Energy

State air board caves to truckers

Submitted: Dec 21, 2009
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

Special interests can't run a government that protects its citizens

The Fresno Bee on Monday praised the California Air Resources Board’s decision to roll back the new, tougher regulations on diesel emissions. California contains the two worst air-pollution basins in the United States, Los Angeles and the San Joaquin Valley.

Fresno, in the middle of the San Joaquin Valley, has earned the title, "Asthma Capital of California. Nearly one in three children in Fresno, about 75,000 in 2005, had asthma, according to the Fresno Bee. 2005 was the height of the speculative housing building boom.

Trucking companies are losing business in a recession, states the editorial, therefore emission regulations were rightly rolled back by the air board, despite evidence many trucking companies have already converted to cleaner burning trucks. Inconveniently, there are also a number of CARB sponsored programs to provide financial assistance to truckers to achieve regulatory compliance, for example:

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Report from Copenhagen

Submitted: Dec 16, 2009
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

 

As old readers of Badlands know, we've been great fans of George Monbiot for years and always recommend people visit Monbiot.com for a broad, deep perspective on environmental issues. Monbiot was in Copenhagen for the UN climate change conference. His report begins with a call for human decency and ends with a report of the probably tragedies arising from the failure of human decency at this conference. Of course, if tragedy is uncomfortable, one can always join the climate-change deniers and the onward stampede to continue idiotically plundering nature and destroying whole continents. This international mentality is mirrored at the local level because sewage always flows downhill. Apparently, awareness of natural limits on the planet has driven the major power states in the world into nakedly anti-democratic aggression against their own people and others. It is as if present and past imperial powers, when confronted with the planet's growing ecological distress, regress to imperial patterns of 150 years ago. Their policy is to seize more control while rejecting any responsbility for the human element in global climate change.

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Deja vu at the Sam Pipes Room, Merced City Hall

Submitted: Dec 14, 2009
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

The California High Speed Rail Authority held a technical advisory council meeting on Monday, Dec. 7, at a public meeting hall called the Sam Pipes Room, in the Merced City Hall. Two members of the Merced public, representing the San Joaquin Raptor Rescue Center and Protect Our Water (POW), wished to attend. The regional director of the San Joaquin Valley unit of the rail authority had told the members of the public that a meeting would take place on Monday at a different location. The members of the public wrote to the regional director twice last week inquiring if they would be permitted to attend the meeting and asked her by phone. She replied that she had received the request and would talk to rail authority legal counsel. The members of the public requested that if they were not permitted to attend, that rail authority counsel provide written legal justification, considering that the authority was consulting with special interests like water districts, the farm bureau, insurance companies, etc. Not hearing back from the regional director at the end of last week or Monday morning, the members of the public called the rail authority headquarters in Sacramento and were informed of the time and different location of the meeting and that there should be no problem with public attendance of the meeting.

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The Copenhagen Fix?

Submitted: Dec 10, 2009
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

Those interested in reading the "Danish text" can find it through the link to the article. - ed.s


12-9-09
The Guardian (UK)
Copenhagen climate summit in disarray after 'Danish text' leak:
Developing countries react furiously to leaked draft agreement that would hand more power to rich nations, sideline the UN's negotiating role and abandon the Kyoto protocol
John Vidal in Copenhagen
http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/dec/08/copenhagen-climate-summit-disarray-danish-text

The UN Copenhagen climate talks are in disarray today after developing countries reacted furiously to leaked documents that show world leaders will next week be asked to sign an agreement that hands more power to rich countries and sidelines the UN's role in all future climate change negotiations.

The document is also being interpreted by developing countries as setting unequal limits on per capita carbon emissions for developed and developing countries in 2050; meaning that people in rich countries would be permitted to emit nearly twice as much under the proposals.

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Loss of faith in the political process and its consequences

Submitted: Dec 10, 2009
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

The question on my mind: Can we swiftly mobilize such a heavily propagandized population to take mass non-violent action?
A growing population does not believe we can do so, and is on the verge of launching a heavily armed insurgency.--David DeGraw, "Af-Pak War Racket"

George Orwell once noted: "To see what is in front of your nose needs a constant struggle."

The subject of DeGraw's essay is the strategic advantage of the financial capital elite at the moment, the destruction its behavior is causing, the growing anger against it and the forms resistance against it may take.

He reminds us that the loss of faith in the political process at all levels of government is a mounting crisis in the United States and that political crises have a pace and consequences. Government and the people in whose name it claims to govern are moving in opposite directions. What is the velocity of this centripetal motion? Is it accelerating? As the people move away from a center that has been destroyed, which way will they move, left, right, or both? What are the prospects for the mass non-violent action that has restored a living center to political debate in the nation at times in the past?

To the public, American politics today sounds like the alarm of a vehicle being burgled. It also sounds like the new cop crowd-control noise machines, intended to shock, stun, immobilize. It sounds like anything but a call to wake up.

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Reaping riches in a wretched region -- Lloyd Carter

Submitted: Nov 01, 2009
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

Now, even with new legislation that will determine the future viability of Westlands’ critical import irrigation infrastructure, it seems inevitable that the political clout of the nation’s most powerful irrigation district will somehow prevail to perpetuate this culture of social, economic and natural inequity. – Carter, p. 40.

 

“Reaping riches in a wretched region:  Subsidized industrial farming and its link to perpetual poverty,” by Lloyd Carter, Golden Gate University Environmental Law Journal, Symposium Edition, Fall 2009

http://www.ggu.edu/lawlibrary/environmental_law_journal/eljvol3/attachment/Carter.pdf

 

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Welcome to the Age of Ordinary

Submitted: Oct 27, 2009
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

 

The claims for economic, social and environmental justice are ultimately based a moral claim not to waste, oppress or despoil the biosphere. The idea is that if people rationally consider the arguments, they will go and do better in these areas. However, a completely different side of those arguments is provided by natural reality: the economy is based on oil, the quantity of oil is diminishing, therefore the economy will have to

change; systematic impoverishment of the working class destroys the market for the nation's industries and leads to sharper and sharper criticism of the rich and finally to social unrest; and impacts of accelerating global warming are themselves the greatest material argument for the existence of a grave environmental crisis.

 

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Subprime/junk carbon credits

Submitted: Oct 11, 2009
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

Today, as the twentieth anniversary of the Rio summit rapidly approaches, the world ecological struggle is more polarized than ever. A considerable part of the environmental movement (including many formerly on the left) has gone over to strategies of "green capitalism" and "ecological modernism." Sustainable development has become increasingly identified with the promotion of accumulation within the system, and even with some kind of alliance with neoliberalism. Environmental reform is no longer seen mainly as the reformist creation of an environmental state on top of the capitalist economy (in a manner akin to the old welfare state), but is now frequently conceptualized, even more conservatively, as an investment-driven process that is simply the leading edge of the economy. This view has been popularized by the Breakthrough Institute and Thomas Friedman's market-driven model of a "green revolution." The business of "sustainability," in this view, is simply a new frontier for accumulation, in which carbon trading is the model scheme." --John Bellamy Foster, The Ecological Revolution, p. 139.

 

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Water and alternative energy in the West

Submitted: Oct 04, 2009
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

Daniel M. Kammen, director of the Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley, predicted that as intensive renewable energy development spreads, water issues will follow.

9-29-09
New York Times
Alternative Energy Projects Stumble on a Need for Water...Todd Woody
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/30/business/energy-environment/30water.html?hp
AMARGOSA VALLEY, Nev. — In a rural corner of Nevada reeling from the recession, a bit of salvation seemed to arrive last year. A German developer, Solar Millennium, announced plans to build two large solar farms here that would harness the sun to generate electricity, creating hundreds of jobs.The German developer Solar Millennium hopes land in the valley, above, can be home to solar plants. Public opinion, partly because of water issues, appears to be split.

But then things got messy. The company revealed that its preferred method of cooling the power plants would consume 1.3 billion gallons of water a year, about 20 percent of this desert valley’s available water.

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Welcome to Pipelineistan

Submitted: Oct 04, 2009
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

At the most basic level, it's a matter of the West yet again trying, in the energy sphere, to bypass Russia. For this to happen, however - and it wouldn't hurt if you opened the nearest atlas for a moment - Europe desperately needs to get a handle on Central Asian energy resources, which is easy to say but has proven surprisingly hard to do.

10-3-09
Asia Times
Jumpin' Jack Verdi, it's a gas, gas, gas
By Pepe Escobar
http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Central_Asia/KJ03Ag01.html
BRUSSELS - Oil and natural gas prices may be relatively low right now, but don't be fooled. The new great game of the 21st century is always over energy and it's taking place on an immense chessboard called Eurasia. Its squares are defined by the networks of pipelines being laid across the oil heartlands of the planet. Call it Pipelineistan. If, in Asia, the stakes in this game are already impossibly high, the same applies to the "Euro" part of the great Eurasian landmass - the richest industrial area on the planet. Think of this as the real political thriller of our time.

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