Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Earth Day notes: NAS rebukes Bush on smog; Duke double-speak, and more...

So much fluff has been written about Earth Day that we hesitate to take fingers to keyboard. Still, there is real news amid the fluff. And so we offer a few thoughts.

Smog slam! The National Academies of Science are out with a new report on the connection between smog and premature death. The NAS confirms that breathing smog can shorten your life. This report is a rebuke to the Bush administration, which has consistently tried to downplay the connection between smog and premature death. (You will recall that the White House Office of Management and Budget has ordered EPA to remove suggestions of this connection from several analyses, including EPA’s long-delayed small-engine standards.)


Duke double-speak: More on the theme of pollution and premature death: Perhaps the single most prominent corporate voice in the congressional global warming debate is that of Duke Energy CEO Jim Rogers. We examine some of Duke’s positions in a short white paper. Note, by the way, that while professing to be a “good guy,” Duke has been a leader in efforts to void the EPA’s much-touted “clean air interstate rule.” If Duke succeeds – and some odds makers are giving them pretty good chances – thousands of extra people could die unnecessarily each year from breathing dirty air.


Fresh air, or at least Clean Skies: Yes, we would like to welcome the long-awaited arrival of http://www.cleanskies.tv/, a new web-based energy news channel. It should contain much interesting and sometimes-provocative programming, including a panel discussion including a battle of the titans. (OK, it’s really Frank Maisano and myself, but we both hope you watch.)


State of the Air: A prominent partner of the Clean Skies initiative is the American Lung Association, which is preparing for the rollout of its annual “State of the Air” report. And this year, there’s a surprise! Official release date is May 1.


Snow season: The timing seems a little off, with spring in full bloom, but the White House Office of Management and Budget reports it has begun to review new EPA air pollution standards for snow blowers. Stay tuned.


Farm fresh? To go back to our smog theme, you will recall that the U.S. Department of Agriculture vigorously fought efforts by the EPA to set tougher smog standards. But that’s not the department’s only anti-clean air initiative. We recently learned about a program called “Fuels for Schools and Beyond,” which is giving grants to schools especially in Northeast, Midwest, and the West to replace their natural gas and other powered heating systems with wood burning systems (300 such conversions in WI alone) or “biomass.” There are no environmental requirements on the wood-burning systems and they are also sized just under the requirements for air quality permitting locally. This could be a very big source of fine particle emissions. It is, of course, ironic that many of us have been fighting for money to clean up dirty diesel school buses, while the USDA is pressing to expose kids to more pollution. Happy Earth Day.


Anonymous said...

The Bush White House has long ago lost all credibility concerning it's stands on politically sensitive topics. It's staff looks at the politics of an issue and frames it's position accordingly. If the verified facts contradict their position they disparage the facts rather than reconsider their positions. The result is that nobody trusts them, not even the groups with whom they are attempting to stand with in solidarity.

The only lesson for the future is to beware the people who have served this President in his Administration. Remember that Rumsfeld and Cheney both were young staff members in Nixon's White House. Nixon proved himself to be a leader who thought himself to be above the law and broke his world to protect and defend the Constitution. Rumsfeld and Cheney brought that same contempt for respecting the law and the Constitution with them into this White House's business, four decades later.

Dennis Meizys said...

I too, was writing a "Happy Earth Day" blog piece late last night and so enjoyed your comments on the Department of Agriculture that I linked to them -


It seems that Earth Day brings some of us true believers a bit of pain.