Monthly Notes

July 2012 Green Notes

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) spying on farmers in the Midwest? After the Nebraska congressional delegation sent a letter to EPA administrator Lisa Jackson asking about rumored aerial drones monitoring farmers in Nebraska and Iowa, the EPA responded with a suspicious and official non-denial: “Courts, including the Supreme Court, have found similar types of flights to be legal (for example to take aerial photographs of a chemical manufacturing facility) and EPA would use such flights in appropriate instances to protect people and the environment from violations of the Clean Water Act.” U.S. Senator Mike Johanns (R-Nebraska) disagrees, saying that the EPA is “just way on the outer limits of any authority they’ve been granted.”

On June 4th the city of Helena, Montana held a public hearing to discuss the implications of increasing coal-train traffic throughout the city. The citizens debated the potential economic benefits against the inevitable exacerbation of issues already caused by the railways: noise, traffic, and pollution. The chapter of the Sierra Club in Missoula, Montana attempted to sway townspeople against increased railway traffic by distributing environmentalist propaganda before the meeting took place. After hearing from 46 speakers, the city commission has approved a letter asking the US Army Corps of Engineers to conduct yet another study gauging the potential environmental impacts that further development could have on the area. Good to know the city of Helena is considering all sides and not simply caving to the Sierra Club’s demands.

Photographs of Greenland’s ice caps taken in the 1930s prove that the glaciers were melting at a faster rate back then than they are today. According to the British publication The Register, “the photographs were taken on a Danish expedition led by Dr. Knud Rasmussen in 1932 and used to make maps and charts of the area.” They were then placed in archives in Denmark where they remained for decades, only recently resurfacing. Some scientists believe the diminished glaciers shown in the photos are a result of warming trends that began as far back as the 1840s, before rush hour traffic ruled our streets and airplanes crisscrossed the skies.

New Jersey Sierra Club Director Jeff Tittel is calling on the Garden State to “take the lead’ in the fight against diesel pollution. The World Health Organization (WHO) has recently declared diesel fumes are carcinogenic. Noting that New Jersey has some of the highest concentrations of diesel trucks in the world, Tittel laments that the WHO findings, “should be a wakeup call to everyone in New Jersey and across the country. Too many people are put at risk for cancer from diesel pollution.” Yes, and too many people are at risk for not getting the food and medications they need delivered because of environmental busybodies, as well.

Wind energy is clean energy, right? Well, maybe not so much. A new study by Argonne National Laboratory titled System-Wide Emissions Implications of Increased Wind Power Penetration, conducted under the auspices of the Department of Energy (DOE), finds that wind energy in fact does not reduce carbon emissions as much as environmentalists have claimed. The problem stems from the fact that – surprise! – the wind doesn’t always blow, and so good old-fashioned coal plants are often required to pick up the slack: As summarized by the Institute for Energy Research, “It takes more energy and thus more carbon dioxide emissions to ramp a coal plant up and down than if the same coal plant is operated at a continuous, efficient base-load level.” So wind is neither more reliable, nor especially cleaner than conventional energy platforms? Well, at least it’s really expensive…