Green Energy, Black Water: Duke Energy Sued For Polluting Drinking Water

Photo Credit: AP

Two environmental groups have accused Duke Energy, one of the Democratic Party’s major corporate supporters and a recipient of large green energy subsidies, of contaminating drinking water supplies in Charlotte, N.C.

The plaintiffs say Duke is misleading the public about its environmental record, and could face federal sanctions and a hit to its public image in Charlotte, where the utility is headquartered. Alleged environmental damage by Duke could also pose challenges for the Obama administration, which has strong ties to the company.

The Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC) and the Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation (CRF) filed a notice of intent on Tuesday announcing that they plan to sue Duke for alleged violations of the Clean Water Act.

The plaintiffs claim Duke allowed carcinogenic chemicals from coal ash storage facilities to leak into Mountain Island Lake, Charlotte’s primary drinking water reservoir. “Duke is discharging polluted water into the lake. The pollution includes arsenic, cobalt, boron, barium, strontium, manganese, zinc, and iron,” SELC and CRF claimed in a Tuesday news release.

Duke’s closeness with the Obama administration could be problematic for the president, who is already under pressure from environmentalist groups to kill the Keystone XL pipeline.

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Report May Ease Path for New Pipeline

Photo Credit: Larry W. SmithThe State Department issued a revised environmental impact statement for the 1,700-mile Keystone XL pipeline on Friday that makes no recommendation about whether the project should be built but presents no conclusive environmental reason it should not be.

The 2,000-page document also makes no statement on whether the pipeline is in the United States’ economic and energy interests, a determination to be made later this year by President Obama.

But it will certainly add a new element to the already robust climate change and energy debate around the $7 billion proposed project. The new report does not make any policy recommendations, but its conclusion that the environmental and climate change impacts are manageable could provide Mr. Obama political cover if he decides to approve the pipeline.

Although the study will help guide the president’s decision, it does not make the politics any easier. Environmental advocates and landowners along the route have mounted spirited protests against the project, including a large demonstration in Washington last month. They say they view Keystone as a test of Mr. Obama’s seriousness about addressing global warming.

The president faces equally strong pressure from industry, the Canadian government, most Republicans and some Democrats in Congress, local officials and union leaders, who say the project will create thousands of jobs and provide a secure source of oil that will replace crude from Venezuela, Saudi Arabia and other potentially hostile suppliers.

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Report: Chevy Volt Battery Supplier Wasted Millions In Stimulus Funds

Photo Credit: BreitbartAn Inspector General’s report from the Department of Energy (DOE) recently revealed that the LG Chem auto battery plant in Holland, Michigan “inappropriately claimed and was reimbursed for labor costs that did not support the purpose/objective” of a government grant.

According to the IG’s office, this included the costs for staffers to perform “volunteer activities, play games and watch movies during regular work hours.”

The IG points the finger at LG Chem and DOE, saying Department officials did not establish appropriate oversight protections into the $142 million grant that was awarded to LG Chem to build the Holland plant.

Notably, LG Chem Michigan did not fully realize the grant’s target goals, and the Department did not always take sufficient action to ensure adequate oversight of project progress and, in turn, protect the taxpayers $142 million investment in the project. For instance, LG Chem Michigan officials told us that they made a decision to delay production of battery cells at the Michigan facility…

NETL officials commented that it was anticipated at the time the grant was awarded that the transition of production from non-U.S. sources to Michigan would occur; however, language requiring the shift in production had not been incorporated into the grant… until the shift in production takes place or some alternative use for the plant is developed, U.S. taxpayers will receive little direct benefit from a plant for which they provided up to half of the funding.

LG Chem told Michigan local television news that LG Chem workers play games and view films because the plant does not manufacture batteries for consumer use.

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Secret Colorado Energy Lab Spawns Million Dollar Government Employee

Photo Credit: Watch DogThe federal government’s dream of a renewable energy empire hinges on a scrubby outpost here, where scientists and executives doggedly explore a new frontier.

If you live outside Colorado, you probably haven’t heard of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory – NREL for short. It’s the place where solar panels, windmills and corn are deemed the energy source of the future and companies who support such endeavors are courted.

It’s also the place where highly paid staff decide how to spend hundreds of millions in taxpayer dollars.

And the public pays those decision-makers well: NREL’s top executive, Dr. Dan Arvizu, makes close to a million dollars per year. His two top lieutenants rake in more than half a million each and nine others make more than $350,000 a year.

But what is really going on there? Energy expert Amy Oliver Cooke drove out to the site, which looks something like Nevada’s Area 51 with its remote location and forbidding concrete buildings. NREL had started a construction project and Cooke wanted to see for herself. She didn’t get far: a man in an SUV seemingly appeared out of nowhere, stopped her car, and told her to leave.

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Green Groups Brave the Cold to Protest ‘Global Warming,’ Seek to Kill Keystone XL Pipeline

photo credit: tarsandsactionEnvironmental groups gathered on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Sunday and marched on the White House for a climate change rally largely aimed at pressuring President Obama to reject the Keystone XL oil sands pipeline.

activists attended the rally, where speakers portrayed the battle over the pipeline as a struggle between grassroots green groups and deep-pocketed special interests.

“They’ve got the lobbyists. They’ve got the super-PACs. They made the campaign contributions. They’ve got this town in their pockets — they have got the situation under control. And then you show up. And then we show up. And we change the game,” Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) told the crowd not long before it marched on the White House.

Obama will decide whether the project goes forward because it crosses national boundaries. The pipeline would bring fossil fuels from Canadian tar sands fields to the Gulf Coast. Environmentalists are painting Obama’s upcoming decision as the litmus test for whether he plans to make good on recent comments about tackling climate change.

Activists at Sunday’s rally said approving the pipeline would taint Obama’s record on climate change. They said they hoped the demonstration would give the president the will to nix Keystone, even when a majority of both the House and the Senate want it built.

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EPA Corruption and Scandal

photo credit: wallygThe EPA and Ms. Lisa Jackson, its chief, have committed extensive violations of law that should receive in-depth scrutiny from Congress, law enforcement and the American people. Yes the Obama administration has yet another serious scandal on their hands. The scandal features a fantasy administrator, ‘Richard Windsor’, and ‘his’ email account. The account was established and used by Ms. Jackson to camouflage controversial EPA processes, discussions, decisions and accountability. To date the known evidence suggests violations of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), mail and wire fraud laws. Additionally it surfaces another example of the Obama administration’s epidemic chicanery with the law, Congress and the Constitution and another failure to keep faith with the American people.

Upon closer inspection the EPA like the GSA and other Obama administration agencies, demonstrates a lack of managerial/administrative control. It also exhibited a culture of obfuscation, malfeasance and corruption that did not blossom overnight. And like other Obama scandals, the mainstream media has again decided to cover it with their much practiced three monkey act.

For perspective a little recent history is in order. Lisa Jackson, who is departing the EPA, stated in November of 2011 that “…What EPA’s role is to do is to level the playing field so that pollution costs are not exported to the population but rather companies have to look at pollution potential of any fuel or any process or any plant or utility when their making investment decisions.”

Simply translated Ms. Jackson makes clear that her job and the EPA’s are to hurt companies/industries that produce energy counter to the wishes of the Obama administration (and the left’s agenda). Ms. Jackson also demonstrates a very low economic IQ, since higher costs incurred by energy companies will be passed to end users/consumers.

Coupling her statement with President Obama’s pronouncement of a year ago, i.e. “Where Congress is not willing to act, we’re going to go ahead and do it ourselves”… exposes his strategy to “legislate” by regulation and executive order (with Jackson and the heads of other agencies helping). Although Obama indicated it would be “nice” to work with Congress, his intentions are to evade the two centuries-old legislative process of the Constitution and impose his will on all Americans. The EPA under Jackson has become a key bludgeon in this political and ideological power grab and has used illegal methods in the effort.

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Carbon Tax Hallucinations

Average planetary temperatures haven’t budged in 16 years. Hurricanes and strong tornadoes are at or near their lowest ebb in decades. Global sea ice is back to normal, while the Antarctic icepack continues to grow. The rate of sea level rise remains what it was in 1900.

And yet, President Obama and many politicians, newscasters and alarmist scientists continue to insist that carbon dioxide emissions are changing Earth’s climate, and we need to take immediate action to prevent storms like Hurricane Sandy and avert catastrophes predicted by IPCC computer models and “scientific consensus.” Not surprisingly, polls show public support for controlling CO2 output and taxing hydrocarbon use – to “ensure climate security” and “save vital federal programs” from budgetary axes.

As the liberal lobby Think Progress put it, people “overwhelmingly” prefer a carbon tax on “big polluters” versus cuts in favorite programs “like education, Social Security, Medicare and environmental protection.”

Five-alarm climate claims, skewed polling questions and phony taxes-versus-grandma budget alternatives will almost always ensure support for carbon taxes – especially among Bigger Government and Ban Fossil Fuels constituencies. More rational analysis reveals that dreams of hundred-billion-dollar windfalls from slapping regressive new taxes on job creation and economic growth are nothing more than dangerous tax revenue hallucinations. They would bring intense pain for no climate or economic gain.

Employing Energy Information Administration data, a recent Heritage Foundation study by economists David Kreutzer and Nicolas Loris found that a tax starting at $25-per-ton of CO2 emitted and increasing by 5% per year would cut a family of four’s income by $1,400 annually, raise their utility bills by $500 a year, and increase gasoline fill-ups by up to 50 cents per gallon. That’s $2,000 a year chopped from their budget for food, vacations, home and car payments and repairs, college and retirement savings, dental and medical care, and overall quality of life.

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Taxing the Planet Clean: Boxer, Sanders call for $1.2 Trillion Carbon Tax

Photo Credit: APSens. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) and Barbara Boxer (D., Calif.) announced they will introduce sweeping new energy regulations, including a carbon tax, during a Thursday press conference.

The proposed legislation would use a tax on carbon emissions to fund “historic investments in energy efficiency and sustainable energy technologies such as wind, solar, geothermal, and biomass,” according to a press release.

“We have the opportunity right now, with the president’s commitment in the State of the Union to make major progress,” Sanders said at the press conference. President Barack Obama called for “meaningful” action on climate change in his State of the Union address Tuesday, and Boxer said her bill was in line with the president’s goals.

“The president is right—we must do more to combat climate change, and Superstorm Sandy was a wake-up call,” Boxer said in a statement. “I strongly support the president’s efforts to move forward with executive actions to address this serious threat.”

Sanders said the bill’s tax—$20 per ton of carbon dioxide above a set limit—would target 2,869 of the country’s biggest carbon emitters, including coalmines, oil refineries, and natural gas processing points.

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EPA Moves Forward With ‘Climate Change’ Protection Plan

Photo Credit: DonkeyHoteyThe Environmental Protection Agency is formally moving forward with its Climate Change Adaptation Plan.

Beginning Friday, the EPA is accepting comments on its draft plan, which calls for the agency to amend its operations — including the promulgation of new regulations — to account for increasingly rapid global warming. The effort comes in response to a 2009 government-wide directive via President Obama’s Council on Environmental Quality, requiring agencies to plan this year for future climate change.

“It is essential that EPA adapt to anticipate and plan for future changes in climate,” according to the 55-page plan, which carries a 2012 date but was put forth now for public consideration. “It must integrate, or mainstream, considerations of climate change into its programs, policies, rules and operations to ensure they are effective under future climatic conditions.”

Rising sea levels, loss of snowpack and drought linked to climate change will likely require the agency to take additional steps to protect watersheds, wetlands and water supplies, the report argues.

Increasing temperatures and more frequent extreme weather events, meanwhile, will demand measures to protect public safety and adapt emergency response plans, it says.

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Flashback: Obama Interior Nominee Sally Jewell Interview On ‘Green Business’

Photo Credit: APRecreational Equipment Inc., the outdoor retailer and the country’s largest consumer cooperative, plans to open its first distribution center on the East Coast–in Bedford, Pa.–at the end of November. REI President and Chief Executive Sally Jewell recently spoke with about the company’s environmental policy, her early career working for Big Oil and why environmentally friendly REI is staying out of the debate in Congress over climate change. (In 2005, Forbes profiled Jewell–see “Uphill Battle.” ) REI has a multi-pronged environmental strategy–you buy clean power, build green buildings and use green packaging, just to name a few examples. Environmentally speaking, what is the company most focused on right now?

Sally Jewell: We like to say that the best electron is the one you don’t use. One of the key things that we are working on very extensively is reducing energy consumption. We have in our plans, our 2008 budget, to convert between 15 and 20 stores to solar. That won’t take 100% of the energy needs of those stores, but it will be 15% to 30% depending on the market.

Many businesses are investing in carbon-offset projects in developing countries, but REI buys renewable energy credits, sometimes called “green tags,” to promote the use of clean energy here in the U.S. Why?

We consider the use of carbon offsets, or green tags, to be kind of the last resort, where we don’t have an opportunity to directly influence the emissions of carbon. [ The company’s adventure-travel division, REI Adventures, uses green tags to offset carbon emissions.] We offset about 30% of our greenhouse gas footprint by actually buying [renewable] power. That’s better and more direct than buying green tags.

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