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The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has completed a draft environmental impact statement regarding multiple oil and gas lease sales tentatively scheduled between 2012 and 2017 in the Western and Central Gulf of Mexico planning areas, offshore to the states of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. The proposed Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program: 2012-2017 schedules five annual area-wide lease sales in the Western Gulf and five in the Central Gulf.
The draft environmental impact statement evaluates baseline conditions and potential environmental effects of oil and natural gas leasing, exploration, development and production in the Western and Central Gulf. The public needs to provide input on this document.
The environmental impact statement is available for review online at http://www.archives.gov/federal-register/public-inspection/index.html. BOEM is accepting comments on the environmental impact statement. BOEM will hold public hearings to provide an opportunity to comment on the environmental impact statement. These meetings will provide BOEM an opportunity to solicit comments from interested citizens and organizations. Comments will be used to prepare the final environmental impact statement for proposed Outer Continental Shelf oil and gas lease sales offshore.
Public hearings on the environmental impact statements will be held Thursday, Jan. 12, 2012, at 1 p.m. at Five Rivers, Alabama's Delta Resource Center, 30945 Five Rivers Blvd, Spanish Fort, Ala.
Submit comments online at multisaleEIS@boem.gov.
Submit written comments by mail for 45 days following the publication date of the Notice of Availability in the Federal Register to:
"Comments on the Draft Multisale EIS"
c/o Mr. Gary D. Goeke
Regional Assessment Section
Office of Environmental (MS 5410)
Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Gulf of Mexico OCS Region
1201 Elmwood Park Blvd.
New Orleans, Louisiana 70123-2394
For more information on the proposed Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program: 2012-2017, go to http://www.boem.gov/uploadedFiles/5-Year_Program_Factsheet.pdf.and Alabama
or call Mr. Gary D. Goeke, (504) 736 3233.
The Sierra Club encourages partnering with other environmentally oriented organizations. Last year the chapter executive committee authorized a $5000 contribution to the newly formed Coosa Riverkeeper in order to investigate coal ash issues on the Coosa River. That investment has been validated we think. Please watch the very informative video that has been produced by this partnership with Alabama Sierra Club and the Coosa-Riverkeeper. We think that this is information that every one who believes in defending the environment should see. Please distribute this far and wide among your circle of acquaintances.
Coosa Riverkeeper presents an educational video about the impact of coal burning on the Coosa River in Alabama. Staff Riverkeeper Frank Chitwood narrates the video, which is part of Coosa Riverkeeper's study on coal ash. This project is in partnership with the Alabama Chapter of the Sierra Club. Music written by Emily Y. Horton. Become a member of Coosa Riverkeeper today at www.coosariver.org
Sierra Club Applauds New Mercury and Air Toxics Standards
Recall that on December 21 the US Environmental Protection Agency released standards concerning the reduction of mercury and other pollutants from coal fired power plants. However, you may not be aware that some eight years ago, the Sierra Club, the Environmental Defense Fund, and the National Wildlife Federation, represented by Earthjustice, were litigants in the federal court case in which (in 2008) a federal appeals court ruled that the EPA did not have authority to exempt power plants from Clean Air Act regulations. This ultimately led to the new Mercury and Air Toxics Standards. (Also recall that Earthjustice began as the Sierra Club Legal Defense in 1971, but became an independent organization in 1997.)
When the new standards were issued, Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune stated, "Today’s announcement from President Obama and EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson marks a milestone for parents and families across the country. It means that, after decades of delay, we now have strong nationwide protections against toxic mercury, and most of all, it means peace of mind for the parents of more than 300,000 American babies born every year that have been exposed to dangerous levels of mercury."
Submitted by David Newton
Longleaf Defeat Marks End to Nation's Longest Running Fight Against Coal Plant
Agreement Marks Milestone of 160 Coal Plants Canceled
Atlanta, GA - The country's longest-running campaign against construction of a new coal plant ended in 2011 as LS Power, a New Jersey-based power company, announced that it will cancel plans to build the Longleaf Energy Station in Blakely, GA. Sierra Club, Friends of the Chattahoochee and GreenLaw have been organizing against the Longleaf coal plant since it was first proposed in 2001. This victory comes as part of a legal agreement between LS Power and Sierra Club.
This victory marks the 160th proposed coal plant canceled since Sierra Club launched its Beyond Coal campaign in 2005. This victory is particularly noteworthy because the struggle lasted for a decade and involved numerous hearings and appeals, and sustained local opposition by hundreds of Georgia residents. Longleaf was one of the very first plants proposed when, in 2001, the coal industry attempted to block clean energy development by building more than 150 new coal plants across the US, a move which would have effectively locked the nation into dependence on coal-fired electricity for the foreseeable future. Longleaf was one of the last remaining new coal projects proposed anywhere in the United States, counting 160 proposals that have now been defeated or abandoned in the past decade.
Several times over the past decade it looked like LS Power would move forward with its proposed coal plant, but local residents continued their opposition through multiple tactics, including holding a call-in day this past June when more than 250 Georgians called LS Power asking the CEO to cancel the proposal.
"This is not just a victory for the individuals and organizations fighting this plant, but also for all Georgians, who are now safe from a major new source of toxic air pollution," said Colleen Kiernan, Director of the Georgia Chapter of the Sierra Club. "This victory represents our best work: combining the power of the courts, the power of the people and the power of the press."
Sierra Club and Friends of the Chattahoochee were represented by GreenLaw, an Atlanta-based nonprofit law firm, in a series of legal challenges to the permits issued for the plant. The legal battle over the Longleaf coal plant made national and international news when Fulton County Superior Court Judge Thelma Wyatt Cummings Moore issued a ruling that the plant's air quality permit was illegal because it failed to provide any limits on emissions of CO2. While Judge Moore's decision was later overturned, the United States Environmental Protection Agency adopted much of the legal reasoning of the decision in promulgating rules to limit CO2 emissions from larger industrial facilities.
"Longleaf's cancelation is one of dozens that have swept the nation, which raises the question – when will state officials finally learn that Georgia's citizens deserve better than coal?" said GreenLaw's Executive Director, Justine Thompson. "Georgia has a promising future – but to be a serious player in the global economy while also ensuring that we have clean air and water, Georgia needs to embrace energy efficiency and more renewable sources of energy."
The announcement comes as part of a nationwide agreement with Sierra Club that also requires LS Power to abandon its proposed Plum Point 2 coal plant in Arkansas and imposes strict new limits on air pollution from the new Sandy Creek coal plant in Texas. The agreement requires the company to withdraw all requests for permits in Georgia and Arkansas, and that any issued permits be rescinded or revoked.
Local residents, who would have been most significantly affected by the plant's construction, were active in opposing the plant. "When we found out the truth about what this plant would do to our lives, we had no choice but to oppose it. We were just regular people who want our grandchildren to breathe clean air," said Bobby McLendon, President of Friends of the Chattahoochee. "Helping to stop this plant is probably the most important thing I have ever done for my family, my community and the Earth."
If built, Plant Longleaf would have contributed 88 pounds of toxic mercury per year, 1938 pounds of lead per year, and more than 8000 tons of soot and smog per year, to Georgia's atmosphere and water system. Mercury pollution can cause neurological disorders and birth defects in babies, and soot and smog contribute to respiratory illness and trigger asthma attacks.
Sierra Club, GreenLaw, and several other environmental and public health organizations continue to fight the two remaining coal plant proposals in Georgia proposed by POWER4Georgians in Central and Southeast Georgia. These groups' work to transition Georgia off of imported coal and onto homegrown clean energy like wind and solar is part of a national effort involving unprecedented collaboration by more than a hundred organizations nationwide. Over the past decade this national campaign has stopped 160 proposed coal plants and secured record investments in clean energy. Since November 2008 only one coal plant has broken ground anywhere in the United States, a highly-subsidized project in Mississippi.
A timeline, avoided emissions, and other documents related to Longleaf can be found at: www.greenlaw.org/Longleaf.
Protect Forever Wild
On November 6, 2012, a major election will take place in Alabama. Of course there is the all-important presidential election, but Alabama voters will also be voting on the 20-year extension for the Forever Wild program. Since Forever Wild was first approved 20 years ago (by an overwhelming 83 percent of voters), Forever Wild has protected thousands of acres for the benefit of Alabamians. Some of the state's most visited natural areas, such as the Walls of Jericho in north Alabama and the Mobile Tensaw Delta in south Alabama, are open to the public because of Forever Wild. Many Sierra Club outings involve hikes or other activities on Forever Wild lands.
.The Alabama Chapter of the Sierra Club is a member of the Protect Forever Wild Coalition, dedicated to the protection and reauthorization of Forever Wild funding. This coalition of conservation, environmental, hunting and angling, outdoor recreation, and business entities recognizes Forever Wild’s success in securing public lands for outdoor recreation for our citizens and protecting the ecological integrity of Alabama’s landscape. We are working to insure that Forever Wild is reauthorized for another 20 years.
You can help by publicizing the benefits of Forever Wild, and by voting in favor of Forever Wild reauthorization in the 2012 election.
Additional information is available at http://www.protectforeverwild.org/
Alabama Chapter Winter 2011-2012 Report In the Mail
(Watch for your ballot!) Inside this issue: great information on the Inner City Outings program led by Margo Rebar; an update on Forever Wild; and several additional pieces that you won't find on the website, along with several articles also available here. You can download a copy of the newsletter here.
2012 Alabama Legislative Session Is on the Way
(repeated from last issue due to importance!) Most would agree that getting to know the elected officials who represent you is an important component of protecting the things you care about, e.g., air, water, and land -- the special places in your life.
Of course, among those elected officials are members of the Alabama State Legislature -- in particular, your Alabama State Senator and your Representative. If you don't know who they are, you should visit: http://www.legislature.state.al.us/misc/zipsearch.html. If you need contact information for them, visit the web pages that contain the rosters of the Alabama senate and the house of representatives. Links to these rosters are often available along the left side of the legislative web page you are currently consulting.
As you recognize, all of this is to help prepare you for a visit with your legislators. If you need tips on how to proceed to make arrangements and how to conduct an interview, you can learn more from this handout. You may want to include one or two friends in the meetings. Tip: Meet well in advance, and decide on issues and presenters.
One thing you should do while you are visiting your legislators is to share with them the document on climate change indicators, available here. You can indicate that this one-page document can be useful in providing "sound science" to constituents who need information about climate change. Of course, it can also be useful in making the case about climate change to the legislators.
Another item that can strengthen your position is a bar graph concerning the frequency of tornadoes in Alabama over the last 60 years.
This graph obtained from the U.S. National Weather Service in Birmingham. Notice the marked increase in F0 and F1 tornadoes, beginning in 1995.
The 2012 Regular Session of the Alabama State Legislature begins February 7. It is now time to get to know your legislators or to renew your acquaintance. Be ready and go do it. It is important.
Submitted by David Newton