MAC: Mines and Communities

US Update

Published by MAC on 2007-02-03

US update

3rd February 2007

Alcoa - the world's biggest aluminium producer (and thus making a hefty global contribution to greenhouse gas emissions) - has joined a corporate-NGO alliance (of which Environmental Defense is a member) to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Meanwhile , the Carbon Disclosure project (CDP) claims that less than half of US corporations asked to divulge their "climate risks" have done so.

CDP mentions specifically TWU which recently put forward plans to leash an unprecedented raft of coal-fired powerplants onto the US public.


Down in Florida, a familiar battle is being waged between environmentalists and another utiity over proposals to construct a vast coal-fired power plant which, it is claimed, will pollute the famous Everglades.

Top CEOs Call for Federal Action on Climate Change

The Environmental Magazine, Reporting by Roddy Scheer

27th January 2007

The chief executives of 10 major U.S. corporations have joined together to call for immediate federal action to combat human-induced global warming, saying that voluntary efforts are inadequate to do the job. The group, which calls itself the U.S. Climate Action Partnership, includes the chief executives of Alcoa, BP America, DuPont, Caterpillar, General Electric, Lehman Brothers, PG&E, PNM Resources, FPL Group and Duke Energy, as well as representatives from four leading environmental groups.

In the face of White House unwillingness to address climate change through the regulatory process, the group is urging Congress to set up an economy-wide cap-and-trade system-whereby the government would set limits on the total amount of emissions of the greenhouse gases contributing to global warming and companies would be able to buy and sell the right to pollute accordingly. The executives reported that to be effective, any such legislation must cut emissions of greenhouse gases by 10 percent below today's levels within a decade and at least 60 percent by 2050.

Fred Krupp, president of the nonprofit Environmental Defense and a member of the alliance, referred to the executives' support as "a game changer" in the climate change debate. "We are asking Congress not to wait for a new administration or the next presidential debates," he said.

Source: NRDC

US Companies Lag on Climate Risk Disclosure

PlanetArk US

1st February 2007

NEW YORK - Corporate America lags behind the largest global companies in disclosing climate change risks to investors, a report showed on Wednesday.

Only 47 percent of the largest US companies listed in the S&P 500 fully answered a survey on climate risks sent to the companies last year by the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), according to the study.

That compared with 72 percent of FT 500, which lists the largest global companies, that responded fully to CDP.

Corporate climate change risks include financial impacts from potential regulations limiting greenhouse gas emissions, as well as physical risks of heat waves, flooding and storms, the report said.

"Many US companies are not addressing these trends and are leaving investors in the dark about their strategies for mitigating those risks," said Mindy Lubber, president of Ceres, a network of investors and environmental groups that issued the report with Calvert Group, the US$14 billion socially responsible mutual fund shop.

The United States, the world's top emitter of greenhouse gases, is the world's only developed country, besides Australia, that did not ratify the Kyoto Protocol on global warming that limits emissions from 35 rich countries in its first phase.

While the European Union has been trading credits for the right to pollute since 2005 in order to meet its Kyoto requirements, the United States has no national greenhouse market.

While US auto, energy and utility companies improved their responses from previous CDP surveys, other sectors performed poorly, Lubber said. Insurance companies, particularly those involved in reinsurance or underwriting property and casualty, face risks stemming from more catastrophic weather events resulting from climate change.

Allstate Corp. and Ace Ltd. were among the the US insurance companies that did not respond to the survey. ACE declined to comment on why it did not respond to the CDP, while Allstate did not immediately return calls.

American International Group Inc. the world's largest insurer, stood out by disclosing a range of risks and opportunities relating to climate change, the report said.

Utility company TXU Corp. provided no analysis to CDP of how any future US greenhouse regulation would affect its 11 proposed coal-fired power plants. TXU spokeswoman Kim Morgan said the company has addressed its carbon policy separately, and that its 15-year vision on emissions includes trying to cut CO2 from coal down to a rate similar to CO2 from natural gas, the cleanest fossil fuel.

The CDP is backed by 225 institutional investors with assets of more than US$31 trillion who want to bet on companies that are planning ahead to face the risks of climate change.

The project said on Wednesday it has gathered 284 institutional investors representing US$41 trillion for the next report, its fifth. Results will be issued in September. For the first time, the CDP will send the questionnaire to the 100 largest companies in India.

Story by Timothy Gardner


A Mega Environmental Disaster in the Making?

Miami Sun Post

3rd February 2007

Will FPL's Future Coal Plant Speed Up Global Warning? Protestors Think So

The amount of carbon dioxide emissions would be more than any new power plant in the country, she says.

By Cynthia Archbold

"Imagine the Ritz under 10 feet of water!" That's what one sign, held by those protesting coal plants and global warming, said. Another sign warned that "Coal Kills."

It's not every day that international protestors take to the streets of Key Biscayne to warn about new threats of global warming coming from plans to build coal power plants.

But that's what happened Wednesday in front of the Ritz-Carlton.

About a dozen environmentalists came to protest the Coaltrans Convention, a meeting of top coal industry leaders to discuss building more coal power plants in the United States and Latin America.

"The pressure needs to be on FPL [Florida Power & Light]," says Scott Perry, a Glades County resident who came to Key Biscayne to protest.

He says pollution from Lake Okeechobee turns the Caloosahatchee River into an opaque pea soup every spring, and a coal power plant would make the Everglades a toxic wasteland.

He and other environmentalists say coal power is outdated and devastating to the environment.

But FPL's slogan is coal is "the right choice for right now," and according to its Web site, is cheaper and easier to obtain than natural gas.

Moreover, Florida's largest utility company also claims that coal power technology "has undergone dramatic improvements in efficiency and pollution control in the last 30 years."

Not enough, however, to satisfy environmentalists who oppose FPL's plans to build a coal-fired power plant about 125 miles north of Miami on Lake Okeechobee near Moore Haven in Glades County.

FPL wants to build the plant right on top of the Everglades, just as the national park is about to undergo the biggest environmental cleanup in the nation, according to Susan Glickman, consultant for the Natural Resources Defense and the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy.

FPL's huge, 1,960-megawatt coal-fired power plant, providing electricity to 650,000 homes, would be the kiss of death for the Everglades, Glickman says. The coal power plant will spew colossal amounts of mercury and toxic carbon dioxide, greenhouse gases that increase global warming, according to Glickman.

The amount of carbon dioxide emissions, 16 million tons each year, would be more than any new power plant in the country, she says.

Why haven't we heard much about it? Glickman answers: "FPL went to Glades County and essentially held secret meetings and negotiations there." She says FPL officials met with that county's Community Development Department, without public notice, promising $21 million to the county in annual property taxes, and lots of new jobs.

On Sept. 12, 2006, the Glades County Commission passed a resolution to support FPL's site plan application.

"I can understand why this would be very appealing to people in Glades County," Glickman says. "Twenty-one million dollars in tax revenues is more than their annual budget. It's a very small county, 11,000 residents, with few resources."

Glades County Manager Wendell Taylor says FPL's power plant proposal is "the first of its kind in the world." He says, "If information comes out that it's bad for the community, that it's dirty, we won't support it."

Taylor says there will be a year-long process of public hearings, beginning on Feb. 20, where the public will be able to speak out and hear from environmentalists before the plant can be approved by the state Department of Environmental Protection.

Two years ago, FPL's efforts to build a similar plant in St. Lucie County so outraged citizens that they persuaded their County Commission to vote against it.

Now St. Lucie commissioners are urging their counterparts in Glades to do the same.

Glickman says conservationists will fight FPL every step of the way, if need be all the way to the governor's office.

"And I believe Governor Crist and his cabinet will find that a giant old-style coal plant is not in the interests of the people of Florida."


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