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© Robert Sommers 2018

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Carolina on my mind

Lots of interesting environmental news out there. Start off with the Trump administration rolling back Obama methane rules with this pithy quote from an energy lobbyist:
Industry groups praised the expected changes. “It’s a neat pair” of proposals on methane, said Kathleen Sgamma, president of the Western Energy Alliance, an association of independent oil and gas companies that is based in Denver. The Obama-era E.P.A. methane rule, she said, “was the definition of red tape. It was a record-keeping nightmare that was technically impossible to execute in the field.”
Ms. Sgamma praised the Trump administration for turning the oil companies’ requests into policy, noting that the Obama administration frequently turned proposals from environmental groups into policy. “It all depends on who you trust,” she said. “That administration trusted environmentalists. This one trusts industry.
This quote is doubly ironic when you read the news yesterday that Hurricane Florence is currently heading towards at least nine toxic superfund sites as well as hog manure sloughs, coal ash pits and other areas that have the potential to wreak serious environmental havoc and endanger precious ground water. Duke Energy has a couple nuclear reactors in the area but says not to worry, they have backups on their backups. Whew, I feel assured. Trusting industry didn't go so well in Houston after Hurricane Harvey, thirteen superfund sites impacting the environment and ground water significantly. Didn't work so well in Moab either, when Atlas Minerals left its uranium mine tailings to leach into the Colorado River, went belly up and let the public pick up the tab.

I tend to side with the environmentalists in these matters. The people enriching themselves get a little oily when it is time for them to step up. Think Ronald Reagan - Trust but verify.

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More irony now in North Carolina. In 2012 their legislature passed a law forbidding scientists from using current data in assessing climate change.  The locals were afraid the dire forecasts of a 2010 study predicting a 39" sea level rise in the next century would scare off the real estate money.
Part of the bill stipulated that state and local agencies must also refer to historical linear predictions of sea level rise rather than current research, and another alarming section required that research look only at 30-year predictions rather than at a century, as the CRC report had done. Supporters of the bill saw short-term benefits in more affordable insurance, and continued opportunities for real estate development and tourism along the attractive coast. Critics saw the long-term consequences of damaged homes and businesses and vast swaths of the state being swallowed by floods.   
No one wants to punish the poor people of the Carolinas but they keep electing these see no evil ostriches and bear at least some responsibility for hamstringing their scientists. great article from Scientific American back in the day, NC considers making sea level rise illegal by Scott Huler.

I guess in the final analysis you can always blame the devil. Or god. Pollution is just part of the great plan.

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Oh ya, the Interior Department is in a big rush to lease hundreds of thousands of acres of federal land to mining companies.

WASHINGTON — The Department of Interior is quietly preparing to offer hundreds of thousands of acres of public land for leasing to energy companies, a move critics have charged is being undertaken with minimal public input and little consideration for ecological and cultural preservation.

According to data compiled by environmental groups, the Bureau of Land Management will put 2.9 million acres up for potential leasing in the next four months. Because the land in question — in states including New Mexico, Colorado and Arizona — lacks designation as a national park or monument, it can be used for commercial purposes such as mining for minerals and drilling for oil and gas.

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My mind keeps going back to the Lord of the Rings, the books, not the stupid movie. Saruman knows at the end that he has lost his power and his plan has failed but he decides to just ruin everything for everybody else as a last swan song. Reminds me so much of Trump.

Welcome to Florida

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