Energy and Global Warming News for August 31: Can push for climate bill forge lasting labor-enviro alliance?

Can Push for Climate Bill Forge a Lasting Labor-Enviro Alliance?

The push for climate legislation has bolstered an alliance of unions and environmentalists, raising the hopes of liberal activists who have long sought a lasting and influential relationship between green groups and labor.

The Blue Green Alliance — a collaboration of six unions and two environmental groups — arrives after decades of intermittent cooperation and some major disputes.

“Both of these movements have realized they really need each other to get what they want,” said J. Timmons Roberts, a Brown University sociologist who has written on labor-environmental coalitions.


The Sierra Club and the United Steelworkers, after years of work together, formally launched the alliance in 2006. The effort expanded in 2008 and 2009, adding the Natural Resources Defense Council and several unions — the Service Employees International Union, Communications Workers of America, Utility Workers Union of America, Laborers’ International Union of North America, and the American Federation of Teachers.

The alliance has focused largely on supporting legislation that would impose national curbs on greenhouse gas emissions and boost deployment of low-carbon energy sources that both groups say will create scores of new “green jobs.”

… the alliance is booming, with a combined membership of partner groups of 8 million and a budget that has grown sixfold over three years to roughly $6 million this year, said David Foster, the alliance’s executive director and a former Steelworkers official.

About 60 percent of the coalition’s funding comes from foundations and the balance from the member groups, he said. Its paid staff has grown considerably, and last month it registered federal lobbyists for the first time.

The alliance is active in several states to rally support for the climate bill and has brought members to Washington to lobby on Capitol Hill. Last week, it kicked off a national tour with former Vice President Al Gore’s Alliance for Climate Protection that will make the case for the bill in several manufacturing-heavy states.

“I think we represent an extremely potent educational force in the country by being able to reach out through those 8 million members and pull them together around a common vision of how we use environmental investments to improve our economic opportunities,” Foster said.

Stop the Teabaggers, Give Them Green Jobs: Lessons From the Coalfields of West Virginia

West Virginia shows us how we could easily win over this key segment of society, working class whites, with a New Deal-style industrial policy. Currently, 85,000 people in the United States are employed by the wind industry; Slightly more than the 81,000 in the United States working as coal miners.

On election night 2000, the biggest shocker for me wasn’t Florida, but that West Virginia had voted for a conservative Republican presidential candidate for the first time in nearly 70 years.

For decades, West Virginia, with one of the highest rates of unionization in the country, regularly voted for progressive candidates, even being one of only nine other states in 1988 to vote for the epitome of a Massachusetts liberal — Michael Dukakis. To know the story of West Virginia is to know why the progressive movement is failing to win over white working class voters. Because of their primary concern: jobs….

As a result of coal mining, West Virginia has a cancer rate that is nearly 70% higher than the national average . Every day more than three million pounds of ammonium nitrate explosives (a highly carcinogenic substance) are exploded in mountaintop removal. This is the equivalent of a Hiroshima bomb worth of explosives being dropped on West Virginia every month. Over 100 billion gallons of toxic sludge are contained in poorly regulated, coal sludge reservoirs from mountaintop mining contaminating local water supplies, leading to mind boggling rates of cancer.

A fact that is equally startling as the destruction of the mountains, is the destruction of jobs in West Virginia. Coal mining jobs have gone down by 75% with the shift to the highly mechanized, mountaintop removal. In the early 1950’s, there were 145,000 miners employed in West Virginia; in 2004 there were just over 16,000 miners employed. While employment has decreased in coal mining, coal production has actually increased dramatically as a result of the environmentally destructive procedures of mountaintop removal.

Three Months From a Climate Summit, Agreement Far Off

Aug. 28 marked 100 days before the beginning of the annual U.N. climate change summit, to be held this year in Copenhagen, which is emerging as the world’s last good chance to craft a new global warming deal. With time running out, however, global negotiators still seem far apart, and there’s a growing fear that the world really could fumble the opportunity.

EPA chief to visit Gary for green jobs events

The nation’s top environmental official will visit northwestern Indiana on Tuesday for an event touting clean energy’s potential to bring new jobs to the state.

UN tackles climate change effects

Officials from UN member states are gathering in Geneva for a five-day conference on climate change. The World Climate Conference will look at ways to help countries cope with the effects of climate change, such as an increase in floods and drought.

As hybrid cars gobble rare metals, shortage looms

The Prius hybrid automobile is popular for its fuel efficiency, but its electric motor and battery guzzle rare earth metals, a little-known class of elements found in a wide range of gadgets and consumer goods.

On continent’s boggy Arctic fringe, scientists search for signs of future climate calamity

Researchers say air temperatures here in northwest Canada, in Siberia and elsewhere in the Arctic have risen more than 2.5 C (4.5 F) since 1970 “” much faster than the global average. The summer thaw is reaching deeper into frozen soil, at a rate of 4 centimeters (1.5 inches) a year, and a further 7 C (13 F) temperature rise is possible this century, says the authoritative, U.N.-sponsored Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

American Clean Skies Foundation Issues Statement on the Growing Consensus for Increased Use of Natural Gas to Meet America’s Energy Needs

Vice President Biden and Energy Secretary Chu announced this week the winners in the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Clean Cities program intended to prompt development of cleaner alternative transportation fuels to reduce our nation’s dependence on foreign oil and lower carbon emissions.

Vice President Biden and Energy Secretary Chu announced this week the winners in the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Clean Cities program intended to prompt development of cleaner alternative transportation fuels to reduce our nation’s dependence on foreign oil and lower carbon emissions. In response to the announcement, The American Clean Skies Foundation (ACSF), a nonprofit organization focused on energy and environmental education, especially as it relates to natural gas, has issued the following statement after noting a significant portion of the funding will be allotted to natural gas infrastructure projects:

“We applaud the U.S. Department of Energy for its decision to award a significant portion of the $300 million in funding for the Clean Cities program to natural gas projects. As the DOE has recognized, American-produced, clean-burning natural gas has a significant role to play in reducing carbon emissions as well as our unsafe dependence upon foreign oil. This funding will support development of natural gas vehicles and natural gas refueling stations, thereby leading to increased usage of natural gas as a transportation fuel in the coming years.