Weatherdem's Weblog

Bridging climate science, citizens, and policy

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Waxman vs. Dingell; Drilling and Pollution

In a major shakeup of House Committee Chairs, Rep. Henry Waxman will be the new House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairperson. He took the Chair away from Rep. John Dingell, who had been in the Democratic leadership of the Committee for the past 28 years.  Waxman is a more aggressive politician who isn’t bought by corporate influence.  In fact, Waxman has made it his cause to root out corruption and malfeasance.  Dingell on the other hand has been in the auto industry’s pocket for years.  He’s been one of their bigger supporters of killing universal health coverage and increased fuel efficiency standards, at the industry’s request.  While the auto industry is currently begging for low interest loans from the government, it is instructive to remember why they argued against universal health and higher efficiency standards: it would cost too much and they would fail.  Well, they saved millions upon millions of dollars and they’re failing.  Any loan the government provides should include the removal of these dinosaurs from corporate leadership without compensation.  Back to Waxman, this is very good news on the climate change front.  Waxman realizes the imperative to begin action on the most critical issue facing us this century.  Dingell would have delayed our way past important thresholds, forcing future generations to contend with a much different climate than the one he lived in.

Gas drilling is contaminating water supplies in western Colorado with methane and other compounds.

Thyne, a geology professor consulting for Garfield County, said he thinks evidence is piling up in Colorado and elsewhere in regard to water contamination related to oil and gas development.

There shouldn’t be any surprise, but fluids used to fracture gas formations were exempted by Congress in 2005 from federal clean water regulations.  Huh.  Imagine that – deregulating industries comes back around and affects people’s lives negatively.

Some residents voiced anger Thursday in connection with the study’s second phase, which involved retesting water wells where initial tests raised concerns. Marcia Davis-Durnil said residents shouldn’t have had to wait until now to be told about those concerns and consider water treatment options.

“That could have affected a pregnancy, a special needs child, an autistic child,” she said.

It appears most people aren’t thinking the Con-servative approach to governance through very well.  “You’re on your own” does really mean that you’re on your own.  Nobody and nothing should get in the way of corporations making their money.  Citizens’ interests be damned, they’ve done what they wanted to in the past 8 years.  Will we see change?


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Water Shortages, Al Gore’s Goals, Waxman vs. Dingell

Global water shortages could occur by 2080. As the effects of climate change make themselves known, don’t be surprised to see that date moved up.  3.2 billion people without access to clean water will cause massive geopolitical problems.

Check out these cool cartograms.

Gore outlined a 5-point plan he sees as necessary to work toward in the early 21st century to transition to a renewable energy economy [h/t Joe Romm]. 1) Large concentrated solar thermal plants in the southwest. 2) National smart grid.  3) Plug-in hybrid car development. 4) Retrofit existing buildings with better insulation and energy-efficient windows and lighting.  5) Put a price on carbon that reflects its actual total costs.

More on Waxman vs. Dingell. Who will win the House Committee on Energy and Commerce Chair?  The older Dingell who has protected the foot-dragging auto industry from mean-old government regulations, or the younger Waxman who would usher in much needed envrionmental regulations and an overhaul of U.S. auto manufacturing.  My vote would go to Waxman.  Dingell has held this country back for too many decades.  I think I read an inital vote today put Waxman on top.  I’ll have to check.  A second vote with a larger caucus could come tomorrow.

A significant record was set during the 2008 Atlantic hurricane season: 2008 is the only year when a major hurricane formed in five different months [2nd h/t to Joe Romm].  Also, 2008 is second on the list of damage during one year: $52 billion.  Remember that a number of storms weakened prior to U.S. landfall this year.  Remember further that those landfalling hurricanes barely missed a number of very large U.S. cities.  If those storms had maintained their strength longer or their tracks were just slightly adjusted, that damage total would have been much higher.  We can’t keep dodging bullets forever.