Friday, December 11, 2009
Wednesday, December 09, 2009
December 9, 2009
The climate battle rages hot and heavy these days with the world’s attention drawn to the meetings in Copenhagen, and the pages of our own state capital newspaper, The Baton Rouge Advocate advancing one side or the other (and sometimes both). Tensions have been raised by the “Climategate” controversy and news about other leaked documents and dissension between groups attending the conference. I would not be surprised if it turns out that there are hostile infiltrators at the conference who are sowing dissension and false rumors just to make it more difficult to reach a consensus.
This is a time honored disruptive tactic that was used against the peace and civil rights movements for years. There seems to be no end to the lengths to which the forces of resistance will go in order to try and stop the changes that must sooner or later come in the world’s huge consumption of energy from combustion of fossil fuels. Sierra Club Delta Chapter member Rachel Guillory is there in Copenhagen to report on the meetings and to represent the community of people in Louisiana who want action to turn around the rate of increase in human caused global warming. You can see her postings by going to http://sscinternational.org/ and clicking on Rachel’s name on the right side.
Monday, October 19, 2009
Location: LSU Campus (Dalton Woods Auditorium; Energy, Coast &
Date: Tuesday, October 20
No change to a complex system like the coupled human-natural system we live in could be all good or all bad. In other words there are both risks and opportunities. Unfortunately these are not uniformly distributed around the globe, and the negatives often congregate in inequitable ways, such as particular vulnerability to poor people in hot countries, those in the high Arctic, species already endangered or threatened, people living in drought and fire prone areas, small islands, indigenous groups, and residents of "hurricane alley", among others. Although carbon dioxide increases can improve crop yields, it threatens to increase the acidity of the oceans threatening the bottom of the food chain and to intensify hurricanes and raise sea levels. How to weigh these incommensurate entities raises doubts about the general applicability of technical analytic methods like cost/benefit analysis.
A range of trade offs in non-monetizable metrics is created by climate change and climate policies, and these will be highlighted, stressing factors relevant to the Gulf Coast region. Ultimately policy is determined by how the political system adjudicates the different values different constituencies place on different amenities.
About Stephen Schneider
Stephen H. Schneider is the Melvin and Joan Lane Professor for Interdisciplinary Environmental Studies, Professor of Biology, and a Senior Fellow in the Woods Institute for the Environment at Stanford University. He served as an NCAR scientist from 1973-1996, where he co-founded the Climate Project. He focuses on climate change science, integrated assessment of ecological and economic impacts of human-induced climate change, and identifying viable climate policies and technological solutions. He has consulted for federal agencies and White House staff in six administrations. Involved with the IPCC since 1988, he was Coordinating Lead Author, WG II, Chapter 19, "Assessing Key Vulnerabilities and the Risk from Climate Change" and a core writer for the Fourth Assessment Synthesis Report. He along with four generations of IPCC authors received a collective Nobel Peace Prize for their joint efforts in 2007. Elected to the US National Academy of Sciences in 2002, Dr. Schneider received the American Association for the Advancement of Science/ Westinghouse Award for Public Understanding of Science and Technology and a MacArthur Fellowship for integrating and interpreting the results of global climate research. Founder/ editor of Climatic Change, he has authored or co-authored over 500 books, scientific papers, proceedings, legislative testimonies, edited books and chapters, reviews and editorials. Dr. Schneider counsels policy makers, corporate executives, and non-profit stakeholders about using risk management strategies in climate-policy decision-making, given the uncertainties in future projections of global climate change and related impacts. He is actively engaged in improving public understanding of science and the environment through extensive media communication and public outreach.
With Special Thanks to these LSU programs:
-- Southern Climate Impacts Planning Program
-- Southern Regional Climate Center
-- Department of Geography and Anthropology
-- Coastal Sustainability Agenda
-- Office of Research and Economic Development
-- School of the Coast and Environment
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Louisiana State Representatives proposed three bills to extend the state’s investment in green jobs. As of late July, Governor Jindal has signed all three bills into law. Green jobs not only provide people of all socioeconomic backgrounds with fair jobs that offer adequate wages and benefits, they also provide the economy with the work force needed to support the goals associated with combating global climate change and adapting to an ever-increasing population.
Louisiana House Bill 733 offers companies tax incentives for investing in green jobs. Senate Bill 224, now Act 348, allows local municipalities to issue bonds for local companies to create renewable energy businesses. Representative Erich Ponti of Baton Rouge proposed House Bill 858. The bill expands the terms of an already existing bill concerning wind and solar energy systems; it allows 3rd party residential taxpayers to be eligible for a 50% tax credit, capped at $12,500, on wind turbine or solar panel installation. Supporters hope that the bill will encourage the renewable energy industry to grow and, in turn, create more green jobs.
Federally, the Green Jobs and Infrastructure Act of 2009 is making its way through the legislative system. The bill was introduced in January 2009 and has since been referred to the U.S Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. The bill was designed to promote economic recovery by providing $50 billion of loans to manufacturing facilities that produce clean technology products and the parts that they are comprised of. These products include “wind turbines, solar energy products, fuel cells, advanced batteries and storage devices, biomass engines, geothermal equipment, ocean energy equipment, carbon capture and storage, energy efficiency products…products for retrofitting manufacturing facilities” (S. 224). Interested parties must apply to the Secretary of Energy. The Secretary will then determine if loan recipients have a viable market for their product, proof that the investment can be made efficiently, and evidence that the investment will preserve or create jobs. If all of the requirements have been met, the loan will be granted and must be repaid no longer than 25 years after the initial loan was made. Priority will be given to facilities located in regions of the country with the highest unemployment rates.
A publication from the Political Economy Research Institute and Center for American Progress entitled The Economic Benefits of Investing in Clean Energy explains how investing in renewable energy creates jobs both directly and indirectly. Most immediately, the expansion of the renewable energy industry will require specially trained technicians to install the new technology. Perhaps not as obvious are the jobs that will be needed to support the industries that renewable energy technologies rely on, including but not limited to construction, lumber, steel and transportation. The studies claim that for every $1 million invested in renewable energy, 16.7 jobs are created as opposed to the 5.3 jobs that are created by an equal investment in non-renewable energy. Accordingly, the Blue-Green Alliance reports that if we were to require 20% of our country’s electricity to come from renewable sources by 2020, 820,000 jobs would be created in the process.
The benefits produced by green jobs extend beyond employment numbers alone. Once employed with green-collar jobs, employees will have the satisfaction of knowing their job is secured in a growing industry with a high demand for employees. Furthermore, environmentally minded people in all regions of the country can have the opportunity to turn their commitment to their jobs into a commitment to the environment, and vice versa.
Saturday, August 01, 2009
There will be open meetings on the 4th Monday of each month (time and place to be announced) for community input.
PLEASE post your ideas on how to make it happen to this blog. I will post updates here also. Spread the word.
Thursday, July 02, 2009
Student attorneys from the Tulane Environmental Law Clinic filed a federal suit in May 2007 against EnerVest Operating LLC on behalf of the Louisiana Environmental Action Network (LEAN), the Sierra Club, the Gulf Restoration Network (GRN), and the Louisiana Audubon Council.
EnerVest controls more than 4,000 natural gas wells in the Monroe Field and is the largest producer. Close to 800 of its wells, on private property, were equipped with mercury meters, which hold about eight pounds of mercury each. Mercury is a hazardous waste under state and federal law.
After the environmental coalition sent a 90 day notice of intent to sue in December 2006, EnerVest, met with LDEQ and coalition representatives to discuss a Cooperative Agreement to cleanup their sites. A federal suit was filed in May 2007 alleging that mercury was leaking from EnerVest meters in the Monroe Gas field. EnerVest and LDEQ finalized a Cooperative Agreement in January 2008. The plaintiffs believed that this Agreement did not go far enough to protect the environment and continued with their suit.
As a result of the suit and court adopted settlement, EnerVest has removed over 400 active mercury meters and replaced them with dry-flow meters - which do not pollute. EnerVest has also agreed to a cleanup schedule of mercury contaminated sites, and cleanup standards for soils and wetland sites that are more protective than those in the LDEQ/EnerVest Cooperative Agreement.
"EnerVest is setting a good corporate example by settling this case and agreeing to clean up their mercury meter sites, said Barry Kohl, of the Audubon Council. Other natural gas producers in the Monroe Gas Field must come forward with cleanup plans to reverse the mercury pollution. If not, the coalition will continue to seek legal remedies. Leaky meters continue to contaminate private property and public resources.”
"Currently there are 48 mercury-in-fish advisories statewide, including seven within the Monroe Gas Field," said Cynthia Sarthou, director of GRN. "The Ouachita River, Bayou DeSiard and Black Lake have “mercury-in-fish” advisories that caution pregnant women, women who are breast-feeding, and children younger than seven years of age to limit consumption of fish." Eating fish with high levels of mercury raises the risk of developmental and cognitive damage in babies and children and has been linked to increased risk of coronary heart disease in men.
"The cleanup of the Monroe Gas Field will be the first step in reducing the mercury contamination of soil and sediment which impacts our rivers and lakes, says Marylee Orr, Executive director, Louisiana Environmental Action Network. Mercury contamination negatively impacts recreational and commercial fishing, as well as the local economy in the Ouachita River Basin. In 2002, a local man was poisoned by eating mercury-contaminated fish from Bayou Bartholomew." "We are pleased that EnerVest has become the first gas company to start a cleanup of the mercury at its wells on private property. But there are many other companies responsible for abandoned meters and they owe it to the landowners and the public to clean up the mercury spills," said Delta Sierra Chairman, Haywood Martin. The LDEQ has estimated that there are over 20,000 mercury meters in use or abandoned across the state.
The original suit was filed in U.S. District Court, Western District of Louisiana, Monroe, LA.
Case NO: 3:2007-CV-00817; Judge Robert G. James.
Stipulated Judgment attached as electronic copy
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT:
Louisiana Audubon Council (504) 861-8465
Delta (Louisiana) Chapter of the Sierra Club, (337) 232-7953
Gulf Restoration Network (504) 525-1528 x202
Louisiana Environmental Action Network (225) 588-5059
Tulane Environmental Law Clinic (504) 862-8800
Sunday, April 19, 2009
Read more in a Times-Picayune article by Mark Schleifstein on Nola.com:
Bob Marshall the excellent outdoors editor for the Times-Picayune also weighs in:
Thursday, March 26, 2009
State of Louisiana
PO Box 94004
Baton Rouge, LA 70804-9004
Dear Governor Jindal:
On March 26, 2008 I sent you a letter expressing appreciation for your early issuance of two executive orders, one dealing with the decision-making process relative to coastal restoration programs, and another dealing with energy efficiency in state government. Energy efficiency and conservation are of great interest to the Sierra Club, given the compelling evidence of the link between combustion of fossil fuels and global climate change that could seriously impact the State of Louisiana.
We are suggesting that the governor’s office take a leadership role in guiding the State of Louisiana to a cleaner and greener economy. This can be done by setting an example in operation of state government, and by making it known that Louisiana is open for business in creation of business opportunities and new jobs in fabrication and installation of clean energy technologies.
We know from the example of other states that with the right mix of incentives and leadership, the public will respond to a wide variety of pro-conservation measures, especially when they ultimately save consumers money. We know further that in the not too distant future that the most dynamic economies will be those that see no contradiction between economic growth and a clean, healthy environment.
We proposed in our earlier letter that you could provide excellent example and create a positive image of the Governor of the State of Louisiana as being a leader in clean energy by making the Louisiana White House into an environmentally friendly Governor’s mansion. Installation of solar panels or other energy conservation measures would get positive attention statewide and nationally. We are confident that companies selling cutting edge energy conservation technology would welcome the opportunity to show off their wares at the Louisiana Governor’s mansion. Another measure that would follow through on your executive order and improve the visibility of your administration on these issues would be for you to direct your administration to include energy efficiency in the annual budget review process for state government.
Thanks for your consideration of these suggestions. We have not received a response to our March 26 letter to you. Please take this opportunity to let us know if you will act on these proposals, and what you are doing to enable energy conservation and clean jobs in our state.
Haywood Martin, Chair
Delta Chapter of the Sierra Club
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
Just thirty miles west of New Orleans along State Highway 48 is the town of Montz, Louisiana. It is the home of Little Gypsy, a natural gas plant that supplies energy to the residents of Louisiana. In 2007, Entergy Louisiana LLC announced its plans to retrofit the plant to burn coal and petroleum coke (a byproduct of oil refining) instead of natural gas in order to diversify the fuel mix.
Entergy designed the plans for Little Gypsy with the intent of both varying Louisiana’s electricity sources as well as mitigating the continually rising costs of natural gas for consumers. However, as the nation experienced significant economic changes, finance and environmental legislation became two important factors for the repowering project.
In 2007, Entergy had originally estimated the retrofit to cost approximately $1 billion. In October 2007, their proposal was approved by the Louisiana Public Service Commission (LPSC), despite objections made by the Sierra Club. Sierra Club representatives were among the first to predict the financial problems that would inevitably bring the construction plans to a halt. We filed a complaint with the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in January 2008 concerning Entergy’s failure to adequately assess future costs and emission regulations. Two months later, we followed up with an additional request to the LPSC to reconsider the permit as
In June 2008, Sierra Club along with the Louisiana Environmental Action Network, the Alliance for Affordable Energy and the Gulf Restoration Network filed suit against the LPSC’s approval of Entergy’s plans under the Clean Air Act for exceeding the regulations for toxic emissions including mercury, lead and arsenic.
Researchers from the Histecon Associate group, hired by the Sierra Club and affiliates to assess the Little Gypsy construction plans, say that the cost of coal is increasing at a rate of 16% per year. In early 2009, Entergy reported that new environmental regulations, increased costs of construction and labor, and inadequate financing options, Little Gypsy project would be estimated to cost an upwards of $1.76 billion. However, this estimate only includes environmental regulations that have been put in place within the first few months of the Obama administration. In addition to the existing regulations, extensive greenhouse gas emission regulations are expected to be implemented. Considering that coal plants
are the number one source of human derived greenhouse gas emissions, these regulations could increase the cost of the retrofit by another one-third to one-half.
These substantial fiscal changes convinced Entergy that the benefits of the retrofit to the company and consumers would not be realized for another 13 years or more. Not only are the benefits becoming more distant in the future, but they are also decreasing in relevance. The rising natural gas prices Entergy sought to avoid have since stopped and began to fall with the discovery of the Haynesville shale formation, leaving the company with one less reason to convert Little Gypsy.
After filing several additional petitions opposing the Entergy permits to the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (LDEQ) and Environmental Protection Agency, the LSPC ordered Entergy to review their construction plans to convert Little Gypsy on March 11th, 2009. Less than one month later, Entergy Louisiana LLC formally asked the LPSC for permission to suspend the project for a minimum of three years, at which point the project will be eligible for review. Sierra Club representatives believe that the delay is long enough to allow the continually increasing costs of coal to put the project on hold indefinitely.
Wednesday, March 04, 2009
Congressman Charles Boustany
1117 Longworth House Office Bldg
Washington, DC 20515-1807
Dear Congressman Boustany,
This is to express our appreciation for the meeting in the Longworth House Office Building on Feb 26, 2009 with you and Ryan Evans, Legislative Correspondent. The meeting was attended by me as Chair of the Delta (Louisiana) Chapter of the Sierra Club, and Cynthia Sarthou, Executive Director of the Gulf Restoration Network. We work together as member participants in the Clean Water Network. The Clean Water Network (CWN) is a coalition of more than 1,200 public interest organizations across the country, representing more than 5 million people, working to strengthen and implement federal clean water and wetlands policy.
We hope to obtain your support for The Clean Water Restoration Act, introduced last year as H.R. 2421 and S. 1870. We are greatly concerned that internal documents obtained by Chairman James Oberstar of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, and Chairman Henry Waxman of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, indicate that USEPA has dropped or de-prioritized over 500 Clean Water Act enforcement cases since July 2007 because of questions about whether the waters that the polluters discharged into are still covered by the Clean Water Act. It appears that EPA was using a restrictive interpretation of Rapanos v. United States to issue guidance in 2007 that resulted in greatly reduced jurisdictional coverage for the Clean Water Act.
Information obtained by CWN shows that in Louisiana 24 percent of the population is served by source water areas receiving flow from streams that would not be protected under this more restrictive interpretation of Clean Water Act jurisdiction. We are also concerned about the impact that increased water pollution could have on the Gulf of Mexico hypoxia problem (The Dead Zone) and gulf fisheries. We strongly believe that Congress must act to fix this problem and we ask for your support for Clean Water Restoration Act legislation when it is re-introduced.
The second subject of our discussion was the continued funding of the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (SWSRF) and the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF). Our concern comes from the fact that funding for the State Revolving Funds for water infrastructure had been seriously declining over a number of years. We want to voice our support for adequate funding for these very important water infrastructure programs.
We very much appreciate the meeting and this chance to express our concerns for Clean Water nationally and in the State of Louisiana. I would be happy to follow up with any additional information or discussion that may be helpful to you in considering these important issues.
Haywood R. Martin, Chair
Sierra Club Delta Chapter