Arkansas leak a sign of things to come?

While details regarding the cause of the rupture and the magnitude of the spill are still coming in, the Mayflower tar sands spill is yet another demonstration of the risks that tar sands pipelines pose to the communities and sensitive water resources they cross. At about a tenth of the full capacity of the Keystone XL tar sands pipelines, the 90,000 bpd Pegasus pipeline rupture offers us a small sample of the risk that tar sands pipelines pose to American communities.

The ‘sad green story’ is a fantasy; green energy is growing

To get back to some non-election topics…A couple weeks ago, New York Times columnist David Brooks wrote an op-ed entitled “A Sad Green Story” about the (supposed) travails of the green movement over the last 10 years. The idea that the clean technology sector is failing, or that it’s a bad investment, is common enough in the business world and pundit class. But it’s patently false. So what is Brooks talking about and what’s really true here?

Hurricane Sandy and climate change: A scientist answers common questions

As Hurricane Sandy approached Virginia Beach, I watched churning surf form a troublesome backdrop to two skateboarders harnessing the wind to propel themselves rapidly along the boardwalk. Those same winds were piling up water to form a dangerous storm surge and portended a powerful blow that would ultimately cause widespread devastation throughout the region. Since that moment, I have been asked many questions about Hurricane Sandy. Here are answers to the most common ones.

How Walmart’s green performance reviews could transform the retail world

Walmart’s efforts to green its supply chain are about to get much more effective. Sustainability will now play a role in its merchants’ performance reviews, which help determine pay raises and potential for future promotion. This is a big deal: these merchants are high-level managers responsible for multibillion-dollar buying decisions. They’re the people who determine which products appear on the shelves of the world’s largest retailer.

Salina, Kansas got ‘cooler and smarter’ — and you can too

You may feel that your hands are simply too full with work or raising your kids to get into the “saving the planet” business. If you are curious enough to look through Cooler Smarter, though, you will still find valuable information. Many of the choices offered in the book won’t just lower your emissions of carbon dioxide; they can also improve the quality of your life, save you money and time, and even improve your health.

Naked Face Project — challenging the need to ‘make up’

(This winter, Molly Barker and Caitlyn Boyle embarked on an experiment in going au naturel. Their Naked Face Project challenged other women to join them and explore life without having to put on a special face — or shave their legs or tint their hair — to win the world’s approval. In this blog Barker, the founder of Girls on the Run, considers her personal reactions and the implications for women of stepping back from societal expectations. We see this endeavor as having a green bonus, freedom from the toxic chemicals found in many cosmetics.)

Expensive weather events triggered by climate change underscore the risk of expanding tar sands oil extraction

ore Americans than ever believe that climate change is responsible for the strange weather they see around them. A recent poll shows that over 60% of the American public believes that climate change is real and that they are basing this belief on their observation that winters and summers are warmer and that there seem to be more extreme weather events, like droughts and tornadoes. The spate of tornadoes across the Midwest and southern U.S. in early March reminds us of the terrible human and economic toll these disasters can have.

US meat consumption falls — Have we hit ‘peak meat’?

U.S. meat consumption has peaked. Data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture show that meat eating across the country fell from the 2004 high point of 184 pounds (83 kilograms) per person to 171 pounds in 2011.
Early estimates for 2012 project a further reduction in American meat eating to 166 pounds…

Rep. Markey asks ‘Why is America rushing to export natural gas?’

Last month I said I thought it would be premature for the Department of Energy (DOE) to rush into authorizing massive exports of natural gas, notwithstanding the amazing recent boom in American shale gas production. My worry was that precipitous large-scale exports could tighten U.S. supplies and raise prices, with negative ramifications for domestic industrial concerns that depend on cheap gas.

My thought: Wouldn’t it be preferable to re-shore good-paying manufacturing jobs rather than serve as a resource colony for the rest of the world? Seems we should be prudent here!

Now, Rep. Ed Markey has weighed in with a letter to Energy Secretary Steven Chu, and, to his credit, the ranking member of the House Natural Resources Committee has expanded on these concerns, added some new ones, and done it with an admirable eye to the long-term economic and industrial interests of the country.

Government plans to replace animals in toxicity studies

The Environmental Protection Agency, the National Institutes of Health, and the Food and Drug Administration just announced a joint effort to use high-throughput robotics—instead of animals—to test 10,000 chemicals and drugs for potential toxicity. I’ve asked PCRM’s Chad Sandusky, Ph.D., to provide details:
Current testing is largely based on experiments on animals—rodents, rabbits, dogs—and uses methods that are cruel, time-consuming, expensive, and in some cases use thousands of animals in a single test

How the US auto industry is creating jobs and cutting pollution while helping Americans save money

Imagine if our nation was offered a choice of how to spend half a trillion dollars of our wealth over the next two decades.
One option would be to send $350 billion overseas to the Middle East and other oil exporting countries, and the remainder on increasing oil industry revenues.
An alternative option would be to take that half a trillion dollars and invest $300 billion directly into the U.S. auto industry, put $200 billion back into consumers’ pockets, and create half a million new jobs while cutting emissions of dangerous carbon pollution.
Is this choice just a pipe dream? Is it too simplistic a way to look at things?

What must happen at Durban climate talks

optimist…Part of being optimistic is keeping one’s head pointed toward the sun, one’s feet moving forward. There were many dark moments when my faith in humanity was sorely tested, but I would not and could not give myself up to despair. That way lays defeat and death.” With around 200 nations set to meet in Durban South, Africa November 28 – December 9 to agree on further efforts to address global warming, those words seemed extremely fitting.

Occupy COP 17: Why the Durban climate talks will fail — and what to do about it

With the climate talks in Durban seemingly headed for a train wreck, an innovative project is developing a new legal international framework for protecting the planetary ecosystem that could just be the most important legal initiative of our age.

The climate talks had not even started in Durban when their epitaph was already being written. It was revealed in a number of reports that at the two previous talks in 2009 and 2010, the big industrial nations of Europe and the US had bullied smaller nations into accepting no action on the climate and that the rich nations, including the UK, EU, Japan, US and the UN have already decided to quash any agreement until 2020 – at which time, no doubt it will be conveniently put off again.

A non-partisan idea to help the economy — make it easier to invest in local businesses

Michael Shuman

I personally support the spirit of Occupy Wall Street, especially the spotlight it has cast on the shocking level of inequality in our country. But the movement oddly conveys a very mainstream message that Wall Street can and should be fixed. Just clean up our existing financial institutions – make them more accountable, honest, transparent – and all will be well. Really?

Diver shows another side of sharks, who are being slaughtered for their fins

Leila Monroe, NRDC

William floats silently – breath held, his whole body exposed, face-to-face with a gigantic tiger shark. Why has he presented himself, unarmed, at the jaws of this massive apex predator? Some have attributed his actions to thrill seeking and bravado, but in an interview with this world class athlete, I learned his motivation is much more interesting and purposeful than that.

William Winram has spent most of his life in and around the ocean – free diving, fishing, surfing, and now working to gather information and spread education about the most misunderstood creatures of the sea. Today, as you’ll find on his website, William holds a number of unusual job titles: Shark Publicist, Ocean Environmentalist, Underwater Model, Photographer, and Videographer.

His fascination with sharks began at an early age, then gestated into a career after a life-changing encounter with a 13 foot tiger shark in Baja, Mexico. While spear fishing one morning, he became aware of a huge shark following him. For a moment, the terrible images of Hollywood movies flashed through his mind, but he remained calm and swam slowly toward shore. The shark kept a safe distance,

Climate inaction…again. So what now?

By Asher Miller

Asher Miller, executive director, Post Carbon Institute

Back in December in blisteringly cold Copenhagen, tens of thousands of activists, government workers, lobbyists, and world leaders came together for what many hoped would be a diplomatic breakthrough. Though the weather was cold, conditions seemed ripe: Environmental groups across the globe had worked hard to generate a strong display of public will, culminating in’s Day of Action earlier in October, which CNN called “the most widespread day of political action in the planet’s history.” Bolstered by the announcement that President Obama would attend the talks personally, hopes were high for meaningful engagement on the part of the United States after more than a decade of inaction.

CBO finds corn ethanol costs taxpayers nearly $2 a gallon in subsidies (on top of the price at the pump)

By Sasha Lyutse
Yesterday afternoon, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released its evaluation of the costs and benefits of federal biofuels tax credits, including the Volumetric Ethanol Excise Tax Credit (VEETC), the largest U.S. subsidy for renewable energy that goes almost entirely to corn ethanol. The release comes against the backdrop of a full court press by corn ethanol industry lobbyists to push Congress to extend the VEETC and a disappointing attempt by Senator Amy Klobuchar to attach a 5-year extension of the corn ethanol tax credit to a Senate energy bill ostensibly supporting renewable energy, which we discussed here and the NRDC Action Fund discussed here.

Solving the climate crisis at the end of your fork

‘Tis the season of farmers’ markets. Last week I moseyed on down to the Southampton (NY) farmers market and picked up some tasty, locally produced cheese that melted in my mouth with a delicious tang. But that local dairy farmer and others like him could become an endangered species if we continue on our current carbon-spewing energy path. Cows don’t produce much in very hot weather and scientists say that “heat stress and other factors could cause a decline in milk production of up to 20 percent or higher” in the Northeast under a business-as-usual (BAU) scenario. That’s a big deal: dairy is the largest agricultural sector in the region, producing some $3.6 billion dollars annually.

Page 1 of 212