Archive for President Obama
www.latimes.com 4th August 2011
Oregon has joined Hawai’i and Washington to become the third state to pass legislation against the sale, trade, and possession of shark fins. Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber signed bill HB 2838 on Thursday (4th August) making California the last of the mainland Pacific coast states not to have similar legislation (it is currently being held up in the state Senate). President Obama has also made steps to tighten up a ban on shark finning in the US by signing federal legislation earlier this year. Shark fin soup is a delicacy in Chinese communities and is viewed as a status symbol served particularly for weddings and banquets. Defenders of the practice claim it is a cultural tradition and banning it is tantamount to an “attack on Asian culture.” Many sharks have their fins removed while still alive and are then thrown back into the ocean to die a slow and painful death. Marine experts claim shark finning has led to the global decline in shark populations (around 73 million sharks are killed annually for their fins and meat).
www.boston.com 16th February 2011
The northeastern states of New York, Connecticut, and Vermont are all suing federal regulators for their decision to extend the storage time of nuclear waste in power stations from 30 to 60 years. The legal action highlights one of the main problems in President Obama’s plans to increase the United States’ use of nuclear energy. Despite the Nuclear Regulatory Commission declaring the nuclear waste storage extension safe, the plaintiffs in the case claim ‘violates requirements for a review of health, safety, and environmental hazards’. “I am committed to forcing the feds to take the hardest look possible at the risks of long-term, on-site storage, before they allow our communities to become blighted and our families, properties, and businesses threatened,’’ said New York’s attorney general, Eric Schneiderman.
President Obama has outlined in his latest budget report and increase of $36 billion in federal loan guarantees to help finance the construction of new nuclear power plants across the country.
www.latimes.com 16th December 2010
Quoted from source:
‘The President’s Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues says that no potential threat to the ecosystem is imminent. And noting the potential benefits of such research, the panel says such threats can be best countered through debate and education. The not-so-distant prospect that scientists will be able to create new forms of life in the lab raises ethical and safety challenges, but progress in the field should not be hobbled by premature restrictions, a panel appointed by Barack Obama said in a report to be released Thursday. The President’s Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues acknowledged in its first report to the Obama White House that “do-it-yourselfers” — individual scientists and small labs working without institutional backing or restraints — will inevitably get into the synthetic-life business, and that without strict controls, synthesized forms of life might escape from labs and threaten to upend the ecosystem. But the commission suggested that such nightmare scenarios were on the far horizon and might be averted most effectively through active public debate and education. The potential benefits of such work — new vaccines and medicines and biological alternatives to fossil fuels, for instance — suggest that the government should be quick to support the research and very deliberate about imposing limits, the panel wrote. They also advised that government agencies should draw in scientists and hobbyists and make them part of the process rather than treat them as a renegade force.’
www.nationalgeographic.com 19th November 2010
Quoted from source:
‘When the Navy F/A-18 jet called the Green Hornet takes off over the Chesapeake Bay on Earth Day, it will aim to break a barrier that has proven far more durable than the speed of sound. The twin-engine tactical aircraft is prepared on April 22 to make a supersonic flight on biofuel—its tanks filled 50 percent with oil refined from the crushed seeds of the flowering Camelina sativa plant. The test flight at the Naval Air Station at Patuxent River, Maryland will be a milestone in the Navy’s efforts to reduce its reliance on petroleum, and perhaps, in the elusive search for an alternative fuel for aviation. The event is meant to showcase the Pentagon’s efforts to increase use of renewable energy, not only as a climate change initiative but to protect the military from energy price fluctuations and dependence on foreign oil. When President Obama announced his offshore drilling and energy security plan last month at Andrews Air Force Base, he used the Green Hornet as a backdrop. As naval aviation’s biggest fuel consumer, the F/A-18 Super Hornet is a fitting test aircraft. Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus has set a that half of naval energy consumption will come from alternative sources by 2020. A “Great Green Fleet,” to sail by 2016, will include nuclear ships, as well as surface combatants with hybrid electric power systems using biofuel and biofuel-powered aircraft. But for now, the Navy is seeking only to certify its first blend of biofuel and petroleum, by showing it can be used for the Super Hornet’s full range of flight operations. That includes demonstrating that the alternative fuel can deliver the power needed to fly faster than the speed of sound (343 meters per second).’
Read more on the US military’s attempts to move away from fossil fuels in LMV’s published editorial ‘The Army of the Sun: the US Military’s Move Away from Fossil Fuels’.
www.latimes.com 20th November 2010
Quoted from source:
‘Forget healthcare reform, cap and trade, deficit reduction. For congressional stalemates, there’s no more evergreen a fight than whether to drill for oil in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Don’t expect it to get resolved next year. With the Republicans taking over the House, a new drilling bill is likely to get slightly more traction than an equally inevitable move to try to lock up the refuge as wilderness. But with the 50th anniversary of the refuge coming up next month, some of the nation’s biggest environmental groups hope to persuade President Obama to play a trump card, and designate the refuge as a national monument. Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) headed a list of 25 senators in a letter backing full permanent protection for the refuge. “By being designated a national monument under the antiquities act, we believe that it would send an additional message to the Congress and to the public about the resource values of this area, and we hope that would help discourage future efforts to legislatively promote drilling in the refuge,” said Robert Dewey, vice president for government relations at the Defenders of Wildlife. But as usual, Alaska’s congressional delegation is forming a mighty wall aimed at holding off any new attempts to impose additional federal controls. The state’s Democratic senator, Mark Begich, downplayed talk of a monument and said new directional drilling technology can allow oil companies to access the petroleum reserves under the refuge from outside, without despoiling the wildlife-rich coastal plain.’
www.latimes.com 30th October 2010
Quoted from source:
‘If the GOP (the Good Old Party, i.e.: the Republicans) wins control of the House next week, senior congressional Republicans plan to launch a blistering attack on the Obama administration’s environmental policies, as well as on scientists who link air pollution to climate change. The GOP’s fire will be concentrated especially on the administration’s efforts to use the Environmental Protection Agency‘s authority over air pollution to tighten emissions controls on coal, oil and other carbon fuels that scientists say contribute to global warming. The attack, according to senior Republicans, will seek to portray the EPA as abusing its authority and damaging the economy with needless government regulations. In addition, GOP leaders say, they will focus on what they see as distortions of scientific evidence regarding climate change and on Obama administration efforts to achieve by executive rule-making what it failed to win from Congress. Even if Republicans should win majorities in both the House and Senate, they would face difficulties putting their views into legislative form, since Senate Democrats could use the threat of filibuster to block bills just as the GOP did on climate and other issues during the past year. Also, Obama could use his veto power. But the GOP’s plans for wide-ranging and sustained investigations by congressional committees could put the EPA and administration environmental policymakers on the defensive and create political pressures that could cause Obama to pull back on environmental issues as the 2012 presidential election draws closer.’
To read more, click here.
www.nytimes.com 20th October 2010r
A new survey of the beliefs of Tea Party members in the United States has shown that supporters of the Republican splinter group are more than three times as likely to be climate change skeptics than the general public. Statistics from the New York Times/CBS News Poll this month include whether global warming is having an environmental effect now (yes: 14% Tea Party, 49% general public), whether it would have a serious effect in the future (yes: 15% Tea Party, +50% general public), and whether climate change exists at all (no: 8% Tea Party, 1% general public). The findings closely correspond to the mindset of the fossil fuel industry, which spent $500million in 2009 alone lobbying against President Obama’s cap and trade scheme to reduce CO2 emissions in the country. The general sentiment in the Tea Party is that any policies introduced to curb global warming are, in some way, a tax on the people that will bring with it economic depression. As Kelly Khuri, founder of the Clark County Tea Party Patriots in Indiana, says: “carbon regulation, cap and trade, it’s all just a money-control avenue.” The correlation between Tea Party opinion polls and the fossil fuel industry is not surprising if one looks at the finance behind the former. Many Tea Party members are backed by organisations that run on funding from the oil, gas, and utility industries. With statements like those of Lisa Deaton, who started a Tea Partyaffiliate group called ‘We the People Indiana’, it is not surprising. “They’re trying to use global warming against the people. It takes way our liberty,” she says. “Being a strong Christian, I cannot help but believe the Lord placed a lot of minerals in our country and it’s not there to destroy us.”
www.guardian.co.uk 13th October 2010
The Obama administration has ended a six month moratorium on deep-water oil drilling off the US coast six weeks earlier than the planned date of November 30th. President Obama imposed the ban after the explosion on the Deepwater Horizon rig that saw 4.4 million gallons of oil leak into the Gulf of Mexico. However, according to Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar and Michael Bromwich, the director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (formerly the Minerals Management Service), enough work and reforms have been carried out since the disaster to prevent another such situation arising. “The risks of deepwater drilling have been reduced sufficiently to allow deepwater drilling to resume,” said Bromwich to reporters. In response to the news Executive Director of Greenpeace USA Phil Radford blamed the decision on the run-up to the November mid-term elections in what he saw as an attempt by the Obama administration to win votes. However, although the go-ahead has been given, it is unlikely that any drilling will happen soon. Any rigs planning on drilling will have to undergo rigorous tests and Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu (La.) has stated that she will oppose the appointment of a new director of the Office of Management and Budget due to her ‘concerns about the future of offshore drilling’.
Sources: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment 10th September 2010
The President of the United States of America, Barack Obama, has declined to renew solar panels on the roof of the White House that were installed in during Jimmy Carter’s term in office (1977-1981). The campaign by the environmental group 350.org to replace the aging renewable energy source, which weigh in at 55kg and are 2m long, was turned down possibly due to concerns that it would relate President Obama’s presidency to the single term one of President Carter’s not one month before the mid-term elections. The original solar panels were not a spectacular success as they were removed 4 years after President Carter left office. They were originally installed as a demonstration about withdrawing the United States’ dependence on foreign oil.
Sources: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment 10th September 2010
Environmental groups in the US are resigning to the fact that stringent climate change legislation will not be passed through congress. Signs that the green movement is suffering in the advent of a potentially devastating mid-term election are making themselves visible. For one: the Clean Energy Works, a coalition of 80 grassroot groups who paid for 45 staff to lobby in Washington D.C. for the climate bill, has shut down. Other groups are petitioning the president to propose greater efficiency and lesser pollution levels in cars instead. This will be achieved through a minimum 60 miles per gallon fuel efficiency by 2025. The project would begin in 2017 and spur development of hybrid and electric cars so that, by 2025, 55% of vehicles on the road would be the former and a further 15% the latter. This would save 49 billion gallons of petrol per annum by 2030 reducing carbon emissions by 353 million metric tons a year. With other green groups petitioning for the government to face up to China on the subject of renewable energy subsides, President Obama is under pressure to make some headway on environmental issues but this may be difficult as the November mid-terms are expected to be a blow for the Democrats.