Nel's New Day

May 13, 2016

Hopeful Environmental News

 

GOP presumptive heir has campaigned on the position that he will let his advisors tell him what to do, and his newest advisor in helping him draft energy policy is climate change skeptic and drilling advocate Rep. Kevin Cramer from North Dakota, a major oil drilling state. Cramer stated that his white paper will show the dangers of burdensome taxes and over-regulation. Trump will present these ideas at an energy summit in Bismarck (ND) later this month. According to Cramer, the earth is cooling, not warming.

While Trump’s train chugs on, environmentalists have recently received good news.

Methane gas: The EPA announced new rules to significantly reduce methane emissions from new oil and gas facilities as well as those undergoing modifications. It’s a first step in this area because the direction, finalized later this year, is only for these wells on federal lands and not for existing ones. The regulations will cover only 25 percent of the oil and gas equipment. Methane gas worsens smog, asthma iin children, and cardiovascular disease while increasing premature death.

Fracking: The industry has suffered a $4.2 million jury award over alleged groundwater contamination from fracking. Cabot Oil and Gas Co. is supposed to give the money to families in Dimock (PA). Popular support for fracking is also shrinking to 36 percent of people in the nation last March from 40 percent the prior March. Federal regulators are also working on new environmental rules for the industry that has experienced a long price slump. The oil and gas industry is under much greater scrutiny that at the beginning of its boom ten years ago.

Renewable energy: Last Sunday morning Germany got 90 percent of its electricity demand from renewable power. Obviously, this doesn’t happen all the time: the country averages 30 percent of the country’s power from solar, wind, hydropower, and biomass. Yet that average is over 230 percent higher than in the United States that gets only 13 percent of its electricity from these energy sources. At the fourth-largest economy in the world, Germany’s $3.7 trillion GDP is higher than any European country or US state. As clean energy grew in Germany so did its economy. The country, with about as much sunshine as Alaska, outpaces the U.S. in solar although the U.S. has four times the population of Germany. German individuals drive the “energy transition” because the government opened the market to utilities, businesses, and homeowners. In contrast, the U.S. restricts clean energy through high taxes and fees on its installation and use, much of these restrictions from control on solar energy by fossil-fuel owning Koch brothers. Florida is just one example.

Coal terminals: A five-year struggle between coal and Native Americans has resulted in denial of federal permits for the biggest proposed coal terminal in North America at Cherry Point (WA). The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers determined that the project would violate the nation’s treaty obligations to protect Lummi fisheries and ancestral lands. The project would have overloaded the capacity of BNSF railways by adding 16 trains per day and increase the possibility of rail collisions by 22 percent through Cowlitz County and Washington. The increase in train activity would cause road delays at between four to six crossings. The company behind the project, Millennium Bulk Terminals, is still hoping to have a terminal at Longview (WA), but it had to pull its proposal when it was discovered that the company planned to ship 60 million tons of coal annual instead of the 5.7 million tons on the applications. Since Millennium applied for permits in 2012, Arch Coal, a minority shareholder, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

New clean electric generation in the United States: Last year, wind turbines and solar panels accounted for more than two-thirds of all new electric generation capacity added to the nation’s grid in 2015. The other third was natural gas fueled by natural gas. It was the second year that U.S. investment in renewable energy outpaced that of fossil fuels. The cost of emissions-free wind energy, the cheapest energy source, has dropped by two-thirds in the last six years. Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas—home states to GOP lawmakers fighting the curtailment of climate-warming carbon emissions—benefited the most from clean energy. In the past ten years, coal has dropped from providing half the nation’s electricity to one-third, and large banks will no longer finance new coal mines or coal-fired power plants. U.S. coal mines not employ only 56,700 people down from a peak of times that many employees; solar employs more than 210,000 workers, and wind energy has another 77,000 employees.

This week, the EPA issued a report that Monsanto’s Roundup, made with glyphosate, doesn’t cause cancer, but it pulled the report, marked FINAL, with the excuse that they weren’t finished. The question is whether they were being pressured by business because evidence is growing that the product is carcinogenic, as the World Health Organization’s (WHO) International Agency for Research on Cancer classifies the product.  Four Nebraska farmers agree with WHO and are suing Monsanto, claiming that its project gave them non-Hodkin’s lymphoma. Monsanto made $4.8 billion from Roundup sales last year, and more than 85 million pounds of glyphosate was applied to U.S. crops in 2007, more than double the 85 million pounds in 2001. Glyphosate is applied to “Roundup-ready” crops that are genetically modified to resist it and used on more than 100 varieties of crops in commercial agriculture. The complaint states:

 “Glyphosate is found in rivers, streams, and groundwater in agricultural areas where Roundup is used. It has been found in food, the urine of exposed persons, and in the urine of urban dwellers without direct contact with glyphosate.”

Last year California was the first state to label Roundup as a carcinogen, and Monsanto sued the state to fight this designation. Cancers most associated with glyphosate exposure are non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and other blood cancers, including lymphocytic lymphoma/chronic lymphocytic leukemia, B-cell lymphoma, and multiple myeloma. The farmers’ lawsuit isn’t the first: Monsanto faces at least 700 lawsuits against Monsanto or Monsanto-related entities regarding cancer caused by PCBs that the company manufactured until the late 1970s. California federal judge Vince Chhabria has also refused to dismiss a lawsuit about Monsanto’s causing cancer with Roundup.

More and more media sources no longer have journalists but instead rely on press releases from companies who benefit from lying about science. Even most existing journalists aren’t well enough trained in science to spot misinformation.  In an attempt to disseminate accurate scientific information, a group of scientists are now fact-checking scientific information in the media through a new project called Climate Feedback. They started on a small scale over a year ago and are now crowdfunding $30,000 to build the project’s capacity with new weekly feedbacks. Associate Editor Daniel Nethery said:

“Several aspects of the online media environment make it particularly conducive to the spread of misinformation. In the race to attract the most clicks, editorial standards may suffer, qualified journalists who carry out rigorous research may become cost-ineffective, and eye-catching headlines — ‘click bait’ — can trump more sober reporting of the facts.”

Nethery and co-founder Emmanuel Vincent plan to hire a dedicated editor and encourage accurate science writing through a Scientific Trust Tracker to guide readers sources with “journalists with integrity.” An example of their work can be found in their analysis of James Taylor’s article in Forbes, “2015 Was Not Even Close To Hottest Year On Record.”

Climate Feedback will need a lot more money in this election cycle!

October 17, 2015

Fracking May Destroy the Country

Filed under: Environment — trp2011 @ 8:52 PM
Tags: , ,

Michael Steele’s war cry of “Drill, baby, drill” became the mantra during Sen. John McCain’s presidential campaign after the former RNC chair delivered it at the 2008 GOP convention. The slogan changed to “Spill, baby, spill” after the gigantic BP Deepwater Horizon disaster that killed 11 people and dumped almost 5 million barrels into the Gulf of Mexico. Trailing Donald Trump and Ben Carson at 13 percent as well as failing to bring in donations, presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) may move to a slogan of “Frack, baby, frack!” In Ohio he called for reversing EPA regulations on fracking and greenhouse emissions, allowing more offshore oil and gas drilling, nullifying President Obama’s international climate change accord, and immediately allowing the Keystone XL Pipeline to be finished.

Rubio’s wish list would dismantle Obama’s carbon pollution rules, speed up approval of natural-gas export terminals,  and stop environmental groups from suing the government. Solar and wind energy would disappear. In returning to total dependence on fossil fuels, he called opponent Hillary Clinton “an outdated leader” whose policies are a misguided attempt at “changing the weather.”

Like changing his views on immigration, Rubio has “evolved,” or perhaps a better term is “regressed” in his positions on fossil fuels. Florida state legislature Speaker Marco Rubio listed clean energy as a priority in 2007. He predicted that greenhouse gas emissions were inevitable and called on Florida to become “an international model of energy efficiency and independence” and the “Silicon Valley” of clean energy. He modified this approach in his party’s rebuttal to the president’s 2013 State of the Union speech by retaining interest in solar and wind energy with a focus on extracting fossil fuels. Now he has entirely dropped clean energy.

More than 270,000 wells have been fracked in 25 states, and over 10 million people live within one mile of a fracking site that damages health, water, land, and air. The third edition of the Compendium of Scientific, Medical and Media Findings Demonstrating Risks and Harms of Fracking includes over 100 studies showing why areas such as the state of New York were right to ban fracking.

 

  • People living near fracking made 27 per cent more hospital visits for treatment for heart conditions than in other areas (Study of drilling in Pennsylvania between 2007 and 2011)
  • Cardiology and neurological in-patient prevalence rates were significantly higher in areas closer to active wells.
  • Hospitalizations for skin conditions, cancer and urological problems also increased with proximity to wells.
  • Prenatal exposure to fracking chemicals may interrupt hormonal functioning including lower male fertility in adulthood with low sperm count and enlarged testicles.
  • Premature births are 40 percent higher among women in areas of intense drilling, and women’s pregnancies are 30 percent more likely to be “high-risk.” Premature births are linked to breathing problems, cerebral palsy, hearing and vision impairments, neurological disabilities, and infant deaths. (Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health)
  • People living near natural gas wells are more than twice as likely to report respiratory and skin conditions. (Yale University)
  • Higher levels of cancer-causing chemicals are in drinking water near fracking sites. (Texas researchers)

In an effort to stop studies in Oklahoma, billionaire oil tycoon Harold Hamm tried to persuade the University of Oklahoma to fire scientists studying the link between fracking and earthquake frequency and threatened to get the Oklahoma Geological Survey moved from the school. Hamm served as an adviser on energy policy on Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign.

Rubio may not understand the dangers of fracking to life if he follows only publications from the oil and gas industry. Although a new set of research shows that Texas methane emissions are 50 percent higher than estimated, Energy in Depth from the fossil fuel industry said that rising emissions are falling because of the paltry voluntary efforts. Texas claims that it needs to regulations to remedy the problem, but that state is failing while Colorado, Ohio, and Wyoming are taking steps toward leak detection and repair requirements for oil and gas operations.

Even the patent holder on a device that measures methane emissions thinks that it could be faulty by underrecording leakage rages. The sampler must be frequently recalibrated as methane levels rise above the capacity of the first sensor on the device.

Perhaps Rubio will agree with the EPA’s study concluding that found no “widespread, systemic impacts on drinking water resources.” Data for the poorly designed study came from the oil and gas industry that blocked direct monitoring of fracking operations. No baseline water testing was allowed before the final tests. One study of southwestern Pennsylvania fracking wells last year found that the wells released methane at rates 100 to 1,000 times higher than estimates by the EPA. Methane concentration of residential water wells at Pennsylvania homes one mile from fracking wells was six times higher than in homes located farther away from wells.

Maryland has banned fracking for 30 months while it determines regulations for the practice, but Oklahoma has banned bans on fracking after Texas told cities and towns that they were forced to permit fracking. Campaign donations trump fracking problems in Oklahoma as in Norman where hundreds of thousands of people have potentially tainted drinking water after careless disposal of fracking wastewater. The new law also prevents any city policies to ensure the water is safe.

No one may be protected from unsafe drinking water because of the Halliburton Loophole in the Energy Policy Act of 2005. Named after then-Vice-president Dick Cheney’s corporation, the provision exempts fracking from key provisions of the Safe Drinking Water Act and allows the oil and gas industry to conceal the ways that they pollute on a grand scale. The same law also made the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) able to rubber-stamp federal, state, and local decisions about fossil fuels from accountability to Congress and the White House.

Despite Oklahoma’s bans on bans, the state Supreme Court has determined that people subjected to earthquakes caused by oil and gas operations can sue the company for damages. The industry wanted cases resolved by the Oklahoma Corporation Commission (OCC) instead of the courts. Oklahoma has a seriously growing problem with fracking earthquakes with an unprecedented average of ten a day. Before fracking started in 2009, the state annually averaged two quakes of greater than 3.0 magnitude.

Less than a month after the OCC ordered companies to shut down or decrease usage of five saltwater disposal wells near Cushing, an earthquake of 4.5 hit the area a week ago. The day before, an earthquake of 4.4 magnitude hit just 80 miles away. Thus far, regulators have issued rules for only 23 of the state’s 3,500 wells.

One-fifth of the U.S. commercial crude oil storage capacity is located near this earthquake site, and the 87 million-barrel capacity is almost full because low oil prices are causing the energy industry to hoard the crude. Steve Agee, an economist and Dean of the Meinders School of Business at Oklahoma City University, said that the supply of crude has outpaced worldwide demand, drastically bringing down oil prices that hover around $50 a barrel up from $37.75 in August. Andrew Lipow, president of Lipow Oil Associates, said that the national inventory of 457.9 million barrels is the highest in almost 80 years.

Oklahoma isn’t alone in earthquake problems: Kansas joined Oklahoma to have 42 earthquakes of 2.5 magnitude in one week—17 percent of the earthquakes in the world—up from 1.5 of these quakes each year. The water, sand, and toxic chemicals shot into the bedrock at extremely high pressures destabilizes the bedrock, reactivates long-dormant fault lines, and causes man-made earthquakes. The Oklahoma/Kansas area of Woodford shale sits above the mid-continent rift, a billion-year old fault line buried more than a mile below the surface. As the number of earthquakes grows, the area of occurrence increases, going as far as Oklahoma City which has no main fracking wells. The earthquakes are also becoming more powerful with the potential to provide significant local damage—such as blowing up the 87 million barrels of oil at Cushing.

At the same time, air pollution travels hundreds of miles into states with little or no fracking. Ethane measurements increased by 30 percent between 2010 and 2013 in Washington, D.C. Maybe Marco Rubio is not as safe as he thinks he is.

January 10, 2015

Power Only GOP Reason for Passing Keystone Pipeline

Filed under: Environment — trp2011 @ 9:33 PM
Tags: , , , , ,

The GOP has started its 2015 war on the president with a House bill to support the Canadian economy. For the 10th time, the Republican House members, with the help of 28 Democrats, has sent a bill to the Senate to build the Keystone XL Pipeline. The non-veto proof vote was 266 to 153. There had been some stalling until the Nebraska Supreme Court determined whether decision for the KXL route through the state is constitutional. Only four of the necessary five votes maintained the unconstitutionality of the decision taking land from the farmers.

President Obama has said that the project takes oil from Canada and ships it across the United States to the Gulf of Mexico so that it can be sent overseas. He’s right: industries benefiting from the KXL under dispute are Canadian companies such as Suncor Energy, Imperial Oil, and Canadian Natural Resources.

Republicans are well-paid to support KXL.  The fossil fuels industry has paid at least $721 million into forward its agenda put a lot of money into forwarding its agenda in the Congress not counting hundreds of millions more through outside groups.

One argument has been lowering gas prices, despite the fact that no one in the U.S. will be getting the oil. During less than a year, oil prices have dropped over 50 percent–before one drop of oil passed through the KXL. The pipeline could actually increase prices because the oil is sent overseas.

Another claim that the pipeline will have no negative impact on the environment is equally false. Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) stated that sending the thick, gooey stuff in leaky pipelines is safer than by train or truck. Oil pipelines, however, leak and spill at least an average of 97,376 barrels (4.1 million gallons) of petroleum and related hazardous fluids every year. Federal regulators buried a report that TransCanada was cited “for ‘inadequate’ field inspections and ‘ineffective’ management.” Its pipeline in Canada had a rupture rate five times higher than the national average and was discovered to be 95 percent corroded after it burst in 2009. TransCanada fixed 125 sags and dents in the southern leg of the pipeline within the first ten months.

Supporters use an old report from the U.S. State Department, prepared by people from the oil industry, that claims the pipeline is safe. If it leaks, however, TransCanada is not on the hook for cleanup costs because tar sands oil is not covered by the mandated insurance for pipelines.

The GOP’s primary argument is that the KXL creates jobs. If that were true, they’d try to open one Denny’s restaurant; its jobs would be equal to the 35 permanent jobs of the KXL. The claim of 42,000 temporary jobs is “cooked”: the total is really about 1,950 Full Time Equivalent jobs because the GOP total doubles the number for a person working two years and doesn’t consider part-time jobs. Meanwhile, the GOP ignores the federal highway bill and other infrastructure endeavors that could help people in this country.

Clean energy had at least double the number of temporary KXL jobs in 2013. Wind power needs a 2.2 cents per kilowatt-hour federal production tax credit (PTC) to start projects. Every time Congress waffles about the PTC, the industry loses jobs; renewal creates a job spike. In contrast, fossil fuel companies automatically get billions of dollars in subsidies and federal tax breaks every year. Part of the millions that these companies spend is devoted to killing off clean energy.

A national renewable electricity standard, first discussed in 2009, could create 297,000 new jobs in manufacturing, construction, operations, maintenance, agriculture, forestry, and other industries if there were a mandate of 25 percent renewable by 2025.

Scotland is beginning construction of the world’s largest power plan that will power 175,000 homes. By last year, wind turbines in the country provided 98 percent of required electricity in Scottish homes. When the wind went down, homes used solar panels—100 percent of necessary electricity in Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow, and Inverness during June and July and 60 percent in the same cities during March, April, May, August, and September.

Solar energy would be more popular in the United States without opposition from big businesses. Every three minutes a new rooftop solar system is installed in the United States, up from one every 80 minutes before Barack Obama became president. The Koch brothers and the heirs of the Walmart fortune are struggling to stamp out these solar projects by lobbying for exorbitant fees for anyone who dares put these panels on their roofs.

The fear is that all these people creating their own electricity will break the utility monopolies. The Waltons of Walmart want their own big company that uses solar panels to sell to customers instead of letting people install their own panels. They’d probably like to tax personal vegetable gardens so that more people would have to buy Walmart vegetables. Opposition started in Arizona, Kansas, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Washington. With fees in some of these states, installations are dropping as much as 40 percent. Big energy companies can’t buy out individual homeowners so they buy the congressional representatives instead.

In addition to voting to pass the KXL for the tenth time, the 114th Congress added to its 50 attacks on the Affordable Care Act and embarked on its anti-abortion campaign. Yet nothing has been said about authorizing any offensive in the Middle East. House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) blames the White House for sending nothing to the House about military force to defeat terrorist enemies. President Obama has welcomed congressional authorization and asked legislators to address the issue, but Boehner wants the president to write the resolution’s text and lobby for its passage. Congress has taken long vacations since the ISIL crisis last summer, but the return of the legislators led only to saber-rattling about wiping out the current president.

Despite bitter complaints from the GOP that the president won’t treat Congress as a co-equal branch of government, Republicans want the president to do their work. When President Clinton used military force in Kosovo, GOP members of Congress wrote and voted on a resolution. A congressional resolution came from lawmakers when President Reagan sent U.S. troops to Lebanon. The same thing happened when President Obama launched strikes in Libya—another U.S. military resolution from Congress. There’s no history for the GOP sitting around, waiting for the president to write their resolutions.

Building the KXL seems to be the current GOP ideological symbol of power. Ignoring facts and evidence, Republicans pass a bill to improve the economy in Alberta, Canada. The more opposition directed at the KXL, the more conservatives believe in the importance of the project. Because Republicans have neither a jobs program nor an economic vision, they use the KXL in an attempt to prove that they are working for “the people.” After all the money spent in the elections last year, the GOP puts up the Keystone XL Pipeline as their most important issue. Trying to show that they are boldly sallying forth, the House continues its huge fights over minor issues.

Now the bill goes to the Senate where it will face amendments that the House prevented. Democrats plan at least three amendments that would actually provide jobs: no export of oil shipped through the pipeline, mandated manufacture of pipeline steel in the U.S., and additional financial incentives for renewable energy.

Even A CEO from one of the largest oil producers in North Dakota, Continental Resources, has called the pipeline “irrelevant.” Harold Hamm and Roger Kelley, director of regulatory affairs for the company, agreed that they’re “successfully transporting crude by rail.” Even if built, the pipeline would carry less than ten percent of the state’s daily shipments.

Production costs for tar sands oil are between $85 and $110 per barrel. Today the cost went below $49. Companies already lost $30.9 billion between 2010 and 2013 because of loss of oil markets and competition from lower-priced light crude. Tar sands oil has become a risky investment. Land rights of Canada’s indigenous groups, leading opposition to the pipeline, were strengthened last June, causing the Canadian government to back off. Gas sales are down in the United States because of electric cars, hybrids, more efficient fuel use, and greater access to clean energy. China, considered by Canada as a prime market, announced its program to cut carbon emissions.

Here are sites for petitions against the Keystone XL Pipeline, one for the president and the other for the Senate. Googling “Keystone petition” will have other sources.

January 4, 2015

Better Times for Clean Energy, Pope May Help

Filed under: Environment,Pollution — trp2011 @ 8:15 PM
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Pope Francis has decided to follow up other progressive positions during his less than two years as the Catholic leader by addressing the environment and climate change. Last October he said:

“The monopolizing of lands, deforestation, the appropriation of water, inadequate agro-toxics are some of the evils that tear man from the land of his birth. Climate change, the loss of biodiversity and deforestation are already showing their devastating effects in the great cataclysms we witness.”

During the coming year, Francis plans to issue an encyclical on the issue, urging “all Catholics to take action on moral and scientific grounds.” To influence the UN meeting on climate change in Paris, Francis also plans to convene a summit of world religious leaders and speak to the United Nations General Assembly.

Conservatives are not happy about the pope’s latest campaign because the Koch brothers, who specialize in pollution, pay the conservative leaders. Calvin Beisner of the religious right Cornwall Alliance said that believing in climate change “really is an insult to God … and it will eventually lead to tyranny.”

Beisner promised that the U.S. evangelical movement will oppose the pope in his environment endeavors because it is “un-biblical” and a “false religion.” (Actually, the evangelicals have been declared that Catholicism is a false religion for almost five centuries; this is nothing new.)

From JunkScience.com comes a blog called “Pope now decides to dabble in environmentalism and opine on Climate?” that describes Francis as a “commie pope,” “stupid leftist” and “despicable.”

Claiming to use the “best science,” an editorial from Investor’s Business Daily entitled “Pope Francis Errs In Linking Church To Green Movement” states:

“The Vatican apparently now has been infiltrated by followers of a radical green movement that is, at its core, anti-Christian, anti-people, anti-poor and anti-development. The basic tenets of Catholicism — the sanctity of human life and the value of all souls — are detested by the modern pagan environmentalists who worship the created, but not the creator.”

In “Climate Hoax Peddling and Meddling, Pope Allied with Obama, Backing UN World Government, Wealth Redistribution” on GOP The Daily Dose, Rick Wells foams at the mouth about all his objections to progressive ideas including “amnesty” and “global socialism.”

“How could [Pope Francis], as the head of a church who is anti-abortion, be in cahoots with the United Nations, the world’s largest population control agent and abortion facilitator? Is Pope Francis a well-intentioned victim of manipulation or is he somehow knowingly involved in the scheme?”

The Right Wing News blog matches its message to its title, “Pope Francis Delves Deeper Into Leftist Politics by Pushing Global Warming Hoax.” After the typical accusations of the pope’s “attacking economic freedom” and “pushing the global warming hoax,” Dave Blount writes:

“There has never been a more un-Christian ideology than environmental radicalism. The Pope praising the Devil would not be more appalling.”

Furious tweets are available here.

NASA scientists have found some good news about the Earth’s climate. Tropical forests are absorbing as much as 1.4 billion tons of carbon dioxide out of the Earth’s total absorption of 2.5 billion tons. Current, trees and other vegetation are estimated to absorb 30 percent of the carbons that people dump in the atmosphere. The down side is that this increase can deplete water in the area, leading to greater numbers and severity of wildfires. Global warming is still a threat, but scientists are gaining a better understanding of carbon regulation out of the atmosphere. Just keep the tropical forests and put out fires.

China plans to shut down 2,000 coal mines this coming year and limit the total to 10,000 by 2016 after closing 1,100 this year. Presently, China, with four times the population of the U.S., produces about four times as much coal as the United States.

The number of solar energy jobs increased 20 percent last year to 143,000. That’s over 50 percent more jobs than the 89,000 coal mining jobs in 2012, and almost half those in just the states of Kentucky and West Virginia. Kentucky gets 90 percent of its electricity from coal; California gets less than 1 percent of its power from coal. Coal use for electricity is concentrated in fewer than ten states; it’s easy to determine which states because their senators decry solar energy and the need to reduce pollution from coal. Barclays recently downgraded the utility sector’s high-grade bonds because so many power companies rely on coal although the solar industry is exploding in job growth in the U.S.

Another 85,000 people in the U.S. now work in wind energy and related industry although wind power represents about 3.5 percent of U.S. power generation. This figure shows a 20-fold increase in about a decade.

The commercial nuclear industry employs 120,000 people, and the geothermal power industry provides over 13,000 jobs in the nation.

One example of clean energy takes place in Hugoton (KS), population 3,900, that employs 75 people at an annual payroll of $5 million at a cellulosic ethanol refinery. Abengoa is the largest cellulosic biorefinery in the world, producing up to 25 million gallons ethanol fueled by non-edible waste bought from local farmers. Refined biofuels are sold in the U.S., Europe, and parts of Asia. The startup money came from the 2009 stimulus program.

Tesla Motors, which manufactures electric sports cars, paid back its $465 million loan almost 10 years early. The $30 billion in loans had a two-percent default rate, and the program created or saved about 35,000 permanent jobs. That’s 1000-fold the number of permanent jobs offered by the Keystone XL Pipeline.

In her very low-key way, Sister Simone Campbell said, “Pope Francis’s message and tone are making Catholic Republicans a little uncomfortable.”

Fox network commented that the pope is aligning with “extremists who favor widespread population control and wealth redistribution.” Marc Morano came back on the channel to repeat his falsehood that there has been “no global warming” for “almost two decades.” On Special Report, Doug McKelway warned that the pope’s encyclical “may play well into the hands of skeptics who’ve long seen global warming fears as almost religious in its fervor, with biblical themes of a pristine Eden-like planet tarnished by man, followed by a loss of grace and a coming doomsday.” McKelway came to Fox after ABC’s Washington, D.C. affiliate fired him for getting into a “shouting match” with his boss over his faulty criticism of “far left environmental groups” in a piece recycling the false claim that President Obama received campaign money from BP.

The head of Fox, Roger Ailes, is a Catholic, and the chair of parent News Corporation, Rupert Murdoch, is raising and educating the daughters from his latest marriage as Catholics and had them baptized in the Jordan River. Pope John Paul II inducted Murdoch into the “Knights of the Order of Saint Gregory the Great.” Catholic Fox pundits include Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly, Megyn Kelly, Bret Baier, Bill Hemmer, Brian Kilmeade, Andrew Napolitano, Jeanine Pirro, Laura Ingraham, Elisabeth Hasselbeck, and Father Morris. The current Senior Communications Adviser in the Vatican’s Secretariat of State, Greg Burke, was previously the Fox News correspondent covering the Vatican, a position he held for ten years.

In Congress, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) is a devout Catholic as are other GOP leaders such as Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI). In the last House of Representatives, Catholics comprised almost 30 percent of the GOP membership. Ten GOP senators, including Marco Rubio (FL) are also Catholics. (Rubio is already upset with Pope Francis because of his involvement in opening communications between the U.S. and Cuba.) The question may be how far the GOP Catholics will go to oppose their religious leader.

The best news about climate change is that people are finally paying attention to it.

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