Friday, March 13, 2009

Tax History 101

There's been some whining from the political right about Obama's tax policy changes. Pundits call him a socialist and declare his policies will kill the motivation of successful hard working Americans. Here's a great little chart of taxes on the wealthiest Americans that helps put it in historical perspective.

thanks to Sansing "Momma Mac" McPherson

Friday, February 6, 2009

Monkey Wrench Update

Recently appointed secretary of the interior, Ken Salazar, has canceled the sale of drilling rights on 77 parcels of land in Utah. The 130,000 acres had been haphazardly auctioned off in December and monkey-wrenched by activist Tim DeChristopher (see previous post).

NPR Article

Saturday, January 10, 2009

The Monkey Wrench

On Dec. 19, 2008 Tim DeChristopher bid on several oil and gas leases during a Bureau of Land Management auction in Salt Lake City. DeChristopher disrupted the auction of drilling leases by bidding up parcels of land by hundreds of thousands of dollars without any intention of paying for them.
Telluride News Article

DeChristopher, an economics student and environmental activist, had protested, written letters and spoken to his congressman about the lease of the land near several national parks. His new organization,, has raised over $45,000 to cover the first payment on the 22,500 acres.

DeChristopher's lawyer, Patrick Shea, who was the head of the BLM under President Clinton, said it is not clear if the government will accept the payment since he has no plans to drill. Shea is working for free partly because he’s appalled at how the Bush Administration has run the BLM.

BLM map of oil and gas property in the west

thanks to trip "metrohunk" huxley

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Tennessee Coal Disaster

On Dec. 22nd a landslide of 5.3 million cubic yards of coal ash, a waste product of coal burning power plants, contaminated the Tennessee River near Kingston, TN. The river is a source of drinking water for millions of people. To put the size of the spill in perspective, this equals over 1 billion gallons, or 100 times the size of the Exxon Valdez spill.

Coal Ash contains heavy metals including mercury, arsenic and lead, and according to a Dec 13, 2007 article in Scientific American, is more radioactive than nuclear waste.

First Hand Account of the Coal Ash Disaster

On my way up to Ohio at Christmas, we drove through the beautiful mountains of West Virginia and saw several billboards reading "Clean, Carbon Neutral Coal". The true weight of the irony was lost on me, as I was not yet aware of the coal ash landslide.

Website with Facts on Coal Power

Sorry to end the year on a bummer, but with all the political rhetoric over "clean coal" I felt this event was too important. Here's to 2009 being about change and progress.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

The 2030 Stimulus Plan

Ed Mazria of Architecture 2030 has put together an economic stimulus proposal that could be a win, win, win solution for housing, job creation and the environment. The proposal is a mortgage buy-down program to help the housing and commercial building markets while creating green jobs through energy efficiency upgrades of existing buildings, and reducing carbon and environmental impacts of the Building Sector.

Learn more about the proposal here:
2030 Stimulus Plan

Vote for the proposal at Ideas for Change in America, an organization that identifies and creates momentum around the best ideas for our government to turn the desire for change into specific policies:
Vote for 2030 Challenge Stimulus Plan Here

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Green Dream Team?

Obama's appointments for his top energy and environmental posts are receiving acclaim from environmental groups including the League of Conservation Voters. While the challenges ahead are daunting to say the least, Obama’s advisers "seem united in their concern for the threats facing the planet and unafraid to use the pricing power of the market or the financial power of government to address them."

- Steven Chu, physicist and Nobel prize winner, will run the Energy Department
- Lisa Jackson, NJ enviro-chief, will run the EPA
- Carol Browner, past EPA chief under Clinton, will be the senior White House adviser
- Nancy Sutley, LA's enviro-chief, will lead the White House Council on Environmental Policy

NY Times Editorial

League of Conservation Voters Article

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Mountaintop Removal Good News Bad News

The Natural Resources Defense Council has persuaded Bank of America to stop providing financing to companies that mine coal through mountaintop removal. The statement came after NRDC took several BofA executives to visit coal sites in Appalachia to witness first hand the destruction the mining practice incurs.
NY Times Article

While the private sector makes progress, our government seems to be moving backwards. The EPA approved a last-minute rule change by the Bush administration that will allow coal companies to bury streams under the rocks leftover from mining. The change would eliminate a tool that citizens groups have used in lawsuits to keep mining waste out of streams.

A 1983 rule prohibited dumping the fill from mountaintop removal mining within 100 feet of streams. In practice, however, the government hadn't been enforcing the rule. 535 miles of streams were buried or diverted from 2001 to 2005 in America. Along with the loss of the streams has been an increase of erosion and flooding.
McClatchy Article