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Terry Winckler's blog

(Update: Today, China announced that it, too, will pledge limits on greenhouse gas emissions.)

It's official -- President Obama will lead the U.S. delegation at the Copenhagen climate change conference, and he will promise the world a 17 percent decrease (from 2005 levels)  in U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by 2020. His pledge mirrors the levels contained in climate change legislation being considered by Congress.

Although this will not improve chances of an actual treaty being reached at Copenhagen, the expectation is for a political agreement among the major nations. Such an agreement depends on what China brings to the conference, and that remains a mystery. China and the U.S. are the planet's two biggest contributors to global warming.

 

(Update: Energy lobbyists are hard at work in developed countries, pressing to make sure the Copenhagen conference doesn't harm the fossil fuel industry, according to an investigative report by the Center for Public Integrity. Check out the Center's interactive map of the world's biggest greenhouse gas emitters.)

(Also: Here is a United Nation's report on what climate change is already doing to the earth and its inhabitants, along with a forecast of what's to come.)

Probably this week, President Obama will announce whether he will attend next month's international climate change conference in Copenhagen -- and what the U.S.will be offering up. The latest news scuttlebutt is that the U.S. delegation is set to propose greenhouse gas emissions limits similar to what Congress is considering.

No one is counting on a treaty to come from the conference, nor is there any hope that Congress will pass a climate change bill by then.

 

"Putting lipstick on a pig" describes a PR tactic of making something bad look good. But, two Canadian companies have added a new twist to this old ploy—they've changed the name of the pig.

We're referring to the oil mining practices of EnCana Corp. and Cenovus Energy Inc. The companies employ a form of mining oil from Canadian tar sands that has a bad reputation for being highly destructive to the environment. To counter this, they are no longer using the phrases "tar sands" and "oil sands" in referring to their work. Now they describe themselves as conducting "enhanced oil projects."

Extracting oil from tar sands is one of the dirtiest, most polluting methods—and Earthjustice is challenging a pipeline that would daily bring nearly half a million barrels of oil obtained this way into the United States from Canada. No matter what you call it, there's no disguising its harmful impacts: the excessive greenhouse gas emissions, the vast amounts of water employed in mining, the multitude of toxins released into our air and water.

Earthjustice attorney David Henkin is giving the keynote address this month at the United Nations Environmental Program workshop in Okinawa on the military and the environment. Here's a glimpse of what he will discuss:

What kind of work does Earthjustice do in the Mid-Pacific office?

Earthjustice has begun tracking the Obama administration's progress in rolling back eight years of environmental assault by the Bush administration. We've created a chart that grades President Barack Obama on how well he's done. After reading the chart, come back to this blog post and provide your own comments. We'll be updating the report card as actions warrant.

 

President Barack Obama handed out a passel of money today for "smart grid" projects, much of it going towards house electrical meters that can be controlled by power companies. The meters allow companies to manipulate how much electricity each house uses at any given time -- useful in times of power shortages and for being able to shift power from where it's least needed to where it's most needed.

Two years after Earthjustice successfully fought Florida Power and Light's plan to build the nation's largest coal plant near Everglades National Park, the state is taking a giant leap forward toward clean energy.

Today, President Barack Obama is touring FPL's new DeSoto Next Generation Solar Energy Center in Arcadia —the largest photovoltaic facility in the U.S.

"Instead of having a dirty coal plant to provide power, we have clean solar energy," said David Guest, managing attorney for Earthjustice in Florida. "It is gratifying to know that Earthjustice helped change public policy and moved our state to more common-sense technology. We are finally putting the sunshine back in the Sunshine State."

In June 2007, Earthjustice gathered evidence and experts which helped convince the Florida Public Service Commission to consider the full costs associated with polluting coal plants. It was the first time that global warming played a role in a PSC decision, and the first time in 15 years that state regulators rejected a new power plant.

At 25 megawatts, it will generate nearly twice as much energy as the second-largest photovoltaic facility in the U.S.—Nevada's Nellis Solar Power Plant.
 

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