Energy & Environment

The Ag Minute: EPA Strikes at Crop Protection Tool for Farmers

WASHINGTON – This week during The Ag Minute, guest host Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer, discusses how the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has initiated an unprecedented re-review of a critically important pesticide, which threatens its continued availability to farmers and ranchers. Atrazine is a pesticide that has been used safely and effectively for more than 50 years. Banning the use of atrazine could cost between 21,000 and 48,000 jobs from corn production losses alone, according to University of Chicago economist Don L. Coursey.

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Cap and trade's sad history

The Kyoto Treaty was agreed to almost 13 years ago. It is the father of all cap and trade proposals in that it contained mandated emissions reductions and provisions for trading and offsets. Although the Clinton Administration never submitted the treaty to the US Senate for approval, it did vote 95-0 that it would not approve any treaty like Kyoto that would damage the US economy and not apply to countries like China and India.

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Too many Senators are more concerned about short-term oil and coal profits

The Senate adjourned last week without passing a comprehensive energy and climate bill. Yes, the worst environmental accident in U.S. history was still unfolding in the Gulf of Mexico, attesting to our need to curb our nation’s oil addiction. And yes, this summer senators sweltered through record-breaking heat, which climate scientists warn will become the norm if we don’t deeply reduce global warming emissions. None of that seemed to matter, and I am far from alone in feeling that the Senate’s inaction is infuriating and inexcusable. 

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BP oil spill's impacts on vulnerable minority communities (Reps. Mike Honda and Anh "Joseph" Cao)

BP appears to have finally stopped the flow of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, although the efforts to seal the well permanently are ongoing. But we must keep in mind that the job of cleaning up as much as 100 million gallons of oil — compared with Exxon Valdez’s Alaska spill of 11 million gallons — is just beginning. This is not only the worst single-incident environmental disaster in our country’s history, but it also is the world’s worst accidental marine oil spill.

What is equally disastrous, but less frequently reported, is the impact to the physical health, economy and livelihoods of communities living adjacent to the Gulf Coast. Among these communities, perhaps the most vulnerable are thousands of Southeast Asian and African-American families. The adverse effects experienced by this population are potent and unique.

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Getting the Gulf back to work: Let's remove idle oil drilling structures (Rep. Raul Grijalva)

According to a recent analysis, there are more than 1,000 oil rigs and drilling structures sitting idle in the Gulf of Mexico. These structures have not been affected by the recently announced drilling moratorium -- rather, they were abandoned by their owners, sometimes many years ago, and allowed to decay or collapse into the ocean. These structures, commonly referred to as "idle iron," now provide us with a unique chance to create jobs and open up future economic opportunities throughout the Gulf region.

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The demise of the spill bill (Sen. Lisa Murkowski)

The decision this week by the Majority Leader to table oil spill legislation was deeply disappointing to everyone who wanted to see constructive policy come out of the tragedy in the Gulf of Mexico.

More than 100 days have passed since the Deepwater Horizon exploded and sank to the ocean floor. What we’ve learned in that time has made clear that our offshore energy regulations need reforming. Even though this has been a difficult year for the Senate, I had faith this disaster would bring us together to pass responsible legislation. 

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Ethanol: Now is the time — for truth

Editorialists around the country are opining about tax incentives for ethanol that are expiring at the end of the year. Unfortunately, many of the articles we’re seeing don’t get the facts quite right. The New York Times, for example, asserts that the Renewable Fuel Standard mandates the U.S. production of up to 15 billion gallons of corn ethanol, which it does not. The RFS is silent on corn as a feedstock and silent on domestic production. (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/29/opinion/29thu3.html?_r=1&ref=editorials)

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Standing in the way of justice for the BP calamity: GOP puts political points above all else

On August 3rd, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV scuttled plans to debate the Clean Energy Jobs and Oil Spill Accountability Act, S. 3663, which would remove the ridiculously low liability cap of $75 million for damages from the BP oil disaster and other offshore oil drilling blow outs. Reid did this because he could not get a supermajority of 60 votes to allow commencement of debate on the bill. He said that he tried “jujitsu and yoga” to gain Republican support but to no avail.

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How bad does it have to be?

H. Sterling Bennett’s column Wednesday (“More Hype than Harm”) claims the BP oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico isn’t that bad. He says the environmental movement “is in absence of good evidence” when we call this BP oil disaster a massive catastrophe and horrible tragedy. 

Eleven men died. Millions of gallons of oil spewed into the Gulf of Mexico. Vast quantities of untested chemical dispersants have been dumped into the sea. Tens of millions of dollars in tourism and fishing revenues are gone. Thousands of fishing industry workers have lost their livelihoods.

So, how bad does it have to be?

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Creating a customer-first electricity transmission policy

Utilities across the nation are investing billions of dollars to produce more electricity from renewable sources such as wind, solar, biomass and geothermal.

They support the move toward a cleaner energy future because the benefits — including lower greenhouse gas emissions, more green jobs and improved energy security — are clear.

What's less clear is how utilities will get new supplies of clean electricity to customers. And most importantly, who will pay for the major transmission investments needed to move the energy?

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