A Watershed Moment Against Keystone XL?

The Keystone XL fight is now, officially, on our terms.

In a surprise announcement, in his first major address on climate change in four-and-a-half years as President, Barack Obama said that he would not approve Keystone XL if it significantly increased carbon emissions.1

This is huge. It is a huge sign that the pressure we have put on the administration is working.  More than 62,000 people have pledged to engage in civil disobedience if necessary to stop Keystone XL, precisely because it will lead to “game over for the climate” by lighting the fuse to detonate the carbon bomb of the Alberta tar sands into our atmosphere.

It is also a huge sign that we must keep our pressure on. After all, the State Department’s first sham environmental evaluation found that Keystone XL would not substantially increase climate emissions – flying in the face of the EPA,2 climate scientists,3 and the economists and oil industry executives who know that Keystone XL will speed development of the tar sands.

Deciding Keystone XL based on its climate impacts is a fight we can win – but only if we keep fighting.

Also in today’s speech was the President’s announcement that his administration was moving forward on a rule to limit carbon pollution from existing power plants. This too is huge news, and something that CREDO and our activists have been pushing the President to do since before the failure of the climate bill in 2009.

Taken together, setting the terms for rejecting Keystone XL and moving forward on limiting carbon pollution from existing power plants, were the two most important things President Obama could have done today. More than anything else, we are grateful for this leadership.

We know the President will be facing ferocious opposition and attacks from the fossil fuel industry, and the science-denying Republican obstructionists who serve them. So while we have a lot of work to do, today is an important day to thank the President for his leadership.

Of course, the speech wasn’t perfect – far from it. In addition to disappointing calls to expand natural gas development, the steps laid out today simply weren’t enough to solve our climate change problem on their own.

But this is a significant step forward from an administration that for years was afraid to even say the word “climate,” and today gave a full-throated endorsement of the need for our action, and for global leadership to fulfill our moral obligation to protect people all around the world from the damage that has already begun.

This is a testament to your pressure and your activism. And it only affirms our commitment to redoubling all of our efforts, including the Pledge of Resistance, to oppose Keystone XL and fight climate change.

There’s a lot more to do, but mostly today, we are shocked by this surprise announcement, and grateful that the president is finally leading in the fight against climate change. Click the button below to sign the petition thanking President Obama.

Thanks for standing with us.

Elijah Zarlin, Campaign Manager
CREDO Action from Working Assets

sign-the-petition

 

 

Learn more about this campaign

1. “In climate speech, Obama sets carbon limits on Keystone project,” The Hill, 6/25/13
2. “How much does EPA’s objection to Keystone XL matter? A lot.” Washington Post, 4/25/13
3. “Scientists: Key Parts of State Dept Keystone Review Are ‘Without Merit’,” Inside Climate, 6/4/12

Tell the EPA: Ban the pesticide that’s killing Bees!

In the next week, the EPA is expected to issue a decision on the pesticide Clothianidin — which scientists believe is a major factor in the alarming decline in U.S honey bee populations, known as Colony Collapse Disorder.

Since 2006, one third of U.S honey bee populations have been dying off. One third. Every year. That’s a terrible rate of species destruction on its own, but it’s also a serious threat to our food supply. Honey bees play a crucial role by pollinating 71 of the 100 most common crops, which account for 90% of the world’s food supply.1

More than 125,000 CREDO Activists joined the Pesticide Action Network and other groups this March in urging the EPA to suspend its approval of Clothianidin.

The EPA will be issuing a decision soon. If the agency doesn’t act, it won’t review Clothianidin again until 2018 — and by then it could be too late for the bees.

Tell the EPA: Bee die-offs are an emergency.
Ban the pesticide that’s killing bees.

While the causes of Colony Collapse disorder are complex, studies are increasingly pointing to the role played by pesticides like Clothianidin.

Produced by the German corporation Bayer CropScience, it is used as a treatment on crop seeds, including corn and canola, and works by expressing itself in the plants’ pollen and nectar. Not coincidentally, these are some of honey bees’ favorite sources of food.

Shockingly, Clothianidin was approved without any independent study verifying its safety. The Pesticide was conditionally approved for use on corn — the largest crop in the U.S. – in 2003, and then fully approved by the EPA in 2010, on the basis of only one test conducted by Bayer, which EPA scientists later said was unsound and not sufficient to be the basis of an unconditional approval of the pesticide.2

Clothianidin has already been banned in France, Italy, Slovenia, and Germany — the home of Bayer — but it continues to be applied to over 100 million acres here in the U.S., at the peril of bees and our ability to produce foods like apples, blueberries, almonds, pumpkins and dozens of other vital crops.

For the EPA to take action and suspend the use of Clothianidin it must declare bee die-offs to be an “imminent hazard.” With massive continuing die-offs of the species that is a cornerstone of our crop production, it’s clear that is the case.

Tell the EPA to protect honey bees and our food, not pesticide makers. It’s time to ban Clothianidin and save the bees.

1. “Pesticides and Honey Bees: State of the Science,” Pesticide Action Network North America
2. “Leaked document shows EPA allowed bee-toxic pesticide despite own scientists’ red flags,” Grist, 12/10/10

More Protective Soot Standard Will Save Lives, Protect Fragile Environments

— Press Release by EarthJustice, June 15, 2012

Soot. (Chris Jordan-Bloch / Earthjustice)

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finally proposed updated clean air standards that will prevent thousands of premature deaths and take steps toward clearing hazy air. The EPA’s proposal comes in response to legal action filed on behalf of the American Lung Association and the National Parks Conservation Association by Earthjustice. The groups called upon the EPA to adopt final protections against particle pollution that follow the Clean Air Act’s requirements to protect public health and iconic national parks.

Particle pollution does not just make people die a few days earlier than they might otherwise—these are deaths that would not have occurred if the air were cleaner.

The groups are pleased that the EPA has at last proposed new limits on fine particulate matter or PM2.5, one of the deadliest and most dangerous forms of air pollution. Breathing particle pollution can cause premature death, heart and lung damage, and potentially even cancer and developmental and reproductive harm. This pollution also harms plants and wildlife inside protected natural sites, such as national parks, and negatively impacts the health of the hundreds of millions of people who visit these sites every year. The EPA will take public comment on a range of annual and daily standards, which are set to protect against long- and short-term exposure to particle pollution. EPA proposed choosing either 12 or 13 micrograms per cubic meter of air for the annual standard and 35 micrograms per cubic meter of air for the daily standard. The groups urge an annual standard of 11 micrograms per cubic meter of air and a daily standard of 25 micrograms per cubic meter of air.

The agency is also proposing separate standards to limit the visible haze caused by particle pollution in many communities and national parks. The proposal includes two possibilities for daily standards, either 28 or 30 deciviews (a measure of “haziness”). To adequately combat the visibly filthy air pollution that mars vistas throughout the nation, the groups urge a stronger standard, no higher than 25 deciviews.

“Particle pollution kills—the science is clear, and overwhelming evidence shows that particle pollution at levels currently labeled as officially ‘safe’ causes heart attacks, strokes and asthma attacks,” said Albert Rizzo, MD, Chair of the Board of the American Lung Association. “The Clean Air Act gives the American public the truth about pollution that is threatening their lives and health—just as they would expect the truth from their doctor.”

“This proposal is long overdue,” said Paul Cort, the Earthjustice attorney who represented the Lung Association and NPCA in legal proceedings. “The fact that the EPA has been put back on track by the courts is an important first step in this process, but now the agency needs to set strong final standards to protect people from this deadly pollution. The law requires it, and the millions of Americans who live in areas made filthy by particle pollution desperately need it.”

“Every year, millions of people visit our national parks expecting clean air and clear views,” said Mark Wenzler, NPCA Vice President of Climate and Air Quality Programs. “But they instead find their health compromised and the beauty of these sites degraded because of lax controls for particle pollution. The EPA has the authority to correct this, and for the health and welfare of our national parks and the many people who visit and enjoy them, it needs to act now to correct this problem.”

Soot or particle pollution—a microscopic mixture of smoke, liquid droplets and solid metal particles released by sources such as coal-fired power plants, factories and diesel vehicles— causes thousands of premature deaths, heart attacks and asthma attacks every year. The particles are small enough to penetrate deep into the lungs and into the bloodstream, making soot one of the most dangerous forms of air pollution. The particles also contribute heavily to the haze that enshrouds many of our cities and national parks.

Earthjustice, the American Lung Association and Clean Air Task Force collaborated to produce a report last year titled Sick of Soot: How the EPA Can Save Lives By Cleaning Up Fine Particle Pollution. The report found that an annual standard of 11 μg/m3 and a daily standard of 25 μg/m3 could spare the American public every year from as many as:

  • 35,700 premature deaths;
  • 2,350 heart attacks;
  • 23,290 visits to the hospital and emergency room;
  • 29,800 cases of acute bronchitis;
  • 1.4 million cases of aggravated asthma; and
  • 2.7 million days of missed work or school due to air pollution-caused ailments.

The EPA will now publish the notice proposing the new standards in the Federal Register and take public comment. According to an agreement reached in principle by EPA, the Lung Association, NPCA, and various states, the agency will sign a final rule by no later than December 14, 2012.

Contact:
Sam Edmondson, Earthjustice, (415) 217-2005
Jeff Billington, National Parks Conservation Association, (202) 419-3717
Mary Havell, American Lung Association, (202) 715-3459

Tell the EPA: We want a REAL Carbon Pollution Standard to fight climate change!

stop-carbon-pollution-180This week, the Environmental Protection Agency held public hearings on its recently proposed rule to limit the carbon pollution freely spewed by power plants that is causing catastrophic climate change.

Polluters, especially in the coal industry, will made hyperbolic claims that this rule will lead to an economic doomsday scenario. Of course, those are lies to protect their profits and ability to pollute freely.

Meanwhile, many environmental groups lauded the rule as an historic victory that will make significant gains against dangerous pollution. Unfortunately, that’s not the case, either.

The truth is that the Carbon Pollution Standard — while symbolically important because it will regulate carbon pollution for the first time — actually does nothing to reduce current pollution sources.1 Climate change is one of the most urgent problems before us, and the EPA needs to do a lot more. As they taking public input this week, this is an important moment to call for a stronger Carbon Pollution Standard.

The fact is, this rule is weak in a number of important respects. It applies only to unlikely-to-be-built, new coal-fired power plants. It is riddled with loopholes allowing new sources of pollution including some new coal plants.2 It does not reduce carbon pollution from natural gas plants which are also a significant source of carbon pollution. And it does nothing to reduce carbon pollution from much more significant existing sources.3

Because of the rising cost of coal, the low price of natural gas, and the tireless work of activists across the country raising concerns about the health and climate impacts of coal, we’ve already been able to block all new coal power plants. So while this rule does serve as an additional roadblock against building new coal plants if the economics of coal become favorable again, otherwise, it essentially codifies the status quo — making into regulation the facts on the ground already established by the hard work of community and environmental activists.

It’s sad that our political climate has been made so toxic by climate change denying Republicans — who literally voted to deny the science of climate change4 — that the very acknowledgement of the need to regulate carbon pollution by EPA is a victory and a positive step forward.

But in today’s actual climate — where much of our country just experienced record-shattering March heat waves after a disturbing lack of winter — it is not only disappointing but profoundly dangerous that this rule does little if anything to effectively reduce unregulated climate pollution.

Tell the EPA: We need stronger rules to protect us from existing and future sources of carbon pollution.

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson — who has been one of the few people in the Obama administration willing to fight to address climate change and defend the Clean Air Act — is to be commended for her leadership on this rule, despite a begrudging White House whose hand was forced by a court mandate, and a Tea Party Republican majority in Congress so openly hostile and obstructionist to climate change policies. But it appears even she has her hands tied when it comes to moving forward on the carbon standard.

Having proposed a rule for new power plants, the EPA is now legally required to develop a rule to limit carbon pollution from existing power plants, a much more significant source. But in announcing the new carbon standard, Administrator Jackson literally said in a press conference, “we have no plans to regulate existing sources.”5

If EPA fails to take action on existing power plants, then the measured progress represented by this rule will go down in history as a symbolic though essentially empty gesture.

It’s important to acknowledge progress. And to be upfront about the massive barriers that block even the most modest measures to address climate change. But it’s also essential that we recognize that fighting climate change is one of the most urgent challenges facing us as a nation and a planet. Nothing less than bold action is required, and we must not be satisfied with symbolic but essentially empty gestures no matter how hard won.

1. “Why EPA’s new carbon rules may not have much impact — for now,” Washington Post, March 27, 2012
2. “ New greenhouse gas rules riddled with loopholes,” Greenpeace, March 27, 2012
3. “The top five things you need to know about EPA’s new carbon rule,” Grist, March 27, 2012
4. “GOP-led House rejects science, 240-184,” Climate Progress, April 6, 2011
5. “What’s the deal with EPA carbon rules for existing power plants?” Grist, March 27, 2012