In today's On the News segment: Obama delays making a decision on the Keystone XL pipeline; Connecticut moves toward banning fracking waste water; land destroyed by the fossil fuel industry is used as a solar farm; and more.
Thom Hartmann here - on the best of the rest of....science & green news.....
You need to know this. Earlier this month, the Obama Administration announced that they will delay a decision on the Keystone XL pipeline until after the November elections. According to Reuters, the State Department said that federal agencies need more time to weigh in on the pipeline before a decision can be made. In addition, officials pointed to legal battles, like a recent case in Nebraska, as an example of the ongoing controversy surrounding the Keystone pipeline. That case, which will determine whether TransCanada has to secure a new route through Nebraska, may not even be decided until January of next year. Supporters of the pipeline are calling the delay pure politics, but this decision is too important to be rushed. Environmental groups are still demanding that Keystone is blocked entirely, but in the meantime, they have declared the delay a temporary victory. Jamie Henn of the organization 350.org said, "It's disappointing [that] President Obama doesn't have the courage to reject Keystone XL right now, but this is clearly another win for pipeline opponents." We've heard from scientists, economists, citizens, and even former President Jimmy Carter, who all say that the Obama Administration should reject the Keystone XL pipeline. If nothing else, this delay gives us more time to continue our fight against this toxic tar sands pipeline. For the sake of our environment, our nation, and our future, we have got to push the President to reject Keystone once and for all.
Connecticut is one step closer to banning fracking waste water from their state. Earlier this month, that state's Judiciary Committee approved a ban on the disposal or storage of this toxic byproduct, and the measure will soon be considered by the full state Senate. In support of that ban, activists delivered more than 5,600 signatures to Connecticut lawmakers, saying that residents don't want their state to become the next dumping ground for hydraulic fracturing waste. Three similar bills were attempted last year, but never made it out of committee, but this year's attempt – SB 327 – looks like it has a good chance of becoming law. Although Connecticut does not have natural gas deposits, residents worry that waste water from thousands of drill sites in surrounding states could end up being stored or disposed of in their area. Other states, like Massachusetts, are considering similar bills, and Vermont enacted a ban against fracking waste water in 2012. Even in states where gas drilling isn't an issue, residents don't want anything to do with this toxic waste. Hopefully Senate Bill 327 makes it through Connecticut's legislature, and that state's environment is safe from the dangers of fracking.
"Blind luck" is the only thing preventing a huge asteroid from hitting Earth. According to former astronaut Ed Lu, our planet has been hit with "26 multi-kiloton explosions since 2001, all of which were due to asteroid impacts." The scientists and researchers who study space say that we need a sophisticated warning system to warn us about near-Earth objects. Those experts explain that "asteroid impacts are not rare, but actually 3 to 10 times more common than previously thought." Since our government has slashed funding for NASA, Ed Lu and other former astronauts have endorsed a system that will be launched on the privately funded SpaceX Falcon rocket in 2019. They say that the future warning system, which will scan space using infrared wavelengths, will warn us of any objects larger than 500 feet – so-called "city-killer" asteroids. It's amazing that with all of our national concern about security, our government is doing little to deal with this very real threat. Thankfully, SpaceX and their team of experts will be watching out for dangers from space.
What do you do with the land that's been destroyed by the fossil fuel industry? Well, turn it in to a solar farm of course! The Maywood Solar Farm in Indiana is 43 acres, and it's made up of 36,000 solar panels. And, it sits on the site of a former coal tar refinery plant, which was designated as a Superfund site by the EPA. Back in the 1980s, environmental regulatory officials found that the groundwater beneath that plant was contaminated with dangerous chemicals, and ruled that the property could no longer be used. However, thanks to the EPA's new Superfund Redevelopment Project, that land is now one of 85 renewable energy projects that together produce 507 megawatts of clean, renewable power. And, toxic sites in Georgia, North Carolina, and Massachusetts could soon be doing the same. It's nearly impossible to undo the damage that chemical plants and fossil fuel development does to our environment, but this is a great way to make use of the land that they've destroyed. We should be expanding this program all over the country and breathing new life into devastated land by building solar and wind plants in every area that these industries have destroyed.
And finally... Beverly Hills has said "no" to fracking. Last week, one the of the nation's most well known zip codes passed an all-out ban on hydraulic fracturing and all related extreme drilling techniques. Their new bill is the first of its kind in the state of California, and, it even prohibits activities outside the city that would drill for oil or gas underneath Beverly Hills. City Council member John Mirsch explained, "We are exerting our power as a city to say [that] fracking is not a compatible land use in Beverly Hills." He added, "This issue goes beyond that. This is not a 'not in my backyard issue' – it should not be in anyone's backyard." All around our nation, cities, towns, and even whole states are banning this dangerous process. The American people don't want more earthquakes and contaminated water, and that means that they don't want more drilling for natural gas. If Congress won't act to protect us from fracking, then slowly, but surely, we can protect ourselves – even if we have to do it one city at a time.
And that's the way it is for the week of April 28, 2014 - I'm Thom Hartmann, on Science & Green News.