Friday, May 15, 2009

Key Republican Formally Endorses Waxman Climate Bill

Chairman Henry A. Waxman and Subcommittee Chairman Edward J. Markey introduced "H.R. 2454, The American Clean Energy and Security Act." The Energy and Commerce Committee will begin markup of the bill on Monday, May 18, 2009, at 1:00 p.m., and will complete consideration before the Memorial Day recess.

Boucher Endorses Climate Change Compromise

By Steven T. Dennis
Roll Call Staff
May 14, 2009, 4:23 p.m.

Key moderate Rep. Rick Boucher (D-Va.) formally threw his support Thursday behind the compromise climate change bill he negotiated with House Energy and Commerce Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and Energy and Environment Subcommittee Chairman Ed Markey (D-Mass.).

“I intend to vote yes and I intend to urge all other committee members to do the same,” Boucher said at a press conference.

Boucher said he still wants changes in the measure to reduce the overall carbon reduction targets, but would work with Waxman and Markey at next week’s markup to protect it from Republican amendments until the legislation gets to the floor.

Boucher said he would prefer a 14 percent carbon emissions reduction by 2020 instead of the 17 percent compromise he struck with Waxman and also wanted a slower phaseout of free allocations given to electric utilities to mitigate any increase in rates for consumers.

But Waxman and Markey exulted at the agreement.

Markey said the deal “defies conventional wisdom that was pronouncing this bill dead for weeks and months.”

“It’s a legislative Susan Boyle. Everyone underestimated it until it started to sing,” he said.

Waxman said that some negotiations were continuing, including on the issue of oil refineries, and that bill text would be released either late Thursday or Friday.

The Story of Stuff

Here's another great video to check out! The New York Times published a front page article on the documentary on May 10th.

From the website:
The Story of Stuff is a 20-minute, fast-paced, fact-filled look at the underside of our production and consumption patterns. The Story of Stuff exposes the connections between a huge number of environmental and social issues, and calls us together to create a more sustainable and just world. It'll teach you something, it'll make you laugh, and it just may change the way you look at all the stuff in your life forever.
You can watch the full video by clicking on the website link above.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

More Good News! Trash-Free Anacostia

From the D.C. Wire:
Committees: Bring A Bag Or Pay A Nickel

Two D.C. Council committees approved legislation today that would require consumers to pay 5 cents for paper or plastic bags at grocery stores, convenience stores and other retail outlets where food is involved.

The Anacostia River Cleanup and Protection Act of 2009 could end up being the toughest law on plastic and paper bags in the country, forcing consumers to use reusable bags.

According to a press release from Council member Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6), "the Committee on Finance and Revenue and the Committee on Government Operations and the Environment held back-to-back meetings to mark-up and approve the legislation this morning."

The idea is that the legislation will target plastic bags, which are helping to pollute the Anacostia River. Plastic bags travel as litter into storm drains and intor the river. Paper bags was included in the legislation when store owners explained the expense of providing consumers with paper, instead of plastic.

"Over 20,000 tons of trash enters the Anacostia River each year leaving a polluted, dirty and neglected river bordering our neighborhoods - today's vote is a big step in the right direction," Wells said in a statement.

Advocates for low-income residents and the plastics and paper industries have lobbied against the legislation as costly for poor people who would have to worry about a "bag tax" when they are trying to buy groceries. The legislation would provide low-income and elderly residents with reusable bags.
Congrats to everyone on their hard work!

Talk About Great Timing!

So after the scary documentary on Monstanto, here is some great news for the future the U.S. food supply:

Obama Offers Farmers $50 million to Go Organic!

Under the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) farmers in all 50 states have funds available to encourage organic agriculture production.

From the USDA press release:

Under the Organic Initiative required minimum core conservation practices will be determined by specific resource concerns. The practices are: Conservation Crop Rotation; Cover Crop; Nutrient Management; Pest Management; Prescribed Grazing; and Forage Harvest Management. States must consider using any appropriate practice that meets the resource concern on a particular operation.

Applications received from organic producers or producers in transition to organic farming will be accepted under this initiative between May 11 and May 29. Applications will be ranked at that time.

“The USDA funding is historic. It signals federal recognition of the multiple contributions organic agriculture makes to the health of our environment. Better water quality, enhanced biodiversity, protection of bees and other pollinators, and increased carbon storage in our soil are all benefits of organic production,” said the Organic Farming Research Foundation’s Senior Policy Analyst Mark Lipson.

So Where Does Our Food Come From?

Walk into a grocery store (or like I did the other day one of those crazy giant bulk goods stores where you can buy a case of motor oil next to a case of pineapple) and you see rows and rows of food - fresh food, frozen food, prepackaged food. But how many people ever think: Where does my food come from?

I find this one of the most disturbing phenomena in this country. People will spends days and weeks researching the best car, computer, or flat-screen TV, but will reach for just about anything to put inside our bodies.

Providing food to consumers used to be a regional enterprise where family farms would raise most of our basic crops. Now, according to Forbes magazine, the worldwide sector is worth about $4.8 trillion and growing. Mega corporations control everything from manufacturing of agrichemicals and seeds to food processing to retail.

Last year a French journalist and film maker, Marie-Monique Robin, created the documentary "The World According to Monsanto" which looks at the domination of the agricultural business by one company. Twilight Earth has posted the entire documentary on their site.

A little background info: Monsanto, the chemical company that brought you Agent Orange, is also responsible for the herbicide "Roundup" (and subsequent "Roundup Ready" seeds). They are also the leading producer of genetically engineered seeds and are a developer of bovine growth hormones.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

A New Computer, Yay!

So I've been absent from blogging for a while since I've been sans computer, but I've been amassing quite a long list of articles to share and comment on!

Let's start positive with a recycling project from WikiHow and ThreadBanger:

How To Make Flip Flops from an Old Yoga Mat