JWG via DTN 15 January 2023 JT and Rae have been reading the tar baby saga and are trying hard…
U.S. Environment & energy 2020-
Supreme Court Hears EPA Challenge
(NPR) The U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments Wednesday in an important environmental case that centers on the obligation to be a “good neighbor.”
Lawyers representing three states, companies and industry groups will ask the justices to block a federal rule that’s intended to limit ozone air pollution. Experts said it’s only the third time in more than 50 years that the court has scheduled arguments on an emergency application like this one.
At the heart of the dispute is the part of the Clean Air Act known as the “good neighbor” provision. It’s designed to help protect people from severe health problems they face because of pollution that floats downwind from neighboring states.
Biden reins in gas exports that have raised both US prestige and climate fears
“We can’t keep building and building and building.”
(Politico Nightly) The Biden administration announced a freeze today on new export permits for natural gas while it studies their impact on climate change — despite those exports’ role in bolstering the U.S. economy and Washington’s influence in Europe. The announcement, part of a review that POLITICO first reported two weeks ago, is the most sweeping step yet by President Joe Biden to clamp down on a fossil fuel industry that has prospered on his watch (despite Republican rhetoric to the contrary). It also shows the resurgence of environmental groups’ influence on the White House as Biden ramps up his political campaign ahead of November’s election.
Biden’s aides weigh climate test for natural gas exports
Biden faces growing pressure from environmental groups to live up to his pledge to transition away from fossil fuels.
The Biden administration is launching a review that could tap the brakes on the booming U.S. natural gas export industry — a move that threatens to pit the president’s climate ambitions against his foreign policy agenda.
US pledges $3 billion for Green Climate Fund at COP28
By Nandita Bose and Valerie Volcovici
(Reuters) The fund, with more than $20 billion in pledges, is the largest international fund dedicated to supporting climate action in developing countries.
The latest pledge, which Reuters was first to report, would be additional to another $2 billion previously delivered by the United States.
US lays out plan at COP 28 to slash greenhouse gas methane from oil and gas
As COP28 tackles the global climate crisis in Dubai, the Biden administration today announced a significant new crackdown on the oil and gas industry’s planet-warming methane emissions, Ben Lefebvre, Alex Guillén and Zack Colman report. The EPA rules could become one of Biden’s signature initiatives to stave off climate catastrophe; the agency says they’ll prevent 810 million metric tons of carbon dioxide through 2035. The looming question is whether they can survive the conservative Supreme Court.
Environmental Justice a Key Theme Throughout Biden’s National Climate Assessment
The report finds that societal factors, including historic racism, have shaped the climate reality for many communities of color. It also details the impacts of climate change on Indigenous people, public health and agriculture.
Whether it’s the likelihood of living in a flood zone, lacking access to parks or having fewer resources to recover from a destructive storm, the consequences of climate change are not experienced equally in the United States. That’s a key message from some of the nation’s leading climate scientists, public health experts and economists in a landmark federal report released Tuesday.
It’s the first time a National Climate Assessment, the federal climate report mandated by Congress under the Global Change Research Act of 1990, has placed such a heavy emphasis on the concept of environmental justice—that low-income families and communities of color have historically borne the brunt of the nation’s environmental harms while benefiting least from environmental regulation.
To coincide with the release of the report, the administration announced $6 billion in federal investments into new and expanded programs to reduce flood risk, advance environmental justice, and bolster the aging U.S. electric grid—money that Congress previously made available in the 2021 bipartisan infrastructure act and other legislation.
‘Every bit matters’: Six key takeaways from the latest U.S. climate report
(LA Times) In California and the Southwest, increasing temperatures have intensified drought and will lead to a more arid future, while extreme heat will harm crop production and bring widespread economic impacts. However, report authors also wrote that action to prevent additional heating of the planet will bring major benefits by lessening the severity of the changes.
“This report says every 10th of a degree of warming matters. Every bit matters,” said Katharine Hayhoe, chief scientist for the Nature Conservancy and one of the authors. “It clearly shows that per 10th of a degree of avoided warming, we save, we prevent risk, we prevent suffering. And that’s pretty powerful.”
US climate assessment lays out growing threats, opportunities as temperatures rise
By Timothy Gardner
(Reuters) – Climate change harms Americans physically, mentally and financially, often hitting those who have done the least to cause it, including Black people facing floods in the South and minorities enduring searing heat in cities, a federal report said on Tuesday.
More than a dozen U.S. agencies and about 750 scientists produced the National Climate Assessment, meant to crystallize the top science on the problem and communicate it to wide audiences, President Joe Biden said at the White House.
Young environmental activists prevail in first-of-its-kind climate change trial in Montana
(AP) — Young environmental activists scored what may be a groundbreaking legal victory Monday when a Montana judge said state agencies were violating their constitutional right to a clean and healthful environment by allowing fossil fuel development.
The ruling in this first-of-its- kind trial in the U.S. adds to a small number of legal decisions around the world that have established a government duty to protect citizens from climate change.
Maui fires not just due to climate change but a ‘compound disaster’
The fires were a textbook case of many different agents acting together
By Scott Dance
(WaPo) …scientists have also prominently mentioned the role of non-climate influences in the intensity of the firestorm, such as the introduction of highly combustible nonnative plants, as well as weather patterns that happen naturally.
Among factors that made the fire so destructive — severe winds and ongoing drought — the influence of climate change appears indirect, at best.
As wind sent fires spreading out of control Tuesday, many meteorologists pointed out that Hawaii found itself between a strong area of high pressure over the North Pacific and Hurricane Dora, a cyclone that rapidly intensified into a major Category 4 storm.
What we know about the cause of the Maui wildfires
Strong winds from storms like Hurricane Dora can contribute to wildfire spread as gusts pick up to over 80 mph. High-speed wind flowing through mountainous passageways and canyons can create intensified fanning that feeds the flames.
Scientists have identified the spread of highly flammable invasive plant species as a growing threat and fuel for wildfires in the region. Tropical forests host a variety of nonnative species that can disturb and disrupt the natural ecosystem, such as guinea grass. The plants invade the common territory of other native plants and diminish their ability to grow normally, according to research from the University of Hawaii at Manoa. The plants often spread across large stretches of land, uncontained and unmonitored.
Worsening drought conditions have also increased the likelihood of severe wildfires throughout the region.
In photos: The scene as deadly wildfires devastate parts of Hawaii
Terrifying pictures of the devastation wreaked on Maui by wildfires
Maui officials say it was ‘impossible’ to warn everyone as wildfires spread quickly
(NPR) Officials say it could take years — or longer — to repair the damage from this week’s wildfires that devastated parts of Maui, claimed dozens of lives and razed a historic town.
As of Friday at 1 p.m. local time, the death toll on Maui was raised to at least 67 people. Earlier that day, Hawaii Gov. Josh Green warned at a news conference that the death toll will rise, as rescuers reach parts of the island that had been inaccessible due to the three ongoing fires.
Devastation comes to light as Maui residents slowly return to charred remains of historic town
(AP) — Incinerated cars crushed by downed telephone poles. Charred elevator shafts standing as testaments to the burned-down apartment buildings they once served. Pools filled with charcoal-colored water. Trampolines and children’s scooters mangled by the extreme heat.
Residents of Lahaina were being allowed back home on Friday for the first time since wildfires that have killed at least 55 people turned large swaths of the centuries-old town into a hellscape of ashen rubble.
Associated Press journalists witnessed the devastation, with nearly every building flattened to debris on Front Street, the heart of the Maui community and the economic hub of the island. The roosters known to roam Hawaii streets meandered through the ashes of what was left, including an eerie traffic jam of the charred remains of dozens of cars that didn’t make it out of the inferno.
Destroyed Lahaina was once Hawaiian Kingdom’s capital, global trade hub
By 1802, a leader from the Hawaii island, Kamehameha I (also known as Kamehameha the Great), had united all the islands into one kingdom and made Lahaina the royal seat of power. In Lahaina, Kamehameha began construction of the Brick Palace, the first Western-style brick structure on the island.
Why Hawaii’s wildfires are so devastating — and ‘predictable’
The ecological ravages of Hawaii over time have left behind nonnative grasses that serve as fuel for blazes. Some experts say the islands have yet to fully prepare.
Scientists and wildfire activists say a confluence of factors heightens fire risks in the Aloha State and could trigger more disasters if action isn’t urgently taken. The factors include the spread of flammable nonnative grasses across abandoned farm fields and a failure to manage the vegetation and harden communities against fire. In addition, changes in the climate are fueling stronger hurricanes and may be contributing to drier conditions in Hawaii.
Farmers have bought into Biden’s climate program. Now comes the hard part.
President Joe Biden’s administration poured $3 billion into greening agriculture. Some climate advocates aren’t convinced it will help.
(Politico) President Joe Biden’s Agriculture Department is pulling off a feat unimaginable a mere decade ago: gaining wide support within the conservative farming industry for a program to fight climate change.
The winning formula involves paying farmers to test out green practices, rather than forcing them to pay for excessive carbon emissions.
Biden officials are hoping their $3 billion initiative — which began doling out money this spring — will lay the groundwork for long-term buy-in for green farming from rural voters and American agribusiness, not to mention future investment from Congress and Wall Street. But they still need to prove it actually has an environmental impact and isn’t just a giveaway to Big Ag, as some climate activists fear.
After helping prevent extinctions for 50 years, the Endangered Species Act itself may be in peril
(AP) Why this matters:
• Enacted in 1973 amid fear for iconic creatures such as the bald eagle, grizzly bear and gray wolf, it extends legal protection to 1,683 domestic species. More than 99% of those listed as “endangered” — on the verge of extinction — or the less severe “threatened” have survived.
• Environmental advocates and scientists say the protections are as essential as ever because habitat loss, pollution, climate change and disease are putting an estimated 1 million species worldwide at risk.
• The law has become so controversial that Congress hasn’t updated it since 1992.
Fifty years after the law took effect, environmental advocates and scientists say it’s as essential as ever. Habitat loss, pollution, climate change and disease are putting an estimated 1 million species worldwide at risk.
Majorities of Americans Prioritize Renewable Energy, Back Steps to Address Climate Change
But many foresee problems ahead with transition to renewables and oppose breaking from fossil fuels altogether
A new Pew Research Center survey finds large shares of Americans support the United States taking steps to address global climate change and back an energy landscape that prioritizes renewable sources like wind and solar. At the same time, the findings illustrate ongoing public reluctance to make sweeping changes to American life to cut carbon emissions. Most Americans oppose ending the production of gas-powered vehicles by 2035 and there’s limited support for steps like eliminating gas lines from new buildings.
This report comes about a year after the 2022 Inflation Reduction Act introduced policies and incentives meant to dramatically reduce the country’s reliance on fossil fuels, a signature part of the Biden administration’s efforts on climate change. The survey takes stock of how Americans feel about related questions on climate, energy and environmental policy, including proposed changes to how Americans power their homes and cars and what to do about the impacts communities face from extreme weather.
— Biden orders tougher reviews for projects in pollution-scarred areas:
(Politico Nightly) President Joe Biden is tightening up environmental approvals for new projects that would add pollution to communities that are already suffering from health threats from their air and water, according to an executive order being issued today. Biden’s new order will direct federal agencies on how to work with communities early in project development timelines and improve data to consider the “cumulative impacts” of environmental and health stressors of an area when weighing new proposals that could affect where to site infrastructure like pipelines, waste incinerators, chemical processing facilities and highways.
Biden administration approves controversial Alaskan oil project: The Biden administration approved the massive Willow oil project in Alaska on Monday, rejecting pleas from environmental groups and some nearby tribal communities to block the development they fear will threaten the pristine wilderness and undermine the president’s promises to fight climate change. The decision, which had been expected since last week, allows ConocoPhillips to develop three drilling sites at its proposed Willow project on federal land in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, according to the Interior Department’s official record of decision.
Biden to put Arctic waters off limits to new oil leases as Willow decision looms
President Joe Biden will declare the entire U.S. Arctic Ocean off limits to new oil and gas leasing, even as a decision looms on whether it will approve a controversial oil project in Alaska, according to a senior administration official.
The administration will also announce Monday new rules meant to make 13 million acres in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska off limits for new leases, the official said. Those protections would extend to the Teshekpuk Lake, Utukok Uplands, Colville River, Kasegaluk Lagoon, and Peard Bay Special Areas, the official said
The new rules would not affect the controversial Willow project, which the administration is expected to greenlight this week, because ConocoPhillips already has leases.
Scientists say new climate law is likely to reduce warming
(AP) Massive incentives for clean energy in the U.S. law signed Tuesday by President Joe Biden should reduce future global warming “not a lot, but not insignificantly either,” according to a climate scientist who led an independent analysis of the package.
Even with nearly $375 billion in tax credits and other financial enticements for renewable energy in the law, the United States still isn’t doing its share to help the world stay within another few tenths of a degree of warming, a new analysis by Climate Action Tracker says. The group of scientists examines and rates each country’s climate goals and actions. It still rates American action as “insufficient” but hailed some progress.
Biden signs massive climate and health care legislation
After 25 Years of Futility, Democrats Finally Jettison Carbon Pricing in Favor of Incentives to Counter Climate Change
The $370 billion Inflation Reduction Act is the nation’s first comprehensive climate plan to curtail greenhouse gas emissions and boost renewable energy and green technology. It relies on tax credits and other “carrots,” not sticks.
(Inside Climate news) Environmentalists have long held that a price on carbon is essential to reducing planet-warming fossil fuel emissions. But the $370 billion Inflation Reduction Act focuses instead on investments in clean energy, largely in the form of tax credits to encourage its development, as opposed to taxes on carbon to discourage use of fossil fuels. Democrats hope the law transforms not only the economy but the politics of climate change.
Greg Sargent: The ticking time bomb still threatening the big climate deal
(WaPo) …even as we again endure the existential drama otherwise known as “Waiting for Sinema,” another, lesser-noticed threat to the climate deal is looming. In a worst-case scenario, it could bring down the whole package. But even if it doesn’t, it could do serious collateral damage along the way.
Some Democrats fear that if Republican senators can force votes on “poison pill” amendments to the package — particularly on immigration — it could create powerful pressure on vulnerable Democratic moderates to support those amendments, with potentially destructive effects.
Sinema indicates she may want to change Schumer-Manchin deal
Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) has leverage and she knows it. Any potential modification to the Democrats’ climate and deficit reduction package — like knocking out the $14 billion provision on carried interest — could cause the fragile deal to collapse.
… Driving the news: Sinema has given no assurances to colleagues that she’ll vote along party lines in the so-called “vote-a-rama” for the $740 billion bill next week, according to people familiar with the matter.
U.S. Senate climate deal ‘transformative’, backers say
By Timothy Gardner
(Reuters) – The nearly $370 billion in climate and energy security measures in the budget reconciliation deal U.S. Senate Democrats struck on Wednesday were whittled down from previous versions of the bill, but highly praised by backers of clean energy.
Early versions of the bill had $555 billion in tax breaks for clean energy such as wind and solar power as well as batteries and nuclear reactors.
Still, Wednesday’s package would cut U.S. emissions 40% by 2030, a summary released by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s office said.
Bloomberg CityLab: After climate legislation stalled in Congress, President Joe Biden announced a $2.3 billion package on Wednesday to help states and local communities build resilience against heat waves, floods and other extreme weather events. The funding will go toward things like retrofitting buildings, opening cooling centers, and expanding access to heating and cooling at home. But Biden stopped short of declaring a climate emergency, which would have unlocked sweeping powers to combat global warming.
POLITICO Playbook: Biden backs Dems into a corner on climate
With climate-focused lawmakers like Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) threatening to block reconciliation unless it makes major investments in combating climate change, it’s hard to see how Democrats get out of this without some real infighting.
Climate activists say this summer is poised to go down as the tipping point when the impacts of climate change are so in your face it’s impossible to ignore. They are worried that no one — including President Biden and lawmakers on Capitol Hill — is doing enough to fix it, and as climate policies get swallowed up by the reconciliation process, they’re gearing up for a new pressure campaign to turn up the heat on Washington.
This week, national climate adviser GINA MCCARTHY and senior White House adviser ANITA DUNN sent out a memo outlining the administration’s climate commitments. It noted — as Biden has in the past — that the bipartisan deal left out “critical initiatives on climate change that he proposed,” and that the reconciliation bill is where real investment will happen. Read the full memo
Growing Climate Solutions Act Progressing Through Congress
The Growing Climate Solutions Act was passed by the Senate recently and now heads to the House of Representatives. Chad Smith has more on the legislation’s progress.
Smith: A bipartisan climate bill supported by several food and agriculture groups is making its way through Congress. Andrew Walmsley, director of congressional relations with the American Farm Bureau, says the Growing Climate Solutions Act is a remarkable bill.
Walmsley: When you look at it from a bipartisan standpoint, we have over 50 members of the Senate, that’s over half the Senate, in support of S 1251, the Growing Climate Solutions Act, and what the bill does is really try to remove some technical barriers and provide transparency and information to farmers who are interested in participating in the voluntary climate market. There’s so much information out there, some misinformation, and what the Growing Climate Solution Act attempts to do is to cut through that and provide certification and information to farmers through USDA.
Why the Northeast Could Be America’s New Energy Capital
By Paola Rosa-Aquino
(New York) …the price of wind energy has plummeted and the political climate has changed, opening the possibility that offshore-wind farms could turn the Northeast into America’s next energy boom land. In the next five years, offshore-wind-farm developers plan to bring online 9,100 megawatts from 13 offshore-wind projects along the East Coast. The Department of Energy estimates there are about 2,000 gigawatts of potential wind energy on the country’s coasts, enough to meet the nation’s annual energy needs four times over — without emitting carbon dioxide that warms the planet.
Reaching Back To The New Deal, Biden Proposes A Civilian Climate Corps
(NPR) It’s a tough time to be a young person. COVID-19 has robbed many of them of experiences and plans. Their unemployment rate remains high. College enrollment is down.
To address those concerns and bolster preparedness for a warming world, President Biden wants to retool and relaunch one of the country’s most celebrated government programs: the Civilian Conservation Corps
A part of Biden’s American Jobs Plan calls for $10 billion to launch a new large-scale 21st century CCC to combat the 21st century problem. The Civilian Climate Corps, as it would be called, would employ thousands of young people to address the threat of climate change, strengthen the country’s natural defenses and maintain its ailing public lands.
The original Civilian Conservation Corps employed roughly 3 million young men in its nine-year run. The corps fought wildfires and helped in disaster relief efforts after hurricanes. It built more than 100,000 miles of roads and trails, 318,000 dams and tens of thousands of bridges. It strung telephone lines across mountain passes, connecting the country.
Interior Department withdraws Trump rule loosening Arctic drilling regulations
The initial rule, published in December 2020, would have undone regulations on oil, gas and sulfur drilling in the Arctic Outer Continental Shelf that were instituted in 2016, during the Obama administration.
Regulations undone in the Trump-era rule included a regulation requiring oil operators in the region to show they can promptly begin containment operations in the event of a spill. It would also have eliminated a requirement that oil operators submit thorough plans for any new drilling operations. The rule was one of a flurry of late-stage Trump administration rules on energy in the region and was never finalized.
President Biden also signed an executive order upon taking office that temporarily blocked all oil and gas activity in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). Separately, Senate Democrats have introduced legislation that would block further drilling by designating the ANWR as wilderness.
Heather Cox Richardson: April 25, 2021
In the past, refusal to address the issue of climate change has centered around the idea that cutting back on fossil fuels would take jobs from coal miners and those in related fossil fuel industries. … Trump promised to make coal great again and seemed to think that slashing environmental regulations would do the trick, but even combined with an infusion of up to $1 billion, slashing regulations could not stop Trump’s administration from overseeing the fastest decline of coal-fuel capacity in U.S. history. The U.S. lost 10% of coal-mining jobs—5300 of them—between 2016 and 2020. Low natural gas prices and the rise of wind and solar alternatives pushed coal aside. At the same time, mechanization across blue collar industries means the recovery of old manufacturing jobs is not in the cards.
Biden’s American Jobs Plan already calls for $16 billion to clean up abandoned mining sites and more for the training in new infrastructure jobs coal miners want. It also addresses job losses in rural areas in an obvious but novel way: by supporting the caregiver economy.
Miners’ union backs shift from coal in exchange for jobs
(AP) — The nation’s largest coal miners’ union said Monday it would accept President Joe Biden’s plan to move away from coal and other fossil fuels in exchange for a “true energy transition” that includes thousands of jobs in renewable energy and spending on technology to make coal cleaner.
Cecil Roberts, president of the United Mine Workers of America, said ensuring jobs for displaced miners — including 7,000 coal workers who lost their jobs last year — is crucial to any infrastructure bill taken up by Congress.
A plan put forward by the mine workers’ union calls for significant expansion of tax incentives for renewable energy and preference in hiring for dislocated miners; full funding for programs to plug old oil and gas wells and clean up abandoned mines; and continued incentives to develop so-called carbon capture and storage technology that traps carbon dioxide produced by burning fossil fuels and stores it underground.
White House unveils $2 trillion infrastructure and climate plan, setting up giant battle over size and cost of government
Ahead of speech in Pittsburgh, Biden administration releases sprawling effort to revamp U.S. transit, broadband, housing and more
(WaPo) Under what the administration calls the American Jobs Plan, Biden aims to tackle some of the nation’s most pressing problems — from climate change to decaying water systems to the nation’s crumbling infrastructure.
Biden invites Russia, China to first global climate talks
President Joe Biden is including rivals Vladimir Putin of Russia and Xi Jinping of China among the invitees to the first big climate talks of his administration, an event the U.S. hopes will help shape, speed up and deepen global efforts to cut climate-wrecking fossil fuel pollution, administration officials told The Associated Press.
The president is seeking to revive a U.S.-convened forum of the world’s major economies on climate that George W. Bush and Barack Obama both used and Donald Trump let languish. Leaders of some of the world’s top climate-change sufferers, do-gooders and backsliders round out the rest of the 40 invitations being delivered Friday. It will be held virtually April 22 and 23.
Deb Haaland’s Historic Appointment Makes Her Uniquely Qualified to Confront the Fossil-Fuel Industry
The new Secretary of the Interior is charged with carrying out Biden’s pledge to end new leasing for oil-and-gas development on federal land.
By Bill McKibben
(The New Yorker) …Deb Haaland, the congresswoman from New Mexico, ha[s] been confirmed as the Secretary of the Interior, becoming the first Native American ever appointed to a Cabinet position.
It is a sublime moment in American history: a descendant of the original inhabitants of the continent (“a thirty-fifth-generation New Mexican” is how Haaland describes herself) now runs the department that controls much of the land owned by the federal government—in fact, roughly a fifth of the country’s acreage. I’ve known and supported Haaland since her first congressional run, in 2018; her confirmation is perhaps the brightest moment yet of the Biden transition.
That said, Republican after Republican rose in the Senate chamber to vote against her—a reminder that one of the country’s two important political parties is essentially owned by the oil-and-gas industry, which has styled Haaland a “radical.”
Biden administration gives major push to giant offshore wind farm
(Politico) The completion of the review is a breakthrough for the U.S. offshore wind industry, which has lagged behind its European counterparts.
The Interior Department said on Monday it had completed its environmental review for a massive wind farm off the coast of Massachusetts, a key step toward final approval of the long-stalled project that will play a prominent role in President Joe Biden’s effort to expand renewable energy in the U.S.
The Civilian Climate Corps Is a Big-Government Plan That All Americans Can Embrace
By Jim Lardn
(The New Yorker)…the Secretary of Agriculture and the Secretary of the Interior, according to a paragraph buried in Joe Biden’s long executive order on climate change, had been directed to make plans for a Civilian Climate Corps, modelled on the Civilian Conservation Corps—the C.C.C.—of the nineteen-thirties. It would put underemployed Americans to work on projects intended “to conserve and restore public lands and waters, bolster community resilience, increase reforestation, increase carbon sequestration in the agricultural sector, protect biodiversity, improve access to recreation, and address the changing climate.”
…A modern-day C.C.C. could be an attention-getting reminder of something that a great many Americans seem to have forgotten: the capacity of government to be an instrument of the common good.
It’s Not Just Texas. The Entire Energy Grid Needs An Upgrade For Extreme Weather
(NPR) The Texas blackout is another reminder that more frequent, climate-driven extreme weather puts stress on the country’s electricity grid. It came just months after outages in California aimed at preventing wildfires.
Compounding this, electricity likely will be even more important in coming years amid a push to electrify cars and homes to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. That has many grid experts saying it’s time to upgrade the country’s electricity infrastructure.
That includes wires, power plants, big transmission towers and local utilities – everything that gets electricity to you. And much of that infrastructure was designed for a different era.
…the grid was designed for technology and weather that existed in the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s. Now it needs to be updated for a future that includes climate change.
Biden’s new conservation corps stirs hopes of nature-focused hiring spree
As part his recent climate policy spree, Biden announced the establishment of a “Civilian Climate Corps Initiative” that could harness the energy of the very generation that must face – and solve – the climate crisis by putting them to work in well-paying conservation jobs.
After Biden’s omnibus executive order, the heads of the Department of the Interior, the Department of Agriculture and other departments have 90 days to present their plan to “mobilize the next generation of conservation and resilience workers”, a step toward fulfilling Biden’s promise to get the US on track to conserve 30% of lands and oceans by 2030.
“We’re really excited that the Biden administration is taking this on,” said Mary Ellen Sprenkel, head of the National Association of Service and Conservation Corps, a loose association of about 135 corps organizations across the country that already provides young adults and veterans with work on public lands and in rural and urban communities. “Some of our programs have quite a bit of experience in doing this, and hopefully we’ll be called upon to help develop and implement the initiative.”
Far beyond just planting trees, a new conservation corps could pour money into tackling a bevy of other environmental problems, too. According to Biden’s website, projects will include working to mitigate wildfire risks, protect watershed health, and improve outdoor recreation access. Sprenkel thinks the effort could also include more activities at the community level, like urban agriculture projects and work retrofitting buildings to be more energy-efficient. And as Sprenkel pointed out, the federal government owns and manages thousands of buildings that need help to become more energy-efficient. The buildings “could even become sources of renewable energy generation with solar or wind power installations.”
Inclusion must be front and center in President Biden’s focus on clean energy jobs
Mark Muro, Joseph W. Kane, and Adie Tomer
(Brookings) … But a simple counting of job numbers overlooks several significant points in the economics of climate change mitigation and adaptation. Namely, it fails to account for the nature of the coming work, the occupations necessary to do it, and who will fill those roles—all topics we looked at in a 2019 Brookings report.
What did we find in that report? Overall, that the coming clean energy transition represents a major opportunity for accessible, inclusive employment—if more is done to bolster the clean energy workforce pipeline and ensure it becomes much more accessible to underrepresented populations.
In the report, we used federal datasets and industrial classifications from prior clean energy economy research to conclude that the transition to a clean economy will primarily involve some 320 unique occupations spread across three major industrial sectors: clean energy production, energy efficiency, and environmental management.
Dizzying pace of Biden’s climate action sounds death knell for era of denialism
Analysis: The new president has framed the challenge of global heating as an opportunity for US jobs, saying: ‘We have to be bold’
(The Guardian) The vision laid out in the actions signed by Biden on Wednesday was transformative. A pathway for oil and gas drilling to be banned from public lands. A third of America’s land and ocean protected. …
Biden may eschew the politically contentious framing of the Green New Deal but there was even an echo of the original New Deal with his plan for a civilian climate corps to restore public lands and waterways. … The dizzying list of actions demonstrated the breadth and depth of the climate crisis. Biden’s administration will spur new climate-friendly policies for farmers while also devoting resources to the urban communities, typically low-income people of color, disproportionally blighted by pollution from nearby highways and power plants.
Biden, Emphasizing Job Creation, Signs Sweeping Climate Actions
The array of directives — touching on international relations, drilling policy, employment and national security, among other things — elevate climate change across every level of the federal government. … The actions also call for the federal government’s 17 intelligence agencies to create a first-ever National Intelligence Estimate of the national security risks posed by climate change.
President Biden on Wednesday signed a sweeping series of executive actions — ranging from pausing new federal oil leases to electrifying the government’s vast fleet of vehicles — while casting the moves as much about job creation as the climate crisis.
Mr. Biden said his directives would reserve 30 percent of federal land and water for conservation purposes, make climate policy central to national security decisions and build out a network of electric-car charging stations nationwide.
… Mr. Biden argued that technological gains and demands for wind and solar infrastructure would create work that would more than make up for job losses even in parts of the country reliant on the fracking boom. Using the government’s purchasing power to buy zero-emissions vehicles, Mr. Biden said, would help speed the transition away from gasoline-powered cars and ultimately lead to “one million new jobs in the American automobile industry.”
After Alarmism The war on climate denial has been won. And that’s not the only good news.
By David Wallace-Wells
(New York) In the political sphere, the uneasy alliance between activists and those in power will be tested, producing new conflicts, or new equilibria, or both. Consider, though, that Varshini Prakash, whose Sunrise Movement gave Biden’s primary candidacy an F, later helped write his climate plan along with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Climate expertise has been distributed throughout the incoming administration, as was promised during a campaign that closed, remarkably, with a climate-focused advertising blitz. During the transition, Biden’s pick for director of the National Economic Council, Brian Deese, was targeted by the environmental left for his time with BlackRock, but even this purported stooge had been married by Bill McKibben, one of the godfathers of modern climate activism.
Trump administration slashes imperiled spotted owls’ habitat in Pacific Northwest
(AP) The Trump administration has slashed more than 3 million acres of protected habitat for the northern spotted owl in Oregon, Washington and northern California, much of it in prime timber locations in Oregon’s coastal ranges. Environmentalists are accusing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service under President Donald Trump of taking a “parting shot” at protections designed to help restore the threatened owl species.
“This revision guts protected habitat for the northern spotted owl by more than a third. It’s Trump’s latest parting gift to the timber industry and another blow to a species that needs all the protections it can get to fully recover,” said Noah Greenwald, endangered species director for the Center for Biological Diversity.
Trump administration finalizes rollback of migratory bird protections
(The Hill) The Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) has finalized a rule rolling back protections for migratory birds, according to a document that will be published in the Federal Register this week.
The new rule changes the implementation of the 1918 Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) so that companies are no longer penalized for accidentally or incidentally harming or killing these birds.
The MBTA has protected more than 1,000 different species of birds for more than 100 years by punishing companies whose projects cause them harm.
EPA finalizes rule to limit science behind public health safeguards
The Trump administration’s ‘transparency’ rule requires researchers to disclose their raw data. Opponents argue that the goal is to exclude important research on human health.
Many of the nation’s leading researchers and academic organizations, however, argue that the criteria will actually restrict the EPA from using some of the most consequential research on human subjects because it often includes confidential medical records and other proprietary data that cannot be released because of privacy concerns.
Interior finalizes plan to open 80 percent of Alaska petroleum reserve to drilling
The Trump administration on Monday finalized plans to open more than 80 percent of Alaska’s National Petroleum Reserve (NPRA) to oil drilling, pushing ahead over objections from environmentalists who have already challenged the plans in court.
The decision from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) opens more than 18 million acres to oil and gas drilling, including scaling back protected areas designed to be off-limits to development.
“This action is a significant achievement in delivering on our commitment to provide energy for America, from America,” said Interior Department Deputy Assistant Secretary Casey Hammond. “With this decision, we are expanding access to our nation’s great energy potential and providing for economic opportunities and job creation for both Alaska Natives and our nation.”
Wall Street Eyes Billions in the Colorado’s Water
Investor interest in the river could redefine century-old rules for who controls one of the most valuable economic resources in the United States.
A few years ago a firm called Greenstone, a subsidiary of a subsidiary of the financial-services conglomerate MassMutual, quietly bought the rights to most of Cibola’s water. Greenstone then moved to sell the water to one of the right places: Queen Creek, a fast-growing suburb of Phoenix 175 miles away, full of tract houses and backyard pools.
Transferring water from agricultural communities to cities, though often contentious, is not a new practice. Much of the West, including Los Angeles and Las Vegas, was made by moving water. What is new is for private investors — in this case an investment fund in Phoenix, with owners on the East Coast — to exert that power.
With historic picks, Biden puts environmental justice front and center
The selection of the first Native American interior secretary and first Black male EPA chief highlights pollution disparities
(WaPo) President-elect Joe Biden tapped Rep. Deb Haaland (D-N.M.) Thursday to serve as the first Native American Cabinet secretary and head the Interior Department, a historic pick that marks a turning point for the U.S. government’s relationship with the nation’s Indigenous peoples.
With that selection and several others this week, Biden is sending a clear message that the officials who will confront the nation’s environmental problems will look like the Americans who are disproportionately affected by toxic air and despoiled land. He has named North Carolina environmental regulator Michael S. Regan to become the first Black man to head the Environmental Protection Agency and Obama administration veteran Brenda Mallory to serve as the first Black chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality.
Biden makes historic pick with Haaland for Interior secretary
The Trump administration’s major environmental deregulations
(Brookings) With the issuance of Executive Order 13771, the administration’s two-for-one rule, federal agencies were directed to eliminate two regulations for each new rule issued. Much of this effort has focused on scaling back previous Obama-era regulations and weakening agencies’ statutory authority. Notably, environmental regulation has proven a prominent and easy target, as many existing policies and regulations had never been enshrined into law. The Trump administration has replaced the Clean Power Plan, redefined critical terms under the Endangered Species Act, lifted oil and natural gas extraction bans, weakened the Coal Ash Rule, which regulates the disposal of toxic coal waste, and revised Mercury and Air Toxic Standards–just to name a few.
Court Rejects Trump’s Arctic Drilling Proposal in ‘Huge Victory for Polar Bears and Our Climate’
(EcoWatch) Climate action advocates and wildlife defenders celebrated Monday after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit rejected the Trump administration’s approval of Liberty, a proposed offshore oil-drilling project in federal Arctic waters that opponents warned would endanger local communities, animals, and the environment. … the Hilcorp Alaska project, was approved in 2018. The energy company planned to construct an artificial island, wells, and a pipeline along the Alaska coast in the Beaufort Sea. … The court determined that the administration hadn’t properly considered Liberty’s climate impacts as required by the National Environmental Policy Act, specifically taking issue with an economic model claiming the project would benefit the climate.
Trump Administration, in Late Push, Moves to Sell Oil Rights in Arctic Refuge
The lease sales could occur just before Inauguration Day, leaving the administration of Joseph R. Biden Jr. to try to reverse them after the fact.
In a last-minute push to achieve its long-sought goal of allowing oil and gas drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska, the Trump administration on Monday announced that it would begin the formal process of selling leases to oil companies.
… Any sales would then be subject to review by agencies in the Biden administration, including the bureau and the Justice Department, a process that could take a month or two. That could allow the Biden White House to refuse to issue the leases, perhaps by claiming that the scientific underpinnings of the plan to allow drilling in the refuge were flawed, as environmental groups have claimed.
What Will Trump’s Most Profound Legacy Be? Possibly Climate Damage
President-elect Biden can restore many of the 100-plus environmental regulations that President Trump rolled back, but much of the damage to the climate cannot be reversed.
(NYT) President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. will use the next four years to try to restore the environmental policies that his predecessor has methodically blown up, but the damage done by the greenhouse gas pollution unleashed by President Trump’s rollbacks may prove to be one of the most profound legacies of his single term.
Most of Mr. Trump’s environmental policies, which erased or loosened nearly 100 rules and regulations on pollution in the air, water and atmosphere, can be reversed, though not immediately. Pollutants like industrial soot and chemicals can have lasting health effects, especially in minority communities where they are often concentrated. But air quality and water clarity can be restored once emissions are put back under control.
That is not true for the global climate. Greenhouse pollution accumulates in the atmosphere, so the heat-trapping gases emitted as a result of loosened regulations will remain for decades, regardless of changes in policy.
15 October 2020
The Trump Administration Is Reversing Nearly 100 Environmental Rules. Here’s the Full List.
(NYT) Over four years in office, the Trump administration has dismantled major climate policies and rolled back many more rules governing clean air, water, wildlife and toxic chemicals.
While other administrations have emphasized cutting regulations, calling them burdensome to industries like coal, oil and gas, the scope of actions under Mr. Trump is “fundamentally different,” said Hana V. Vizcarra, a staff attorney at Harvard Law School’s Environmental and Energy Law Program.
In all, a New York Times analysis, based on research from Harvard Law School, Columbia Law School and other sources, counts more than 70 environmental rules and regulations officially reversed, revoked or otherwise rolled back under Mr. Trump. Another 26 rollbacks are still in progress.
The bulk of the rollbacks identified by the Times have been carried out by the Environmental Protection Agency, which has weakened Obama-era limits on planet-warming carbon dioxide emissions from power plants and from cars and trucks; removed protections from more than half the nation’s wetlands; and withdrawn the legal justification for restricting mercury emissions from power plants.
At the same time, the Interior Department has worked to open up more land for oil and gas leasing by limiting wildlife protections and weakening environmental requirements for projects.
U.S. Quits Paris Climate Agreement: Questions and Answers
President Trump has said the Paris Agreement would “punish the American people while enriching foreign polluters.”
(NYT) Au revoir, Paris Agreement. As of Wednesday, under United Nations rules, the United States is officially out of the global climate accord. Here’s a look at how it happened, what it means and what might happen next.
President Trump’s withdrawal formally came into force the day after Election Day in the United States.
As of Wednesday, in addition to the United States, the countries that originally signed but have not formally adopted the Paris Agreement are: Angola, Eritrea, Iran, Iraq, South Sudan, Turkey and Yemen.
So far, no other country has followed the United States in renouncing the Paris Agreement. At one point President Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil threatened to do so but he later reversed course.
Is the U.S. withdrawal final?
No. Any future president could opt back in.
Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. has pledged that he would recommit the United States to the Paris Agreement on Day 1. In practical terms that means on Inauguration Day, Jan. 20, his administration would send a letter to the United Nations notifying it of America’s intention to rejoin. The American return would become official 30 days later.
If the United States stayed out of the agreement, it could still have a voice in United Nations climate negotiations. That’s because it would still be a member of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the body that created the Paris Agreement. America would, however, be reduced to observer status, which means its negotiators would be allowed to attend meetings and work with other countries to shape outcomes but not be allowed to vote on decisions.
Biden Pledges Ambitious Climate Action. Here’s What He Could Actually Do.
If elected, Joe Biden and his allies are preparing to pass climate change legislation, piece by piece — knowing full well that the candidate’s $2 trillion plan would be a tough sell.
(NYT) Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s $2 trillion plan to fight global warming is the most ambitious climate policy proposed by a leading presidential candidate, a political lightning rod spotlighted on Thursday night when the Democratic nominee acknowledged during a debate that it would “transition” the country “from the oil industry.”
But no one knows better than Mr. Biden that it almost surely will not be enacted, even if his party secures the White House and the Senate.
Still, a President Biden could have real impact: solar panels and wind turbines spread across the country’s mountains and prairies, electric charging stations nearly as ubiquitous as gas stations and a gradual decrease in the nation’s planet-warming greenhouse pollution.
… even a narrow Democratic majority in the Senate would leave a President Biden with options. And this time around, Mr. Biden wants to do it differently, not with a stand-alone climate bill but by tucking climate measures into broader, popular legislation to insulate them from partisan attack.
Democrats’ initial pass would most likely come in an economic recovery package. The $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act passed in 2009, which Mr. Biden was responsible for putting in effect, included about $90 billion in clean energy infrastructure spending.