In Spite of the Fossil Fuel Industry Push for More Filthy Fuel, California Completes One Gigawatt of Solar Power

Kudo’s to California. Despite adversity from the deep pockets of the fossil fuel industry out to stall progress for a sustainable energy future, California completed the installation of one gigawatt of solar power capable of powering 750,000 homes the equivalent of 2 coalburners.

http://cleantechnica.com/2011/11/11/california-now-has-1-gigawatt-of-solar-power-installed/

 

 

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Two Hundred Million More Acres May Be Added to Wilderness Protection Act

 

In an unusual Sunday vote called by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Senate Bill 22 moved forward with a vote of 66-12 that would add 200 million more acres of U.S. land under the Wilderness Protection Act. The Associated Press reported that this bill is “the largest expansion of wilderness protection in 25 years. Prior to this, the bill met with opposition from Republicans. The Sunday vote was an effort to bypass their stalling that some say will “derail” the pledged cooperation between Republicans and Democrats in the near future.

 

In any event, the bill is making its way through to senate approval and according to the same AP article includes California’s Sierra Nevada mountain range, Oregon’s Mount Hood, Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado and parts of the Jefferson National Forest in Virginia for protection under the act.

 

This is pretty binding stuff once it’s decided. It would take another act of Congress to take the same land away from the Wilderness Protection Act. I wondered what the Wilderness Protection Act actually does. In my mind if a place is already a national park, why does it need further protections? According to Wikipedia, which is a good enough source for explaining things, the basics of the Wilderness Protection Act are:

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    • The lands protected as wilderness are areas of our public lands.
    • Wilderness designation is a protective overlay Congress applies to selected portions of national forests, parks, wildlife refuges, and other public lands.
    • Within wilderness areas, we strive to restrain human influences so that ecosystems [the Wilderness Act, however, makes no specific mention of ecosystems] can change over time in their own way, free, as much as possible, from human manipulation. In these areas, as the Wilderness Act puts it, “the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man”—untrammeled meaning the forces of nature operate unrestrained and unaltered.
    • Wilderness areas serve multiple uses. But the law limits uses to those consistent with the Wilderness Act mandate that each wilderness area be administered to preserve the “wilderness character of the area.” For example, these areas protect watersheds and clean-water supplies vital to downstream municipalities and agriculture, as well as habitats supporting diverse wildlife, including endangered species, while logging and oil and gas drilling are prohibited.
    • Along with many other uses and values for the American people, wilderness areas are popular for diverse kinds of outdoor recreation—but without motorized or mechanical vehicles or equipment. Wilderness is the haven of quiet beyond the end of the road, the wild sanctuary we meet on its own terms by leaving the machinery of twenty-first-century life behind. The wild popularity of wilderness recreation shows how hungry Americans are for just such sanctuaries.
    • The Wilderness Act was reinterpreted by the Administration in 1986 to ban bicycles from Wilderness areas, which led to the current vocal opposition from mountain bikers to the opening of new Wilderness areas.

 

Interesting, because I did see some protesting the fact that this will be 200 million more acres no one can use, unless we decide to see the place the good old fashion way—by hiking. But the whole idea is to protect the wilderness from man so we either walk through it leaving the least amount of impact, or we don’t see it at all. 

There is also the questionable $3 million earmark to Alaska for another road to nowhere through the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge there. Maybe they should add that area to the Wilderness Act. No mechanical or motorized vehicles in protected areas, no need for a road. And didn’t Alaska’s governor denounce earmarks anyway?

 

http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5ja3vNS7u_ovPaeUpzrEKqDzs5TjAD95KSENO0

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wilderness_Act

 

 

 

 

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Toxic Algae Increasing Around U.S.Coastlines

Recently I caught someone’s smart remark after reading that scientists are studying shrimp, putting them on treadmills, that’s right, on treadmills to find how they are coping with toxic algae. It probably doesn’t sound important to most people other than their favorite food may disappear. I answered the remark that the study is important, because first the shrimp, then us.

Then yesterday I watched a Nova presentation on PBS about a marine animal rescue facility in CA that is seeing a surge of Domoic Acid poisoning in the past 3 years after a rise beginning in 1998. In 1998 tests were done to determine the effects of this natural occurring marine neurotoxin. It is found in algae/plankton and was formerly believed to be cyclical. Until this Nova presentation.

Nova showed satellite pictures of the coastline of California. Heavy concentrations of plankton that produces Domoic Acid showed up as a specific color on the map. Satellite images viewed after large storms that carry an overabundance of groundwater and stream/river water to the coastline also showed an increase in the plankton growth immediately afterward. This Nova presentation shows the connection of heavy runoffs of inland water that usually contains high concentrations of agricultural fertilizers and the resulting increase of “natural” plankton growth. It’s not looking so natural. Gee why would there be a steady rise since 1998, coinciding with the very anti-environmental, deregulation happy Bush administration?

The poor sea lions that are suffering seizures on the beach from this stuff were sad to watch. They were pretty much paralyzed, aware of humans but listless. Domoic Acid poisoning has no antidote. Plankton is a natural food source for sea lions and they are literally dying from too much of it. The poisoning was formerly thought to affect short-term memory. Now it’s believed that it is literally eating holes in the brain of the sea lions. Most of the poor animals we viewed will die.

Now the bad part. Humans and their pets can suffer the same poisoning. Rarely, for now anyway, Domoic Acid poisoning has sickened and killed humans in the past. Sardines, and all types of seafood eat plankton. And studies even before the Nova presentation have already ascertained that this over abundance of toxic algae is around the entire coastline of the U.S. Remember first the shrimp, then us.

The Nova presentation about the CA rescue facility is so new it isn’t available yet on this website. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/ocean911/.

National Geographic’s previous info on Domoic Acid. http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2008/06/080617-sea-lions.html

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The Wildfires in California

There are still arguments whether or not global warming has contributed to the onslaught of wildfires in California that certainly appear to be getting worse. As a matter of fact, I read an article that suggested it is because of invading populations of people moving into fire prone areas, and/or forest management practices instead. But a scientific paper published a year ago stated that the changing climate was a greater influence on wildfire activity and intensity than forest management.” http://www.thedailygreen.com/environmental-news/latest/Global-Warming-California-Wildfire-47102305.

As for people moving into fire prone areas, sure there would be more likelihood of fires, and more property damage, but Mother Nature is seriously contributing to the wildfire fiasco with a record drought, temperatures in the 80’s-90’s instead of the 70’s for this time of year, and winds that are clocking at 60 and 70 mph, with gusts up to 85! Besides authorities declared that the wildfires in California this past July set a record. There were over 1781 fires burning at once, but luckily most were in sparsely populated areas. So much for the “people-cause-the-fires” theory. http://thelede.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/07/15/california-wildfires-set-a-record/.

What I find odd is that the same people that deny the fire activity in California is due in part to global warming but instead caused by people, simultaneously deny that people cause global warming. Is this not selective reasoning? Certainly the smoke from these fires contributes heavily to air pollution.

Even an article in Business Week suggested that if we don’t do something soon about global warming the costs of the bad weather produced by it could be devastating for California. It stated that there could be “as much as $3.9 billion in annual damages caused by wildfires, rising sea levels and extreme weather events.” I say ditto for many other parts of the country. http://www.businessweek.com/ap/financialnews/D94EAOUO1.htm.

California isn’t the only area of concern. Hurricane ravaged Galveston, Texas did not get enough press during the presidential campaign. There are still what can be termed “Katrina victims.” I’ve noticed a pronounced change in path and verocity of tropical storms up the east coast of America. We do not want to see anything that resembles a hurricane hit NYC. This past spring our midwest was hit with horrible floods. Tornadoes in the South in November are becoming common. And let’s get real here. Five states in the SW have experienced huge growth, even though 4 of those states collectively rely on one and the same Colorado River for all of their water needs. Add the mentality that wants to maintain a steady growth in population in America, and we have to ask, “Just where is everyone supposed to live that won’t pose some sort of weather and/or uninhabitable terrain problem in the U.S.?” Can’t run, can hide from Mother Nature.

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EPA Blocks State’s Rights to Limit Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Get a load of our democratic process with this latest veto out of Washington. The Bush EPA nixed California’s proposed emission standards for the state that targeted the trucking, shipping, cement, semiconductor and consumer product industries. Instead Bush signed into law a new energy bill that requires automakers to cut emissions by 25 percent by 2009 and by 40 percent by 2020. The EPA said this covers the issue of emissions, end of story. Was that apples to apples?

Sixteen other states have already approved emissions laws and were waiting for this waiver by the EPA too. The EPA is supposed to have sole authority to make pollution rules, but our Federal Clean Air Act allows states to create their own rules with an EPA-approved waiver. The waiver was nixed today. The Supreme Court just ruled in favor of 12 states that sued the same EPA for dragging their feet about CO2 emissions. The Supreme Court had to tell the EPA that greenhouse gases can be considered “air pollutants” under the Clean Air Act and they were in violation for not regulating them. And today the EPA blocked California and the other states from doing what should have been the EPA’s job and substituted with Bush’s flimsy energy bill.

So the states go through a lot of effort for nothing. The emission laws were part of California’s “Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006.” The NRDC and many public interest groups co-sponsored it. California committed to reducing overall global warming pollution by 30% by 2020. They figured on new technologies as well as pollution cutting strategies to meet these goals. They sought the help of E2, “a national network of business people who work with the NRDC to champion the economic benefits of good environmental policy” and “who built a solid case for the ways in which curbing global warming could actually benefit California’s economy” (Nature’s Voice Newsletter by the NRDC Jan/Feb 2008). Just what I thought. Green is good for the economy.

I was intrigued by E2 and read on that they argue, “that clean technologies would create jobs and attract new companies to the state…supported by the fact that clean tech now ranks third in venture capital investment in North America.” Told ya so Michigan. Clean technology isn’t likely to coexist alongside coalburners and refineries. They showed that California would save “barrels” of money by reducing dependence on fossil fuel. It also stated that it took 124 meetings at the state capital by E2 volunteer members to “present their business-based argument.” They worked hard to come up with legislation that protects the environment and creates economic opportunity. They believe global warming controls will spur economic prosperity. This was a great program, until the automobile lobby got involved. Yeah, another lobby.

According to our own Detroit News:

Using a one-page script and a list of auto facilities obtained from the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, a trade group that represents automakers, staffers at the Department of Transportation called nearly every congressional member from Michigan and Ohio, urging them to oppose California’s request, according to records released this week by the House Oversight Committee. They also targeted other auto-heavy districts and governors in at least seven other states.
While federal law bars government officials from lobbying lawmakers on issues before Congress, there are no such restrictions on regulatory questions, such as the California waiver.

California filed a lawsuite challenging the EPA’s denial of the waiver. And there is a House Committee investigating the agencys decision to deny it also. This is getting good.

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Read more about the veto at: http://lawyersusadcdicta.wordpress.com/2007/12/20/epa-nixes-states-plan-to-limit-greenhouse-gases/#comment-285.

Read more about E2: http://www.e2.org/jsp/main.jsp.

About the Supreme Courts decision: http://www.pbs.org/newshour/extra/features/jan-june07/emissions_5-29.html.

The Detroit News article about the auto lobby: http://www.detroitnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070705/AUTO01/707050350/1148.

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