Tag Archives: Environment

Nature’s (And Our) Struggle With Styrofoam

Image: Ken Larson https://www.flickr.com/photos/odysseyof_armaments/9677781303/in/photostream/



Styrofoam is non-biodegradable and appears to last forever. It’s resistant to photolysis, or the breaking down of materials by photons originating from light.

This, combined with the fact that Styrofoam floats, means that large amounts of polystyrene have accumulated along coastlines and waterways around the world. It is considered a main component of marine debris.

Styrofoam can be recycled, but the market for recycled Styrofoam is diminishing. Many recycling companies no longer will accept polystyrene products. Those that are recycled can be re-manufactured into things like cafeteria trays or packing filler.


Climate Change Threatens Critical Military Bases, Pentagon Report Says


A military police officer walks near a destroyed gate at Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael on Oct. 12, 2018. The storm caused extensive damage to nearly every building on the base. A new Defense Department report finds that most of the military’s operationally critical installations face a threat from climate change. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images)


“More than two-thirds of the military’s operationally critical installations are threatened by climate change, according to a new DoD report.

After several reporters questioned why the report was not made public by DoD, the Pentagon published it on Defense.gov mid-Friday.” _____________________________________________________________________________

“The January 2019 report, “Report on Effects of a Changing Climate to the Department of Defense,” was submitted to Congress Thursday without an official announcement of the report or a public release.

The Pentagon did not assess all of its hundreds of installations, instead it selected “79 mission assurance priority installations based on their operational role,” the Pentagon said in its report.

In its assessment of those 79 installations, which included Army, Air Force and Navy installations — and notably no Marine Corps bases — the services reported that 53 of the 79 faced current threats from flooding; 43 of the 79 face current threats from drought and 36 of the 79 faced current threats from wildfires.

The Pentagon also looked at logistics sites and other support that it considered operation critical, including Washington Headquarters Services, which includes the Office of the Secretary of Defense and supporting offices. the Defense Logistics Agency, the Defense Finance and Accounting Service and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency.

“The effects of a changing climate are a national security issue with potential impacts to Department of Defense missions, operational plans, and installations,” the report found.

Critics said the report not only fell short of Congress’ direction but also questioned why not a single Marine Corps Base was included. The report also did not mention last year’s massive storm damage to military installations. Tyndall Air Force Base sustained serious damage to almost all of its buildings by Hurricane Michael and the Marines’ Camp Lejeune was badly damaged by Hurricane Florence.

Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., the ranking member on the Senate Armed Services Committee, had a few choice words for it.

“The report reads like a introductory primer and carries about as much value as a phonebook,” Reed said in a statement.

The NDAA language also required cost estimated to mitigate the risks at the bases, and a list of the top 10 most climate-vulnerable bases, which it did not, said John Conger, director of the Center on Climate Security.

“It will be interesting to see how Congress views this sort of non-compliance of the law” with the report, Conger said.

When asked why no Marine Corps installations were included, Pentagon spokeswoman Heather Babb said that “in developing the report, DOD focused on mission assurance.”

“The report highlights the climate vulnerabilities of the top 79 mission assurance priority installations. By using this alternative approach, we are able to highlight where there are operational risks,” Babb said.

Conger previously served at the Pentagon as a deputy under secretary in the comptroller’s shop, and as the assistant secretary of defense for energy, installations and environment.

The report, which was directed by the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act, required the Pentagon to produce an “assessment of the significant vulnerabilities from climate-related events in order to identify high risks to mission effectiveness on installations and to operations.”


Top Federal Contractors Paid Billions for Environmental Damage




Skimming oil in the Gulf of Mexico during the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Photo by NOAA Office of Response and Restoration


“In keeping with [Earth Day’s] purpose as a national teach-in about the environment, we direct you to our Federal Contractor Misconduct Database to explore the environmental track records of the federal government’s largest contractors.

Environmental violations comprise only 17 percent of the 2,300-plus instances in the database, but account for more than 40 percent of the penalty total.

The lion’s share of violations have been racked up by five energy companies ExxonMobil, BP, Chevron, Valero, and Royal Dutch Shell and Honeywell.

The five largest environmental misconduct penalties in the database involve the April 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion and oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. BP, which leased and operated the rig, paid over $32 billion to settle governmental and private-citizen legal actions stemming from the disaster. Citing BP’s “lack of business integrity as demonstrated by the company’s conduct with regard to the Deepwater Horizon blowout, explosion, oil spill, and response,” the federal government temporarily suspended BP from contracting. Halliburton, which performed cementing work on the oil well, paid $2.1 billion to settle private claims.

Earth Day celebration marks the launch of an “environmental and climate literacy” campaign, which focuses on climate change and its threat to our planet. Recently, Exxon has been hit with accusations that it engaged in a decades-long campaign to conceal and discredit scientific evidence linking global climate change to fossil fuels. Our database includes two civil lawsuits—one filed by Exxon shareholders and one filed by a nonprofit environmental group—seeking damages for Exxon’s alleged cover-up. A third instance, a complaint filed with the Internal Revenue Service, claims Exxon violated federal tax laws in pushing its climate denial policies and legislative agenda.

We invite you to peruse our database to see how the government’s largest contractors have violated local, state, federal, and international laws protecting the air, ground, and water. And remember to check back frequently—we’re always adding or updating instances.”


Congressional Vote to Gut Anti-Corruption Law



Image:  “Dundee University”


“POGO Executive Director Danielle Brian said:

“By gutting this anti-corruption rule, lawmakers have showed us they have no guts.

Without the rule, taxpayers will remain the dark, which is where the companies want to keep us. We have no idea right now how much, if any, the industry is paying in taxes. The Cardin-Lugar rule would’ve opened their books to public scrutiny.

The claim that Cardin-Lugar would damage the ability of American companies to be globally competitive was always bogus – as international companies are already subject to similar rules. Rather, it’s about keeping vital information away from the public, lest we find out, for example, that the US government isn’t receiving its fair share of taxes from natural resources extracted from public lands.”

The Project On Government Oversight (POGO) emphatically condemns Congress’ vote to eliminate an important anti-corruption measure critical to ensuring American taxpayers can hold the government accountable for its dealings with the oil, gas, and mining industries.

The rule, known as the Cardin-Lugar provision, or Section 1504 of the Dodd-Frank Act, required oil, gas, and mining companies listed on US stock exchanges to disclose the royalties and taxes they pay to the US and foreign governments in order to extract natural resources, including those that are publicly owned.  This protected U.S. national security and energy security interests by preventing secrecy and government abuse abroad.

Since the 1990s, POGO’s investigations into the federal government’s oversight of the oil, gas, and mining industries have uncovered widespread corruption and ethics violations that allowed the extractive industries to cheat billions of dollars of potential income from U.S. taxpayers.

The Cardin-Lugar provision is widely supported by investors, citizens, lawmakers from both sides of the aisle, and governments around the world. It is a key element of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), a global transparency standard in which the US participates. Companies operating in the European Union (EU) are also required by law to make similar disclosures.”