Countdown Clocks

Countdown Clocks

Posts tagged "EPA"

Australia last week became “the world’s first developed nation to repeal carbon laws that put a price on greenhouse-gas emissions.” The country’s carbon tax, which has been a passionate political topic there for more almost a decade, was finally instituted in 2012. But after a new conservative prime minister, Tony Abbott, was elected in September 2013, the carbon tax was aggressively targeted and then successfully repealed by Australia’s Senate on July 17. 

The retreat represents a win for climate deniers in Australia who dismiss the looming dangers of climate change and the science behind it. (It’s “absolute crap,” claimed Abbott, echoing Tea Party-type rhetoric in the United States.) It’s a win for energy and mining interests who claimed the Australian tax was too burdensome

The retreat also signals a victory for Rupert Murdoch, the Australian native whose media empire, News Corp., did everything in its power to elect Abbott last fall and to attack the tax. Days before the repeal vote, Murdoch spoke out again against climate change science, telling an Australian interviewer it should be treated with great skepticism. Murdoch’s dismissal stands in stark contrast to his 2007 proclamation that “climate change poses clear, catastrophic threats.”

Murdoch’s anti-climate change crusade in Australia certainly mirrors his company’s commitment to misinformation in America, and highlights the dangers of having news media moguls who are dedicated to propaganda efforts regarding pressing public policy issues. (Murdoch is currently eyeing a bid to buy media giant Time Warner.)  Indeed, Murdoch’s media properties in Australia have been shown repeatedly to be wildly unfair and unbalanced when it comes to the topic of climate change.

Australia’s carbon emissions repeal represents a dramatic U-turn for a country that just a few years ago was seen as a leader on the global issue under the guidance of previous Labor Party prime minsters, Julia Gillard and Kevin Rudd. “The Brookings Institution has previously described Australia as an “important laboratory and learning opportunity” for U.S. thinking about climate change and energy policy, as it was one of the first major countries outside Europe to adopt a carbon price,” The Wall Street Journal recently noted.

Australia is also one of the largest per capita greenhouse gas emitters in the world, largely because of its reliance on coal-burning power stations that generate most of the country’s electricity.  The nation currently ranks 19th among the top 20 countries responsible for global temperature change that has already occurred, according to a study in Environmental Research Letters published earlier this year. (The United States ranks first.)

In the United States, political reporters often portray a carbon tax as lacking the political support to become a reality. But a new poll released this week indicates that a majority of Americans (60 percent) support an emissions tax if the revenue generated is used to fund renewable energy. Nonetheless, the shift in Australia is likely to make climate change action more difficult. “The same ideological and climate-denying foes in Congress who are blocking a path forward for Obama have secured a foothold in Australia,” Salon recently noted. “Abbott’s actions no doubt give credibility to the climate skepticism and stalling tactics of denialist Republicans.”

Indeed, Republicans have already cited the repeal as evidence that the U.S. should abandon the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed carbon pollution standards.

Murdoch set his plan in motion to target the carbon tax four years ago. “After the 2010 election - which resulted in a minority Labor government - Murdoch summoned his Australian editors and senior journalists to his home in Carmel, California,” Australia’s The Conversation reported. “He made clear that he despised the Gillard government and wanted regime change.”

In an article headlined, “Rupert Murdoch’s Newspapers Declare War on Australia’s Prime Minister,” the Hollywood Reporter last year detailed how there was nothing subtle about Murdoch’s propaganda efforts to oust Rudd, who had succeeded Gillard:

Murdoch-owned papers, which control about 70 percent of the local market, have run covers featuring Rudd as a Nazi, as Col. Klink from Hogan’s Heroes and as Mr. Rude from the Mr. Menkids books. News Corp’s Daily Telegraph in Sydney has dropped all pretense of impartiality, publishing a picture of Rudd under the headline, “Let’s Kick This Mob Out!”

That wasn’t the only way Murdoch weaponized his hometown media for an information war. His national daily,The Australian has “promoted ‘misleading’ stories giving credence to climate denialist views, outnumbering those accepting climate science by 10-to-1, according to a report in the Quarterly Essay,” Salon noted.

That study’s author Robert Manne wrote, “In the real world, scientists accepting the climate consensus view outnumber denialists by more than 99 to one. In the Alice in Wonderland world of [editor-in-chief Chris] Mitchell’sAustralian, their contributions were outnumbered 10 to one.” The Australian Press Council agreed, slamming the paper for erroneous claims.

Additionally, media analysis conducted by the University of Technology in Sydney found that “negative articles about the proposed carbon emissions tax in Murdoch’s newspapers outweighed positive ones 82 percent to 18 percent,” NPR reported. Andrew Bolt, Australia’s top-read columnist, employed by Murdoch’s Herald Sun, has branded as “propagandists” newspapers that treat climate change as settled science.

And according to the Associated Press, this campaign may have been partially responsible for opinion polls that “indicated Australians were overestimating the impact of the carbon tax” on energy prices.

All of which led to Murdoch’s dismissive comments last week:

"Climate change has been going on as long as the planet is here. And there will always be a little bit of it. At the moment the north pole is melting but the south pole is getting bigger. Things are happening. How much of it are we doing, with emissions and so on? As far as Australia goes? Nothing in the overall picture."

The same day that Murdoch’s comments aired, Bloomberg News highlighted the fact  ”scientists affiliated with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration published a study that attributes southwestern Australia’s 40-year rainfall decline to human influence. Specifically, greenhouse gas pollution and ozone loss high in the atmosphere.”

It seems clear Australia follows Murdoch’s climate change retreat at its own peril.

h/t: Eric Boehlert at MMFA 

greenthepress, mediamattersforamerica

Conservatives who detest President Barack Obama and EPA clean air regulations are modifying their vehicles to purposefully spew black smoke into the atmosphere.

So-called “coal rollers” install smoke stacks and special equipment in their diesel trucks that makes the engine think that it needs more fuel, resulting in plumes of black smoke.

According to Slate’s Dave Weigel, the phenomenon is not new, but it is becoming more popular among conservatives who want to protest the president and his efforts to clean up the environment.

“I run into a lot of people that really don’t like Obama at all,” a smoke stack seller in Wisconsin told Weigel. “If he’s into the environment, if he’s into this or that, we’re not. I hear a lot of that.”

“To get a single stack on my truck—that’s my way of giving them the finger,” he added. “You want clean air and a tiny carbon footprint? Well, screw you.”

In June, Vocativ reported on the trend of “coal rollers” using their toxic exhaust as revenge against “nature nuffies” who drive environmentally friendly cars, like the Toyota Prius.

“The feeling around here is that everyone who drives a small car is a liberal,” a South Carolina truck owner named Ryan explained. “I rolled coal on a Prius once just because they were tailing me.”

“It’s bad for the environment. That’s definitely true,” he admitted. “And some of the kids that have diesel trucks can look like tools. And you can cause a wreck, but everything else about it is pretty good.”

The Clean Air Task Force estimates that pollutants from diesel vehicles “lead to 21,000 premature deaths each year and create a cancer risk that is seven times greater than the combined risk of all 181 other air toxics tracked by the EPA.”

This is more proof that the right wing losers will do anything under the sun to pollute the air with rolling coal in the name of irritating the hell out of Obama/liberals/progressives/EPA and hybrid car drivers.

h/t: David Edwards at The Raw Story

quickhits:

(Talking Points Memo) If early Republican enthusiasm is any indication, the upcoming Sept. 30 deadline to keep the federal government open could turn into an all-out war over President Barack Obama’s executive actions to combat climate change.

As TPM reported earlier this week, senior House Republicans are considering using appropriations legislation to block the Environmental Protection Agency’s new restrictions on coal-fired power plants, aimed at cutting climate-warming pollution by 30 percent by 2030.

On Tuesday, numerous Senate Republicans expressed strong support for the idea.

Republicans are basically giant toddlers. Their only way of dealing with things not going their way is to throw a wildly out of proportion tantrum.

(via thepoliticalfreakshow)

mediamattersforamerica:

As the EPA calls to cut 30% of power plants’ carbon emissions by 2030, it’s crucial we get the facts out on this.

policymic:

Obama and the EPA take action against climate change

It was fun to pretend climate change wasn’t a problem, wasn’t it? Now it’s time to face the elephant in the room. 

President Barack Obama on Monday did just that. In a new, major policy decision, Obama will bypass Congress with a plan forcing power plants to cut their emissions by 30% (from 2005 levels) over 15 years. Coal produced an estimated 74% of total CO2 emissions in the U.S. in 2012, compared to other electricity generation like natural gas and petroleum. The plan represents one of the biggest actions taken by the U.S. government — and the biggest taken by any U.S. president — to slow climate change.  

Read more | Follow policymic

Today on the 700 Club, televangelist Pat Robertson claimed that the recent cold snap in North America and a ship stuck in Antarctica prove that climate change is nothing but a myth. Of course, both of his assertions are extremely dubious. While the New York Times notes that “97 to 98 percent of working climate scientists accept the evidence for human-induced climate change,” Robertson claimed that the scientists are merely lying to make money…something Robertson would never do.

“It’s getting warmer in Jupiter—and they don’t have any SUVs driving around in Jupiter—it has nothing to do with greenhouse gases it has to do with the action of the sun, there’s either two much sun or not enough sun,” Robertson said. “Think about how much money is involved. It’s money, they’re going to get a river of money.”

“Then you have politicians who want to take control and the progressives always want control, just like with health care, they want control; the EPA in America wants control of all of our energy.”

From the 01.07.2014 edition of CBN’s The 700 Club:

h/t: RWW

Gun Owners of America – which prides itself in being to the right of the NRA — has been pushing the creative conspiracy theory that the Obama administration is using the Environmental Protection Agency to institute backdoor gun control. GOA’s story goes that a Missouri lead smelter that shut down rather than comply with clean air regulations was in fact forced shut by the Obama administration in order to suppress the supply of lead used for manufacturing bullets.

The first problem with this story is that, as Steve Benen pointed out, the EPA started going after the plant in question during the Bush administration.

The story gained so much traction, though, that the NRA felt compelled to issue a statement earlier this month reassuring its members that “this particular facility’s closure should not have the dramatic impact that some have predicted.”

The word of the great conspiracy also reached a major bullet manufacturer, which itself issued a statement saying that its “supply should not be in jeopardy” and that the Missouri factory’s closure presented “no reason for alarm,” as the conservative outlet NewsMax reported.

But according to Gun Owners of America, these denials just serve to confirm the group’s suspicions. GOA spokesman Mike Hammond told NewsMax yesterday that the NRA and the manufacturer’s dismissals of the EPA-gun control conspiracy theory “only drive home his point.”

h/t: Miranda Blue at RWW

In a blog post this week, former Florida congressman Allen West gets behind a conspiracy theory that holds that the Environmental Protection Agency is launching a “clandestine” and “backdoor” assault on the Second Amendment. The gist of the theory is that President Obama used the EPA to shut down a Missouri smelter that refused to comply with anti-pollution regulations, thereby creating a scarcity of bullets and, in West’s words, “destroy[ing] the Second Amendment.”

Of course, there is no actual evidence to support West’s claim. In fact, the EPA first went after the smelter in question in 2008, the year before Obama became president. Steve Benen notes: “If enforcement of environmental safeguards was used to secretly undermine access to ammunition, the plot was launched by the notorious gun-grabbers in the Bush/Cheney administration.”

Despite the lack of evidence and the fact that the smelter was targeted before Obama even took office, now Gun Owners of America is also embracing the patently bogus conspiracy.

H/T: Brian Tashman at RWW

As the nation’s talking about the federal government being shut down (which the GOP/Tea Party extremists led by Ted Cruz and John Boehner caused BTW), KFTK radio host and conservative liar Dana Loesch celebrating the disastrous GOP-caused shutdown by falsely blaming the Democratic Party for allowing it to happen and even cheered the EPA being shut down.

As of Tuesday and continuing until further notice, the United States government has been shut down for the first time since 1995-1996. 
Guess who’s to blame for the shutdown? It’s the GOP and the Tea Party 100 percent.
They are absolutely harming America by playing games with our economy and pandering to hard-right Tea Party members rather than find a solution to help the American people out, such as their insistence on defunding the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare). 
This political stunt by House Speaker John Boehner, Sen. Ted Cruz and their right-wing cronies may end up handing the keys to the House of Representatives over to the Democrats in the 2014 elections. This event also serves as a reminder to vote out all Republicans next year.
Her tweets that baselessly attack Democrats on the government shutdown:
Media Matters For America debunked the false right-wing spin that “Harry Reid’s ignoring children who have cancer” was originated by the conservative-biased Washington Free Beacon and then spreads to the rest of the RWNJ apparatus.
Conservative media are selectively and deceptively quoting from an exchange between CNN’s Dana Bash Senate and Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) to make it appear as if he dismissed the plight of cancer-stricken children being denied access to clinical trials due to the shutdown of the federal government. In fact, Reid said that legislators should fully fund the government, rather than force different groups to fight over funding. 
Specifically, conservatives are claiming that Reid replied to a reporter’s question, “If you can help one child with cancer, why wouldn’t you?”  by saying “why would we want to do that?” In fact, Reid was responding to Sen. Chuck Schumer, who had interjected, saying “why pit one against the other?”
On October 1, the federal government was shut down after conservative Republicans refused to pass legislation funding operations unless that funding was tied to the defunding or delay of Obamacare.
The Democrats DID NOT shut down the government, you low-life fucking liar! The GOP voted for it
Tea Party members/supporters are NOT the majority of the country; however, they are a majority of the GOP’s support base. Another lie from you, Mrs. Loesch. 
Yes, it’s the GOP’s fault, you stupid turdbreath!
WRONG. The GOP did.

(cross-posted from DanaBusted.blogspot.com)

A Fox News anchor suggested that since the majority of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) employees have been furloughed under the government shutdown, we should simply do without them even after it has been resolved. However, EPA employees furloughed include those in charge of cleaning up hundreds of hazardous waste sites and enforcing clean air and water laws.

On Wednesday, Fox News’ America’s Newsroom noted that less than 7 percent of the over 16,000 EPA employees would be working during the government shutdown (about 1,000 total employees). Co-anchor Martha MacCallum laughed that “some” have “asked why we need the other 15,000 EPA workers at all,” adding that these were “valid questions.”

The “some" who are asking this are several Republican lawmakers behind the government shutdown. For instance, Rep. Steve Stockman who has rallied for the shutdown, tweeted a Washington Examiner article suggesting furloughed employees may be “non-essential” long-term, and re-tweeted a follower celebrating the idea that they wouldn’t return:

Rep. Steve Stockman (R-TX) tweet on EPA shutdown

And Rep. Marsha Blackburn, who also voted for the bill that led to the shutdown, once again cheered the shutdown because it would prevent the EPA from issuing new regulations:

Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) tweet on EPA shutdown

However, in addition to employees that are fulfilling the EPA’s legal obligation to set standards under theClean Air and Water acts according to the most up to date scientific understanding, there are many other furloughed EPA employees conducting important work for the agency.

For instance, only 182 of the 804 employees in charge of enforcing “regulations by taking legal action against an air or water polluter” are exempted from furloughs, according to Reuters

h/t: MMFA

Senate leaders struck a tentative deal in the 11th hour to confirm seven presidential nominees to executive positions without the use of the nuclear option.

In short, Republicans would confirm nominees to all seven positions, a big concession for the GOP. But in a concession for Democrats, they would replace two recess-appointed nominees to the National Labor Relations Board — Sharon Block and Richard Griffin, pictured below — with new nominees under the following condition: Republicans pledge to confirm any two replacements by President Obama to the board by Aug. 27.

The nominees who would be confirmed in the deal are Richard Cordray to run the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Gina McCarthy for the Environmental Protection Agency, Tom Perez for the Labor Department and Fred Hochberg for the Export-Import Bank. Under the terms of the deal outlined by Reid’s office, Mark Pearce would be confirmed to the NLRB while Block and Griffin would be replaced.

Texas — a state famous for its size and stature — claims an outsize share of the country’s industrial accidents. As of May 2012, the state held 1,827 facilities deemed at risk of toxic or flammable chemical accidents, about one-tenth of all those in the nation, according to data from the EPA’s Risk Management Program as tabulated by the Right-to-Know Network, a non-profit government watchdog. Yet the state was responsible for nearly 50 percent of the evacuations and property damage costs caused by accidents at such plants over the previous five years, according to a Huffington Post review of the data.

Al Gore, environmental activist and former vice president, said he was “very pleased” to hear President Barack Obama pledge to combat climate change in his inauguration speech. He urged the president to “follow through” on his commitment.

“There are some actions he can take that do not require congressional approval,” Gore said in an interview that aired Sunday on CNN’s “Fareed Zakaria GPS.”

Gore argued the president should expand current Environmental Protection Agency regulations, saying such action would be protected by the Supreme Court.

“There is a law on the books that requires the EPA to regulate pollution. The Supreme Court has agreed with the obvious interpretation that global warming pollution is pollution,” he said. “It’s been applied to new coal plants. It should be applied to all facilities.”

Environmental groups like the Sierra Club and the Natural Resources Defense Council have also called on the president to keep his distance from Congress on climate change.

(via reagan-was-a-horrible-president)