Thursday, January 31, 2008

Barack Obama & the Segregated Environmental Movement

Barack Obama could not get a job in the environmental movement. The exceptions that would hire him include Environmental Defense, Natural Resources Defense Council, Environmental Law Institute and the World Resources Institute (see why). The rest of the enviromental movement makes the Bush Administration look like the NAACP when it comes to hiring and retaining Blacks. The traditional environmental movement is one of the most segregated sectors in America. The 'environment' in many of these groups is so hostile that they cannot retain Blacks even when they hire one. The only Blacks hired at these groups are in administrative positions. A recent phenomenon within the groups is to hire a black comptroller or development staffer. But no policy professionals. Another obfuscation tool is the hire 'one black rule,' also used by many industry associations, as a minimum shield against charges of discrimination. A recent "Oregonian" article describes the current racial status of the movement. We believe these groups are secretly proud of this racist elitism.

So what does this have to do with Senator Barack Obama. Well he could become president or vice president. Why should a President Obama listen to a group of people who exclude people who look like him? And why would this powerful lobby care what a President Obama thought about them anyway? Although the Congressional Black Caucus, of which Obama is a member, has grown to over a tenth of the House and one percent of the Senate and are consistently the highest rated caucus in Congress on environmental issues, it has not affected the hiring practices in the mainstream green movement. Maybe they will rely on the fact that the presidential candidate has not bothered them during his four years in the Senate. Maybe mainstream greens have concluded that Obama does not care about their segregationist and discriminatory practices. Maybe a President Barack Obama would have no effect on the elitist greens. After all, the $6 billion per year environmental movement is a very powerful special interest lobby. And the unwritten 'No Blacks Allowed' policy would probably include a President Barack Obama.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

AAEA International Environmental Protection Activities

AAEA is a small but powerful organization. AAEA believes in the phrase, "Act Locally, Think Globally." That is why AAEA recently participated in activities in Puerto Rico, Brazil, China and France. So in addition to our domestic operations, AAEA has 'boots on the ground' in Nigeria and China.

AAEA Nigeria Director Ifeanyi Joshua Ezekwe has 17 years of experience in environmental services management. AAEA wants Nigeria to enhance its energy infrastructure and environmental protection. Nigeria has the best 'sweet' crude oil in the world, but there are many issues surrounding its production and use. Nigeria also needs to expand its electricity production and infrastructure. Mr. Ezekwe gives us valuable outreach services in Africa's largest country.

AAEA (CECE) China Director Zhang Xiaoping provides us with important outreach services in China. Our China work is through the AAEA parent Center for Environment, Commerce & Energy (CECE) because the African American title of our organization would not make too much sense in China. Director Zhang was invaluable to our American delegation when we visited energy, agricultural and chemical facilities in 2007. China is a dynamic society with very challenging energy and enviromental issues facing it, particularly in the air and water quality areas. And these issues have global implications and specific effects on the U.S. We decided to work in China because of the global warming issue. If you're not addressing China, then you are not seriously addressing the issue. Maybe we will set up shop in India soon for the same reason.

AAEA Has 'Boots on the Ground' in New York and Midwest

AAEA is addressing environmental and energy issues in the Northeast and the Midwestern regions of the U.S. We are working to assure that these regions have reliable energy at reasonable prices. Electricity, natural gas, oil, hydro, wind and ethanol are all critical resources that are needed to assure that the American way of life can be maintained. AAEA promotes the efficient use of these resources and we seek to expand participation in policy decision making regarding environmental issues.

AAEA New York Director Dan Durett, left, is providing the 'boots on the ground' to assure energy delivery reliability in the Big Apple, the state and the Northeastern Region. Mr. Durett has decades of experience in addressing energy and environmental policies. AAEA New York wants a new power plant licensing law passed and wants to assure that enough electricity is available to support the region.

AAEA Midwest Director James Mosley, right, is addressing important environmental and energy issues in the Midwestern Region. With the passage of the Energy Security and Independence Act of 2007, and its requirement to utilize 36 billion gallons per year of ethanol, Mr. Mosley is a vital resource for our work in that region. There are issues surrounding the use of coal that AAEA will have a significant role in addressing too.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Green Jobs

It looks like the old CETA (Comprehensive Employment and Training Act) Program is coming back in the form of alternative energy training and jobs. The Green Jobs Act of 2007 (H.R. 2847) was part of the Energy Security & Independence Act of 2007 (H.R. 6) and amended the Workforce Investment Act of 1998 to establish an energy efficiency and renewable energy worker training program. AAEA will work to assure that this program is successful, particularly as it relates to at-risk youth.

The Green Jobs Act (GJA) directs the Secretary of Labor (Secretary) to:

(1) establish an energy efficiency and renewable energy worker training program that targets certain persons (including individuals in need of updated training related to the energy efficiency and renewable energy industries, veterans, unemployed workers, and at-risk youth) and sectors of the energy efficiency and renewable energy industries; and

(2) establish a national research program to collect and analyze labor market data to track workforce trends resulting from energy-related initiatives under this Act.

The GJA directs the Secretary to award:

(1) National Energy Training Partnerships Grants on a competitive basis to nonprofit partnerships to carry out training programs that lead to economic self-sufficiency and develop an energy efficiency and renewable energy industries workforce;

(2) grants to states to administer, in coordination with a one-stop delivery system, labor market and labor exchange programs that include funding to state agencies to identify job openings, administer skill and aptitude testing, and provide counseling and case management services;

(3) energy training partnership program grants to states to administer renewable energy and energy efficiency workforce development programs; and

(4) at least 10 Pathways Out of Poverty Demonstration Program competitive grants to community based nonprofit organizations to carry out training that leads to impoverished families gaining economic self-sufficiency.

Monday, January 28, 2008

President Bush State of the Union: On Environment & Energy

"To build a future of energy security, we must trust in the creative genius of American researchers and entrepreneurs and empower them to pioneer a new generation of clean energy technology. Our security, our prosperity, and our environment all require reducing our dependence on oil. Last year, I asked you to pass legislation to reduce oil consumption over the next decade, and you responded. Together we should take the next steps: Let us fund new technologies that can generate coal power while capturing carbon emissions. Let us increase the use of renewable power and emissions-free nuclear power. Let us continue investing in advanced battery technology and renewable fuels to power the cars and trucks of the future."

"Let us create a new international clean technology fund, which will help developing nations like India and China make greater use of clean energy sources. And let us complete an international agreement that has the potential to slow, stop, and eventually reverse the growth of greenhouse gases. This agreement will be effective only if it includes commitments by every major economy and gives none a free ride. The United States is committed to strengthening our energy security and confronting global climate change. And the best way to meet these goals is for America to continue leading the way toward the development of cleaner and more efficient technology."

Friday, January 25, 2008

USA Should Recycle Nuclear Waste Just Like France

Micheal O'Connell, Kateri Callahan, Derrick Freeman, Rob Keast,
Keith Smith, Norris McDonald, Gilles Clement, David Brown, Jack Spencer & Laurie Harrison

Used uranium fuel from commercial nuclear power plants can be recycled. Such reuse makes it a renewable resource and the USA should reduce the amount of actual waste that will go to Yucca Mountain, the mandated repository for geologic storage. Although the U.S. abandoned such recycling back in the 1970s, the French are leading the way in spent fuel reprocessing and reuse. AAEA President Norris McDonald went on a fact finding mission in November 2007 with a group of other Americans to tour France's reprocessing facility, La Hague.

The AREVA La Hague industrial complex reprocesses spent nuclear fuel on a 740 acre site with 6,000 employees. The recycling process consists of separating and conditioning the various components of the spent fuel so that they can be recycled as uranium and plutonium fuel. The energy materials contained in the fuel can be recycled because 97% of the spent fuel is recyclable when it leaves the nuclear reactor, 96% as uranium and 1% as plutonium, while 3% is non-reusable final waste.

In the photo above the fact finding group is standing over the final storage area for the reprocessed fuel where it is allowed to cool for 3 years before being shipped out for refabrication.


Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Primary Political Environment Heating Up

To become the Democratic nominee for president, a candidate needs to capture a majority of the 4,049 delegate votes. State primaries and caucuses select 3,253 “pledged” delegates, who are obligated to vote for the candidate their state chose. An additional 796 “unpledged” delegates — consisting mostly of party leaders and elected officials — are free to vote for any candidate.

To become the Republican nominee for president, a candidate needs to capture a majority of the 2,345 delegate votes. States are listed according to the first major event in its selection process; with several states still jockeying for early positions, some dates may change. Daily delegate totals reflect all delegates allotted to the state, even though some may not pledge their vote until a later date.

Source: The New York Times

Friday, January 18, 2008

Coal Industry Launches $35 Million Ad Campaign

Americans for Balanced Energy Choices (ABEC -, a group backed by the coal industry, is running a $35 million ad campaign around the United States. America gets 52% of its electricity from coal and the coal industry wants to keep it that way. America is called the 'Saudi Arabia of Coal' because we have so much of it. AAEA supports clean coal technology and believes coal-to-liquid (CTL) technology will be needed to help meet America's transportation fuel needs. AAEA believes it is impractical to put a moratorium on the building of any more coal-fired power plants until the carbon dioxide can be sequestered. Maybe coal should get subsidies similar to those provided to the nuclear industry to convert the carbon dioxide (CO2) from coal plants to gasoline (see AAEA proposal). Regardless, African Americans need to get an ownership stake in this sector.

The coal industry is trying to generate public and political support for coal. It is being reported that the National Mining Association , the coal industry's lobbying group, is boosting it promotional budgets. Of course all of the promotional activity has to do with regulations of carbon dioxide that the industry knows Congress will pass in the coming years. Coal plants emit huge amounts of CO2. Our guess is such regulation will be a cap and trade program similar to the Acid Rain Program for sulfur dioxide.

Another Balanced Energy Ad

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Offshore Wind Farm Project Gets Preliminary Approval

The federal Minerals Management Service (MMS) of the Department of Interior has issued (1-14-08) a draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) that gives preliminary environmental approval to the proposed Cape Wind Associates wind farm project off Cape Cod. The DEIS concluded the proposal to build 130 windmills across 25 miles of federal waters in Nantucket Sound would pose no major environmental problems. The DEIS looked at water quality, wildlife, air traffic, the fishing industry, recreation and tourism. After a public comment period on the DEIS the MMS will make a final decision sometime in 2008. Public hearings will be held in March in West Yarmouth, Nantucket, Martha's Vineyard and Boston.

Cape Wind would be the nation's first offshore wind farm and is a safe, clean emission free source of renewable energy. Senator Edward Kennedy (D-Mass) opposes but Governor Deval Patrick supports the project. Mitt Romney opposed the project when he was governor. The Cape Cod Commission voted on Oct 18, 2007 to deny a buried electric cable for the Cape Wind project that would run from the wind turbines to the shore. This MMS DEIS comes three years after the former Federal lead reviewing agency, the US Army Corps of Engineers issued their comprehensive review of Cape Wind that found significant public benefits and few negative impacts. AAEA supports the Cape Wind Project and was the only national environmental group to provide testimony at the 2004 Army Corp public hearing at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Many groups now publicly support the project. In 2005, the Massachusetts Energy Facilities Siting Board approved Cape Wind's application after a 33-month review.

From the MMS DEIS: 1) Horseshoe Shoal in Nantucket Sound is environmentally and economically superior to the alternative sites that were studied. 2) Cape Wind will reduce regional emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) by 880,000 tons per year. 3) CO2 is a greenhouse gas that causes climate change. 4) Cape Wind will reduce regional air pollution emissions such as sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide that harm human health. 5) Cape Wind will create hundreds of jobs. 6) Cape Wind will provide a needed supply of electricity and improve electric diversification and reliability. 7) Cape Wind will go a long way toward Massachusetts being able to achieve its renewable energy requirements under the State's Renewable Portfolio Standard. 8) Cape Wind will not have major impacts on birds, fish, marine mammals, fishing, tourism, or on sea or air navigation.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Political Environment of Presidential Race Getting Polluted

A unique political environment is evolving going into the South Carolina primary that shows what can happen when race and gender are mixed with competition. Former President Bill Clinton's first black president designation is being questioned and Hillary Clinton's inadvertent crediting of Lyndon Johnson over Rev Martin Luther King for civil rights advances are clouding the skies for a clear run in the S.C. primary. And although New York's Congressional Black Caucus (all support Clinton) has stayed out of 'trouble,' another New York supporter Attorney General Andrewo Cuomo is drawing fire for saying Senator Obaman was "shucking and jiving," an offensive racial slight. And it doesn't stop there. There is even a 'black-on-black' attack of Obama. Robert Johnson is drawing heat for sneakily injecting Obama's past recreational drug use into his comments at a public event and former U.N. Ambassador and former Atlanta, Georgia Mayor Andrew Young created controversy when he stated his belief that former President Bill Clinton had bedded more black women than Barack Obama.

All of this should have been anticipated and is not unusual at all for American society. It is unique in the context of presidential races though. The race between a woman and a black man, as leading contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination, is bringing out the normal racial dynamics that exist in the USA, even in the 21st century. Blacks typically have complaints about adequate inclusion and participation in the Democratic Party during the presidential campaign season. Usually a standard bearer, such as Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton, are there to give voice to these complaints. Since Senator Obama is not playing that game, and important black votes are at stake, the political pressure cooker is starting to overheat. AAEA has maneuvered in turbulent racial waters for decades and no matter which way the boat is turned, it never goes away and is never easy to deal with in the business world. So batten down the hatches and get ready for an interesting ride because race and gender as political sport will lead to a very interesting game. And this is probably nothing compared to how race or gender will affect the general election contest because it is generally acknowledged that the GOP is more hostile to black folk and women than the Democratic Party.

Steve Curwood: "Living On Earth" Public Radio Show

Steve Curwood, left, is Executive Producer and Host of "Living on Earth," a prize-winning weekly environmental radio program. Steve created the first pilot of Living on Earth in the Spring of 1990, and the show has run continuously since April, 1991. Today, "Living on Earth" with Steve Curwood is aired on Public Radio International (PRI). Steve's history includes a relationship with NPR that goes back to 1979 when he began as a reporter and host of Weekend "All Things Considered." He also hosted NPR's "World of Opera." Steve has been a journalist for more than 30 years with experience at NPR, CBS News, the Boston Globe, WBUR-FM/Boston and WGBH-TV/Boston. He shared the 1975 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service as part of the Boston Globe's education team.

Steve Curwood is also the recipient of the 2003 Global Green Award for Media Design, the 2003 David A. Brower Award from the Sierra Club for excellence in environmental reporting and the 1992 New England Environmental Leadership Award from Tufts University for his work on promoting environmental awareness. He is president of the World Media Foundation, Inc. and a Lecturer in Environmental Science and Public Policy at Harvard University. He lives in Southern New Hampshire on a small woodlot with his wife Jennifer and children Noah and Amira, and loves whatever time he can get with his adult progeny, Anastasia and James. (More)

Jeff Young produced a show on the South Carolin presidential primary for "Living on Earth" called "Black Voters, Green Issues." The transcript and broadcast are at the link.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Congressional Black Caucus Democratic Presidential Debate

The Congressional Black Caucus Institute and CNN Democratic Presidential Primary Debate will be held on Monday, January 21, 2008 at the Palace Theatre in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina - 8-10 pm.

We have some questions that should be asked about environmental issues:

1) Has the Bush administration been better than the Clinton administration on environmental issues?

2) Is environmental justice a legitimate issue to you?

3) Does environmental racism exist?

4) Has the Bush administration been better than the Clinton administration on environmental justice issues?

5) South Carolina gets over 50 % of its electricity from nuclear power. Should the U.S., which gets 20 % of its electricity from nuclear power, follow the South Carolina example?

6) Which sector is more segregated, the GOP or the environmental movement?

7) Is the Democratic Party friendlier to Blacks on environmental issues than the Republican Party?

8) Since there is a Black community in virtually every city in the United States, are there unique environmental issues in African American neighborhoods?

9) Why do you think Blacks do not own any part of the energy infrastructure in the United States?

10) Does global warming have a more serious impact on Black communities than majority communities?

Friday, January 04, 2008

Barack Obama Wins Iowa Caucus: Good For Environment

Senator Barack Obama won the Iowa Caucus, has raised the most money in the presidential race and is very good on environmental and energy issues. Senator Obama served on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee for 3 years (2005-2007) and showed solid judgment in protecting America's environment and energy future. Senator Obama supports: global warming mitigtion, nuclear power, although he toned down that support in Iowa, coal to liquid (CTL) technology development, ethanol development and voted for the 2005 and 2007 energy bills. He opposed President Bush's Clear Skies Initiative.

Barack Obama is proposing a "cap and trade" approach to reduce global warming emissions that will require businesses to buy allowances if they pollute, creating an incentive to reduce energy usage. He has promoted legislation that requires the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to track unaccounted-for spent nuclear fuel rods used at power plants in the U.S. He sponsored the Nuclear Release Notice Act that would require notification of federal, state and county officials when radioactive releases exceed federal limits or when two occur within a two-year span from the same source, process or equipment. Obama sponsored the Coal-to-Liquid Fuel Promotion Act of 2007, which would provide incentives for research and plant construction, [clarification] as long as they emit at least 20 percent less life-cycle carbon than conventional fuels.

Ethanol: Obama introduced 1) the BioFuels Security Act, which would require the U.S. to use 60 billion gallons of ethanol and biodiesel a year by 2030, 2) the Fuel Security and Consumer Choice Act in 2006, which would require all U.S. marketed vehicles to be manufactured as Flexible Fuel Vehicles (FFVs) within ten years, 3) the American Fuels Act of 2006 (S. 2446), which would increase the production of cellulosic biomass ethanol (CBE) to 250 million gallons by 2012, 4) legislation (S. 2984): Future Investment to Lessen Long-term Use of Petroleum (FILL UP) Act, that would require oil companies making in excess of $1 billion in profits during the first quarter of 2006 to invest no less than 1% of those profits into installing E85 or other alternative fuel pumps at gas stations across the U.S. (service stations that install alternative fuel pumps are eligible to receive a tax credit of up to $30,000 to offset the cost of installation. This tax credit became law as part of the Energy Policy Act of 2005), and 5) S. 918: E-85 Fuel Utilization and Infrastructure Development Incentives Act, which would provide a retail sales credit of 35 cents for each gallon of alternative fuel, including any fuel of at least 85% ethanol, sold at retail fueling station.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Carol Moseley-Braun Starts Biodynamic Food Company

Former Illinois Senator Carol Moseley-Braun tells Grist Magazine about her new company, Good Food Organics, the umbrella company for a line of biodynamic products called Ambassador Organics. Biodynamic agriculture is a method of organic farming that treats farms as unified and individual organisms, emphasizing balancing the holistic development and interrelationship of the soil, plants, animals as a closed, self-nourishing system (Wiki). Moseley-Braun tells Grist:
"I've been involved with farm policy throughout my career -- from my days 30 years ago in the state legislature, when I created the agriculture high school here in Cook County, Ill., to my work in the United States Senate, to my ambassadorship in New Zealand, with all the agriculture there. On a personal level, my great-grandfather bought a 600-acre farm back in that little window after the Civil War when blacks could buy property in Alabama. Most of the property is still in the family today, and I came back home from New Zealand with the idea that I'd take over the family farm and do it as a biodynamic farm -- continuing my public service by getting involved with healthy food, sustainable agriculture, and nutrition. "

California Sues EPA Over Car CO2

California and 15 other Northeastern states have sued the Bush administration seeking to overturn a EPA's decision in Dec to reject the state's bid to reduce greenhouse gases from cars and trucks. Gov Arnold Schwarzenegger, California Atty. Gen. Jerry Brown and five national environmental groups filed in the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco. Under the federal Clean Air Act, California is allowed to enact stricter air pollution laws than the federal government as long as the state is given a waiver from the EPA.

The controversy appears to be mostly political in our opinion because the 2007 energy bill did for the nation what the California law was trying to achieve through vehicles. The new law raises the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards to 35 mpg by 2020, whereas the California law would have required about 34 mpg by 2012. AEAA supports EPA's action.

The 15 states joining California in the lawsuit are Massachusetts, Arizona, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington. (The L.A. Times)

AAEA Supports California Clean Car Discount (AB 493)

AAEA has joined with the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) to promote the California Clean Car Discount bill (AB 493), introduced by Assemblyman Ira Ruskin, wherby Californians will be able to receive rebates of up to $2,500 on the purchase of clean cars, trucks, and SUVs. The amount of the rebate is based on how much global warming pollution the vehicle emits—the less pollution, the higher the rebate. The average rebate or surcharge will fall somewhere between $900 and $1,450. A significant portion of vehicles, including many family-oriented minivans and smaller SUVs, will fall into a “zero dollar-band” receiving neither a surcharge nor rebate. Vehicles that emit high levels of global warming pollution will have surcharges of up to $2,500. The whole program is self-financing and applies only when you purchase a new vehicle. (UCS Calif Clean Car Discount Page)

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Will African Americans Participate In Energy Production?

President Bush has signed two energy bills in the space of two years. This unprecedented accomplishment will help America to produce the energy it needs and use the energy produced more efficiently. Our questions is: How will Blacks participate in America's energy future? Unfortunately, Blacks do not currently own energy production companies (except for CAMAC International), are not in decision-making management positions and largely are not included on the boards of directors of these companies. The designated position at most companies is government relations and although this is a very important job, more opportunities should be made available for signififcant participation and equity. AAEA sees three areas that are addressed by the energy bills, which can be avenues for greater opportunities, particularly considering governmental support in these areas: 1) nuclear power, 2) ethanol, and 3) automobiles.
Nuclear power has Price Anderson liability protection ($9.5 billion) through 2025, $2 billion standby support (federal loan guarantee) against regulatory or judicial delays for six reactors, $20.5 billion in loan guarantees, production tax credit of up to $125 million per year for 8 years for first 6,000 MW of capacity, among other supports. There should be opportunities in hauling nuclear waste containers because these supports will be threatened if Yucca Mountain is not brought online. There could also be significant opportunites if nuclear is ever accepted as a carbon dioxide offset. AAEA is promoting a private offset strategy (Green Carbon Bank).

Ethanol use was mandated for an increase in use from 7.5 billion gallons per year by 2012 (2005 energy bill) to 36 billion gallons per year by 2022 (2007 energy bill). There should be many opportunities in this area because new pipelines will be needed to get ethanol from the Midwest to the East and West where the cars are located. Current pipelines cannot carry ethanol because they would corrode the seals and truck and train hauling are impractical and cost inefficient. There should also be good opportunities in hauling the corn for regular ethanol and stalks for cellulosic ethanol.

The Corporate Average Fuel Economy Standard (CAFE) was incresed from the current level of 27.5 mpg to 35 mpg by 2020. This history making increase has great implications for global climate change mitigation. In addition to new methods for gasoline fuel economy, AAEA is promoting plug-in fuel cell hybrid electric vehicles and we believe there are great opportunities for early entry entrepreneurship in this area.
Of course, none of these industries are going to go out of their way to include African Americans in employment, management and ownership upgrades. However, due to the federal government supports for these sectors, the Congressional Black Caucus should exercise some oversight to monitor minority participation. If it is found that African Americans are being excluded from participation, then the CBC should do something about it. The entire CBC voted for the 2007 energy bill (Al Hastings & Eddie Bernice Johnson did not vote). If you have specific questions or concerns contact AAEA and feel free to express your opinion in Comments below.