"the Obama administration and the solicitor general appear to have made their own lives a lot more difficult"

Submitted by Norm Roulet on Sat, 08/28/2010 - 05:00.

Northeast Ohio clearly has some ot the worst air pollution in America, exposing residents to 100,000,000s of pounds of severe toxic point source and fugitive emissions from the Arcelor/Mittal combination steel-mill, coal powerplants, landfills and recycling facilities, refineries and 100s of other hazardous pollution point sources located throughout this 2 million+ person community - I'd like to know where in America more people are harmed more significantly by particulate pollution, on a daily basis, than in the neighborhoods surrounding Mittal and the industrial Flats... by no means our only toxic war-zone in the region.

And, our region has had defective air quality monitoring and so lax pollution control for the better part of the 21st Century.

Environmentalism here is "greenwashed" with "a pretense of concern about climate but policies dictated by fossil fuel special interests", as renowned climatologist Dr. James Hansen, Director, NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, describes the global state of inaction in response to global warming worldwide.

Hansen prescribes action: "To the young people I say: stand up for your rights – demand that the government be honest and address the consequences of their policies. To the old people I say: let us gird up our loins and fight on the side of young people for protection of the world they will inherit."

But, he cautions: "It becomes clear that needed actions will happen only if the public, somehow, becomes forcefully involved. One way that citizens can help is by blocking coal plants, tar sands, and mining the last drops of fossil fuels from public and pristine lands and the deep ocean."

We have many horrific polluters here - where to get citizens forcefully involved to stop excessive pollution... where to block a coal plant? How?

Blocking licensing of the MCCO coal burning powerplant in University Circle is a timely and highly visible opportunity to do just what Dr. Hansen prescribes. As MCCO burns around 44,000 tons of coal and emits around 4,000 tons of air pollution into poor Cleveland neighborhoods each year, yet serves only high profile institutions with significant public roles and responsibilities, challenging pollution by those institutions insures a large public "becomes forcefully involved" in solving a large regional air pollution problem they cause. In the process, millions worldwide may learn more about the pollution crisis in our region, and become forcefully involved helping address our crisis.

The MCCO public including all the doctors, staff and patients at University Hospitals - where my dad was affiliated as a physician and is currently in rehab from hip surgery - and staff, students and other stakeholders at Case Western Reserve University - where my wife works - and the Cleveland Institute of Art - where my mom is professor emeritus - and nearly two dozen other major institutions, serving millions of people world-wide per year.

Suing MCCO for operating without a license - apparently since 1998, exposing them to significant fines - is one clear way citizens may help take action to improve the global and regional environment, by helping FORCE MCCO off coal through pressure from global awareness.

A boycott of donations to MCCO affiliate institutions may be necessary, as well.

The more GLOBAL AWARENESS the better.

The Chairman of the Board of the MCCO coal burning facility is Robert Brown - the brother of Democratic U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown, from WAY UPWIND on the FAR West Side of Cleveland. Sherrod Brown plays a crucial role in developing America's environmental policy, with Ohio Republican Senator George "Poisonovich" Voinovich, together hindering global progress against global warming, which allows excessive pollution from burning coal in their territory of Northeast Ohio, which harms their constituents and all people of the world.

It is safe to say Sherrod Brown influencing national and global environmental policy keeping coal under-regulated, over-subsidized, cheap and dirty directly benefits his brother Robert and his enterprise MCCO - yes, dirty coal is HIGHLY political family business, in Ohio... and the MCCO family business is worth $10,000,000s a year in coal purchases... $10,000,000s in "utility" savings to MCCO stakeholders, which do not include the public.

Suing Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown's brother for killing citizens may get Northeast Ohio air pollution and health consequences the attention from the White House and the world we deserve and require.

An expert on environmental litigation, Neil Carman, of the Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club, suggests there may be other cases of violations of the Clean Air Act in Northeast Ohio requiring litigation, and that citizens and/or some environmental organizations, and the Federal EPA, should investigate legal action against any significant violations of the Clean Air Act here.

I intend to follow up with Neil and other counsel on this suggestion.

Our community, region, state and part of the county generate too much of our energy, and power too much industry, from burning coal... including at small, old, under-regulated and unlicensed facilities like Medical Center Company, adding to our particulate and ozone pollution hazards impacting our health and the world.

Such excessive pollution from burning coal, and the greenhouse gases released, is all subject of considerable global litigation... most notable today AEP v. Connecticut, where the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sided with a coalition of states, environmental groups and New York City that greenhouse gas emissions can be addressed through "public nuisance" lawsuits.

The New York Times reported from Greenwire, this week: Obama Admin Urges Supreme Court to Vacate Greenhouse Gas 'Nuisance' Ruling - "The Obama administration has urged the Supreme Court to toss out an appeals court decision (on AEP v. Connecticut) that would allow lawsuits against major emitters for their contributions to global warming, stunning environmentalists who see the case as a powerful prod on climate change."

A related article in Mother Jones asks: Why is Obama Siding With Polluters?  - and reports "Acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal filed a brief this week on behalf of the Tennessee Valley Authority in support of the defendants asking the Supreme Court to direct the appeals court to reconsider its decision regarding AEP v. Connecticut.

The NYTimes.com elaborated on the Solicitor General's position:

"Since this court held in 2007 that carbon dioxide falls within that regulatory authority, EPA has taken several significant steps toward addressing the very question presented here," Katyal wrote. "That regulatory approach is preferable to what would result if multiple district courts -- acting without the benefit of even the most basic statutory guidance -- could use common-law nuisance claims to sit as arbiters of scientific and technology-related disputes and de facto regulators of power plants and other sources of pollution both within their districts and nationwide."

Matt Pawa, an attorney representing plaintiffs in the case, said he and his colleagues expected the White House to stay out of the matter. During a meeting with more than 30 administration lawyers at the solicitor general's office on June 24, it seemed they had "a lot of friends in the room," he said.

"We feel stabbed in the back," Pawa said. "This was really a dastardly move by an administration that said it was a friend of the environment. With friends like this, who needs enemies?"

This brief is what would be expected from the Obama administration - any industrial nation's administration - in reflection on the words of Dr. Hansen, who points out

"Because the executive and legislative branches of our governments turn a deaf ear to the science, the judicial branch may provide the best opportunity to redress the situation. Our governments have a fiduciary responsibility to protect the rights of young people and future generations."

It is disturbing the Obama Administration filed their influential Supreme Court brief on behalf of the Tennessee Valley Authority - Mother Jones points out "TVA is a federally-owned corporation and the largest public power company in the country, operating 11 coal-fired power plants as well as nuclear power plants and hydro-dams" - meaning one of the greatest polluters in the world - meaning the Solicitor General's brief to the Supreme Court is a tool to reduce liability for the Federal Government, and so a conflict of interest.

And a Democratic Senator who influences Federal policy toward burning and regulating coal, and so sets pricing of coal, has a brother who burns 44,000+ tons of coal a year!!! Conflict of interest???

As Obama's home state of Illinois is the poster state for Clean Coal Gone Dirty... as Obama environmental policy leadership urges Obama to spend $7 billion more of our tax-dollars proving coal can't be scrubbed clean...

The same leadership that just interfered with the Supreme Court on proceedings concerning harm from coal burning emissions and global warming...!

Real science can't be scrubbed of the truth, and here is the opinion of the foremost climatologist on global warming, from 2005 to today:

What had become clear was that our planet is close to climate tipping points. Ice is melting in the Arctic, on Greenland and Antarctica, and on mountain glaciers worldwide. Many species are stressed by environmental destruction and climate change. Continuing fossil fuel emissions, if unabated, will cause sea level rise and species extinction accelerating out of humanity’s control. Increasing atmospheric water vapor is already magnifying climate extremes, increasing overall precipitation, causing greater floods and stronger storms.

Stabilizing climate requires restoring our planet’s energy balance. The physics is straightforward. The effect of increasing carbon dioxide on Earth’s energy imbalance is confirmed by precise measurements of ocean heat gain. The principal implication is defined by the geophysics, by the size of fossil fuel reservoirs. Simply put, there is a limit on how much carbon dioxide we can pour into the atmosphere. We cannot burn all fossil fuels. Specifically, we must (1) phase out coal use rapidly, (2) leave tar sands in the ground, and (3) not go after the last drops of oil.

Updates of Figure 16 in Hansen (2003), “Can we defuse the global warming time bomb?” (also in PDF).

Actions needed for the world to move on to clean energies of the future are feasible. The actions could restore clean air and water globally, assuring intergenerational equity by preserving creation – the natural world.

But the actions are not happening.

At first I thought it was poor communication. Scientists must not have made the story clear enough to world leaders. Surely there must be some nations that could understand the intergenerational injustice of present energy policies.

So I wrote letters to national leaders and visited more than half a dozen nations, as described in my book, “Storms of My Grandchildren”. What I found in each case was greenwash – a pretense of concern about climate but policies dictated by fossil fuel special interests.

And equally so, this conclusion Dr. Hansen reports is true: "Stabilizing climate is a moral issue, a matter of intergenerational justice. Young people, and older people who support the young and the other species on the planet, must unite in demanding an effective approach that preserves our planet."

Northeast Ohio must accept the position of ground zero for environmental activism, litigation, public works, remediation and rehabilitation, as the core of a renewed attention to environmental justice in America and the World, that must come from on-top down - President Obama must speak out for the poisoned people of Northeast Ohio, and provide Federal support to correct the excessive harm from environmental injustice that continues here today.

And citizens must have the right to sue if Obama fails.

Regarding that right, consider further Mother Jones reporting:

The Obama administration didn't have to weigh in on the case at all, which makes its intervention all the more aggravating for environmentalists. "At the very least, they could have stayed out of it," said Jonathan Zasloff, a law professor at UCLA. Letting the case go forward could also create a greater impetus for legislative action on climate change, something the administration has maintained is its preference anyway, and given it more bargaining power over polluters.

Instead, Zasloff notes that the administration is basically giving big emitters an escape route, as utilities (including some of those involved in this case) are expected to challenge and attempt to delay the EPA regulations every step of the way. This will, of course, make it more difficult for the agency to accomplish what it says it will do. By siding with them in this case, Zasloff says, "essentially the Obama administration and the solicitor general appear to have made their own lives a lot more difficult."

The NYTimes.com concludes:

If the Supreme Court does not take the case, he (Zasloff) wrote, "then the only way to get rid of the suit is for Congress to displace it. And the only way for Congress to displace it is to pass legislation. As is the case with EPA authority to regulate carbon, this puts more bargaining power on the side that wants regulation."

Citizens of Northeast Ohio are definitely among those who want more regulation!

To get that, it appears citizens of Northeast Ohio must sue.

Now, who?

I know Betsey supports open information sharing - from Facebook

I know Betsey supports open information sharing - I don't think she will mind my extending our brainstorming from the closed private Facebook to the open cooperative realNEO network... especially as she was involved at the early stages of realNEO's development...

Betsey Merkel Thxs Norm for your important posts about air quality and our ability to breath in NEO and elsewhere.
2 hours ago

Norm Roulet I'd like your thoughts on how to accomplish the following here:
"It becomes clear that needed actions will happen only if the public, somehow, becomes forcefully involved. One way that citizens can help is by blocking coal plants."
about an hour ago

Betsey Merkel
Hi and thanks. My first suggestion would be to consider replacing "forcefully" with 'engaged' as I don't believe you can force anyone to do anything in the free world.

For next steps:

Convene regular live broadcast strategic doing sessions ...to 1) identify the network and 2) select top 5 constructive strategic activities to accomplish on a task list during the next 30-60-90 days; map the networks and publish the map updates as generated; track milestones of strategic doing activity list and network map growth with top 5 objectionable activities and their impact of top 5 known related health diseases on NEO tax payers.

Citizen commitment: resulting data for everyone on network map agrees to present to their local gov rep with top 5 requests for how citizens wish reps to vote. If not 100% alignment, citizen does not re-affirm reps position in next election.

Collaborating legacy asset partner organizations and business suggestions based on re-direction of attention and audiences likely to benefit from the advance of regional renewable enterprise growth: Sierra Club; E4S; Case Energy Center; Small Business News; Franchise King; Audubon; others...See More
about an hour ago

Betsey Merkel ‎...'Likely to benefit and who can offer good guidance throughout the process over time.
about an hour ago

Norm Roulet
I knew you would have a problem with the "Forced" thing, Betsey... that is why I asked.

The world expert on climatology, Dr. Hansen, NASA, says - and I agree - "It becomes clear that needed actions will happen only if the public, somehow, be...comes forcefully involved. One way that citizens can help is by blocking coal plants."

Government must force much stricter environmental policy, monitoring, regulation and enforcement globally, nationally and here, without compromise, against powerful industry forces like BP, Marathon, MCCO, Mittal and Cleveland Cliffs, and their stakeholder interests - not pretty... but essential for a greater good.

Government is failing Clevelanders on enforcing health protection for our greater good, so we need to force government to do its job right - and the process is one of FORCING and LITIGATION - NOT PRETTY.

Government here is corrupt - we still don't know how corrupt, but we see it is very corrupt and still at the beginning of a long dismantling and rebuilding process. In the mean time, government here is ineffective at best. Government is responsible for protecting our environment, and failing with that.

Sherrod Brown and his brother are involved - Connie Schultz is married into that - these are significant conflicts of interest, which make this situation high profile, to the White House, involving $ billions.

Perhaps there are independent (not funded by industry and local foundations and government) people in town who could help "engage" those who may willingly be engaged to help save the planet - like students - to forcefully engage those who resist saving the planet - like their parents - to save the planet.

Would you like to help make having environmentalism FORCED on NEO a more enlightening and collaborative experience for the community...?

How about we see if we can get Dr. Hansen to come to Cleveland?

I need to focus on analysis and litigation.... pure science... no compromises.... I need to talk with Hansen regardless.

Post your thoughts here or at realNEO - Send me an email at norm [at] realneo [dot] us if anyone wants to help with any of this...!See More
58 minutes ago

Disrupt IT

In engaging the public on environmental issues in Northeast Ohio

Related thoughts on Facebook: Norm Roulet

In engaging the public on environmental issues in Northeast Ohio, how do we deal with a POLLUTING power base like the coal and ore industry controlling the media, foundations, politicians and so many boards and institutions, unions and inte...rnal stakeholders here, when we need free, open dialog about environmental damages here, and change from industrial leadership's polluting ways... and you know how all the networks here overlap and are funded.

Consider the coal industry, MCCO, UCI and MITTAL related influence at play here...

As, from the PD...

"Cliffs, deciding that its successes have been under-appreciated in its home town, has created an advertising campaign to tout its message. Details are under wraps until Monday. But Cliffs feels confident it has something that will grab Clevelanders' attention."

"We've never been too vocal and we don't have any [non-headquarters] operations here in town," said Steve Baisden, Cliffs' director of industrial relations. "I think because of that we do go somewhat unnoticed."

I noticed Cliffs and their directors are involved in lots of the pollution here... and Cliffs noticed I noticed... and the world is noticing... and Cliffs is investing more of their money in their control of people's minds here... to protect their interests, like strong financial relations with our greatest polluters, like MCCO and Mittal... and to prop up their wildly fluctuating stock value, profiting individual leaders in this community..

Now consider the huge amounts of money just one Cliffs board member, Jamie D. Ireland, III, gave to campaigns for politicians around here who influence the price of coal, and regulation on pollution, and so the value of Ireland's 10,000s of shares of Cliffs stock...

$3000 to Sherrod Brown...
$5500 to Strickland...
$1000 to Voinovich...
largest among many obvious political donations, in recent years... http://fundrace.huffingtonpost.com/neighbors.php?type=name&lname=Ireland&fname=James&oldest=1

Ireland has also been involved with boards in media (IdeaStream), finance (CapitalOne and Early Stage Partners) and at institutions profiting from MCCO operations (Cleveland Orchestra), and donated enough money to MCCO stakeholder University Hospitals to get their new Cancer Center named after him... a sick-joke, I suppose.

To counter the harm Cliffs actions and leaders cause here, through direct, excessive pollution of citizens, I'm learning far more about Cliffs and their industrial power players and their control here than shall be included in their propaganda paying for publishing their Plain Dealer.... and I doubt any of this will be covered in Scene.

And who really wants or is able to talk about any of this, in this one-company-mindset town?!?!

Yet we must. How?!?!

A book!

In court?!

Any other suggestions...

Perhaps all this will be of interest to incoming area college students, not yet polluted by our coal industry interests, and their propaganda in our mainstream media here... if our local college students are really allowed to learn the truth here, at all.

Thoughts, anyone?

Disrupt IT