Blue Marble Feed | Mother Jones Mother Jones logo en Illegal Pot Farms Are Literally Sucking California Salmon Streams Dry <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/Water-map-web_0.gif"><div class="caption"><strong>Outlet Creek watershed in Northern California's Mendocino County. </strong>Scott Bauer</div> </div> <p>Northern California pot farmers are using up all of the water that normally supports key populations of the region's federally protected salmon and steelhead trout.</p> <p>That, at least, is the conclusion of a new study, <a href="" target="_blank">published last week in the journal PLOS One</a>, that examined four California watersheds where salmon and trout are known to spawn. In the three watersheds with intensive pot cultivation, illegal marijuana farms literally sucked up all of the water during the streams' summer low-flow period, leaving nothing to support the fish.</p> <p>Author Scott Bauer, a biologist with the state department of fish and wildlife, estimated the size and location of outdoor and greenhouse pot farms by looking at Google Earth images and accompanying drug enforcement officers on raids. He did not include "indoor" grows&mdash;marijuana grown under lamps in buildings.</p> <p>After visiting 32 marijuana greenhouses in eight locations and averaging the results, Bauer extrapolated his findings to all greenhouses in the study area&mdash;virtually nothing else is grown in greenhouses in this part of the country. The sites contained marijuana plants at a density of about one per square meter, with each plant (taking waste and other factors into account) using about six gallons of water a day. Overall, he calculated, pot operations within the study yielded 112,000 plants, and consumed 673,000 gallons of water every day.</p> <p>And that is water the area's fish badly need. The Coho salmon population is listed as threatened under both state and federal Endangered Species Acts, and is designated as a key population to maintain or improve as part of the state's recovery plan.&nbsp;</p> <p>Bauer collected his data last year, at a time when California's drought had already become its worst in more than 1,200 years. When I spoke to him at the time, he told me that pot farming had surpassed logging and development to become <a href="" target="_blank">the single biggest threat to the area's salmon</a>. Now that that the drought is expected to extend into a fourth year, the same streams could run dry again this summer, and remain so for an even longer period of time.</p> <p>Overall, the outdoor and greenhouse grows consume more than <a href="" target="_blank">60 million gallons of water a day</a> during the growing season&mdash;50 percent more than is used by all the residents of San Francisco.</p> <p>"Clearly, water demands for the existing level of marijuana cultivation in many Northern California watersheds are unsustainable and are likely contributing to the decline of sensitive aquatic species in the region," Bauer's study concludes. "Given the specter of climate change"&mdash;and the attendant rise of megadroughts&mdash;"the current scale of marijuana cultivation in Northern California could be catastrophic for aquatic species."</p></body></html> Blue Marble Food and Ag Marijuana Top Stories drought Fri, 27 Mar 2015 20:06:30 +0000 Josh Harkinson 272476 at Japan Wants You to Believe That These Coal Plants Will Help the Environment <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Japan is at it again. Back in <a href="" target="_blank">December</a>, the country got caught trying to pass off $1 billion worth of investments in coal-fired power plants in Indonesia as "climate finance"&mdash;that is, funding to fight climate change. Coal plants, of course, are the world's single biggest source of carbon dioxide emissions.</p> <p>Today, the <a href="" target="_blank">Associated Press discovered over half a billion more</a>:</p> <blockquote> <p>Japanese officials now say they are also counting $630 million in loans for coal plants in Kudgi, India, and Matarbari, Bangladesh, as climate finance. The Kudgi project has been marred by violent clashes between police and local farmers who fear the plant will pollute the environment.</p> <p>Tokyo argues that the projects are climate-friendly because the plants use technology that burns coal more efficiently, reducing their carbon emissions compared to older coal plants. Also, Japanese officials stress that developing countries need coal power to grow their economies and expand access to electricity.</p> </blockquote> <p>Putting aside Japan's assumption that developing countries need coal-fired power plants (a view still under much <a href="" target="_blank">debate</a> by energy-focused development economists), the real issue here is that there isn't an official, internationally recognized definition of "climate finance." In broad strokes, it refers to money a country is spending to address the problem of climate change, through measures to either mitigate it (i.e., emit less carbon dioxide from power plants, vehicles, etc.) or adapt to it (building sea walls or developing drought-tolerant seeds, for example). But there remains little transparency or oversight for what exactly a country can count toward that end.</p> <p>The reason that matters is because climate finance figures are a vital chip in international climate negotiations. At a UN climate meeting in Peru late last year, Japan announced that it had put $16 billion into climate finance since 2013. Likewise, President Barack Obama last year pledged <a href="" target="_blank">$3 billion</a> toward the UN's Green Climate Fund, plus several billion more for climate-related initiatives in his proposed <a href="" target="_blank">budget</a>. Other countries have made similar <a href="" target="_blank">promises</a>.</p> <p>Each of these commitments is seen as a quantitative reflection of how seriously a country takes climate change and how far they're willing to go to address it, and there's always pressure to up the ante. And these promises from rich countries are especially important because in many cases the countries most affected by climate change impacts are developing ones that are the least equipped to do anything about it&mdash;and least responsible for the greenhouse gas emissions that caused global warming in the first place. But the whole endeavor starts to look pretty hollow and meaningless if it turns out that "climate finance" actually refers to something as environmentally dubious as a coal plant.</p> <p>These numbers will take on increasing significance in the run-up to the major climate summit in Paris in December, which is meant to produce a wide-reaching, meaningful international climate accord. So now more than ever, maximum transparency is vital. &nbsp; &nbsp;</p></body></html> Blue Marble Climate Change Climate Desk Energy International Top Stories Infrastructure Fri, 27 Mar 2015 19:26:20 +0000 Tim McDonnell 272496 at Should Your State Be Able to Ignore the Nation's Most Important Pollution Law? <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Earlier this month, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) proposed a bold solution for any state that doesn't like President Barack Obama's flagship plan to slash carbon emissions: <a href="" target="_blank">Just ignore it</a>. The new rule, issued under the Clean Air Act, aims to reduce the nation's carbon footprint 30 percent by 2030. It would require every state to devise a plan to cut the carbon intensity (pollution per unit of energy) of its power sector. By simply ignoring the mandate, McConnell reasoned, states could delay taking steps like shuttering or retrofitting coal-fired power plants until the rules get killed by the Supreme Court (even though the chances of that happening are pretty remote).</p> <p>Last week, McConnell <a href="" target="_blank">justified</a> his unusual suggestion that state regulators deliberately ignore federal law by arguing that the rules themselves are illegal. And yesterday, he took his campaign to a new level by introducing&mdash;on behalf of GOP co-sponsors Rob Portman (Ohio), Roy Blunt (Mo.), Tom Cotton (Ark.), and Orrin Hatch (Utah)&mdash;an <a href="" target="_blank">amendment</a> to the Senate's massive budget bill. It would allow any state to opt out of the rule if that state's governor or legislature decides that complying would raise electric bills, would impact electricity reliability, or would result in any one of a litany of other hypothetical problems. The amendment could get a vote later this week.</p> <p>Meanwhile, over in the House, Reps. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.) and Fred Upton (R-Mich.) have introduced a <a href="" target="_blank">bill</a> along essentially the same lines, which is set to to be debated by the Energy and Power Subcommittee, which Whitfield chairs, next month.</p> <p>Republicans are pitching these proposals as necessary steps to protect Americans from the power-hungry, climate-crazed Obama administration. But if passed, they might do more to protect the interests of coal companies. In fact, the Portman amendment introduced by McConnell explicitly allows states to opt out if the rules would "impair investments in existing electric generating capacity"&mdash;in other words, if they require the early retirement of any power plants. The apparent justification is that in order to comply with the Environmental Protection Agency, states will have to quickly implement sweeping changes to their power system that could leave residents with expensive, unreliable power.</p> <p>In reality, many energy economists (not to mention <a href="" target="_blank">utility companies</a> themselves) have found that the range of options states have to comply with the EPA&mdash;such as mandating better energy efficiency and building more renewable energy&mdash;are <a href="" target="_blank">more than enough to keep the lights on and bills stable</a>, while simultaneously burning less coal. (Meanwhile, regardless of any new EPA rules, coal is already on a precipitous and probably irreversible decline thanks largely to the recent glut of cheap natural gas.)&nbsp;</p> <p>Both bills also work on the assumption that the rules grossly overstep the EPA's authority by extending beyond coal-fired smokestacks to the whole power system. That question is likely to be at the heart of the <a href="" target="_blank">inevitable court battles</a> over the rule. But as leading environmental lawyer Richard Revesz testified to a House committee this month, wide-reaching plans like this have been <a href="" target="_blank">successfully implemented</a> under the Clean Air Act for other pollutants like sulfur and mercury throughout the legislation's 40-year history.&nbsp;</p> <p>In any case, giving states the option to opt out of federal air quality rules essentially undermines the entire premise of the Clean Air Act, probably the most powerful piece of environmental legislation ever passed. As Natural Resources Defense Council policy chief David Doniger <a href=";utm_medium=tweet&amp;utm_campaign=socialmedia" target="_blank">put it yesterday</a>: "These bills would force us back to the dark days half a century ago when powerful polluters had a free hand to poison our air, because states were unwilling or unable to protect their citizens."</p></body></html> Blue Marble Climate Change Climate Desk Congress Energy Top Stories Infrastructure Wed, 25 Mar 2015 17:20:06 +0000 Tim McDonnell 272356 at Our Meat Obsession May Kill Us. But Not How You Think. <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>The world is using more antibiotics than ever before&mdash;and showing no signs of stopping. A new <a href="" target="_blank">analysis</a> published in the <em>Proceedings of the National Academy of Science </em>predicts that worldwide consumption of the drugs will grow 67 percent by 2030. Over the same period of time, in Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa, the authors expect that antibiotic use will double.</p> <p>The reason for the dramatic increase in antibiotic use, say the authors, mostly has to do with the planet's ever-increasing appetite for meat. Since the 1970s, meat producers have been dosing livestock with regular, low doses of antibiotics. For reasons not entirely understood, this regimen helps animals grow bigger. In the United States, <a href="" target="_blank">80 percent</a> of all antibiotics already go to livestock, and the practice is becoming the norm the world over. This map shows the current global antibiotic consumption in livestock (in milligrams per 10 square kilometer pixels):</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/map-best.gif"><div class="caption">Map courtesy of Proceedings of the National Academy of Science</div> </div> <p>As the middle class in the developing world grows, demand for meat&mdash;and use of the antibiotics to grow that meat cheaply and quickly&mdash;is expected to rise as well.</p> <p>To get a sense of how quickly our global appetite for meat is growing, take a look at China. There, livestock producers are buying record amounts of corn and soy to feed a growing number of animals:</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/usChinaExports5_projections_0.png"></div> <div class="caption">Jaeah Lee</div> </div> <p>As antibiotic use skyrockets, experts expect that germs will evolve to resist them. That's scary, considering that some of the same drugs we use on livestock are also our best defense against <a href="" target="_blank">infections in humans</a>. And suberbugs, several recent studies have shown, can and do <a href="" target="_blank">jump</a> from animals to people. In fact, another recent study predicted that antibiotic resistant infections will kill 10 million people a year by 2050.&nbsp;</p> <p>There's also evidence that antibiotics might soon stop working the way that meat producers want them to: A recent <a href="" target="_blank">analysis</a> concluded that the drugs are no longer making pigs bigger.</p> <p>The good news: Despite <a href="" target="_blank">loose federal regulations</a> around antibiotic use on farms, American consumers are beginning to <a href="" target="_blank">favor</a> meat grown without drugs. And manufacturers are taking notice: Earlier this month, McDonald's <a href="" target="_blank">pledged</a> to serve only chicken raised without antibiotics, and <a href="" target="_blank">Costco</a> quickly followed suit.</p></body></html> Blue Marble Food and Ag Health Top Stories Tue, 24 Mar 2015 10:00:09 +0000 Kiera Butler 272246 at Bad News for Those of You Who, Like Us, Drank Cheap Wine Each and Every Night of Your 20s <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><em><strong>Update, 3/20/15:</strong> Wine industry groups have begun to contest the lawsuit's contentions and motive. The California wine trade group, the Wine Institute, released a <a href="" target="_blank">statement</a> saying, "While there are no established limits in the U.S., several countries, including the European Union, have established limits of 100 parts per billion or higher for wine. California wine exports are tested by these governments and are below the established limits." A representative of The Wine Group, one of the defendants, <a href="" target="_blank">says that</a> the plaintiffs "decided to file a complaint based on misleading and selective information in order to defame responsible California winemakers, create unnecessary fear, and distort and deceive the public for their own financial gain."</em></p> <p>Before you go out drinking tonight, a quick note on cheap wine: Yesterday, a class-action lawsuit was filed against 28 California wineries&mdash;including the creators of Trader Joes' Charles Shaw (a.k.a. "Two-Buck Chuck"), Sutter Home's, and Franzia, Beringer, and Cupcake&mdash;alleging that some varietals of their wines contain dangerously high levels of arsenic. According to the <a href="" target="_blank">complaint</a>, three independent laboratories tested the wines and found that some contained levels of arsenic "up to 500% or more than what is what is considered the maximum acceptable safe daily intake limit. Put differently, just a glass or two of these arsenic-contaminated wines a day over time could result in dangerous arsenic toxicity to the consumer."</p> <p>The origins of the lawsuit draw back to Kevin Hicks, a former wine distributor who started BeverageGrades, a Denver-based lab that analyzes wine. The lab tested 1,300 bottles of California wine, and found that<strong> </strong>about a quarter of them had higher levels of arsenic than the maximum limit that the Environmental Protection Agency allows in water. Hicks noticed a trend: <a href="" target="_blank">As he told CBS</a>, "The lower the price of wine on a per-liter basis, the higher the amount of arsenic." Trader Joe's Charles Shaw White Zinfandel came in at three times the EPA's level, while Franzia's White Grenache was five times higher. The lawsuit alleges that the contaminated wines are cheaper in part because their producers don't "implement the proper methods and processes to reduce inorganic arsenic."</p> <p>A spokesperson for The Wine Group, one of the defendants, <a href="" target="_blank">says</a> that it's not "accurate or responsible to use the water standard as the baseline," as people drink more water than wine. But water is the only beverage with an arsenic baseline that is monitored by the US government, and the defendants stress that the chemical is toxic even in small doses, and is known to cause cancer and "contributes to a host of other debilitating/fatal diseases."</p> <p>Trader Joe's <a href="" target="_blank">told CBS</a> that "the concerns raised in your inquiry are serious and are being treated as such. We are investigating the matter with several of our wine producing suppliers." A spokesperson for Treasury Wine Estates, another defendant, said that its "brands are fully compliant with all relevant federal and state guidelines."</p> <p>Whether or not you should be worried about the allegations is up in the air, particularly as the lawsuit has yet to go before a judge or jury. But in the meantime, here's a list of wines that are included in the lawsuit. (Note: Any wines without a specific year listed mean that the grapes don't come from a single year.)</p> <ul><li>Acronym GR8RW Red Blend 2011</li> <li>Almaden Heritage White Zinfandel</li> <li>Almaden Heritage Moscato</li> <li>Almaden Heritage White Zinfandel</li> <li>Almaden Heritage Chardonnay</li> <li>Almaden Mountain Burgundy</li> <li>Almaden Mountain Rhine</li> <li>Almaden Mountain Chablis</li> <li>Arrow Creek Coastal Series Cabernet Sauvignon 2011</li> <li>Bandit Pinot Grigio</li> <li>Bandit Chardonnay</li> <li>Bandit Cabernet Sauvignon</li> <li>Bay Bridge Chardonnay</li> <li>Beringer White Merlot 2011</li> <li>Beringer White Zinfandel 2011</li> <li>Beringer Red Moscato</li> <li>Beringer Refreshingly Sweet Moscato</li> <li>Charles Shaw White Zinfandel 2012</li> <li>Colores del Sol Malbec 2010</li> <li>Glen Ellen by Concannon's Glen Ellen Reserve Pinot Grigio 2012</li> <li>Concannon Selected Vineyards Pinot Noir 2011</li> <li>Glen Ellen by Concannon's Glen Ellen Reserve Merlot 2010</li> <li>Cook Spumante</li> <li>Corbett Canyon Pinot Grigio</li> <li>Corbett Canyon Cabernet Sauvignon</li> <li>Cupcake Malbec 2011</li> <li>Fetzer Moscato 2010</li> <li>Fetzer Pinot Grigio 2011</li> <li>Fisheye Pinot Grigio 2012</li> <li>Flipflop Pinot Grigio 2012</li> <li>Flipflop Moscato</li> <li>Flipflop Cabernet Sauvignon</li> <li>Foxhorn White Zinfandel</li> <li>Franzia Vintner Select White Grenache</li> <li>Franzia Vintner Select White Zinfandel</li> <li>Franzia Vintner Select White Merlot</li> <li>Franzia Vintner Select Burgundy</li> <li>Hawkstone Cabernet Sauvignon 2011</li> <li>HRM Rex Goliath's Moscato</li> <li>Korbel Sweet Rose Sparkling Wine</li> <li>Korbel Extra Dry Sparkling Wine</li> <li>Menage a Trois Pinot Grigio 2011</li> <li>Menage a Trois Moscato 2010</li> <li>Menage a Trois White Blend 2011</li> <li>Menage a Trois Chardonnay 2011</li> <li>Menage a Trois Rose 2011</li> <li>Menage a Trois Cabernet Sauvignon 2010</li> <li>Menage a Trois California Red Wine 2011</li> <li>Mogen David Concord</li> <li>Mogen David Blackberry Wine</li> <li>Oak Leaf White Zinfandel</li> <li>Pomelo Sauvignon Blanc 2011</li> <li>R Collection by Raymond's Chardonnay 2012</li> <li>Richards Wild Irish Rose Red Wine</li> <li>Seaglass Sauvignon Blanc 2012</li> <li>Simply Naked Moscato 2011</li> <li>Smoking Loon Viognier 2011</li> <li>Sutter Home Sauvignon Blanc 2010</li> <li>Sutter Home Gewurztraminer 2011</li> <li>Sutter Home Pink Moscato</li> <li>Sutter Home Pinot Grigio 2011</li> <li>Sutter Home Moscato</li> <li>Sutter Home Chenin Blanc 2011</li> <li>Sutter Home Sweet Red 2010</li> <li>Sutter Home Riesling 2011</li> <li>Sutter Home White Merlot 2011</li> <li>Sutter Home Merlot 2011</li> <li>Sutter Home White Zinfandel 2011</li> <li>Sutter Home White Zinfandel 2012</li> <li>Sutter Home Zinfandel 2010</li> <li>Trapiche Malbec 2012</li> <li>Tribuno Sweet Vermouth</li> <li>Vendange Merlot</li> <li>Vendange White Zinfandel</li> <li>Wine Cube Moscato</li> <li>Wine Cube Pink Moscato 2011</li> <li>Wine Cube Pinot Grigio 2011</li> <li>Wine Cube Pinot Grigio</li> <li>Wine Cube Chardonnay 2011</li> <li>Wine Cube Chardonnay</li> <li>Wine Cube Red Sangria</li> <li>Wine Cube Sauvignon Blanc 2011</li> <li>Wine Cube Cabernet Sauvignon/Shiraz 2011</li> </ul></body></html> Blue Marble Econundrums Food and Ag Fri, 20 Mar 2015 23:09:26 +0000 272161 at Obama Administration Reveals New Federal Rules on Fracking <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>On Friday, the Obama administration put forth the <a href=";action=click&amp;pgtype=Homepage&amp;module=first-column-region&amp;region=top-news&amp;WT.nav=top-news&amp;assetType=nyt_now" target="_blank">first major federal standards</a> regulating hydraulic fracturing&mdash;the oil and gas extraction technique commonly referred to as fracking. The regulations will, among other things, require companies working on public lands to reveal <a href=";utm_medium=social&amp;;utm_campaign=buffer" target="_blank">which chemicals</a> they used in their drilling processes. But as the <em>New York Times</em> notes, the impact of the new rules will be limited since most fracking in the United States takes <a href=";action=click&amp;pgtype=Homepage&amp;module=first-column-region&amp;region=top-news&amp;WT.nav=top-news&amp;assetType=nyt_now" target="_blank">place on private land</a>. From the <em>Times </em>story:</p> <blockquote> <p class="story-body-text story-content" data-para-count="325" data-total-count="1630" itemprop="articleBody">The regulations, which are to take effect in 90 days, will allow government workers to inspect and validate the safety and integrity of the cement barriers that line fracking wells. They will require companies to publicly disclose the chemicals used in the fracturing process within 30 days of completing fracking operations.</p> <p class="story-body-text story-content" data-para-count="254" data-total-count="1884" id="story-continues-3" itemprop="articleBody">The rules will also set safety standards for how companies can store used fracking chemicals around well sites, and will require companies to submit detailed information on well geology to the Bureau of Land Management, a part of the Interior Department.</p> </blockquote> <p>Environmentalists aren't exactly thrilled with the new regulations; many were instead calling for the government to ban fracking on all public lands.</p> <p>"This fracking rule is merely a continuation of Obama's harmful all-of-the-above energy policy that emphasizes natural gas development over protection of public health and the environment," said Friends of the Earth's Kate DeAngelis in a press release. "This country needs real climate leadership from President Obama, not weak regulations that do nothing to stop the devastating impacts of climate disruption."</p></body></html> Blue Marble Climate Change Climate Desk Energy Obama Infrastructure Fri, 20 Mar 2015 17:27:47 +0000 Inae Oh 272146 at Obama Is Ordering the Federal Government to Slash Its Greenhouse Emissions <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>President Barack Obama will once again use his executive authority to mandate action on climate change, the White House announced this morning. Later today, Obama plans to sign an executive order directing the federal government to reduce its carbon footprint by 40 percent below 2008 levels within a decade. The White House announcement also includes carbon-reduction commitments from a number of large government contractors, including GE and IBM.</p> <p>From the <a href="" target="_blank">Associated Press</a>:</p> <blockquote> <p>All told, the government pollution cuts along with industry contributions will have the effect of keeping 26 million metric tons of greenhouse gases out of the air by 2025, or the equivalent of what about 5.5 million cars would pump out through their tailpipes in an average year, the White House said. Yet it was unclear exactly how either the government or private companies planned to meet those targets.</p> </blockquote> <p>In other words, it will take until 2025 to for the cuts to reach 26 million metric tons per year. And even that is a pretty small fraction of the nation's total carbon footprint, which was nearly <a href="" target="_blank">7 billion metric tons in 2013</a>. But the announcement garnered praise from environmental groups as a sign of Obama's leadership on climate. In a statement, Natural Resources Defense Council president Rhea Suh called the announcement "a powerful reminder of how much progress we can make simply through energy efficiency and greater reliance on clean, renewable sources of energy."</p> <p>The executive order will be the latest step the president has taken to confront climate change that won't require him to push legislation through a <a href="" target="_blank">recalcitrant</a>, GOP-controlled Congress. In the last couple years his administration has imposed tight limits on vehicle emissions and has put forward a <a href="" target="_blank">flagship set of new rules</a> under the Clean Air Act to slash carbon pollution from power plants. Obama also negotiated a <a href="" target="_blank">bilateral deal with China</a> that featured a suite of new climate promises from both countries. And sometime this spring, the president will announce what kind of commitments his administration will bring to the table for a high-stakes round of UN-led negotiations that are meant to produce a new international climate accord.</p> <p>According to the White House, today's executive order directs federal agencies to:</p> <ul><li>Procure a quarter of their total energy from clean sources by 2025;</li> <li>Cut energy use in federal buildings 2.5 percent per year over the next decade;</li> <li>Purchase more plug-in hybrid vehicles for federal fleets and reduce per-mile greenhouse gas emissions overall by 30 percent by 2025;</li> <li>Reduce water use in federal buildings 2 percent per year through 2025.</li> </ul></body></html> Blue Marble Climate Change Climate Desk Energy Obama Top Stories Infrastructure Thu, 19 Mar 2015 15:19:01 +0000 Tim McDonnell 272066 at Scientists: Ted Cruz's Climate Theories Are a "Load of Claptrap" <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>Last night, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), a probable candidate for the GOP presidential nomination, shared his thoughts about climate change with late-night host Seth Meyers (video above). Here's what he said:</p> <blockquote> <p>CRUZ: I just came back from New Hampshire where there's snow and ice everywhere. And my view actually is simple. Debates on this should follow science and should follow data. And many of the alarmists on global warming, they've got a problem because the science doesn't back them up. And in particular, satellite data demonstrate for the last 17 years there's been zero warming, none whatsoever. It's why, you remember how it used to be called global warming, and then magically the theory changed to climate change?</p> <p>MEYERS: Sure.</p> <p>CRUZ: The reason is it wasn't warming. But the computer models still say it is, except the satellites show it's not.</p> </blockquote> <p>We totally agree with his point that debates about climate "should follow science and should follow data." Right on! But according to Kevin Trenberth, a leading climate scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, everything else in Cruz's quote is "a load of claptrap&hellip;absolute bunk."</p> <div><div id="mininav" class="inline-subnav"> <!-- header content --> <div id="mininav-header-content"> <div id="mininav-header-text"> <p class="mininav-header-text" style="margin: 0; padding: 0.75em; font-size: 11px; font-weight: bold; line-height: 1.2em; background-color: rgb(221, 221, 221);"> How the 2016 contenders will deal with climate change </p> </div> </div> <!-- linked stories --> <div id="mininav-linked-stories"> <ul><span id="linked-story-272011"> <li><a href="/blue-marble/2015/03/ted-cruz-seth-myers-climate-change"> Scientists: Ted Cruz's Climate Theories Are a "Load of Claptrap"</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-271541"> <li><a href="/environment/2015/03/scott-walker-environment-climate-change-2016"> Scott Walker Is the Worst Candidate for the Environment</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-266761"> <li><a href="/politics/2014/12/jeb-bush-climate-change-skeptic"> Jeb Bush on Climate Change: "I'm a Skeptic"</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-257241"> <li><a href="/environment/2014/09/hillary-clinton-fracking-shale-state-department-chevron"> How Hillary Clinton's State Department Sold Fracking to the World</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-267041"> <li><a href="/environment/2014/12/jim-webb-climate-change"> Jim Webb Wants to Be President. Too Bad He's Awful on Climate Change.</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-268141"> <li><a href="/environment/2015/01/climate-change-ted-cruz-marco-rubio-nasa-noaa"> Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio Will Now Supervise the Nation's Climate Science</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-268851"> <li><a href="/environment/2015/01/snow-cold-global-warming-republicans"> Attention GOP Candidates: Winter Does Not Disprove Global Warming</a></li> </span> </ul></div> <!-- footer content --> </div> </div> <p>Trenberth wasn't alone in his criticism. Several prominent climate scientists contacted by Climate Desk dismissed Cruz's analysis. "It is disturbing that some of our most prominent elected officials have decided to engage in distortions of and cynical attacks against the science," said Michael Mann of Penn State.</p> <p>"Lawmakers have a responsibility to understand the science, and not to embrace ignorance with open arms, as Senator Cruz is doing here," added Ben Santer, a researcher at the Lawrence Livermore National Lab.</p> <p>So what's wrong with what Cruz said? For starters, the satellite record <em>does</em>, in fact, show warming. <a href="" target="_blank">Here's a view</a> of temperature anomalies (that is, the deviation from the long-term average) reported by Remote Sensing Systems, a NASA-backed private satellite lab. It shows warming of about 0.2 degrees Fahrenheit per decade since 1980, the beginning of the satellite record:</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/RSS_TS_channel_TLT_Global_Land_And_Sea_v03_3.png"><div class="caption">Remote Sensing Systems</div> </div> <p>Even still, there are a couple important caveats with satellite temperature data that Cruz would do well to make note of. One, Santer said, is that it has a "huge" degree of uncertainty (compared to land-based thermometers), so it should be approached with caution. That's because satellites don't make direct measurements of temperature but instead pick up microwaves from oxygen molecules in the atmosphere that vary with temperature. Fluctuations in a satellite's orbit and altitude and calibrations to its microwave-sensing equipment can all drastically affect its temperature readings.&nbsp;</p> <p>More importantly, satellites measure temperatures in the atmosphere, high above the surface. The chart above shows the lower troposphere, about six miles above the surface. This data is an important piece of the climate and weather system, but it's only one piece. There are plenty of other signs that are far less equivocal, and perhaps even more relevant to those of us who live on the Earth's surface: Land and ocean surface temperatures are increasing, sea ice is declining, glaciers are shrinking, oceans are rising, the list goes on. In other words, the satellites-vs-computers dichotomy described by Cruz ignores most of the full picture.</p> <p>For example, here's the most recent land and ocean-surface temperature data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, showing how temperatures this winter deviated from the long-term average (dating all the way back to 1880). Much of the globe is warmer than average, some parts are the hottest on record, and the overall global temperature was the <a href="" target="_blank">warmest on record</a>:</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/temp-map_0.jpg"><div class="caption">NOAA</div> </div> <p>There's also a big underlying flaw with Cruz's cherry-picked timespan of 17 years, which almost any climate scientist would agree is far too short to observe any meaningful trend. 1998, the year Cruz starts with, was itself exceptionally warm thanks to the biggest El Nino event of the 20th century. If that's your starting place, the warming trend does indeed look weak. But look over a longer time period, and it's obvious that very warm years are more common now than before.</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/trend-bars.jpg"><div class="caption">NOAA</div> </div> <p>And in any case, even the modest "slow-down" in warming that has occurred since 2000 isn't inconsistent with what scientists have always expected man-made climate change will look like. Even the earliest climate models predicted the possibility of occasional leveling-off periods in upward-bound global temperature, like a landing on a staircase.</p> <p>In fact, one reason why many scientists "magically" (as Cruz put it) have begun to prefer the term "climate change" to "global warming" is because they think the latter can misleadingly imply that every year will be incrementally warmer than the last. In reality, climate change is all about odds: Man-made greenhouse gas emissions substantially increase the chances of an exceptionally warm year, but they don't eliminate the possibility for average or even cold years to happen.</p> <p>Even accounting for the apparent stability of the last few years, Santer said, "everything tells us that what's going on isn't natural."</p> <p>As for Cruz's reference to snowy weather in New Hampshire...<a href="" target="_blank">give us a break</a>.</p></body></html> Blue Marble Video 2016 Elections Climate Change Climate Desk Elections Film and TV Science Ted Cruz Top Stories Wed, 18 Mar 2015 21:00:57 +0000 Tim McDonnell 272011 at California Nutritionists Just Voted Not To Invite McDonald's Back as a Sponsor <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Last year, <a href="" target="_blank">I attended</a> the annual conference of the California Dietetic Association, the state's chapter of the country's largest professional <a href="" target="_blank">organization </a>for nutritionists and dietitians. Its premier sponsor&mdash;and lunch caterer&mdash;was McDonald's. That won't be the case at this year's conference<strong> </strong>in April: The organization just voted not to invite the fast-food chain back.</p> <p>Today a member of the California Dietetics Association <a href="" target="_blank">shared</a> the following letter from conference leadership on the Facebook page of Dietitians for Professional Integrity:</p> <blockquote> <p>We would like to direct your attention to what the California Dietetic Association (CDA) has done to address our own issues surrounding sponsorship. We heard your concerns regarding CDA Annual Conference sponsorship and we have listened. We voted and McDonalds was not invited as a sponsor in 2015. This decision has impacted our finances; however, we believe it was important to respond to our member feedback. In addition, an ad hoc committee approved by the CDA executive board, reevaluated the sponsorship guidelines. The new sponsorship policy will be posted soon on Any questions regarding the new policy can be directed to Kathryn Sucher, CDA President-elect [email address redacted]<br> We look forward to seeing you at the CDA Annual Conference.<br> Your 2014-2015 CDA Executive Board</p> </blockquote> <p>That's not to say that the conference organizers have ditched corporate funders entirely. According to the schedule (<a href="" target="_blank">PDF</a>), Kellogg's is sponsoring a panel called "The Evolution of Breakfast: Nutrition and Health Concerns in the Future," while <a href="" target="_blank">Soy Connection</a>, the communications arm of the United Soybean Board, is hosting a session titled "Busting the Myths Surrounding Genetically Engineered Foods" (and sponsoring a "light breakfast"). A few other sessions sponsored by corporations and trade groups:</p> <ul><li>"Why We Eat What We Eat in America and What We Can Do About It" (California Beef Council)</li> <li>"Probiotics and the Microbiome: Key to Health and Disease Prevention" (Dairy Council of California)</li> <li>"New Research &ndash; Understanding Optimal Levels Of Protein And Carb To Prevent Obesity, Sarcopenia, Type 2 Diabetes, And Metabolic Syndrome" (Egg Nutrition Center)</li> <li>"New evidence of Non-Nutritive Sweeteners: Help or Hindrance for Weight and Diabetes Management" (Johnson &amp; Johnson McNeil, Inc, LLC)</li> <li>"Plant-based Meals from Around the Globe" (Barilla Pasta)</li> </ul><p>Still, says <a href="" target="_blank">Andy Bellatti</a>, a dietitian and leader of the group Dietitians for Professional Integrity, ditching McDonald's as a sponsor is a step in the right direction. "There's still a long way to go," he said. "But the McDonald's sponsorship was just so egregious. I'm glad they came to their senses and got rid of it."</p></body></html> Blue Marble Food and Ag Wed, 18 Mar 2015 18:08:33 +0000 Kiera Butler 272016 at Want Some Metal With That Kraft Mac & Cheese? <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Today, Kraft Foods recalled 242,000 cases&mdash;or about 6.5 million boxes&mdash;of its signature macaroni and cheese after customers reported finding small pieces of metal in the product. Yummy!</p> <p>Eight customers, like the one below, have found the metal, though no injuries have been reported.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p>Just found this coiled up piece of metal in my easy Mac <a href="">@kraftmacncheese</a> <a href="">@kraftfoods</a> <a href="">#explainthis</a> <a href=""></a></p> &mdash; jake shat (@CoMoStreetArt) <a href="">March 4, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><p>According to a company <a href=";p=irol-newsArticle&amp;ID=2026530" target="_blank">press release</a>, the recalled boxes are 7.25 oz, "Original Flavor" Macaroni &amp; Cheese Dinner with expiration dates between September 18, 2015 and October 11, 2015, and they're marked with the code "C2"&nbsp; below the date (referring to the box's production line). The boxes have been distributed across the United States and Puerto Rico, as well as some Caribbean and South American countries. The company's statement read, "We deeply regret this situation and apologize to any consumers we have disappointed," and added, "Consumers who purchased this product should not eat it."</p></body></html> Blue Marble Econundrums Food and Ag Tue, 17 Mar 2015 23:54:33 +0000 Julia Lurie 271976 at Wind Energy Will Be Cheaper Than Fossil Fuels Within a Decade <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Wind energy is growing fast. While it still accounts for less than 5 percent of the United States' total electricity mix, wind is by far the <a href="" target="_blank">biggest source</a> of renewable energy other than hydroelectric dams, and it accounted for <a href="" target="_blank">23 percent</a> of new power production capacity built last year. Some experts <a href="" target="_blank">think</a> wind could provide a fifth of the world's energy by 2030. But wind in the US is always in a perilous position, thanks to its heavy reliance on a federal tax credit that is <a href="" target="_blank">routinely attacked</a> in Congress; the subsidy was allowed to expire at the end of last year, and its ultimate fate remains unclear.</p> <p>Fortunately, wind won't be subject to the whims of legislators for much longer, according to a new analysis from the Energy Department. The new report found that within a decade, wind will be cost-competitive with fossil fuels like natural gas, even without a federal tax incentive.</p> <p>From <em><a href="" target="_blank">Bloomberg Business</a>:</em></p> <blockquote> <p>Cost reductions and technology improvements will reduce the price of wind power to below that of fossil-fuel generation, even after a $23-per-megawatt-hour subsidy provided now to wind farm owners ends, according to a report released Thursday.</p> <p>"Wind offers a power resource that's already the most competitive option in many parts of the nation," Lynn Orr, under secretary for science and energy at the Energy Department, said on a conference call with reporters. "With continued commitment, wind can be the cheapest, cleanest power option in all 50 states by 2050."</p> </blockquote> <p>That would be a huge win for slowing climate change. The report finds that it could also lead to billions of dollars of benefits to the American public, from lower monthly electric bills to fewer air-pollution-related deaths.</p></body></html> Blue Marble Climate Change Climate Desk Energy Tech Infrastructure Tue, 17 Mar 2015 17:56:50 +0000 Tim McDonnell 271931 at Your Cellphone Might Be Making You Fat <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Like most things you love in life, your cellphone might be contributing to your growing waistline&mdash;along with your tablet, videogame console, computer, and television. Electronic devices with chips contain flame retardants to cool those chips so they don't catch fire while you are using them. <a href="" target="_blank">Researchers at the University of Houston</a> are now finding that these commonly used chemicals may be connected to weight gain.</p> <p>The compounds in question, Tetrabromobisphoneol A (TBBPA) and tetrachlorobisphenol A (TCBPA) can leach out of the devices and often end up settling on dust particles in the air we breathe, the study found. The compounds are a form of <a href="" target="_blank">bisphenol A (BPA), </a>a chemical ubiquitously used in food containers and plastic water battles that has already already <a href="" target="_blank">been linked to obesity</a> and <a href="" target="_blank">increases in metabolic disorders</a>.&nbsp;</p> <p>After <a href="" target="_blank">previous studies showed</a> that these chemicals could activate stem cells to grow fat cells, the scientists set out to study their effect on living organisms.</p> <p>Using sibling pairs of zebrafish, the researchers administered low doses of the chemicals to only one group for 11 days. Though both groups ate the same diet, after a month the zebrafish in the chemical group were heavier and showed signs of increased fat cell build up (zebrafish are transparent so scientists could see fat build up around vital organs as well as around the fish's sides).</p> <p>The team was hopeful that the findings will lead to more in depth research on chemicals that can cause weight gain, said&nbsp;researcher Maria Bondesson in a University of Houston <a href="" target="_blank">press release</a>. "Our goal is to find the worst ones and then replace them with safer alternatives."</p></body></html> Blue Marble Health Tech Tue, 17 Mar 2015 10:00:08 +0000 Gabrielle Canon 271896 at Will Obama's Ag Chief Wimpify the 2015 Dietary Guidelines to Please Big Meat? <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Should the new Dietary Guidelines&mdash;the advice the federal government issues every five years on what constitutes a healthy diet&mdash;include recommendations about what makes for a healthy planet? The meat industry sure doesn't think so.</p> <p>The industry <a href="" target="_blank">started flipping out</a> when it saw some of the language in the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee's February <a href="" target="_blank">report</a>: "Consistent evidence indicates that, in general, a dietary pattern that is higher in plant-based foods...and lower in animal-based foods is more health promoting and is associated with a lesser environmental impact (GHG emissions and energy, land, and water use) than is the current average US diet."</p> <p>Big Meat takes issue with two main things:</p> <p>1) That the committee's scientists dared to comment on environmental sustainability issues in a nutrition report.</p> <p>2) That the report said (elsewhere) that a healthy diet should be lower in red and processed meats.</p> <p>The <a href="" target="_blank">North American Meat Institute</a>, a massive trade association, retaliated this week with a "Hands Off My Hot Dog" petition on <a href="" target="_blank">,</a> a flurry of tweets about <a href="" target="_blank">saving the Ruben sandwich</a>, and this short film, starring plastic-wrapped packages of raw beef:</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>The film focuses on the health merits of meat, arguing that it trumps other foods because, unlike plants, "animal proteins are considered complete proteins, or ideal proteins." Never mind that plenty of other accessible and cheap vegetarian foods, including rice and beans, or buckwheat, also provide complete proteins.</p> <p>But the video does not try to refute the notion that meat's environmental footprint is cause for concern&mdash;the UN <a href="" target="_blank">argues,</a> for instance, that livestock produce 14.5 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. The Dietary Guidelines' committee points out that producing one calorie of beef requires 18 times as much fuel as producing one calorie of grain.</p> <p>It's no coincidence that the committee chose to flag the carbon footprint of our food: The guidelines are ultimately about people's relationship with food, and the deterioration of the environment's health is a blow to our food security. "Meeting current and future food needs," the committee notes, will depend on changing the way people eat and developing agricultural and production practices "that reduce environmental impacts and conserve resources."</p> <p>So will the Dietary Guidelines retain this responsible language when they are officially published this fall by the departments of Health and Human Services and Agriculture? On Wednesday, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack said that he could not rule out the chance that the final version will mention sustainability, but he implied that he would steer clear of doling out environmental advice. He <a href="" target="_blank">told the <em>Wall Street Journal</em></a>:</p> <blockquote> <p>"Our job ultimately is to formulate dietary and nutrition guidelines. And I emphasize dietary and nutrition because that's what the law says. I think it's my responsibility to follow the law."</p> </blockquote> <p>The law or the money? The AP has <a href="" target="_blank">reported</a> that meat processing and livestock industries spent $7 million on lobbying and donated $5 million to members of Congress during the last election cycle.</p></body></html> Blue Marble Food and Ag Health Regulatory Affairs Top Stories Sat, 14 Mar 2015 10:00:06 +0000 Maddie Oatman 271751 at Antibiotics Are No Longer Making Pigs Bigger <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>For decades, it's been thought that low, regular doses of antibiotics help livestock grow big&mdash;thus increasing meat producers' profits. So common is the practice of lacing farm animals' feed with the drugs that an astonishing <a href="" target="_blank">four-fifths</a> of all antibiotics in the United States now go to livestock.</p> <p>But a <a href="" target="_blank">new meta-analysis</a> by two Princeton researchers shows that antibiotics aren't as effective at promoting growth as they used to be. Studies from 1950-1985 suggested that antibiotics increased weight of young pigs by an average of about 17 older pigs by 4 percent. But similar studies since 2000 found much less dramatic results: 1 percent increase for young pigs and no measurable increase for older pigs.</p> <p>No one knows why the drugs have become less effective&mdash;and in fact, there's no consensus on how exactly antibiotics increased growth in animals to begin with. One theory is that the drugs fight low-level infections, which allows the animal to use its energy for growing instead of warding off germs. The authors of the new analysis theorize that as hygiene at livestock operations improve, the rate of infections might be decreasing, thus negating the need for antibiotics.</p> <p>Another (scarier) possibility: Bugs that cause common animal infections are becoming resistant to the antibiotics. The consequences of antibiotic resistance, of course, go far beyond pigs' rates of growth. As my colleague Tom Philpott has reported, superbugs can <a href="" target="_blank">jump from animals to humans</a>. Antibiotic-resistant infections already kill <a href="" target="_blank">700,000 people</a> every year worldwide. A recent UK report <a href="" target="_blank">predicted</a> that number will rise to 10 million by 2050.</p> <p>"If the benefits of [antibiotics for animal growth] have diminished, then it becomes reasonable to be cautious and avoid the potential public health costs," write the new report's authors. "Antibiotics are not needed to promote growth, but they are essential to treat infectious diseases and maintain animal health."&nbsp;</p></body></html> Blue Marble Animals Food and Ag Health Tue, 10 Mar 2015 19:17:21 +0000 Kiera Butler 271676 at 2014 Was the Biggest Year For Solar Power Ever <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>We've noted here before the many ways in which <a href="" target="_blank">solar power is blowing up in the United States</a>: Adding <a href="" target="_blank">tons of jobs</a>, driving <a href="" target="_blank">progressive policies</a>, and attracting <a href="" target="_blank">millions of dollars in investment from major corporations</a>. It's not slowing down anytime soon: New data from market analysis firm GTM Research finds that 2014 was solar's biggest year ever, with 30 percent more photovoltaic installations installed than in 2013. Check it out:</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/solar-1-chart.jpg"><div class="caption">GTM</div> </div> <p>Those numbers are even more impressive when you compare them to other types of energy sources. Even though solar still accounts for a small share of US electricity generation (less than 1 percent), last year it added nearly as many new megawatts to the grid as natural gas, which is quickly catching up on coal as the country's primary energy source. (Coal, you can see, added almost nothing new in 2014.)</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/solar-2-chart."><div class="caption">GTM</div> </div> <p>The report points to three chief reasons for the boom. First, costs are falling, not just for the panels themselves but for ancillary expenses like installation and financing, such that overall prices fell by 10 percent compared to 2013. Second, falling costs have allowed both large utility companies and small third-party solar installers to pursue new ways to bring solar to customers, including leasing panels and improved on-site energy storage. Third, federal incentives and regulations have been relatively stable in the last few years, while state incentives are generally improving, particularly in states like California and Nevada that have been leading the charge.</p> <p>One more chart worth pointing out: Rooftop solar tends to get the most press because that's where homeowners and solar companies get into tussles with big incumbent power companies and the state regulators that often side with them. And it's true that a new home gets solar more often than a giant solar farm gets constructed. But on a sheer megawatt basis, utility-scale solar is still far and away the leading source, with a few notable projects coming online in 2014, like the <a href="" target="_blank">Topaz Solar</a> project in the California desert, the largest solar installation in the world.</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/solar-3-chart.jpg"><div class="caption">GTM</div> </div></body></html> Blue Marble Charts Climate Change Climate Desk Energy Tech Infrastructure Tue, 10 Mar 2015 16:32:22 +0000 Tim McDonnell 271646 at Town Overrun by 31-Acre Sinkhole Now Overrun by Homeless Kittens <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>In August of 2012, a salt cavern maintained by the mining company Texas Brine collapsed, <a href="" target="_blank">creating a sinkhole</a> outside the town of Bayou Corne, Louisiana, and prompting a mandatory evacuation order that has <a href="" target="_blank">yet to be lifted</a>. Two and a half years later, the sinkhole has grown to 31 acres, Texas Brine has reached a $48.6 million settlement with displaced homeowners, and the company is considering bulldozing much of the town and converting it into "<a href="" target="_blank">green space</a>."</p> <p>But it's not just Bayou Corne evacuees who are looking for a new place to live&mdash;the neighborhood near the sinkhole is still home to 38 feral cats, who risk losing their suburban habitat if the properties return to nature because of the sinkhole.</p> <p>The New Orleans <em>Times Picayune</em> <a href="" target="_blank">has the full story</a> on the kittens of Bayou Corne, and the efforts of one of the few remaining residents, Teleca Donachricha, to find them a home:</p> <blockquote> <p>Some of the residents had been feeding different groups of them, but those residents are all gone now. One woman had been trying to drive the hour from Baton Rouge every other day to feed one group of the cats, but Donachricha knew that wasn't going to last long. She said if the woman could provide food, she would feed the cats for her, and she has.</p> <p>...</p> <p>Texas Brine spokesman Sonny Cranch said he couldn't say when demolition will occur. The company donated $1,000 to a nonprofit Donachricha was working with to get some of the cats spayed and neutered. All but three of the 38 cats are now spayed or neutered --&nbsp;one of the remaining ones is a newer arrival that was recently dumped there, and the other two she hasn't been able to catch.</p> <p>"We support her efforts," Cranch said. "Hopefully she'll be successful in finding homes for these animals."</p> </blockquote> <p>Any takers?</p> <div id="fb-root">&nbsp;</div> <script>(function(d, s, id) { var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) return; js = d.createElement(s); = id; js.src = "//"; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);}(document, 'script', 'facebook-jssdk'));</script><div class="fb-post" data-href="" data-width="466"> <div class="fb-xfbml-parse-ignore"><a href="">Post</a> by <a href="">The Feral Cats Of Bayou Corne, Louisiana</a>.</div> </div></body></html> Blue Marble Animals Energy Mon, 09 Mar 2015 22:45:07 +0000 Tim Murphy 271626 at Yet Another Oil Train Disaster <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Another day, another oil train derailment. Early Saturday morning, a Canadian National Railway train carrying Alberta crude <a href="" target="_blank">derailed</a> outside the tiny town of Gogama&nbsp;in northern Ontario. Thirty-eight cars came off the tracks, and five of them <a href="" target="_blank">splashed</a> into the Mattagami River system. The accident caused a massive fire and leaked oil into waterways used by locals&mdash;including a nearby indigenous community&mdash;f<span style="font-family: Verdana, Arial, sans-serif; line-height: 24px;">or</span><span style="font-family: Verdana, Arial, sans-serif; line-height: 24px;">&nbsp;drinking and fishing</span>. No one was injured, but according to <a href="" target="_blank">CN Railway's Twitter feed</a>, fire fighters were still suppressing fires earlier today. People in the area, including members of&nbsp;the Mattagami First Nation, have been <a href="" target="_blank">complaining of respiratory issues</a> from the smoke.</p> <p>This oil train derailment was the second in three days in Canada and the fifth in three weeks in North America. An oil train derailed last week <a href="" target="_blank">near Galena, Illinois</a>. The oil boom in Canada and the United States has resulted in a <a href="" target="_blank">dramatic increase</a> in the use of these trains, and derailments now appear to be&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">the new normal</a>.</p> <p>After the 2013 derailment and explosion of an oil train killed 47 people in Lac-Megantic, Quebec, many pointed to <a href="" target="_blank">old, unsafe DOT-111 tanker models</a> as a main reason for the disaster and others like it. But at least four of the five recent incidents have involved&nbsp;newer, and theoretically safer, <a href="" target="_blank">CPC-1232 models.</a></p> <p>Environmental and safety advocates say oil-by-rail needs even more stringent safety measures, but they have been slow coming. The US government reportedly <a href="" target="_blank">balked</a> at creating national&nbsp;standards to limit the amount of potentially explosive gas in tankers carrying oil from North Dakota. And the White House Office of Management and Budget has said it will need until May to finalize rules proposed by the Department of Transportation last summer that would slow down crude-by-rail deliveries and require tankers to have insulated steel shells. The CPC-1232 tankers that derailed in Galena did not have these shells. I asked the Canadian National Railway Company if the tankers involved in Saturday's derailment had these shells. The company didn't directly answer that question. In an email, it stated: "The tank cars involved were CPC 1232 tank cars. The exact specifications will be information gathered as part of the ongoing investigation."</p> <p>Below are Twitter pictures of Saturday's derailment in northern Ontario.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p>Safety concerns rise in the wake of a CN train derailment in northern Ontario <a href=""></a> <a href=""></a></p> &mdash; CTV News (@CTVNews) <a href="">March 8, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p>Fourth train derailment in northern Ontario this year <a href=""></a> <a href=""></a></p> &mdash; CBC Canadian News (@CBCCanada) <a href="">March 7, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p>Train derailment shows feds need to act on train safety, Ontario MPPs say <a href=""></a></p> &mdash; Los Griner (@losgriner) <a href="">March 8, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p>2 derailed CN rail cars carrying oil still in Ontario river <a href=""></a> <a href=""></a></p> &mdash; CBC News (@CBCNews) <a href="">March 9, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script></body></html> Blue Marble Climate Desk Energy Top Stories Infrastructure Mon, 09 Mar 2015 20:17:43 +0000 Luke Whelan 271566 at Report: Florida Banned State Workers From Saying "Climate Change" <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><em>This <a href="" target="_blank">story</a> was originally published by the </em><a href="" target="_blank">Guardian</a> <em>and is republished here as part of the <a href="" target="_blank">Climate Desk</a> collaboration.</em></p> <p>Officials with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), the agency <a href="">in charge</a> of setting conservation policy and enforcing environmental laws in the state, issued directives in 2011 barring thousands of employees from using the phrases "climate change" and "global warming," according to a <a href="">bombshell report</a> by the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting (FCIR).</p> <p>The report ties the alleged policy, which is described as "unwritten," to the election of Republican governor Rick Scott and his appointment of a new department director that year. Scott, who was re-elected last November, has declined to say whether he believes in climate change caused by human activity.</p> <p>"I'm not a scientist," he <a href="">said in one appearance</a> last May.</p> <p>Scott's office did not comment on Sunday, when contacted by the <em>Guardian</em>. A spokesperson for the governor <a href="">told the FCIR team</a>: "There's no policy on this."</p> <p>The FCIR report was based on statements by multiple named former employees who worked in different DEP offices around Florida. The instruction not to refer to "climate change" came from agency supervisors as well as lawyers, <a href="">according to the report</a>.</p> <p>"We were told not to use the terms 'climate change', 'global warming' or 'sustainability,'" the report quotes Christopher Byrd, who was an attorney with the DEP's Office of General Counsel in Tallahassee from 2008 to 2013, as saying. "That message was communicated to me and my colleagues by our superiors in the Office of General Counsel."</p> <p>"We were instructed by our regional administrator that we were no longer allowed to use the terms 'global warming' or 'climate change' or even 'sea-level rise,'" said a second former DEP employee, Kristina Trotta. "Sea-level rise was to be referred to as 'nuisance flooding.'"</p> <p>According to the employees' accounts, the ban left damaging holes in everything from educational material published by the agency to training programs to annual reports on the environment that could be used to set energy and business policy.</p> <p>The 2014 national climate assessment for the US <a href="">found</a> an "imminent threat of increased inland flooding" in Florida due to climate change and called the state "uniquely vulnerable to sea level rise."</p></body></html> Blue Marble Climate Change Climate Desk Top Stories Mon, 09 Mar 2015 15:17:22 +0000 Tom McCarthy 271581 at White Men Are Overdosing on Heroin at a Record Rate <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><iframe allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" allowtransparency="true" frameborder="0" height="400" mozallowfullscreen="mozallowfullscreen" msallowfullscreen="msallowfullscreen" oallowfullscreen="oallowfullscreen" src="//" webkitallowfullscreen="webkitallowfullscreen" width="100%"></iframe></p> <p>A decades-long surge in heroin use has left behind a trail of overdose victims. A <a href="" target="_blank">Centers for Disease Control and Prevention</a> report released this week <a href="" target="_blank">found</a> that the number of heroin overdoses quadrupled from 1,842 in 2000 to 8,257 in 2013&mdash;with a significant boost among people between the ages of 18 and 44, particularly white men.</p> <p><a href="" target="_blank">Dr. Len Paulozzi</a>, a medical epidemiologist who studies drug overdoses at the CDC's Injury Center, says that both the growing availability of heroin nationwide and the shift among prescription drug users to heroin use may have contributed to the dramatic rise in deaths.&nbsp;"Thirty years ago, people snorting heroin never used OxyContin or Vicodin before" using heroin, says Paulozzi, who did not contribute to the CDC report. But now the drug's&nbsp;abusers start with prescription drugs, he says, turning these meds<strong>&nbsp;</strong>into gateway drugs. A National Survey on Drug Use and Health study <a href="" target="_blank">found</a> that heroin abuse was 19 times higher among people who had previously abused pain relievers.&nbsp;</p> <p>The increase in overdoses follows a federal crackdown on prescription painkillers, beginning toward the end of the Clinton era and lasting through the Bush administration, that resulted in a rash of arrests for illegal use during the mid-2000s. While the rate of deaths involving prescription painkillers like OxyContin appears to have leveled off, heroin overdoses have risen 348 percent. Most of the deaths occurred after 2010. That year, a new tamper-resistant form of Oxy <a href="" target="_blank">hit the market</a>, making it less potent and harder to abuse.&nbsp;</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" allowtransparency="true" frameborder="0" height="400" mozallowfullscreen="mozallowfullscreen" msallowfullscreen="msallowfullscreen" oallowfullscreen="oallowfullscreen" src="//" webkitallowfullscreen="webkitallowfullscreen" width="100%"></iframe></p> <p>The rate of heroin deaths accelerated among people between the ages of 18 and 24, from 0.8 deaths per 100,000 people in 2000 to 3.9 deaths per 100,000&nbsp;in 2013. For people between 25 and 44 years old, the rate jumped from 1.3&nbsp;deaths per 100,000 people in&nbsp;2000 to 5.4 per 100,000&nbsp;in 2013. Among young and middle-aged white people, that death rate reached 7.0 per 100,000 by 2013.</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" allowtransparency="true" frameborder="0" height="400" mozallowfullscreen="mozallowfullscreen" msallowfullscreen="msallowfullscreen" oallowfullscreen="oallowfullscreen" src="//" webkitallowfullscreen="webkitallowfullscreen" width="100%"></iframe></p> <p>The CDC report also highlighted the stark gender and regional disparities among those who overdose.&nbsp;<span style="font-family: Verdana, Arial, sans-serif; line-height: 24px;">Deaths among men from heroin overdoses were four times higher than those among women between 2000 and 2013.&nbsp;</span>While heroin overdoses increased throughout the country, the greatest number occurred in the Northeast and Midwest. In those regions, particularly near cities, the Justice Department&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">observed</a>&nbsp;the illicit drug as a rising threat&mdash;especially given the reported spike in the <a href="" target="_blank">use of&nbsp;fentanyl,</a>&nbsp;a synthetic opioid some 30 times more potent than heroin.</p> <p><a href="" target="_blank">According</a> to the <em>Washington Post</em>, the Justice Department predicted the emerging trend in 2002: "As initiatives taken to curb the abuse of OxyContin are successfully implemented, abusers of OxyContin&hellip;also may begin to use heroin, especially if it is readily available, pure, and relatively inexpensive." A flood of heroin from Mexico, the world's third-largest opium producer, also factored into the drug's availability in the United States. In 2013, the Drug Enforcement Administration <a href="" target="_blank">seized</a> 2,196 kilograms of powder and black tar at the US-Mexico border, a nearly 160 percent bump from 2009.</p></body></html> Blue Marble Charts Health Pharma Race and Ethnicity Top Stories Mon, 09 Mar 2015 10:20:07 +0000 Edwin Rios 271531 at This GOP Congressman's Solution to Homelessness Involves Getting Eaten By Wolves <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Homelessness is a very serious problem. Nearly <a href="" target="_blank">600,000 Americans</a> don't have a home, including <a href="" target="_blank">one in every 30 children</a>. Recently, we've reported on some innovative solutions, including <a href="" target="_blank">tiny houses</a> and <a href="" target="_blank">free, no-strings-attached apartments</a>.</p> <p>Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska) has a different idea. It involves wolves. Specifically, releasing grey wolves into the districts of 79 of his peers in Congress who had recently called for greater protections for the endangered species.</p> <p>From the <a href="" target="_blank"><em>Washington Post</em></a>:</p> <blockquote> <p>"How many of you have got wolves in your district?" he asked. "None. None. Not one."</p> <p>"They haven&rsquo;t got a damn wolf in their whole district," Young continued. "I&rsquo;d like to introduce them in your district. If I introduced them in your district, you wouldn&rsquo;t have a homeless problem anymore."</p> </blockquote> <p>Wow.</p> <p>If you're unfamiliar with Don Young, he is <a href="" target="_blank">renowned for his outlandish antics</a>, mostly about animals, like that time he brandished an 18-inch walrus penis bone on the House floor or the time he called climate change the "biggest scam since <a href="" target="_blank">Teapot Dome</a>" (a major bribery scandal in the 1920s involving the Harding administration).</p> <p>A Young spokesperson told the <em>Post </em>that the comment was "purposely hyperbolic."</p></body></html> Blue Marble Animals Congress Fri, 06 Mar 2015 19:28:31 +0000 Tim McDonnell 271526 at Here's What Will Happen If Antarctica Melts <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>When we talk about global warming at the poles, the Arctic tends to get more press than the Antarctic, because it's <a href="" target="_blank">happening faster there</a> than anywhere else on Earth. But Antarctica is still a juggernaut. As ice sheets there collapse&mdash;a process some scientists now see as irreversible&mdash;global sea level could rise 10 feet. The complete meltdown could take hundreds of years, but if you live anywhere near the coast, it's not hard to imagine why my colleague Chris Mooney called that discovery a "<a href="" target="_blank">holy shit moment for global warming."</a></p> <p>Tonight, our friends at VICE will kick off their third season of documentaries on HBO, and they're headed to Antarctica to get a close-up look at the potentially catastrophic changes underway there. We'll also hear from Vice President Joe Biden, who says denying climate change is <a href="" target="_blank">"like denying gravity."</a> Check out the trailer above; the show airs tonight at 11pm ET.</p></body></html> Blue Marble Video Climate Change Climate Desk Film and TV Science Fri, 06 Mar 2015 17:47:08 +0000 Tim McDonnell 271496 at Yet Another Oil Train Has Derailed and Caught Fire <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Earlier today, yet another massive train carrying crude oil <a href="" target="_blank">derailed and caught on fire</a>, this time in northern Illinois near the Mississippi River. One-hundred-and-three of the the train's 105 cars were carrying crude oil&mdash;from where was not immediately clear (<strong>Update</strong>: BNSF&nbsp;has since confirmed the train was traveling from North Dakota; see below for their response)&mdash;eight of which derailed. Two of the derailed cars have caught on fire, according to BNSF Railway which owns the train, sending plumes of smoke and fire into the sky above Galena, Illinois, a town of just over <a href=";ctype=l&amp;strail=false&amp;bcs=d&amp;nselm=h&amp;met_y=population&amp;scale_y=lin&amp;ind_y=false&amp;rdim=country&amp;idim=place:1728300&amp;ifdim=country&amp;hl=en&amp;dl=en&amp;ind=false" target="_blank">3,300</a>.</p> <p>The image of smoldering oil train cars is now a familiar sight: Incidences of exploding oil trains have been <a href="" target="_blank">rapidly rising</a> in North America <a href="" target="_blank">thanks to the fracking boom</a> in North Dakota's Bakken oil fields (Bakken oil is <a href=";vgnextchannel=d248724dd7d6c010VgnVCM10000080e8a8c0RCRD&amp;vgnextfmt=print" target="_blank">potentially</a> more flammable than normal crude) and the <a href="" target="_blank">slow transition</a> away from old, unsafe rail cars. Oil-by-rail carloads are <a href="" target="_blank">up 4000 percent from 2008</a> in the United States and this is the the third derailment in North America in the last three weeks, including a <a href="" target="_blank">massive explosion in West Virginia on February 16</a> that injured one person and spilled oil into the nearby Kanawha River. In fact, a Department of Transportation report <a href="" target="_blank">predicted</a> trains carrying crude and ethanol would derail an average of 10 times per year in the next two decades. This is bad news for people who live near railways and the ecosystems in which they reside.</p> <p>People living within a mile radius of today's derailment have begun <a href="" target="_blank">evacuating,</a> and authorities are monitoring the Mississippi River for leakage. BNSF Railway has not responded to inquiries from <em>Mother Jones </em>about the age of the trains' cars and whether the train was carrying Bakken crude.&nbsp;(<strong>Update</strong>: See below for a response from BNSF). The Birkshire Hathaway subsidiary did tell <em>Reuters</em>, however, <a href="" target="_blank">that no injuries had been sustained</a>.</p> <p>Below are pictures of the spill from Twitter:</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p>VIDEO: Aerial view of train <a href="">#derailment</a> fire south of Galena, Ill. Massive flames visible <a href=""></a> <a href=""></a></p> &mdash; Telegraph Herald (@TelegraphHerald) <a href="">March 6, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p>Picture from <a href="">@scandbq</a> of most recent explosion from the <a href="">@BNSFRailway</a> derailment fire south of Galena <a href=""></a></p> &mdash; KCRG (@KCRG) <a href="">March 5, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p>Another view of <a href="">@BNSFRailway</a> derailment explosion near Galena courtesy <a href="">@scandbq</a>. Story: <a href=""></a> <a href=""></a></p> &mdash; KCRG (@KCRG) <a href="">March 6, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p>BOOM: 103-car oil train derails near Galena, Illinois. <a href=""></a> <a href="">#extremeenergy</a> <a href=""></a></p> &mdash; Brad Johnson (@climatebrad) <a href="">March 6, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p>High flames visible from a hilltop near Galena train derailment <a href=""></a></p> &mdash; Telegraph Herald (@TelegraphHerald) <a href="">March 5, 2015</a></blockquote> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Update 3/6/15 11:30 AM PST:</strong> BNSF spokesman Mike Trevino has confirmed to <em>Mother Jones</em> that the train was traveling from North Dakota, and the AP is <a href="" target="_blank">reporting</a> its tankers were carrying Bakken crude. Trevino said the cars were the CPC-1232 model (newer than the <a href="" target="_blank">notorious DOT-111</a> that has raised concern amongst lawmakers), but were nonetheless "unjacketed." Kristen Boyles, an attorney with environmental advocacy group&nbsp; Earthjustice, told <em>Mother Jones</em> that "unjacketed" tankers do not have the insulated steel shells that US regulators have proposed mandating for new cars to prevent puncturing after derailment. "This derailment is yet another indication that these trains are not good enough and we've got to get federal standards greatly strengthened," Boyles said. The White House's Office of Management and Budget says it will finalize the DOT's proposed rules in May.</p></body></html> Blue Marble Energy Fri, 06 Mar 2015 02:44:38 +0000 Luke Whelan 271451 at McDonald's Just Banned Antibiotic-Laced Chicken. Here's Why That Matters. <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>This week, McDonald's <a href="" target="_blank">pledged</a> to phase out serving chicken raised on antibiotics that can also be used to treat humans. To understand the giant implications this has for the meat industry, consider my colleague <a href="" target="_blank">Tom </a><a href="" target="_blank">Philpott</a>'s previous reporting on the topic. For starters, the livestock industry uses an astounding <a href="" target="_blank">four-fifths</a> of all antibiotics consumed in the United States. Mostly, these drugs are used not to treat infections but to promote growth in animals.</p> <p>There is evidence that livestock antibiotic use contributes to antibiotic resistance, lessening the effectiveness of <a href="" target="_blank">drugs that are medically important</a> to&nbsp; humans. And scientists have observed so-called "superbugs" <a href="" target="_blank">migrating</a> from farms to outside communities. It's a major problem&mdash;indeed, scientists <a href="" target="_blank">predict</a> that antibiotic failure will kill 20 million people by 2050. And yet, despite all this, the government still <a href="" target="_blank">allows</a> livestock producers to dose their animals with antibiotics.</p> <p>McDonald's chicken move is a tacit acknowledgement that antibiotics are a precious resource. And considering that the chain serves 68 million people a day in practically every nation on Earth, it sends a powerful message indeed.</p></body></html> Blue Marble Food and Ag Health Thu, 05 Mar 2015 23:49:17 +0000 Kiera Butler 271441 at Ringling Bros. Announces It's Finally Ending Elephant Acts <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>On Thursday, Ringling Bros. and Barnum &amp; Bailey said it will <a href="" target="_blank">end the use of elephant acts by 2018</a>&mdash;a move that follows decades of mounting criticism and public concern over the show's abusive treatment of the animals. Ringling's parent company, Feld Entertainment, cited a "mood shift" experienced by circus-goers who have grown "uncomfortable with us touring with elephants" for the decision.</p> <p>President Kenneth Feld also said local legislation barring certain circus practices, such as the use of bullhooks, made it increasingly difficult for the company to continue including elephants in its performances. "This decision was not easy, but it is in the best interest of our company, our elephants and our customers," he said in a <a href="" target="_blank">statement. </a></p> <p>In 2011, <em>Mother Jones</em> published an explosive, yearlong <a href="" target="_blank">investigation</a> looking into Ringling's treatment of elephants, including the regular employment of electric shocks and whippings to control them:</p> <blockquote> <p>Several of the beatings targeted Nicole, a twentysomething elephant named after Kenneth Feld's eldest daughter. Sweet-natured but clumsy, Nicole would frequently miss her cues to climb atop a tub and place her feet on the elephant next to her, <a href="" target="_blank">Stechcon said in his videotaped statement</a>. "I always rooted for her, 'Come on, Nicole, <em>get up</em>,'" he said. "But we left the show, brought the animals back to their area, and&hellip;we took the headpieces off, and as I was hanging them up, I heard the most horrible noise, just whack, whack, whack. I mean, really hard. It's hard to describe the noise. Like a baseball bat or something striking something not&mdash;not soft, and not hard&hellip;I turned around to look, and this guy was hitting her so fast and so hard [with the ankus], and sometimes he would take both hands and just really knock her, and he was just doing that. And I was, like, I couldn't believe it."</p> </blockquote> <p>The investigation also exposed that Feld Entertainment had spent millions of dollars on PR campaigns to hide such abuse from the public and fend off lawsuits:</p> <blockquote> <p>It was part of a multimillion-dollar spy operation run out of Feld headquarters to thwart and besmirch animal rights groups and others on the company's enemies list, according to <a href="" target="_blank">a stunning <em>Salon</em> piece by Jeff Stein</a>. Feld had even hired Clair George&mdash;the CIA's head of covert operations under President Reagan until his conviction for perjury in the Iran-Contra scandal. (George, who died in August, received a pardon from President George H.W. Bush.)</p> </blockquote> <p>Thursday's announcement to phase out the elephants, which have been a staple for the Ringling brand for more than a century, has been met with praise from animal rights activists. Feld Entertainment said the elephants will be transitioned to the company's elephant <a href="" target="_blank">conservation center in Florida. </a></p> <p>For more, read our <a href="" target="_blank">in-depth investigation</a> here.</p></body></html> Blue Marble Animals Thu, 05 Mar 2015 19:29:38 +0000 Inae Oh 271421 at Mitch McConnell Is Now Telling States To Ignore Obama's Climate Rules <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>It's no secret that Republicans leaders hate President Barack Obama's flagship climate initiative, which aims to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power plants. So far, the main opposition has been at the state level. The new rules require every state to submit a plan for cleaning up its power sector, and a <a href="" target="_blank">host of bills have cropped up</a>&mdash;primarily in coal-dependent Southern states&mdash;to screw with those plans. These bills tend to be backed by GOP state lawmakers, the coal industry, and the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council.</p> <p>The thrust of much of this legislation is to effectively stonewall the Environmental Protection Agency and hope that the rules get killed by the Supreme Court. It's a long shot, given the Court's long history of siding with the EPA. And the longer states delay in coming up with their own plan, the more likely they'll be to have one forced on them by the feds.</p> <p>But in a column for Kentucky's <a href="" target="_blank"><em>Lexington Herald-Leader</em></a> yesterday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) threw his weight behind this obstructionist strategy:</p> <blockquote> <p>This proposed regulation would have a negligible effect on global climate but a profoundly negative impact on countless American families already struggling&hellip;</p> <p>Don't be complicit in the administration's attack on the middle class. Think twice before submitting a state plan&mdash;which could lock you in to federal enforcement and expose you to lawsuits&mdash;when the administration is standing on shaky legal ground and when, without your support, it won't be able to demonstrate the capacity to carry out such political extremism.</p> <p>Refusing to go along at this time with such an extreme proposed regulation would give the courts time to figure out if it is even legal, and it would give Congress more time to fight back. We're devising strategies now to do just that.</p> </blockquote> <p>There's plenty to take issue with in McConnell's analysis. For starters, the EPA rules are <a href="" target="_blank">unlikely to cause any problems</a> with blackouts or sky-high electric bills, as the senator implies. But I'm sure it'll make good ammunition for state lawmakers and fossil fuel interests as battles over this thing play out this year.</p> <blockquote> <div style="width: 1px; height: 1px; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); font: 10pt sans-serif; text-align: left; text-transform: none; overflow: hidden;"><br> Read more here:</div> <div style="width: 1px; height: 1px; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); font: 10pt sans-serif; text-align: left; text-transform: none; overflow: hidden;"><br> Read more here:</div> </blockquote></body></html> Blue Marble Climate Change Climate Desk Energy Obama Infrastructure Wed, 04 Mar 2015 19:55:29 +0000 Tim McDonnell 271376 at