRED UTILITY OWNERS ARE OPPOSED. Stating the regulation would be so expensive to implement, that many expected to shut down their oldest and dirtiest coal plants. Rep Fred Upton(R-Mi), Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and Rep Edward Whitfield, (R-Kt) said in a joint statement. “This is just the latest blow to jobs and affordable energy…The administration’s overreaching regulation will drive up energy costs and threaten jobs and electric reliability. We cannot allow E.P.A.’s aggressive regulatory expansion to go unchecked. We will continue our oversight of the agency and our efforts to protect American families and workers from E.P.A.’s onslaught of costly rules.” Both Reps. Upton and Whitfield represent states that rely heavily on cheap coal-fired utilities.

EARLIER EFFORTS TO IMPLEMENT THE CLEAN AIR ACT FAILED: In 2011, the Obama administration issued the “good neighbor rule”, which was to apply to 27 states east of Nebraska (half of the country); but the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia struck it down, ruling that the EPA had not followed the Clean Air Act when it calculated how to assign responsibility for “cross-state air pollution”. The Supreme Court’s ruling overturned that decision.

EAST COAST STATES HAVE TOUGHER AIR POLLUTION STANDARDS Governors from East Coast states have for more than 15 years been subject to tougher air pollution requirements than other parts of the country, and have long criticized the Appalachian and Rust Belt states for their more lenient rules on pollution from coal plants, factories and tailpipes so that their state economies to profit from cheap energy while their smog and soot have been carried eastward by prevailing winds.

Thanks to The New York Times for their 29 April 2014 story, here redacted in the interest of brevity.

OUR TAKE AND COMMENTS

FINALLY! THE EPA HAS THE LAW BEHIND ITS “CLEAN AIR ACT” ENFORCEMENT – None too soon the coal fired industry can see that Americans, and our laws, are fully supportive of any , and all efforts needed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from our our coal burners. Even so it will take time for the USS COALBURNER to change its act, and change its course. Shareholders even mention the necessity to clean up their dirtiest utilities, or shut them down! It is about time. They know there are many technologies they could use to reduce emissions, and yet they have not done anything simply for greater profits. The best of all would be to transition to Nat Gas use where it is available. Fortunately, in America Nat Gas is available to many now, as a result of Fracking. Coal burning is not the only way to generate high temperature steam. Yes, changes cost money to implement, but they will also save potentially millions of lives from the pain and suffering inflicted by smog, and mercurial pollution now rampant. One would think these Shareholders live elsewhere, but we are all on Planet Earth. Yes, their children too!

Another very interesting development in American politics last week was the announcement by Pres. Obama that he would withhold his decision regarding the Keystone (CANAM heavy Oleoduct) to Texas, until after the upcoming congressional elections in the fall. Pres. Obama knows full well that most Republicans, and a few sellout Democrats would prefer not to be accountable to their electorate before the election about such vital issues as energy, its development, and its use. Such vital issues need to get injected into our electoral process. We must demand that our political candidates make their position known on such vital issues as energy, and water during their campaign. The world’s largest democracy, India, is teaching us all a lesson about the politics of the future >energymaters.com/?p=1484. They must include all vital concerns such as clean air, clean water, and sufficient energy. Yes we can do these things, but we must start now!-Every country in their own way, but always looking for our vital needs first.

Edward Oliver Gonzalez (gonzedo)

P.S. A huge amount of e-marketing spam has motivated us to shut down our “Comments”. However if you feel strongly about any issue regarding any recent article, please send us an e-mail, and we will publish it as a comment.

e-mail:  gonzedo@yahoo.com

 


April 30, 2014 at 12:55 AM Comment (1)

INDIA -WORLDS LARGEST DEMOCRACY SEEKS GREEN ENERGY CONGRESS REPS

12 April 2014

On 7 Apr 2014 India kicked off, its electoral process for its lower chamber. Over 800 million people are eligible to vote to elect their representatives to the lower house of the Indian parliament (equivalent to the USA Congress). Appropriately, the major political parties, and an attractive newcomer, sought to address the critical issue of renewable (green) energy in their Manifestos (Party Platforms). The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the Indian National Congress (INC), and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) have been closely scrutinized by political pundits and the general public; While neither of the present any specific actions regarding expansion and promotion of renewable energy, it is heartening to see that the issue has found a place in their respective party manifestos.

BJP THE FRONT RUNNER IN THIS ELECTION has stated that it would promote development of hydro power infrastructure without disturbing the local population and environment. BJP (party) has also stated that it would expand an ambitious National Solar Mission even more aggressively than it is being currently implemented. Their promise has some weight too. Their Prime Ministerial candidate Mr Narendra Modi launched the most aggressive state solar policy in the country a year before the central government (led by the INC) announced the national solar mission. Five years on, among all states in India.

INC PARTY SUPPORTS MORE SOLAR AND WIND POWER The “Indian National Congress” party boasted that it has aggressively implemented the National Solar Mission, and would continue to do so with a the target of 22,000 MW capacity by 2022. INC also promises to promote/implement a National Wind Energy Mission which has been in the works for few months now, and also to promote the expansion of wind energy infrastructure in the country. The INC claims that it led the implementation of the National Solar Mission. Riding on the success of this mission, the party promised even more progress; however, its impetus has slowed down over the last few months.

AAP PROMOTES DECENTRALIZATION OF GREEN ENERGY. The “Aam Aadmi Party” has promised policies to promote decentralized renewable energy infrastructure. The policy proposed by the AAP mirrors its underlying principle, decentralization of governance. The party promises to work towards promoting off-grid and decentralized renewable energy systems which would prove to be a boon for the rural as well as the urban population. Apart from party-specific reasons behind including these promises, there are other national realities that these parties had to address not only of renewable energy but electricity as a whole. The AAP, for instance raises the issue of increasing electricity rates; that, of course, is an election issue at the assembly elections in national capital Delhi. This newly formed party forced its competitors to state policies directed at lowering electricity tariffs for the household consumers. These policies included implementation of net metering and rooftop solar power systems.

WHY ARE PARTIES NOW ADVOCATING GREEN ENERGY? There are many probable reasons: For instance: India endured the largest blackouts in global history in July 2012. The blackouts affected a population of more than 620 million. That event was ostensibly caused by several transmission lines being down for maintenance, and a rather common occurrence of state governments not heeding the directions of the central regulators. Be that as it may, the blackouts were a real eye opener, because they highlighted the collapse of not only the energy infrastructure in the country, but also the failure of governance, across party/state lines.

CONTENTIOUS ISSUES REMAIN rising electricity tariffs will remain for the foreseeable future as the state utilities are now required to file for tariff revisions every year. Renewable energy, especially solar energy, gains significance in this aspect because solar energy tariffs have been rapidly declining over the last few years while electricity based on coal and natural gas have been increasing.

TO EACH HIS OWN Naturally, the political parties mentioned above have advocated those campaign promises that suit them best, and project them in favorable light to their constituents (voters). Even so, it is heartening to see a new awareness among Indian congressional politicians of the need to promote green energy because it directly/indirectly impacts other critical issues of energy independence, energy equality, and economic growth.

Thanks to cleantechnica.com

OUR TAKE AND COMMENT

We have condensed the story above for clarity, and for brevity.

India, has come a long way in a relatively short time with regard to energy generation. Just about 5years ago, during the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plants massive civil protests, the Government in power virtually controlled all media, and made it “unpleasant” to discuss the subject publicly. Not now-Not any more!. The subject of green energy is now a “platform” of most of their political parties’ “manifesto”; THAT, IS PROGRESS INDEED! For any democracy.

The AA Party recognizes/advocates that because of their lack of electrical power distribution infrastructure (grid); their constituents would be better served by many Solar cell parks throughout its huge sun-drenched land mass. We could not agree more. Even with day only energy solar energy, many steps may be taken to extend power usage hours. BRAVO FOR INDIA! WISH MORE COUNTRIES WOULD RECOGNIZE THEIR OWN REALITIES!, and expect their governance to accede to their needs/desires. INDIA, YOU HAVE COME A LONG WAY BABY !(an old American saying).

Edward Oliver Gonzalez (gonzedo)

e-mail> gonzedo@yahoo.com

P.S. A huge amount of e-marketing spam has motivated us to shut down our “Comments”. However if you feel strongly about any issue regarding any recent article, please send us an e-mail, and we will publish it as a comment.

 


April 12, 2014 at 11:37 PM Comments (0)

ENGLAND SEVERE AIR POLLUTION SPECIAL DANGER TO CHILDREN AND OTHERS

3 Mar 2014

Prof Frank Kelly, Chair of the Department of Health’s Committee on the Medical Effects of Air Pollution, and a member of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs’ Air Quality Expert Group said: “Schools in areas affected by severe air pollution should keep pupils indoors at lunchtime to avoid them having asthma attacks and potentially lifelong lung damage…(they) should be stopped from using the playground during school hours to reduce their exposure to the smog that is affecting south-east England and is expected to spread to the Midlands and East Anglia”. Prof. Kelly’s advice comes after some schools in the capital decided to keep their pupils indoors on 2 Apr 2014 as a precaution. Asked to elaborate, Prof Kelly said: “As a general response this is a good approach as children tend to run around outside and therefore breathe deeper. Thus on days like this they will be inspiring(breathing-in) a lot more pollution if outdoors than when they are breathing normally (hopefully) inside…The policy should apply to morning and afternoon breaks, as well as lunchtime…Advice would be the same for recesses if pollution levels were increased at the school location…pupils with asthma may need to use their inhalers, while those with other breathing conditions could suffer serious harm if exposed to the high level of pollution being seen in London”. NOTICE THAT PROF. KELLY USED THE WORD “SMOG”.

LONG TERM DAMAGE OF AIR POLUTION IN THE YOUNG Prof. Kelly added: “Besides those children whose asthma may be exacerbated by pollution and who would then need to increase their medication, the main issue is related to pollution exposure on a chronic basis as current evidence indicates that lung growth is restricted. If there is no subsequent catch-up lung growth then this respiratory deficit is carried forward through life”. BAD NEWS! IN NORTH LONDON – Tom Sheldon, chair of governors at Bowes and Chesterfield primary said: “When schools are faced with conditions like these, we have to decide what is best for children. In the absence of any formal advice from government we decided to keep children inside today (2 Apr 2014) as a precaution…But we can’t do this forever, and in London we face the much wider problem of poor air quality every day. The Saharan dust will pass, but London will continue to fail its citizens on air quality. Children’s developing lungs are at particular risk, both long- and short-term”. His last sentence echoed Prof. Kelly’s warning.

ONE CITIZEN’S COMPLAINT/WORRY Leanne Stewart said: ”We urgently need an intensive program of pollution reduction in the capital (London)”. Accompanying my son to school is usually quite an easy half-mile walk, but yesterday, I could feel my chest getting tighter and tighter, I went light-headed and had to get a bus back. …I’ve never had that problem before” Leanne’s son, George (age 8) had an asthma attack, and had to stop and use his inhaler. He felt like the air wasn’t getting into his lungs during his half-mile walk to school in Eltham, S.E. London.

ADULTS TOO MUST OBSERVE BREATHING PRECAUTIONS “The British Lung Foundation” urged people in affected areas who cycle, walk, or run to work to avoid doing so at rush hour, and to use backstreets if possible. People with lung conditions such as asthma, should avoid doing strenuous exercise outdoors. Dr Keith Prowse, the charity’s honorary medical adviser said: “Heavy air pollution, of the kind we’re seeing in several places across GB at the moment, can have a significant impact on people with pre-existing respiratory conditions such as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and asthma, worsening symptoms such as coughing and breathlessness…When levels of air pollution are high, people with these conditions, or anyone else who finds themselves coughing or wheezing in times of high pollution, should avoid strenuous exercise outdoors, particularly around pollution hotspots such as busy roads. If the option is available, exercising in an air-conditioned gym or sports hall is preferable…If they cycle, run or walk to work, commuting at times other than rush hour or along back streets is also advisable. People with lung conditions who use a reliever inhaler should make sure that they carry it with them. If they feel their condition is worsening at all, they should contact their Physician”. Enough said for the wise!

Thanks to “The Guardian”-(GB) for sharing this story. We have condensed it, but commend it to you for its accompanying photos, and illustrations.> http://www.theguardian.com/education/2014/apr/02/pupils-indoors-lunch-smog-uk-government-adviser

OUR TAKE AND COMMENT

Alas! De je vu all over again! While this story is centered on the nefarious effects of Smog in children; unfortunately, it applies to all air breathing creatures (including adult humans). Smog is not new to London, home of the Industrial revolution (c. 1830). Fortunately, or unfortunately, Brits have always excelled in the design of engines of all kinds, and have produced some of the world’s finest machinery of all sorts. What may well have kick-started the industrial revolution was the invention of the Watt stationary steam engine, and subsequent derivative external combustion engines used in factories, locomotives, ships, etc. Unfortunately, all such engines were most easily fueled by coal, thus contributing to improved coal mining, improved production and leading to GB dominance in the world markets for finished goods during the Victorian era. All this required ever greater amounts of coal being burned as the best available source of energy. London had always relied in coal for home heating, only then, it was a much smaller city.

THE USA TOOK A SIMILAR ROUTE TO PROGRESS The same process took place in USA a few years later. Bottom line is the birth of KING COAL there here and everywhere. As we have learned since, not all coal is of the same quality, but its combustion is a huge contributor to air pollution; furthermore autos/trucks also make significant contribution to air pollution; notably in cities. Today air pollution (smog) is characterized as “Particulate matter (dust)”, noxious gasses: Sulfurous oxides, nitrogenous oxides, industrial by-products. Stationary sources” such as: Coal-fired Utilities, Petro-chemical refineries, other heavy industrial s such as steel, metals, and even corn/foods processing plants. PROBLEM IS: These greedy folks won’t do a dammed thing to clean-up their act.

ENTER: REV. ROBERT MALTHUS A sad chapter in GB, and world history, was the credence given by Industrialists of the Industrial revolution to the socio-economic theories of Rev. Robert Malthus.(1766- 1834). He was the 7th son of a well-to-do family who became a cleric, and was reputed to be a great orator despite a hereditary harelip condition. Said Malthus: “Yet, in all societies, even those that are most vicious, the tendency to a virtuous attachment is so strong that there is a constant effort towards an increase of population. This constant effort as constantly tends to subject the lower classes of the society to distress and to prevent any great permanent amelioration of their condition”. Malthus argued in his Essay (1798) that population growth generally expanded in times and in regions of plenty, until the size of the population relative to the primary resources caused distress, often interpreted as: “Give the lower classes enough to eat, and they will reproduce until they outstrip the land’s resources; so it is best they be kept too tired and hungry to be amorous”. Apparently, Industrialists everywhere agreed with Malthus that it was beneficial for the working class to be kept over-worked, and underfed – “for their own good”. Malthus’ thinking lost credence among his peers long before his death (one supposes it was not longer “politically correct”); Even so, American Industrialists J.D. Rockefeller, and others in America, evidently adopted Malthus’ thinking, and mistreated/ overworked their workers – But not for long! It should be noted that such a philosophy toward workers has been was independently pursued by many others, including Mao Tse Tung, and that Malthusian thinking still echoes in the ranks of Conservative politicians in the USA today. IT IS CLEAR TO ME THEY SEE THE CURRENT WAGE DISPARITY AS NECESSARY TO THEIR DOMINANCE AND PERSONAL PROFIT. Thinking prevails, and not for naught, that power and privilege still abounds in America.

GETTING BACK TO “KILLER POLLUTION” It may be argued that London saw worse coal air pollution during the Industrial revolution, but that in no way benefits now highly industrialized London. In truth, today’s killer pollution is in many ways more toxic than any seen in GB before. It is dogmatic, that while all air pollution blows somewhere, it almost always affects most direly those who produce it. That takes us back to the citizens of London current preoccupation; specially, regarding their children and those with respiratory impairments. The comments by leading British authorities regarding steps to take to mitigate the smog damage to human health should resonate among those cities afflicted by similar smog conditions. Oh yes! There are too many to count. Let us all take counsel, and look for ways to cease/desist coal burning and limit petrol burning as well. It is killing us. There are technical advances looming that could eliminate fossil fuel burning in the future. We must steel ourselves, and our children, to survive until that brave new world arrives. Let’s hang in there! That is what we do in Texas too.

Edward Oliver Gonzalez (gonzedo)

P.S. We are happy to announce that our readership doubled in Mar 2014 over the previous month. Welcome to our new readers! Perhaps some of you are passing out the word about us. We will continue to strive to provide you with a fresh viewpoint you are not likely to find elsewhere. As always, we do not solicit or accept funding for this publication as a social service.

e-mail: gonzedo@yahoo.com


April 3, 2014 at 9:35 PM Comments (2)