March 28, 2012
By Paul Joseph Watson
Barack Obama’s 2008 promise to “bankrupt” the coal industry is now coming to fruition with the EPA’s announcement of crippling CO2 emission limits on new plants that will effectively block the building of any new coal plants in the United States, accelerating the move towards total deindustrialization.
“The Obama administration proposed on Tuesday the first ever standards to cut carbon dioxide emissions from new power plants, a move likely to be hotly contested by Republicans and industry in an election year,” reports Reuters.
The enforcement of the new measures, which will force new plants to cut CO2 emissions by 50 per cent and also mandate investment in unaffordable technologies to bury carbon emissions underground, marks the realization of Obama’s 2008 promise to “bankrupt” the coal industry.
During an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle in January 2008 when he was still a Senator, Obama stated, “If somebody wants to build a coal-powered plant, they can, it’s just that it will bankrupt them.”
Since Congress successfully defeated Obama’s disastrous climate bill in 2010, which would have imposed similar measures, the EPA has simply declared CO2, the life-giving gas that plants breathe, to be a deadly poison, and will impose the limits by dictatorial fiat.
Many Processed Foods Are Made With A Coal Tar Derivative Chemical That Causes Hyperactivity In Children
February 17th, 2012
By: Mike Adams
Would you knowingly feed your children an ingredient derived from coal tar? That’s exactly what you may be doing, if you let them eat any orange or yellow artificially-colored products including sodas, cheese-flavored products, flavored chips, pickles or a myriad of other foods and beverages. The industrial waste-derived coloring chemicaltartrazineis a common ingredient in all these foods, underscoring the need to read food labels religiously. (Why would anyone put artificial colors into pickles? Read the labels, and you’ll see!)
Tartrazine, also known as E102 or Yellow #5, was one of the colorings linked to childhood hyperactivity in a landmark 2007 study conducted by the United Kingdom’sFood Standards Agency. As a consequence, products containing it must carry a warning label anywhere in the European Union.
Not surprisingly, the United States has no such law — even though the coloring has been linked to asthma, migraines and cancer. But since when the FDA ever bother warning the public about dangerous chemicals in their food anyway? After all, aspartame, MSG and sodium nitrite are all legal — so why not add a little food coloring poison to the cocktail and call it “nutrition?”
For The Full Report Go To Natural News
May 25th, 2011
By: Neev M. Arnell
“Should the FDA be so permissive with chemicals in food, suspect or not, that amount to little more than marketing?” asks The Daily Green. This question is particularly pertinent considering that colorings have not always proven to be harmless.
Citrus Red 2, Red 3, Red 40, Yellow 5, Yellow 6, Blue 1, Blue 2 and Green 3, –which include some of the most commonly used artificial food colorings–have all been identified as being, or being contaminated with, potential cancer-causing chemicals, according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest. And Blue 1, Red 40, Yellow 5, and Yellow 6 are known to trigger reactions in those with allergies.
History paints an ugly food color portrait
Until the twentieth century, food coloring could only be obtained from what people found in nature. Ancient Romans used saffron and other spices to put a rich yellow color into various foods. Other frequently used natural colors included paprika, turmeric, beet extract, and petals of various flowers.
But many of the other frequently used natural colors were not only unappetizing, but downright dangerous. Bakers added chalk to whiten bread, for example, and sweets manufacturers loaded candy with vermilion (which contains mercury), red lead, white lead, verdigris (which is a copper salt), blue vitriol (which contains copper) and Scheele’s green (which contains both copper and arsenic).
The science of food coloring evolved from there and technology created a new kind of dye derived from coal tar, a waste product of coal gas and coke. The synthetic dyes came to be known at coal-tar colors and they are what we still use today.
By the beginning of the 20th century, some 695 of these had been synthesized, and over 80 were on the market. While they were generally a safer alternative to metal salts and used in less quantity, they were still unregulated.
In 1938, responsibility for regulating and enforcing color was granted to the newly instituted Food and Drug Administration. At that point, there were 15 synthetic colors approved for use in foods, 6 of which are still used today.
Modern food colorings have their own problems
While manufacturers were no longer adding mercury or arsenic to their products, food-coloring dangers took center stage, yet again, in the 1950s after many children became ill from eating Halloween candy containing the Orange 1 food coloring. The FDA banned the color after more rigorous testing suggested that it was toxic.
Red 32 and Orange 2 were also delisted due to the same Halloween incident, according to the Harvard Law School paper, The Palette of Our Palates: A brief history of food coloring and its regulation.
The controversy continued when, in 1976, the agency banned Red 2 because it was suspected to be carcinogenic, according to The New York Times.
Other colors have since been banned in the US including: Violet 1; Reds 2 and 4; Yellows 1, 2, 3 and 4, and Yellow 5 is undergoing testing, according to Encyclopedia Britannica.
The FDA decided to remove Red 2 from the provisional list in 1976, after Conflicting studies were published. Some studies showed the dye was safe and others showed that it was not safe and, in fact, caused breast and intestinal tumors in rats and was toxic to gonads and embryos. The FDA de-listed it stating that the color industry had not met its burden of proving the safety of Red 2.
Yellow 5 was the successor to Red 2 in popularity. The color, sometimes called Tartrazine, also had its own problems. It was one of the dyes singled out in 1977 by Ralph Nader’s Public Citizen Health Research Group as unsafe. The group pointed to the de-listing of Red 2 and Red 4 a year earlier as evidence that dyes we consider “safe” are often later shown to be toxic.
While the FDA said that Public Citizen was “overstating the issue and causing public alarm that is simply not warranted,” they simultaneously admitted that Yellow 5 caused severe allergic reactions in a small number of people.
Is the FDA doing a better job today?
The FDA suggested that problems associated with artificial coloring might be akin to a peanut allergy or intolerance to these substances and not to any inherent toxic properties of the colorings themselves, said the New York Times.
This may not be accurate, according to a 2004 Southampton University study covered by the BBC. A team of researchers found that adding food colors to children’s diets increased hyperactivity rates in all young children, not just those who were allergic to food colorings or who had Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.
“I want this to address a fundamental issue which is ‘Why do we have to have colored food?’ said Professor John Warner, the study’s author.
“It’s absolutely imperative to have follow up studies because we are not now just talking about a population of children with a particular problem we are saying there’s a potential for this to be an effect on all children,” he said. “And, if that really is the case, then food coloring should be removed.”
Consumers can avoid synthetic food colorings by checking labels in grocery stores or by shopping at chains like Whole Foods Market and Trader Joe’s, which refuse to sell foods with artificial coloring.
September 1, 2010
by Stephanie Rogers
Urban sprawl, pollution, over-consumption, deforestation…like it or not, U.S. taxpayers are still paying for all of these things to occur in America and beyond. Despite recent investments in green jobs and technology, an array of government subsidies pay big dirty industries like oil, coal and factory farms to destroy the environment in every way possible while greener, healthier industries like solar power and vegetable farms get a pittance.
When gas prices rose dramatically in 2008, Americans began flocking to mass transit in droves, resulting in declining revenues for the Federal Highway Trust Fund. Naturally, the Bush Administration’s response was to take money from already underfunded mass transit and use it to pay for highways that are already, as Slate put it, “paved with gold”. Billions of dollars are pumped into the highway system every year, which encourages the polluting car culture and leads to further sprawl, while mass transit continues to fall by the wayside.
In case you aren’t already taking optimal advantage of the polluting power of our nation’s sprawling web of highways, the government would like to make your impact even greater by setting you up in a nice gas-guzzling subsidized SUV. A portion of the tax code revised in 2003 gives business owners a huge deduction for up to 30% of a large vehicle’s cost, which can add up to $25,000 in the case of a Hummer – far more than the credit given to individual purchasers of energy-efficient vehicles. Attempts to axe this provision in 2007 failed.
You only get the credit if it seats more than 9 passengers or weighs more than 14,000 pounds, but they don’t really care whether your business actually requires such a vehicle. So, by all means, get the Escalade.
8. Paper Mills
Paper mills cut down trees while sucking up massive amounts of fossil fuels and get big money from the government to do it – all through a loophole in a law that was supposed to benefit renewable energy. A law enacted in 2005 contains a section that gives businesses an incentive to mix alternative energy sources with fossil fuels. To qualify for the tax credit, paper companies started adding diesel fuel to “black liquor”, a pulp-making byproduct that they were already using to generate electricity on its own.
But time might be running out for this egregious misuse of taxpayer money: the unemployment extension bill approved by the Senate and on its way to the House would eliminate this loophole and use the funds for health care. (Editor’s note: We’ve contacted both the editor and writer of this story at BusinessWeek to confirm that this loophole will still be closed in the bill just passed by the Senate, and will update if more information becomes available. In the meantime, there’s this resource which seems to confirm the loophole is in fact being closed.)
7. Commercial Fishing
About half of the $713 million in subsidies given to the U.S. fishing industry directly contributes to overfishing, according to a new study by the Environmental Working Group. The subsidies – which equal about a fifth of the value of the catch itself – lower overhead costs and promote increased fishing capacity, meaning more fish are caught than can be naturally replaced.
Overfishing is a huge environmental problem – up to 25% of the world’s fishery stocks are overexploited or depleted, according to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization. But that’s not the only result of the subsidies; because roughly half of the money goes toward fuel costs, other consequences include wasteful fuel consumption as well as air and water pollution.
6. Nuclear Power
The nuclear industry’s decade-long, $600 million lobbying effort finally paid off as President Obama agreed to grant loan guarantees for nuclear power plants. Obama has been promising since the early days of his campaign that he would find a way to “safely harness nuclear power”, but the $55 billion taxpayer-backed loan guarantees are going forward despite continued reservations about uranium mining and the storage of radioactive waste.
5. Factory Farming
American factory farms are literally filthy cesspools of their own making, and who else is cleaning up all that shit but American taxpayers? Giant factory farms make up just 2% of the livestock farms in the U.S. yet raise 40% of all animals in the U.S., and they do it using practices that are not only harmful to workers and the animals themselves, but to the environment.
4. Corn Ethanol
In the quest to beat back fossil fuels, cleaner fuels that we can grow seemed like a good idea – until we realized that some, like corn, make a huge dent in the world’s food supply. But that isn’t stopping the U.S. government from giving billions in subsidies to the corn industry in general, and corn ethanol in particular.
Corn-based ethanol gobbled up 76% of federal government renewable energy subsidies in 2007, leaving little for more environmentally sound renewable energy sources like wind and solar. Worse yet, it’s a huge drain on water resources, gulping down up to 2,138 liters of water per liter of ethanol.
This isn’t just an unwise investment – it’s also destroying the rainforest. As American farmers have abandoned soy for subsidized corn, soy prices have risen worldwide – and led to an increase in Amazon deforestation. Brazil is the world’s second-largest producer of soy next to the U.S., and growing demand has meant more clear-cutting for soy plantations.
3. Processed Foods
Ethanol isn’t the only product that comes to us courtesy of U.S. corn subsidies. There’s also plenty of craptastic processed “food” products packed with multiple subsidized ingredients: wheat, sugar, soy and of course, corn. Gee, could the obesity epidemic have anything to do with the fact that our government makes junk food cheap, and encourages its consumption through the food stamp program?
It’s a sad state of affairs when a Twinkie costs less, calorically speaking, than a carrot. Meanwhile, farmers who produce fruits and vegetables (aside from corn), don’t get a dime in government subsidies. While the government is considering junk food taxes, a change to the Farm Bill might be more efficient.
You would think that the coal industry’s long-held dominance of the American energy market would have eliminated the need for subsidies. After all, the industry spent $47 million last year on PR alone. But the fact is, coal companies are milking the government for all it’s worth while continuing to pump greenhouse gases and carcinogens into the air and turn the Appalachian Mountains into post-apocalyptic hellholes.
Coal subsidies have survived this long because of the industry’s staggering influence on lawmakers, and because constituents in coal states often fear the economic repercussions of a scaled-back coal industry more than they fear the harm to their health and homes. And on top of the federal coal subsidies lumped in under ‘fossil fuels’, the industry gets untold breaks on a state and local level in places like Kentucky, where the coal industry netted $115 million in subsidies in 2006.
Climate change: brought to you by the U.S. government! According to a study by the Environmental Law Institute, fossil fuels received over $70 billion in subsidies between 2002 and 2008, while traditional sources of renewable energy were given just $12.2 billion.
But the oil industry won’t even admit that the direct spending and tax breaks they get are subsidies – they prefer to call them “incentives”, and claim that attempts to roll back some of those subsidies are actually “new taxes”.
As Grist notes, the ELI report is actually pretty conservative – it didn’t include things like military spending to defend oil in the Middle East or infrastructure spending. But the fossil fuel industry’s free ride is almost over: President Obama’s new federal budget proposal wipes out these breaks and increases funding for clean energy research (and, unfortunately, nuclear power).
March 2, 2010
By Sandy Leon Vest
“Those who manipulate the unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. We are governed, our minds molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested largely by men we have never heard of… In almost every act of our lives whether in the sphere of politics or business in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires that control the public mind.”
Anyone whose mission it is to ‘control the masses’ knows it all begins with good marketing.
Public relations aficionado Edward Bernays understood that.
One of the country’s original PR flacks, Bernays is perhaps best known for forging the decades-long marketing alliance between the AMA and the tobacco industry. The ‘Father of Spin,’ as he is known, also played a major role in the marketing and selling of the First World War to the American public with his now infamous slogan, “Making the World Safe for Democracy.” Having mastered the art of seduction, Bernays understood that luring the public into purchasing products they didn’t need was a simple matter of connecting those products to their unconscious desires and (perceived) unmet needs. He called this scientific technique of opinion molding the “engineering of consent.”
Corporations have come a long way since Bernays first began coaching them in the stealthy art of consumer seduction. And we have been forever changed by their success. From credit cards to satellite television to fossil fuels, American consumers, having succumbed to corporate seduction, are today paying a very high price for their acquiescence.
Coal-fired Facebook Fires Up Activists – sort of
The series of events following Facebook’s recent announcement that their ‘energy efficient’ data center in Prineville Oregon would be powered by the dirtiest fossil fuel on earth (coal) is illustrative of the problem.
When Facebook announced the opening of its new data center, its PR people made a point of emphasizing that the facility would be “among the greenest in the industry.” So, it was little wonder that clean energy activists were up in arms when it was revealed that the social networking site had contracted with mega-utility PacifiCorp for its power – since PacifiCorp’s primary power-generation fuel is coal.
What followed was a flurry of Facebook activity, mostly in the form of negative comments on the site itself, but also including at least two petitions – one initiated by Change.org and another by Greenpeace – demanding that FB’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg either clean up or abandon the company’s contract with PacifiCorp. At least so far, the contract is unaltered, although it remains to be seen whether Facebook will succumb to the pressure being applied by its more energy-conscious users.
The proverbial ‘rub,’ of course, lies in just how much pressure FB users will be willing to apply. It may be that the Internet, as Chris Hedges recently asserted, “has become one more tool hijacked by corporate interests to accelerate our cultural, political and economic decline.” Yet, the inevitability of such a prediction is far from certain. How social networking tools like Facebook ultimately impact our collective future and whether or not they actually live up to their promise to “promote democracy and unleash innovation and creativity” may well be up to those who use them.
Having become the most popular social networking site in the world (and the one most utilized by activists of all stripes), Facebook is clearly holding most of the cards. And this is where Bernays’ theory of ‘perceived need’ kicks in big time. After all, FB users need to communicate with one another. We have products to sell, thoughts to express, ideas to flesh out and events to publicize. And, let’s face it, social networking is the most effective and efficient means toward those ends. Given this (perceived) need, the threat of a boycott – likely the only truly effective tool activists have to make their point – seems all but out of the question. The irony of consumers feeling empowered by the same technology that captivates them is difficult to miss.
One liberal-leaning blogger expressed the dilemma succinctly: “Do I want more ads and more privacy issues to deal with so Facebook can afford to buy more expensive but cleaner power? Definitely not. Would I use a greener Facebook competitor if it existed? Yes, but not if I had to sacrifice functionality.”
February 22, 2010
By Ethan A. Huff
The federal government is pushing farmers to use a toxic byproduct of the coal burning industry to fertilize and loosen the soil in their crop fields. Initiated under the Bush administration as a beneficial use for the substance, efforts by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) in conjunction with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) continue to advocate for the widespread use of synthetic gypsum in agriculture.
Called flue gas desulfurization gypsum, or FGD gypsum, this synthetic powder is produced by coal plant “scrubbers” that remove sulfur dioxide from plant emissions. Sulfur dioxide is the chemical that causes acid rain to occur. FGD gypsum is a white, powdery substance that some believe will help to enrich crop field soil.
The current administration has been pushing for the agricultural use of FGD gypsum despite the fact that it is known to contain toxic heavy metals such as lead, mercury, and arsenic. According to the EPA, the mercury contained in FGD gypsum does not affect plants and runoff into water supplies at “significant” levels. As far as the other heavy metals are concerned, the EPA is holding to the mantra that the levels are minute, contending that using in in crop fields is perfectly safe.
Last year, a coal ash pond just outside of Knoxville, Tennessee, spilled, flooding about 300 acres of land with ash and killing many fish in the area. The spill damaged many homes as well and cleanup costs are expected to be upwards of $1 billion. This catastrophe has prompted the EPA to draft regulations on how to handle toxic coal waste safely.
The EPA would not comment, however, about its support for FGD gypsum in agricultural use in light of the spill and the damage it caused. If the waste from coal plants is toxic and must be dealt with in a manner that keeps it contained, many are wondering why the EPA would promote the same waste for use on crops.
In 2001, the USDA partnered with the EPA to promote FGD gypsum use. Since that time, the amount of the substance used by farmers on their fields has triple. According to the American Coal Ash Association (ACAA), nearly 280,000 tons of the byproduct was spread on fields last year.
Thomas Adams, executive director of the ACAA indicated that almost nine million tons of the roughly 18 million tons of FGD gypsum produced last year was used to make drywall. He believes that finding new ways to recycle the substance is preferable to dumping it in landfills.
November 12, 2009
by David Gutierrez, staff writer
Business in the Community’s 2009 Responsible Business Awards for ecological responsibility were dominated by companies that have made their fortunes exploiting the Earth, writes Guardian columnist Fred Pearce in his series “Greenwash.”
“Greenwashing” refers to the practice of putting an environmentally friendly face on companies or practices that are anything but.
The greenwashing began with the sponsors, with Bank of America – the world’s largest funder of mountaintop removal coal mining and also it’s largest underwriter of debt – handing out a Climate Change Award. Finalists for this award included Toyota, the world’s largest car maker and thus a major contributor to global warming, and United Biscuits, which purchases large quantities of palm oil from monoculture plantations that have replaced native rain forest in Indonesia.
Deforestation is also a major contributor to global warming.
The Environmental Leadership Award was sponsored by Adsa, which has failed to inform consumers of any progress on its 2007 promise to remove all unsustainably produced palm oil from its products, in violation of commitments it made as part of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil. The award went to the Co-op, which is two years behind on its own reporting to the Roundtable.
The Responsible Marketing and Innovation Award was sponsored by Procter & Gamble, which has come under fire for a wide variety of practices from animal testing of cosmetics, failing to reveal the ingredients in its laundry detergents, falsely labeling its detergents as “future friendly,” and aggressively marketing disposable diapers in Third World countries. The award went to Thames Water, a privately held water utility serving large areas of the United Kingdom, for its “campaign to promote the serving of tap water in London’s restaurants, bars and hotels.”
“Here we defy parody,” Pearce wrote. “Forgive me, isn’t tap water just about the only thing that Thames Water sells? It would be one of life’s great surprises if it were not promoting its one and only product. Does it deserve a prize for this self-sacrifice?”
October 2, 2009
By Tracy Watson
For the first time, the federal government plans to restrict greenhouse-gas emissions from factories, power plants and other industrial facilities under a proposal revealed Wednesday.
The proposed rule requires new facilities and those undergoing major maintenance to limit their greenhouse-gas emissions using the “best available” technology. That might include energy-efficiency steps or equipment under development to capture greenhouse gases and funnel them into storage.
“We are not going to continue with business as usual any longer. We have the tools and the technology to move forward today, and we are using them,” said Lisa Jackson, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA would oversee the rule.
The EPA’s plan “will grind economic growth to a halt in cities and communities across America,” said Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., an opponent of climate-change action.
The industrial sector is responsible for about one-third of the U.S. output of greenhouse gases, which build up in the atmosphere and trap heat. The primary greenhouse gas is carbon dioxide, produced when coal, gasoline and other fossil fuels are burned.
The proposal would take effect after the administration finalizes its rules for restricting greenhouse gases from vehicles. That’s scheduled for next spring.
The proposal was announced on the same day that a bill to slow climate change was introduced in the Senate. The Senate bill faces an uphill climb to passage, but the EPA plan adds another possible route to restricting emissions.
The dual announcements Wednesday mean that “the question shifts from whether the government will act and clean up corporate pollution to how it will be done,” said Jeremy Symons of the National Wildlife Federation, an environmental group.
The announcement marks a “seismic shift,” said Vickie Patton of the Environmental Defense Fund.
Jackson said the proposal exempts small businesses and farms from having to reduce their greenhouse gases. Only facilities that emit more than 25,000 tons of greenhouse gases a year would be subject to the rule. That standard means that the regulation would apply to roughly 14,000 U.S. facilities accounting for nearly 70% of the global-warming emissions from sources other than vehicles, the EPA says.
Charles Drevna, head of the National Petrochemical & Refiners Association, said his group may sue the EPA. The proposal would make the nation “much less energy secure,” he said.