U.S. not waging ‘war on coal’: Energy Secretary Moniz

U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz gestures during an interview with Reuters in Vienna June 30, 2013.Photo: Reuters/Leonhard Foeger

U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz gestures during an interview with Reuters in Vienna June 30, 2013.
Photo: Reuters/Leonhard Foeger

Fredrik Dahl, Reuters

The U.S. government is not waging a “war on coal” but rather expects it to still play a significant role, U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said on Sunday, rejecting criticism of President Barack Obama’s climate change plan.

Obama tried last week to revive his stalled climate change agenda, promising new rules to cut carbon emissions from U.S. power plants and other domestic actions including support for renewable energy.

The long-awaited plan drew criticism from the coal industry, which would be hit hard by carbon limits, and Republicans, who accused the Democratic president of advancing policies that harm the economy and kill jobs. Environmentalists largely cheered the proposals, though some said the moves did not go far enough.

Obama “expects fossil fuels, and coal specifically, to remain a significant contributor for some time,” Moniz told Reuters in Vienna, where he was to attend a nuclear security conference.

The way the U.S. administration is “looking at it is: what does it take for us to do to make coal part of a low carbon future,” he said, adding this would include higher efficiency plants and new ways of utilizing coal.

It is “all about having, in fact, coal as part of that future,” Moniz said. “I don’t believe it is a ‘war on coal’.”

Senator Joe Manchin, a Democrat from West Virginia, the No. 2 U.S. coal mining state after Wyoming, said last week that Obama had “declared a war on coal,” and the industry said the rules threatened its viability.

Moniz acknowledged there could be winners and losers but that economic models belie “the statement that there are huge economic impacts” from controlling greenhouse gases.

“Quite the contrary. We expect that this is going to be positive for the economy,” he said.

Obama said he had directed the Environmental Protection Agency to craft new emissions rules for thousands of power plants, the bulk of which burn coal and which account for roughly one-third of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.

With Congress unlikely to pass climate legislation, Obama said his administration would set rules using executive powers.

Moniz said he was optimistic that the United States would meet its goal to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by roughly 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020. “We’re pretty close to the track right now. We’re halfway there,” he said.

An $8 billion loan guarantee program for projects to develop new technologies that help cut emissions of fossil fuels would include carbon capture and storage technology (CCS) as “one of a number of options,” he said.

“It will also include some advanced technologies for using coal very different from today’s technologies that will enable much less expensive carbon capture in future,” Moniz said.

CCS is a relatively new, expensive and unproven technology that captures carbon dioxide and buries it.

What is an Indigenous Nation?

Duane Champagne, Indian Country Today Media Network

What is an indigenous nation? What does indigenous nation building mean? Currently the word “nation” is in wide use among tribal leaders and academics, but perhaps the word has different meanings for different groups.

The word “nation” itself is not an indigenous word, and there may lay a significant caveat. However most indigenous communities have a word for expressing the concept of a collective political or cultural group. The way that most academic and planning experts use the word nation, however, does not have indigenous origins. Rather, the expression of “nation building” comes from the history of Western societies and through the modernization development literature. Nation as expressed in the development literature implies a people who have shared political commitments and agree to follow common rules of citizenship.

Each individual, each citizen, makes a collective commitment and loyalty on certain issues such as shared military obligations, common defense, shared government, and shared economic or market institutions. If one part of the nation is attacked by a foreign nation, then the rest of the citizens are obligated to defend the nation and their fellow citizens. Nations, which may have a variety of government forms, must share rules, norms, obligations, and goals.

The development of nations, or nation building, is a major goal in the modernizing development literature because once a nation is truly achieved, it forms the basis for consensus in achieving common political, economic and cultural goals and values. Nations, in the sense of committed individual citizens, are a fundamental building block of contemporary democratic governments and market systems. The development theory experts suggest that Indigenous Peoples follow a path toward democratic government and free markets based on an interpretation of nation that is prerequisite to upholding contemporary non-indigenous economic and political forms.

Many, if not most, Indigenous Peoples do not and did not form nations that are or would have been directly supportive of markets and contemporary democratic governments. The very difference between a tribal society and a nation in the contemporary sense is that tribal societies are framed on kinship and local loyalties that supersede national loyalties. In tribal societies, kinship identity plays a central role. In contrast to nation, often in tribal communities clan organization, if present, take up the duties of managing justice, and revenge with other Indigenous Peoples. Among the Cherokee and Iroquois, clans managed justice. When a person was killed by a non-tribal member it was the clan, not the nation, that was obligated to seek retribution.

Many contemporary tribal peoples maintain loyalties that are local and kinship based. Tribal communities in southern California are mostly family based, but that does not stop them from managing highly profitable casinos and managing good government. Political and social loyalties to family, kin, and/or local group are often stronger than any loyalty or obligation to a national group or identity. While there is much honoring of the Sioux Nation, most contemporary Lakota, Dakota and Nakota maintain local and kinship based identities and social obligations. Over the course of colonial contact, some Indian peoples have internally grouped together to strengthen their ability to defend themselves against the threats of marginalization, assimilation, and incorporation. Indigenous Peoples who formed national identities and institutions include the Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, and others.

The modernizing theory that nations are prerequisites to participation in market economies and democratic governments is not borne out by the experiences of Indigenous Peoples. Where tribal groups have access to market opportunities, and can maintain their own collective control over tribal land and government, then many tribal communities can accommodate economic market participation and manage equitable distribution of resources, as well as good government. Indigenous nations, often still based on kinship, are part of the contemporary world and will remain so indefinitely. Kin-based indigenous nations will surprise many by the innovative ways they will manage future economic and political relations.

 

Read more at https://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2013/06/29/what-indigenous-nation-149820

IRS Harassing Tribes with Audits, Threatening Sovereignty

Gale Courey Toensing, Indian Country Today Media Network

The Tea Party is not the only entity that’s come under improper scrutiny by the Internal Revenue Service. Over the past several years, tribal governments have been targeted for audits by a government entity that was set up to help them understand and comply with applicable tax laws. Instead the IRS’s Indian Tribal Governments office has initiated audits and other compliance check activities throughout Indian country that tribal leaders say not only violate tribal sovereignty, but are discriminatory, harassing, and almost always fail to find any tax abuse.

The IRS scandal surrounding the Tea Party came to light in May when the Treasury Department Inspector General issued an investigation report revealing that the IRS had singled out groups with conservative-sounding words such as patriot and Tea Party in their titles when applying for nonprofit tax-exempt status. The story was all over the mainstream media. Not so much about the IRS targeting tribal governments. Oglala Sioux Tribe President Bryan Brewer noted the difference. “When the IRS gores the Tea Party Ox, heads roll.  When Indians are targeted, the mainstream press takes a nap. It’s time for Congress to Act!” Brewer told Indian Country Today Media Network.

 Oglala Sioux Tribe President Bryan Brewer

Oglala Sioux Tribe President Bryan Brewer

In June tribal leaders acted. They came together at the National Congress of American Indians’ mid-year conference and passed a resolution for legislation that they hope will stop the audits and clarify the status of sovereign tribal nations with governments that are as tax exempt as states and other nations.

Their effort could not be more timely. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Montana) and ranking member Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) are preparing major tax reform legislation – an overhaul of the Internal Revenue tax code that hasn’t happened for 30 years. The two legislators floated what’s been called a “blank slate” approach to reform. “We plan to operate from an assumption that all special provisions are out unless there is clear evidence that they: (1) help grow the economy, (2) make the tax code fairer, or (3) effectively promote other important policy objectives,” Baucus and Orrin wrote to their Senate colleagues June 27.

But the blank slate approach doesn’t fit tribal nations. In the NCAI resolution, tribal leaders insist that treaty rights, the federal government’s trust obligations to Indian tribes, the Constitution’s acknowledgment of Indian tribes as governments, and the role played by Indian tribal governments in serving their citizens are the overarching principals that must guide tax reform issues in Indian country.

“Support for Legislation to Amend the Internal Revenue Code to Respect the Sovereignty of Indian Nations to Govern and Promote the General Welfare of Tribal Citizens and to Protect Our Homelands” is the name of the resolution and, according to sources who attended the conference, there was a lively debate over the tone and strength of the language. The final version that passed is a strongly worded document that recalls the constitutional recognition of Indian nations as sovereigns with rights of self-determination and self-government over tribal citizens and tribal territory and tribal nation citizens as “Indians not taxed.” It calls on Congress to pass legislation to clarify that tribal government programs, services, and benefits authorized or administered by Indian nations and tribes for tribal citizens, spouses, dependents, and others as determined by the tribal governments, are excluded from income under the General Welfare Exemption (GWE). The resolution seeks legislative clarification that “items of cultural significance or cash honoraria provided by tribal governments to tribal citizens for cultural purposes or cultural events shall not represent compensation for services and shall be excluded from taxable income.”

John Yellow Bird Steele, former Oglala Sioux Tribe president, told the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs at a hearing last year just how menacing and intrusive the Internal Revenue Service had become across Indian country. IRS agents have been showing up unannounced on reservations, as they did on the Oglala Sioux’s Pine Ridge Reservation, to conduct audits of tribal governments’ expenditures that have not been and never should be subject to taxation – things like health care and education benefits, utility and housing assistance, even powwow prizes and funeral expenses, he said.

In his testimony Steele described the IRS agents’ disrespectful behavior at length, but it is perhaps best characterized by a single sentence. “When one tribal member raised objections to IRS intrusion based on tribal treaty rights, he was told, ‘You can read your treaties in prison, if you like,’” Steele told the committee.

As the Senate Finance Committee works to complete the tax code overhaul by the end of next year, others are taking a broad approach to tax code reform. “We need to think bigger and bolder,” said Tom Rodgers (Black Feet Nation), lawyer-lobbyist-owner of Carlyle Consulting. “This is tax reform which comes along every 30 years. This is not an annual tax bill.” While the NCAI resolution pursues legislation to clarify the tax exempt status of tribal governments, Rodgers is working on legislation for Indian country empowerment zones that he says will incorporate and benefit both poor tribes and tribes with financial resources. “If you are to be taken seriously in tax policy you should provide revenue offsets for tax expenditures. I have identified one that is empathetic, moral and ethical, which is somewhat ironic given we are dealing with tax policy,” Rodgers said. He said he will roll out the details of his plan over the next month or so as they are finalized. Meanwhile, the tax reform efforts in the Senate are moving along briskly, Rodgers said.”The tax option papers have been written and released, almost all tax writing committee hearings have been held, the one-on-one chairman and senator meetings are taking place. The question now is whether the politics will line up with the policy.”

 

Read more at https://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2013/07/01/irs-harassing-tribes-audits-threatening-sovereignty-150211

The Gods Among Us: Stunning Hopi Art Exhibit

Source: Indian Country Today Media Network

A new exhibit featuring six types of Hopi katsina figures as depicted in 170 objects, from woodcarving, basketry and painting has just opened at the Fred Jones Jr Museum of Art on the campus of the University of Oklahoma in Norman. The extraordinary show, Hopituy: Hopi Art from the Permanent Collections, will be open to the public until September 15.

Rick James (U.S., Hopi; b. 1962) Crow Mother, 2001 Mixed media, 18 x 15 1⁄4 in. James T. Bialac Native American Art Collection, 2010 Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art; The University of Oklahoma, Norman
Rick James (U.S., Hopi; b. 1962) Crow Mother, 2001 Mixed media, 18 x 15 1⁄4 in. James T. Bialac Native American Art Collection, 2010 Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art; The University of Oklahoma, Norman

 

Katsinam are ancient deities who are represented through katsina dancers during ceremonies and multiple art forms, including wooden figures often mistakenly referred to as “kachina dolls” by Western audiences, according to the museum. Although as many as 300 distinct spirits have been identified by the Hopi, Hopituy closely explores the representations of six Hopi katsina figures in a range of materials: Angwusnasomtaqa (Crow Mother), Soyoko (Ogres), Koyemsi (Mudheads), Palhikmana (Dew Drinking Maiden), Angaktsina (Longhairs) and Nimankatsina (Home katsina).

Delbridge Honanie (U.S., Hopi, b. 1946) Palhik Mana, ca. 1970-80s Cottonwood root, paint, feathers, leather, shells, 24 in. James T. Bialac Native American Art Collection, 2010 Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art; The University of Oklahoma, Norman
Delbridge Honanie (U.S., Hopi, b. 1946) Palhik Mana, ca. 1970-80s Cottonwood root, paint, feathers, leather, shells, 24 in. James T. Bialac Native American Art Collection, 2010 Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art; The University of Oklahoma, Norman
“For the Hopi, the katsinam actively offer a way of living that strives for peace, balance and self-respect that, when practiced, benefits the entire world,” said Heather Ahtone, the James T. Bialac Assistant Curator of Native American and Non-Western Art and curator of Hopituy, in a press release. “They follow these cultural practices, not because other options are not available to them, but because it has proven through centuries to be a manner of being by which they serve not only their own community but also humanity’s continuing need to seek balance with the earth. They follow the katsinam in the 21st century because, it could be argued, it is needed now more than ever.”
Educational programs are scheduled this summer at the museum, including a gallery talk with Ahtone at 12:30 p.m. Thursday, July 11; a guest lecture with Hopi (Tewa)/Mojave artist James Lambertus at 6 p.m. Friday, July 19; and a gallery talk with Hopi (Tewa) artist Neil David Sr. at 4 p.m. Thursday, September 5. These programs are offered at no additional fee to the public.
For more information about the exhibit, click here.

 

Read more at https://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2013/07/01/gods-among-us-stunning-hopi-art-exhibit-150195

Gov. Inslee signs $33.6 billion state budget

Rachel La Corte, The Herald

OLYMPIA — Gov. Jay Inslee signed a new two-year budget on Sunday, averting a government shutdown that state officials had been planning for in case the new spending plan wasn’t in place by the end of the weekend.

The $33.6 billion operating budget was the key item among more than a dozen bills signed by Inslee, just a day after the Legislature adjourned for the year after two overtime legislative sessions.

“We’ve done some good things in tough times, and I’m glad we found compromise so that the work of the state of Washington will continue,” Inslee said before signing the budget.

His signature came just hours before the end of the current budget cycle. Thousands of state workers had been warned last week that they could face temporary layoffs because much of state government would need to shut down if a budget plan wasn’t in place by midnight Sunday.

It’s been more than 20 years since a governor signed a budget this late in the process. Lawmakers were supposed to complete the spending plan in April but got delayed by a series of disputes over tax, spending and policy proposals.

The final operating budget added $1 billion to the state’s education system and provided enough money to universities so that tuition would remain at current levels.

“We really are prioritizing education over other parts of government,” said Republican Sen. Andy Hill of Redmond, who was the chief budget negotiator in the Senate.

A year ago, the Washington Supreme Court ruled in what is known as the McCleary case that the state is not fulfilling its constitutional duty to pay for basic education and is relying too much on school districts to raise extra dollars through local levies. The justices want to see the Legislature pay for previously adopted education reforms and proof of yearly progress toward completing the work by 2018.

Inslee and other lawmakers noted that the money put toward education in this budget is only a down payment on that obligation.

“We have long-term funding challenges for education, and I hope we will address those in a more systematic way in the years to come,” Inslee said.

The new budget, which runs through mid-2015, didn’t include much of the new revenue options initially proposed by Inslee — he had sought to limit or close a variety of tax breaks — but it did save or raise some money by making changes in estate and phone taxes, largely in response to court rulings.

The budget includes some cuts, including another suspension of voter-approved cost-of-living increases for school employees, saving $320 million. Budget writers also booked $30 million in savings from the implementation of lean management practices.

About $500 million of the budget is funded by a variety of transfers, with the largest chunk coming from the state’s public works assistance account that helps support local projects — a shift that irked local government leaders.

The plan also creates or extends some tax breaks, benefiting the beekeeper industry, nonprofit gun clubs who purchase clay targets, dance venues and renewable energy. Those tax breaks were among the bills signed by Inslee on Sunday. Also signed was a measure to start a long-term effort to help manage water in the Yakima River Basin.

House Speaker Frank Chopp, D-Seattle, said he was most proud of the money put toward education, as well as a Medicaid expansion under President Barack Obama’s health care law.

“This budget means so much to so many people’s lives,” Chopp said after the bill signing.

Inslee vetoed more than a dozen sections of the budget, including a handful of studies or reports from various agencies for which no funding existed, including the study of a the long-term effectiveness of a chemical dependency treatment program at the Department of Social and Health Services.

Beat the heat safely on water and in the sun!

Wear life jackets and sunscreen, oversee the kids, and up your water intake
SNOHOMISH COUNTY, Wash. – Now that the good weather has finally arrived, are you ready to enjoy it safely?  Snohomish Health District and the
Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office want you to protect yourself and your family with these quick tips.
 
WATER SAFETY
·         WEAR A LIFE JACKET AT ALL TIMES. If you don’t own one already, Big 5 Sporting Goods offers 25% off a variety of life jackets and many area parks have Life Jacket Loaner Stations.
  • Never swim alone
·         Swim in a supervised, marked area with a lifeguard present, and swim with others
·         Stay within designated swimming areas
·         Be cautious of sudden drop-offs and swift underwater currents
·         Stay warm – even if it’s warm outside, most of our rivers and lakes remain cold all summer
·         Know your limits and your abilities; stop before you’re too tired
·         Set limits with your children – when they can go in the water, where they can go, who needs to be there, and what they should have with them.
 
HEAT SAFETY
·         Drink more fluids. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink.
·         Avoid drinks with alcohol or a lot of sugar.
·         Stay indoors or in the shade. In extreme heat, seek an air-conditioned place, like a shopping mall or a public library.
·         Take cool showers or baths.
·         Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing. Use sunscreen, wear sunglasses.
·         NEVER leave anyone or pets in a closed, parked vehicle.
·         Check regularly on infants and young children, seniors, and ill people
·         Know the symptoms of heat-related illness
 
 
FIRE SAFETY
·         Keep kids away from hot grills and campfires – have a fire extinguisher handy
·         Know the fire danger level before starting a campfire – keep water close by
·         If fireworks are allowed where you are, remember that even sparklers reach 1800 degrees Fahrenheit
 
The Sheriff’s Office is committed to making Snohomish County the best place to live, work and play in Washington State.  More safety information and resources can be found at http://sheriff.snoco.org. Contact Shari Ireton, Shari.Ireton@co.snohomish.wa.us.
 
Established in 1959, the Snohomish Health District works for a safer and healthier Snohomish County through disease prevention, health promotion, and protection from environmental threats. Find more information about the Health Board and the Health District at http://www.snohd.org. Contact Suzanne Pate, spate@snohd,org.

In win for fish, oil companies allowed to abandon old rigs

John Upton, Grist

For all the harm that the oil and gas industry inflicts on wildlife in the Gulf of Mexico, it does offer the marine ecosystem at least one big benefit. Offshore oil-drilling rigs serve as artificial reefs, providing shelter for animals and an anchor for plants, coral, and barnacles. Yet once a well is tapped, the federal government has required the drilling company to uproot its rig to help clear clutter that could obstruct shipping.

Following complaints from fishermen and conservationists, however, the Obama administration is easing those rules. It announced this week that it is making it easier for states to designate abandoned drilling infrastructure as special artificial reef sites.

The move is a win-win. Fish, turtles, and other wildlife get to keep their underwater metropolises — and drilling companies can save on the costs of rig removal. From Fuel Fix:

The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement has revised the policies to encourage participation in its rigs-to-reefs program, which allows operators to leave non-producing platforms deep in the Gulf as artificial homes for underwater creatures.

So, um, thanks to all the penny-pinching oil companies out there that don’t want to pay to clean up their crap?

Should the “Nobel prize for food” go to a Monsanto exec?

By Anna Lappe, grist.org

In a move that has disturbed many anti-hunger advocates, including 81 global leaders of the World Future Council and laureates of the Right Livelihood Award, the World Food Prize — often known as the Nobel prize for food and agriculture — has given this year’s award to three chemical company executives, including Monsanto executive vice president and chief technology officer, Robert Fraley.

Fraley shares the prize with two other scientists responsible for launching the “technology” behind the biotech business three decades ago, after developing a method for inserting foreign genes into plants. For an award that claims to honor those who contribute to a “nutritious and sustainable food supply,” genetically modified organisms miss the mark on both counts.

GMOs do not create a more nutritious or sustainable food supply. Twenty years after the commercialization of the first GMO seed, almost all are limited to just two types. Either they’ve been developed to resist a proprietary herbicide or engineered to express a specific insecticide. (No surprise, since the product development is led by chemical companies like Monsanto and Syngenta.) While these crops have proven profitable to the companies producing them, they’ve been costly to farmers. And for the cash-poor farmers, who make up 70 percent of the world’s hungry, this technology worsens dependency on purchased seeds, fertilizer, and chemicals. As GMOs exacerbate farmers’ dependency on these inputs — all at volatile and rising prices — many small-scale farmers are driven to despair.

In terms of sustainability, GMOs also do nothing to reduce the agriculture sector’s reliance on fossil fuels, mined minerals, and water — all natural resources that will only get more costly as they become more scarce.

While the genetic engineers promise that their technology can deliver, experts I’ve interviewed here and around the world are doubtful. Instead, they point to the studies showing the productivity and resilience of organic and agroecological methods, especially in the face of drought and other extreme weather. Organic production methods outperform chemical methods in drought years [PDF] by as much as 31 percent. Other benefits? Organic methods can use 45 percent less energy and produce 40 percent less greenhouse gases [PDF]. Real numbers, real solutions.

Further evidence from some of the world’s most important institutions — from the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization to the World Bank — is showing how ecological methods outperform GMOs, improve nutritional qualities of crops, and benefit biodiversity and soil health, all without leaving farmers in debt and dependent on companies for ever-more expensive inputs. In India, for example, agriculture systems that have turned away from the synthetic inputs GMOs require are hitting record highs in productivity. Thanks to research from around the world, including a three-year groundbreaking study involving over 900 participants from over 110 countries, a growing consensus exists: We know what’s working to improve crop yields, nutrition, and farmers’ livelihoods. And despite the PR talking points from the industry, it’s not GMOs.

Much of the public relations spin revolves around “feeding the world.” Let’s be clear: Global hunger is not the result of a lack of food, but perhaps more importantly, a lack of democracy, as my mother Frances Moore Lappé and her colleagues at Food First have been arguing for four decades. Today, despite the planet producing more than enough food for every man, woman, and child, 870 million people on the planet suffer from extreme, long-term undernourishment, according to the United Nations.

Biotechnology fails to address the roots of this persistent hunger — which include poverty and inequality, and fundamentally a lack of choice over how food is grown, where it’s grown, and who has access to it. A technology like genetic engineering, which has been developed and is controlled by a handful of companies, does nothing to transform this dynamic. Indeed, the technology serves to further concentrate power over our food system: An estimated 90 percent of U.S.-grown soybeans and 80 percent of corn and cotton crops are grown from Monsanto’s seeds. Crops that don’t nourish the world, but instead end up in the gut of a cow, the tank of a car, or the ingredients list of processed foods.

Finally, Monsanto and Syngenta have a long history of working to silence scientists and farmers who are critical of their products, including one case that hit close to home.

In the late 1990s, my father, the scientist Marc Lappé, decided to investigate Monsanto’s claims that the technology would increase yields. He found that the company vastly overstated the potential of the technology. He wrote up his findings in his book Against the Grain, but just before printing his publisher received a threatening letter from Monsanto lawyers. The message: Print at your own risk. The publisher balked. My father eventually found a small progressive press in Maine who had the courage to publish his book, but he lost the imprimatur of a larger publisher. This is just one anecdote of intimidation among many — including the recent buy-out of a research firm linking Monsanto to the global bee crisis known as “colony collapse disorder.”

In its choice this year, the World Food Prize has placed itself decidedly out of step with the international community’s assessment about agricultural biotechnology and the proven approach to promoting nutrition and sustainability.

 

Anna Lappé is a national bestselling author, sustainable food advocate, and mom. The founding principal of the Small Planet Institute and Small Planet Fund, her latest book is Diet for a Hot Planet.

Use fireworks in safe, legal manner

Source: Marysville Globe

MARYSVILLE — While the cities of Arlington and Marysville encourage their citizens to celebrate the upcoming Fourth of July holiday in a festive manner, the cities’ police officers and firefighters want  to make sure that those who choose to use fireworks do so in a safe and legal fashion.

The city of Arlington allows fireworks to be sold from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Friday, June 28, through Thursday, July 4, whereas the city of Marysville allows fireworks to be sold from noon to 11 p.m. on June 28 and from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. from Saturday, June 29, through July 4.

Marysville residents may discharge their fireworks between 9 a.m. and 11 p.m. on July 4, while Arlington residents may discharge their fireworks between 9 a.m. and midnight on July 4.

Neither city allows its residents to discharge their fireworks on any other day, outside of the New Year holiday, and both cities limit their legal fireworks to Class C, or “safe and sane” fireworks. Neighboring Native American reservations may sell fireworks that do not conform to these laws, but such fireworks must be detonated on reservation lands.

The retail fireworks stands of “Boom City” on the Tulalip Tribal Reservation also provide a lighting and detonation area on site for customers, since not all of the fireworks sold at Boom City are allowed to be detonated off the reservation. Security personnel will monitor the area to ensure that children aged 12 years and younger have adults aged 18 years or older present.

According to Marysville Fire District Division Chief and Fire Marshal Tom Maloney, fireworks that are illegal off tribal lands include bottle rockets, skyrockets, missiles and firecrackers. M-80s and larger, as well as dynamite and any improvised, homemade or altered explosive devices such as tennis balls, sparkler bombs or cherry bombs are likewise illegal explosive devices, and those who possess or use such illegal explosive devices can expect to be charged with a felony.

State Fire Marshal Charles Duffy is reminding Washingtonians that the purchase of fireworks over the Internet is illegal. In Washington state, fireworks must be purchased from a licensed retail fireworks stand during the legal sales period. Orders for fireworks cannot be placed over the Internet, or posted on websites such as Craigslist

In its online list of tips to the public, the Arlington Fire Department noted that illegal fireworks are often unpackaged and wrapped in plain brown paper, and warned against purchasing any fireworks that are not in their original packages, or are in opened or damaged packages.

Marysville police are taking enforcement of these laws seriously and will be citing those caught with illegal fireworks between now and the Fourth of July. Under state law, possession or discharge of illegal fireworks is a misdemeanor offense punishable by a fine of up to $1,000, up to a year in jail and a mandatory court appearance. City of Marysville Public Information Officer Doug Buell pointed out that Marysville police can issue criminal citations to violators or civil citations, the latter similar to a standard ticket.

Marysville police may issue a civil infraction, or fine, in an amount up to $500, instead of a criminal citation. The criminal misdemeanor fine is consistent with the standard state penalty of an amount not to exceed $1,000 and/or 90 days in jail. Gross misdemeanor offenses carry a fine of up to $5,000 and/or a year in jail, and a person with three or more civil infractions within a two-year time period will be cited for a misdemeanor.

Marysville Police Cmdr. Robb Lamoureux explained that such civil infractions enable officers to spend more time on the streets responding to fireworks complaints, and less time processing criminal citation paperwork. He added that the safety of individuals and property is the police department’s utmost concern.

“Use caution and follow safety rules for responsible use of fireworks,” Lamoureux said. “Illegal fireworks in particular pose a public safety and medical hazard, and they have the potential to cause property damage in the Marysville area.”

Although Arlington Assistant City Administrator Kristin Banfield believes that Arlington police are more likely to try and educate those using illegal fireworks, or those using fireworks illegally, she warned that, “If they have to make a repeat trip to your place for fireworks, it’ll probably result in a fine.”

Officials in both cities urge Fourth of July holiday revelers to clean up their fireworks after they’re finished.

“After you light it up, clean it up,” Buell said. “Discarded fireworks the days after the Fourth are a neighborhood eyesore, and smoldering, spent fireworks can still pose a fire hazard if not disposed of properly.”

To dispose of spent fireworks properly, the Arlington Fire Department advises that people let their used fireworks lay on the ground until they are cool and there is no chance that any residue will reignite, after which they should place all the expended firework cases in a bucket of water to soak them thoroughly. Those who use fireworks should keep a bucket of water or a running water hose close by in case of a firework malfunction or fire.

“First and foremost, our fire and police chiefs strongly encourage our residents to stay safe by attending the local public displays, such as the one at the Arlington Boys & Girls Club sponsored by the Arlington-Smokey Point Chamber of Commerce,” Banfield said. “If you do use fireworks, however, only use them as intended, and use common sense. Don’t try to alter them or combine them, and never relight a ‘dud’ firework. Spectators should keep a safe distance from the shooter, and alcohol and fireworks do not mix, so have a ‘designated shooter.’ Only those older than 12 years old should be allowed to handle fireworks, especially sparklers of any type.”

For more information, visit the city of Marysville’s fireworks website at http://marysvillewa.gov/index.aspx?nid=362 and the city of Arlington’s fireworks website at http://arlingtonwa.gov/index.aspx?page=419.

For more information about fireworks safety, public fireworks displays and the fireworks laws for your area, check the Celebrate Safely website at www.wsp.wa.gov/fire/fireworks.htm.

Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz relies on dubious coal tech for Obama climate strategy

Sharon Kelly, DeSmog Blog

The key takeaway from President Obama’s major climate change announcement this week was his intent to batten down on coal. But if history is any indication, the man Mr. Obama selected to run the Department of Energy may have different plans.

Ernest J. Moniz has a long history of supporting coal-powered electricity, staking his arguments in favor of coal on a technology that remains entirely unproven: carbon capture and sequestration (CCS).

Mr. Moniz will be in a uniquely influential position when it comes to confronting these problems. President Obama announced that he would rely on executive agencies instead of Congress, so Mr. Moniz’s Energy Department will play a crucial role in determining precisely how Obama’s strategy is administered.

The day after Obama’s speech, Moniz told Congress  “the President advocates an all-of-the-above energy strategy and I am very much in tune with this.”

What’s wrong with an all-of-the-above strategy? It extends reliance on fossil fuels, at a time when scientists warn that we can only burn twenty percent of current reserves before the world tips past the crucial 2 degree Celsius point. Beyond two degrees, some of the most devastating impacts of global warming will be felt. Keep in mind that, if all of the world’s coal is burned, global temperatures could rise by a jaw-dropping 15 degrees Celsius, a study published in the prestigious journal Nature last year concluded.

The stakes, when it comes to controlling American greenhouse gas emissions, are huge.

In May, carbon dioxide levels in the Earth’s atmosphere reached 400 parts per million – the highest level of carbon dioxide ever recorded in human history. Last year, the continental U.S. experienced its hottest year on record, and the NRDC estimates that climate-related disasters like crop loss, wildfires and floods cost the nation roughly $140 billion last year alone, with much of the tab picked up by taxpayers.

Power plants are the single largest source of American carbon dioxide emissions, accounting for a third of the nation’s total greenhouse gasses. So focusing on power plants is key if emissions are to be reduced.

Coal currently supplies about 40 percent of American electricity, according to EIA statistics, down from fifty percent in 2005. Coal’s decline comes as natural gas from fracking (which has its own worrisome climate impacts, measured in methane rather than carbon dioxide), wind and solar, have risen in their share of the U.S. electric portfolio. Since the beginning of 2010, 145 coal-fired power plantsannounced plans to retire.

But the Department of Energy is focused not on retiring more of these plants, pinning its hopes instead on developing new technologies to make coal cleaner. The plan in rough form, involves collecting carbon dioxide emitted by power plants and burying it, forever, underground.

If that sounds like a heck of a challenge, that’s because it is.

There’s not a single large commercially-operating carbon sequestration plantanywhere in the world.

That’s despite over $25 billion in government subsidies worldwide from 2008 to 2012.

Nevertheless, Mr. Moniz told Congress that “the Administration has already committed about $6 billion to [carbon capture and sequestration] demonstrations, and success of the forthcoming projects will be a critical step toward meeting the President’s climate goals.”

The $8 billion in total subsidies adds up to more than the wind and solar industries combined receive – and those are industries that have proven themselves to be commercially viable.

Undaunted, Moniz told The New York Times on Thursday that carbon capture and sequestration was a vital part of the country’s climate change strategy. He called for CCS to be commercialized first for coal-fired power plants. He added that natural gas’ carbon emissions, though half those of coal, are still too high to meet Obama’s long-term goal of slashing emissions 80 percent from 1990 levels by 2050 — so he called for the same speculative technology to resolve that problem as well.

The transition to an electric industry that captures its greenhouse gasses instead of releasing them into the atmosphere makes the challenges associated with developing renewables like wind and solar look easy in comparison.

Professor Vaclav Smil, author of the “Energy Myths and Realities: Bringing Science to the Energy Policy Debate” – See more at: http://www.ecopedia.com/environment/will-carbon-sequestration-solve-clim…

Professor Vaclav Smil, author of “Energy Myths and Realities: Bringing Science to the Energy Policy Debate” has calculated that to sequester just a fifth of current carbon dioxide emissions:

“… we would have to create an entirely new worldwide absorption-gathering-compression-transportation- storage industry whose annual throughput would have to be about 70 percent larger than the annual volume now handled by the global crude oil industry whose immense infrastructure of wells, pipelines, compressor stations and storages took generations to build.”

Carbon capture is also grossly inefficient. “By some estimates, 40 percent of the energy generated has to go to the carbon capture and sequestration process,” Josh Galperin, associate director of the Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy,said after the climate strategy was released. DeSmog’s Kevin Grandia describessome further technical hurdles that carbon sequestration has yet to overcome.

In a key indication of how shaky the science is behind carbon sequestration, not even the World Bank will fund it. Concerns about climate change led the Bank to restrict its financial support for coal projects except in “rare circumstances,” a draft strategy leaked to the press earlier this week indicates. In a glaring omission, the strategy says nothing about carbon capture and sequestration as an alternative.

None of this seems to matter to Mr. Moniz, whose support of the coal industry and faith in sequestration has been longstanding.

A 2009 report he helped produce focused on how to reduce CO2 from coal plants, touting the potential for so-called “clean coal.”

“It’s cheap,” he told Scientific American when the report was released, “there’s lots of it and there’s lots of it in places with high demand, namely the U.S., China and India.”

In 2007, Moniz co-authored an MIT report titled “The Future of Coal” that aimed to examine “how the world can continue to use coal, an abundant and inexpensive fuel, in a way that mitigates, instead of worsens, the global warming crisis.”

Moniz’s faith in carbon sequestration has remained unshaken up to the present day.

“It’s not going to happen tomorrow, but I believe in this decade we will have demonstrated the viability of large-scale storage” of carbon-dioxide from industrial operations, he told the Associated Press on Thursday. “The president made clear that we anticipate that coal and other fossil fuels are going to play a significant role for quite some time on the way to a very low carbon economy,” he added.

Meanwhile, broader concerns about the President’s climate plans remain.

“We’re happy to see the president finally addressing climate change” said Bill Snape, senior counsel for the Center for Biological Diversity, “but the plain truth is that what he’s proposing isn’t big enough, and doesn’t move fast enough, to match the terrifying magnitude of the climate crisis.”

And if the clean coal technology Mr. Moniz is counting on doesn’t pan out, prospects may be even dimmer.