How a Koch-owned chemical plant in Texas gamed the Clean Air Act

The trouble began in the middle of the night.

Around 2 a.m. on January 10, 2017, an air quality monitor in Port Arthur, Texas, began recording sulfur dioxide readings well above the federal standard of 75 parts per billion, or ppb.

The monitor had recently been installed by regulators to keep an eye on Oxbow Calcining, a company owned by William “Bill” Koch that operates massive plants that purify petcoke, a petroleum byproduct that can be used to power steel and aluminum manufacturing.

That Tuesday morning, the wind shifted due north and carried a noxious slew of emissions from the plant a half-mile away to the monitor. By 2:20 a.m., the monitor was reading 122.3 ppb.

3:30 a.m.: 128.7 ppb.

5:00 a.m.: 147.8 ppb — almost double the federal standard.

By the afternoon, emissions readings had topped the public health standard 25 times. For the next 18 months, they would periodically flood the 55,000-person city with a pungent

— source | Naveena Sadasivam, Clayton Aldern | Feb 16, 2023

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How Military Spending Fuels Environmental Damage

This report, as you know, is coming on the back of big discussions at this COP, which we just heard about in this earlier section, about the need that the poorest countries, who are most impacted by climate change, are saying that we need finance to both adapt to climate change and to deal with the loss and damage. And we hear John Kerry — you were just quoting the earlier clip — saying, “Name me a nation that has trillions of dollars to deal with this,” except — basically saying washing his hands of the situation and refusing to accept some responsibility.

And yet, what this report shows is that there is trillions of dollars. The richest countries, which are called Annex II countries under the U.N. climate talks, have dedicated $9.45 trillion to military spending in the last eight years, between 2013 and 2021. And that is 30 times more than they have dedicated to climate finance. And they’re still not delivering on their promises to deliver the $100 billion a year that was promised way back in 2009 now. So, what we’re seeing, firstly, in this report is that there is resources, but it’s been dedicated to military spending.

— source | Nov 16, 2022

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The iconic fashion item Blue jeans is costing the planet dearly

The production of blue jeans, one of the most popular apparel items ever, has for decades left behind a trail of heavy consumption, diminishing Earth’s water and energy resources, causing pollution, and contributing to climate change. The harm done by the fashion industry has intensified, not diminished, in recent years.
The making of jeans is water intensive, yet much of the world’s cotton crop is grown in semiarid regions requiring irrigation and pesticide use. As climate change intensifies, irrigation-dependent cotton cultivation and ecological catastrophe are on a collision course, with the Aral Sea’s ecological death a prime example and warning.
While some major fashion companies have made sustainability pledges, and taken some steps to produce greener blue jeans, the industry has yet to make significant strides toward sustainability, with organic cotton, for example, still only 1% of the business.
A few fashion companies are changing their operations to be more sustainable and investing in technology to reduce the socioenvironmental impacts of jeans production. But much more remains to be done.

Eternally current and always fashionable, blue jeans are among the most-worn articles of clothing on Earth, transcending time, trends, and social class. Their popularity is ubiquitous, so much so that legendary designer Yves Saint Laurent once declared: “I wish I had invented blue jeans. The most spectacular, practical, relaxed and nonchalant.

— source | Jenny Gonzales | 17 Nov 2022

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More than 1,700 environmental activists murdered in the past decade

More than 1,700 murders of environmental activists were recorded over the past decade, an average of a killing nearly every two days, according to a new report.

Killed by hitmen, organised crime groups and their own governments, at least 1,733 land and environmental defenders were murdered between 2012 and 2021, figures from Global Witness show, with Brazil, Colombia, the Philippines, Mexico and Honduras the deadliest countries.

The NGO has published its report on the killings of land and environmental defenders around the world every year since 2012, after the murder of Chut Wutty, a Cambodian environmentalist who worked with the Global Witness CEO Mike Davis investigating illegal logging. Killings hit a record of 227 in 2020 despite the pandemic.

“Wutty prompted us to confront a range of questions. What was the global picture, what were the implications of such attacks and what could be done to prevent them?” wrote Davis in the report.

— source | Patrick Greenfield | 29 Sep 2022

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Are Green Resource Wars Looming?

Much of the excitement over the Inflation Reduction Act, which became law this summer, focused on the boost it should give to the sales of electric vehicles. Sadly, though, manufacturing and driving tens of millions of individual electric passenger cars won’t get us far enough down the road to ending greenhouse-gas emissions and stanching the overheating of this planet. Worse yet, the coming global race to electrify the personal vehicle is likely to exacerbate ecological degradation, geopolitical tensions, and military conflict.

The batteries that power electric vehicles are likely to be the source of much international competition and the heart of the problem lies in two of the metallic elements used to make their electrodes: cobalt and lithium. Most deposits of those metals lie outside the borders of the United States and will leave manufacturers here (and elsewhere) relying heavily on foreign supplies to electrify road travel on the scale now being envisioned.

Adventurers and Opportunists

In the battery business, the Democratic Republic of Congo is referred to as “the Saudi Arabia of cobalt.” For two decades, its cobalt — 80% of the world’s known reserves — has

— source | Priti Gulati Cox, Stan Cox | Oct 13, 2022

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It’s Time to Call It What It Is—A Capitalism-Induced Ecological Crisis

One-third of Pakistan is under water. Record heat waves blanket the globe driving up temperatures beyond what humans can survive. Polar glaciers are melting much faster than scientists predicted. Droughts, fires and floods are ravaging the planet, forcing the displacement of tens of millions of people. And this is just the beginning.

It’s time to tell the truth. We can’t afford to wait any longer. We can’t afford to pretend that the same political-economic system that has caused the most historic levels of ecological destruction in human history is the same system that is going to fix it. Here, in the United States— the country most responsible for the highest levels of carbon emissions in Earth’s atmosphere— we have a very difficult task in front of us. We have to tell the truth about the Earth’s thresholds, about the laws of physics, and about what’s causing our ecosystems to collapse, if we are to have any chance of a habitable future for ourselves, our children and grandchildren. We have to tell the truth, if we have any hope of human civilization at all.

But in telling this truth, we are faced with a terrible political reality that few are willing to admit. Many of us understand the science. We know that Earth’s ability to host humans depends on a very delicate balance of physical and ecological conditions that have only been present for a short time during the Earth’s lifespan. The Earth has been around for billions of years, but modern humans, as we know them, have only been here for some 200,000. Humanity is just a blip in our planet’s lifetime. The ecosystems that support human life are now in free-fall in terms of planetary time. We’re in the middle of the Sixth Mass Extinction, but this time, it’s because of human activity, fossil fuel

— source | Erin McCarley | Sep 16, 2022

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The Endless Growth Model Under Capitalism Is Unsustainable

At the end of July, the International Monetary Fund warned of a “gloomy outlook” for the world economy. It was doing so not because of a spike in poverty, a widening of inequality, or a surge in carbon emissions. Quite the contrary: the IMF was making its pessimistic assessment because it was revising down its forecast for global GDP growth for 2022 from 3.6 percent to 3.2 percent. In other words, the global economy was growing, but not enough, and that for the IMF was cause for concern.

At the same time that the IMF was making its announcement, the U.S. government was trying to dispel concerns that a second successive quarter of economic contraction—a decline of .9 percent that followed a 1.6 percent decrease in the first quarter of 2022—meant that the country was on the verge of a recession. The U.S. economy was not growing, and that for the government was cause for even greater concern.

Economic expansion remains the yardstick of success at the global and national levels. Robust growth garners positive headlines; anemic growth and contraction generate anxious forecasts. This remains the case despite the widely acknowledged link between economic growth and the climate crisis, a connection reinforced during the COVID pandemic when

— source | John Feffer | Sep 15, 2022

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