In today's On the News segment: Senate Republicans held appropriations bills hostage in an attempt to cut off funding for the Environmental Protection Agency; the Tokyo Electric Power Company recently started to build a giant ice wall in the ground around Fukushima, and they're already running in to big problems; our nation should be ramping up efforts to fight climate change, but one state is doing exactly the opposite; and more.
Thom Hartmann here - on the best of the rest of....science & green news.....
You need to know this. The last government shut down cost our nation billions, but Republicans are thinking about doing it all over again just to protect Big Oil and the Coal Lobby. Last week, Senate Republicans held appropriations bills hostage in an attempt to cut off funding for the Environmental Protection Agency. Their latest round of hostage-taking is a response to President Obama announcing an executive order on coal pollution, and to EPA Chair Gina McCarthy's recent comment about a "War on Coal." Shutting down the EPA could endanger millions of Americans with dirty air and water, but that's fine with Republicans as long as the Oil and Coal lobby money keeps rolling in. The Right claims that regulating coal pollution might hurt our economy and cost thousands of jobs, but there's no question that another government shutdown would have those exact same effects. Republicans don't give a damn about how regulations effect Americans. They only care about the billions of dollars that these industries pump into their campaigns. President Obama has repeatedly tried to work with Congress to enact climate change legislation, but they left him no choice other than to act on his own. Scientists, economists, labor groups, and the vast majority of Americans all agree that we must take immediate action to fight global warming. Rather than debating how we do that, Republicans are ignoring reality and protecting the fossil fuel industry at all costs. Perhaps they don't remember their poll numbers after the last government shut down – but we do. Come November, Americans will let Republicans know exactly what we think about lawmakers who put corporate greed ahead of the needs of We The People.
The Tokyo Electric Power Company recently started to build a giant ice wall in the ground around Fukushima, and they're already running in to big problems. According to The Guardian Newspaper, Tepco is in the process of digging trenches around that crippled nuclear power plant. However, they're having trouble negotiating around a smaller ice wall they built earlier to contain radioactive waste water. Before Tepco was granted permission to build the giant ice wall, many scientists and experts expressed doubt about the construction and stability of the proposed barrier. As predicted, Japan's power company is already having trouble, and they're only in the beginning states of this project. The fact is, the situation at Fukushima is too massive, and too dangerous for any one company to handle on their own. The world should be working together to prevent this nuclear disaster from getting any worse. Hopefully the world steps in to help at Fukushima while we still have a chance.
Our nation should be ramping up efforts to fight climate change, but one state is doing exactly the opposite. Last week, Ohio Governor John Kasich signed a measure to roll back renewable energy standards in his state. Those guidelines previously required that state utilities use more wind and solar energy, and help customers improve energy efficiency. Back in May, Republican lawmakers in Ohio voted to put clean energy standards on hold, and by adding his signature, Governor Kasich ensured residents will have higher electric bills and dirtier air until at least 2017. According to the Ohio Environmental Council, these renewable energy standards could have saved customers one billion dollars on their electric bills, and spurred another billion in investments. Governor Kasich's decision to freeze these standards is nothing more than a gift to Big Oil. This is yet another example of how Republicans keep going in reverse, regardless of how many Americans recognize the need to move forward. For the sake of our planet, and our species, we need to take power away from people like John Kasich.
According to the Japanese Meteorological Agency, this spring was the hottest since record keeping began. Here in the U.S., experts at NASA and NOAA are pretty much saying the same. NASA has already labeled this spring the second hottest on record, and they pointed out that they are still missing data from China. Considering the unprecedented heat wave that hit that nation last month, the additional data could put 2013 at the top of the charts. We're already seeing recording-breaking temperatures this year, even before the predicted El Nino warming pattern starts to take effect. That means we may also be on track for a record-breaking summer. These rising temperatures will likely lead to more devastating heat waves, more super storms, and more destruction. We can no longer let the science-deniers prevent us from taking action on global warming. If we don't act fast, and act globally, every year may soon bring record-breaking heat. It will be difficult enough to deal with the massive storms and droughts that this summer may bring, but we may not be able to handle the effects of even higher temperatures. It's time fight global warming with everything that we've got.
And finally... Somerset, Kentucky is sick of rising gasoline prices. So, they're purchasing their own fuel, and selling it back to residents at lower prices than the commercial gas stations. The town of Somerset is on an island, about 50 miles south of Lexington, and gas prices there averages 20 to 30 cents higher than neighboring towns. Later this month, Somerset will open up 10 city-run fuel pumps, and they'll store their own supplies of gasoline, diesel, and natural gas. Mayor Eddie Girdler explained that the city wants to be "a competitive force" to make sure town residents don't pay more for gas than surrounding cities. Town officials recognize that government is the only force large enough to compete with Big Oil, and they're using socialism to do so. This plan could be a great test case for nationalizing our gas and oil, and taking profit out of fossil fuel production. There's no reason why we should allow multinational corporations to make billions off of our resources, and getting the Oil Lobby out of the picture would be a big help in the fight against climate change.
And that's the way it is for the week of June 23, 2014 - I'm Thom Hartmann, on Science & Green News.