Monday, March 31, 2008

Al Gore "we" Alliance for Climate Protection

Al Gore, left, is busy again. This time he has launched the Alliance for Climate Protection's "we" campaign, which utilizes television commercials and the internet to promote public awareness and legislation to reduce greenhouse gases. His campaign will spend even more money than Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton put together for their presidential campaigns - $300 million. That's a lot of advertising. Half of the money has already been raised from private sources. Hey don't forget about AAEA. The Alliance will be headed by Cathy Zoi, right.

Earlier this month the former vice president announced that he was investing $35 million in Capricorn Investment Group (CIG), an environmentally friendly hedge fund company that makes investments that will help the planet. (AAEA Article) Will the "we" campaign also provide indirect advertising for the hedge fund? Or will CIG complement "we?" It will probably be a combination of the two. [Carbon Mercantile Exchange (CMX) - Use It Now]

Saturday, March 29, 2008

LNG Projects Failing Because of Failure To Use AAEA Advice

AAEA has been working very hard to get the attention of liquefied natural gas (LNG) companies in order to get approval for needed natural gas projects to fuel American households and utility company power plants. Although we are not crazy about using natural gas as a 'baseload' electricity generation fuel (we prefer nuclear for baseload because it is emission free), it is excellent for heating homes and for cooking. It is also a very good fuel for gas turbine generators for production of 'peaking' electricity needs. We do not have enough natural gas in the USA to satisfy demand and we have are already using all that Canada can provide. Drilling offshore and on federally owned land is limited and so imported LNG is the only reasonable alternative left to provide the gas we need. AAEA has monitored, participated in, and promoted LNG projects all over the United States, but the companies have refused to listen to our advice and the projects have either been killed by local governments or have stalled. We hope that the owners of pending projects will avoid the pitfalls of companies that have failed to build their billion dollar projects by not listening to the most insightful environmental group in the USA.

Well what is AAEA advocating that the companies are ignoring you might ask? We are happy to answer. LNG projects have a funny way of finding minority communities. Although we are amazed by this phenomenon, environmental injustice issues do not have to be project killers if companies are prepared to take actions to appropriately address these issues. Even in one case where the rich are claiming environmental injustice (Malibu), appropriate accomodations can be made. AAEA recommends two strategies for getting project approval: 1) ownership partnerships and 2) property purchases. These projects usually come with proposals for pipelines. Consider allowing minority ownership of the pipeline. If a project is proposed near a community, offer buyouts to property owners. Finally, states must accept the fact that these facilites must be located somewhere, so they must resist the temptation to surrender to every NIMBY complaint lodged anywhere, anytime, by anyone, all the time. All parties, except selfish, extremist NIMBY protagonists, must be satisfied in order to get project approval. Now if a company would rather have the project killed than partner with a minority company, then we hope the project fails. But if you really want the project, then call us. We know how to do this. (More AAEA & LNG)

Friday, March 28, 2008

Bad Publicity For Merck Asthma Drug Singulair Unconscionable

Singulair is a miracle medication that has significantly enhanced the life of our organization's president. AAEA President Norris McDonald, who has severe asthma, reports that Singulair has been incredibly successful in relieving his asthma symptoms and that any suggestion linking it to suicide is simply ridiculous. We suggest that Merck seriously consider suing any and all entities reporting or advertising such nonsense. We also suggest that any family scared into not using the product, and such stoppage leads to injury, should also sue, in class action, any and all entities publicizing this libel and slander.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) should cease and desist from any additional statements regarding suicide related to this product. This product significantly enhances life instead of causing any negative thoughts or feelings. Reports to the contrary are outrageous. Televised reports from news services have stated that there have been 3 suicides out of 31 million Singulair users. The FDA is just as well to review the link between lightning strikes to asthma inhalers causing suicide. We have to state again that to have this pubicized in such a manner is not only unconscionable but also poses a serious risk to the public. AAEA appeals to news services to stop publicizing this fiction immediately.

It is being reported that the FDA is reviewing a handful of reports, not clinical studies, involving mood changes, suicidal behavior and suicide in patients who have taken Singulair. Singulair is used by millions of patients in the U.S. and was first approved in 1998. How the FDA could or would allow these reports to become public without any clinical studies, which are the standard tool for evaluating drug safety, is mind boggling. Published reports indicate that there were no suicides in the 11,000 patients enrolled in 40 Singulair trials. Now Merck will have to spend millions of dollars in advertising to reverse false impressions instead of lowering the price for those who need the medication but do not have health insurance. (The Washington Post)

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Angry About Our Failure To Reprocess Spent Nuclear Fuel

PRESIDENT'S CORNER. By Norris McDonald. For some unknown reason I woke up angry this morning about how our country seems to have gone soft on building state-of-the-art infrastructure. Even the Space Shuttle will be retired in 2010 and we do not have a replacement. But that is not the source of my frustration and anger. My anger originates from our country's slow pace of building new nuclear power plants, snail-like pace in licensing and opening Yucca Mountain and our country's refusal to reprocess spent nuclear fuel. France reprocesses its spent nuclear fuel. I visited their state-of-the-art facility late last year (see photo below). Well later with anger; something must be done and we have been doing it through the Nuclear Fuels Reprocessing Coalition (NFR Coalition). I am the Co-Founder and Co-Chairman of the coalition.

La Hague Nuclear Fuel Reprocessing Facility - Normandy, France

Standing feet above reprocessed nuclear fuel (I'm in the middle)

[Rest of tour party not members of NFR Coalition]

The Nuclear Fuels Reprocessing Coalition was established in 2002 to promote the construction and operation of nuclear fuels reprocessing facilities. NFR promotes reprocessing commercial spent nuclear fuel that is generated by commercial nuclear power plants. Reprocessing dramatically reduces the amount of high-level radioactive waste that would have to be stored in a geologic repository. The NFR Coalition is working to:

  1. Amend the Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982 with the Nuclear Waste Management Agency Act of 2008 to establish the United States Nuclear Waste Management Agency to manage all Federal and civilian spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste management programs currently under the control of the United States Department of Energy;
  2. Establish and operate low-level radioactive waste receipt, supplementary segregation, treatment and burial or monitored/retrievable storage facilities on a fee basis; and to promote spent nuclear fuel reprocessing as a viable technology to aid in achieving and maintaining our national security and National Energy Policy goals, and for its potential to significantly reduce the total volume of radioactive waste designated for disposal in a Federal geologic repository.
The importance of our proposal is clearly illustrated by recent events. In 2007 the U.S. Department of the Interior decided to disapprove the Goshute Private Fuels Storage LLC (PFS) lease and the use of public lands for an Intermodal Transfer Facility (ITF) in Utah. The ITF would have been a temporary facility to store spent nuclear fuel rods. The DOI was jointly sued by PFS (a consortium of eight electric utility companies) and the Skull Valley Band of Goshute Indians in the federal court.

Utilities are also suing over the delay in opening Yucca Mountain.The U.S. Court of Claims decided in favor of Xcel Energy (formerly Northern States Power) for the sum of $116.5 million in Xcel's lawsuit against the Department of Energy over the federal government's failure to open the Yucca Mountain nuclear storage facility on time. Northern States Power originally filed the suit in 1998. DOE failed to provide suitable off-site commercial spent nuclear fuel (SNF) disposal to the commercial nuclear utilities per the Nuclear Waste Policy Amendments Act of 1987; yet to date, over $30 billion dollars (including interest) has been paid into the Nuclear Waste Fund by the electric utility ratepayers.

Unfortunately, the projected date for completion of the geologic repository by the DOE to begin emplacement of SNF has recently been revised from 2010 to a new projected date of 2017, while the original Congressionally mandated date for having a geologic repository available was 1998. A fee of 1/10th of one cent (one mil) per kilowatt-hour of electricity generated by each nuclear power plant is paid into the fund. All settlements against the DOE are paid by the Judgment Fund, which is funded by our tax dollars. Understand why I am angry?

16th Annual EPA Sulfur Dioxide Acid Rain Program Auction

On March 25, 2008, EPA held the acid rain auction giving private citizens, brokers and power plants the opportunity to buy and sell sulfur dioxide (SO2) allowances, as part of the cap and trade program to reduce acid rain. AAEA is registered (NOx)(May 5, 2003) in the Acid Rain allowance trading program, but did not purchase or sell any allowances during this auction. The weighted average of winning bids for 2008 is $389.91. When fully implemented in 2010, the Acid Rain Program will have cut SO2 emissions by 50 percent from 1990 levels. The national emissions cap and SO2 allowance trading work to create one of the most successful environmental programs to date. AAEA is supplementing its registration in the Acid Rain Program by including carbon dioxide in our Carbon Mercantile Exchange (CMX) and Green Carbon Bank (GCB), which are promoted through our Carbon Dioxide Reduction (CDR) Program.

Each allowance is equivalent to one ton of acid rain-causing SO2, emitted from powerplants. The Acid Rain Program uses a market-driven cap-and-trade systemto cut SO2 emissions from power plants. Since 1990, SO2 emissions have declined more than five million tons, and acid deposition in the eastern United States has declined by at least 30percent improving the condition of lakes and streams. The Acid Rain Program has realized human and environmental benefits earlier, and at less cost, than would have occurred with conventional approaches.

Current estimates indicate that program compliance costs are about 75 percent below those initially predicted by EPA. The auction includes two types of allowances: 125,000 offered for use in 2008 and 125,000 additional allowances offered seven years in advance to help provide stability in planning for capital investments. These advance allowances will be available for use in 2015. The number of allowances a source purchases will not permit them to emit SO2 at a level that would violate the health-based national ambient air quality standard.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Earth Day 2008 In Eight U.S. Cities

Earth Day (April 22) 2008 will be anchored by the main event on April 20 on the Mall in Washington, D.C. with simultaneous events in seven other cities: New York, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Los Angeles, Miami and San Francisco. Speakers will include Richard Cizik, vice president of the National Association of Evangelicals, Rev Jesse Jackson, members of Congress and maybe some presidential candidates. The events are organized by the Earth Day Network.

Cities and performers:

Washington, DC, Mall: The Roots
New York, Central Park: country singer Ricky Skaggs,
Miami: Latin group Menudo, hip-hop group Arrested Development
Dallas: Los Lonely Boys
Denver: Neville Brothers
San Francisco, Golden Gate Park: Mickey Hart

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

No Environmental Groups Support Nuclear Power

Nuclear Industry Does Not Recognize AAEA

The environmental movement remains monolithic in its opposition to nuclear energy. Although global warming is the most serious environmental issue facing the world today, and although nuclear power emits no greenhouse gases that cause global warming, green groups remain unalterably opposed to the technology. This opposition would appear to be illogical in the face of such a universally agreed upon global threat to life as we know it, but the fact remains that no environmental group publicly supports nuclear power. Not one. Nada. None. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid even uses this fact as a weapon in opposing Yucca Mountain as the national repository for spent nuclear fuel.

What is behind this phenomenon? Why would every single environmental group in the United States continue to oppose nuclear power when it is seemingly an off the shelf solution to the global warming problem? We have two hypotheses: 1) the groups continue to believe that the technology is dangerous - even more dangerous than global warming, 2) supporting nuclear energy would be a bad business decision. The environmental movement is a $6 billion per year industry and there is no funding for supporting nuclear power for the groups. No foundation is going to fund pronuclear activities. In fact, supporting nuclear power would render any group bold enough to step forward a pariah in the foundation community, which would be supported by condemnation from the entire environmental movement. Moreover, any green group executive director or board member would risk losing his or her job or board position by independently supporting nuclear power.

The nuclear industry might be salivating over a pending renaissance, but antinuclear groups are also salivating over, and still quietly working for, a resurgence in aggressive opposition to nuclear power, from funders and the general public.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Dept of Defense, Electricity Generation & Global Warming

AAEA believes the United States needs a program for electricity production that will supplement current efforts to meet our nation's power needs. In addition to a national grid similar to our federal highway system, we also need a massive building program that can meet America's appetite for electricity and transportation fuel. With global warming as the most important environmental issue facing us today, and with unrelenting growth in our electricity demand, we need a coordinated and integrated system for providing this power in an environmentally friendly manner that also creates green jobs.

America needs a public/private partnership that will simultaneously solve all of the problems mentioned above. We need electricity reservations that combine the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD), electricity utilities, coal producers and oil companies into consortia that produce electricity from coal and nuclear power, convert carbon dioxide into diesel fuel and gasoline, produce hydrogen, use the separated oxygen for coal-fired oxy-combustion and reprocess/recycle nuclear waste - all in a closed loop system. Ten reservations strategically located around the nation producing 100,000 megawatts of electricity without releasing any greenhouse gases would provide a needed supplement to the planned rennaisance in nuclear power plant construction and pending national global warming laws. We are involving DOD to satisfy security issues related to reprocessing spent nuclear fuel. Such a reservation would also satisfy the combined goals of the Department of Energy's FutureGen and Nuclear Power 2010 programs. The technical processes are described below.

Nuclear plants will operate next to coal plants that use pure oxygen combustion in the firebox to reduce the volume of stack gases. A scrubber would still be needed for sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and mercury (Selective Catalytic Reducer). The nuclear plant (Pebble Bed Modular Reactor, Gen IV) is used to produce hydrogen via electrolysis (or high temperature electrolysis) or the sulfur-iodine cycle that will be piped away to produce fuel cells. The oxygen from the electrolysis process will be piped to the coal plant for use in the firebox. The hydrogen will also be mixed onsite with carbon dioxide from the coal plant stack in a water to gas shift to produce carbon monoxide, which will then be mixed with hydrogen using the gas to water shift in the Fischer-Tropsch process to produce a synthetic petroleum product (diesel fuel or gasoline). These processes need very high temperatures of about 900 degrees Celsius.

So carbon dioxide will be used from the coal plant to make a vehicle fuel while an adjacent nuclear plant will produce hydrogen for fuel cell production and oxygen for the coal plant firebox. The oxygen from the electrolysis will be used in the coal firebox to reduce the volume of emission gases by 80 percent, which represents nitrogen in the air. Excess carbon dioxide and CO2 from maintenance down times will be piped for sequestration. There will be little to no CO2 emitted from the coal plant because the gas will be used to make vehicle fuel. There will be CO2 released from vehicle use but these emissions would occur anyway from vehicle use.

We are still studying the energy penalties for these processes and the economics. We also believe that the transportation fuel should be used by the military with any excess sold in the marketplace. If you have any input we would appreciate it. In the Fischer-Tropsch model pictured above the coal would be replaced with carbon dioxide. (Additional Source: Ken Schultz)

Obama Says Coal Can Create 'Green Jobs' Too

Senator Barack Obama included the statement below during remarks at The Cost of War" speech at the University of Charleston Charleston, West Virginia Thursday, March 20, 2008:


"Instead of fighting this war, we could be freeing ourselves from the tyranny of oil, and saving this planet for our children. We could be investing in renewable sources of energy, and in clean coal technology, and creating up to 5 million new green jobs in the bargain, including new clean coal jobs. And we could be doing it all for the cost of less than a year and a half in Iraq."
Friends of the Earth (FOE) has taken exception to Senator Obama's position on creating "new clean coal jobs." AAEA agrees with Senator Obama that 'green jobs' can come out of clean coal technology. We also share FOE's concern about mountaintop removal and its devastating effects on watersheds.

It will take a brand new way of thinking to make green jobs from coal mining and production of electricity. AAEA is promoting a process whereby the carbon dioxide can be converted into gasoline. (More)

Hillary Clinton Angers Greens On Mountaintop Removal

Hillary Clinton is taking heat from some environmental groups for backpedaling on mountaintop removal mining of coal while campaigning in West Virginia. Friends of the Earth (FOE) is her biggest critic on this retreat. Our president and FOE President Brent Blackwelder worked together in the 1980's. So did AAEA advisor John McCormick, who says don't rush to judgment on Clinton and holds Environmental Defense responsible for Appalachian mountaintop removal:

"Before folks go running off to condemn Senator Clinton, reflect a moment on the following: The Clean Air Act created a sulfur doixide cap-and-trade program to implement an acid rain reducion program back in the mid-90s.

Prior to Congress passing that law, Congressman Henry Waxman (as dedicated an environmental legislator as ever there was) introduced a bill to pay for installation of a sulfur dioxide removal scrubber for the 50 largest sulfur dioxide emitting power plants. Environmental Defense argued against it and said 'let the market decide how utility companies will reduce sulfur dioxide by the least expensive means.'

Well, the companies have done just that. They quit buying and mining the high sulfur coal of Illinois, Indiana and Kentucky and shifted to the low sulfur coal seams in the high mountains of Appalachia. The US DOE Energy Information Administration Form 423 has the verifiable coal-purchase data to prove that fact. Go see for yourself.

When I once asked an Environmental Defense lobbyist how he defends SO2 cap-and-trade in light of mountaintop removal, he said "That was an unintended consequence". So, get the story straight and call back the mob." (From Grist Magazine
Comment)

Of course, the EPA Acid Rain Program was a great success in reducing acid rain produced by sulure dioxide emissions. Hillary Clinton is right to be conflicted about coal use because it provides around 50% of the fuel to produce electricity, yet is the major greenhouse gas, and provides jobs in West Virginia. Senator Clinton serves on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

Friday, March 21, 2008

California EJ Movement Wrong To Oppose Cap-and-Trade

Several California environmental justice groups have issed a 'Declaration Against Use of Carbon Trading Schemes to Address Climate Change.' The groups oppose Cap-and-Trade programs to reduce global warming. They believe that such systems are inadequate to confront the climate crisis; marginalize front-line communities fighting environmental justice battles; and are designed to benefit corporate interests - not communities or the climate. Endorsing organizations include California Communities Against Toxics, California Environmental Rights Alliance, Carbon Trade Watch, Communities for a Better Environment, GreenAction, Rainforest Action Network, West County Toxics Coalition and many more.

The African American Environmentalist Association (AAEA) disagrees with the decision of the California Environmental Justice Movement (CEJM) to oppose Cap-and-Trade as a tool to fight global warming. AAEA submits that Cap-and-Trade can be an effective tool for fighting climate change if properly implemented. The Clean Air Act authorized Acid Rain Program is a perfect example of a Cap-and-Trade program that everybody agrees worked. AAEA is registered in the EPA Acid Rain Program. We agree with the CEJM that the Kyoto Protocol is a poor model for achieving global warming mitigation. That is why the protocol is failing to achieve its objectives. Yet the CEJM provides no reasonable alternatives for reducing greenhouse gases.

AAEA promotes effective alternatives to the Kyoto Protocol's arbitrary reduction targets and we also believe that Cap-and-Trade mechanisms can be leveraged to benefit people of color communities by reducing greenhouse gas emissions, provide economic incentives for such improvements and provide business opportunities for minority entrepreneurs. AAEA has also developed programs and mechanisms to provide minority communties with the tools to help make Cap-and-Trade programs effective globally and locally. The AAEA Environmental Justice Allowance Reserve (EJAR) provides oversight and protection mechanisms in a Cap-and-Trade program. We have also developed a Carbon Mercantile Exchange (CMX) and Green Carbon Bank (GCB) to directly participate in the management of carbon dioxide offsets.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Rev Jeremiah Wright & The Environmental Movement

Rev Jeremiah Wright, right, has become a pariah due to his harsh tone and descriptions of the United States. The cable news show pundits have hung Rev Wright around Senator Obama's neck and do not seem inclined to loosen the knot. Yet if Barack Obama, through his twenty year religious connection to the minister, is somehow tainted by a brush of anti Americanism and racial insensitivity, then shouldn't the environmental movement also be placed under the same harsh klieg lights. The environmental movement is about as segregated now as it was at the first Earth Day. Moreover, the radical green left makes anti American statements all the time and recently torched homes in protest of the American way.

We could stay on the negative path but Senator Obama challenged America in his great 'race speech' to move beyond the problem and start talking about solutions. To paraphrase and expand upon his comments, "[We] can no more disown the [environmental movement] than [we] can disown the black community." AAEA grew out of the mainstream environmental movement. We sometimes consider the movement to be our 'nutty uncle.' Our 'biased white grandmother.' We have worked to try to integrate the mainstream environmental movement. We failed miserably. We have challenged the movement too and still failed miserably. Although we have more or less walked away from programs to integrate the movement, we hope the mainstream groups will renew their own efforts to diversify because it will only make them stronger to have more points of view. And you never know, we cannot seem to resist periodically trying to talk some sense into our uncle and grandma.

Friday, March 14, 2008

New Clean Air Stardards For Locomotive & Marine Diesel

Today the U.S. EPA issued a final rule to toughen clean air standards for locomotive and marine diesel engines. The new emissions standards, when fully implemented, will reduce soot or particulate matter (PM) pollution from train and boat diesel engines by up to 90 percent or 27,000 tons and reduce nitrogen oxides emissions (NOx) by 80 percent or nearly 800,000 tons.

Nationwide this regulation will help prevent 1,400 premature deaths, and 120,000 lost work days annually in 2030. The estimated annual health benefits arevalued between $8.4 billion and $12 billion. The rule cuts emissions from all types of diesel locomotives, including line-haul, switch, and passenger rail, as well as from a wide range of marine sources, including ferries, tugboats, Great Lake freighters and all types of marine auxiliary engines.

For the first time ever, this rule requires remanufacturing standards for marine engines, reductions in engine idling, and the use of after treatment technology that will further reduce diesel emissions. Phasing in tighter long-term standards for PM and NOx will begin in 2014 for marine diesel engines and in 2015 for locomotive engines. This new rule complements the Clean Air Nonroad Diesel Rule and the Clean Air Diesel Truck and Bus Rule, currently underway nationwide. For more information about this action visit: Clean Diesel Locomotive: Clean Diesel Marine: For more information about the: Heavy-Duty Diesel Trucks and Bus Program

Thursday, March 13, 2008

The Polar Bear and the Endangered Species Act

A decision on whether to place the polar bear on the Endangered Species List was due from The Department of the Interior's U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on January 9, 2008 but the agency apparently needs more time to make a decision. The loss of sea ice is threatening the polar bear, along with hunters, but global warming is the issue being considered by Interior. A fear by opponents to listing the polar bear as endangered because of global warming is that environmental groups might use it as a tool to oppose any development project that generates carbon dioxide.

Three environmental groups, The Center for Biological Diversity, the Natural Resources Defense Council and Greenpeace, have sued Interior in federal district court in San Francisco to order the agency to make a decision.

Retail Energy Supply Association of Maryland (RESAMD.org)

If you live in the Washington or Baltimore Metropolitan Areas, you can't help but notice the television commercials for a new association committed to the development and furthering of competitive retail energy markets in the United States. The Retail Energy Supply Association of Maryland (RESA Maryland) is a broad and diverse group of retail energy suppliers who share the common vision that competitive retail energy markets deliver a more efficient, customer-oriented outcome than regulated utility structure. RESA Maryland is devoted to working with all stakeholders to promote vibrant and sustainable competitive retail energy markets for residential, commercial and industrial consumers. We agree with RESA's mission.

RESA has launched a public education campaign in Maryland designed to highlight the benefits of competition in the electricity market. The campaign includes print, radio and TV ads that are running in the Baltimore and suburban Washington, D.C. markets. The campaign highlights the benefits to customers of retail electric competition as part of the overall electricity structure. RESA member companies work with stakeholders in each state to promote vibrant and sustainable competitive retail energy markets for residential, commercial and industrial consumers. They acknowledge the critical importance that substantive, practical, fair and workable consumer protection and marketing practices play in creating a robust and sustainable competitive retail market. RESA member companies are: Commerce Energy, Inc., ConEdison Solutions, Direct Energy Services, Gexa Energy, Hess Corporation, Liberty Power, Integrys Energy Services, Inc., Reliant Energy Retail Services, LLC, Sempra Energy Solutions, Strategic Energy, SUEZ Energy Resources NA, Inc., US Energy Savings Corp.

Green D.C., Maryland & Virginia (Green DMV)

Philip E. O'Neal, left, is the founder of GreenDMV.org, a new organization that seeks to create a socially responsible culture throughout the Washington Metropolitan Area and change the mindset of area businesses to think both sustainably and profitably. DMV stands for District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia. Mr. O'Neal believes we can start by cultivating environmental awareness and action in area manufacturing sectors and in the small business community. Small and disadvantaged businesses within the manufacturing industry need certified standards for social and environmental responsibility at every stage of their business. The certification process should be both affordable and contain sound environmental standards so that businesses that incorporate these standards to minimize energy usage and waste within their operations can increase market share, reduce overhead expenditures and most importantly reduce CO2 emissions that harm our environment.

O'Neal's goal and the goal of GreenDMV is to see that a contribution to sustainable environmental practices is made within the small and disadvantaged business community. GreenDMV is currently working to make sure that such businesses not only meet certain environmental qualification standards for doing business with the federal government, but to also establish a certification similar to the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). FSC is a membership association that is open to a wide range of organizations and individuals representing social, economic and environmental interests. By becoming a member, you show your commitment to promote responsible management of the world's forest and you get to participate in FSC decision-making processes. Mr. O'Neal has a B.S. in Geology from Elizabeth City State University in NC and has worked in the Printing Industry for 13 years.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

EPA Strengthens Smog Standards

Today EPA signed the most stringent 8-hour standard ever for ozone, revising the standards for the first time in more than a decade. The agency based the changes on the most recent scientific evidence about the effects of ozone, the primary component of smog. This action meets the requirement of the Clean Air Act and strengthens the national standard for ozone. The new primary 8-hour standard is 0.075 parts per million (ppm) (75 parts per billion -ppb) and the new secondary standard is set at a form and level identical to the primary standard.

The EPA's Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee, which includes members from academia and private research institutions, recommended the standard be set between 60 and 70 parts per billion of ozone in order to protect human health. The previous primary and secondary standards were identical 8-hour standards, set at 0.08 ppm. Because ozone is measured out to three decimal places, the standard effectively became 0.084 ppm: areas with ozone levels as high as 0.084 ppm were considered as meeting the 0.08 ppm standard, because of rounding.

EPA will be sending Congress four principles to guide legislative changes to the Clean Air Act. According to EPA, these changes are needed to modernize the Clean Air Act. The four principles recommend that the Clean Air Act and the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS):

1) must protect the public health and improve the overall well-being of our citizens;
2) should allow decision-makers to consider benefits, costs,risk tradeoffs, and feasibility in making decisions about how to cleanthe air;
3) should provide greater accountability and effective enforcement to ensure not only paper requirements but also air qualityrequirements are met, especially in areas
with the furthest to go in meeting our standards;
4) should allow the schedule for addressing NAAQS standards to be driven by the available science and the prioritization of health and environmental concerns, taking into account the multi-pollutant nature of air pollution.
The U.S. has made significant progress reducing ground-levelo zone across the country and EPA expects improvement to continue, as a result of regulations such as the Clean Air Interstate Rule, to reduce emissions from power plants in the East, and the Clean Diesel Program, to reduce emissions from highway, nonroad and stationary diesel engines nationwide.

Ozone can harm people’s lungs, and AAEA is particularly concerned about individuals with asthma or other lung diseases, as well as those who spend a lot of time outside, such as children. Ozone exposure can aggravate asthma, resulting in increased medication use and emergency room visits, and it can increase susceptibility to respiratory infections. Ground-level ozone is not emitted directly into the air, but forms when emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs)“cook” in the sun. Power plants, motor vehicle exhaust, industrial facilities, gasoline vapors and chemical solvents are the majorhuman-made sources of these emissions.

EPA estimates that the final standards will yield health benefits valued between $2 billion and $19 billion. Those benefits include preventing cases of bronchitis, aggravated asthma, hospital and emergency roomvisits, nonfatal heart attacks and premature death, among others. EPA’s Regulatory Impact analysis shows that benefits are likely greater than the cost of implementing the standards. Cost estimates range from $7.6 billion to $8.5 billion. As part of today’s action, EPA also has updated the Air Quality Index(AQI) for ozone to reflect the change in the health standard. The AQI is EPA’s color-coded tool for communicating daily air quality to the public.

For more details on the revised standards, visit: Ground Level Ozone. For more on the AQI and to see daily air quality forecasts, visit: Air Now (See Also The Washington Post)

Chillum LNG Storage Facility Issue Alive Again

File Photo Courtesy FERC (Not Chillum facility-Actual lot vacant)
Chillum, a small minority community near Washington, D.C., is fighting a 13 million gallon liquefied natural gas (LNG) storage tank being proposed by Washington Gas, which owns the 21-acre site on Chillum Road near Queens Chapel Road. The neighborhood is very close to the West Hyattsville Metro station and the LNG tank would be closer to the station than the community. Maryland State Delegate Jolene Ivey (D-Prince George's) has introduced legislation that would prevent state utility regulators from granting construction approval for LNG facilities in Prince George's County and within two miles of any residence in the county. If passed this bill would stop the utility from building on the Chillum location. The House Economic Matters Committee heard testimony from community activists and utility officials on March 10.

Although AAEA does not have a position on the facility, we have discussed the project with Imani Kazana, a founding member of the neighborhood's Washington Gas Watch Alliance, Washington Gas representatives, and AAEA has presented testimony to the county council on the project. The utility stored natural gas -- but not LNG -- there for about 60 years before terminating operations several years ago. The Chillum facility already has some pipelines and according to Washington Gas, building a storage tank in another spot would require installing about 25 miles of pipes and cost $687 million. The Chillum tank is estimated to cost $164 million. (The Washington Post)

AAEA To Host Nuclear Power Forum at EJ Conference

AAEA will host a forum entitled: "Environmental Justice & Nuclear Power: Business Opportunities in the Nuclear Energy Industry," at the second annual State of Environmental Justice in America Conference 2008 (SEJAC). The conference is from May 21 -24 and will be held at the Howard University School of Law. AAEA held a similar forum in 2007 that addressed the pros and cons of nuclear power last year. Representatives from the Department of Energy, Nuclear Regulatory Commission and nuclear companies have agreed to participate in the forum. The forum will examine constraints and opportunities for minority participation in the nuclear power industry. We also hope that Diane Bodman, who attended the 2007 presentation, will attend our 2008 forum.

Unfortunately, Blacks do not own companies that provide energy products and services (except Case Lowell in Houston, Texas). Thus, Blacks do not own any of the energy infrastructure in the U.S. Unlike the mainstream environmental movement, many Blacks work for energy companies (see American Association of Blacks in Energy-AABE). However, because of the very large amounts of money needed to participate in an ownership capacity in the energy sector, to date, Blacks have not been participants. And energy companies do not seem to be interested in serving as mentors to minority entrepreneurs. It is a unique American weakness in our opinion for such partnerships could bring fresh perspectives and unique opportunities to both partners. One thing is for sure, China does not have this particular inefficiency.




Monday, March 10, 2008

Pharmaceuticals In Washington, DC Drinking Water

Last week it was reported that elevated lead levels had been found again in the drinking water in Washington, DC. Now this week traces of medicines have been found in small concentrations in the drinking water in our nation's capital. The Washington Aqueduct Dalecarlia water treatment facility is an arm of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and it provides the drinking water for the District of Columbia. Medicines were found in the drinking water supplies of two dozen other cities. The results come from an investigative report by the Associated Press.

The pharmaceuticals found include anti-seizure medication, two anti-inflammatory drugs, two kinds of antibiotics and disinfectant. Pharmaceuticals were found in the drinking water supplies of 24 of 28 U.S. metropolitan areas tested. The drugs were found in water treated by the Washington Aqueduct and include the pain medications ibuprofen and naproxen, commonly found in Aleve, carbamazepine, an anti-convulsive to reduce epileptic seizures and a mood stabilizer for treating bipolar disorders; sulfamethoxazole, an antibiotic that can be used for humans and animals in treating urinary tract and other infections; and monensin, an antibiotic typically given to cattle, and traces of triclocarban, a disinfectant used in antibacterial soaps. The amounts are extreme small, in parts per trillion, but they represent an emerging contaminant trend. The drinking water treatment facility uses chlorine as a disinfectant, which cannot neutralize pharmaceuticals. (The Washington Post)

AAEA Blog Is Three Years Old

The AAEA Blog is three years old already. Time flies when you're having fun. We started the Blog on March 28, 2005. We have addressed many issues since that time. We hope our little blog is second to none in terms of energy and environmental policy analysis. We have examined global issues and covered small local projects in local neighborhoods. We have established blogs in China, Hong Kong, the Midwest, Texas, New York and Hollywood. We write globally and we write locally. We are right most of the time.

In March 2005 we addressed "Black-on-Black Murder As An Environmental Issue."



Of course, we have addressed numerous issues in the past three years. We will continue to provide you with up-to-date information on global energy and local environmental issues. We will utilize the best science and let the facts rule our policy positions. We will let logic rule in promoting the equal protection of all communities. And we will do these things with heart and soul. Hopefully, we will have three more years and three after that and three after that and more. Thank you for using our service.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Big Energy Companies Advertising Big Time In Newspapers

The natural gas industry is placing full page ads in major newspapers. One ad provides facts by asking questions:

Which Amerian energy source provides 1/4 of the energy consumed in the U.S.?
Which American energy source heats more homes and businesses than all others combined?
Which American energy source is used in nearly 70% more households today than in 1970 yet produces less greenhouse gas emissions?
Which American energy source allows consumers to heat their homes, feed their families and dry their clothing using 1/3 less energy than it did in 1980?

The answer given to each question is natural gas. It is sponsored by America's natural gas utilities.

Another set of ads by EnergyTomorrow.org, which says it represents The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Industry, states:
You may be surprised to learn that the profitability of America's oil and natural gas industry is far less than that of many other major industries. Part of the explanation is that it costs billions of dollars to explore for, produce, refine and distribute our products. In fact, U.S. oil and natural gas companies have invested $1.25 trillion since 1992. These massive investments have a single purpose: ensuring you have the reliable supply of energy you need to maintain your quality of life today and tomorrow.
Still another set of ads by the American Clean Skies Foundation (CleanSkies.org) promotes Chesapeake Energy Corporation, which is a natural gas exploration and production company. The ads promote affordable, stable prices, domestic production for a stronger dollar, natural gas fueled vehicles to save $1 per gallon of gasoline of 'gasoline gallon equivalent,' clean electricity. Contact info: 750 1st Street NE, Suite 1100, Wash, DC 2002. 202-682-6294.

Then there is the ad by COMPETE, promoting electricity competition in the public interest. Compete is a national coalition of more than 190 electricity stakeholders promoting reliable, affordable electric power through competitive electricity markets. Located at: 1317 F St NW, Suite 600, Washington, DC 2004. Joel Malina 202-735-6331.

Finally we notice Vestas, which calls itself No. 1 in modern energy. They simply show a large picure of windmills and ask the question: "How about competitive, predictable, independent, and fast and clean energy?"

Al Gore's $35 Million Hedge Fund Investment

Former Vice President and global warming pitchman Al Gore is investing $35 million in Capricorn Investment Group (CIG), an environmentally friendly hedge fund company that makes investments that will help the planet. You need a user name and password to access the website, but there are no instructions as to how to do that. Evidently you call or write.

It is being reported that Gore has accumulated a $100 million fortune since he left office, mostly from his Google options and royalties from his documentary, "An Inconvenient Truth." CIG was founded by former eBay president and billionaire Jeff Skoll, who was also executive producer of Gore's Oscar-winning documentary.

Gore's father left him about $1 million in Occidental Petroleum stock and his speaking fee charge is $174,000. Gore also serves as vice chairman of Metropolitan West Financial, a money management firm run by former Drexel Burnhmam Lambert executives. Gore also cofounded Current Media, Inc, a cable television and Internet company where he makes $1 million annually and he owns 3.7 million shares of its stock. (New York Post, 3/7/08)

The Brown Paper Bag Test

Normally environmental racism refers to the intentional placement of a disproportionate amount of pollution sites in black communities. But is there a sociological environmental racism that places people according to their skin color?

The brown paper bag test was a ritual once practiced by certain African-American sororities and fraternities who discriminated against people who were "too black". That is, these groups would not let anyone into the sorority or fraternity whose skin tone was darker than a paper bag. Spike Lee's film "School Daze" satirizes this practice. [source]
Do whites use the brown paper bag test too? Do they favor lighter blacks? Think Colin Powell, Halle Berry, Barack Obama, Prince, Michael Jackson (both sides though), you get the idea. Are blacks darker than a brown paper bag discriminated against more than blacks lighter than a brown paper bag? There are notable exceptions: Condoleezza Rice, Vernon Jordan, Denzel Washington, Wesley Snipes, James Clyburn and Michael Jackson.

The 'one-drop' rule and hair texture also supplement the brown paper bag test in ranking people. Historically, to assure the separation of the races, it was established in law that if a person had 'one drop' of black blood then one could not be considered to be white. Note that Barack Obama is still considered to be 'black.' Pencil and comb tests have been used to determine one's acceptance into certain places and the nature of one's being. The pencil involved inserting a pencil in a person's hair to determine if the hair was kinky enough for the pencil to get stuck. If the pencil remained stuck in a person's hair, the person was 'black.' Similarly if the comb got stuck then the person was considered to be 'black.'

Thursday, March 06, 2008

National Urban League: "The State of Black America 2008"

The 2008 State of Black America report, includes the National Urban League (NUL) 2008 Equality Index, an aggregate measure of the relative status between blacks and whites in America, based upon five sub indexes: Economics, Education, Health, Social Justice and Civic Engagement. AAEA recommends the addition of an Environmental Justice sub index. The overall 2008 Equality Index is 73 percent, an increase of 0.41 percent from the 2007 index. The 2008 Equality Index indicates an increase in economics, education and social justice sub indexes.
Economics: Three times as many blacks as whites live below 125% of the poverty line. The black-white unemployment gap decreased between 2007 (45%) and 2008 (49%).

Education: The rate of enrollment for African-American students within the age range of 30 to 34 years of age increased from 7.2 percent to 10 percent, with much of the school enrollment occurring at the college level. The dropout rate for black high school students decreased from 15 percent in 2007 to 13 percent in 2008 and a 15 percentage decline in college enrollment for recent African-American high school graduates from 2007, with black students less likely to enroll compared to recent white high school graduates.

Health: The gap in total uninsured increased this year, with the index falling from 56 percent in 2007 to 53 percent in 2008. Black children were twice as likely to be uninsured compared to their white
counterparts (52%).

Social Justice: The Social Justice sub index showed the most improvement, with jail sentencing for blacks decreasing 15 percentage points, from 93 percent in 2007 to 77 percent in 2008. Also, the average sentence for blacks decreased from 44 months to 40 months, while the average sentence for whites increased from 34 months to 37 months.

Civic Engagement: Civic Engagement is the only area in which African-Americans exceed whites. Black volunteerism in the U.S. Military reserves has slightly decreased over the last five years, possibly due the current war in Iraq.

The 2008 edition of SOBA presents the National Urban League’s Opportunity Compact, a comprehensive set of principles and policy recommendations designed to empower all Americans to be full participants in the economic and social mainstream of this nation. The cornerstones are supported by a list of 10 policy priorities:

1. Commit to mandatory early childhood education beginning at age three as well as guarantee access to college for all.
2. Close the gaps in the health insurance system to ensure universal healthcare for all children.
3. Establish policies that provide tools for working families to become economically self-sufficient.
4. Create an urban infrastructure bank to fund reinvestment in urban communities (e.g. parks, schools, roads).
5. Increase economic self-sufficiency by indexing the minimum wage to the rate of inflation and expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit to benefit more working families.
6. Expand “second chance” programs for high school drop outs, exoffenders and atrisk youth to secure GEDs, job training and employment.
7. Adopt the “Homebuyer’s Bill of Rights” as recommended by the National Urban League.
8. Reform public housing to assure continuing national commitment to low-income families.
9. Strongly enforce federal minority business opportunity goals to ensure greater minority participation in government contracting.
10. Build capacity of minority business through expansion of microfinancing, equity financing and the development of strategic alliances with major corporations.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

AAEA, NAACP & Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi

PRESIDENT'S CORNER. By Norris McDonald. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Washington, D.C. Branch had a wonderful Freedom Fund Dinner tonight. DC Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton opened the presentation of awards. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, above right, was the Honorary Chair of the event and a Presidential Award Recipient. House Majority Whip James Clyburn was honored as a Barrier Breaker along with:

  • Lorraine C. Miller, Clerk, U.S. House of Representatives
  • Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Congresswoman, Florida
  • LTG Michael Rochelle, Deputy Chief of Staff, U.S. Army
  • Lorenzo Creighton, President MGM Mirage
  • Ernest G. Green, Little Rock Nine
  • Matthew Fogg, U.S. Marshall, Department of Justice
Barrier Breaker Sponsors included Verizon, Altria, The Coca Cola Company, Goldman Sachs, Fannie Mae, PhRMA, Honeywell, Pfizer, and numerous churches.

AAEA worked with Matthew Fogg to help get the NO FEAR ACT passed. Mr. Fogg is a whistleblower and won a multimillion judgment against the U.S. Marshall's Service. AAEA also supports Speaker Pelosi's Greening the Capitol program. The recommendations in the preliminary report include (More):

  • Operate the House in a Carbon Neutral Manner
  • Shift to 100 percent Renewable Electric Power
  • Aggressively Improve Energy Efficiency
  • Adoption of Sustainable Business Practices
  • Continued Leadership on Sustainability Issues
  • Offsets to Ensure Carbon Neutral Operations
Special thanks to Brazile & Associates and Verizon. (Photo: AAEA President Norris McDonald & Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi)

Monday, March 03, 2008

North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)

The Ohio Primary has brought the North Ameican Free Trade Agreement back into the national spotlight because it is being partially blamed for the loss of jobs in the state. Well it makes us wonder if you know what the agreement really means to you. It is an agreement and not a treaty by the way. NAFTA is the largest trade bloc agreement in the world and it eliminated the majority of tariffs on products traded among the United States, Canada and Mexico. The agreement was signed in 1992 by Canada, Mexico, and the U.S. and went into effect on Jan. 1, 1994 with full implementation beginning January 1, 2008. [U.S. Customs & Border Protection] [NAFTA Secretariat]

The North American Agreement on Environmental Cooperation (NAAEC) is an environmental agreement that is a supplemental side-treaty of NAFTA signed in 1992 and went into effect at the same time as the main agreement. The agreement consists of a declaration of principles and objectives concerning conservation and the protection of the environment between the three countries. The Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC) was set up as part of the agreement.

The NAAEC was a response to concerns by environmentalists that the U.S. would lower its standards if the three countries did not achieve consistent environmental regulation. The NAAEC only obligates parties to enforce their own environmental laws. The NAAEC established the North American Commission for Environmental Cooperation, a mechanism for addressing trade and environmental issues, the North American Development Bank (NADBank) for assisting and financing investments in pollution reduction, and the Border Environmental Cooperation Commission (BECC). The NADBank and the BECC have provided economic benefits to Mexico by financing 36 projects, mostly in the water sector. (Wikipedia)

Besides the probably false impression that NAFTA has cost Americans jobs, we do not believe it has caused any negative environmental effects. We support free trade. Global warming has not been affected one way or the other by the agreement. Maybe some product issues might be affected in some way, but even that is barely discernable in our opinion. Clearly immigration has not been affected for Mexicans are still flooding into the U.S.