Archive for Global Warming

Something I ran across last night…

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Look what landed in my inbox this morning! Brownie’s skills, talents, leadership, and effectiveness are going to move Buncombe County in the right direction.

Brownie Newman today announced his plans to run for Buncombe County Commission. Newman has served two terms as a member of Asheville City Council and has served as Mayor Pro Tem since 2009. Newman did not run for re-election to City Council in 2011. His last official day as a member of City Council is Dec. 6.

“As a member of Asheville City Council, I tried to set ambitious, achievable goals for our community. I am proud that we have established Asheville as a leader for energy independence and green jobs, promoted the growth of locally owned businesses and made it clear that we are an inclusive community that supports equal rights for all our citizens,” said Newman.

Newman cited these as some of the key accomplishments on City Council:

Established Asheville as a leader for clean, renewable energy:

– Asheville City Council committed the city to reduce its carbon emissions by 80% and to require all new municipal building to LEED Gold standards.

– Asheville replaced its old, polluting diesel buses with a new fleet including clean, quiet hybrid buses and is replacing its city street lights with LED bulbs, which will save taxpayers $650,000 a year in lower utility bills.

– Newman helped secure funding for Asheville Green Opportunities, to provide job training and mentoring for young people from low income neighborhoods so they can develop work experience in the new clean energy economy.

Supported job creation, locally owned businesses and working families:

– Asheville worked with Mountain BizWorks to create a revolving loan fund to provide capital to local citizens to start their own business.

– Asheville partnered with Buncombe County to bring Linamar to Asheville, who will create at least 400 or more good paying manufacturing jobs and put the property formerly occupied by Volvo back into productive uses.

– Asheville held the line on property tax rate while investing more than $35 million to fix our long neglected water infrastructure.

Along with other members of Council, Newman supported a domestic partnership policy to extend equal workplace rights to municipal employees. The policy assures city workers will receive the same compensation for doing their job, regardless of sexual orientation.

“During a time when state legislators are trying to change North Carolina’s Constitution to discriminate against our citizens, I am proud that our community is standing up for equality,” said Newman.

In addition to his work on City Council, Newman is also one of the partners at FLS Energy, a local solar utility company. Since Newman joined FLS Energy in 2008, the company has grown from eight employees to more than eighty. Newman serves as Vice-President and Project Finance Director. He is one of the four members on the FLS board of directors.

Newman will be running in a new two-member County Commission district that includes most of Asheville and the central part of Buncombe County. Long-time County Commissioner Bill Stanley has announced he will not seek re-election.

Holly Jones is currently a commissioner from this district who plans to run for re-election. Newman and Jones previously served together on Asheville City Council and the two plan to support one another for County Commission.

“Holly has done a great job as County Commissioner. I am proud to lend my full support to her re-election campaign and am honored to have her support.” said Newman. Holly Jones added, “I am excited that Brownie is running for County Commission. He has contributed a lot to the City Council over the past eight years and he will be an effective member of the Commission.”

The Newman campaign will hold its kick-off event in January. Details to follow.

To learn more about Newman for County Commission, go to


The “Execution Cheer”

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The New York Times  posts a rundown of commentary on the the “execution cheer” at the Republican candidates’ debate on Wednesday, reminding readers that the cheer went up at the Reagan Library in California. The “gasp within a gasp” was Perry’s untroubled defense — no moral doubts about having ever executing an innocent — of Texas justice. The “it takes guts to execute an innocent man” caucus burst into applause.

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Andrew Sullivan writes on his Daily Beast  live blog, “Here’s why I find it impossible to be a Republican: any crowd that instantly cheers the execution of 234 individuals is a crowd I want to flee, not join.”

The Atlantic ’s Ta-Nehisi Coates performs the obligatory “both sides do it” genuflect, noting that no Democratic candidate in two decades has opposed the death penalty. But only after writing, “The only thing that shocked me was that they didn’t form a rumba line. It’s a Republican debate. And it’s America … the country where we took kids to see men lynched, and then posed for photos.”

Several others trot out the readily available evidence that the death penalty has been used to execute the innocent, as well as evidence that Perry himself signed off on the execution of an innocent man. This, in spite of 41 exonerations from DNA evidence in the last decade in Texas alone.

Steve Benen of Washington Monthly  points out Perry’s doubt-free lack of consistency about the value of evidence:

Scientists tell him, after rigorous, peer-reviewed, international research that global warming is real, and Perry responds, “I don’t care.” A deeply flawed judicial process puts potentially-innocent Americans on death row, and Perry responds, “Let’s get the killin’ started.”

The governor balks when presented with evidence on evolution, abstinence education, and climate change, but embraces without question the notion that everyone he’s killed in Texas was 100% guilty. The scientific process, he apparently believes, is unreliable, while the state criminal justice system is infallible.

Intellectually, morally, and politically, this isn’t just wrong; it’s scary. The fact that Republicans in the audience found this worthy of hearty applause points to a party that’s bankrupt in more ways than one.


What the Frack is Going On?

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Via WaterWired

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Friday Open Thread

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There’s more going on than you can shake a blogger at. Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana, North Carolina – states with newly minted Republican majorities are overreaching, lurching to diminish health care services, injure public education, ignore climate change, eliminate the rights of workers to join together and strike bargains, discriminate against LGBT Americans, and restrict women’s rights to their own bodies. They are also the ones in charge of redrawing the electoral lines in an effort to maintain the power to drive these goals into permanence. They are also the ones who, until just recently, were telling us that jobs were their number one focus.

While I stand apprehensive in the face of this onslaught, such a manic explosion of recklessness offers Democrats a great opportunity in 2012. Americans don’t like voting for extremists. One occasionally slips in here and there, but we’re a nation that likes our government to be an effective force rather than a destabilizing one. As it stands now, whole houses of state government are screeching towards fringe positions that will result in less health care, weaker public schools, greater power in the hands of the very wealthy, less freedom, and cavalier inaction in the face of global climate change.

The future is again on the line. As always in America, the responsibility to resist moves towards a more imperfect union falls to the people. Attend your Democratic Party precinct meeting this Saturday. Recruit volunteers, organizers, and candidates. Reach out to your disaffected moderate Republican friends and family. We can turn this ship of state around. Democracy, if we are determined to exercise our franchise, affords us the capability to turn it around.

That being said – this is your thread. Do with it what you will.


The Spill

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Frontline, the PBS in-depth news documentary series, recently did a one hour program about the BP Oil Spill in the Gulf. Frontline has a knack for uncovering backgrounds of stories usually lost between the headline narratives. They have won numerous awards including Pulitzer, Peabody, and Emmy. The BP Oil Spill should have been the type of rich story where they could do some eye opening journalism. Alas, they didn’t.

Greg Palast explains why:

“Despite press release hoo-hahs that this Frontline investigation would break news from a deep-digging inquiry, what we got was ‘Investigation by Google,’ old stuff from old papers that PBS forgot to report the first time around.
What us viewers were handed was a tale that could have been written by the PR department at BP’s competitor Chevron. The entire hour told us again and again and again, the problem was one company, BP, and its ‘management culture.’ (They used the phrase management ‘culture’ seven times – I counted.)
PBS sponsor Chevron is desperate to resume drilling in the Gulf. Shell is drooling over its delayed offshore project in Alaska’s Arctic seas. If they can isolate BP, the horror show can go on.”

Having watched it myself, I found the program lacking. It spent considerable time developing BP’s recent appalling safety record and board room drama, but comparatively little time on the Gulf spill itself. Having made the argument that BP’s cost cutting culture led to the Deepwater Horizon disaster, it could not really connect the dots beyond the obvious fact that Deepwater Horizon happened after the other accidents. And it didn’t spend any time on what happened in the days and weeks after the well blew.

Important questions about regulatory capture, the world’s increasing appetite for oil in the face of dwindling supply, and the total lack of disaster response preparedness were laregely ignored. You wouldn’t even know Halliburton and Transocean were partners on the rig, having barely been mentioned. If this was Frontline’s big investigation of the biggest environmental disaster in US history, they failed by sticking too close to an already familiar thesis: BP is not interested in safety. D’ya think?

It might be tempting for everyone involved, including John Q. Public to let this disaster fall down the memory hole. Frontline’s puff piece only aids in the process. Joe Barton could become chair of the House Energy and Commerce committee. The other BP apologist, Rand Paul, won his Senate bid in Kentucky. Those of us concerned about Peak Oil and Climate Change or any of the number of other issues raised by this event need to keep workin’ it.

Read more about the current activities of the Oil Spill Commission here and here.

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Sustainability = Cost Savings

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On our agenda for Tuesday night is a report from the Sustainability Mgmt. Department about our municipal carbon footprint. It’s chock full of good news. We’ve reduced our carbon output by over 8% in the last three years, and there’s oodles of cost savings to go along with it. Whenever you hear someone incorrectly kvetching about Asheville not being fiscally responsible, feel free to point them in this direction. You can be especially smug about it if they’re global climate change deniers.

From the report:

Key Highlights from this Report:
• Tasked with a 6% reduction over 3 years the city delivered an 8.42% reduction

• The most significant reductions can be attributed to energy conservation in public buildings, streamlined efficiency in water distribution, and fuel/routing efficiency in transit

• The most significant opportunities for future reductions are in the fleet and streetlight sectors

FY 09-10 Financial Facts:
• Municipal energy spending totaled $5,349,610

• Carbon footprint reductions resulted in $336,216 avoided energy spending, which is a 5.91% spending reduction from the previous year

Carbon footprint reduction to date is 2,965 MT eCO2 which equals
• Annual emissions from 567 four door sedans

• Annual energy use of 252 homes

• Annual carbon sequestration of 76,026 trees

Check out the report for several very cool graphs broken down by department. After the jump find a graph that illustrates the trend we were on before 2007 and the trend we’re on now.

Read More→


Toy Trains

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Last month Republican New Jersey Governor Chris Christie cancelled what was the largest public works project in America. Dubbed Access to the Region’s Core (or ARC), the project was to build a new tunnel under the Hudson River which would expand commuter rail service from the overcrowded trains in service now which use a 100 year old tunnel.

The project had been put on the drawing board about twenty years ago. In the last several years, cost estimates had been developed which had an unfortunate habit of increasing. The first estimate done in 2005, which was described as “ball-park” was $5 billion. The project started last year with an estimate of $7 billion which was increased by $1 billion for contingencies. The latest round of cost estimates conceded the possibility of the project going over that by another $4 billion. Still, the burden for funding the project was split between New Jersey, the New York Port Authority, and the Federal Government.

New Jersey is broke. Well, kinda. They are up to their ears in red ink, having accumulated $50 billion of debt in the two last decades. Christie is a Republican who is not entertaining any possibility of tax increases, instead he is using spending cuts to close a $10 billion deficit just last year. As soon as there was a hint that the ARC project might have cost overruns, he immediately sought to kill the project.

The project might have had a $4 billion overrun. But that might have happened over a ten year project timeline. New Jersey will have something on the order of $300 to $330 billion in tax revenue and $4.5 trillion GDP during that time. New Jersey’s Household Income is the second best in the nation. See? Kinda broke. This tunnel would have dramatically expanded rail service to the largest city in the country, had a positive impact on jobs and property values, while decreasing road congestion and gasoline consumption. But because the state “doesn’t have the money,” New Jerseyans will just have to suffer with congested trains and congested roads. Read More→


350 Ways to Sunday

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We won! Did you hear the news? The White House will install solar panels after all, it was announced today. Bill McKibben, founder of, seemed to get the talk to the hand treatment when he proposed the idea there, in person, a few weeks ago. Chronicled here, on ScruHoo, it seems only appropriate to follow up with this most fortuitous update.

Does the Rahmbo departure make more things like this possible? Or is this just how Obama does things? Wherever speculation may lead, it is great to see the Administration grasping the opportunity to send an important message, consistent with its aims and other actions, and seizing it. On the Energy Blog, Secretary Chu writes, “Around the world, the White House is a symbol of freedom and democracy. It should also be a symbol of America’s commitment to a clean energy future.”

Not that there nothing else happening on Sunday. In fact, is holding a Global Work Party. Labeled 10/10/10, the idea is to put some elbow grease into a meaningful project that can help reduce carbon emissions. Whether its installing those beloved solar panels, fixing up old bikes to provide an alternative to car transportation, planting trees or any number of things, get your back into it and get ‘er done!

It’s been a tough year for those dedicated to stemming global warming. The Climate Copenhagen Conference delivered a #fail in any meaningful reform. The US Senate gave us another #fail by stopping an energy bill aimed at reducing America’s carbon emissions. BP gave us the #epicfail by trashing the Gulf of Mexico with their Deepwater HuzzOIL! Oh so Beyond PetroleumTM, huh? The complete lack of oversight by the Interior Department, mostly a legacy of #epicfail Bush administration, of course did not help.

The point is we have to nudge our leaders while at the same time taking our own actions to make change happen. Sometime nudging is the action. The White House got at least one petition about the solar panels, with 50,000 signatures. I won’t urge everyone to go No Impact, as Colin Beavan did, wrote a book about and continues to educate about. But I will urge you to think about what started No Impact, a fundamental question. Are you just bitching about climate change or doing something to try to stop it?

There is a 10/10/10 Event in Asheville. But if you don’t go to that, then just create your own in the basement, living room or garage. Figure out a way to reduce carbon emissions that works for you. Then do it!

Categories : Action, Global Warming, Obama
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Change is hard. You see that most when people who can change and should change don’t change. We voted for change in 2008. There was no mistaking that. President Obama campaigned vigorously on this theme and seemed to personify it by his very being. So you can imagine how hard change is when people who are all about change don’t want to change.

Bill McKibben recenty visited the White House to be told: there will be no change to the roof of the White House, no solar panels will be installed there. Conservatives, I’m sure, will shower lavish praise on President Barack Hussein Obama for continuing this tradition first established by Ronald Reagan. Progressives on the other hand, well here’s McKibben…

And a confession. We’d walked past Obama’s official portrait on the way out, and despite the meeting we’d just had, I couldn’t help but smile at the thought that he was president. I could remember my own enthusiasm from two years ago that had me knocking on doors across New Hampshire. I admired his character and his smarts, and if I admire them a little less now, the residue’s still there.

And so I couldn’t help thinking — part of me at least — like this: The White House political team has decided that if they put solar panels on the roof, Fox News will use that as one more line of attack. Jimmy Carter comparisons aren’t what the administration is after.

If that’s their thinking, I doubt they’re on the mark. As far as I can tell, the right has a far better understanding of the power of symbols. Witness the furor they’ve kicked up over “the mosque at ground zero.” My feeling is that we should use the symbols we’ve got, and few are better than a solar panel.

To be fair, if I were in the West Wing, THERE IS NO WAY I would accept Jimmy Carter’s solar panels, other than to donate to the Smithsonian. Instead, I would put up the latest and greatest photovoltaics money could buy. As McKibben says, a few solar panels are symbolic, but we need symbols in order to get the rest of the country to think about changing its habits. And we need capitols around the world to do the same thing.

The right wing and the main stream media parrot chamber might want to obsess over White House solar panels like they did the Ground Zero Mosque, or any of the other concocted scandals pointed out by Tom. These are just opportunities (now missing) for the administration to segue into all the positive things they are doing about clean energy. There is no reason to worry about linking solar panels to Jimmy Carter anymore. It is far better to link them to the BP disaster. It’s about clean energy versus dirty energy. Carter’s dilemma was about energy austerity versus prosperity. This administration’s dilemma is be about choosing the right kind of energy. [Note how austerity is bad energy policy but great fiscal policy!]

Change is hard when you let your fears run wild and imagine only negative outcomes. But change can be easier when you grasp the positive outcomes the change will bring, and have the confidence to forge ahead and make the arguments to convince fellow citizens. The West Wing lackeys are playing from an outdated political playbook. 2008 happened. It is time for the White House to be the change it wants to see.