Spotlight on green news – Murdering eco-activists; Rep. Cummings lambastes Gov. Snyder

  • Published on March 20th, 2016

By Meteor Blades



joedemocrat writes—Building An Environmental Movement That Almost Everyone Can Connect With: “I’ve wondered for a long time why the environmental movement hasn’t been more successful. While the majority of Americans accept climate science, polls indicate most people do not have a sense of urgency about it. The public rates climate change at the very bottom in terms of priorities. The media doesn’t seem to think it’s even worth asking about in the debates — here. In 2015, the Sunday network shows devoted just 73 minutes to climate change a 10% decline from 2014 here. I talk to Democrats in real life. When I mention climate change, I get responses such as ‘What is that exactly?’ and ‘Isn’t that in 100 years?’ They are Democrats due to issues they believe impact them now, such as economic worries and LGBT rights. They don’t reject climate science, but they feel no connection to the climate movement. When I came to Daily Kos in 2006, I was a solid Democrat but I had no connection to the climate movement. […]  I’ve also read on Daily Kos environmental organizations are often run mostly by affluent white males. Why is that not advisable? Without diverse perspectives, an organization or political movement will connect with fewer people.”

Crashing Vor writes—The Death of Coal’s a Great Thing… Except When It’s Not: “Yesterday, AP reported that coal-mining giant Peabody Energy, unable to meet interest payments on its debt, announced it may have to file for Chapter 11. This would make it the fourth coal company to declare bankruptcy in the last year, following ArchAlpha Natural Resources, and Patriot. This is good news. It’s also very, very scary news. Most here are aware of the economic blow mine closings and slowdowns are having in the coal belt. The industry is rapidly shrinking and new jobs are not being created at a sufficient pace to maintain employment. But there’s an even more frightening aspect to the death of Big Coal: its corpse.”



RonK writes—The Daily Bucket: “Wings Over Water,” Northwest Birding Festival: “Each March our regional birders put on their annual “Wings Over Water: The Northwest Birding festival” at Blaine WA. This event is situated at the US – Canadian border where the Salish Sea including the Strait of Georgia, invites thousands of water birds to feed on their way north.  Each year this event (this is #14), brings more activities and sponsors to the festival. This region of Northwest Washington and the Lower Mainland of British Columbia is designated an ‘Important Birding Area’ along the Pacific Flyway used by numerous migrating bird species heading for the arctic. This Birding Festival included several guided field trips on land and on the water, raptor displays, lectures, and demonstrations, arts and crafts fair, and numerous bird viewing sites all around the area staffed by the North Cascades Audubon Society volunteers.   […] This year My brother and I took a two hour wildlife cruise from the Semiahmoo Resort aboard the MV Salish Sea that left from the resort marina and cruised around Drayton Harbor, Semiahmoo Bay, and Boundary Bay at the US-Canadian Border.”

Lenny Flank writes—Daily Bucket: A Walk at Cascades Park: “Cascades Park is in Tallahassee FL. Here are some photos from an afternoon walk.”

Red-Ear Slider
Broom moss (Dicranum scoparium)
Broom moss (Dicranum scoparium)

Milly Watt writes—The Daily Bucket – It’s Easy Being Green (for a Moss): “On Saturday March 5th, Mr Watt and I went on a walk in Fort Townsend State Park (WA) to learn about mosses from a very knowledgeable guide associated with the Jefferson Land Trust Natural History Society. We learned about the incredible diversity of the green stuff that seems to be growing on everything in the Pacific NorthWet. It’s been wet lately, so everything is an intense green. When summer arrives, mosses will look very different while they wait out the dry spells. All the mosses in this Bucket are classified as true mosses. […] Mosses are primitive plants and absorb moisture directly rather than transporting water up through roots and stems.  Leaves of most mosses are a single cell thick. Mosses anchor themselves to whatever they are growing on, whether that is the ground, a fallen log, a living tree trunk, a house roof, or a car. But they aren’t drawing nutrients from the substrate upon which they grow. The first moss we encountered on our walk was Broom Moss.  The unique characteristic of this moss is that it has long narrow leaves that curve to one side.  Here’s a sample in Mr. Watt’s hand. This moss forms dense mats on logs and stumps.”

The Katwoman writes—SeaWorld Ends Breeding Program! “Today, SeaWorld announced that in addition to phasing out its killer whale shows over the next three years, the company will shut down the breeding program that keeps its tanks full. This is the equivalent of Disney announcing they would not renew their copyrights on Mickey Mouse – it’s a complete about-face on their previous position and will radically change the nature of all three parks. This and a series of other changes have come about in a partnership with the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), one of the biggest advocates of ending killer whale captivity: ‘These two organizations have been long-time adversaries, but we’re excited now to see the company transforming its operations for the better on animal welfare,’ said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The HSUS. ‘Today’s announcement signals that the era of captive display of orcas will end and that SeaWorld will redouble its work around rescue and rehabilitation of marine mammals in crisis and partner with us to tackle global threats to marine creatures.’

RockyMtnHigh writes—Breaking: Sea World to phase out captive Orca programs: “As a former visitor to Sea World San Diego who enjoyed the experience (esp. my kids meeting and feeding the dolphins), I admired and appreciated the Orcas. But I worried about their relatively small tanks and felt a bit guilty about seeing and enjoying their show. So I was interested to see their announcement in my inbox this morning: You’re one of the first to learn about several historic announcements that SeaWorld is making. When we opened our doors more than 50 years ago, killer whales were feared and even hunted. Now, they are among the most beloved marine mammals on the planet thanks, in part, to SeaWorld. Today’s announcements reflect changes in society and SeaWorld’s evolution with those changes: Last generation of killer whales: The killer whales in our care will be the last at SeaWorld.  We haven’t taken a whale from the wild in nearly 40 years.  Now, we’re going further and will end our orca breeding programs as of today. With the skills and dedication of our entire SeaWorld team, we will protect and care for these whales—here at our park—for the rest of their lives where guests will continue to view and be inspired by them.


Bone Saw writes—So you say you care about climate change… : “…but you still eat meat. I respectfully submit that you are doing it wrong. By all means, continue to fret over carbon dioxide while ignoring methane. Solarize your home, bike to work, compost, and recycle your beer cans. Those things are all fine and good, but when it comes to climate change, doing them without addressing diet is like watering your garden while your house burns. Now, I could spend the next month crafting a detailed rationale for this prescription, but it would be much easier and more enjoyable for you to simply watch Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret, which is available on Netflix. Kip Andersen and Keegan Kuhn do a masterful job explaining the problem and outlining a path forward. This diary is not simply a plug for that film, though. Since you took the time to read this far, allow me to ‘flesh out’ the major angles on modern animal agriculture.”

ClimateDenierRoundup writes—Some Trees Breathe Easier Than Expected During Warming: “new study in Nature examining how trees respond to warming temperatures has prompted predictably misleading responses from climate change deniers. The study—by six scientists from the University of Minnesota—examines the respiration process of ten species of boreal and temperate trees. It challenges findings of past research which predicted trees would respirate more CO2 as the planet warms. The new data from the University of Minnesota shows that trees will indeed emit more CO2 in warmer temperatures, just not as much as previously expected. Reuters and the New York Times both accurately reported the new findings. But James Delingpole and Eric Worrall misrepresented the data, writing articles that suggest warming will be no problem for ‘plants,’ and in fact may be beneficial.”

Pakalolo writes—In just 2 days, an ice chunk the size of Rhode Island breaks loose in the Bering Strait: “Arctic sea ice is struggling toward its seasonal peak, hitting a record low for the month of February following another record low set in January. The northern hemisphere’s air conditioner is missing ice measuring about 448,000 square miles, compared to the 1981-2010 long-term average, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center. This strange and terrifyingly warm Arctic winter, has experienced below average snowfall and temperatures much above average. The Arctic is in very big trouble, and I am afraid we haven’t seen nothing yet. NASA Worldview has released images of the breakup and they are quite disturbing.”


Nuclear, Coal, Oil and Gas
Kayford Mountain in West Virginia.

CL Spencer writes—STREAM Act: Coal Industrialists Using Congress to Pass Their Agenda, Despite Water Safety Concerns: “On January 9, 2014, over 7,500 gallons of toxic coal ash was dumped into the Elk River in Charleston, West Virginia. Leaving 300,000 people without access to water for several days, this was the third chemical spill to occur in the Kanawha River Valley — aka ‘Chemical Valley’ — in the past 5 yearsThe company responsible, Freedom Industries, had been sold just 10 days earlier for $20M to Cliff Forrest, the founder of Rosebud Mining. Freedom Industries had previously been enjoying $30M revenues, largely due to its contracts with other coal companies — most prominently, an exclusive contract with Georgia Pacific Companies LLC, a subsidiary of Koch Industries. But while the ink was still wet from the sale, Freedom Industries was suddenly faced with an environmental catastrophe that would result in numerous lawsuits, a Department of Justice investigation, and Chapter 11 bankruptcy. After the chaos following the spill died down, the West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin signed Senate Bill 357, the Creating Coal Jobs and Safety Act of 2015. But despite the bill’s name, no safety provisions were included.”

Nick Surgey writes—Lawyer Tormenting Scientists Revealed Working For Coal Company: “Chris Horner, a DC-based lawyer, climate change denier and Fox News regular, is also being paid as a ‘Regulatory Counsel’ for the coal company, Alpha Natural Resources, according to bankruptcy filings reviewed by the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD). Horner’s repeated filing of lawsuits against leading U.S. climate scientists has been described as ‘harassment.’ Alpha funding for Horner was first reported by Lee Fang, writing for the Intercept in August 2015 from earlier bankruptcy filings, although his role as Counsel was unknown until now. […] With the U.S. coal industry increasingly collapsing, coal company bankruptcy filings are now revealing what has long been suspected but not proven: that leading climate change deniers and many of the biggest defenders of coal, are funded by the industry that they are working to protect.”


Denise Oliver-Velez writes—Flint Hearings – Rep Elijah Cummings rips into Michigan Gov. Snyder: “Just a quick post on the Flint hearings today, because I didn’t see any coverage here. The ranking Democrat on the U.S. House Oversight and Government Reform Committee issued a blistering indictment of the Snyder administration on Thursday moments before the Michigan governor began his own testimony over the Flint water contamination crisis. Rep. Elijah Cummings suggested that Republicans were ‘desperately’ trying to blame the crisis on the federal Environmental Protection Agency. ‘I agree that EPA should have done more, they should have rescued the people of Flint from Gov. Snyder’s vindictive administration and its utter incompetence at every level,’ Cummings said. Cummings suggested that if Snyder had been the CEO of a children’s toy company that sold toys with lead ‘he would be hauled up on criminal charges.’ ‘The board of directors would throw him out and shareholders would revolt,’ Cummings said. Snyder, in his opening remarks, outlined steps the state is taking to address the man-made disaster and highlighted ongoing probes of the Michigan environmental quality and health departments. ‘We are taking responsibility and taking action in Michigan, and that is absolutely essential here in Washington, too. Inefficient, ineffective, and unaccountable bureaucrats at the EPA allowed this disaster to continue unnecessarily,’ he said.”

Meteor Blades writes—Ripping Gov. Snyder, Rep. Cummings says Flint’s children will suffer ‘when we’re dead and gone’: “On Thursday, a hearing on the Flint water poisoning crisis went into its second day. With Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder in the hot seat, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD)—the ranking Democrat on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee—read from emails exchanged by high-level assistants of the governor, including his chief of staff, showing they discussed the potential for trouble with Flint’s water nearly two years ago when the city switched its source of drinking water. This led to lead contamination of the water supply for tens of thousands of residents. Nine died from Legionnaires’ disease. Activists want Snyder to resign and be prosecuted for his failure to act. Cummings was scathing: ‘There is no doubt in my mind that if a corporate CEO did what Snyder’s administration has done, he would be hauled up on criminal charges,’ he said during his opening statement. To Snyder himself, he said: ‘It seems like there are two basic possibilities. Either your chief of staff told you about these concerns and you did nothing, or he didn’t tell you and you are an absentee governor.’”

Egberto Willies writes—Congressman eviscerates GOP governor’s incompetence & callousness for lead poisoning Flint: “Ranking Democratic member of the  U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) lashed into Michigan Governor Rick Snyder. Rick Snyder is the Republican governor whose incompetence caused the lead poisoning of the citizens of Flint Michigan water supply. His opening was striking as he used it to call out the fallacy of running the government like a business. ‘Governor Snyder has been described as running the state of Michigan like a business,’ Cummings said. ‘Well, what if this was a business. What if a CEO ran a company that sold toys laced with lead that children put in their mouths. Wha t if those children were poisoned as a result. And what if that CEO ignored warnings for more than a year as those kids got sicker and sicker and sicker. There is no doubt in my mind that if a corporate CEO did what Governor Snyder’s administration has done, he would be hauled up on criminal charges. The board of directors would throw him out. And the shareholders would revolt. This is similar to what is happening now to Governor Snyder.”

Dan Bacher writes—Is Brown Administration Official Admitting The Delta Tunnels Plan Is Collapsing? “In the transcript from a recent hearing in the California Legislature, it appears that a Brown administration official is admitting that financial support for Governor Brown’s controversial Delta Tunnels Plan is rapidly collapsing. On March 11, the Senate Select Committee on the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta held a hearing, ‘Pending Delta Decisions and their Potential Economic and Other Impacts on San Francisco & the Bay Area,’ at the State Capitol in Sacramento. Secretary of Natural Resources John Laird, who participated in the hearing on behalf of the Brown Administration, addressed the news that the Westland Water District, considered the Darth Vader of California water politics by leaders of fishing groups, Indian Tribes and environmental organizations,  used ‘Enron-style accounting’ to mislead investors about a $77 million bond sale. This resulted in a settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission over civil charges, according to a news release from Senator Lois Wolk’s Office.”


Libby Shaw writes—No Worries Texas. We Can Shoot the Arsenic Out of the Water: “Thanks to Rachel Maddow’s exhaustive coverage and the Congressional hearings in Washington, D.C., today, most of us are aware of the poisoned drinking  water in Flint MI.  In short, a decision made by an appointed, unelected official, in an effort to cut costs by changing water sources, led to the leaching of lead into the pipes and ultimately into the city’s drinking water supply. People in Flint are sick.  Children have permanent learning disabilities thanks to the poisoned water supply.  The bottom line is, Republican austerity measures and its dereliction of duties are dangerous for one’s health and well-being.  Other states have a similar problem with it’s drinking water supply. Texas is one of them.  And because this is a state in which regulation of any sort is considered a root  of everything evil, few pro-active efforts to protect the safety of residents are in place. After all, this is a state where the Governor and Attorney General are at constant war with the ‘job killing’ EPA. So it should come as no surprise to learn that some of the water supplies in the state contain high levels of arsenic.”


Dan Bacher writesFlashback Friday: The Greenwashing Of Governor Jerry Brown: “I published this article in November 2013 about the greenwashing of Jerry Brown, one of the worst governors for fish, water and the environment in California history. Since that time, Brown’s environmental policies have only become worse as he aggressively pushes the California Water Fix to build the Delta Tunnels, promotes fracking, and supports water management operations that have brought winter-run Chinook salmon, Central Valley steelhead, Delta and longfin smelt, green sturgeon and other fish species even clloser to extinction. His administration has been embroiled in a number of major scandals, including delaying the declaration of an emergency in the Porter Ranch Gas Blowout for many months while his sister, Kathleen, received a big salary as a board member of Sempra Energy, the company that owns SoCalGas. His appointees on the Coastal Commission recently fired the respected Executive Director, Charles Lester, under pressure from big developers and corporate interests. Under Brown, the Department of Conservation has become known as a virtual subsidiary of the oil and gas industries as it has been mired in one scandal after another.”

My Dad was very proud of the fact that many times he used 1/10th of the recommended amount of chemical and still killed the weeds.

IowaDemocrats writes—Iowa’s Organic Farmers Deserve A Voice in Washington DC: Tom Fiegen—“Breaking the chemical addiction in agriculture. As a result of how I was raised and what I’ve seen in my lifetime, I am strong supporter of organic agriculture.  We need to break the chemical addiction in agriculture.  We farmed for thousands of years without toxic and poisonous chemicals. With more support, research and more training, we can maintain productivity while weaning ourselves off the chemicals that are killing us and destroying our ecosystem.  The organic farmers of Iowa and the United States will have no more zealous advocate in the United States Senate than me. I was raised on a farm. My Dad did his best to improve every farm we tilled, from putting in terraces and grass waterways, to ridge tilling in the 1960s, to minimizing our use of chemicals. Soil tilth, organic matter and microbial activity in the soil were important to my Dad.  My Dad was proudest of his stewardship when all of a big rain soaked into our farm and did not run off, carrying soil and nutrients with it. While not certified organic, we used a wetting agent to reduce the amount of chemical we applied to our land and used chemicals only in isolated cases. My Dad was very proud of the fact that many times he used 1/10th of the recommended amount of chemical and still killed the weeds. From all corners of Iowa—the same growing worry.”

Oklahomay writes—Hillary’s comment on coal workers, with context: “If you are a Bernie Sanders supporter you do not want to tell people what Hillary Clinton said about coal workers. if you are a Bernie Sanders supporter you want to chop up one sentence out of that full quote and pretend that she wants coal workers to have no jobs. Thankfully, Bob Somerby did what Bernie supporters and horse race journalists won’t.”

i dunno writes—Bernie Sanders: People Before Polluters. Sincere Beliefs and Principles. Consistent. Credible: “We commend Senator Sanders for proposing this ambitious energy plan. These proposals are rooted in a clear recognition of the fact that the top priorities for a responsible energy policy are cutting dangerous carbon pollution as fast as possible, and providing even further momentum for the booming clean energy economy. We can’t afford to wait a minute longer to tackle the climate crisis, or to ensure that all American families have clean air to breath and clean water to drink.—Michael Brune. Sierra Club Executive Director.”


Walter Einenkel writes—Portland votes unanimously to sue Monsanto for contamination: “Portland’s City Attorney Tracy Reeve has been authorized, in a unanimous vote, to sue the Monsanto Company for contaminating Portland’s waterways with PCBs. According to the city attorney, Monsanto was the sole U.S. manufacturer of PCBs and manufactured over 1 billion pounds of PCBs between the 1930s and the 1970s, when Congress banned PCBs. Reeve says Monsanto’s own documents show the company continued to sell PCBs long after it knew of the dangeTomrs they presented to human health and the environment. ‘Monsanto was the only manufacturer of PCB’s in the United States from 1939 until PCBs were banned in the late 70’s,’ said Reeve. ‘During that time there’s documentary evidence that Monsanto knew that PCBs were dangerous to the environment, that they migrated from waterways to fish, from fish to birds and also to people and they, nonetheless, continued to manufacture and distribute PCBs.’ Portland joins the rising number of municipalities suing the giant company. There is ample evidence that Monsanto knew for decades that they were a toxic presence in the world.


ClimateDenierRoundup writes—Environmental Activism a Deadly Occupation in Honduras: “Deniers and others who oppose environmental action in the US enjoy playing the victim and misrepresenting investigations of lawbreaking as full-on thought policing, but in many countries around the world, environmental advocacy has proven to be an actually dangerous—and often deadly—struggle. On March 3, Honduran environmental activist and indigenous leader Berta Caceres was assassinated in her home in the middle of the night. Two days ago, a second member of the group she founded, the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous organizations of Honduras (COPINH), was brutally murdered. According to reports, Nelson Garcia was shot four times in the face in the Rio Chiquito community, where indigenous residents are being evicted to make room for a controversial Agua Zarca dam project. The US Agency for International Development is being called on to cut its support for the project, due to the intense local opposition. Another COPINH member, Moisés Durón Sánchez was murdered in May 2015, and a fourth, Tomás García, was shot and killed by a military officer during a 2013 protest. At least 109 activists were killed in Honduras between 2010 and 2015, according to Global Witness.”

Galtisalie writes—Gee thanks pro-(neolib) “democracy” U.S., another week, another murdered Honduran environmentalist: “ Fellow Honduran activist Nelson García murdered days after Berta Cáceres. The murder of another member of Berta Cáceres’ activist organisation Copinh comes amid growing fears for the safety of her colleagues and family members. Clearly if the price of progress is murder, well this is just indigenous people without proper ownership papers. Another indigenous activist has been murdered in Honduras amid an escalating wave of repression against the relatives and colleagues of renowned campaigner Berta Cáceres, who was murdered less than two weeks ago. Nelson García, 38, an active member of the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organisations of Honduras (Copinh) was killed on Tuesday after a violent eviction carried out by Honduran security forces in a nearby Lenca indigenous community. More good news for environmentalists likely to follow next week, and the week after that, but who ever said building dams is easy work.”


TomP writes—General Mills Will Label GMO Products: “Interesting news. General Mills, the cereal maker, will begin labeling its products (probably most of them) with Genetically Modified Organisms (‘GMOs’). This is because they need to comply with a Vermont law and it costs too much to change packaging for one state. General Mills Inc. decided it’s waited long enough for Congress to act on GMOs. The food giant, which makes Cheerios and Lucky Charms cereal, will start citing genetically modified organisms on its products across the U.S. in coming weeks after a bid to create a national standard died in the Senate. A law requiring GMO labels on some food products is set to go into effect July 1 in Vermont, and General Mills said it wasn’t plausible to create packaging for only one state.”


LizWarrenWriter writes—KOCHS FUEL GOP SCOTUS APPOINTMENT OBSTRUCTIONISM (Spoiler alert: it’s about Fossils v. Clean Power): “I had to ask myself what, besides the GOP, those two had in common. One thing was obvious: McConnell is a big fan of fossil fuels, as is Inhofe, who literally wrote the book on Climate Denial with funding from the fossil fuel lobby. I had my answer—enforcement of the Clean Power Act. Garland while on the D.C. Circuit appellate court upheld the Clean Power Act when the fossil fuel industry attempted to enjoin it from being enforced. In February, shortly before Justice Scalia’s death, the high court overruled (by a predictable 5-4 vote) the D.C. appellate court, effectively upholding the injunctions for the time being. I’m no lawyer. But even with a lay person’s working knowledge of the law, it seems likely that EPA attorneys would be working on briefs right now to bring a new case that could set a precedent for CPA enforcement—hoping for a hearing before a high court with a new makeup that would be more likely to rule in the EPA’s favor.(We’d be talking BIG money at stake plus a major policy shift and loss of face for the fossil fuel industry and their supporters.)

(Originally appeared at DailyKos.)


About the Author

Meteor Blades is a writer and contributing editor at DailyKos. He believes there is something profoundly wrong with our system. - the unchecked accumulation of wealth and power into the hands of a very small group of corporate business interests has contributed to the wholesale corruption of our political system. For an understanding about the level of corruption in our country, he encourages you to view these two PBS documentaries: (1). ,The Untouchables; (2) The United States of ALEC.