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“If a man has an apartment stacked to the ceiling with newspapers we call him crazy. If a woman has a trailer house full of cats we call her nuts. But when people pathologically hoard so much cash that they impoverish the entire nation, we put them on the cover of Fortune magazine and pretend that they are role models.”
-– B. Lester

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 Environment: A Field Day for Fracking

InternationalA transatlantic trade deal would eliminate restrictions on U.S. exports of fracked gas to the EU.

By Wenonah Hauter

U.S. and EU negotiators recently began a new round of negotiations on the Transatlantic Free Trade Agreement. Because the talks are happening behind closed doors, the public is left largely in the dark about the nature of the discussions over a deal also known as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.

So what, exactly, do we know?

Officially, not much. But an EU negotiation position “on raw materials and energy” was leaked to the Huffington Post in May. The text amounts to a wish list of demands from Big Oil and Gas that would lock in any of their investments in fossil fuels in general, and shale gas and fracking in particular. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Thursday, June 12 @ 21:03:01 EDT (1349 reads)
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 Environment: How I Fell for Farmers’ Markets

Eaters everywhere across America are discovering the joy of buying directly from local farmers.

By Jill Richardson

I’ll never forget the first time I went to a farmers’ market. I hated it.

Like many who buy food only from the grocery store, I didn’t realize that local farmers can’t produce every food all year round. I didn’t expect pineapples or anything, but the extremely limited selection in early spring shocked me: spinach, arugula, green onions, radishes, and rhubarb. That was it.

I had just moved to Madison, Wisconsin, home of one of the nation’s biggest farmers’ markets. The entire town was abuzz with excitement about the Dane County Farmers’ Market starting up again for the year on the Capitol Square.

Seasoned marketgoers all knew that the selection of produce expands and changes throughout the year. For them, the market’s array of offerings was just the first of many. They saw it as merely an appetizer, a teaser, as they readied themselves for strawberries, asparagus, sugarsnap peas, and the other treats still to come.

But no one gave me that memo. And it never occurred to me that the snow had only just melted and that it takes a few weeks — or months — to grow food. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Wednesday, May 29 @ 20:59:29 EDT (899 reads)
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 Environment: ExxonMobil’s Mayflower Mess

Business News
Tar sands crude is both more toxic and much harder to clean than ordinary oil.

By Michael Brune

Several weeks after ExxonMobil’s Pegasus pipeline gushed at least 500,000 gallons of tar sands crude and water into the Arkansas community of Mayflower, many of the evacuated families still can’t return to their homes.

Sierra Club organizer Glen Hooks, who grew up about 20 miles southeast of this disaster site, recently attended a meeting for the displaced families at Mayflower High School. “I had to really stare down some ExxonMobil goons who told me to leave because it was a private meeting,” he said. “I politely explained that it was a meeting in a public building about a public subject with numerous public officials in attendance, and that I was planning to stay.”

During the Mayflower meeting, Hooks listened as an ExxonMobil executive apologized to the families and said that the focus was on safety and helping the homeowners. “The meeting then moved into a phase where ExxonMobil met with individual family members about their claims in a side room guarded by no fewer than six uniformed police officers.”

Here’s something that the Big Oil leader probably didn’t tell those homeowners: In 2010, it was fined $26,200 by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration for failing to regularly inspect each point where the Pegasus line crosses under a navigable waterway.

This is a pipeline that crosses under the Mississippi River — just one of the places ExxonMobil failed to do inspections. It’s hard to say which is more shocking: that “safety first” ExxonMobil has been so cavalier about pipeline inspections or that it was fined such a pittance for its irresponsibility. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Thursday, April 18 @ 21:20:17 EDT (798 reads)
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 Environment: Eat Your Weeds

The humble dandelion turns out to be a superfood and stinging nettles make a premium pizza topping.

By Jill Richardson

You might not be a master gardener, but odds are you grow one of the world’s healthiest vegetables in your yard every year. It’s a superfood that packs more calcium, iron, magnesium, and Vitamins C, B6, E, and K than an equal amount (by weight) of spinach. And, if you notice this amazing vegetable at all, you probably get annoyed by its uninvited presence in your lawn.

I’m talking about the humble dandelion.

Yes, the very weed my dad used to pay me a penny apiece to remove from our lawn when I was a kid. Instead of tossing them out, we should have brought them into the kitchen and had them for dinner.

As an adult, I assumed the proper way to deal with weeds was to get rid of them. And, for some weeds, that’s the case. Don’t even get me started on my opinions of monsters like Bermuda grass. But after years composting just about every weed I found in my garden, I’ve realized that many of them are edible. Some are even nutritious and tasty. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Thursday, March 21 @ 22:37:11 EDT (3501 reads)
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 Environment: Carbon Divestment

Already, the California Teachers' Pension Fund, the state of Vermont, the city of Seattle, and students across the nation are working on divestment campaigns that will speed the transition to renewable energy.

By Andrew Korfhage

President Barack Obama is on a rhetorical roll on the issue of climate change.

“The 12 hottest years on record have all come in the last 15,” Obama pointed out to Congress and the American people in his State of the Unionaddress. “Heat waves, droughts, wildfires, floods — all are now more frequent and more intense…[F]or the sake of our children and our future, we must do more to combat climate change.”

He also referred to global warming at his first post-election press conference and in his inaugural address, citing evidence for it being caused by human activities and committing to greater action in his second term.

But Obama’s options for fighting climate change on his own are limited. And the likelihood of congressional action isn’t promising.

The good news is that momentum is growing for a strategy that allows people to take the issue of climate change into their own hands — by divesting from fossil fuel companies. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Saturday, March 09 @ 16:14:43 EST (787 reads)
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 Environment: A Cooler Way to Protect Silicon Surfaces

New room-temperature process could lead to less expensive solar cells and other electronic devices.

Written by: David L. Chandler, MIT News Office

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Silicon, the material of high-tech devices from computer chips to solar cells, requires a surface coating before use in these applications. The coating “passivates” the material, tying up loose atomic bonds to prevent oxidation that would ruin its electrical properties. But this passivation process consumes a lot of heat and energy, making it costly and limiting the kinds of materials that can be added to the devices.

Now a team of MIT researchers has found a way to passivate silicon at room temperature, which could be a significant boon to solar-cell production and other silicon-based technologies.

The research, by graduate student Rong Yang and engineering professors Karen Gleason and Tonio Buonassisi, was recently published online in the journal Advanced Materials.

Typically, silicon surfaces are passivated with a coating of silicon nitride, which requires heating a device to 400 degrees Celsius, explains Gleason, the Alexander and I. Michael Kasser Professor of Chemical Engineering. By contrast, the process Gleason’s team uses decomposes organic vapors over wires heated to 300 C, but the silicon itself never goes above 20 C — room temperature. Heating those wires requires much less power than illuminating an ordinary light bulb, so the energy costs of the process are quite low. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Wednesday, February 13 @ 20:33:16 EST (914 reads)
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 Environment: President Obama: End Mountaintop Removal Coal Mining

PoliticsBy Mary Anne Hitt

I remember the first mountaintop removal coal mining site I ever saw. Those images of Kayford Mountain in southern West Virginia have never left my mind — a barren landscape where there was once lush forest. And right around the destroyed site, homes where people were trying to live despite having the world blown up next door.

In mountaintop removal coal mining, a common practice in Appalachia, mining companies literally blow the tops off mountains to reach thin seams of coal. They then dump millions of tons of rubble and toxic waste into the streams and valleys below the mining sites.

As President Barack Obama’s second term begins, Americans are looking for more leadership on clean energy and an end to pollution that harms public health and contributes to climate disruption. Now is the time to eliminate mountaintop removal coal mining. It devastates communities, endangers public health, and irrevocably destroys the natural wonder of the Appalachian countryside.

This practice has damaged or destroyed nearly 2,000 miles of streams, and threatens to destroy 1.4 million acres of mountaintops and forests by 2020. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Tuesday, January 15 @ 19:16:40 EST (699 reads)
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 Environment: A Nuclear Strike on States' Rights

Vermont's Yankee reactor would have closed this year had a power company kept a decade-old promise.

By Deb Katz

The 9/11 attacks made terrorist incidents at nuclear reactors appear much less hypothetical. After the nuclear disaster in Fukushima, Japan, concerned citizens grew more alarmed about the possibility of a catastrophic nuclear accident in our own country. Now, a struggle underway in Vermont over the future of its only nuclear reactor is highlighting the threat that power companies can pose to our democratic process.

Vermont's Yankee nuclear power plant first went online in 1972. It was originally projected to shut down this year and Vermont's legislature has overwhelmingly demanded that it cease operations. But in a gross violation of states' rights, the courts and the federal government are overriding that choice.

The New Orleans-based power company Entergy has owned this systemically mismanaged reactor since 2002. When Entergy acquired Yankee, it agreed to a state approval process for a new permit to continue operating the reactor after 2012. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Thursday, November 01 @ 19:02:29 EDT (824 reads)
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 Environment: Judge Halts GE Crops On Southeastern Wildlife Refuges

The News
Separate Ruling Leaves Door Ajar for GE Crops on Midwestern Refuges for Now

from: Peer.org

Washington, DC —A federal court ruled in favor of the public interest groups Public Employees for Social Responsibility (PEER), Center for Food Safety (CFS) and Beyond Pesticides yesterday, halting cultivation of genetically engineered (GE) crops in all national wildlife refuges in the Southeastern U.S. The ruling is the third in a series of victories against the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) resulting in the removal of GE cultivation from federal wildlife preserves. In March 2009, the same groups won a similar lawsuit against GE plantings on Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge. In 2011, the groups forced a legal settlement ending GE planting on refuges throughout the 12-state northeast region.

This latest ruling bars FWS from entering into cooperative farming agreements for GE crops on the 128 refuges across eight states, including the 25 refuges currently growing GE crops, without the environmental review required by the National Environmental Policy Act and refuge management laws. The requirement of environmental reviews will likely prevent the planting of crops in 2013 and 2014, and may result in the permanent end to the practice, as native successional grasses reclaim fallow refuge tracts. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Wednesday, October 24 @ 20:24:12 EDT (749 reads)
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 Environment: Teaching a Microbe to Make Fuel

Genetically modified organism could turn carbon dioxide or waste products into a gasoline-compatible transportation fuel.

Written by: David L. Chandler, MIT News Office

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — A humble soil bacterium called Ralstonia eutropha has a natural tendency, whenever it is stressed, to stop growing and put all its energy into making complex carbon compounds. Now scientists at MIT have taught this microbe a new trick: They’ve tinkered with its genes to persuade it to make fuel — specifically, a kind of alcohol called isobutanol that can be directly substituted for, or blended with, gasoline.

Christopher Brigham, a research scientist in MIT’s biology department who has been working to develop this bioengineered bacterium, is currently trying to get the organism to use a stream of carbon dioxide as its source of carbon, so that it could be used to make fuel out of emissions. Brigham is co-author of a paper on this research published this month in the journal Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Thursday, August 23 @ 19:26:03 EDT (830 reads)
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 Environment: Romney Went From Cap & Trade Architect To Arsonist

Flip-Flop Announced at Onset of First Republican Presidential Primary Bid

from: peer.org

Boston — As Governor of Massachusetts, Mitt Romney tried to dismantle his signature environmental accomplishment as he made plans to seek the 2008 Republican presidential nomination. The complete turn-around in both his actions and his statements appears to be based purely on political considerations, according to Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).

After he was elected governor, Romney hired Doug Foy, a noted New England environmentalist, to draft the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI, pronounced “Reggie”), the country's first interstate compact to reduce greenhouse gases. Romney had several staff dedicated to RGGI and spent more than two years working on it, costing taxpayers of more than half a million dollars, according to press reports.

In late 2005, RGGI was complete and lacked only Romney's signature. He pulled out of the agreement at the last minute, citing concerns regarding the cost of cap-and-trade to businesses. One week later, Romney allowed power plants to pay a fee for emitting toxins (like mercury) instead of cleaning them up. This announcement coincided with his decision not to seek a second gubernatorial term and to run for president. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Thursday, August 09 @ 20:06:57 EDT (1539 reads)
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 Environment: Month of March Shut Down VT Yankee Actions





March is full of actions to support the closure of Vermont Yankee as scheduled, on time.

* Sign THE VY PLEDGE: I will take action to shut down Vermont Yankee. Click here to take The VY Pledge

A month of action....

Posted by Blue1moon on Thursday, March 01 @ 18:10:08 EST (913 reads)
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 Environment: Leak Reveals How Big Business Funds Climate-Change Deniers

Business Newsby: Mike Ludwig, Truthout | Report

The climate-change-denying think tank The Heartland Institute pays monthly stipends to vocal global warming skeptics, received $200,000 from the Charles G. Koch Foundation in 2011 and received a total of $3.4 million from corporations in 2010 and 2011, according to internal documents released last night.

DeSmogBlog released the documents Tuesday night to expose its rival in the global warming debate. The blog received the documents from an anonymous "Heartland Insider." Here's the inside scoop and more on Heartland:

-Craig Idso, chairman of the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change and other think tanks, receives $11,600 per month from Heartland. Idso's study center is funded in part by Exxon Mobile and he recently spoke on the benefits of increased atmospheric carbon dioxide levels at the American Legislative Exchange Council's annual meeting, according to SourceWatch.org.

-Australian global warming skeptic Professor Bob Carter receives $1,667 per month, but denied doing the bidding of Heartland in an Australian newspaper on Wednesday. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Wednesday, February 15 @ 18:46:00 EST (663 reads)
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 Environment: In the Clearing Stands a Boxer: One Man's Fight Against Fracking

Action Alertby: William Rivers Pitt, Truthout | Op-Ed

There is a natural prejudice against fasting as part of a political struggle. It is considered a vulgar interpolation in politics by the ordinary politician, though it has always been resorted to by prisoners. My fast should not be considered a political move in any sense of the term. It is obedience to the peremptory call of conscience and duty. It comes out of felt agony.
- Mahatma Gandhi, January 1948

What can the "little person" do?

We live in a country dominated by Citizens United, by "super-PAC's," by corporate wealth and power of such vast depth and breadth that to even contemplate a challenge against such powers is paralyzing. They are watching, they are listening, and if you step on the wrong set of toes, as the song goes, "The Man come and take you away."

It is all well and good to be inspired by the words of men like Mario Savio, who said, "There is a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can't take part. You can't even passively take part! And you've got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus and you've got to make it stop!" ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Saturday, January 14 @ 11:18:21 EST (2166 reads)
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 Environment: Resolve to Keep Science Experiments off Your Dinner Table in 2012

HealthBy Wenonah Hauter

'Tis the season to reflect on the past year and hold high expectations for the blank slate that awaits in January.

Here's one resolution for all you consumers hoping to improve your health and the environment: Starting in 2012, avoid genetically engineered foods.

It won't be easy. By some estimates, 70 percent of processed food contains engineered ingredients. That's why we need lawmakers and grocery retailers to turn over a new leaf in the coming year and support our right to know what we're eating.

The variety and volume of engineered crops have steadily increased over the past 15 years, despite the lack of independent research on their long-term effects on human health and the environment. Extolled for their potential to boost nutrients and increase yields to feed a hungry planet, in reality the vast majority of genetically engineered crops are designed solely to resist insects and weeds. In fact, 94 percent of soybeans, 88 percent of corn, and 90 percent of cotton are genetically engineered solely for that purpose. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Tuesday, December 27 @ 19:38:50 EST (1215 reads)
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