News Roundup

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Your weekly news roundup on everything environment

Senate to Vote on Oil Tax subsidies

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) scheduled a procedural vote on Monday for a bill that would eliminate billions of dollars in tax subsidies we give to big oil each year. The bill is sponsored by none-other than Senator Menendez of New Jersey, one of the pro-environment champs we met with earlier this year on our trip to D.C. Since we met with them, first the President and now a leading U.S. Senator have signed on to end oil subsidies, so we're making progress.

Pro-oil members of the Senate allowed the bill to move forward, which is not the same as saying they'll support it. A big fight is expected in the coming weeks over whether to actually end these subsidies or not. Stay tuned right here for updates and opportunities to take action.

EPA announces first-ever limits on global warming pollution.

The Environmental Protection Agency is set to issue the first limits on global warming pollution from power plants today. This is big news for the planet, and for anyone who uses electricity but doesn't want to support global warming.
 
The proposed rule — years in the making and approved by the White House after months of review — will require any new power plant to emit no more than 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt of electricity produced. The average U.S. natural gas plant, which emits 800 to 850 pounds of CO2 per megawatt, meets that standard; coal plants emit an average of 1,768 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt.
 
Worth stating, as always that the Administration proposing a rule does not mean that rule is in effect - yet (anyone remember how many times we've shut down KeystoneXL?). In fact, a major fight is expected in Congress and on the campaign trail over this rule - which STILL won't cover the biggest source of global warming pollution in the world, American cars. For all that, it's good news and a good step from this President and E.P.A. And it has the potential to totally re-shape the way electricity is produced in this country, which is hugely important. Stay tuned for a lot more commentary on it before it's done

Dolphins of the Gulf are Gravely Ill

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced last Friday, that bottle nose dolphins in the northern Gulf of Mexico are gravely ill, and that their ailments were most likely directly caused by exposure to toxic substances following the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill of 2010. 

The NOAA conducted their examinations on 32 live dolphins last summer in Louisiana’s Barataria Bay, where nearly 5 million barrels of crude leaked into the gulf over the course of three months. Many of the dolphins in the study suffered from anemia, dangerously low weight, low blood sugar and even liver and lung cancer. 

Additionally, a dramatic increase of mostly fatal strandings in the Gulf of Mexico has prompted the NOAA to declare an Unusual Mortality Event, calling for an investigation into the deaths of one of the world’s most majestic creatures. Beginning in the two months prior to the BP oil spill, over 675 dolphins have been found stranded—over 600 more than usual in an average year. 

New Study Links Extreme Weather to Climate Change

It’s not just in your head—the earth is getting warmer, and Scientists at Germany’s Potsdam Institute for Climate Research have concluded that it is “very likely” that climate change is responsible for the record-breaking heat waves and extreme rainfall that have characterized much of the last decade. 

“It is very likely that several of the unprecedented extremes of the past decade would not have occurred without anthropogenic global warming,” said the study. 

The study noted severe floods and record-breaking summers in Europe, an influx of storms and hurricanes in the Atlantic, the hottest summer in Russia since 1500, and the worst flooding in Pakistan’s history as “not normal” activity that was likely caused by human activity. 

Last year was the eleventh hottest year on record, according to the World Meteorological Organization, with the past decade, likely the warmest in a millennium. And the U.S. alone experienced 14 extreme weather events, totaling $1 billion each in damages.

Yet as the evidence of global warming continues to mount, climate deniers like General Motors, continue to fund phony research at think tanks that actively push their propaganda in the media and schools. If you haven’t already, sign our petition demanding GM’s CEO stop funding think tanks that deny global warming is real now.

FDA Court-Ordered to Regulate Antibiotics in Livestock

For 35 years, the FDA had clear evidence that low doses of growth promoting antibiotics given to livestock were directly connected to antibiotic-resistant bacteria capable of infecting people. And what did the agency that is entrusted with protecting and promoting public health DO with such lethal information?

The short answer is: nothing. 

After caving to industry pressure, the FDA issued a set of weak voluntary guidelines and formally declared it would not place any mandatory restrictions on the drugs late last year. 

But now, a district judge in New York has ruled in favor of a coalition that will require the FDA to regulate the use of penicillin and tetracycline in livestock. The ruling does not however ban the use of antibiotics for livestock. At least not yet. 

In a blog post written by the coalition’s attorney Avinach Kar, he writes “The judge’s opinion makes it clear that FDA’s voluntary approach—letting the industry police itself—does not satisfy its legal obligations. FDA must schedule hearings to let drug manufacturers make their case, and if the drug manufacturers cannot prove that the use of antibiotics in animal feed is safe, FDA must withdraw approval for those drugs.” 

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