March 31, 2009

You're Invited

This is an invitation to help build a movement--to take one day day and use it to stop the climate crisis.On October 24, we will stand together as one planet and call for a fair global climate treaty. United by a common call to action, we'll make it clear: the world needs an international plan that meets the latest science and gets us back to safety.This movement has just begun, and it needs your help.Here's the plan: we're asking you, and people in every country on earth, to organize an action in your community on October 24.
There are no limits here--imagine bike rides, rallies, concerts, hikes, festivals, tree-plantings, protests, and more. Imagine your action linking up with thousands of others around the globe. Imagine the world waking up.If we can pull it off, we'll send a powerful message on October 24: the world needs the climate solutions that science and justice demand.It's often said that the only thing preventing us from tackling the climate crisis quickly and equitably is a lack of political will. Well, the only thing that can create that political will is a unified global movement--and no one is going to build that movement for us. It's up to regular people all over the world. That's you.So register an event in your community for October 24, and then enlist the help of your friends. Get together with your co-workers or your local environmental group or human rights campaign, your church or synagogue or mosque or temple; enlist bike riders and local farmers and young people. All over the planet we'll start to organize ourselves.With your help, there will be an event at every iconic place on the planet on October 24-from America's Great Lakes to Australia's Great Barrier Reef--and also in all the places that matter to you in your daily lives: a beach or park or village green or town hall.If there was ever a time for you to get involved, it's right now.
There are two reasons this year is so crucial.The first reason is that the science of climate change is getting darker by the day. The Arctic is melting away with astonishing speed, decades ahead of schedule. Everything on the planet seems to be melting or burning, rising or parched.And we now now have a number to express our peril: 350. NASA's James Hansen and a team of other scientists recently published a series of papers showing that we need to cut the amount of carbon in the atmosphere from its current 387 parts per million to below 350 if we wish to "maintain a planet similar to that on which civilization developed."No one knew that number a year ago-but now it's clear that 350 might well be the most important number for the future of the planet, a north star to guide our efforts as we remake the world. If we can swiftly get the planet on track to get back below 350, we can still avert the worst effects of climate change.The second reason 2009 is so important is that the political opportunity to influence our governments has never been greater. The world's leaders will meet in Copenhagen this December to craft a new global treaty on cutting carbon emissions.If that meeting were held now, it would produce a treaty would be woefully inadequate. In fact, it would lock us into a future where we'd never get back to 350 parts per million-where the rise of the sea would accelerate, where rainfall patterns would start to shift and deserts to grow. A future where first the poorest people, and then all of us, and then all the people that come after us, would find the only planet we have damaged and degraded. October 24 comes six weeks before those crucial UN meetings in Copenhagen. If we all do our job, every nation will know the question they'll be asked when they put forth a plan: will this get the planet back on the path below 350? This will only work with the help of a global movement-and it's starting to bubble up everywhere. Farmers in Cameroon, students in China, even World Cup skiers have already helped spread the word about 350. Churches have rung their bells 350 times; Buddhist monks have formed a huge 350 with their bodies against the backdrop of Himalayas. 350 translates across every boundary of language and culture. It's clear and direct, cutting through the static and it lays down a firm scientific line.On October 24, we'll all stand behind 350--a universal symbol of climate safety and of the world we need to create. And at the end of the day, we'll all upload photos from our events to the website and send these pictures around the world. This cascade of images will drive climate change into the public debate--and hold our leaders accountable to a unified global citizenry. We need your help-the world is a big place and our team is small. Our crew at will do everything we can to support you, providing templates for banners and press releases, resources to spread the word, and tools to help you build a strong local climate action group. And our core team is always just a phone call or e-mail away if you need some support.This is like a final exam for human beings. Can we muster the courage, the commitment, and the creativity to set this earth on a steady course before it's too late? October 24 will be the joyful, powerful day when we prove it's possible.Please join us and register your local event today.Onwards,Bill McKibben - Author and Activist- USAVandana Shiva - Physicist, Activist, Author - IndiaDavid Suzuki - Scientist, Author, Activist - CanadaBianca Jagger - Chair of the World Future Council - UKTim Flannery - Scientist, Author, Explorer -AustraliaBittu Sahgal - Co-convener, Climate Challenge India - IndiaAndrew Simmons - Environmental Advocate, St. Vincent & The GrenadinesChristine Loh - Environmental Advocate and Legislator - Hong KongP.S.-We need you to do something else, right away, that's pretty easy. Please forward this message to anyone you know who is even remotely appropriate.

Angry residents grill officials about coal ash

Angry residents grill officials about coal ash
By Tony Bartelme
The Post and Courier
Tuesday, March 31, 2009

ST. STEPHEN — Angry residents from the Tobacco Road area demanded Monday that Santee Cooper test their drinking water for toxic chemicals, saying they feared contaminants from tons of coal ash placed on the road in 2004 may be affecting their health.
Dust flies into the air as a truck makes its way down Tobacco Road last month. Several years ago, Santee Cooper took 425 tons of fly ash and put it on Tobacco Road, an unpaved lane that snakes through swamps near St. Stephen in Berkeley County. Residents, who are concerned about the effect of the dust on their health, sought answers at a meeting Monday night.

In a meeting at a church near the unpaved road, residents grilled top Santee Cooper and Berkeley County officials for nearly two hours, asking why the utility used fly ash on their road and when the county might pave it.

Bill McCall, Santee Cooper's vice president, said the Environmental Protection Agency doesn't classify fly ash as a hazardous waste and that he didn't think the project created any health or environmental hazards.

He told residents he would get back to them within a week about their request for drinking water and dust tests.

Earlier this month, Post and Courier Watchdog revealed that Santee Cooper and Berkeley County crews placed 425 tons of fly ash on the road that likely contained traces of arsenic, lead, barium and other toxic chemicals.

The utility used a dust suppressant that officials said would bind the ash to the soil and prevent it from getting into the water table.

About 40 residents gathered at the New Life Baptist Church. Many said they were skeptical about Santee Cooper's claims that the fly ash project didn't pose any dangers to their drinking water or lungs. Several said the road was a dusty mess that makes them sick, and that the dust felt different from other dirt roads in the county.

"I'm the one paying the medical bills," said Trish Cammer Crain, who said she was worried that toxic dust and contaminated drinking water might be the cause of some of her health problems.
Previous story

Coal ash on Tobacco Road, published 03/16/09

Another resident, Amanda Wilder, said her family also suffered unexplained maladies. "Nobody can tell what's wrong on this road," she said.

When McCall explained that Santee Cooper did the project to determine whether it was economically feasible to use ash on unpaved roads, one resident shouted, "So we were guinea pigs?"

McCall said the project was done with the approval of the state Department of Health and Environmental Control and that he believed the road's dust problem was from limestone graded onto the road over the years, not from any fly ash.

That prompted William Lynch, another resident, to ask where the ash went. "And why did you quit using it if it was so good?"
The Post and Courier’s on-line center for investigative reporting.

Are you ticked off by people who illegally use handicap placards? Want to know which restaurants are making you sick or which gas stations have bad pumps?

Check out what our Watchdog reporters found.

Steve C. Davis, a Berkeley County councilman, urged residents to pressure the county and Santee Cooper to test their drinking water, and he challenged McCall's reassuring comments about the hazards of fly ash and DHEC's role. "DHEC is nothing but a political tool," he said.

Concerns about coal ash have grown in recent months here and across the country.

A Watchdog report last fall revealed that utility ash ponds and landfills were polluting groundwater with arsenic and other toxic chemicals. In December, a pond in Tennessee failed, spilling millions of gallons of ash waste laden with arsenic, eventually triggering a nationwide review of ash waste laws. Last week, 400 residents in Virginia filed a $1 billion lawsuit, alleging that a utility and a developer used fly ash to build a golf course, and this ash tainted drinking wells.

The EPA in the late 1990s nearly classified coal ash as a hazardous waste but backed away under pressure from coal interests and utilities. Among other things, officials from these industries argued that classifying ash as hazardous could hurt efforts to recycle coal ash.

Every year, American coal-fired plants generate 130 million tons of coal ash. More than half goes into landfills and retention ponds, though utilities in recent years have made great strides finding ways to reuse it. Fly ash, for instance, is often used as a substitute for cement in concrete.

During the meeting, Berkeley County Supervisor Dan Davis said that the county would begin engineering work later this spring to pave the road. Construction could begin about six months after that, he said.

But residents said that even if the road is paved, they wonder how the ash will affect them in years to come. "We've been breathing this dust and drinking the water for four years now," Wilder said. "It's in our bodies."

Reach Tony Bartelme at 937-5554 or

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The World Agrees to Reduce Mercury Emissions; DHEC Agrees to Increase It.

From the Washington Post, news of an international treaty to reduce mercury emissions. Meanwhile, DHEC views Santee Cooper's proposed Pee Dee plant, and its 100 pounds of mercury annually, as "O.K." for residents of the Palmetto State...
Nations to Write Treaty Cutting Mercury Emissions

By Juliet Eilperin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, February 21, 2009; A02

More than 140 countries have agreed to negotiate a legally binding treaty aimed at slashing the use of the metal mercury, with the goal of reducing people's exposure to a toxin that hampers brain development among infants and young children worldwide.

The agreement, announced at a high-level United Nations meeting of environmental ministers in Nairobi yesterday came after Obama administration officials reversed U.S. policy and embraced the idea of joining in a binding pact. Once the administration said it was reversing the course set by President George W. Bush, China, India and other nations also agreed to endorse the goal of a mandatory treaty.

The Bush administration had said it preferred to push for voluntary reductions in mercury emissions because the process of negotiating a treaty would be long and cumbersome.

Achim Steiner, executive director of the U.N. Environmental Program, said yesterday's announcement marks the culmination of a seven-year effort to address a significant environmental and public health problem.

"Only a few weeks ago, nations remained divided on how to deal with this major public health threat which touches everyone in every country of the world," Steiner said. "Today, the world's environment ministers, armed with the full facts and full choices, decided the time for talking was over -- the time for action on this pollution is now."

Formal negotiations will begin late this year, and U.N. officials hope to conclude the talks by 2013. The White House issued a statement saying a future treaty would use "a combination of legally binding and voluntary commitments" to cut mercury emissions from industrial processes as well as coal-fired power plants and small-scale mining.

"The United States will play a leading role in working with other nations to craft a global, legally binding agreement that will prevent the spread of mercury into the environment and improve the health of workers, pregnant women and children throughout the world," said Nancy Sutley, who chairs the White House Council on Environmental Quality, in the statement.

A range of industrial activities, including the production of chlorine and the burning of coal, release mercury, which then falls to the earth and the sea in precipitation. The neurotoxin accumulates in fish and marine mammals in the form of methylmercury, which poses a threat to humans when consumed.

While the majority of mercury exposure in the United States stems from non-domestic emissions, all 50 states have issued mercury contamination advisories for fish in their waters. Marine mammals eaten by native Arctic peoples, such as pilot and beluga whales, have mercury concentrations that exceed recommended levels.

Environmentalist Susan Egan Keane, a policy analyst for the Natural Resources Defense Council who attended the Nairobi session, called the agreement "an amazing and astonishing turn of events."

"For six or seven years, the Bush administration had absolutely blocked any attempt to create a legally binding instrument," Keane said. "The Obama administration, within three or four weeks of inauguration, was able to put that into reverse."

Jeff Holmstead, who formerly worked at the Environmental Protection Agency and now represents U.S. utilities and refineries as the head of Bracewell & Giuliani's environmental strategies group, praised the decision even as he warned that some nations may balk at making the kind of reductions from power plants that America has already achieved.

"Although it may take time to negotiate a workable international treaty, it is clear that mercury is a global issue that will require meaningful and enforceable commitments from developing and developed nations alike -- much like efforts to deal with climate change," Holmstead said.

In an interview earlier this month, Steiner said the agreement "will be a major, confidence-building boost for not only the chemicals and health agenda but right across the environmental challenges of our time, from biodiversity loss to climate change."

March 30, 2009

State editorial on Efficiency

Sun, Mar. 29, 2009
Lakshmi: Recession changes energy equation
Guest Columnist

In a period of less than 48 hours, state regulators approved Santee Cooper’s plan to build a $2.2 billion coal-powered plant near Florence and SCE&G’s plan to add two new reactors to its nuclear plant at Jenkinsville at a cost of around $10 billion.

Environmentalists have raised several valid concerns about both projects. The coal plant will emit carbon dioxide — a greenhouse gas that is the primary cause of global warming — and mercury, which can enter ponds, lakes, streams and rivers, be ingested by fish and eventually enter the human system; exposure to even small amounts can cause neurological disorders in humans. Radioactivity could escape from nuclear reactors into the atmosphere; in addition, a nuclear plant needs enormous amounts of water to turn into steam to drive the turbines, and a water shortage during periods of drought may compromise plant operations.

However the most persuasive argument against these plants may come from dollars and cents.

The United States has one of the highest per capita consumptions of energy in the world. Only oil-producing countries use more energy per capita.

In the past few months, our local, national and global economy has slowed to the point that economic indicators are at the same point as a decade ago. There has been a definite decline in manufacturing; auto parts manufacturers have closed down due to the slowdown in automobile sales. Consumer spending is down across the board. With less industrial demand today than two years ago, is it wise to commit billions of dollars to build these new plants? Or should we wait and see if consumption and energy use go back up and then make a final decision? And shouldn’t everyone be working harder to reduce energy consumption, regardless?

There are numerous ways that factories can improve their efficiency, by reducing their energy consumption during non-peak times. A few ideas that are already being implemented in some places are more efficient lighting, with light bulbs that use less energy and switch off when not required; variable-speed motors, which use high speeds and high energy consumption during peak times and lower consumption during non-peak times; and water recycling.

Households can put lighting, heating and cooling on timing devices that minimize their usage when not required, saving money as well as energy. Combining energy efficiency and cost savings creates a powerful argument that appeals to everyone.

If the economy does not recover to its pre-2008 levels and the energy demands do not increase according to our predictions, we will be faced with the high costs of these plants, which will be transmitted to the consumers in the form of higher costs for every kilowatt of power. Using caution and cost-benefit analysis before embarking on these large construction projects is a wise idea. Twelve billion dollars is nearly twice what the state government spends in a year. Even if we spread this over 10 years, it would come to $1.2 billion, which is about what legislators have cut out of the current year’s state budget.

These are times of grave economic challenges. But with challenge comes opportunity. South Carolina and America must lead the way in energy conservation and efficiency. We need to get the United States off the top per capita energy consumption list — a list we definitely should not head. All these moves will help to delay construction of costly new energy plants and thereby conserve our monetary and energy resources.

The time is now.

Dr. Lakshmi is chair of the Department of Geological Sciences at USC.

March 27, 2009

"Toxic Waste Masquerading as a Golf Course"
Chesapeake residents to file $1 billion lawsuit over fly ash
By Robert McCabe
The Virginian-Pilot
Attorneys representing nearly 400 people who live near the Battlefield Golf Club at Centerville say they will file a lawsuit Friday in Chesapeake Circuit Court seeking a jury trial and damages in excess of
$1 billion.
The defendants named in the suit include Dominion Virginia Power, which supplied 1.5 million tons of fly ash used to contour the golf course; CPM Virginia LLC, the developers of the course; and VFL Technology Corp., described as Dominion’s coal-ash management consultant.
The suit’s demands include the removal of all fly ash from the site; installation of public water and sewer; the cleaning of the aquifer under the course; compensation for lost property values and personal injury; and the establishment of a fund for medical monitoring and treatment costs.
Last fall, Dominion committed to pay up to $6 million to extend city water to residences near the golf course.
Fly ash is a powdery residue left from the burning of coal for electricity. It contains heavy metals such as arsenic, lead and mercury that can pose environmental threats through groundwater and air.
The City Council unanimously approved a conditional-use permit for the golf course in June 2001, after assu rances by Dominion that there were no environmental concerns the council needed to be made aware of and that the project met all federal and state requirements.
The golf course opened in the fall of 2007.
The suit describes the development as a "toxic waste site masquerading as a 'golf course.’"
It alleges that the defendants knew that coal ash and the chemicals it contains were harmful if leached into the water and that the site "was inappropriate for coal-ash placement."

Coal Plants Responsible for Bulk of SC Pollution

This week the Environmental Protection Agency released state air pollution data for South Carolina.

According to an article in the Post & Courier:

Industrial plants in South Carolina pumped more than 46 million pounds of chemicals into the air in 2007, with coal-fired electric generators, paper mills and chemical companies responsible for the bulk of the pollution, new data by the Environmental Protection Agency shows.

Six of the top ten air pollution emitters were coal plants, including SCE&G facilities in Wateree and Berkeley counties, a Post and Courier Watchdog analysis of the EPA's Toxic Release Inventory shows. Both released more than 3 million pounds of pollutants, mostly hydrochloric and sulfuric acids, which contribute to acid rain.


The data is self-reported by polluters to the EPA. Stronger rules for reporting instituted by the Obama Administration are likely to lead to higher numbers next year.

Coal plants lead the way in polluting our state's air and water. Building new plants will only increase the burden on our health and our environment.

Top 10 Industrial Polluters

Source County Emissions(pounds)
SCE&G Wateree Station Richland 3,334,003
SCE&G Williams Station Berkeley 3,042,473
International Paper Georgetown 1,954,087
Smurfit-Stone Container Florence 1,954,087
SCE&G Canadys Station Colleton 1,910,594
Intertape Polymer Richland 1,877,486
Santee Cooper Jefferies Station Berkeley 1,567,757
Santee Cooper Winyah Station Georgetown 1,541,087
Duke Energy Lee Station Anderson 1,510,859
MeadWestvaco (now KapStone) Charleston 1,430,604

Review the EPA data for yourself here (EPA 2007 TRI state database).

View a South Carolina pollution fact sheet here (EPA 2007 TRI State Fact Sheet). Check your own county's pollution levels.

March 26, 2009

From Hydrogen to A World of Home-Grown Alternatives

From this week's Columbia Free Times, a wide ranging look at alternatives to projects like Santee Cooper's proposed coal plant:
Through the prism of a hydrogen atom, the eyes of the nation and the world fall on Columbia and South Carolina for five days beginning Monday.

That is good news to South Carolinians getting swept up in economic convulsions of the time. After all, residents of the state average some of the highest power bills in the country. And all in all, South Carolina depends on coal for 61 percent of its electricity and nuclear power for 31 percent of it, a combined 92 percent, according to a state legislative report released in February.

Those numbers could rise.

With ratepayers set up to foot the bills, the train has left the station on plans by state-owned Santee Cooper to build a coal-fired power plant in Florence County and South Carolina Electric & Gas Co., in partnership with Santee Cooper, to construct two more reactors at the V.C. Summer Nuclear Plant that SCE&G owns and operates near Columbia, as well as designs by Duke Energy to bring two additional nuclear reactors online in the Upstate region of South Carolina.

It is true even despite well-documented toxic pollution associated with coal- and nuclear-based power.

In that sense, then, South Carolina finds itself at two roads diverged on a path to the energy future. One road bends toward a dark past — the black seam of coal and the thousands of lifetimes of radioactive waste that is nuclear. The other way leads to a sort of last-place-to-first-place story waiting to be told:

In the affluent Heathwood neighborhood of Columbia, where drafty old mansions hold fast but inefficient, and across rural swaths of the Palmetto State, where row after row of poorly insulated manufactured homes stretch out upon the land.

In hydrogen laboratories at the university and other research and development operations in the state, where the vision of Oppenheimer has evolved from splitting the atom for extinction-level purposes to tapping the most bountiful element in the universe for its clean-energy potential.

Along the sleepy back roads of the state in forested fields and other agricultural assets, where grow enormous, renewable sources of biofuels.

Off the coast, where Mother Nature whistles strong winds atop the mighty Atlantic Ocean.
And in the sunny climate of South Carolina, where a virtually limitless solar source shines silently, lingering to be harnessed.

It is fitting then, as the city, state, nation and world hone in on hydrogen, to consider other options along with it. “I don’t think there’s any single silver bullet,” says John Clark, director of the S.C. Energy Office. “I think the key is going to be having greater diversity in energy sources than we have.”

Just how much clean energy potential does South Carolina have? Part of the answer comes from this study by the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy. It busts the myth that the Southeast -- and South Carolina -- doesn't have enough renewable energy. It shows that our state has enough clean energy to power 15% of the state over the near term -- long term the potential to power ourselves from home-grown energy resources is greater than all the energy we use today.

March 25, 2009

Energy Efficiency Shows the Way in Coal's Stronghold


National Group's Study Shows Ohio Can Create More Than 32,000 New Jobs, Save Over $19 Billion, and Reduce Energy Demand Over The Next 15 Years

COLUMBUS, Ohio (March 25, 2009) - Ohio could save over $19 billion by using energy efficiency strategies that are available right now, says a study released today by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), an independent, Washington, D.C. nonprofit research group. Ohio could also create more than 32,000 net new jobs by 2025, including well-paying trade and professional jobs needed to design, install, and operate energy efficiency measures. In total, the direct and indirect jobs created would be equivalent to nearly 250 new manufacturing plants relocating to Ohio, but without the demand for infrastructure and other energy needs, the study says. Investments in energy efficiency policies and programs have the added benefit of creating new, high-quality "green-collar" jobs in Ohio and increasing both wages and Gross State Product (GSP).

The study, Shaping Ohio's Energy Future: Energy Efficiency Works, was conducted by ACEEE researchers with support from a team of national experts in energy use. The 183-page report outlines policies to reduce electricity demand through improved energy efficiency, combined heat and power, and demand-response recommendations that reduce peak demand. The energy efficiency policies would reduce peak demand by 18% by 2025, while the demand response savings policies would reduce conventionally generated electricity by an additional 11%, for a total reduction of 29%.
Read more.

Note: Santee Cooper's Pee Dee plant would create an estimated 100 jobs, with a minority of them going to the local labor force, while exporting 70% of the multi-billion dollar investment to other states and nations. Compare the economic promises of coal to alternatives like energy efficiency here.

March 24, 2009

EPA about to give Santee Cooper the smack down

February 19, 2009
E.P.A. Expected to Regulate Carbon Dioxide

WASHINGTON — The Environmental Protection Agency is expected to act for the first time to regulate carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases that scientists blame for the warming of the planet, according to top Obama administration officials.

The decision, which most likely would play out in stages over a period of months, would have a profound impact on transportation, manufacturing costs and how utilities generate power. It could accelerate the progress of energy and climate change legislation in Congress and form a basis for the United States’ negotiating position at United Nations climate talks set for December in Copenhagen.

The environmental agency is under order from the Supreme Court to make a determination whether carbon dioxide is a pollutant that endangers public health and welfare, an order that the Bush administration essentially ignored despite near-unanimous belief among agency experts that research points inexorably to such a finding.

Lisa P. Jackson, the new E.P.A. administrator, said in an interview that she had asked her staff to review the latest scientific evidence and prepare the documentation for a so-called endangerment finding. Ms. Jackson said she had not decided to issue such a finding but she pointedly noted that the second anniversary of the Supreme Court decision, Massachusetts v. E.P.A., is April 2, and there is the wide expectation that she will act by then.

“We here know how momentous that decision could be,” Ms. Jackson said. “We have to lay out a road map.”

She took a first step on Tuesday when she said that the agency would reconsider a Bush administration decision not to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from new coal-burning power plants. In announcing the reversal, Ms. Jackson suggested that the E.P.A. was considering additional measures to regulate heat-trapping gases. The White House signaled that it fully supported Ms. Jackson’s approach, deferring to her to discuss the administration’s response to the Supreme Court case.

Ben LaBolt, a White House spokesman, also pointed to statements on the subject during the presidential campaign by Heather Zichal, a top adviser on environmental and energy issues.

Ms. Zichal, who is now deputy to Carol M. Browner, the White House coordinator for climate and energy policy, said last fall that the Bush White House had prevented the E.P.A. from making the endangerment finding “consistent with its obligations under the recent Supreme Court decision.” She also said that while Mr. Obama supported Congressional action on climate change, he was also committed to using the regulatory authority of the executive branch to reduce emissions that contribute to global warming.

Mr. LaBolt said the White House would not interfere with the agency’s decision-making process.

If the environmental agency determines that carbon dioxide is a dangerous pollutant to be regulated under the Clean Air Act, it would set off one of the most extensive regulatory rule makings in history. Ms. Jackson knows that she would be stepping into a minefield of Congressional and industry opposition and said that she was trying to devise a program that allayed these worries.

“We are poised to be specific on what we regulate and on what schedule,” Ms. Jackson said. “We don’t want people to spin that into a doomsday scenario.”

Even some who favor an aggressive approach to climate change said they were wary of the agency’s asserting exclusive authority over carbon emissions. They say that the Clean Air Act, now more than 40 years old, was not designed to regulate ubiquitous substances like carbon dioxide. Using the law, they say, would capture carbon emissions from new facilities, but not existing ones, blunting its impact. They also believe that a broader approach that addresses all sectors of the economy and that is fully debated in Congress would be better than a regulatory approach that could drag through the courts for years.

The finding and proposed regulations would be issued in sequence, with ample opportunity for public comment and not in a sudden burst of regulatory muscle-flexing, Ms. Jackson said. The regulations would work in concert with any legislation and not supplant it, she added.

“What we are likely to see is an interplay of authorities, some new, some existing,” she said.

That is not likely to assuage critics, including many Democrats from states dependent on coal-generated electricity and manufacturing jobs, where such regulation could significantly increase costs. Representative John D. Dingell, the Michigan Democrat who has long championed the interests of the auto industry, said that the regulation of carbon dioxide emissions by the E.P.A. would set off a “glorious mess” that would resonate throughout the economy.

Senator John Barrasso, Republican of Wyoming, warned Ms. Jackson during her January confirmation hearing that she should not undercut Congress’s authority by using the agency’s regulatory power to address global warming. Mr. Barrasso called the use of the Clean Air Act to regulate carbon “a disaster waiting to happen.”

Many environmental advocates, however, said the E.P.A.’s action was long overdue, but added that it was only as a stopgap until Congress passed comprehensive climate change legislation.

“It’s politically necessary, scientifically necessary and legally necessary,” said David Bookbinder, chief climate counsel at the Sierra Club, a plaintiff in the Supreme Court case.

But, Mr. Bookbinder added, Congressional action is preferable to the agency’s acting on its own. “We are loudly advocating for tailor-made legislation as the best means of addressing carbon emissions,” he said. “Trying to address climate change via a series of rule makings from E.P.A. is a distant second best.”

As Ms. Jackson navigates the complexities of carbon regulation, she will be advised by Lisa Heinzerling, a former law professor at Georgetown who wrote the winning Supreme Court briefs in Massachusetts v. E.P.A. Ms. Heinzerling is now the agency’s lead attorney for global warming matters.

Jeffrey R. Holmstead, the former head of the agency’s office of air and radiation, said that a finding of endangerment from emissions of heat-trapping gases did not initiate immediate regulation but started a clock ticking on a process that typically took 18 months to two years.

“Potentially, it’s a huge mess, not only for E.P.A. but for state regulatory agencies, because the Clean Air Act is second only to the Internal Revenue Code in terms of complexity,” said Mr. Holmstead, now director of environmental strategies at the law firm Bracewell & Giuliani.

He said that under the clean air law any source emitting more than 250 tons of a declared pollutant would be subject to regulation, potentially including schools, hospitals, shopping centers, even bakeries, which has prompted some critics to call it the “Dunkin’ Donuts rule.”

But Mr. Bookbinder and other supporters say the regulations can be written to exempt these potential emitters. Ms. Jackson said that there was no timetable for issuing regulations governing carbon emissions and that her agency would not engage in “rash decision making.”

But she also said that the Supreme Court decision obliged her to act.

“It places E.P.A. square in the center of the discussion on climate and energy,” Ms. Jackson said. “People are waiting.”

The headline and summary accompanying an earlier Web version of this article misstated the immediate impact of the E.P.A. review taking place.

EPA Stalls Mtn Top Removal

The Obama Administration and the EPA in particular are blocking or delaying permits that cause unacceptable damage to Appalachian forests, streams etc. If permits are denied Santee Cooper and other utlities might find coal harder and more expensive to come by....a good reason to implement efficiency and decrease enegy demand.

The EPA has also sent a proposal to the White House that labels CO2 a danger to public welfare. The proposed Santee Cooper coal plant would emit over 8 million tons of CO2 annually.

March 13, 2009

SC says NO online petition passes 1500 signatures!

The list is growing every day. Tell your friends, post it on your website/blog, join our Facebook cause... There is plenty you can do to get involved.

Click here to sign the petition.

More Trouble for Santee Cooper over Coal Ash

From the Myrtle Beach Sun News:

Revelations about Santee Cooper's use of coal ash on an unpaved road near St. Stephen raise concerns about the utility's handling of environmentally sensitive issues. The utility's proposed Florence County coal-fired generating plant is already under assault for its prospective environmental effects, of which coal-ash storage and handling is one.

The Associated Press reports that Santee Cooper used 425 tons of coal ash from the Jefferies Station plant near Bonneau and put the ash on unpaved Tobacco Road near St. Stephen. Internal documents of Santee Cooper were obtained by The Post and Courier of Charleston, using the S.C. Freedom of Information Act.

The documents reveal tests of the ash showing it contained traces of arsenic, barium, lead and selenium. One test, simulating the effects of water on ash in the ground, showed the ash leached arsenic concentrations of 145 parts per billion - nearly 15 times the Environmental Protection Agency's level for safe drinking water.

read the rest