American Elephants


Root Causes: Here’s Why Ferguson Rioted: by The Elephant's Child

There is always an answer for every problem. In the case of Ferguson, Missouri, everyone has been searching for the cause of this summer’s violence. We just weren’t looking in the right place. The violence was clearly caused by climate change.

350.org Strategic Partnership Coordinator Deirdre Smith wrote:

To me, the connection between militarized state violence, racism, and climate change was common-sense and intuitive. Oppression and extreme weather combine to ‘incite’ militarized violence.

Smith explained that poor minority communities have fewer resources to deal with the impacts of climate change, but that “people of color also disproportionately live in climate-vulnerable areas,” which makes climate change a race issue.

The 350.org Strategic Partnership is behind the big climate march this weekend at the UN Climate meeting that everybody important is skipping. And of course, their real interest is the doctrine of “environmental justice,” a notion used by the EPA whenever it seems to be helpful in their legal arguments.

The EPA defines “environmental justice” as the “fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income with respect to the development, implementation and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies,” according to the EPA website.

That makes it a civil rights issue, which brings in a whole different body of laws and regulations. It suggests that power plants or “excessive” car exhaust can be considered civil rights violations — if they occur in poor or minority neighborhoods. The object is not to improve anyone’s life, but control, which is accomplished with a maze of regulation and red tape, and gigantic fines for those who offend the EPA.

Climate, which is a statistic representing worldwide temperatures, affects everyone equally, and since in the last one hundred years it has only warmed by about one degree, we can all adapt fairly well, even the folks in Ferguson. Weather can affect some people more than others because of where they live—in Tornado alley, near the beach where Hurricane Sandy hit. We just had a small earthquake yesterday, but earthquakes are not climate or weather. This one was only a .4 and we didn’t feel it at all.

The National Weather Service says the St.Louis area was not noticeably warmer this summer than it has ever been. At 80.3 degrees F. this August’s average temperature was only the seventh-warmest of the last 20 years, substantially cooler than the high of the last two decades of 83.9 in August of 1995. It got up in the 90s here in the Seattle area as it usually does once or twice a year.



Dirty Secrets at the EPA by The Elephant's Child

What do you suppose President Obama’s initial instruction were to his agency heads: Lisa Jackson at the EPA, Dr. Steven Chu at Energy, Ken Salazar at Interior and Tom Vilsack at Agriculture? “Go forth and regulate. Wrap American business in enough red tape to hamstring their efforts to grow or prosper. Restrict energy wherever you can, favoring 21st Century green power, use lots of ethanol— fuel of the future, and try to get rid of dirty coal.”

One would hope that such orders were improbable, but the results would seem to indicate something along those lines. Thanks to the EPA’s Office of Environmental Justice, public grants of up to $30,000 are being made available to anyone able to claim to build “healthy, sustainable and green communities” or create “green collar jobs.”

I’m not sure what “environmental justice” is. We have a system of justice already, formulated by Legislature, supposedly expressing the will of the people, and administered by the judiciary. It is called the Judicial System. So what is this other thing? Environmental justice must be something outside the regular judicial system, perhaps emanating from the EPA which seems to have its own rules.

Oddly enough, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is already in deepwater with both a federal Court and Congress in a case alleging that it conducted illegal experiments on human beings over the past decade.  Based on Freedom of Information Act released documents, the EPA is being accused of exposing hundreds of people over the last decade to extraordinarily high levels of air pollutants, including diesel exhaust and particulate matter known as PM2.5. The experiments were run at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine.

Steve Milloy’s excellent Junk Science website has followed the story. “Many study subjects were health-impaired; suffering from asthma, metabolic syndrome, and old age (up to 75 years). Financially needy, they enrolled in these experiments for $12 per hour.” As laboratory rats.

The EPA began imposing restrictions on the use of PM2.5, a major component of diesel exhaust fumes in 1997, after it found that long-term exposure could be fatal. The EPA further tightened regulations in 2004, and said it believed PM2.5 could actually kill after short-term exposure.  EPA administrator Lisa Jackson even testified before Congress in September 2011 that “particulate matter causes premature death. It doesn’t make you sick.  It’s directly causal to dying sooner than you should.” The EPA, as a result, imposed stringent regulations regarding PM2.5, all predicated on their own determination that it’s a killer.

When the Reagan administration took office and found similar types of experiments being conducted, it immediately banned them. No such action has so far been taken  in the case of the EPA. It was just let’s just experiment on real people — for the greater good. If federal law finds the EPA culpable, criminal proceedings could follow.

The EPA has been no stranger in federal courts, or state courts. Their enthusiasm for shutting down the coal industry is challenged by a new study is further bad news for the agency. The report Economic implications of Recent and Anticipated EPA Regulations Affecting the Electricity Sector claims EPA regulations affecting the U.S. Coal industry would cost 1.5 million jobs over the next presidential term. CO2 emissions have fallen sharply in the U.S., without regulation, due to increased use of natural gas. The NERA study warns that EPA regulations affecting coal-fired electricity power generation would cost in industry $200 to $220 billion from 2013 to 2034.

The EPA is set to regulate the largest “polluters” to reduce the amount of CO2 emitted to the air. Yet CO2,which we exhale, is a natural  fertilizer that makes plants grow. At the Congressional hearing in March dealing with this regulation, Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) asked the EPA’s Chief of Air Programs and Greenhouse Gas Regulations if she knew what the level of CO2 is right now in the atmosphere. She said she didn’t have that figure. In greenhouses, growers raise the levels of CO2 to 1,000 parts per million  to increase growth. It is currently around 390 ppm. The levels of CO2 in the atmosphere have been both much higher and much lower in the past. It is not at all certain that so-called global warming is caused by CO2 in the atmosphere. We have not had any warming for the past 15 years, it has been both much warmer in the past and much cooler.  We are  presently in a cooling phase.

The EPA has spent much of the last four years in court, and their batting average is not good. And there is lots more to come. EPA administrators have been using a series of hidden or “alias” email accounts, which is against federal law. “Richard Windsor” is one of the alias names used by Ms. Jackson to keep her email from those who ask for it. So there will be more court appearances. Lisa Jackson is now said to be departing the agency and returning to her native New Jersey. Quite a flood of people departing the Obama administration.




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