American Elephants

The EPA Is Not Now, And Never Has Been, In Any Situation — Transparent! by The Elephant's Child

AR-150829613.jpg&maxw=725&maxh=575I have wondered about the progress of the spill from the Gold King Mine as it proceeds down the Colorado River System through Lake Powell and the Grand Canyon. As the spill approached Lake Powell, news about the spill precipitously dropped from the news. Not an accident. Environmental Protection Agency officials have required their contractors to sign non-disclosure agreements, or secrecy pledges.

“The statement of work includes a standard requirement that the contractor shall not publish or otherwise release, distribute, or disclose any work product generated under the contract without obtaining EPA’s express advance written approval,” an EPA spokeswoman told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “This does not require either an NDA or confidentiality agreement be signed by individual employees.”

Non-disclosure agreements are often used to protect important government secrets, they are not supposed to obstruct official accountability at critical times. The EPA was clearly at fault here for a massive spill of 3 million gallons of highly toxic mine waste, not only rife with materials such as cadmium, lead and arsenic. Fortunately, or unfortunately, the cadmium turned the river a bright mustard yellow, so it couldn’t exactly be kept secret. The picture above is of the narrow-gauge railroad that runs from Durango to Silverton, and is very popular with tourists. I have ridden it, and it’s a beautiful trip, but not with a yellow river.

The initial reporting was plentiful as it flowed through small Colorado towns and as it reached the Navajo Reservation where the river flows right through the center of the reservation near Shiprock and Teec Nos Pos. This is water essential to the reservation, for tribal animals and water, and for irrigation, and just for drinking water. There were some sloppy attempts to truck water in to the reservation, with dirty tanks, and the tribal leaders said they would sue. This is public business, and lawsuits will be paid with taxpayer  money.

The EPA has said that there are 28 separate contracts with Environmental Restoration and it would take until the 22nd of December to review them all to determine just which contract would pertain to the Animas and Colorado Rivers. Uh huh. Even looking through Google’s array of pictures, they don’t seem to include Lake Powell nor the Grand Canyon National Park. Interesting.

The EPA is forestalling transparency in a spill that affects the regional supply of drinking water across the American Southwest. Timely? Nah.

But it is a bit of a pattern for agencies of the Obama administration. The IRS? Don’t ask. The VA? Congress is working on transparency, but it seems that it is difficult to impossible to fire government officials. This was going to be the most transparent administration in history. That’s turning out well.


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Is This the Start of Something Big? by The Elephant's Child

—Knoxville, Iowa:  The town had placed a temporary memorial to fallen soldiers in their city park. It was a silhouette display of a kneeling soldier with a white cross, meant to help the town raise the soldier-memorial-knoxville-IA-WHO-HD-640x480money for a permanent memorial. A citizen, an atheist citizen, complained demanding that it be removed because of the Christian cross, claiming that it violated the separation of church and state. The city council promptly folded in fear of a court fight. In response some 2,000 small white crosses were planted in front yards all over town. The voters promptly voted out the town council.

—In the three states where the proportion of residents without health insurance declined the most, Arkansas, Kentucky and West Virginia, all elected Republican Senate candidates who oppose the Affordable Care Act. Control of the West Virginia House of Delegates flipped from Democrats to Republicans. Arkansas elected Republican supermajorities to both house and senate along with a Republican governor.

— Croatia’s conservative opposition won the country’s first election since it joined the European Union in 2013 in response to the migrant issue, seeking stricter border controls to manage the flow of people crossing the small Adriatic state of 4.4 million. This follows a landmark victory by opposition conservatives in Poland last month. The Polish Law and Justice party pledges to oppose mandatory quotas for relocation of migrants in the EU.

—Violence erupted in the streets of Berlin as thousands of 2E343CFA00000578-0-image-a-88_1446926053681anti-immigration protesters took to the streets to protest against Chancellor Angela Merkel’s open-door refugee policy. Refugees have turned out to be quite demanding, rejecting food not to their taste, and expecting full welfare benefits.

— Washington State voters have approved an initiative to cut the state sales tax if lawmakers don’t allow a vote on a constitutional amendment requiring a two-thirds majority for a tax increase. Voters in this left coast state have made it clear that they want the authority to amend their state constitution to require a supermajority to approve a tax increase. Voters have repeatedly approved ballot measures requiring a two-thirds majority for any tax hike.  The initiative specifies it will lower the state sales tax from 6.5% to 5.5% if the legislature does not follow through.

—Last November, President Obama expanded eligibility for a program the president set up in 2012 to allow immigrants who entered the U.S. illegally as children to get “deferred action” status and be eligible to work legally. The new effort also included a new initiative to grant the same status to illegal immigrants who are the parents of U.S. citizens or green card holders. Up to 5 million people were estimated to be eligible. Republicans objected, claiming the president was exceeding his authority under the Constitution.  Judge Andrew Hanen blocked the effort nationwide, saying that the changes to immigration were so significant that the administration needed to put them out for official notice and comment before moving forward. Obama appealed. The 5th Circuit praised Hanen’s ruling, calling it “impressive and thorough.” The Appeals court said — you can’t do that. The Fifth Circuit asserted that the separation of powers remains the law of the land, and the president must follow the rule of law, just like everybody else.

—Perhaps this is just a hungering for people to stand up and say, as the Court did to President Obama — You can’t do that! Europeans are beginning to stand up to the EU and to their governments who have gone too far. College administrators seem frightened by students behaving badly, and at a loss to know what to do. I’ve been nattering on about one example or another for quite a while. Are these examples signs of something or other, or is it just wishful thinking?

Big Climate Meeting Coming Up, Time to Haul Out the Ozone Hole! by The Elephant's Child

In her continuing quest to turn the page on the flood of bad news regarding the Environmental Protection Agency, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy has announced a new crusade. She wants the world to stop using hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) in air conditioners and other consumer products, as part of Obama’s plan to fight global warming. She will be leading the United States delegation at the UN summit to take aggressive action on your air conditioners. She added her usual “phasing out HFC’s will avert 0.5 degrees Celsius of global warming by the end of the century,” one of those claims that the EPA can never produce the scientific rationale for.

What’s called “the Montreal Protocol” (1987) was supposed to reduce the production and consumption of ozone depleting substances in order to reduce their abundance in the atmosphere and thus protect the earth’s fragile ozone layer. Good intentions. But now there is uncertainty about the whole idea. The ozone layer may be much less sensitive than was assumed. In fact it may have always been there varying from year to year and decade to decade, and the UN claim of success, may well be nothing more than taking credit for natural variability.

The Navajo Nation, Says Russell Begaye, Is Used to Historical Mistreatment by the Federal Government by The Elephant's Child


Russell Begaye, President of the Navajo Nation, has spoken out about the investigation into the Gold King Mine spill. Investigators from the Department of Interior concluded that the EPA could have prevented the blowout Gold King Mine Spill if waters inside the mine had been checked before work began on the abandoned mine. The EPA had been warned that mine and others in the area posed a threat.

In 2005, after a National Priorities List assessment, the study confirmed for the second time that the mine should qualify as a Superfund site. The EPA and other responsible parties took no action.

The EPA spill sent three million gallons of toxic sludge into the Animas and San Juan rivers. Mr. Begaye charged:

The Navajo Nation is used to historical mistreatment by agencies of the federal government, but the inadequate and delayed response to the contamination of our rivers and the utter lack of accountability takes that sentiment to a whole new level. When that threat became reality, they waited nearly two days to inform the Nation that a spill had occurred, then waited six full days to take responsibility and apologize.

The EPA’s eventual “response” was to provide our communities with tanks of impure water for our livestock and crops. And now, FEMA is denying our request for a declared state of emergency. Our people have suffered immeasurably due to the reckless actions of the EPA and other responsible parties (who have yet to be held accountable), and the government’s failed response to this crisis only adds insult to injury. Our irrigation systems are still shut down, and our analysis shows that the water is not yet safe for consumption or crop irrigation.

The Navajo Nation’s Environmental Protection Agency has found lead, arsenic, mercury, chromium, cadmium and beryllium, contaminants known to be toxic to humans and animals, still present in our rivers. Our people and our land are devastated. With high unemployment on the Navajo Nation and almost all Navajo families relying on subsistence farming, our lack of access to clean water to grow our crops is catastrophic.

The EPA, as is noted by yesterday’s op-ed from Gina McCarthy, EPA administrator, is in pure self-defense mode. The Navajo Nation needs the rivers cleaned up and clean, safe water supplies for crops and livestock. Not an unreasonable request.

The Interior Department may have found that the EPA should have done things differently, but nothing much will happen. The rivers will eventually wash out the toxic sludge. Your federal government at work. I’m with the Navajo Nation on this one.


Gina McCarthy Attempts to Prove the Value of the EPA. Big Job. by The Elephant's Child

epa04236753 Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator Gina McCarthy signs US President Barack Obama's new carbon pollution emission guideline plan at EPA headquarters in Washington, DC, USA, 02 June 2014. The plan, which bypasses Congress, calls for a 30 percent cut in carbon emissions by 2030.  EPA/JIM LO SCALZO (Newscom TagID: epalive211077.jpg) [Photo via Newscom]

There is some evidence that  the consistent mention of the “Pause,” that obvious fact, is beginning to bother some of the climate consensus crowd. To wit, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. Of course the EPA has had some really bad press lately, as the world watched a great spill of noxious yellow mine tailings, that we were told is extremely toxic to life on Earth, into a tributary of the great Colorado River that serves most of the American Southwest. The Navajo Tribe said they would be instituting a massive lawsuit, but we have heard nothing further about that, nor has the spread of the yellow mess made the major news, or perhaps I just missed it. Gina McCarthy stated, in the pages of The Hill, that:

America has come a long way in protecting public health and the environment over the past 45 years. Since 1970, we’ve cut air pollution by nearly 70 percent, while our economy has tripled in size. America’s environmental laws have provided a solid foundation for success, but they’re only part of the equation. Without resources to work hand in hand with state, local and tribal partners to enforce these laws, progress isn’t possible. Laws talk the talk, but enforcement walks the walk.

When rules under the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act and other laws are not followed, people suffer. Neighborhoods become polluted, livelihoods become threatened and the health of kids and families are put at risk.

Enforcement programs keep dangerous illegal activity in check. They hold violators accountable and deter bad actors. They level the playing field for businesses that play by the rules. And most of all, they provide security and protection to people across America, who depend on clean air, water and land to live healthy, productive lives.

This is probably what McCarthy believes. She is all for enforcement, big enforcement. Strong standards are a key step, and holding everyone accountable allows the EPA to protect American lives and especially the children (it’s always asthma). But I take it as a bit of self-justification from an agency under fire.

The problem is that the EPA has taken the original mandate of the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act, which Congress didn’t bother to define, as their authority to grab for power and control of ever more of America. They have been slapped down by the courts over and over, but it doesn’t seem to bother them at all. They issue immense fines, preferably in the billions, because the threat of enormous fines makes people and businesses surrender quickly. Not content with just cleaning up smog, they have turned to fine particulates, going so far as attempting to regulate farm dust, which may seem possible for city apartment dwellers, but for anyone who had ever been near a farm—is an absurdity.

The EPA attempt to grab control of the drip from your downspouts as a part of the “navigable waters of the United States” has been halted by the courts, but ‘overreach’ is in their blood. The pictures that accompany the news from the agency usually feature smokestacks which are belching (probably water vapor) but give the impression of noxious pollutants.

Carbon Dioxide remains a pollutant to the EPA, but for the rest of us (excluding Barack Obama and John Kerry) it remains plant food, one of the basic necessities for almost all life on Earth. Increasing levels of CO2 have increased crop yields by at least 10–15 percent, and are good for humankind as well as the natural world, for an acre of land that is not used for crops is left for nature. Between 1990 and 2011 – 13, although population increased by 31% to 7.1 billion, available food supplies have increased by 44%. This is good news that your probably didn’t hear.

I don’t believe that the EPA has saved a single life from pollution, nor kept a single child from contracting asthma (doctors don’t know the cause). Their overreach is not only excessive,  but damaging to the people and the economy. I don’t believe that the agency needs a swat team of their very own. They need to produce the science that they use to promulgate their rules and regulations, and establish that they are actually a needed bureaucracy, rather than an agency out for self-serving power grabs. And they need to prove that there is some reason why they should continue to exist.

NOAA Says there is No “Pause” But Refuses To Turn Over Their Evidence. by The Elephant's Child

10648glider_with_glacier4_edited_EvansTemperature has long been a problem for Climate science. We have weather stations all over the country to measure temperature, but when volunteers looked into the siting of the stations, it was found that many were situated next to air-conditioning outlets or vast expanses of concrete that are heat collectors. Tree-rings are fallible, but we now have a satellite record that is the gold standard. The RSS satellite record shows clearly the inconvenient truth that there has been no global warming since January 1997.

The U.S government’s main climate research agency has refused to release to Congress the key documents that support their conclusion that there has been no pause in global warming. What could they be trying to hide? James Delingpole supplies the answer:

But if there has been no “global warming” for nearly 19 years how can alarmist proselytizers like President Obama and John Kerry possibly hope to convince an increasingly skeptical public that this apparently non-existent problem yet remains the most pressing concern of our age?”

Step forward the Obama administration’s helpful friends at NOAA. It’s not supposed to be a politicized institution: its job is to do science, not propaganda. But the memo must have been missed by NOAA scientists Thomas Karl and Thomas Peterson who, in May this year, published a “study” so favourable to the alarmist cause it might just as well have been scripted by Al Gore and Greenpeace, with a royal foreword by the Prince of Wales, and a blessing from Pope Francis.

Data show no slowdown in recent global warming” declared NOAA’s press release. “The Pause”, in other words, was just the construct of a few warped deniers’ twisted imaginations.

There’s a lot of money and a lot of big grants, and new departments all invested in the urgent problem of global warming, not to mention the wind farms and solar arrays, as well as the farmers growing corn to put in your gas tanks.The farmers can go back to supplying food, but the climate modelers may need to find something more worthwhile to do.

Greens to Africa: You Can Only Have Power If You Do It Our Way by The Elephant's Child


Why are environmentalists so impervious to facts? It is a religion, faith-based, and even high-school biology goes by the wayside as one faces the problems of the modern world. Sierra Club president Aaron Mair had to rely on his aides and the much debunked 97% canard to respond to Ted Cruz’s questions.

Friends of the Earth; Oxfam America; Sierra Club; United Methodist Church, General Board of Church and Society have sent a letter to the U.S. Senate demanding changes to the Electrify Africa Act of 2015. S 1933 in order to help accomplish the goals of the Act and to promote clean and sustainable development. (Lofty, ludicrous and laughable)

Unsurprisingly, they want Africa powered with (extraordinarily expensive) sources like wind and solar (presumably without the needed backup power). They note that more than two-thirds of sub-Saharan Africa’s population lacks electricity, with that number growing to more than 85 percent in rural areas. They demand:

  • Ensuring that growth in access is inclusive and is reliable, affordable and sustainable energy with a particular emphasis on increasing off-grid coverage in rural areas.
  • Developing an energy access strategy for sub-Saharan Africa that promotes safe, affordable community-controlled renewable energy solutions, rather than encouraging an “all-of-the-above” strategy that promotes oil, natural gas, and coal that is harmful to human health and local environments and that is often associated with corruption. (emphasis added) …
  • Requiring meaningful consent on energy development plans from local communities, and

To be inclusive means improving opportunities for and involvement of women and girls by:

  • Ensuring that women and girls benefit from access to energy, conduct a gender assessment at each project level to analyze gender differences and inequalities, that will inform best practices for energy project design and implementation. …
  • Disaggregating by age, gender and economic quintile the number of people and communities that have benefitted from the law.

I left out several lines of gobbledygook, but you can find the whole thing here, with additional comments from Steven Hayward. He adds that the environmentalists have successfully lobbied the World Bank and the Overseas Private Investment Corp. not to fund any hydroelectric dams in Africa (or anywhere else.) Africa has lots of hydro potential, and oddly enough, hydro is the original “renewable” resource. Environmentalists don’t like dams! Only wind and solar that require 24/7 backup from conventional power plants that they hope to forbid.

What a bunch of shallow-minded lightweights. You want energy to enter the modern world — only if you do it our way.

The African wind farm in the photo will produce some very expensive, intermittent energy when the wind blows at the right speed. The entire objection to conventional energy is that it adds CO2 to the atmosphere and thus causes global warming. Such warming as there is — roughly a degree over the last century — is less than the normal warming from winter to summer, and is probably caused by the sun. CO2 is a natural fertilizer, and helps plants (like African food crops) to grow.


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