|Peter Bahouth, Executive Director
March 28, 2011
Turning Off the Lights Shines Bright
Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced an enormous expansion in coal mining on Tuesday. The Bureau of Land Management will hold four competitive lease sales in coming months, offering Powder River Basin tracts in Wyoming that contain an estimated 758 million tons of low sulfur coal. This could increase U.S. climate pollution by more than half of what the U.S. currently emits each year and prove to be detrimental to Americans’ health. “When burned, the coal threatens to release more than 3.9 billion tons of heat-trapping carbon dioxide, equal to the annual emissions from 300 coal-fired power plants, further cementing the United States as a leading contributor to climate disruption. Furthermore, “Coal’s pollution is dangerous to public health and contributes to four of the five leading causes of death in the United States,” said the Sierra Club, WildEarth Guardians, and Defenders of Wildlife in a joint statement in reaction to this announcement.
Wednesday, the Center for American Progress released the report “Why the EPA Is Important for Latino Families”, highlighting that air quality is unequal in the United States. In their release, they point out that “The Environmental Protection Agency has been a ‘thin green line’ of defense between big polluters and public health since 1970. But that line is in danger of being erased. Conservative politicians are ignoring the desires of their home districts, and leading efforts to attack, defund, and in some cases even abolish the EPA.” To find out latest information on the battle to protect America’s Clean Air Act see USCAN’s Clean Air Digest.
In less than a week the next round of AWG-KP and AWG-LCA meetings, as well as workshops in accordance with the Cancun Agreements, will take place in Bangkok, Thailand. Leading up to the meeting, UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christina Figueres called on governments to maintain momentum in order to deliver on agreed timelines of Cancun Agreements in a press release last Thursday. “The world was at a crossroads in Cancun and took a step forward towards a climate-safe world,” said UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres. “Now governments must move purposefully down the path they have set, and that means maintaining momentum at Bangkok in order to take the next big climate step in Durban at the end of the year.”
Saturday, Earth Hour had another record-breaking year with 134 countries participating in the annual event organized by World Wildlife Fund. Messages of support came from a host of world and civil leaders, including Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, UK Prime Minister David Cameron, Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos. All over the globe individuals, businesses and even municipalities participated by showing their support and united commitment to a sustainable future.
Today, reports of highly contaminated water escaping a damaged reactor at the crippled nuclear power plant in Japan were released by Japan’s nuclear regulator. The most recent concern is that radioactive water could leak into the ocean. “This new development also poses a further setback to efforts to contain the nuclear contamination crisis as workers find themselves in increasingly hazardous conditions,” reported The New York Times. Many US Climate Action Network members and allies are tracking this disaster closely and we have begun to compile materials and resources on a new nuclear web page that will be helpful in the discourse, development, and decision-making for the U.S. policy implications of this tragedy.
Marie Risalvato, Online Communications & Program Assistant