Tag Archives: EPA

Hey, it’s Earth Day!

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

We celebrate this day every year. We say the right things. We actually try to do the right things.

And yet …

Our precious, precarious planet continues to be threatened by policies and behavior that places it in dire peril. What’s going on?

Earth Day is meant to bring the world’s attention to the only planet on which human beings can inhabit. Why don’t we celebrate this world of ours every single day?

I am not going to suggest that our household is doing anything extraordinary to protect our precious Earth, but we have embraced the notion of recycling with both arms. We hug the notion tightly. We now live in a community where recycling has become something akin to a way of life among the thousands of fellow residents of Princeton, Texas.

That is one small way we do our part to protect our planet.

To be clear, ours isn’t the only North Texas community that allows residents to recycle items. We are surrounded by small towns and mid-sized cities that also provide opportunities for residents to do their part, too. For that I am grateful.

Recycling material reduces the consumption of fossil fuels used to create this stuff from scratch by as much as 40 to 50 percent, as I have understood it over the years. It takes far less finite energy to re-use material than to manufacture it.

I am not going to say that every community’s embrace of recycling is going to save our planet by itself. I do offer the belief that human beings’ involvement in recycling that can contribute to the overall goal of preserving our planet’s resources and in keeping our environment clean enough for humans to continue living here.

Our government has returned to the community of nations’ effort to preserve our planet. President Biden’s executive order to return the United States to the Paris Climate Accord is a good first step. Donald Trump pulled us out of that international agreement, calling it intrusive and an impediment to business. Hmm. Well, many of us disagreed with Trump’s call and are welcoming Joe Biden’s involvement in this critical effort.

We are going to honor our Good Earth today. Schools will dedicate class time to remind our children of the need to take care of the planet. Our public airwaves will have programming aimed at doing the same thing.

Those of us who are able also will do our part by filling up our recycling bins with items that can be re-used and re-purposed with the goal of conserving our nation’s precious resources.

Happy Earth Day! Let’s remain vigilant and attentive to our planet tomorrow, too … and for as long as we all inhabit this place.

Hoping for more than climate change lip service

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

President-elect Joe Biden is giving an abundance of lip service to climate change, global warming, clean energy development as he continues to formulate an executive government.

He did so yet again today in revealing his choices to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, the Interior Department and the Energy Department.

Look, I believe the president-elect is sincere in his state desire to tackle what he has called the greatest “existential threat” to our national security. I agree with him. However, I intend to watch intently as the new president starts rolling out the policies that will put some meat on the rhetorical bones that President-elect Biden is delivering on the climate change issue.

I want to see investments made in clean energy development. Energy Secretary-designate Jennifer Granholm spoke to that desire when she spoke to us after Biden introduced her. Indeed, the POTUS-elect has talked about climate change initiatives as being job creators. He has said he wants to employ millions of Americans in clean energy development.

Climate change and global warming do present a grave threat to the nation. The gloom-and-doomers among us suggest it might be too late for humankind to stem the effects of our changing climate. I am not going to buy into that notion.

I want my government and the president I supported with my vote to contribute more than lip service. We need federal policies that will help us harvest the wind, the ocean tides and other clean renewable energy sources to do the job upon which we continue to rely on fossil fuels.

Those fossil fuels have their limits. They also are contributing to that existential threat that our new president says is endangering our planet.

Mr. President-elect, it’s time to get busy. As in immediately.

Push toward energy alternatives? Yes

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

A nation is watching a government take shape.

President-elect Joe Biden is systematically appointing Cabinet and high-level advisors at a brisk clip. They are by and large competent, knowledgeable and forward-thinking. I don’t see any real clunkers in the group.

We’re going to get an energy secretary who once served as governor of Michigan. Jennifer Granholm is expected to take over from Dan Brouilette as soon as the Senate confirms her. What do I want from the new energy boss? Well, I want something that’s been missing for the past four years under Brouilette and from former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who preceded him as energy boss. I want an emphasis on renewable energy.

Will this be part of the Granholm agenda when she takes over as head of the Department of Energy? It damn sure better be.

What was most troubling to me about Rick Perry’s tenure at Energy was his silence on the issue of renewable energy … the clean energy that could replace fossil fuel-driven energy. What disappointed me was that while he was governor of Texas, we saw wind energy farms sprouting like wildflowers all over West Texas. Perry’s tenure as governor saw a huge investment in the kind of energy that promotes environmental protection while heating and cooling our homes and delivering electricity to business and industry throughout the state.

Indeed, Texas became the nation’s leading producer of wind-generated electricity during Perry’s time as governor. Then he ran for president twice; he called Donald Trump a “cancer on conservatism,” pulled out of the 2016 contest and then got selected to serve as energy secretary during the first part of the Trump administration. He must have made a pledge to keep quiet about his record in Texas, because we didn’t hear much from him about alternative energy sources.

President-elect Biden is expected to select Gov. Granholm as the nation’s next energy secretary. He also is committing considerable interest and resources to battling climate change. He has named former Secretary of State John Kerry as his international climate envoy and former Environmental Protection Agency head Gina McCarthy as the nation’s domestic climate change guru.

Fossil fuel production and the carbon emissions that choke our air have caused a worldwide crisis with its impact on our planet’s climate. The nation’s energy secretary can play a key role in stemming that trend and perhaps guide us toward a reversal of fortune.

Jennifer Granholm must be able and willing to take that lead. So must the man who will nominate her to the key job. President Biden has stated clearly and without equivocation that climate change presents a dire threat to our national security. He needs to give the next energy secretary the go-ahead to attack that problem head-on.

RIP, William Ruckelshaus

They buried a Republican champion the other day, a man whose obituary contains a direct reference to his political heroism during a dark, scandalous time in U.S. history.

William Ruckelshaus died at age 87 at his Seattle home.

This man was an amazing, principled public servant who stood tall during the Watergate scandal. He was the nation’s deputy attorney general who, when his boss — AG Elliot Richardson quit while refusing to obey a presidential order — also exhibited supreme courage in following Richardson’s lead.

President Nixon was being swallowed up by the Watergate scandal. In 1973, Congress confirmed Archibald Cox as a special prosecutor to examine the evidence about whether the cover-up extended into the White House. Nixon pledged that Cox would be fully independent, that he could be fired only for malfeasance.

Cox began to get close to Nixon, who then ordered the AG to fire him; Richardson refused. Then the deputy AG got the order; Ruckelshaus quit. It fell, then, to Solicitor General Robert Bork to do what the president demanded.

The Saturday Night Massacre, as the resignations have come to be known, has become etched indelibly into American political lore. William Ruckelshaus stands as a giant man of principle among the key players in that drama.

It is his courage under political fire that is so terribly missing these days, particularly among those who comprise what is left of the Republican Party.

Ruckelshaus, moreover, was the founding director of the Environmental Protection Agency, which the Nixon administration created in 1970. Ruckelshaus was wedded to the idea of protecting our planet. That, too, remains high on his legacy of public service accomplishment.

If only this good man’s political descendants could rip a page from his Book of High Principle and adhere to the courage that William Ruckelshaus demonstrated in a time of political peril.

So very thankful for news out of Golden Triangle

I have been watching the news out of Mid-Jefferson County, Texas, with great interest and keen anticipation.

A refinery in Port Neches exploded and caught fire this week. My wife and I have many friends in that part of Texas, owing to the time we lived in nearby Beaumont for nearly 11 years.

I am grateful beyond measure that no one died in that horrific blast and inferno. My jaw has dropped when I watched video of the explosion that propelled large pieces of debris into the air. I am stunned not only that no one died, but that only a handful of folks suffered what officials have called “minor” injuries caused by flying glass.

The best news is that firefighters have controlled the blaze, giving me a chance to offer high praise yet again for the first responders who have this uncanny ability — not to mention willingness — to thrust themselves into harm’s way.

I hear reports now about the plant that exploded being in violation of Environmental Protection Agency safety standards. That issue needs maximum attention, to be sure, if there will be any chance of that plant being brought back into full operation.

Until then I am merely going to offer a word of thanks and expression of relief that our friends are safe.

Trump now wants to kill off endangered species?

This is far from a flash, but here goes anyway: Donald John Trump is off his ever-lovin’ rocker.

The Trump administration now wants to seriously weaken a 1973 law — signed by a Republican president — that helped save several valuable species of wildlife from extinction.

Yep, Donald Trump is taking dead aim at the Endangered Species Act. He wants to weaken provisions that allow for the protection of these species. He claims the regulations are too burdensome.

According to Smithsonian.com: The new rules also impose limitations on how threats are assessed. Officials used to take into account factors that could harm species in the “foreseeable future,” but now lawmakers have more discretion in deciding what “foreseeable future” should mean. So they may choose to disregard climate factors—like rising sea levels and extreme heat—that will likely impact species several decades from now.

President Nixon signed the Endangered Species Act into law in 1973. At the time of its enactment, species such as the American alligator and the bald eagle were in serious trouble. Their numbers had plummeted. The eagle had suffered terribly by consuming fish that were poisoned by DDT. The alligator had been hunted to near extinction along the Gulf and Atlantic coasts.

Trump endangers the Endangered Species Act

So what in the world is this president trying to do? Why on God’s cherished Earth does this man seek to endanger wildlife that has become part of the American landscape. Consider, too, that the Endangered Species Act helped save the creature that symbolizes the nation itself: the bald eagle!

The Trump administration continues to make moves it aims to help industry, with little or no regard to the consequences they might deliver to God’s cherished creatures.

This is the mindset of an administration led by someone with zero interest — let alone knowledge — of matters he cannot comprehend.

Protecting wildlife? Hah!

Happy Earth Day!

This is the third Earth Day we have noted since Donald Trump became president.

Yes, the two elements are related.

There used to be a time when presidents of both parties would salute efforts to save our planet from ourselves. Donald Trump took office in January 2017 and immediately began dismantling environmental regulations and removing this country from a key worldwide environmental initiative.

He pulled the United States out of the Paris Climate Accord. Then he knocked aside rules and regulations limiting carbon emissions; he has sought to open up public land to fossil fuel exploration; he has downplayed the exploration of alternative energy sources; Trump dismisses openly the effects of climate change.

Despite all of that, the sun rose this morning. It will set tonight. The cycle will continue.

That’s the good news.

The bad news is that the president continues to ignore the cause of climate change/global warming. He calls it a “hoax.” It is no such thing. It’s real. It needs to be dealt with seriously. We need presidential leadership to take command.

It was on the watch of President Nixon, a Republican, that the nation formed the Environmental Protection Agency in 1970. Republicans and Democrats for most of the time since then have embraced the EPA’s mission.

Is this the end of life as we know it? No. However, we need to pay attention to what’s happening out there. Earth’s temperatures are rising; the polar ice caps at both ends of the planet are shrinking; polar habitat is endangered; storms are becoming more frequent and more ferocious; human beings who live along our coasts are imperiled.

We have to care for this planet. It’s only one we have.

Happy Earth Day . . . even to you, Mr. President.

Let’s confront the ‘existential threat’: climate change

Newly installed U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi laid a number of key issues on the line today moments after taking the gavel.

One of them is what she described as the most dangerous “existential threat” facing the nation: climate change.

Pelosi pledged to bring climate change back to the front of the nation’s attention, to the top of our national mind.

It has been pushed aside by Republicans who formerly ran the House, by those who continue to run the Senate and by the individual who sits in the Oval Office, Donald Trump, the president of the United States.

Trump has called climate change — formerly known colloquially as “global warming” — a “hoax.” His allies in Congress have bought into the Trump mantra. The president selected a key climate change denier, Scott Pruitt, to run the Environmental Protection Agency; another such denier, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, is now the energy secretary; still another denier, Ryan Zinke, has just left his post as interior secretary.

Pelosi clearly understands what most Americans understand, that Earth’s climate is changing and the change is due largely because of massive amounts of carbon emissions being thrown into the atmosphere. That phenomenon, coupled with deforestation, is warming the planet’s temperature; the polar ice caps are melting; sea levels are rising; communities along our seas, gulfs and oceans are being placed in dire peril — not to mention what it’s doing to wildlife habitat.

Pelosi pledged today to return climate change to the front of the line. I wish her well. Whether this discussion produces legislation and a restoration of regulations aimed at curbing those emissions remain to be seen. The GOP still runs the Senate. The Republican president is still in office.

Whatever it is worth, and I hope it’s worth more than it might seem, Pelosi has the public on her side. Whether that’s enough to, um, turn the tide fills me with a bit of hope that this nation might take a proactive stance against this existential threat.

Government endorses notion that humans cause climate change

Longing for a return of bipartisan ceremony

I cannot remember the last time I saw a president posing for pictures with politicians of both major political parties.

You remember those days, right? President Lyndon Johnson signed landmark civil rights legislation into law, and handed pens out to Republicans and Democrats gathered around him.

President Richard Nixon did the same thing with, say, creation of the Environmental Protection Agency. Same with President Ronald Reagan as he signed significant tax legislation.

President Bill Clinton worked hand in glove with Republican congressional leaders to balance the federal budget and both sides sought to take credit for that noble achievement. Fine. Let ’em!

I remember the time not long after 9/11 when GOP President George W. Bush embraced Democratic Senate Leader Tom Daschle on the floor of the House after delivering a speech that called the nation to arms after the terror attacks.

These days, presidents are photographed only with pols of their own parties. President Barack Obama would be photographed at bill signings only with Democrats. The current president of the United States, Donald J. Trump, meets almost exclusively with Republicans and wouldn’t be caught dead sharing space with Democrats.

Legislating is a team sport. Teamwork often requires pols of both parties to work together.

We see so little of it these days, and indeed over the course of at least two presidential administrations. Republicans and Democrats have declared the other guys to be the enemy. They aren’t just mere opponents.

It’s a toxic time in Washington, D.C. It is threatening to poison the system for far longer than can possibly benefit the cause of good government.

Pruitt’s gone, but EPA’s mission remains intact

I was among the millions of Americans who cheered the news that Scott Pruitt had resigned as Environmental Protection Agency administrator.

His corruption and utter lack of ethical conduct became unbearable. I also am astounded that he didn’t get the boot long ago. Then again, he did work in an administration led by Donald John Trump Sr., so maybe I shouldn’t have been surprised.

OK, so Scott Pruitt is gone.

Is that reason to continue cheering? Hardly. EPA remains an agency under siege. Donald Trump has declared climate change to be a “hoax” concocted by China and other economic powers that want to undermine the U.S. fossil fuel industry.

To think for a moment or two that such idiocy comes from a man who admits that he doesn’t read much. He relies on TV news talk shows to inform him. He once said he knows “more about ISIS than the generals.”

So, the president who denies the existence of climate change is able to appoint EPA bosses who adhere to his nonsensical point of view. That’s what he did when he asked Pruitt, the former Oklahoma attorney general who took great delight in suing the Obama administration over environmental rules and regulations.

It might be that Trump — who likely didn’t even know Pruitt when he selected him — was unaware he was appointing an ethical slug to run the EPA.

The man in charge of EPA at this moment is deputy administrator Andrew Wheeler, who comes from the coal industry. I don’t know much about Wheeler, so I cannot comment directly about what he’ll do. I feel comfortable, though, in believing that if he signs on to run the EPA in a Donald Trump administration, he likely adheres to the climate change view espoused by the Big Man.

Am I still cheering Scott Pruitt’s departure from EPA?

Not any longer.