Quote IconThe Elk River branch of the state’s largest water utility, West Virginia American Water, has gained up to 100,000 customers since the mid-2000s, according to the estimate of environmental consultant Rob Goodwin. That’s because mountain top removal and the disposal of coal mining waste (buried underground in a muddy form called slurry) have contaminated local water sources throughout the state’s southern and central regions, driving more and more West Virginians to board up their wells and lay pipe to the Elk River.

The Elk River chemical spill is so destructive because Elk River was one of the last clean water supplies in the state. 

Is climate change a wedge issue versus Romney?

"Looked at another way, though, climate change might not be a bad thing for Obama to talk about—as a wedge issue, with certain audiences. Specifically, the well-educated swing voters who backed him last time around but may be taking a look at Romney, who showed strength with upscale voters in the Republican primary. National Journal’s Josh Kraushaar recently argued that this is a real vulnerability for Obama:

It’s easy to forget, now that Obama is preaching a populist message on the campaign trail, that a major part of his support came from the very 1 percent that he’s now calling on to pay their fair share in taxes. Obama carried the super-wealthy—those making $200,000 or more a year—with 52 percent of the vote, 17 points more thanJohn Kerry won in 2004. But now surveys show Obama losing significant ground with affluent voters, trailing Romney 49 percent to 43 percent among those making $100,000 or more in the latest Quinnipiac poll—his worst showing among any economic demographic.”

- Alec MacGillis (and a quote from Josh Kraushaar), Is Climate Change A Wedge Issue vs Romney?

Photo courtesy of Earth beat Radio

Why has Romney changed his tune on gas prices?

"Curiously overlooked, though, is just what a shift this rhetoric is from the approach that Romney took on the issue of gas prices while governor of Massachusetts. Befitting his profile as a moderate Republican who cared about the environment, Governor Romney responded to price spikes by describing them as the natural result of global market pressures and by calling for increases in fuel efficiency—the same approach that he now derides Obama for taking as president."

- Alec MacGillis, “When Romney Liked High Gas Prices

One year after the meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, why has recovery been so slow in Japan?

"But, according to Japan’s NHK news, 110,000 people are still living in temporary housing communities. One city official I met in Rikuzen Takata was still sleeping in his car in July. Even today, many are unable to find jobs or regular income. A December survey of the largest temporary housing community, near the city of Ishinomaki, revealed that 47 percent of households included someone out of work. The situation was even worse for those involved in the fishing industry: Only 10 percent of approximately 200 Ishinomaki seafood-related companies have reopened. Small business owners cannot rebuild because, having lost their collateral in the tsunami, they are unable to obtain new loans. Even those who were not directly affected by the tsunami have found it hard to make a living in post-disaster Japan.

-Ethan Segal, “One Year After Fukushima, Why Has Progress Been So Slow in Japan?

Photo courtesy of National Geographic

Could a carbon tax fix the deficit and the environment?

"Most carbon tax proposals envision an initial tax rate of $15 per ton of carbon dioxide. The carbon tax is meant not to raise revenue but to change behavior: The ultimate goal is to have polluters avoid paying the tax by shifting to renewables. Nonetheless, Tufts economist Gilbert Metcalf, in a 2007 paper, calculated that a $15 carbon tax would raise about $82.5 billion per year, which would easily cover the $70 billion cost of extending the payroll tax cut through 2013. To maintain pressure on polluters to keep reducing carbon emissions, the carbon tax would have to rise steadily. Inglis and Flake’s bill would raise it to $53 in its twentieth year, which is about what’s envisioned in a report by Robert Shapiro, Nam Pham, and Arun Malik of the private U.S. Climate Task Force. The task force calculated that the revenues could keep the Social Security tax a little below its current lowered rate and still leave 10 percent of the money to pay for other programs to fight climate change. Alternatively, you could use this money to provide even greater payroll tax relief for people at lower incomes."

-Timothy Noah, “The Best Way to Fix the Deficit—and the Environment

Photo courtesy of the New York Times