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

Sunday, November 9, 2008

A Moment to Remember

The significance of Tuesday's election is still sinking in for me. I have gone through waves of emotion as I hear and read various stories about the moment in history we just witnessed. Judith Warner says it well in her NY Times article below.

I would like to thank everyone who voted, called, knocked on doors and donated their time and money towards a new era in American politics. Most importantly, I thank everyone that paid attention to the issues and choices we had and educated themselves on the problems that face us in the future. Now the real work begins, and as Obama has said, this isn't about him, it is about us.

We as a country must work to overcome the challenges that will define our moment in history. We can not rely on our government to create the change we want, we must do it ourselves in our homes, offices and in our neighborhoods. We have just proven that we can come together to overcome incredible odds - yes we did. Now it's time to prove we can work together to make our country a better place for our future generations.

Judith Warner NYT Article

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Universal Voter Registration

During the primaries, American's turned out in record numbers to vote, and the Democratic turn out doubled from the last election cycle. But unfortunately today, some 50 million eligible American citizens are not on the rolls. The US is one of the few industrialized democracies that erects barriers to registration, making individuals sign themselves up and bear the burden of keeping their registration up to date. Not surprisingly it also has one of the lowest voter turnout rates. A universal voter registration could make it easier for all citizens to vote and engage more people in the process. Michael Waldman explores this and other ideas for taking advantage of the recent surge in Americans participating in our democratic process.
Waldman Newsweek Article

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Today's Story

I was sitting in my front yard this evening planting petunias. A group of african american kids were walking down the street and saw my Obama yard sign. A 4 or 5 year old started singing "Obama, O-B-A-M-A, you know who that is? That's our next President! Obama, O-B-A-M-A..." I smiled and waved. About 10 minutes later, an older guy with a wooden cane was walking down the street. We nodded at each other as he passed, and when he came to my yard sign he stopped, turned around and walked up to me. He said as he reached for my hand, "Hey, my name is Chris, and I just wanted to tell you that I stole a flower from your yard the other day. I picked it for my sick mother. And I also wanted to let you know that I voted for Obama yesterday too." And he shook my hand again.

These were small moments that symbolize something significant. America really is changing. People are coming together, and people have real hope for the first time in a long time. Stories like this are not unique to me, or North Carolina, or even Obama. But something important is happening right now in America. So please my friends, reach out to fellow man and woman, stop them on the street, and shake their hand. It made my day.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Race and America

Barack Obama gave a historic speech on race and America in Philadelphia today. He addressed the recent issue of some inflammatory remarks made in the past by his pastor Reverend Wright, and used the reverend's story as an example of what is good and bad about the reality of black and white America. Obama pulled several issues out of the shadows that we have been reluctant to ask ourselves regarding race. The speech is about 35 minutes long, and is worth watching regardless of the color of your skin or who you plan to vote for.

Obama Speech Video

PS - sorry for the long silence - the prog posse is in full affect once again.