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Obama administration

Today, the Environmental Protection Agency celebrated the 40th anniversary of one of our nation's most successful and most protective laws, the Clean Air Act.

Commemorating the milestone anniversary with a full day of speakers, keynotes and panel discussions, the agency was joined by a host of industry leaders, business CEOs, clean air advocates and environmental champions to discuss just how far we've come in cleaning up our air and protecting people's lungs and lives from toxic and dangerous air pollution.

For proof on how far we've come, here's some of the pudding:

The White House has reportedly said thanks but no thanks to the offer, reported here, by Bill McKibben and 350.org to return one of the solar panels installed on the White House roof during the Carter administration 35 years ago. No explanation was given (that I know of). One can think that it might be because McKibben was harshly critical of President Obama's role at the Copenhagen meeting last year, but that's only conjecture. It does seem to be a missed opportunity for some good press, which the administration needs just now.

About 30 years ago, after some prodding from environmental groups, Jimmy Carter had solar panels installed on the roof of the White House. He gave a ringing speech at the time, hoping that this gesture would help build a solar revolution. He established a Solar Energy Research Institute and put Denis Hayes, the director of the first and subsequent Earth Days in charge.

In 2011, the EPA is expected to propose the first-ever limits on global warming pollution from coal-fired power plants—good news, considering these pollution giants are responsible for a third of CO2 emissions in the United States. To the industry lobbyists and their mouthpieces in Congress who are resorting to all sorts of fear-mongering to smother these critical efforts: take heed—the American public isn't on your side.

A new poll from the Benenson Strategy Group, commissioned by NRDC, polled 1,401 registered voters and found that 60 percent support the regulation of global-warming gases from power plants and refineries, another significant source of such pollution. And in a vote of confidence for the EPA, 54 percent expressed confidence in the agency's ability to control the emissions.

Along with a suite of other pollution control rules the EPA is and will be pursuing, the forthcoming rules to limit global warming pollution from coal plants provide a tremendous opportunity to protect our health and planet while building a clean energy future. Those on the payroll of big polluters will try to keep us stuck in the past, but a vocal American public that demands strong action on global warming from the EPA and the Obama administration can help carry us forward.
 

Headlines in the last week trumpeted a decision by Xcel, Colorado's largest utility, to convert several old coal-fired power plants into natural gas plants.

The decision was hailed by some as a victory for the environment, since natural gas, when burned, results in fewer pollutants and greenhouse gases.  Some proclaimed the political power of coal on the wane in the West and natural gas ascendent.

This afternoon (7/29), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) smacked down climate deniers in the most diplomatic and thoughtful way possible.

After careful re-review of decades of research and scientific findings by the world's foremost academic and government scientists, the EPA told 10 groups who challenged its scientific finding that greenhouse gases contribute to global warming and endanger human health and welfare (in much gentler words):

<Today (Thur.), I attended a Town Hall meeting in a Senate office building on the need for climate change legislation. Accompanying me was our fantastic summer intern, Trevor Hill, who is here in DC sponging up the politics and legislative procedures within our fight to protect the people, places and wildlife on this planet for an entire summer before he returns to Carleton College in Northfield, MN.

Tomorrow (July 22), Don Blankenship, the notorious chairman and CEO of Massey Energy, speaks at the National Press Club. We'll be live blogging to make sure you all get the play-by-play -- which promises to be interesting at the very least if Blankenship's previous speaking engagements are any indicator (we live-blogged at his public debate with Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., in January in Charleston, WV -- check it out here).

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