|Peter Bahouth, Executive Director
June 6, 2011
Strong Voices and Influential Reports
Last Tuesday, President Obama nominated John E. Bryson to head the Commerce Department as the Commerce Secretary. This announcement brought praise from both environmental groups and businesses. Notably, Mr. Bryson helped co-found the Natural Resources Defense Council in 1970 and has been head of the California Public Utilities Commission and the State Water Resources Control Board. Adversely, Senator James M. Inhofe of Oklahoma, the senior Republican on the Environment and Public Works Committee, and other Republicans threatened to block the President’s nomination.
The same day, thirty-four House of Representatives wrote to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson in regards to the nation’s public health and environment. The letter expressed concern in reference to the inadequacies of the Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement (SDEIS) for the proposed expansion of the Keystone XL Pipeline. Almost fittingly, a few days earlier the National Response Center reported another pipeline spill. Fifty gallons of crude oil spilled in Bendena, Kansas from the Keystone 1 tar sands pipeline. This pipeline was estimated to spill only once in its first year but it has already spilled 12 times and has not even been operational for a full year. On Friday, the Transportation Department blocked the restart of TransCanada’s pipeline after several recent leaks only to give permission Saturday to restart the pipeline on Monday. Today, the public comment period ends for the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline. Click here! It’s not too late to weigh in yet.
Also last week, Oxfam launched it’s GROW campaign in over 40 countries around the world. Their new campaign has a simple message: “another future is possible, and we can build it together.” In support of the new campaign they released a report “Growing a Better Future: Food Justice in a Resource Constrained World.” Among the various factors continuing to drive food prices up in the coming decades, Oxfam predicts that up to half of the serious impacts will be due to climate change. The report presents new research forecasting price rises for staple grains in the range of 120–180 per cent, within the next two decades, as resource pressures mount and climate change takes hold. To put those figures into perspective that could mean more than a doubling in staple food prices before 2030.
The Union of Concerned Scientists also released an influential report on Thursday. “Climate Change and Your Health: Rising Temperatures, Worsening Ozone Pollution,” finds unchecked global warming could increase ground-level ozone, threatening public health and the economy. Ozone pollution could cost Americans more than $5 Billion in 2020. The report found climate change-induced ozone increases could result in 2.8 million additional serious respiratory illnesses, 5,100 additional infants and seniors hospitalized with serious breathing problems, and 944,000 additional missed school days in the United States in 2020.
In other news, today kicks off the UNFCCC intercessional meeting in Bonn, Germany. In session from June 6th though the 17th, the agenda includes the 34th sessions of the UNFCCC Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI) and Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA), as well as meetings of the Ad Hoc Working Groups. Many of our members and allies are hosting official side events as well. The U.S. Climate Action Network will be compiling key resources, including U.S. submissions, relevant blogs and statements from the meeting on our 2011 Climate Talks Page throughout the session.
Marie Risalvato, Communications