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Archive for August 13th, 2011

Late Late Night FDL: Turn The World Around

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on August 13th, 2011 4:46 am by HL

Late Late Night FDL: Turn The World Around
Harry BelafonteTurn The World Around, from episode 314 of The Muppet Show.

Harry BelafonteTurn The World Around, from episode 314 of The Muppet Show.

Grab your popcorn, put your feet up on the coffee table, and try to keep the spitballs off the screen please.  This is Late Late Night FireDogLake, where off topic is the topic … so dive in.  What’s on your mind?


Truthdigger of the Week: Ron Thomas

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on August 13th, 2011 4:45 am by HL

Truthdigger of the Week: Ron Thomas
A former Marine and sheriff’s deputy, Ron Thomas, this week’s Truthdigger of the Week, believes there was no excuse for the use of police force that led to the death of his mentally ill son, and he has vowed to seek justice.

A former Marine and sheriff’s deputy, Ron Thomas, this week’s Truthdigger of the Week, believes there was no excuse for the use of police force that led to the death of his mentally ill son, and he has vowed to seek justice.


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Alan Singer: Is the Tea Party Future Unfolding in London?

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on August 13th, 2011 4:44 am by HL

Alan Singer: Is the Tea Party Future Unfolding in London?
I worry we are seeing the Tea Party future unfolding in London. It is a future where the wealthiest citizens are not taxed and vital health, educational, and welfare services for everyone else are cut.

Chris Weigant: Friday Talking Points — Corporations Are People, Mitt?
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: the Iowa straw poll is meaningless. The Republican debate last night in Iowa wasn’t as meaningless, but will also soon be forgotten.

GOP Hopeful Mitt Romney’s Personal Wealth Revealed
— WASHINGTON – Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s personal wealth – up to $250 million – survived the nation’s economic crisis, according to figures…

Reza Aslan: Obama’s “Weak”, “Politically Correct” Counterterrorism Plan Will Make Americans Safer
By focusing on a wider range of domestic threats beyond just “radical Islam,” and by moving more government resources toward preventive measures, the Obama White House is being neither politically correct nor weak on terrorism. It is making Americans safer.


Synergy: News Corp. Attacks EPA For Cutting Air Pollution

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on August 13th, 2011 4:43 am by HL

Synergy: News Corp. Attacks EPA For Cutting Air Pollution

Using a series of misleading talking points, News Corporation’s Wall Street Journal, New York Post, and Fox have accused the Obama administration of waging a “war on coal” because the EPA has moved to limit toxic air pollution from power plants. In reality, the EPA is issuing these rules because the Bush administration’s regulations were rejected by courts, and the revised rules are expected to have significant public health benefits.

News Corp. Outlets Accuse Obama Administration Of “War On Coal”

NY Post Op-Ed Claims Obama EPA Is Waging A “War On Coal.” In a New York Post op-ed titled, “Obama’s war on coal,” the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s William Yeatman wrote: “President Obama claims to see the need to create jobs at this time of endless 9-plus percent unemployment — yet his administration continues to relentlessly destroy jobs for ideological reasons. The best example may be the Obama Environmental Protection Agency’s ‘war on coal.'” [New York Post, Clean Air Act, which first directed the E.P.A. to identify and control major industrial sources of hazardous emissions.

By 1990, however, federal regulators had still not set standards for toxic emissions from power plants, and Congress, in the face of stiff resistance from utilities and coal interests, passed legislation directing the E.P.A. to study the health effects of mercury and other emissions, and to detail the cost and effectiveness of control technologies.

In 1998, the agency finally complied, delivering a comprehensive report to Congress detailing the health impact of numerous pollutants, including mercury, which by then had been linked conclusively in multiple studies to serious cognitive harm to fetuses.

In December 2000, in the last days of the Clinton administration, the E.P.A. finally listed power plants as a source of hazardous air pollutants under the Clean Air Act.

The Bush administration E.P.A. faced its own deadlines to devise and put into effect controls for power plant pollution. But rather than issue emissions standards in line with federal law, in 2005, top agency officials instituted a controversial cap-and-trade program for mercury, despite a warning from agency lawyers that the move would throw the issue back into the courts and almost certainly be reversed.

As predicted, a coalition of states and environmentalists sued the agency, arguing that the cap-and-trade program would not limit other toxic emissions like arsenic and would allow the dirtiest power plants to pay for the right to pollute, putting nearby communities at risk. In 2008 a federal judge ruled against the E.P.A., giving the agency three years to develop standards for mercury and other pollutants. [The New York Times, 3/16/11]

Court Ruled That Bush Administration Had Violated The Clean Air Act. The appeals court decision vacating the Bush administration’s mercury regulation program stated that the EPA did not follow the procedures required by the Clean Air Act:

In December 2000, EPA concluded that it was “appropriate and necessary” to regulate mercury emissions from coal- and oil-fired power plants under section 112 and listed these EGUs [electric utlility steam generating units] as sources of HAPs [hazardous air pollutants] regulated under that section. In 2005, after reconsidering its previous determination, EPA purported to remove these EGUs from the section 112 list. Thereafter it promulgated CAMR [Clean Air Mercury Rule] under section 111. EPA’s removal of these EGUs from the section 112 list violates the CAA [Clean Air Act] because section 112(c)(9) requires EPA to make specific findings before removing a source listed under section 112; EPA concedes it never made such findings.

[…]

For HAPs that result in health effects other than cancer, as is true of mercury, Congress directed that the Administrator “may delete any source category” from the section 112(c)(1) list only after determining that “emissions from no source in the category or subcategory concerned . . . exceed a level which is adequate to protect public health with an ample margin of safety and no adverse environmental effect will result from emissions from any source.” Id. § 112(c)(9). [U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, New Jersey v. EPA, 2/8/08]

EPA Settlement Set Deadline For Air Toxics Rule. As explained in EPA’s proposed air toxics rule, the settlement required EPA to propose emissions standards for power plants by March 16 and finalize the regulation by November 16:

On December 18, 2008, several environmental and public health organizations (”Plaintiffs”) 10 filed a complaint in the DC District Court (Civ. No. 1:08-cv-02198 (RMC)) alleging that the Agency had failed to perform a nondiscretionary duty under CAA section 304(a)(2), by failing to promulgate final section 112(d) standards for HAP from coal- and oilfired EGUs by the statutorily mandated deadline, December 20, 2002, 2 years after such sources were listed under section 112(c). EPA settled that litigation. The consent decree resolving the case requires EPA to sign a notice of proposed rulemaking setting forth EPA’s proposed section 112(d) emission standards for coal- and oil-fired EGUs by March 16, 2011, and a notice of final rulemaking by November 16, 2011. [Federal Register, 5/3/11]

Bush’s Clean Air Interstate Rule Was Also Vacated And Remanded By Court. In addition to proposing mercury and air toxics limits for power plants, the EPA has finalized a rule limiting sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions that travel across state lines. A March 21 Congressional Research Service report explains that the Bush administration’s attempt at this rule was “vacated and remanded to the agency by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals”:

Clean Air Transport Rule. EPA’s major clean air initiative under the Bush Administration,

the Clean Air Interstate Rule (CAIR), was vacated and remanded to the agency by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals in 2008. EPA proposed a replacement for the rule, which it is calling the Clean Air Transport Rule, August 2, 2010, and expects to finalize the rule in June 2011. The original rule, designed to control emissions of air pollution that causes air quality problems in downwind states, established cap-and-trade programs for sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions from coal-fired electric power plants in 28 Eastern states, at an estimated annual cost of $6.1 billion in 2020. Benefits were estimated to be at least $120 billion annually, with an annual 22,000 premature deaths avoided. The replacement rule proposed in July 2010 applies to 31 states; its annual cost is estimated at $2.2 billion, with benefits of $120 billion to $290 billion annually. [Congressional Research Service, 3/21/11

Power Companies: “For Over A Decade, Companies Have Recognized That The Industry Would Need To Install Controls.” Responding to a previous Wall Street Journal editorial, executives representing several major power companies stated that “for over a decade, companies have recognized that the industry would need to install controls to comply with the act’s air toxicity requirements”:

Your editorial “The EPA Permitorium” (Nov. 22) mischaracterizes the EPA’s air-quality regulations. These are required under the Clean Air Act, which a bipartisan Congress and a Republican president amended in 1990, and many are in response to court orders requiring the EPA to fix regulations that courts ruled invalid.

The electric sector has known that these rules were coming. Many companies, including ours, have already invested in modern air-pollution control technologies and cleaner and more efficient power plants. For over a decade, companies have recognized that the industry would need to install controls to comply with the act’s air toxicity requirements, and the technology exists to cost effectively control such emissions, including mercury and acid gases. The EPA is now under a court deadline to finalize that rule before the end of 2011 because of the previous delays.

To suggest that plants are retiring because of the EPA’s regulations fails to recognize that lower power prices and depressed demand are the primary retirement drivers. The units retiring are generally small, old and inefficient. These retirements are long overdue.

Contrary to the claims that the EPA’s agenda will have negative economic consequences, our companies’ experience complying with air quality regulations demonstrates that regulations can yield important economic benefits, including job creation, while maintaining reliability.

The time to make greater use of existing modern units and to further modernize our nation’s generating fleet is now. Our companies are committed to ensuring the EPA develops and implements the regulations consistent with the act’s requirements.  [Wall Street Journal, 12/8/10]

Bush Sr. EPA Administrator William Reilly: Previous Administrations Handed Regulatory “Grenades” To Obama. Greenwire reported in December 2010 that George H.W. Bush’s EPA Administrator acknowledged that “the Obama administration has far less leeway than the agency’s critics in Congress suggest”:

At a time of unprecedented rancor over the costs and benefits of U.S. EPA rules, the Obama administration has far less leeway than the agency’s critics in Congress suggest, according to the man who led the agency under George H.W. Bush.

Many of the most costly new regulations were left behind by the George W. Bush administration, William Reilly told an audience at the National Press Club yesterday. Some of the rules were ordered by Congress but were never put in place, forcing EPA to settle with environmental groups. Others have court deadlines from when the last administration’s policies were rejected in court.

“They’re like little hand grenades that have been rolled out there by previous administrators, and now they’re ticking,” Reilly said. “They’re very difficult, and some of them quite expensive, rules.” [Greenwire, 12/17/10]

News Corp. Outlets Deny Health Benefits Of Clean Air Regulations 

NY Post Op-Ed: Air Toxics Rule Would Have “Zero Benefit.” From Yeatman’s New York Post op-ed:

The Utility MACT (“Maximum Achievable Control Technology”) rule seeks to cut US power plants’ emissions of mercury from 29 tons a year to just five. Yet EPA itself estimates that cutting even as much as 41 tons out of total emissions of 105 tons “is unlikely to substantially affect total risk.” For zero benefit, the Utility MACT is one of the most expensive federal regulations ever. [New York Post, 8/9/11]

WSJ Op-Ed: “The Proposed Standards Will Do Nothing To Reduce Exaggerated Threats.” In a May 25 op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, Willie Soon and Paul Driessen wrote:

The proposed standards will do nothing to reduce exaggerated threats from mercury and other air pollutants. Indeed, the rules will worsen America’s health and well-being–especially for young children and women of child-bearing age. Not only will they raise heating, air conditioning and food costs, but they will scare people away from eating nutritious fish that should be in everyone’s diet. [Wall Street Journal, 5/25/11]

Fox’s Ablow Claims Linking Pollution To Asthma Is “Pseudo-Science.” On Fox Business’ Follow The Money, Fox News contributor Keith Ablow dismissed EPA’s estimate that the proposed air toxics rule will prevent “120,000 cases of childhood asthma symptoms.” Ablow said: “[Y]ou’ve got people saying, hey, it’s causing asthma — the drilling and the use of fossil fuels. There’s no evidence of that, you can’t make a compelling case for that. And so that’s the way that we end up with bad ideas justifying good ends.” [Fox Business, Follow The Money, 6/15/11]

Pollution Limits Expected To Provide Significant Public Health Benefits

EPA: Air Toxics Rule Will Prevent Up To 17,000 Premature Deaths. From EPA’s Regulatory Impact Analysis of the proposed air toxics rule:

The proposed Toxics Rule is expected to yield significant health benefits by reducing emissions not only of HAP such as mercury, but also significant co-benefits due to reductions in direct fine particles and in two key contributors to fine particle formation. Sulfur dioxide contributes to the formation of fine particle pollution (PM2.5), and nitrogen oxide contributes to the formation of PM2.5.

Our analyses suggest this rule would yield benefits in 2016 of $59 to $140 billion (based on a 3 percent discount rate) and $53 to $130 billion (based on a 7 percent discount rate). This estimate reflects the economic value of a range of avoided health outcomes, including 510 fewer mercury-related IQ points lost as well as a variety of avoided PM2.5-related impacts, including 6,800 to 17,000 premature deaths, 11,000 nonfatal heart attacks, 5,300 hospitalizations for respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, 850,000 lost work days and 5.1 million days when adults restrict normal activities because of respiratory symptoms exacerbated by PM2.5.” [EPA, March 2011]

EPA: Cross-State Air Pollution Rule Will Prevent Up To 34,000 Premature Deaths. From the EPA’s information on the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule, which “requires 27 states to … reduce power plant emissions that contribute to ozone and/or fine particle pollution in other states.” From EPA:

The Cross-State Air Pollution Rule will help avoid tens of thousands of premature deaths and illnesses, achieving billions of dollars in public health benefits. By 2014, the required emissions reductions will annually avoid:

-13,000 to 34,000 premature deaths

-15,000 nonfatal heart attacks

-19,000 hospital and emergency room visits

-1.8 million lost work days or school absences

-400,000 aggravated asthma attacks [EPA, 7/6/11]

  • EPA notes that “The emission reductions expected from EPA’s recently-proposed Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS) are not included in the estimated emission reductions from the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule; once those standards are implemented, SO2 emissions from the power sector are likely to be reduced even further.” [EPA, accessed 8/12/11]

EPA: Mercury Emission Reductions “Can Have A Substantial Impact On Risk” At Certain Watersheds. In his New York Post op-ed, Yeatman bases his assertion that the Utility MACT rule would have “zero benefit” on a quote from EPA’s National-Scale Mercury Risk Assessment, which evaluates the risk associated with mercury emissions from U.S. electric utility steam generating units (EGUs) to fish populations and human health. Taking the quote out of context, Yeatman omits the EPA’s finding that the rule could have a significant impact at certain watersheds. From the EPA report:

While there are some differences in total IQ loss and HQ estimates generated for the high-end female consumer assessed nationally between the 2005 and 2016 Scenarios, there is no systematic trend between the scenarios…The absence of a substantial change in total risk between the two simulation years is not surprising given the relatively small fraction of total mercury deposition contributed by U.S. EGUs on average across the modeled watersheds. This means that even substantial reductions in U.S. EGU deposition between the simulation years is unlikely to substantially affect total risk (although, as noted elsewhere, it can have a substantial impact on risk at the subset of watersheds where U.S. EGUs do contribute a larger fraction of total deposition).

[…]

By contrast (again focusing on the high-end female consumer assessed nationally), both U.S. EGU-incremental IQ loss and the U.S. EGU increment-based HQ [hazard quotient] display notable reductions between the 2005 and 2016 Scenarios, but U.S. EGU-attributable risk still exceeds potential levels of concern for over a quarter of watersheds: Comparison of the U.S. EGU-attributable risk estimates presented in Tables 2-6 and 2-7, suggest that these categories of risk decrease significantly between the 2005 and 2016 Scenarios. [EPA, March 2011]

Public Health Groups: “Research Has Shown That These Toxics Are Especially Dangerous.” From an August 4 letter signed by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Heart Association, the American Lung Association, the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, the American Public Health Association, the American Thoracic Society, the National Association of County and City Health Officials and Physicians for Social Responsibility:

As health and medical professionals who treat patients impacted by lung, cardiovascular, and neurological impairments, we are keenly aware of the harmful health effects of air pollution. Research has shown that these toxics are especially dangerous because of the harm they can cause to the circulatory, respiratory, nervous, endocrine, and other essential life systems within humans. Toxic emissions can even cause developmental disorders and premature death. Our organizations call on the EPA to close the two-decade old loophole that has allowed power plants to avoid having to clean up, unlike all other industries. The cleanup of toxic air pollution from power plants is necessary for the protection of public health, appropriate for the EPA to undertake, and long overdue. [LungUSA.org, 8/4/11]

American Lung Association: Air Toxics Rule “Will Protect Americans Against Life-Threatening Air Pollution.” From a letter to the EPA from the American Lung Association:

When final, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Mercury and Air Toxics Rule–required by the Clean Air Act–will protect Americans against life-threatening air pollution such as mercury, arsenic and other toxics linked to cancer, heart disease, neurological damage, birth defects, asthma attacks and even premature death.

[…]

More than 400 coal-fired power plants located in 46 states across the country release in excess of 386,000 tons of hazardous air pollutants into our air each year. The wide range of uncontrolled pollutants from these plants includes: arsenic; lead and other metals; mercury; dioxins; chemicals known or thought to cause cancer, including formaldehyde and benzene; and acid gases such ashydrogen chloride.

Those at risk of health effects from breathing these hazardous air pollutants include: infants, children and teenagers; older adults; pregnant women; people with asthma and other lung diseases; people with cardiovascular disease; diabetics; people with low incomes; and healthy adults who work or exercise outdoors. [American Lung Association, 5/18/11]

American Public Health Association: Rule Would “Safeguard The Public’s Health From Dangerous Pollutants.” APHA has praised the EPA’s air toxics rule, saying:

The American Public Health Association strongly supports a proposed rule issued today by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to safeguard the public’s health from dangerous air pollutants by reducing the level of toxins emitted by coal- and oil-burning power plants.

The proposal is a significant step to cleaning up toxics such as mercury, sulfur dioxide, arsenic and other harmful pollutants that pervade the air in many local communities, especially those in close proximity to power plants, and jeopardize the health of all Americans.

[…]

“Hazardous air emissions from coal- and oil-burning power plants cause a whole range of serious and immediate human health risks,” said Georges C. Benjamin, MD, FACP, FACEP (E), executive director of APHA. “These pollutants can worsen asthma and other respiratory diseases; cause heart attacks, cancers and stroke; and exact an enormous economic toll in terms of health-related costs and lost productivity. We applaud EPA for following the clear evidence in cleaning up these toxins from the air we breathe and safeguarding the public’s health.” [American Public Health Association, 3/16/11]

News Corp. Fearmongering: EPA Rules Will Lead To “Rolling Blackouts”

NY Post: EPA Rules Make “Brownouts And ‘Rolling Blackouts’ A Virtual Certainty In Some Regions.” From Yeatman’s New York Post op-ed:

The EPA’s regulatory crusade directly threatens hundreds of thousands of jobs — and “rolling blackouts” that threaten even more.

[…]

A recent report from the Edison Electric Institute found that the Obama administration’s air-quality policies alone could force the retirement of up to 90,000 megawatts of coal power, and require $200 billion in retrofits by 2020.

The loss of that much power production makes brownouts and “rolling blackouts” a virtual certainty in some regions of the country — notably, the industrial heartland. [New York Post, 8/9/11]

WSJ Cites “Reliability Downgrades” Due To EPA Rule. In its June 13 editorial, the Wall Street Journal claimed that as a result of the air toxics rule, “Reliability downgrades will hit the South and Midwest where coal energy is concentrated.” [The Wall Street Journal, 6/13/11]

Fox Nation: “EPA Forcing Rolling Blackouts In Texas?” Fox Nation promoted a Fort Worth Star-Telegram column stating that the Cross-State Air Pollution rule will “mean the state may not have enough electricity to meet spiking demand.”

[Fox Nation, 8/8/11]

Reports: Electric System Will Remain Reliable

Review Of EEI Report Finds It Was Based On “Misleading Assumptions” That Never Occurred. From an analysis of the Edison Electric Institute report cited by the New York Post op-ed:

This peer review analysis evaluates the Report’s findings in light of the actual proposed Utility Air Toxics and cooling water intake regulations which the Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) released in March 2011, two months after EEI issued the Report. We conclude that the Report was based upon worst-case assumptions which have not materialized and upon climate change legislation never enacted into law.

The Report does not adequately distinguish between the non-environmental drivers of changes in the electricity industry and the various EPA rulemakings. There is also inadequate discussion of the non-traditional alternatives available to meet system requirements, or of various initiatives underway to strengthen the resiliency and reliability of the electricity network. The Report’s excessively conservative and often misleading assumptions affect EEI’s modeling results. [Analysis Group, May 2011]

Bipartisan Policy Center: “Impacts On The Reliability Of The Electric System Due To EPA Regulations Are Manageable.” A report by the Bipartisan Policy Center found that “impacts on the reliability of the electric system due to EPA regulations are manageable” through early planning, delays in requirements and consent decrees.  [Bipartisan Policy Center, 6/13/11]

M.J. Bradley & Associates Report: “Electric System Reliability Will Not Be Compromised If The Industry And Regulators Proactively Manage The Transition.” From a report conducted by M.J. Bradley & Associates for the Clean Energy Group:

In this paper, we highlight the impact of EPA’s upcoming air regulations, with a focus on the issue of possible power plant retirements on electric reliability. We conclude that, without threatening electric reliability, the industry is well-positioned to respond to EPA’s proposed road map to “help millions of Americans breathe easier, live healthier,” provided that EPA, the industry and other agencies take practical steps to plan for the implementation of these regulations and adopt appropriate regulatory approaches. In particular, we conclude the following:

1. Even though some units likely will retire in lieu of complying with the new regulations, electric system reliability will not be compromised if the industry and its regulators proactively manage the transition to a cleaner, more efficient generation fleet.

[…]

2. Industry data counter concerns that it will cost the industry too much to comply with EPA’s proposed air regulations, that pollution controls cannot be installed soon enough, or that the EPA regulations will lead to the closure of otherwise economically healthy power plants.

[…]

3. EPA, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”), the Department of Energy (“DOE”) and State utility regulators, both together and separately, have an array of tools to moderate impacts on the electric industry. [M.J. Bradley & Associates, August 2010]

CRA Report: “Electric System Reliability Can Be Maintained” With Clean Air Transport Rule And Utility MACT Rule. From a 2010 report by Charles River Associates assessing EPA’s Clean Air Transport Rule and the regulation of toxic air pollutants from utilities:

Implementing these regulations will require some coal generators to install pollution control equipment in order to continue operations. However, given the recent discoveries of abundant, domestic natural gas supplies, a competing fuel for electric generation, as well as reduced electricity demand, coal plant owners may elect to retire some existing plants rather than investing the capital necessary to install pollution controls. Nonetheless, we conclude that electric system reliability can be maintained while the industry complies with EPA’s air regulations.

The number of projected coal plant retirements nationwide is relatively small compared to historical US net additions of generation capacity, and the electric sector has demonstrated repeatedly the ability to expand the generation fleet at a rate well in excess of projected capacity needs. Although we predict that a handful of areas will have de minimis or modest shortfalls due to predicted retirements, adequate reserve margins can be maintained by better utilizing existing supply capacity, installing new generation, and increasing load management. Additionally, existing federal statutory, state regulatory, and regional transmission organization (RTO) market safeguards can be utilized to maintain a reliable electric system. [Charles River Associates, 12/16/10]

News Corp. Claims Rules Will Cost “Hundreds Of Thousands Of Jobs”

WSJ Attacks EPA Rule As A “War On Jobs.” A Wall Street Journal attacked EPA regulations in an editorial titled, “The EPA’s War on Jobs: Coal is from Earth, Lisa Jackson is from mercury.” The editorial stated that “The power industry estimates that the true costs of the utility rule will far exceed the EPA estimates, which of course will be passed to consumers and businesses as higher prices.” [The Wall Street Journal, 6/13/11]

NY Post: “EPA’s Regulatory Crusade Directly Threatens Hundreds Of Thousands Of Jobs.” Yeatman wrote in his New York Post op-ed that “The EPA’s regulatory crusade directly threatens hundreds of thousands of jobs — and ‘rolling blackouts’ that threaten even more.” He added, “Bottom line: For the sake of the US economy, Congress needs to put an end to Obama’s war on coal.” [New York Post, 8/9/11]

Studies Find EPA Rules Will Not Reduce Employment

UMass Study: EPA Rules Would Result In Net Creation Of Jobs. A University of Massachusetts study projected that between 2010 and 2015, the power sector would invest almost $200 billion on capital investments in pollution controls and new generation capacity to comply with the new Clean Air Act rules, which would generate an estimated 1.46 million job-years, which are defined as one year of full-time employment. The study also found that job reductions from projected coal plant closures will be “more than” offset by the number of new jobs created. [University of Massachusetts Political Economy Research Institute, February 2011]

EPI: “The Jobs-Impact Of The Rule Will Be Modest, But It Will Be Positive. In a June 14 study, the Economic Policy Institute concluded that the job impact of the utility air toxics rule “will be modest, but it will be positive.” The study specifically found that the rule “would have a modest positive net impact on overall employment, likely leading to the creation of 28,000 to 158,000 jobs between now and 2015.” [Economic Policy Institute, 6/14/11]

CRS: 56% Of Coal And Oil Power Plants Are Already Meeting The Standards. From a Congressional Research Service Report on EPA regulations initiated since January 2009:

In 2005, EPA promulgated regulations establishing a cap-and-trade system to limit emissions of mercury from coal-fired power plants. The rules were challenged, and the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals vacated them in 2008. Rather than appeal the ruling to the Supreme Court, EPA agreed to propose Maximum Achievable Control Technology (MACT) standards by March 2011 and promulgate final standards by November 2011. The proposed standards, released March 16, are already being met by 56% of coal- and oil-fired electric generating units; the other 44% would be required to install technology that will reduce mercury and acid gas emissions by 91%, at an annual cost of $10.9 billion. EPA estimates that the annual benefits, including the avoidance of up to 17,000 premature deaths annually, will be between $59 billion and $140 billion. Following promulgation of these standards, existing power plants will have three years, with a possible one-year extension, to meet the standards. About 20 states have already established mercury emission control standards for coal-fired power plants, and other major sources have been controlled for as long as 15 years, reducing their emissions as much as 95%. [Congressional Research Service, 3/21/11


James Murdoch Has Until Thursday To Respond To Allegations He Misled Parliament

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on August 13th, 2011 4:42 am by HL

James Murdoch Has Until Thursday To Respond To Allegations He Misled Parliament
News Corp’s James Murdoch has until Thursday to respond to questions from Members of Parliament, relating to allegations that he misled them during his testimony in July.


Presented By:


Small businesses benefit from tax breaks for the rich? “You’re joking, right?”

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on August 13th, 2011 4:39 am by HL

Small businesses benefit from tax breaks for the rich? “You’re joking, right?”
(Originally published in the Berkeley Daily Planet http://berkeleydailyplanet.com/issue/2011-08-10/article/38241?headline=Model-Garage-s-30th-birthday-party-Music-Good-Food-and-Cars-) Many years ago I used to own a Volvo. First I had inherited it from my parents, and then my son drove it after that. It was blue — and a really sweet ride. And whenever it needed mechanical surveillance, I always took it to the Model Garage […]


Quote of the Day

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on August 13th, 2011 4:38 am by HL

Quote of the Day
“It was a wrong-headed move, made for all the wrong reasons, but it was mine.”

— Failed U.S. Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell (R), writing in Troublemaker that her now infamous “I am not a witch” campaign commercial was a disaster.


Can We Make Time For Love? ColorLines Magazine Brings Something Positive to Social Justice Journalism

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on August 13th, 2011 4:37 am by HL

Can We Make Time For Love? ColorLines Magazine Brings Something Positive to Social Justice Journalism
A family supporting their "princess boy" and a love song for women of color are just some of the ways that Colorlines, a progressive magazine, seeks to articulate love.

It’s Time for Hardball, Says Progressive Congresswoman Donna Edwards
Those who expect Edwards to play from the margins that left-wing politicians are frequently relegated to will find themselves disappointed. She came to get stuff done.

New Film ‘The Help’ Whitewashes the Civil Rights Struggle into a Heartstring-tugging Hallmark Card
The film completely trivializes the suffering and hard work that went into making civil rights a reality.


What Standard & Poor’s Got Right

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on August 13th, 2011 4:36 am by HL

What Standard & Poor’s Got Right
Nothing in my journalistic experience of credit-ratings agencies inclines me to respect their social and political judgment. Whenever someone from a ratings agency sought to enlighten me on the social-policy implications of New York City’s dire finances in the 1970s…

Presented By:

Palestinians will soon come full circle
The Palestinian national liberation movement has reached its end. As the Palestinian leadership – if there is such a legitimate body today – prepares to bring the issue of statehood to the UN this September, the weeks and months ahead…


GOP Rep. Berg Faces Town Hall Backlash For Supporting Balanced Budget Amendment, Anti-Tax Pledge

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on August 13th, 2011 4:35 am by HL

GOP Rep. Berg Faces Town Hall Backlash For Supporting Balanced Budget Amendment, Anti-Tax Pledge
During the current August recess, several GOP congressman have felt the heat at town hall meetings from constituents angry over the GOP’s intransigence on tax increases. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) was jeered for supporting huge corporate tax cuts, while Sen. Mike Johanns (R-NE) was told that taxes should go up because “big corporations and the […]

Rep. Rick Berg (R-ND)

During the current August recess, several GOP congressman have felt the heat at town hall meetings from constituents angry over the GOP’s intransigence on tax increases. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) was jeered for supporting huge corporate tax cuts, while Sen. Mike Johanns (R-NE) was told that taxes should go up because “big corporations and the rich have to pay their fair share.” One constituent had a simple message for Rep. Joe Walsh (R-IL): “Let’s tax the rich.”

Rep. Rick Berg (R-ND) faced a similar backlash at a town hall in Fargo yesterday, where he was criticized for signing the Americans for Tax Reform’s anti-tax pledge, popularized by the anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist:

Several residents grilled Berg for signing the pledge and for his refusal to consider tax increases, specifically for the wealthiest Americans, like him.

“You work for North Dakota residents, not some guy from another state,” West Fargo resident Don Frost said.

Berg was also grilled for supporting the GOP’s push for a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution (which former Reagan economic adviser Bruce Bartlett called “mind boggling in its insanity“), as residents rightly noted that approving such an amendment would do nothing for the economy in the short-term (and would be incredibly problematic in the long-term):

However, several residents criticized Berg’s position, saying the amendment won’t solve immediate problems – like getting unemployed Americans back to work.

“The balanced budget amendment is like trying to drain a lake to save a drowning person,” West Fargo resident Darrel Lund said. “People are in trouble now.”

While most of the GOP caucus is dedicated to Norquist’s anti-tax pledge (which says that no additional revenue can ever be raised by the government, for any reason), Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) publicly disavowed the pledge this week. “I don’t care to be associated with it. It’s too constraining,” he said.

VIDEO: West Virginia Department Of Environmental Prostitution
Jordan Freeman shot an extraordinary video that shows officials of the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection trying to convince citizens that mountaintop removal coal blasting near 7 billion-gallon slurry impoundment dams is good (“You can google ‘blasting around dams,’ that’s about it!”), that a collapse of the mines below an impoundment won’t affect it, […]

Jordan Freeman shot an extraordinary video that shows officials of the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection trying to convince citizens that mountaintop removal coal blasting near 7 billion-gallon slurry impoundment dams is good (“You can google ‘blasting around dams,’ that’s about it!”), that a collapse of the mines below an impoundment won’t affect it, and that the citizens should mind their manners.