13 Mar 2016

(1a) Clinton vs. Sanders on Fracking
Clinton said she does not support fracking if the local community does not want it, it causes pollution and when fracking companies don't disclose the chemicals they use. Sanders says he does not support fracking. Clinton said that we must transition to clean energy, but we need fossil fuels in the interim. Sanders calls for a complete end to fossil fuels and a revenue-neutral carbon tax.
(1b) Fracking Company Fined $4.2 Million For Contaminating Water
$4.2 million won't bring back drinkable water to the families of Pennsylvania .. Once groundwater is polluted, it's polluted forever ... Fracking poisons water ... The Frackers will be held responsible."
(2a) Air Quality Board Weakens Pollution Rules
Southern California's Air Quality Board voted to delay installation of pollution controls at 6 oil refineries, a delay backed by Western States Petroleum Association. The Board dominated by Republicans argued that pollution regulations hamper economic growth.
2b) Regulatory Capture of Air Quality Board by Oil Refineries in LA
The Air Quality Board approved weak air quality regulations submitted by the Western States Petroleum Association.
(3) A Livable Climate Destroys Buffett's Fossil Fuel Empire, Joe Romm
Warren Buffett has bet the future of his investment empire, Berkshire Hathaway, on dirty energy. Buffett's BNSF railroad is top hauler of coal and crude oil in North America. Oil shipped by rail jumped from 1 million barrels per month to 25 million barrels from 2010 to 2014. Buffett also bought Suncor which process Canadian tar sands oil. And Buffett bought up 14% of Phillips 66, a leading oil and gas refiner. Buffett says he's a leader "in pursuing planet-friendly technology ... BNSF uses only a single gallon of diesel fuel to move a ton of freight almost 500 miles ... four times as fuel efficient as trucks" As Romm says "Yes, BNSF is very fuel-efficient way of delivering vast amounts of climate-destroying fuels to market. ... if serious global climate action ultimately keeps oil prices low and renders much of the tar sands uneconomic, then Buffett's carefully constructed fossil fuel empire is going to keep suffering ... leading climate activists have been urging major investors to disinvest in fossil fuels for years, Buffett is doing the exact reverse ..."
(4) New York Pension Fund Divestment from Fossil Fuels Would Have Earned Billions
A study shows that had New York Pension Fund divested from fossil fuels and invested in clean energy, it would have earned $5.3 billion more. Fossil fuel investments aren't delivering significant returns because supply of oil, gas and goal is exceeding demand, driving the price down.
(5) Transformation Via Non-Violent Protests
Civil rights, overthrow of dictators, ousting the British from India & gay rights are examples of the transformative power of non-violent protests. Climate activists are fighting some of the richest, most powerful corporations such as ExxonMobil and Shell ...
(6) Congressional Climate Deniers Represent 63% Of Americans
59% of the GOP House caucus and 70% of the GOP Senate caucus deny human-caused climate change ... 76% of Americans and 59% of Republicans believe global climate change is happening ... 67% of Americans support Obama's Clean Power Plan. Congressional climate deniers received over $73 million from coal, oil & gas industries. Sen. Whitehouse says "Members of Congress should be accountable to their constituents, not to a fossil fuel industry that uses the threat of unlimited campaign spending to command their silence."
(7) Shell's Failure to Disclose Climate Risks
"...Shell funded and publicly engaged in a campaign to deceive the American people about the known risks of fossil fuels in causing climate change ..." Shell ..."intentionally obfuscated the role of fossil fuels in influencing climate change."
(8a) Big Banks for Green Climate Fund
HSBC and Credit Agricole have bid to manage Green Climate Funds, to help poor countries deal with climate change. Environmentalists argue these banks have heavily financed fossil fuel industries. NGOs say that accrediting HSBC and Credit Agricole "would pose serious reputational and moral risk to the GCF" because of recent fiduciary scandals, large exposure to the coal industry and weak compliance on managing environmental impacts of their lending.
(8b) U.S. Pays $500 Million to the Green Climate Fund
U.S. made its first $500 million payment to the Green Climate Fund, on its long-term pledge of $3 billion. The GCF will help poor countries adopt cleaner energy and help them adapt to climate change
(9a) Electric Cars to Replace Gas Cars in 10 Years, David Roberts
Total cost of ownership for electric cars will become cheaper than gas cars by about 2022.
(9b) Hydrogen vs. Electric Cars
Driving range, cost & recharging time are limitations of electric cars. Hydrogen fuel cell cars are limited by lack of a hydrogen refueling network. Hydrogen cars require only 3 minutes to refill; electric cars take 20 minutes or more to recharge.
(10) Bring Your Coffee Mug
Only 2% of coffee lovers bring their reusable mug to Starbucks for a 10 cent discount. Over 2 billion hot drink cups discarded in Cascadia every year.
(11) Low Oil Prices Impacting State Budgets
Louisiana, Alaska, West Virginia & Kentucky state budgets are all hurt by low oil and coal prices. Instead of cutting taxes and eduction spending, Jindal should have spent on a more educated workforce and diversified Louisiana's economy.
(12) Nuclear Power Too Expensive
Nuclear power is associated with large cost overruns and lengthy construction delays. Wind and solar power will be more important than nuclear power in the transition to clean energy.
(13) TPP Opposition Is Growing
All 2016 presidential candidates, both Democratic & GOP, oppose TPP. TPP could open up many corporate lawsuits against environmental regulations.
(14) Can GOP Support Clean Energy?
Jay Faison, a millionaire NC businessman, is trying to sway GOP to support clean energy with his website ClearPath.org.
(15) What's the Answer to Climate Change?
There's no one answer. "Climate change is vast, hopeless, horrifying, anxiety-inducing ... and it's a ... fascinating, thrilling, inspiring, mind-bending opportunity. ... What kind of society and democratic government will be best positioned to handle resource scarcity and the sequential emergencies associated with the now-inevitable consequences of climate change? How can we bring about that society? What kind of global governance will be needed? ... Can the world manage climate change and avoid its worst cataclysms, like hideous famines, mass migration, surveillance-powered authoritarians, and World War III."
(16) Poop-Based Biofuels for Your Car?
Livestock generate over 1 billion tons of solid waste per year. Genetically-engineered bacteria can break down poo into biofuels and fertilizer. Research is underway to attempt to scale this up.
(17) Protesters Halt Oil & Gas Leases on Public Lands
Environmentalist halted an auction for oil and gas leases on Nevada public lands with signs saying "Keep It in the Ground" and "Stand Up to Big Oil".
(18) Fixing Food Waste
The U.S. wastes 63 million tons of food annually. We spend $218 billion (1.3% GDP) growing, processing & transporting food that is wasted. Various solutions can reduce food waste 20%.
(19) US-Canada to Cut Methane Emissions & to Protect Arctic Communities
U.S. President Barack Obama and Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau agreed to cut methane emissions from oil & gas industry by 40% by 2025. They also agreed on more protections for Arctic & indigenous communities facing climate change and on improved fuel efficiency of heavy-duty vehicles.
(20) Kids Are Suing U.S. Government Over Climate Inaction | The Nation
By failing to cut greenhouse gas emissions, the young people claim violation of 5th and 9th Amendment rights to due process and equal protection, as well as the 'public trust' doctrine, that certain natural resources must be protected for public use. Climate inaction is discrimination because young people will be impacted more by climate change than the current generation. The suit asks the government to "cease the permitting, authorizing and subsidizing of fossil fuels."
(21) Methane & Nitrous Oxide Emissions from Agriculture Are Drivers of Climate Change
Though the biosphere is a net sink for CO2, it is a net emitter of methane & nitrous oxide. Overall, the biosphere emits the equivalent of ~4 to 5 billion tons (gigatons, Gt) of carbon dioxide each year. Changing agricultural practices can reduce this.
(22) Big Solar is Heading for Boom Times
Big utility-scale solar is growing because it's getting cheaper, even without federal tax credits.
(23) Climate Scientists Trust Surface Thermometers More than Satellites
Surface thermometer measurements are more accurate for documenting global warming than satellite measurements.
(24) Utah Legislature OKs $53 Million for Oakland Coal Port | The Salt Lake Tribune
Utah will partly fund a deep-water port in Oakland, CA, to export UT coal to China. "Investing in a coal terminal is like building a stateroom on the Titanic after it hits the iceberg." "It's distressing that the legislature will throw tens of millions of dollars at a doomed scheme to prop up a failing industry, yet balk at spending any resources at cleaning up our air or otherwise improving public health and the environment."
(25a) The Net Metering Fight
Utilities who own the grid must consider how to make money selling energy to consumers who can produce it themselves ... "net metering" allows customers with rooftop solar to sell excess power back to utilites for retail prices ... what is the correct value of the surplus energy, as utilities seek to lower the price they pay for electricity from rooftop solar owners ... rooftop solar makes rooftop solar systems more affordable by lowering electric bills and offsetting the cost of rooftop panels. Their are net metering fights in various states (CA, AZ, TX, MA, IA ...)
(25b) Utilities Blocking Solar in Florida
A Florida ballot initiative "Amendment 1" is being challenged in Florida Supreme Court. This initiative was created by "Consumers for Smart Solar" funded by Florida utility companies and conservative groups with ties to Koch industries. A challenge by EarthJustice says "If passed by the voters, the utility-sponsored amendment would be a constitutional endorsement of the idea that rooftop solar users should pay higher utility bills than other customers. ... This utility-sponsored amendment pretends to be pro-solar but is actually a disguised attempt to derail rooftop solar in Florida." Net-metering "is widely loathed by power companies ... they lose a paying customer to solar ... and have to pay that customer for their extra power they generate " It's the utilities attempt to kill net metering.
(25c) Buffett Tries To Kill Solar Energy? Joe Romm
Buffett owns NV Energy that successfully lobbied Nevada Public Utilities Commission to cut 'net metering' payments to solar customers ... Buffett is also trying to gut the 1978 Public Utilities Regulatory Policies Act (PURPA), which requires utilities to buy renewable energy from non-utility generators ... it seems Buffett only likes clean energy if he can get all the profits ... also Berkshire Hathaway Energy gets over half its electricity generation from coal and Buffett's BNSF Railways hauls lots of coal.
(26) National Responsibilities for Climate Change
There's incongruity between the countries most responsible for climate change (U.S., Europe) and those most impacted (tropical rainforests, SE Asia, Africa, Pacific Islands). A carbon fee is necessary to include the external costs of fossil fuels into the price. Developed countries must provide assistance to developing countries. Developing countries have strong leverage ... their cooperation in improved agriculture and forestry practices to store more carbon are essential.
(27a) February 2016 Smashes Monthly Temperature Record
Global temperature this February were 1.35 deg C higher than the 1950-1980 average. The previous record was set Jan 2016. Average global temperatures are now ~1.0 deg C higher than the late 19th century and we are already committed to an additional 0.5 deg C. So we're approaching the globally agreed maximum of 2 deg C. Alaska, Canada, Eastern Europe & Russia were more than 4 deg C above average. Severe climate impacts so far in 2016: Vietnam $6.7 billion drought losses (4% GDP), Zimbabwe $1.6 billion drought losses (12% GDP, 1/4 of population facing food shortages), Fiji $470 million Cyclone Winston losses (10% GDP).
(27b) Record-Shattering February 2016 Warmth, Joe Romm
Feb 2016 was the hottest month on record at +1.35 deg C above average. Some Arctic areas averaged 10 deg C above normal. Arctic sea ice extent is at a record low. Fears are that this extreme Arctic warming will lead to permafrost melting with release of greenhouse gases (CO2 & methane) and resulting runaway global warming.
(28) The War on Coal in China, Brad Plummer
Coal use has dropped in China ... partly due to the economic slump and partly due to the central government clamping down on pollution. Central provinces are seeking approval to build 210 new coal-fired power plants ... China's central government may cancel these but this would lay off 1.8 million workers (15% of the workforce). The central government may need to spend $15 billion to assist these unemployed workers.
(29) Gov Inslee Can Take the Initiative on Climate Change, Michael McGinn
Two actions Gov Jay Inslee could take: 1). Issue an executive order subjecting all new fossil fuel infrastructure to strict regulatory review under existing laws. 2. Instruct his appointees to the State Investment Board to divest from fossil fuel companies (including $259 million invested in Exxon).