CityBeat Blogs - Climate Change http://www.citybeat.com/cincinnati/blogs-1-1-1-34-119.html <![CDATA[Global Warming Didn't Stop Just Because We're Cold Now]]>

The recent bout of cold weather does nothing to disprove the scientifically established phenomenon of global warming, despite what conservative media might be telling some Cincinnatians.

Many Cincinnatians have taken to social media in the past few days to chime in on what the recent weather means for global warming — a debate fostered by so-called skeptics on talk radio and Fox News.

But the scientific literature is based on years and decades of trends, meaning a few days or weeks of cold weather signify little in the big picture of climate change.

In fact, Googles definition of climate is “the weather conditions prevailing in an area in general or over a long period.” The key, scientifically minded folks point out, is “long period.”

When that long period is analyzed, the trend is clear:

The trend explains why scientists almost all agree global warming is happening and most certainly spurred by human actions. In the 2013 report from the the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, scientists said they are at least 95 percent certain that human actions contribute to global warming.

Beyond the scientific facts, for every anecdote out there, there is often a contradicting anecdote from another source. While Cincinnati and the Midwest may be coping with a cold winter, summer-stricken Australia is recovering from its own bout of hot weather and drought. 

The contradicting conditions don’t prove or disprove global warming, but they do show the folly of relying on anecdotal evidence.

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<![CDATA[Morning News and Stuff]]>

It’s legal in most of Ohio for an employer to fire someone over his or her sexual orientation, but a new bipartisan bill being pushed by Equality Ohio could make the practice and anti-LGBT discrimination for housing illegal. Critics of the Equal Housing and Employment Act argue it could lead to a flood of lawsuits against companies, but Equality Ohio argues that just hasn’t happened in other states that passed nondiscrimination statutes. The bill’s Democratic and Republican sponsors argue that it would actually grow the economy by making Ohio more inclusive, which would make it easier to keep “the best and the brightest” employees. The bill was introduced in May and its sponsors expect it to be taken up after the General Assembly reconvenes in October.

In the United States, Ohio’s power plants pollute more than all but Texas’ power plants, making Ohio one of the nation’s leading contributors to global warming, according to a Sept. 10 report from advocacy group Environment Ohio. The report calls for all levels of government to create and enforce stronger standards and regulations to curtail pollution and encourage cleaner forms of energy. National conservative groups oppose the stricter rules; they flat-out deny human-caused global warming despite the nearly unanimous scientific consensus that it’s at least partly caused by human actions. Some companies also argue efficiency standards impose too many costs on businesses and customers.

Cincinnati officials apparently expected Pure Romance to get tax credits from Ohio. But the state ultimately refused to grant the credits, which are regularly given to firms for job creation. Now the company, along with its $100 million in annual revenues, is considering moving across the river to Covington, Ky. Ohio officials won’t clarify why Pure Romance’s request was refused, but the company suspects it’s because its product lineup includes sex toys, which could have been politically embarrassing for Gov. John Kasich’s administration.

Following the Sept. 10 mayoral primary’s historically low voter turnout, the Charter Committee, Cincinnati’s unofficial third political party, is supporting efforts to reform how the city elects its mayors. “It is absurd that taxpayers paid $400,000 for a primary yesterday that few people voted in, and that decided very little,” said Mike Goldman, convener of the Charter Committee, in a statement. Voter turnout for the Sept. 10 mayoral primary was a dismal 5.68 percent, much lower than the 15 percent that turned out for the primary held on Sept. 11, 2001 — the day of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon — and the 21 percent of voters that participated in the 2005 primary.

A City Council motion could strip council members’ support for a controversial permanent supportive housing facility in Avondale. The proposed facility, Commons at Alaska, would be a 99-unit housing facility with residency and supportive services for the homeless, particularly those with mental health issues, physical disabilities and histories of substance abuse. Several Avondale residents are concerned the facility would further deteriorate an already-blighted community. CityBeat covered the dispute in further detail here.

Cincinnati Public Schools is asking the state to force the Emery Center, home of the embattled Emery Theatre, to pay taxes. The property taxes could produce $130,000 a year for CPS, which the school district says it needs because local property taxes make up more of its funding than the typical urban district in Ohio. The Emery Center was originally tax exempt under a plan that used the ground floor for education purposes and a renovated Emery Theatre for community events. But neither happened; the ground floor is currently used by the Coffee Emporium, and the theater currently isn’t being renovated or used.

A judge ordered Duke Energy to destroy or return a memo that was apparently embarrassing for Cincinnati officials because the memo, which was sent by the city’s Law Department to the city manager, was supposed to remain private under attorney-client privilege. Duke wanted to use the memo in its current case against the city. The city and Duke are in court as part of an agreement between the two entities to legally settle who has to pay for moving utility lines to accommodate for the streetcar project.

The Ohio Department of Insurance hasn’t received any applications or certified individuals for Obamacare’s formal outreach effort. The “navigators,” as officials call them, are a crucial part of Obamacare because they’re supposed to promote the law’s benefits to ensure the federal government meets its health insurance enrollment goals to keep costs down. Health care advocates claim the lag is driven by federal training requirements and a state law enacted in July. The state law made it so some groups, including Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, can no longer participate in the navigator program, as CityBeat covered in further detail here.

Debe Terhar, the president of Ohio Board of Education, wants Toni Morrison’s novel The Bluest Eye removed from the state’s Common Core education standards because the book contains a rape scene. Terhar called the book “pornographic” at a Sept. 10 Board of Education meeting. But Terhar clarified that she doesn’t want to ban the book, and she would still allow different school districts keep it in their curriculums.

State Auditor Dave Yost says Ohio’s cities and counties need to do a better job complying with public record requests. A sampling of 20 cities and counties found eight, or 40 percent, had weaknesses in compliance. The most common problem was inadequate measures to track public record requests.

The Cincinnati area’s largest mall is up for sale for $45 million. The struggling mall has gone through several names over the years: Forest Fair Village, Cincinnati Mall, Cincinnati Mills and Forest Fair Mall.

Orangutans apparently announce their travel plans a day in advance.

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<![CDATA[Report: Ohio Power Plants Among Nation’s Worst Polluters]]>

In the United States, Ohio’s power plants pollute more than all but Texas’ power plants, making Ohio one of the nation’s leading contributors to global warming, according to a Sept. 10 report from Environment Ohio.

“America’s dirtiest power plants are the elephant in the room when it comes to global warming,” said Kathryn Lee, field associate for Environment Ohio, in a statement. “If we want a cleaner, safer future for our kids, we can’t afford to ignore power plants’ overwhelming contribution to global warming. For Ohio, tackling the problem means cleaning up the dirtiest power plants.”

Power plants are responsible for 41 percent of the United States’ carbon dioxide pollution, which means they contribute more to global warming than any other source in the nation, according to the report.

“Dirty power plants produce a disproportionate share of the nation’s global warming pollution — especially given the relatively small share of total electricity they produce. For example, despite producing 30 percent of all power-sector carbon dioxide emissions, the 50 dirtiest power plants only produced 16 percent of the nation’s electricity in 2011,” the report found.

The report narrows down the pollution problem to specific power plants and the disproportionate amount of greenhouse gases they emit: “The dirtiest power plant in the United States, Georgia Power’s Plant Scherer, produced more than 21 million metric tons of carbon dioxide in 2011 — more than the total energy-related emissions of Maine.”

The report ultimately calls on regulators to encourage alternative energy sources and curtail greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming.

Specifically, the report asks the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to meet a timeline put forth by President Barack Obama for setting strict limits and regulations on how much future and existing power plants can pollute. It also calls on all levels of government to continue setting standards and incentives that encourage clean energy.

In 2008, Ohio passed its Clean Energy Law to require and incentivize Ohio companies to pursue energy portfolios that are cleaner, more efficient and more diverse.

Environment Ohio has consistently called on state legislators to strengthen the standards, with the latest report suggesting goals that would require even more clean, renewable energy sources than Ohio currently mandates.

But even the renewable energy standards that Environment Ohio deems too weak are likely to be diminished by a proposal from State Sen. Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati), following an aggressive lobbying effort from national conservative groups.

Seitz is a member of the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which has teamed up with the conservative Heartland Institute to dismantle state energy regulations. The two conservative groups deny global warming is driven by human actions, even though scientists reportedly said they’re 95 percent certain humans are contributing to global warming in a leaked report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Another report from Environment Ohio found Ohio’s standards, which require utility companies get 12.5 percent of their energy needs from renewable sources, have spurred clean energy projects in Cincinnati and the rest of the state. In 2011, the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden used the state incentives to install solar panels in its parking lot that will generate enough electricity to meet 20 percent of the zoo’s electricity needs and reduce pollution associated with global warming by 1,775 tons annually, according to the report.

Meanwhile, Cincinnati has taken its own actions.

“The city has been a leader in greenhouse gas reduction efforts since adopting the Green Cincinnati Plan in 2007,” said Larry Falkin, director of the Office of Environmental Quality of the City of Cincinnati, in a statement. “We have succeeded in reducing emissions by more than 8 percent through measures including energy efficiency, renewable energy and alternative fuel vehicles. What we have learned is that if you do it right, climate protection work saves more than it costs, improves public health and improves the quality of life.”

Still, some companies argue the standards impose unreasonable costs on businesses and customers. Akron-based utility company FirstEnergy previously asked for a review of Ohio’s energy efficiency standards to address the concerns, but Seitz told Gongwer that the efficiency standards will remain untouched by his legislation.

Scientists have historically called for reducing global warming to 2 degrees Celsius. That wouldn’t involve immediately eliminating all carbon pollution — such a goal is widely viewed as unrealistic — but it would likely require the United States and other developed countries to cut their carbon pollution by 80 to 95 percent below 1990 levels by 2050, according to the IPCC’s 2007 report.

With its latest report, Environment Ohio is aiming to push the country in that direction.

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<![CDATA[Morning News and Stuff]]> The ever-debated, never implemented property tax increase will continue to be nonexistent, as will a new police station, playgrounds, some public pools, Music Hall renovations and certain street repavings and building demolitions, according to The Enquirer. Councilwoman Laure Quinlivan will make the deciding vote against City Manager Milton Dohoney’s proposed tax increase, which would add $46 to the owner of a $100,000. Also against disproportionately taxing rich people are Councilmen Chris Seelbach, P.G. Sittenfeld, Christopher Smitherman and Charlie Winburn. Quilivan says the government isn’t the right size and that the government should make the tougher changes before asking for more revenue.

Here are two ways to report the latest news regarding potential Duke Energy rate hike connected to streetcar construction:

• From The Enquirer:  Duke customers could face streetcar tab

• From The Business Courier: “Cincinnati, Duke making progress on moving utility lines

A 15-year-old girl was killed in Over-the-Rhine around 11 p.m. last night. She was reportedly standing with a group of people, though Police haven’t released any details about the shooter.

A new poll shows support for President Obama’s shift on immigration policy.

More Asians are immigrating to the U.S. than Hispanics these days.

Adult humans are 16.5 million tons overweight, which researchers say will threaten the world’s food security and environmental resources.

Approximately half of all new AIDS cases are occurring in the South, and the region is severely short on HIV specialists.

Attorneys for the Penn State football coach who showered with a bunch of boys are starting their defense by painting him in a positive light.

Spotify will stop charging $10 per month for use on mobile devices. Free now.

Facebook acquires Face.com. Ha.

Former baseball player Roger Clemens was acquitted of perjury charges, the latest in a bunch of wasted time by the federal government investigating athletes who can afford really good lawyers.

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<![CDATA[Morning News and Stuff]]>

A local music teacher says Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy offered him a job and then rescinded the offer after asking him if he is gay. Jonathan Zeng says he went through the school's extensive interview process, was offered a position and then called back in for a discussion about religious questions in his application, during which he was asked directly if he is gay. Zeng says he asked why such information was pertinent, and an administrator said it was school policy not to employ teachers who are gay because they work with children and something about the sanctity of marriage. When contacted by local media CHCA released the following statement:

CHCA keeps confidential all matters discussed within a candidate's interview. We're looking into this matter, although the initial information we have seen contains inaccuracies. We will not be discussing individual hiring decisions or interviews.
Cincinnati's deficit isn't going to get better any time soon, according to a new report.

The Reds drafted high school pitcher Nick Travieso in the first round of the MLB draft on Monday. Here's a rundown of their other picks Monday and Tuesday.

Senate Republicans yesterday blocked a Democratic bill calling for equal pay in the workplace, and the Dems are going to stick it in their faces during this year's campaigns. From the AP:

As expected, the pay equity bill failed along party lines, 52-47, short of the required 60-vote threshold. But for majority Democrats, passage wasn't the only point. The debate itself was aimed at putting Republicans on the defensive on yet another women's issue, this one overtly economic after a government report showing slower-than-expected job growth.

"It is incredibly disappointing that in this make-or-break moment for the middle class, Senate Republicans put partisan politics ahead of American women and their families," Obama said in a statement after the vote.

"Even Mitt Romney has refused to publicly oppose this legislation," added Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. "He should show some leadership."

The Washington Post wonders whether Mitt Romney can use Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's template for surviving a recall election to try to win the presidency. It involves “big money, powerful organization and enormous enthusiasm among his base.” Exit polls in the state suggest Obama is ahead, however.

China wants foreign embassies to stop releasing reports and Tweeting about its poor air quality.

Gonorrhea growing resistant to antibiotics? Rut roh.

Dinosaurs apparently weighed less than scientists previously thought. Adjust paper-mache Brontosaurus as necessary.

Facebook is considering letting kids younger than 13 use the site.

The Boston Celtics took a 3-2 series lead over the Miami Heat on Tuesday and could send Bron Bron and Co. back home on Thursday.

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<![CDATA[Morning News and Stuff]]>

The big news breaking the Internets is that Susan G. Komen for the Cure, the nation’s leading breast cancer charity, is pulling its grants from Planned Parenthood affiliates. The charity gave about $680,000 last year and $580,000 in 2010, which is mostly used to provide free breast exams for low-income women.---

Although Komen officials say the action was done because Planned Parenthood has come under investigation by Congress, the switch occurs less than a year after the charity got a new vice president who is anti-abortion. Abortion is a service provided at some, not all, Planned Parenthood clinics. The vice president, Karen Handel, had run for governor of Georgia in 2010 on “an aggressively anti-abortion and anti-Planned Parenthood platform and was endorsed by Sarah Palin because of her opposition to reproductive choice,” according to The Huffington Post.

In the 2009-10 fiscal year, the charity reported $365 million in contributions from the public. Of its revenues, $76.7 million (21.3 percent of total expenditures) went toward fund-raising and administrative costs. This includes $459,406 in salary for Nancy Brinker, the group’s CEO and founder.

The Washington Post is speculating about a possible alliance between ex-Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and U.S. Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), both of whom are seeking the GOP’s presidential nomination. Amy Gardner writes, “It is a strategic partnership: For Paul, an opportunity to gain a seat at the table if his long-shot bid for the presidency fails; for Romney, a chance to gain support from one of the most vibrant subgroups within the Republican Party.”

Federal agents at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are at fault for the botched “Fast and Furious” gun-trafficking operation, concludes a report by Congressional Republicans. The report says President Obama’s Justice Department has failed to fully investigate the matter and hold staffers responsible.

Pakistan's Supreme Court has summoned Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani to appear later this month for his indictment on contempt charges based on his refusal to pursue corruption cases against the country's president, Asif Ali Zardari. The prime minister has said the president has immunity from criminal prosecution because he is a head of state but the court disagrees, setting the stage for a potential constitutional crisis.

Freezing temperatures in Eastern Europe have claimed 110 lives so far, including 63 in Ukraine and 29 in Poland. Temperatures have dipped as low as minus 22 degrees Fahrenheit in some areas, and  minus 40 degrees Fahrenheit in others.

The oil and natural gas industries are trying to turn Ohio into its dumping ground for wastewater from fracking in other states. More than half of the record-setting levels of wastewater pumped into the ground in Ohio was from out of state, reported Bloomberg Businessweek.

Locally, a University of Cincinnati football player has confessed to burglarizing a dormitory room, campus police said. Akise Teague, a running back on the team, was arrested Wednesday. He has been suspended indefinitely.

The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County has introduced a new mobile telephone application. The app allows users to track the library’s resources, like books and CDs, and is compatible with most smartphones including Android, iPhone and BlackBerry.

Routine deputy patrols by the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office will end in 10 townships after March 31. Sheriff Simon Leis Jr. said the changes were necessary after county commissioners cut his 2012 patrol budget by about $4 million. If they want the patrols to remain, township officials must chip in $70,000 per deputy this year, and more in coming years.

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<![CDATA[Morning News and Stuff]]>

Cincinnati has the third-highest rate of childhood poverty in the country, and The Enquirer's Mark Curnutte tells the story of an East Price Hill family and school system struggling to keep up.

Hamilton County for the fourth straight year dipped into its rainy day fund instead of instituting major cuts or raising taxes.

National non-profit teacher training program Teach For America has offered to work in Cincinnati Public Schools, possibly as early as next year. CPS has yet to commit to the partnership, noting that there are laid-off veteran teachers in the region.---

A New York Times analysis found that members of Congress miss many votes even though it's the basic function of their jobs.

Mr. (Don) Young, the second-longest-serving Republican in the House, has missed 16 percent of all votes so far in the 112th Congress, making him the member of the House most often absent, excluding those recovering from serious illness or Representatives Ron Paul of Texas and Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, two Republicans who are running for president.

According to an analysis of House attendance, nearly 20 current members have missed more than 10 percent of the votes this year. Most said they were ill or were tending to sick family members. Representative Jared Polis, Democrat of Colorado, missed several weeks of votes during what might have been the first paternity leave for a gay member of Congress.

Ohio is ranked seventh for student load debt among 2010 graduates, who left school with 7 percent more debt than the 2009 class.

Occupy Oakland protesters closed the Port of Oakland this morning, dragging fencing across a major entrance and blocking trucks from getting in. The longshoreman reportedly generally supported the protest, though some truckers were angered by being stuck in traffic for a while. A smaller group of protesters had gotten buck wild overnight, barricading a city block and starting a 15-foot-high fire before clashing with police.

Islamist Jihad is reportedly ready for all out war with Israel.

Apple says it will fix your iPhone 4S battery in a few weeks.

A new study thinks it was climate change that killed all the Ice-Age mammals.

And an Ohio State study says the “Freshman 15” is just a myth.

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<![CDATA[Green Group Plans Council Forum]]>

A forum is planned to question Cincinnati City Council candidates on issues involving “green” building techniques, making the city more sustainable and other environmental topics.

The event, which is free and open to the public, is scheduled for 6 p.m. Oct. 12 in the rear stage area at the Northside Tavern, 4163 Hamilton Ave. Before the forum begins, a networking session with candidates will be held at 5 p.m.---

The forum is sponsored by the Green Group, an informal network of Cincinnati-based environmental organizations and concerned citizens united to educate and organize a constituency to build an environmental movement in Cincinnati. The coalition spearheaded efforts to successfully expand Cincinnati’s curbside recycling program last year.

Questions will be submitted in advance by Cincinnati voters via the Green Group’s Facebook page or via email at greencincy@gmail.com. Questions from forum attendees will be selected by a panel of University of Cincinnati students.

Among the topics expected to be addressed include creating green jobs, clean air and water, walkable communities, green space restoration and preservation, LEED certified buildings, clean renewable energy and recovering valuable material from the waste stream.

Moderating the event will be Myron Rivers, executive director of the U.S. Green Building Council's Cincinnati chapter. Co-sponsors Ella Net and Media Bridges will stream the event live on the Internet and broadcast the forum on Media Bridges’ cable TV access stations.

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<![CDATA[Attention Cycling Enthusiasts]]>

Queen City Bike today sent out an email asking for help in convincing St. Bernard Service Director Phil Stegman why including a climbing lane on Mitchell Avenue between Vine Street and Reading Road is important to the area's cycling infrastructure. According to QCB, St. Bernard's engineers prefer to keep 10 feet of space for parking rather than use 8 feet for parking and include the bike lane. The city of Cincinnati, which owns half the road, needs St. Bernard to sign off on the infrastructure improvement, according to QCB.---

Climbing lanes contribute to safer cycling conditions by marking parts of roads where cyclists will naturally be traveling at slower speeds, helping to provide awareness for cars that will pass cyclists going up hills.

Queen City Bike included a draft email to be personalized and sent to Stegman, along with St. Bernard Mayor William Burkhardt; St. Bernard Councilperson John Estep, Chair, Transportation Committee, City of St. Bernard; Councilperson Roxanne Qualls, Chair, Transportation Subcommittee, City of Cincinnati; and Queen City Bike President Frank Henson.

The following is the draft provided by QCB:

DRAFT E-MAIL MESSAGE FOR YOUR PERSONALIZATION:

E-MAIL ADDRESSES (copy into your e-mail program):

TO: service@cityofstbernard.org

CC:

bburkhardt@cityofstbernard.org;

jestep@cityofstbernard.org;

roxanne.qualls@cincinnati-oh.gov;

queencitybike09@gmail.com

TEXT TO MODIFY:

Phil Stegman, Director, Service Department, City of St. Bernard

Dear Mr Stegman,

I am writing to urge you to work with the City of Cincinnati to add a bike lane to Mitchell Avenue by allowing 8 feet for parking rather than 10 feet on the St. Bernard side of the street.

This minor change would allow a bike lane to be added to the uphill side of Mitchell, making it possible for bicyclists to use this important street to get to and from North Avondale, Hyde Park and points east from St. Bernard, and to Cincinnati neighborhoods to the west and north. Changes have already been made or are being planned for Dana Avenue and Spring Grove, leaving Mitchell as a critical gap in the regional bicycle street network.

A bike lane would also make St. Bernard a more desirable place to live for Xavier University students who want to live in a green, healthy community that encourages and supports active lifestyles. Bicycles on the street are a sign of a desirable place to live for young people, and can be an important part of revitalizing neighborhood business districts. Clifton, Northside, and O'Bryonville are all areas where bike lanes are making a real difference.

Can you confirm that you will work with the City of Cincinnati to allow a bike lane to be added to Mitchell Avenue this year?

Sincerely,


Gary Wright

Over the Rhine, Cincinnati

Queen City Bike Board Member


CC:

Mayor William Burkhardt, City of St. Bernard

Councilperson John Estep, Chair, Transportation Committee, City of St. Bernard

Councilperson Roxanne Qualls, Chair, Transportation Subcommittee, City of Cincinnati

Frank Henson, President, Queen City Bike

 

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<![CDATA[Art for the Sky with Picking Up America]]>

Sawyer Point's Earth Day celebration and educational events were all but closed on Saturday, as wind and rain caused the cancellation of most activities.

Despite the inclimate weather, members of Pick Up America took part in an Art of the Sky exhibit during which members of the public were invited to stand in a silhouette of Cincinnati skyline. Rep. Denise Driehaus (D-31st District) was on hand to participate.---

Picking Up America is a continuous, cross-country roadside litter clean-up effort. CityBeat met up with them on the Westside. Check out the video below.

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<![CDATA[Boehner's Ties to BP]]>

Just as the White House is criticizing one Republican lawmaker for apologizing to BP, it's been revealed that a local GOP leader has extensive stock holdings in BP and other oil companies.

The Associated Press is reporting that U.S. Rep. John Boehner (R-West Chester), the House minority leader, bought dozens of stocks in December including shares in BP, Exxon, Chevron, ConocoPhilips and Occidental. Each of the stocks is valued between $15,001 and $50,000, according to annual financial disclosure reports released Wednesday.---

Overall, more than 20 members of Congress own some BP stock including Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.).

On Tuesday Kerry joined 20 other Democrats in voting against a bill proposed by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) that would have eliminated $35 million in special tax breaks for oil companies. The measure failed 35-61.

Kerry has said he supports ending the tax breaks but wants it included in an energy and climate bill that Congress will vote on later this year so the money can be reallocated and used to pay for tax incentives for investments in clean energy research and technology.

Meanwhile, U.S. Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) apologized to BP executive Tony Hayward during a congressional hearing today. Barton said the $20 billion escrow fund that BP promised to create after a meeting with President Obama was a "shakedown."

"I do not want to live in a country where any time a citizen or a corporation does something that is legitimately wrong and is subject to some sort of political pressure that is, again, in my words, amounts to a shakedown,” Barton said. “So I apologize.”

OpenSecrets.org has noted that the oil and gas industry has been the largest donor to Barton, giving him $1.5 million during his political career.

Afterward, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said, “What is shameful is that Joe Barton seems to have more concern for big corporations that caused this disaster than the fishermen, small business owners and communities whose lives have been devastated by the destruction.”

Last week Boehner briefly appeared to side with U.S. Chamber of Commerce President Tom Donohue, who suggested the federal government should bear some of the cost for cleaning BP's massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. After public backlash, Boehner claimed his remarks had been misunderstood.

The Democratic National Committee (DNC) blasted Boehner, stating the news that he owns tens of thousands of dollars in oil company stock, including BP, raises questions about the Republican caucus’s response to efforts to hold BP accountable and ensure that a spill like the current one doesn’t occur again.

The DNC wants Boehner to use his clout to pressure the Republican caucus into supporting the $20 billion escrow account negotiated by Obama and to back lifting the liability cap on all oil companies in which he is an investor.

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<![CDATA[Guest Editorial: Ohio Can Profit from Clean Energy]]>

In 1908, the automobile was considered nothing more than a rich man's plaything.  The technology existed but could not yet be applied on a large scale or made affordable.  Soon, Henry Ford supplied those missing parts and, with some outside help, transformed the 20th Century.


In 2010, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown and the rest of Ohio’s congressional delegation have a rare chance to vault us into a position of global economic leadership by passing a comprehensive clean energy and climate bill.---


The parallels between clean energy now and the fledgling automobile industry then shed important light on our current situation.


Last century, the rise of the automobile was our national economy’s driving force but not just because it was technologically feasible or because Ford brought down the production costs.  There was a partnership between business and government investment at all levels, which transformed dirt roads, built the interstate highway system, and solidified Washington’s relationship with oil-rich countries.


Every president since Richard Nixon has promised energy independence but all have fallen short.  This goal is not unreachable, and with prolonged instability likely in places like Iraq and Venezuela, it’s high time we get there.


Now, 102 years after Ford’s revolution, will Americans transform the 21st Century or sit idly by while other nations take the lead?  We already have the technology. We need only smart incentives that encourage entrepreneurs and small businessespeople to bring renewable energy technology into the American mainstream.


Cincinnati has set an admirable example by jump-starting projects that have made it a national leader in building efficiency.  The transition to a clean energy future is not only possible (with already-existing renewable energy, efficiency retrofits, and short-term bridge fuels), but will create over 60,000 jobs in Ohio alone, according to a recent study by the Political Economy Research Institute and Center for American Progress.


With unemployment at 9.7 percent, we can’t afford to squander this opportunity.


Imagine if government had not gotten involved in 1908 — we would have dusty two-lane roads, stratospheric gas prices and cars would be rich men’s playthings.


The U.S. House passed the American Clean Energy and Security Act last summer with the help of our representative, Steve Driehaus. Will the U.S. Senate recognize this historical pivot point and help America compete with China and others by investing in clean energy technology?  Cincinnatians are saying they should: 120 people gathered at the Laborer’s Hall in Evanston on March 23 for a clean energy rally with Operation Free’s nationwide veterans tour.


We thank U.S. Rep. Driehaus (D-Price Hill) for being a champion on this issue, and urge U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Avon) to lead the Senate in decisively passing a comprehensive clean energy and climate bill this spring.  This will free us of our dependence on foreign oil, create American jobs that cannot be outsourced, and make us the world leader in a clean energy future.


As you drive around town this week digesting your Easter candy, think for a second about what cars did for America, and consider the potential of a clean energy future.


(GERRY WOLTER of East Price Hill is President of Precision Temp Inc., a business that develops and manufactures energy-efficient water-heating for mobile and restaurant applications.  PATRICK FOLEY of East Walnut Hills is a local attorney.  BILL CAHALAN of East Price Hill is a local foods advocate and works as a clinical psychologist.)

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<![CDATA[Clean Energy Day of Action]]>

A coalition of groups participated in the "Clean Energy Day of Action" event Monday. Despite the heavy snowfall, attendees gathered on downtown's Fountain Square to urge Congress to pass a comprehensive clean energy and climate plan this spring.

The event -- part of the Cincinnati for Clean Energy Campaign -- was organized by members from the Blue Green Alliance, a partnership between environmental organizations and labor unions.---

Campaign Coordinator Nathan Lane thanked Congressman Steve Driehaus (D-Price Hill) for voting for the American Clean Energy and Security Act that passed the U.S. House in July. “It’s clear that Rep. Driehaus understands that Hamilton County residents need work, because he’s pushing hard in Congress to bring us clean energy jobs," Lane said. "We appreciate it.”

Also speaking at the event was Cincinnati City Councilman Cecil Thomas, who is running for Hamilton County commissioner.

“Cincinnati is already doing great things,” Thomas said. “We’re showing every day how investments in clean energy and retrofitting projects are creating jobs, spurring economic development in this region, and making Cincinnati a better place to live and work. A national clean energy plan will enable us to do even more and continue to lead."

IMG_4687.JPG

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<![CDATA[Doomsday Clock: We're Safer]]> Scientists who operate the Doomsday Clock announced Thursday they’ve set the hand one minute further from midnight, indicating they believe the world has become slightly safer.

The changes means the clock, a symbolic measure of the threats facing humankind, moved to six minutes to midnight from five to midnight.---

Say what? To borrow a phrase from an old book, with all the wars (Iraq, Afghanistan, etc.) and rumors of wars (Iran, Pakistan, etc.) swirling around, we would’ve thought a realistic appraisal would've set the clock closer to Armageddon.

But representatives from the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists said the election of a new U.S. president has created a more cooperative atmosphere that’s led to negotiations on issues like nuclear arms reduction and dealing with global climate change.

At the risk of sounding like Eeyore — the gloomy, depressed donkey from Winnie the Pooh — I think the scientists are being too optimistic and seeing progress where none exists so far. The level of tension and number of hotspots in the world are higher than they’ve been for years.

Time will tell.

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<![CDATA[Guest Editorial: Senate Fiddles as Earth Burns]]>

(Activist Jeff Cobb, of Climate Change Advocates of Cincinnati, outlines why the climate change treaty meeting in Copenhagen, Denmark, is important and how U.S. politicians are lagging in the effort.)

The parallels between Nero fiddling while Rome burned and the callous neglect by politicians like the U.S. Senate while the Earth burns due to global warming is sadly apt.

One could easily write an entire column containing only the names of the scientific reports that prove that climate change is happening, is caused by human activity and why action needs to be taken to reverse it. Scientific, political, religious, national security and economic thinkers who have looked at climate change understand our dire straits and beg for changes.---

Europe faced a similar dark time prior to World War II as politicians practiced denial rather than address Hitler's relentless drive to war. Hitler seized Poland and readied to take more of Europe under his dark dominion, and billboards in England demanded: "What Price Churchill?" Churchill was finally made prime minister, and leapt to action, a leader in the fight to defeat the Nazi war machine. Climate change needs its own Churchill, and doesn’t yet have one. Neither hate-filled dictators nor climate change negotiate, a reality lost on politicians.

The word “unequivocal” was used by the 2007 Nobel Prize-winning U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, (the United States is a member and all member governments approved every word) to describe the body of scientific evidence proving that climate change is occurring, is man-made, and action needs to be taken to reverse it. Because of their consensus process, this report only contains new data up to 2005, so climate science already was unequivocal by that time.

As anyone can see on the best climate blog out there, ClimateProgress.org by Dr. Joe Romm — one of Time magazine’s “Heroes of the Environment” — there is scientific evidence for climate change aplenty, and he quotes and provides links to seven of the best of them here.

As further evidence for the scientific consensus, as well as frustration on the part of American scientists on Senate inaction, we have the letter signed by the most prestigious science organization in the U.S., along with 17 other American science organizations.

And if you need further proof, please see this nearly exhaustive list of science, industry, and religion quotes.

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon describes climate change as "by far the most urgent and serious existential threat for all humanity and planet Earth" and "the one true existential threat to our planet."

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is politically center-right in her nation and was recently reelected, said in her address to Congress: "In the Arctic icebergs are melting, in Africa people are becoming refugees due to environmental damage, and global sea levels are rising ... For we all know, we have no time to lose. We need an agreement at the climate conference in Copenhagen in December."

The president of the Maldives, an island nation likely to be underwater by the end of the century due to climate change, has become the first country to become carbon neutral. For that act, Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed was named one of Time's “Heroes of the Environment 2009.”

The European Union has committed to emissions reductions of 20 percent from 1990 levels by 2020, and is on the verge of increasing that to 30 percent.

By comparison, the United States — the greatest historical emitter of greenhouse gases — has made no concrete commitment at all.

Spiritual leaders from the world’s major religions address climate change in similar terms. The Vatican describes the “inescapable responsibility of one and all to care for the environment," the chief rabbi of Israel believes “care for the environment is a fundamental religious imperative," and His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, supports reducing carbon dioxide to the scientific consensus of 350 parts per million, and counsels “urgent...corrective action.”

The Arab-Israeli conflict centers largely around water. Imagine more such conflicts breaking out, as climate change disrupts normal weather patterns. Mass migration to flee drought conditions in some areas, and floods in others, is poised to create more turmoil. For this reason, climate change is a growing concern for national security specialists. Gen. Brent Scowcroft, a West Point graduate and former National Security adviser, and Gen. Wesley Clark, a West Point valedictorian and ex-presidential candidate, have appeared on Repower America's TV commercial calling climate change a national security issue.

CNA, a think tank born in World War II that conducts military operations analysis, convened a board in 2006 comprised of former generals of all the military services, and has made climate change a major focus. CNA’s conclusion sees “climate change acting as a ‘threat multiplier’ for instability in some of the most volatile regions of the world and identifies key challenges that must be planned for now if they are to be met effectively in the future.”

Sir Nicholas Stern, former chief economist at the World Bank, made a study of the economics of climate change for the British government. He describes climate change as “the greatest market failure ever,” and proposes action with “fierce urgency." He has also framed the issue succinctly by pointing out that the U.S. generates 23 tons per capita of CO2 equivalent greenhouse gases (CO2e), and the entire planet needs to get to 2 tons per capita by 2050. (Ohioans generate 24 tons CO2e per capita, due to our reliance on coal to generate electricity.)

According to Stern, if we don't act on climate change “damage could rise to [a reduction of] 20 percent of GDP or more."

And yet still U.S. politicians dither and choose more words, not deeds; inaction over action; insanity over what the science says we "have" to do to prevent catastrophic climate change and the possible end of humanity. Even some U.S. politicians like President Bill Clinton, who want climate change action, still put politics before science, next year's election ahead of our survival: "We shouldn't ask them [Congressional Democrats] to commit [political] suicide [by acting on climate change]," Clinton said.

The world has entered another period like the beginning of World War II, with a dark, deadly situation no one wanted to admit to or deal with. As Hitler made his move and began taking over nation after nation, politicians practiced appeasement, and tried and failed with words rather than action, to halt the advance of his war machine. The politicians had lived in denial far too long to stem the tide of the now-raging Nazi storm. Some knew then that the world needed a leader, not a politician, just as we do now (as admirably pointed out by Greenpeace International).

We, who in our darkest hour stare our mortality starkly in the face, need a leader. We don't need the kind of politicians who have declared their failure to agree to a climate change treaty this month in Copenhagen, before the date has even arrived. What confidence they exhibit in themselves, what compassion for future generations. We haven't seen their like since 1939, when Chamberlain declared success after selling out Poland to Hitler.

The time for action has long since passed. The time to shift the world to a war footing, and throw all global resources into a full-court press at the challenge of climate change as if our lives depended on it (because they do, especially if you are poor) is yesterday, not December 2010 at the next U.N. climate change meeting. In the absence of a climate change “Pearl Harbor,” we need leaders more than ever to galvanize public opinion, harness the world's political, economic, material and spiritual resources, and tackle head-on the greatest challenge humanity has ever stared in the eye.

In the absence of our “Climate Change Churchill,” we must take up the mantle of “leader” ourselves. As Gandhi said, “We must be the change we wish to see in the world.” We must be the leaders of change we wish to see. Just as in Britain prior to World War II, we too can choose to send a message to our politicians, “What Price our Planet?”

Instead of billboards to send this message, we in Ohio can call, e-mail, fax, meet with our political leaders and ask them what it will take for action on climate change. Now.

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