Category Archives: Climate Change

Trump, Seeking to Fulfill Campaign Promise to ‘Put Coal Country Back to Work,’ Signs Legislation to End ‘Stream Protection Rule’

Donald Trump has been busy lifting environmental and financial regulations © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Donald Trump has been busy lifting environmental and financial regulations © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

With great zeal, Donald Trump is dismantling environmental protections, regulations designed to mitigate climate change, and consumer financial protections intended to prevent another Great Recession that caused millions to lose their jobs, homes, retirement and college savings. With all the hullabaloo over Russian hacking of the election and Trump aides colluding with Russian operatives during the campaign, the firing of top National Security Adviser Michael Flynn who not only lied to VP Pence but also to federal authorities about his contact with Russia prior to the inauguration, the Trump Muslim/Travel Ban, and Trump’s attack on a free press, arguing that contrary to what is being reported, his new administration is a “fine tuned machine,” you likely have not heard about how Trump intends to make sure the machine is powered by dirty fuel and financed by deregulated banksters.

This from the White House pool press report by Adrian Carrasquillo, White House correspondent for BuzzFeed, at the signing of H.J. Res. 38:

The bill overturns the Department of Interior’s Stream Protection Rule, which was signed during the final month of the Obama administration, “addresses the impacts of surface coal mining operations on surface water, groundwater, and the productivity of mining operation sites,” according to the Congress.gov summary of the resolution.

“By eliminating this rule I am continuing to keep my promise to get rid of wasteful regulations that do nothing, absolutely nothing, but slow down the economy, hamstring companies, push jobs to other countries, which is happening all over, although I must say we’ve stopped it,” Trump said. “You’ve seen all the factories, all the plants, they’re moving back, they’re going back to a lot of places. So you know that right, fellas? They’re moving back fast — Ford, General Motors, Fiat, so many, very happy. Compliance costs for this rule would be over $50 million a year for the coal industry alone, it’s unnecessary.”

in the Roosevelt room and flanked by House Republicans on his left and miners from West Virginia in hard hats on his right, POTUS signed the resolution that he said would “eliminate another terrible job-killing rule saving many thousands of American jobs especially in the mines, which I’ve been promising you. The miners are a big deal, I’ve had support from some of these folks right from the very beginning and I won’t forget it. We went to West Virginia and we had 17, 18,000 people and they couldn’t get into that big arena.”

Trump thanked House Republican leadership including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Speaker Paul Ryan, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Rob Bishop and Rep. Bill Johnson.

McConnell, McCarthy, and Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin were behind the president as he spoke. White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus stood off to the side watching the president’s remarks. Pool has asked for a full list of who was in attendance.

 

Trump told the miners the rule was a major threat to their jobs and said there was “a spirit of optimism rising across the country.”

“How about one of the miners saying a few words. I hear Rand all the time,” Trump joked of Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul who was in the room.

Coal miner Michael Nelson, General Superintendent, of the Marion County Coal Company stepped to the microphone: “President Trump we thank you for everything you’ve done for us. Everything you’re doing for our industry is very much needed. I’ve been in this industry for 40 years and this is a very exciting time in our industry.”

Nelson said he worked for Marion County Coal Company in West Virginia and POTUS asked “How did I do in the area?” referencing the election. “Oh, you did great,” Nelson said to laughs in the room.

Sen. Shelley Moore Capito said “this is a lifeline to us, these miners they mine in West Virginia, it’s a source of pride for us as a state that we’ve been able to power this country, that we’ve had the opportunity to provide the energy to this country.”

Sen. Rand Paul said this is a big day for Kentucky and thanked Trump for getting rid of job-killing regulations. “I can promise you Eastern Kentucky voted 75% for Donald J. Trump,” he said.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the last eight years brought a “depression” to Eastern Kentucky. “Our folks are so excited to have a pro-coal president and we thank you so much for being on our side.”

A funny moment happened before the event concluded, Carrasquillo reported. POTUS got excited and invited the miners to the Oval Office and began to leave before having to be reminded that he had to actually sign the resolution first.

FULL LIST OF ATTENDEES:

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell

Sen. Heidi Heitkamp

Sen. Shelley Moore Capito

Sen. Rand Paul

Sen. Joe Manchin

Rep. Bill Johnson,

Rep. David McKinley

Rep. Evan Jenkins

Rep. Jim Jordan

Rep. Morgan Griffith

Rep. Rob Bishop

Rep. Alex Mooney

Rep. Jim Renacci

Rep. Doug Lamborn

Hal Quinn, President and CEO, National Mining Association

Matt Evans, Vice President, Boich Companies

Robert Murray, Chairman, President and CEO, Murray Energy Corporation

Ryan Murray, Vice President, Murray Energy Corporation

Casey Crooks, Superintendent, American Energy Corporation

Kevin Hughes, General Manager, Murray Energy Corporation

Scott Martin, General Superintendent, The Harrison County Coal Company

Robert Moore, Executive Vice President, Chief Operating Officer, and Chief Financial Officer, Murray Energy Corporation

John Hardison, General Manager, Anchor Longwall & Rebuld, Inc.

Eric Grimm, General Manager, The Marshall County Coal Company

Michael Carey, Vice President of Governmental Affairs, Murray Energy Corporation

Gary Broadbent, Senior Corporate Counsel and Director of Investor and Media Relations, Murray Energy Corporation

Michael Nelson, General Superintendent, The Marion County Coal Company

Here is the notice from the White House.

PRESIDENT TRUMP: PUTTING COAL COUNTRY BACK TO WORK

LETTING COAL COUNTRY WORK AGAINToday, President Donald J. Trump signed legislation (House Joint Resolution 38) to stop the costly “Stream Protection Rule” from further harming coal workers and the communities that depend on them.

  • H.J. Res. 38 blocks an overly burdensome regulation from harming the coal industry.

o   The regulation was expected to reduce coal production, leading to fewer coal jobs across the country.

o   The blocked regulation threatened the coal industry with millions of dollars in compliance costs.

o   Complying with the regulation would have put an unsustainable financial burden on small mines, most of which are in the Appalachian Basin.

  • The blocked regulation would have duplicated existing regulations already in place to protect Americans.

GIVING COAL COUNTRY RELIEF: Since 2009, the coal industry has declined, leaving workers and communities without a lifeline.

  • Since January 2009, the coal mining industry has lost over 36,000 jobs without any relief in sight.
  • From 2009 to 2015, coal production declined by over 177,000,000 tons across the country.
  • From 2009 to 2015, over 600 coal mines closed.

A PROMISE TO COAL WORKERS: Before President Trump’s inauguration, he promised coal workers he would support them and reverse the harmful actions of the past administration.

  • November 21, 2016, the Trump-Pence Transition Team pledged to “end the war on coal” and review harmful regulations created under the Obama Administration.
  • September 22, 2016, then-candidate Donald Trump called out harmful coal regulations: “I will rescind the coal mining lease moratorium, the excessive Interior Department stream rule, and conduct a top-down review of all anti-coal regulations issued by the Obama Administration.”
  • August 8, 2016, then-candidate Donald Trump pledged to the American people: “We will put our coal miners and steel workers back to work.”

GETTING GOVERNMENT OUT OF THE WAY: President Trump has been steadfast in his commitment to reducing the regulatory burden on all Americans, their pocketbooks, and their businesses.

  • President Trump has required that for every new Federal regulation, two existing regulations be eliminated.
  • President Trump has placed a moratorium on all new regulations by executive departments and agencies that are not compelled by Congress or public safety.
  • President Trump directed the Commerce Department to streamline Federal permitting processes for domestic manufacturing and to reduce regulatory burdens on domestic manufacturers.
  • President Trump signed an Executive Order expediting the environmental review and approval processes for domestic infrastructure projects.
  • President Trump signed legislation to eliminate a costly regulation that threatened to put domestic extraction companies and their employees at an unfair disadvantage.
  • President Trump directed the Secretary of the Treasury to conduct a full review of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act to ensure associated, burdensome regulations receive proper scrutiny.
  • President Trump ordered re-examination of the Department of Labor’s fiduciary rule, to make certain that it does not harm Americans as they save for retirement.

 

Long Islanders Join Statewide Rallies for Climate Action, Tell Schumer to ‘Resist Trump’

Long Islanders join statewide rallies for climate action to tell Senator Schumer to act as a leader and ‘Resist Trump’ © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Long Islanders join statewide rallies for climate action to tell Senator Schumer to act as a leader and ‘Resist Trump’ © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features

“Resist Trump” was the chant by some 300 environmental activists who rallied outside Senator Charles Schumer’s Long Island office in Melville during a statewide day of action, February 2. Similar rallies were being held at all eight of Schumer’s offices throughout New York State to demand that he show bold leadership to protect public health and the environment by telling Senators to use every tool at their disposal to challenge the corporate takeover of our democracy and reject Trump’s nominees and policies that would decimate the climate and the environment.

“Schumer’s announcement on January 30 that he will vote against several Trump nominees is a sign that he is hearing the message coming from the grassroots. Voting against oil and gas insiders is just the first step to resisting Trump’s anti-environmental agenda—bigger battles over drastic EPA budget cuts, clean air regulations, climate change, and fossil fuel drilling are on the horizon,” stated Eric Weltman of Food & Water Watch, the leading organizer of the Long Island rally.

Eric Weltman of Food & Water Watch: “As the nation’s most powerful Democrat, Schumer must lead the resistance.” © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Eric Weltman of Food & Water Watch: “As the nation’s most powerful Democrat, Schumer must lead the resistance.” © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“Donald Trump has wasted no time in setting out a clear agenda that threatens fundamental environmental protections. With clean air and water under attack, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer must lead his colleagues in standing strong against Trump’s science-denying Cabinet appointments and his climate-destroying plans,.

Weltman declared, “As the nation’s most powerful Democrat, Schumer must lead the resistance. He must vigorously oppose cabinet appointments, lead the charge against Trump’s plans to slash EPA budget, dismantle the EPA, resist plans for the Dakota and Keystone pipelines. He must motivate his fellow Democrats.

“Each day, we are sicker, more depressed, more fearful,” said Lisa Oldendorp, National Grassroots Organizer for Moveon.Org. “As difficult as these days have been, we are more worried about the days ahead. The small gains in climate action will be overturned, we will go back 70 years to the point of no return…

“Trump’s friends are not concerned about our future of the country or the planet. Their only god is profit. They are determined to frack more land, pollute more air. Make America Great Again? No, make a small group of millionaires even richer, plundering our lands.

Lisa Oldendorp, National Grassroots Organizer for Moveon.Org: “We’ve had a few weeks to mourn the election. Not it’s time to get off the pity pot and take action.” © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Lisa Oldendorp, National Grassroots Organizer for Moveon.Org: “We’ve had a few weeks to mourn the election. Not it’s time to get off the pity pot and take action.” © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“You may have said you are tired of fighting. That it’s hopeless. But you must continue to fight for environmental, economic, racial, social justice. Turn your anger into action for change…. A Small group of citizens can change the world. One person becomes a group, a group becomes a crowd. People power grows exponentially. Don’t tell me people’s protests don’t matter. They build consensus, a movement.

Long Island environmental activists tell Senator Schumer, “Resist Trump” © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Long Island environmental activists tell Senator Schumer, “Resist Trump” © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“The anti-Trump movement already eclipses the Tea Party at its height by 20 points. Democrats are finding our voice. Dissent and protest is happening on a greater scale. The New York Times in an editorial said Democrats simply cannot play by the old set of rules now that the Republicans are playing by new ones. [Neil] Gorsuch doesn’t deserve confirmation [for the Supreme Court] because the process leading to his nomination was illegitimate.”

Democrats have to mobilize for the local elections in 2017, try to flip the House and/or the Senate and take more state positions in 2018.

“We’ve had a few weeks to mourn the election. Not it’s time to get off the pity pot and take action.”

Ryan Madden, sustainability organizer for the LI Progressive Coalition, said the Trump election is a Trojan horse for corporate interests. “Pruitt, Sessions, Perry – every one a threat to the climate, the environment and our institutions… Attacks against environment, climate have the worst impacts on folks with the least ability to do something about it.” It’s a matter of economic and climate justice.

Jane Fasullo of the Sierra Club: “There is no alternate planet” © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Jane Fasullo of the Sierra Club: “There is no alternate planet” © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Jane Fasullo of the Sierra Club said simply, “There is no alternate planet. You can’t eat or drink money – maybe you can burn it for heat. Schumer, do your job.”

Dave Denenberg and Claudia Borecky of Clean Air Water Soil declared, “We want leadership from Schumer… We thought fracking was over in New York State. It might be coming back.” The Navy was the responsible agency for cleaning up the Grumman plume at Bethpage, Trump wants to walk away from paying for clean up, he said.

Dave Denenberg and Claudia Borecky lead a new environmental advocacy group, Clean Air Water Soil © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Dave Denenberg and Claudia Borecky lead a new environmental advocacy group, Clean Air Water Soil © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

People carried signs such as “Tax Carbon. Trump Too.” “Tell the Con Man in Chief: You Can’t Fool Mother Nature. Take Climate Action.” A young boy held a sign, “Please don’t break my planet.” Others urged Schumer to “Resist Trump” and “Be a Leader.”

Just two weeks into the Trump Administration, resistance to Trump already exceeds that of the Tea Party at its peak © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Just two weeks into the Trump Administration, resistance to Trump already measureably exceeds that of the Tea Party at its peak © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The group then marched through the parking lot to the front of Schumer’s Long Island office and a few of the leaders, who had appointments, hand-delivered petitions, reporting back  that they were well received. “We’ll be back,” he said.

The simultaneous actions took place at all eight of Schumer’s New York offices (Buffalo, Rochester,  Syracuse,  Binghamton,  Albany,  Peekskill,  Melville and Manhattan), as well as in Washington, DC.

A boy carries a sign, “Please don’t break my planet.” © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
A boy carries a sign, “Please don’t break my planet.” © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Sponsoring organizations include: Food & Water Watch, Long Island Progressive Coalition, Sierra Club, NYPIRG, MoveOn, Long Island Activists, Reach Out America, Slow Food North Shore, iEatGreen, 350.org, Long Island Clean Air Water & Soil, Public Citizen, Greenpeace

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© 2017 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go to www.news-photos-features.com, email editor@news-photos-features.com. Blogging at  www.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures.  ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin

 

Lessons From the Historic Women’s March: How to Counter Trump

The Capitol Building still draped in flags for Donald Trump’s inauguration the day before, 750,000 crammed the National Mall to stand up for Women’s Rights and Human Rights © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
The Capitol Building still draped in flags for Donald Trump’s inauguration the day before, 750,000 crammed the National Mall to stand up for Women’s Rights and Human Rights © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features

It’s already begun. The unraveling of eight years of progress under Obama. Contrast their first actions: Obama signed the Lily Ledbetter Act so women can have a legal remedy for pay equity. Trump signed  an executive orders to dismantle Obamacare and to withhold funding from any NGO anywhere that funds abortions.

Donald Trump doesn’t care that more than twice as many people came out to protest his illegitimately gained presidency, his morals and his agenda than came out to support his inauguration (I was at both. I saw despite the lies that Trump is spewing.) His warped ego will probably take it as a matter of pride that more than 500,000 people descended on Washington from all over the country while millions more filled out gargantuan protests in NYC (400,000), Los Angeles (750,000), Chicago, Atlanta, St. Louis – indeed, all across the US – plus cities in 50 countries including Paris, London, Sydney.

Nasty Canadian Women at the Women’s March on Washington © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Nasty Canadian Women at the Women’s March on Washington © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

They came out to declare: Women’s Rights are Human Rights, women are not chattel, a mere vessel (vassal) to harbor an embryo. And so women and their men and children were standing up for reproductive rights, access to health care, gun safety, climate action, immigration reform, criminal justice, pay equity, public education, voting rights, campaign finance  – all those things that together constitute “women’s issues”. Economic justice, climate justice, criminal justice, social justice, political justice, national security and peace in the world are all “women’s issues.”

“From the shores of Sydney, Australia to the tundra of Kodiak, Alaska we marched. Signs held high, our voices carried across Little Rock, Arkansas and Nashville, Tennessee, Phoenix, Arizona and Lansing, Michigan. Pink knit hats stretched as far as the eye could see in London, England, New York City, Los Angeles, California and Washington DC,” writes Heidi L. Sieck, Co-Founder/CEO,  #VOTEPROCHOICE.

We Can Do It © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
We Can Do It © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

In fact, this was the single largest political demonstration day of protest in US history and most certainly the largest outpouring of opposition at the opening of a new administration. Trump, who lost the popular vote by 2.6 million and carried only 42% of The Women’s Vote, comes into the White House with the lowest favorability rating probably since Lincoln, and 20 points lower than the outgoing president, Barack Obama.

And if Trump would actually have listened to his own nonsensical, dystopian, bizarre inaugural speech, he would realize that the women, men and children who protested rightfully have the political power that Trump said no longer resided in Washington.

“January 20th 2017, will be remembered as the day the people became the rulers of this nation again,” Trump intoned. “The forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer. Everyone is listening to you now…. At the center of this movement is a crucial conviction: that a nation exists to serve its citizens.”

Scream so he hears you! Donald Trump turned a deaf ear to the protesters, making sure they couldn’t get near the White House. But the nearly million strong roared loud enough to shake the venerable buildings © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Scream so he hears you! Donald Trump turned a deaf ear to the protesters, making sure they couldn’t get near the White House. But the nearly million strong roared loud enough to shake the venerable buildings © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

And yet, Trump managed to turn a deaf ear to the roars from the Women’s March that literally shook buildings with its force (yet he had to see them because his motorcade drove through twice on his way to the CIA).

In his first 100 days, what Trump vows to do would undo the progress of 100 years, violating the will of the vast majority of Americans.

But here it is: Trump managed to resurrect a militant feminism that, frankly, was dormant during the election campaign when Hillary Clinton could have, should have (in fact did, were it not for the Electoral College), break that ultimate glass ceiling to run the White House. Women of all ages, all races and creeds, and men and children, marching together in solidarity. A man carried a sign saying “I can’t believe we’re still fighting for this”.

I’m With Her © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
I’m With Her © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Now what will those who marched do? What will happen? Will that energy and activism be sustained against the forces of disillusionment, frustration, paralyzing despair and self-preserving apathy? Or will they return home feeling vindicated and affirmed that their fears and concerns are real and they are not to be silenced? I think they will return empowered, invigorated with a mission, with a voice, a language to articulate grievances and a clarity of purpose. Indeed, the Women’s March organizers are posting 10 action items for the first 100 Days at womensmarch.com.

Also, there are ways and avenues and organizations to channel that rage and turn it into strategic, well articulated constructive action, in order to fight against the despair that will come when we aren’t able to immediately stop the steamroll of anti-democratic, regressive initiatives that come from the Trump/Republican camarilla.

Donald Trump may not care about the protests, feeling somehow above and immune in his bubble of sycophants. In a creepy way, he probably drew orgasmic delight that 4 million people around the world focused their attention on him, no matter that he was the target of their contempt, disdain and hatred.

Women’s Marchers in numbers hard to ignore by Congressmen, Senators, State Legislators© 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Women’s Marchers in numbers hard to ignore by Congressmen, Senators, State Legislators© 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

But Congressmen know. Senators know. State legislators know. And they should be quaking in the reverberation of the marchers. And that’s where the focus has to be. This is Day 1 of the 2017 campaign to take back state offices. This is Day One to take back the House and/or the Senate in 2018. Because taking just one house would cut Trump’s Presidency to 2 years instead of an excruciating 4.

That is, if he isn’t impeached first for his corrupt business practices and likely collusion with Russia (not likely with a Republican Congress that clearly doesn’t care about actual illegalities like blatant violations of emoluments clause of Constitution and conflicts of interest that go against the national interest). He is more likely to be removed by a military coup when he orders bombing civilians, repopulating Guantanamo with prisoners snatched up with bounties, reopening black sites in order to torture, or, as he told the CIA, getting a second chance at taking Iraq’s oil because, you know, he learned as a boy “to the victor belong the spoils.”

Marching Forward We Won’t Go Back © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Marching Forward We Won’t Go Back © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Individually, we feel powerless, but collectively we have power. And it starts with pressing our village and city mayors, town and county supervisors, state representatives, governors and Congressmen need to be bold – like the San Francisco and New York mayors vowing to repulse Trump’s attack on sanctuary cities, governors like Cuomo in New York State standing up for a climate action agenda and protecting women’s reproductive rights; generals vowing to reject an order to bomb civilians or torture terror suspects. It’s newspapers being willing to lose privileged “access” and risking lawsuits to publish investigations. It’s government workers with the courage to be whistleblowers.

By these measures, the simple act of voting would seem an easy way to counter Trumpism, yet a disgraceful number don’t even do this; people need to start early to get registered to vote and vote in every election, especially local and state elections and not just the presidential.

But all of this requires us to stay active. We have to resist being immobilized by despair (that’s their strategy) and take action. If it seems too overwhelming with everything being thrown at us, just pick one or two issues to stay on top.

How to counter Trump?

Just a smattering of the signs left by the 750,000 Women’s Marchers, wanting to leave a message for Washington policy makers © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Just a smattering of the signs left by the 750,000 Women’s Marchers, wanting to leave a message for Washington policy makers © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Conflicts of Interest: Support Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s legislation that would require Trump to disclose his business holdings and require him to disclose his tax forms. Investigate – after all, what is Government Oversight Committee for, beyond investigating Benghazi and Clinton’s emails? Sue for violations of the emoluments clause, for Trump Hotel in Washington violating the law that prevents an elected official from leasing property from the federal government. Impeach Trump and any of his lackeys for their self-serving, self-dealing conflicts of interest.  Boycott Trump’s business holdings and the corporations that enable him, including Trump Hotels and golf courses, “Celebrity Apprentice,” and Fox News.

Cabinet appointments: Democrats will be unable to stop Trump’s appointments, thanks to the hypocritical Republican lapdogs. But Senate Democrats have a duty to expose their self-interest conflicts, their ineptitude, their extraordinary lack of qualifications so that they will be put on notice that their actions will be scrutinized.

“Through cutting-edge reports, social media, newspapers, radio and TV, and much more, we’re going to highlight this rogues’ gallery’s history of law-breaking, how their corporate ties will corrupt policymaking, and how their reactionary views will harm everyday Americans.” says Robert Weissman, President of Public Citizen (citizen.org).

Dissent is patriotic © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Dissent is patriotic © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

What should Senate, House Democrats do? Oppose with every tool and tactic they can the anti-Democratic principles, including using the Republican tactics against them like the filibuster, holds on nominations, lawsuits, articles of impeachment  (though McConnell and Ryan will likely take away the very tools they used to unprecedented degree). That isn’t the same thing as opposing for opposing sake, to make the president fail, as Republicans did even as Obama was trying to keep the country from economic collapse. But Democrats are obligated to fight back where the agenda destroys progress. What Democrats should not do? Try to appeal to the pseudo-populism and the mythical “poor” “underserved” “voiceless” white working class, as if they are the only “real Americans” who matter. And yes, they should sue the Trump Administration just as the Republicans sued Obama over DACA and Obamacare. If Republicans don’t offer any means to compromise or impact policy, Democrats should go nuclear.

When injustice becomes law, resistance becomes duty© 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
When injustice becomes law, resistance becomes duty© 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Support the Fourth Estate – the journalists who fulfill their function of investigating and being a watchdog on government and powerful interests. Be vigilant in calling out falsehoods, fake news and propaganda. That means that when the economy goes down, unemployment  goes up, tens of thousands die without access to health care and Trump and the Republicans blame Obama and the Democrats, that The Media hold them to account. Write letters to the editor, comments online. Alert news media to issues. Defend journalists who are doing their job. Cultivate social media networks to counter the right-wing propaganda machine. The success of the Women’s March to rally support solely through social media shows these networks have taken root.

Fight the rabidly regressive agenda that Trump/Republicans will steamroll through in the first 100 days. The more that Republicans refuse to accept compromise or allow Democrats to participate in forming policy, the more militant the opposition has to become. Boycott, strike, protest, rally. Use your body, your voice, your pen.

Respect Existence or Expect Resistance© 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Respect Existence or Expect Resistance© 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Sue. Sue. Sue. “Presidents do not rule by fiat,” declared Mitch Bernard, Chief Operating Officer, for the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). “Donald Trump may not simply undo international agreements, overrule enacted laws, or violate environmental regulations on his own say so. If — when — he ignores environmental laws, NRDC will meet him in court. And we’re gearing up to give him the fight of his life.”

The Trump/Republican strategy (copied from Karl Rove and the Bush/Cheney debacle) is to have so many outrages coming so fast, deflecting attention and paralyzing any action, and more significantly to normalize the destructive actions simply by being equivalent or (imagine) not as bad as the previous outrage.

Putin$ Puppet. © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Putin$ Puppet. © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“In the face of Trump’s parade of horribles,” says Robert Reich of MoveOn.org, “it would be easy (and understandable) for people to get numb, hunker down, and pray that they’ll make it through the next four years. But human history teaches us of the perils of complacency and fear in response to political extremism and violence.”

If it is too paralyzing because of all the issues that are infuriating to your core, pick one, two or a few to focus on – keep active and aware of what Trump and his collaborators in the Congress and the Cabinet are doing. Write, call, visit, rally at representatives’ offices. Speak up to family, friends and neighbors. Go to town halls and civic meetings. You cannot be a Silent Majority.

I’m With Mommy © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
I’m With Mommy © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Support key organizations – give what you can – because they will need money to lobby, sue, organize protests and petition campaigns, can offer language for legislation and expose facts about the impacts of overturning regulations allowing corporations to pollute the air and water; repealing the Affordable Care Act, (losing 3 million jobs, adding billions to the budget deficit, depriving 18 million newly insured people of access to health care, instead of saving 87,000 lives, seeing 36,000 die needlessly for lack of health care); of the public health, environmental, economic, international repercussions of rolling back climate action. (Caveat: Organizations can’t just seize on the latest outrage to fundraise without actually doing something.)

Some worthy organizations that have outlined effective strategies to beat back the forces of darkness include National Resources Defense Council (NRDC.org), Environmental Defense Fund (EDF.org), League of Conservation Voters (LCV.org), MoveOn.org, EmilysList.org, WomensMarch.com, PlannedParenthood.org, Public Citizen (citizen.org), just to list a few.

Standing up for women’s rights © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Standing up for women’s rights © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“Together, we must resist the Trump Dynasty with everything we’ve got — starting with marches all over the country today,” declared Robert Weissman of Public Citizen. “It won’t be easy. We can be honest about that. The fights that matter most rarely are. But with all of our vigilance, all of our acumen, all of our strength, we can — we will — prevail over greed and hatred and corruption.”

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© 2017 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go to www.news-photos-features.com, email editor@news-photos-features.com. Blogging at  www.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures.  ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin

NYS Governor Gives His Support for Long Island to Sign Deal for Offshore Windpower

Long Island activists rally for offshore windpower at LI Power Authority.
Long Island activists rally for offshore windpower at LI Power Authority.

 

Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features

On January 25, activists who have been fighting for decades for clean, renewable energy in order to end our society’s dangerous addiction to fossil fuels, are hoping they will finally be able to pop the champagne corks when the Long Island Power Authority Board approves a power purchase agreement for off-shore wind power for the East End.

Indeed, just a week after the Block Island Wind Farm began producing power, New York labor unions, civic and environmental organizations and elected officials hosted a rally outside of Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) praising LIPA for expressing support of offshore wind power and its anticipated vote on Jan. 25 to move forward on the nation’s largest offshore wind project. Over 100 gathered in front of LIPA, in the largest show of Long Island’s support for offshore wind to date.

Located off the east end of Long Island, Deepwater Wind’s 90-megawatt, 15-turbine project will produce enough energy to power about 50,000 Long Island homes by 2022. This pivotal decision, opening a new era for Long Island’s energy economy, would eliminate the need for LIPA to build a new fossil fuel-fired plant to meet the region’s energy needs. Keep in mind that Long Island officials keep saying the impediment to businesses coming here are the high energy costs.

Now the activists are calling on LIPA to move forward on the Island-Wide renewable energy Request for Proposal in early 2017 which could include another 210 MW of offshore wind off of Long Island’s south fork. (Europe already generates 12,100 megawatts of off-shore wind energy).

Meanwhile, in the waning days of the Obama Administration (and not a moment too soon), the US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), awarded Statoil Wind US LLC, a private company from Norway that specializes in oil and gas, the lease to develop an off-shore wind farm on 80,000 acres some 12 miles off of Long Island’s south shore. Statoil’s $42.5 million bid beat out NYSERDA, the New York State energy research development agency, which had wanted to win so it could be the lead agency and expedite development of off-shore windpower for New York.

The project could provide 800 megawatts of offshore wind power in an area 17 miles south of the Rockaway Peninsula.

Now that it will be the domain of a private company, New York customers- like LIPA and Con Ed – will likely have to compete with New Jersey and others. LIPA needs to lock in supply, with a Power Purchase Agreement and details on where the company can run its cables on to shore, and do so before the Trumpsters try to overturn the lease altogether. Recall this is the same area where a private company wanted to site the Port Ambrose Liquified Natural Gas facility, which would have shut down the possibility of any wind farm.

The incoming Trump Administration’s determination to reverse course on a transition to clean, renewable energy, and return us to dependency on fossil fuels – no matter the impact on climate, the environment and ecology, no matter how it basically indentures residents and businesses to ever higher prices for energy, no matter how it endangers national security –  means it will be up to the states to continue progress.

Governor Andrew Cuomo has set a goal of producing 50% of New York’s electricity from renewable sources by 2030 and 80% by 2050, with an ultimate goal of 100%. Developing offshore wind power – and a wholly new industry for Long Island – is essential for achieving those targets, along with solar, geothermal and hydro power sources (East Hampton has passed legislation that it would get 100 percent of its electricity from clean, renewable sources.)

New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo in his State of the State address at SUNY Farmingdale, Long Island, declares his support to develop offshore windpower, beginning with 90 megawatts to serve the East End, and ultimately 2.4 gigawatts of offshore wind power in the Atlantic Ocean by 2030 © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo in his State of the State address at SUNY Farmingdale, Long Island, declares his support to develop offshore windpower, beginning with 90 megawatts to serve the East End, and ultimately 2.4 gigawatts of offshore wind power in the Atlantic Ocean by 2030 © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Governor Cuomo made major news during his State of the State message at SUNY Farmingdale on Long Island, announced that New York is committed to building 2,400 megawatts (MW) of offshore wind power by 2030 – enough to power 1.25 million homes. The Governor also pledged his support for New York’s first, and the nation’s largest, offshore wind project off the east end of Long Island.

“We have to start to do some big things, we have to do big things in renewable energy to get that cost to power down on Long Island,” he stated. “And we have wind power, we’ve had wind power for years. Offshore wind farms work. They can be done right, they can be done correctly, they don’t have to be an eyesore.

“I’m calling on LIPA to approve a 90 megawatt wind farm. It’s enough to support 50,000 homes. They will not be visible from the beach. They will be 30 miles southeast of Montauk. Not even Superman standing on Montauk Point could see these wind farms. But the upside is tremendous. It will be the largest offshore wind project in our nation’s history, not just in existence. It’s jobs. It’s clean energy and it’s inexpensive energy which then drives the economy. And we are not going to stop there. We have a mandate of 50 percent renewable power by the year 2030. We want to get 2.4 gigawatts of offshore wind power by 2030 and we are not going to stop until we reach 100 percent renewable because that’s what a sustainable New York is really all about.”

New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo in his State of the State address at SUNY Farmingdale, Long Island says the ultimate goal is generating 100% of the state’s energy needs from renewable sources © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo in his State of the State address at SUNY Farmingdale, Long Island says the ultimate goal is generating 100% of the state’s energy needs from renewable sources © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Offshore wind power is especially important in light of Cuomo’s pronouncement in his State of the State address that the Indian Point nuclear plant, which theoretically generates 2000 megawatts of energy, will be shut down by 2021.

The Atlantic waters off Long Island has some of the best conditions for off-shore windpower production in North America, if not the world. Dubbed the “Saudi Arabia of offshore wind” we could be the epicenter for a new American energy industry, already $20 billion globally. Scientists and engineers at SUNY Stony Brook are developing new battery storage systems and monitoring controls. Wind turbines need to be manufactured, installed, monitored and maintained, producing thousands of everlasting jobs along with the wind power.

And unlike fossil fuels, where the prices are unpredictable except they almost always go up (oil and gas, after all, are finite resources, costly to develop, process and deliver), wind power is a predictable, stable price that is on a trajectory to come down, not up.

“It’s been a marathon of work and effort to bring wind power to Long Island, but we are at the last mile and moving closer to the finish line,” Adrienne Esposito, Executive Director of Citizens Campaign for the Environment said at the Dec. 20 rally. “Long Islanders are ready for offshore wind. We have assessed the science, the economics and the societal benefits and we concluded that wind works as an important mainstream energy source. We can longer be fossil fools and deny the consequences of climate change.”

“With Donald Trump about to occupy the White House, it’s essential that states like New York take the lead in transitioning from dirty fossil fuels to renewable energy,” Eric Weltman, Senior Organizer, Food & Water Watch stated. “Climate change could be catastrophic to New York, but with the fossil fuel industry poised to set federal energy policy, we need Governor Cuomo to lead a clean energy revolution. Having banned fracking, a next crucial step is for New York to move forward with the nation’s largest offshore wind farm.”

Come out to the LIPA board meeting on January 25 to show your support.

If they build it, we will come.

To learn more about Reforming the Energy Vision, including the Governor’s $5 billion investment in clean energy technology and innovation, visit www.ny.gov/REV4NY and follow @Rev4NY.

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© 2017 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go to www.news-photos-features.com, email editor@news-photos-features.com. Blogging at  www.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures.  ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin

 

 

Shoring Up His Climate Action Legacy, Obama Bans Future Oil Drilling in Atlantic, Arctic Ocean Areas

By Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features

WASHINGTON – President Obama has taken action to ban future mineral extraction from huge sways of offshore areas in the Atlantic and Arctic Oceans to protect these ecologically sensitive marine environments from the impacts of any future oil and gas exploration and development.

Obama used a little-known law called the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act to protect large portions of the Chukchi and Beaufort seas in the Arctic and a string of canyons in the Atlantic stretching from Massachusetts to Virginia. In addition to a five-year moratorium already in place in the Atlantic, removing the canyons from drilling puts much of the eastern seaboard off limits to oil exploration even if companies develop plans to operate around them.

The announcement by the White House was coordinated with similar steps being taken by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to shield large areas of that nation’s Arctic waters from drilling.

The withdrawal does not restrict other uses of these federal waters on the Outer Continental Shelf, and will help to sustain commercial and recreational fisheries in the Atlantic to support fishing-dependent communities, as well as the harvest of marine resources on which many Alaska Native communities rely for subsistence use and cultural traditions.

U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell applauded President Obama’s announcement saying, “The President’s bold action recognizes the vulnerable marine environments in the Arctic and Atlantic oceans, their critical and irreplaceable ecological value, as well as the unique role that commercial fishing and subsistence use plays in the regions’ economies and cultures,” Secretary Jewell said. “The withdrawal will help build the resilience of these vital ecosystems, provide refuges for at-risk species, sustain commercial fisheries and subsistence traditions, and create natural laboratories for scientists to monitor and explore the impacts of climate change.”

The withdrawal areas announced encompass 3.8 million acres in the north and mid-Atlantic Ocean off the East Coast and 115 million acres in the U.S. Arctic Ocean. Including previous presidential withdrawals, the {resident’s action protects nearly 125 million acres in the offshore Arctic from future oil and gas activity.

In the Atlantic, the withdrawal decision protects 31 canyons, extending from Heezen Canyon offshore New England to Norfolk Canyon offshore of the Chesapeake Bay. The largest, Hudson Canyon, reaches depths greater than 10,000 feet, comparable in scale to the Grand Canyon, which is 6,093 feet at its deepest. The canyons are regions of enhanced biodiversity, home to numerous species including deep-water corals, deep-diving beaked whales, commercially valuable fish, and significant numbers of habitat-forming soft and hard corals, sponges and crabs.

The canyon region is home to several fish stocks managed as Highly Migratory Species, including commercially valuable marlin, sailfish, swordfish, tuna and sharks. These geologic features also provide important habitat for a number of protected species including beaked, sperm and sei whales, many of which show an affinity to canyon ecosystems as compared to other Atlantic waters.

The President’s action will preserve critical ecological hot spots, helping to protect habitats important to Atlantic fisheries. The designation also affords long-term opportunity for research and exploration, and helps ensure that species dependent on the canyon habitats are protected. It also builds on protections established by the recent creation of the Frank R. Lautenberg Deep Sea Coral Protection Area. This protected region, created by the Mid-Atlantic Regional Fishery Management Council and approved by NOAA, prohibits bottom trawling in all the canyons in the region.

In addition to numerous requests from local and regional officials to protect these offshore resources, 145 prominent marine scientists issued a public letter in September 2015, voicing their conclusion that the threats to the unique marine environment in this region warranted permanent protection to preserve intact ecosystems. These concerns are informed by a number of research findings, including a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration study that found ocean temperatures in the Northeast U.S. Shelf are projected to warm three times faster than the global average and a climate vulnerability assessment on fish and invertebrate species in the region that concluded warming oceans due to climate change threaten the majority of fish species in the area, including salmon, lobster, and scallops. The President’s action builds on his establishment of the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument, which protects 4,913 square miles of marine ecosystems located 130 miles southeast of Cape Cod. The withdrawal protects major Atlantic canyons that are not in the National Monument.

The President’s Arctic withdrawal, which encompasses the entire U.S. Chukchi Sea and significant portions of the U.S. Beaufort Sea, will provide critical protection for these vibrant and fragile offshore ecosystems, which are home to marine mammals and other important ecological resources and marine species on which many Alaska Native communities rely for subsistence and cultural traditions. These include several species of seals; Pacific walrus; polar bears; more than 98 fish species; a number of whale species, such as the bowhead, gray and beluga; many bird species, including waterfowl such as eiders, long-tailed duck and geese; and shorebirds such as the red-necked phalarope.

“Risks associated with oil and gas activity in the remote, harsh and undeveloped Arctic are not worth taking when the nation has ample energy sources near existing infrastructure,” said Abigail Ross Hopper, the Director of Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management. “Oil spill response and clean-up raises unique challenges in the Arctic and a spill could have substantial impacts on the region, particularly given the ecosystem fragility and limited available resources to respond to a spill.”

The withdrawal does not affect existing leases in these federal offshore waters and would not affect a nearshore area of the Beaufort Sea, totaling about 2.8 million acres, that has high oil and gas potential and is adjacent to existing state oil and gas activity and infrastructure. While there are significant concerns about oil and gas activity occurring in this area, it will be subject to additional evaluation and study to determine if new leasing could be appropriate at some point in the future. Interior’s five year offshore leasing program for 2017-2022 does not include lease sales in this area or in the withdrawn areas.

The U.S. Arctic Ocean is characterized by harsh environmental conditions, geographic remoteness, and a relative lack of fixed infrastructure and existing oil and gas operations. Despite the substantial steps this Administration has taken to improve the safety of potential Arctic exploration, there would still be significant risks associated with offshore drilling operations and the consequences of an oil spill in this region could be substantially detrimental to the ecosystem.

Climate change-induced temperature increases are occurring fastest in Polar Regions, including the U. S. Arctic, resulting in a disproportionate amount of changes to the Arctic environments, including reduction in seasonal ice cover. Loss of sea ice coverage reduces the available habitat for ice-dependent species such as seals, polar bears, and Pacific walrus. Such conditions and stressors may increase the vulnerability of these species and habitat and reduce their resilience to impacts of oil and gas activities.

The Arctic withdrawals build on past actions the President has taken to protect fragile ecosystems and build resilience in the face of climate change, including the Northern Bering Sea Climate Resilience AreaChukchi and Beaufort Seas areas placed off limits to oil and gas leasing earlier this year; and the Bristol Bay withdrawal in 2014.

Further scientific analysis related to the President’s withdrawal proclamation is available here for the Arctic and here for the Atlantic.

Maps of the areas related to President’s withdrawal proclamation are available here for the Arctic and here for the Atlantic.

Where to Take the Fight for Climate Action in Wake of Trump Assault

Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, former chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell and a member of the Climate Security Working Group, speaking on “The Consequences of Climate Change: A National Security Perspective,” says the planet cannot afford 4 or 8 years of reversals on climate action if we are to avoid topping 2 degrees more. By 2065, there will be a hundred million desperate climate refugees. © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, former chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell and a member of the Climate Security Working Group, speaking on “The Consequences of Climate Change: A National Security Perspective,” says the planet cannot afford 4 or 8 years of reversals on climate action if we are to avoid topping 2 degrees more. By 2065, there will be a hundred million desperate climate refugees. © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features

Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, a former chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell, laid out a rather dire forecast of “The Consequences of Climate Change: A National Security Perspective,” in remarks at a Great Neck, NY synagogue. He couldn’t help but register a bit of panic over the incoming Trump Administration and its crew of climate-deniers and Big Oilmen.

“We have gone from ecstasy before the election to despair,” he says. We can’t afford to lose ground over the next 4 or 8 years.”  That’s because once the earth heats more than 2 degrees, “it is enough to start the process to the point where it is unrecoverable. We will accelerate so fast that by the end of the 21st century, we will see dire developments.”

It was reminiscent of how George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, two Texas oil men, reversed course on President Bill Clinton’s climate action, especially when Al Gore, a foremost climate change activist, was robbed of the presidency. Trump threatens to be even more dangerous because the planet is heating up more quickly than forecast, the arctic ice sheets are melting faster than predicted, and Trump has made clear his intention to reverse course on Obama’s progress, put the brakes on transitioning from a carbon-emitting economy, and go back to promoting fossil fuel development.

Wilkerson didn’t dwell on the public health aspects of climate change, but on how drought, famine, wildfires and sea level rise making coastal and island communities and even US naval and military bases, uninhabitable, would create national security challenges. Indeed, if you thought that a few million Syrian refugees could destabilize European democracies, think what hundreds of millions of climate refugees, would mean.

“By 2065, you are talking about machine guns on the border shooting people.”

We’ve actually already seen that happen: when police snipers murdered two black men as they tried to cross the Danziger bridge to flee New Orleans flooding after Hurricane Katrina.

Superstorms like the tsunami in Indonesia, the super typhoon in the Philippines, Hurricane Katrina and Superstorm Sandy that supposedly shouldn’t happen except once a century are hitting at least once every decade.

The US military is already concerned, but is unable to do anything for fear of being perceived as acting “politically.” As a result, “sea rise alone, will force the DoD to cannibalize its own budget, diverting 10 to 20% of its $600 billion budget to make its military installations resilient. “The air force at Langley already has days when jets can’t take off because the runways are flooded.”

“The military has no question at all about the climate changing and changing rapidly and that it’s changing faster” than previously projected, he said.

“The military sees the risk, wants something done. They don’t want to be the only ones who watch and then become the hammer, manning the machine guns on the border.”

Wilkerson did not offer much in the way of solution, beyond his organization, Climate Security Working Group, lobbying Congressmembers individually (he said he had a hopeful meeting with Joni Ernst and Charles Grassley). That is futile, though, because you have a Congress and a Trump Cabinet that is wholly in bed with donors from fossil fuels.

Wilkerson said he was an “optimist.” But what a difference a couple of weeks makes.

Trump has doubled down to undermine Obama’s climate action efforts and reverse the transition to clean, renewable energy, after feigning that he was “open-minded” in an interview with the “failing” New York Times, and a pretend meeting with Al Gore. Trump says he will shut down NASA’s Climate Research division, pull the US out of the Paris Climate Agreement, and reverse course on Obama’s Clean Power Plan (which his pick to lead the EPA, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt is fighting to overturn in court).

Trump’s transition team has demanded the names of all Department of Energy employees and contractors who have attended climate change policy conferences; many have reported a climate of intimidation, and there is fear of a witch hunt. (The agency said it would not comply.)

He is installing Oil Men and Climate Deniers in key governmental positions. His pick for Secretary of State, ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson, not only has oil deals with Vladimir Putin, but vigorously supports the Trans Pacific Partnership, which empowers corporations to sue localities for “lost profits” when they adopt regulations for environmental protection.

Instead of a Nobel laureate to head Energy, he is installing former Texas Governor Rick Perry, who couldn’t even remember the name of the agency when he said he would shut it down.

What’s left to be done?

Some might naively think that technology will save us, when the situation really becomes dire.

Some of the proposals call for “geoengineering” – launching shields to keep the sun’s rays from the earth to slow the warming (what about the solar energy needed to produce food and solar energy?). “This is like playing god,” Wilkerson said – an ironic statement considering the climate deniers typically are in the camp that says God wants the earth to heat. Not to mention the cost.

Indeed, by the time societies are that desperate, it will be too late to reverse the impacts.

On the other hand, the despairing realization that Planet Earth may be doomed is what is behind Elan Musk’s Mars shot (something that is being made clear in the “Mars” television series).  “He is doing it because he wants to hedge the bet (on continuation of the humanrace). But how many can pay $20 million for a seat on a rocketship?”

“To us in military, one of clearest indicators there are people who understand the depth of the problem, but doing something serious – getting off this planet. They know there is a real chance this planet may become uninhabitable.

“We have put more people on the face of earth since 1900 than the previous 5000 years, reaching a global population of 7 billion, and by the next century, there will be 3-4 billion more. That ain’t going to happen, not without dire circumstances.

I find myself rooting for other nations to treat the US, the world leader on climate action under Obama, as a pariah, especially if Trump tears up the Paris Climate Agreement, and that they slap carbon fees on US goods, and that the UN and international Court prosecute the US for actions that result in the death and unliveability of lands. They should sue for damages and reparations.

We need to fight corporations that are not making the transition to clean energy – boycott products, fight permits, cram stockholders meetings, or alternatively, divest and drive down stock prices of offending corporations and climate deniers. Sue to recover costs when pollution impacts public health or damages the environment, require new projects to be designed sustainably and address clean energy and water. Block rate hikes and actions of utilities that refuse to adopt the Clean Power Plan standards.

Launch lawsuits over pollution that impacts public health, recover costs for remediation, require new projects to address clean energy and water; block rate hikes and actions of utilities that are refusing to adopt the Clean Power Plan standards; divest and drive down the stock prices of offending corporations and climate deniers.

We need to back organizations like the Environmental Defense Fund, Earth Justice and Natural Resources Defense Council, and League of Conservation Voters.

The EDF has a good strategy: tripling the size of its legal team; ramping up investments in state-based work to modernize the electric grid and advance clean-energy policy (EDF co-authored the first ever statewide bill to limit carbon emissions in California, which has created nearly 1 million new jobs and made California the nation’s leading clean technology patent developer).

The League of Conservation Voters is funding a campaign that goes hard after every dangerous executive action, nominee, and vote in Congress, coordinating with allies in new ways so that nothing slips through the cracks; plans to bolster allies in the Senate to stand strong, use their bully pulpit, and form a “green” firewall to beat back congressional attacks that require 60 votes to pass; hold key elected officials accountable, especially in the Senate, for their votes, words and actions, and expose those who push Trump’s anti-science agenda; mobilize hundreds of thousands of grassroots activists, activating grassroots networks and standing in solidarity with allies across the progressive movement; working with states to advance solar, renewable and other sustainable solutions; and lay the groundwork for 2017 and 2018 elections, where key Governor and Senate races are already unfolding.

We need to protest, to occupy, to boycott, to sue, to conduct unrelenting shaming campaigns of companies, corporate executives, investors and politicians who put short-term personal gain over long-term havoc, and if necessary, impeach – impeach an EPA Administrator who does not abide by the Clean Air, Clean Water acts. Impeach a Secretary of Health & Human Services who does not advocate for public health. Impeach a president who violates his Constitutional oath and sets aside national security for self-enrichment.

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© 2016 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go to www.news-photos-features.com, email editor@news-photos-features.com. Blogging at  www.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures.  ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin

Obama Administration takes New Actions to Accelerate Deployment of Electric Vehicles; Designates 48 National EV Charging Corridors on Highways

 

The City of San Francisco was an early and strong proponent of coordinated urban and regional climate action, including efforts to decarbonize both the transportation and energy sectors. From 1990 to 2014, carbon emissions declined 24 percent. Already a highly electrified transportation system, with its famous cable cars and street cars, San Francisco is expanding implementation of electric vehicles © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
The City of San Francisco was an early and strong proponent of coordinated urban and regional climate action, including efforts to decarbonize both the transportation and energy sectors. From 1990 to 2014, carbon emissions declined 24 percent. Already a highly electrified transportation system, with its famous cable cars and street cars, San Francisco is expanding implementation of electric vehicles © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The White House issued this statement on actions to accelerate the deployment of Electric Vehicles, including designating 48 national electric vehicle charging corridors on highways, as part of its overall commitment to combat climate change – efforts that will likely be undone by the incoming Trump Administration:

The Obama Administration is committed to taking responsible steps to combat climate change, increase access to clean energy technologies, and reduce our dependence on oil. Already, in the past eight years the number of plug-in electric vehicle models has increased from one to more than 20, battery costs have decreased 70 percent, and we have increased the number of electric vehicle charging stations from less than 500 in 2008 to more than 16,000 today – a 40 fold increase. But there is more work to do. That is why, today, the Administration is announcing key steps forward to accelerate the utilization of electric vehicles and the charging infrastructure needed to support them.

By working together across the Federal government and with the private sector, we can ensure that electric vehicle drivers have access to charging stations at home, at work, and on the road – creating a new way of thinking about transportation that will drive America forward. Today’s announcements demonstrate a continued partnership between the Administration, states, localities, and the private sector to achieve these shared goals:

  • For the first time, the United State Department of Transportation (DOT) is establishing 48 national electric vehicle charging corridors on our highways, these newly designated electric vehicle routes cover nearly 25,000 miles, in 35 states.
  • 28 states, utilities, vehicle manufactures, and change organizations are committing to accelerate the deployment of electric vehicle charging infrastructure on the DOT’s corridors;
  • 24 state and local governments are committing to partner with the Administration and increase the procurement of electric vehicles in their fleets;
  • The United States Department of Energy (DOE) is conducting two studies to evaluate the optimal national electric vehicle charging deployment scenarios, including along DOT’s designated fueling corridors; and
  • 38 new businesses, non-profits, universities, and utilities are signing on to DOE’s Workplace Charging Challenge and committing to provide EV charging access for their workforce.

The announcements build on a record of progress from multiple programs across the Administration that work to scale up EVs and fueling infrastructure, including at the Departments of Energy, Transportation, Defense, the Environmental Protection Agency and with the private sector. This summer, the Administration opened up to $4.5 billion in loan guarantees to support the commercial-scale deployment of innovative electric vehicle charging facilities and in collaboration with the Administration, nearly 50 industry members signed on to theGuiding Principles to Promote Electric Vehicles and Charging Infrastructure. This effort launched the beginning of a collaboration between the government and industry to increase the deployment of EV charging infrastructure that is carried forward in the announcements.

ADVANCING THE DEPLOYMENT OF ELECTRIC VEHICLE CHARGING INFRASTRUCTURE ALONG OUR HIGHWAYS 

Establishing 48 National Electric Vehicle Charging Corridors on our Highways: The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) today announced 55 Interstates that will serve as the basis for a national network of “alternative fuel” corridors spanning 35 states plus the District of Columbia. Today’s announcement includes designating 48  out of the 55 routes electric vehicle charging corridors, totaling almost 25,000 miles of electric vehicle routes in 35 states. To make it easier for drivers to identify and locate charging stations, states designated as “sign-ready” are authorized to use signs developed by FHWA that identify electric vehicle charging stations and other alternative fuels along the highways similar to existing signage that alerts drivers to gas stations, food, and lodging. Drivers can expect either existing or planned charging stations within every 50 miles.

28 States, Utilities, Vehicle Manufactures, and Change Organizations Commit to Accelerate Electric Vehicle Deployment on DOT’s Corridors: Today, the following organizations are committing to help accelerate the deployment of electric vehicle charging infrastructure along the Alternative Fuel Corridors designated by the U.S. Department of Transportation.  These initial and future corridors will serve as a basis for a national network of electric vehicle charging infrastructure to enable coast to coast zero emission mobility on our nation’s highways:

  • Ameren Missouri
  • Berkshire Hathaway Energy
  • BMW
  • ChargePoint
  • Connecticut Green Bank
  • Edison Electric Institute
  • Electric Drive Transportation Association
  • EV Connect
  • Eversource Energy
  • EVgo
  • General Electric
  • General Motors
  • Greenlots
  • Kansas City Power & Light
  • MidAmerican Energy Company
  • New York State
  • Nissan
  • NV Energy
  • Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E)
  • Pacific Power
  • PlugShare
  • Portland General Electric
  • Public Service Company of New Mexico
  • Rocky Mountain Power
  • Skychargers
  • Southern California Edison
  • Texas-New Mexico Power
  • Vision Ridge Partners

Conducting Two Studies to Evaluate the Optimal National EV Charging Deployment Scenarios: Early next year, DOE plans to publish two studies developed with national laboratories and with input from a range of stakeholders to support broad EV charging infrastructure deployment, including along DOT’s alternative fuel corridors.  The first is a national EV infrastructure analysis that identifies the optimal number of charging stations for different EV market penetration scenarios. The second will provide best practices for EV fast charging installation, including system specifications as well as siting, power availability, and capital and maintenance cost considerations.

Continuing to Partner with Stakeholders to Build Charging Infrastructure Along the National Charging Corridors: The White House will be convening key stakeholders in November 2016 to continue to encourage state and local governments and businesses to build public electric vehicle charging infrastructure along our national highways. 

SUPPORTING STATE AND LOCAL PARTNERSHIPS TO INCREASE THE ELECTRIC VEHICLES ON THE ROAD  

Partnering with 24 State and Local Governments to Electrify our Vehicle Fleets: Building on the Administration’s policy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) from Federal Fleets by 30 percent by 2025, today, we are announcing twenty-four state and local governments have joined the Federal government to electrify our fleets. These new commitments will account for over 2,500 new electric vehicles in 2017 alone, and help pave a path for a sustained level of purchases into the future. By working together, Federal, state and local leadership can aggregate demand to lower purchase costs through increasing automotive manufactures’ demand certainty, promote electric vehicle innovation and adoption and expand our national electric vehicle infrastructure. The cumulative benefit of the commitments announced today include more than one million dollars and 1,211,650 gallons in potential annual fuel savings. These state and local government commitments include:

States

  • California state agencies strive to cut greenhouse gas emissions and since 2010, GHG emissions from state operations have been cut in half. Incorporating zero-emission vehicles (ZEV) into the state fleet is a central component of the state’s sustainability strategy. Fulfilling a commitment made by Governor Brown in 2012, more than 10 percent of non-public safety light duty vehicles purchased by the State of California in fiscal years 2014/2015 and 2015/2016 were zero-emission vehicles. In support of the 2016 ZEV Action Plan, the state commits to increasing the number of non-public safety light duty ZEVs to 50 percent by 2025. To reach that goal, the state will target yearly step increases of 5 percent (beginning in fiscal year 2017/2018), over its current 10 percent purchasing commitment.

Ø  For 2017, the State of California commits to purchase a minimum of 150 ZEVs for its fleet, bringing the total to over 600 ZEVs in the state fleet.

Ø  California commits to providing electric vehicle charging at a minimum of 5 percent of state owned parking spaces by 2020.

  • Minnesota has developed a fleet action plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that involves transitioning the state’s predominately internal combustion engine light fleet to a fleet integrating hybrid electric vehicles; plug-in electric hybrid vehicles; and zero emission vehicles. This plan will decrease petroleum consumption by 25 percent and result in a decrease in GHG emissions of 21 percent. Cost savings for fuel and maintenance is expected to be $2.5 million annually. Minnesota has set its commitment as follows:

Ø  Acquire 25 PHEV/ZEVs in Fiscal Year 2017.

Ø  Install 15 Level 2 charging stations in Fiscal Year 2017.

Ø  Require all new vehicles have EPA ratings of 7 or higher.

Ø  Achieve a fleet composition of 20 PHEV or ZEV by 2027.

  • Montana’s State Energy Office commits to swapping out two hybrid vehicles for two plug-in hybrid electric vehicles in 2017. These vehicles will be the first plug-in electric vehicles in Montana’s state fleet and will help Montana better understand how electric vehicles can be incorporated into the fleet as well as the charging infrastructure necessary to support these vehicles. Montana commits to reaching out to local governments and universities about opportunities for electrification from the VW settlement allocation.
  • Vermont commits to convert 50 percent of its state motor pool to plug-in electric vehicles by the end of 2017 which far exceeds the previous level of 38 percent. Vermont is also committing to purchase 10 percent of the total State’s centralized light duty fleet, including agency and department assigned vehicles, as plug-in electric by the end of 2017 which far exceeds the 7 percent accomplished this year. And to install one dedicated charging port for each of these vehicles at the locations where they are parked and assigned to employees for state trips.

o   In 2017, Washington State’s cabinet agencies commit to purchasing 250 EVs and installing 125 new level 2 charging stations. 

Cities

  • The City of Atlanta has reduced GHG emissions 12.5 percent and fossil fuels by 23 percent since 2008. The City commits to further reducing GHG emissions 40 percent by 2030 through the continued addition of zero emission vehicles and electric infrastructure. The City is encouraging public adoption of electric vehicles and is installing charging stations in 100 dedicated EV parking spaces at the Hartsfield Jackson Atlanta International Airport by the end of 2016. The City commits to convert 20 percent of its municipal fleet to electric vehicles by 2020 through commitments to:

Ø  Construct an additional 300 charging stations at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport by the end of 2017.

Ø  Spend $3,000 dollars per electric vehicle for infrastructure installation through December 2018.

Ø  Conduct an education campaign for City employees about efficient usage of electric vehicles and charging stations.

Ø  Procure 200 electric vehicles for its fleets and install the appropriate charging infrastructure over the next three years.

Ø  Add 1,600 new Level 1 and 300 new Level 2 charging stations in the region.

Ø  Add 448 electric vehicles to city’s private fleets.

Ø  In 2017, the City of Fort Collins commits to purchase seven new electric vehicles, some of which will replace standard gasoline engine vehicles.

Ø  Fort Collins will continue to provide an electric charging station for each electric vehicle in the fleet in 2017.

  • The City of Denver is proud to join the White House in making an ambitious commitment to incorporate plug-in electric vehicles into our operations. Denver is leading by example, with the city taking a prominent role in transitioning its operations to more sustainable fuel sources. This action will not only move Denver towards its 2020 sustainability goals and reduce costs, but inspire other businesses, cities and residents to consider how plug-in electric vehicles could work for them. Denver commits to procure and operationalize 200 Plug-in Electric Vehicles and required infrastructure by 2020.
  • The City of Detroit is committed to modernizing its overall fleet through the use of cleaner transportation technologies.  This commitment is reflected in part by new efforts to increase the percentage of city service vehicles that are electric, develop new charging infrastructure, and join the U.S. Department of Energy’s Workplace Charging Challenge.  These activities are in-line with the City’s broader sustainable transportation efforts. Detroit commits to:

Ø  Purchase 10 percent of service vehicles as plug-in electric in 2017.

Ø  Set an annual goal of 10 percent of light-duty replacement vehicles purchased be plug-in electric.

Ø  Use Low Speed Electric Vehicles for transit police and safety and security staff.

  • The City of Los Angeles commits to tackle climate change and will procure 50 percent of all new light duty vehicles as battery electric vehicles by 2017 and 80 percent of municipal-fleet procurements as BEVs by 2025.

Ø  LA commits to nearly triple the city’s current plug-in electric fleet from 165 BEVs and 38 PHEVs to over 400 BEVs and 155 PHEVs by the end of 2017. Of those 352, 200 will be for the LA Police Department.

Ø  LA will spend $22.5 million dollars on electric vehicle charging stations by June 2018, which includes making 500 additional public electric vehicle charging stations available throughout the city by the end of 2017, for a total of 1,500.

Ø  LA will launch an EV car share for disadvantaged communities by 2017.

Ø  LA will electrify 10 percent of the Los Angeles Department of Transportation bus fleet by 2017.

Ø  LA will test 20 near-zero emission natural gas tractors at the LA Port and plan for five zero emission plug-in battery yard tractors at the LA Port container terminal.

  • The City of New York commits to invest in at least autonomous 30 solar power carports for charging of City EV fleet citywide and will also provide some public access as part of this initiative and implement over 200 Stealth alternative power units and batteries in City ambulances that will reduce idling and enable these units to charge up through land based EV chargers.
  • The City of Pittsburgh commits to purchase 6 new electric vehicles annually for the next three years. The charging infrastructure for these vehicles will service the public during the day and charge Pittsburgh’s fleet vehicles at night.
  • The City of San Francisco was an early and strong proponent ofcoordinated urban and regional climate action across jurisdictional and national borders, including efforts to decarbonize both the transportation and energy sectors. From 1990 to 2014, carbon emissions declined 24 percent. In The City has a history of transport electrification—foremost in its public transport. San Francisco’s Municipal Transportation Authority operates the City’s historic cable car lines, the nation’s largest fleet of 333 electric trolley buses, plus 151 metro streetcars and 26 historic streetcars. This fleet collectively drives 24.7 percent of the citywide passenger miles traveled and uses clean, greenhouse gas-free electricity from San Francisco’s Hetch Hetchy hydropower system. To date, the City has procured over 60 electric vehicles and 130 charging stations across 20 municipal facilities. Out of San Francisco’s fleet of 5,200 vehicles,

Ø  San Francisco commits to purchase a minimum of 10 percent of new Fleet vehicles annually as electric vehicles.

Ø  San Francisco will continue working with the Pacific Coast Collaborative and West Cost Electric Fleets Initiative to pool resources to lower procurement costs.

  • The City of Seattle is nationally recognized as operating one of the greenest fleets in the country. Seattle was an early investor in fleet electrification, and now operates one of the largest municipal fleet of electric vehicles in the nation.  Drive Clean Seattle is a key piece of the City’s climate action agenda and is a comprehensive commitment to electrify transportation. Seattle commits to a 50 percent reduction in greenhouse gas pollution from the municipal fleet by 2025 and will achieve this in part through committing to:

Ø  Purchase 100 EVs through 2017, to achieve 40 percent electrification of its current light duty fleet.

Ø  Purchase 250 EVs by 2020, with a target of 400 EVs by 2023 to achieve 100 percent of light duty fleet.

Ø  Install 200 electric vehicle charging stations for fleet vehicles in 2017/2018, 300 electric vehicle charging stations by 2020 and 400 electric vehicle charging stations by 2023.

Ø  Work with Original Equipment Manufacturers to participate in fleet demonstrations of EV technology in medium and heavy duty vehicles over the next five years.

Ø  Sign on to the U.S. DOE Workplace Charging Challengeand write a new workplace charging policy in 2017.

Municipalities

  • Arlington County, Virginia is committed to a 76 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from all sources, including transportation, by 2050. To that end, Arlington County commits to ensuring five percent of vehicle-miles traveled by County fleet sedans be in electric vehicles by 2020. 
  • Boulder County commits to:

Ø  Replace 5 sedans with electric vehicles and 9 sports utility vehicles (SUVs) with hybrid SUVs by 2020.

Ø  Offer aggregated purchase programs for EVs to our residents and employees in 2017 and 2018 for volume discounts.

Ø  Install 4 electric charging stations by 2020.

Support workplace charging, and continuing to offer our employees, residents and businesses education, incentives and advising on EVs and sustainable transportation.

  • The Monterey County Board of Supervisors adopted a Municipal Climate Action Plan (MCAP) in 2013 outlining the Board’s goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 15 percent below 2005 emission levels by 2020. In Fiscal year 2015-2016 the county is at 52 percent of its GHG goal in part, through the purchasing of 12 electric vehicles.

Ø  In Fiscal Year 17 Monterey County commits to installing 2 new electric vehicle charging stations.

Ø  By year-end 2017, expand electric and plug-in electric vehicle fleet to 27 sedans, 21 trouble trucks with electrified buckets and 16 electric lift trucks.

Ø  Given product availability, by 2020, have a fleet comprised of 45 BEV/PHEV sedans, 7 PHEV SUVs, 30 PHEV pickup trucks, 16 pickup trucks with zero RPM idle reduction technology, 50 trouble trucks with electrified buckets, 4 cable pullers and 26 lift trucks.

Ø  By the end of 2017, add 15 Level 2 electric vehicle charging stations and 45 Level 1.

Ø  Increase workplace charging participation from 32 to 60 by the end of 2017

Ø  Increase workplace charging participation from 110 by the end of 2020

Ø  Purchase 10 new electric vehicles (approximately 15 percent of non-specialized vehicle purchases).

Ø  Install a minimum of two new electric vehicle charging stations.

Ø  In future years, the county anticipates to further green its fleet by either maintaining or accelerating the commitments outlined for 2017.

  • Sonoma County in California is continuing its commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions through integrating plug-in electric vehicles into the County’s Fleet, expanding the electric vehicle charging infrastructure necessary to support these vehicles and encouraging public adoption of the technology. Since 2002 the County has achieved reductions in fuel usage of 191,417 gallons and 1,701.1 metric tons of CO2 produced.  Sonoma County commits to:

Ø  Purchase 20 new electric vehicles for the County fleet by the end of 2017 and 6 new electric vehicles by the end of 2019.

Ø  Install 23 new Fleet-use only electric vehicle charging ports by 2018 and 12 public electric vehicle charging ports spanning 3 different sites by 2018.

  • Ulster County, New York, has committed to reducing GHG emissions from County government operations 25 percent by 2025. In order to reach this goal, Ulster is electrifying their fleet while simultaneously supporting the deployment of electric vehicles throughout the region. In 2015, Ulster County passed aGreen Fleet Policy requiring 5 percent of the fleet be alternative fuel vehicles by 2020. Ulster County will meet its 5 percent goal in 2017, three years ahead of the 2020 target. After 2020, Ulster commits to purchase 20 percent of new fleet vehicles on an annual basis as alternative fuel or green vehicles. Toward their effort of implementing this policy, Ulster County has deployed 4 PHEV sedans and ordered 4 additional PHEVs in 2016. The county commits to purchase an additional 10 PHEVs and 1 BEV in 2017. Ulster County has been a partner in the U.S. DOE Workplace Charging Challenge since 2015 and offers free workplace charging to 97% of its employees. The County commits to continuing to support tourists and its employees and install an additional six electric vehicle charging stations in 2017.

 

Obama Administration Implements New Actions to Bring Clean Energy Savings to All Americans

Solar energy array, Greece. Even as President Obama works to make clean, renewable energy readily available for all Americans, the incoming Trump Administration is likely to reverse course in favor of boosting fossil fuels. © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Solar energy array, Greece. Even as President Obama works to make clean, renewable energy readily available for all Americans, the incoming Trump Administration is likely to reverse course in favor of boosting fossil fuels. © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Even as President Obama works frantically in the closing days of his administration to facilitate a transition to clean, renewable energy in order to address the climate change crisis, the incoming occupier Donald Trump has called Climate Change a hoax perpetrated by China to weaken the US economy, and has promised to ease the way for domestic oil and gas production and coal mining. 

The news that the largest domestic oil & gas field in US history has just been unearthed in Texas by the US Geological Survey – 20 billion gallons ($900B worth) – means that, with Trump controlling energy policy, the US is doomed to global-warming carbon economy for the foreseeable future, or until earth is rendered uninhabitable by climate change. What do you bet Trump will cancel any incentive to clean energy?

Meanwhile, Obama has been working frantically to raise the threshold of clean, renewable energy. Here is the latest (possibly final) initiative. One wonders whether Trump will reverse it, just because he can. 

This fact sheet is from the White House (and should stand as a reminder of all that we are about to lose):

FACT SHEET: OBAMA ADMINISTRATION ANNOUNCES NEW ACTIONS TO BRING CLEAN ENERGY SAVINGS TO ALL AMERICANS

Through President Obama’s Clean Energy Savings for All Initiative and beyond, we are making progress opening up opportunities for all American’s to go solar and retrofit their homes and businesses to be more energy efficient. Since President Obama took office, the amount of electricity we generate from the sun has increased more than 30 fold, we added solar jobs 12 times faster than the rest of the economy, and we’ve cut the price of residential solar energy systems more than 50 percent. In fact, earlier this week the U.S. Department of Energy’s SunShot program announced a new target to cut the cost of solar in half by 2030. At the same time, energy consumption in 2015 was 1.5 percent lower than it was in 2008, while the economy grew by 10 percent over the same period. And we have improved the energy efficiency of more than one million low and moderate income homes.

Today, in coordination with a White House Clean Energy Savings for All Summit in Baltimore, Maryland hosted by Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz and Labor Secretary Tom Perez, the Obama Administration is taking the following new actions:

Launching a Challenge to Bring Solar Energy to Dozens of Low and Moderate Income Communities: The U.S. Department of Energy’s SunShot Initiative is launching a new Solar In Your Community challenge to expand solar access to Americans who have been left out of the growing solar market, including low- and moderate-income (LMI) households, state, local and tribal governments, and non-profit organizations. One hundred teams across the country will compete for cash prizes and technical assistance as they demonstrate innovative business and financial models that expand solar access to under-served groups. The teams with the most scalable, replicable solar business models will be eligible to win $1 million in final prizes, including a $500,000 grand prize. This challenge will reduce market barriers to solar deployment by spurring dozens of projects across the nation, with an emphasis on new and emerging solar markets. The challenge will help to achieve President Obama’s goal to bring 1 gigawatt (GW) of solar to low and moderate income families by 2020, test new business models that expand solar access, build local capacity to support community-scale solar projects, and establish resources that will aid in expanding solar access to underserved communities.

Growing the Reach And Impact of the Obama Administration’s National Community Solar Partnership: Last July, the Administration launched the National Community Solar Partnership—a collaborative effort between DOE, HUD, USDA, EPA, representatives from solar companies, NGOs, and state and community leaders —which works to unlock access to solar for the nearly 50 percent of households and businesses that are renters or do not have adequate roof space to install solar systems, in particular, for low- and moderate- income communities. Since we launched the partnership last year, more than 150 companies, organizations, and universities that represent 36 states have joined the effort to increase access to community solar, growing the number of members to 155, including the following 27 new partners joining today:

  • C2 Special Situations Group – New York
  • Center for Sustainable Communities – Georgia
  • Clean Energy States Alliance – Vermont
  • Connexus Energy – Minnesota
  • Elemental Energy, Inc. – Oregon
  • Energy Alabama – Alabama
  • Energy Outreach Colorado – Colorado
  • Energy Solidarity Cooperative – California
  • Environment Georgia – Georgia
  • Great Plains Institute – Minnesota
  • ICAST – Colorado
  • Imani Energy, Inc. – Delaware
  • Metropolitan Area Planning Council – Massachusetts
  • Minnesota Department of Commerce – Minnesota
  • MN Community Solar – Minnesota
  • Monadnock Sustainability Network – New Hampshire
  • Nebraskans for Solar – Nebraska
  • North Carolina Clean Energy Technology Center – North Carolina
  • Novel Energy Solutions – Minnesota
  • Placer Consulting Services LLC – Tennessee
  • Reneu Energy – New York
  • Rhode Island Office of Energy Resources – Rhode Island
  • Rural Communities Housing Development Corporation – California
  • Solar Site Design – Tennessee
  • Sunvestment Group, LLC – New York
  • Tralee Capital Partners – Colorado
  • West Virginia Solar Systems – West Virginia

Issuing Best Practices for Promoting the Development of Smart Residential PACE Financing Programs that ProtectConsumers: Today, DOE is releasing updated Best Practice Guidelines for Residential PACE Financing Programs. The guidelines provide best practices that can help state and local governments, PACE program administrators, and their partners to plan and implement programs that effectively deliver clean energy, water efficiency, and related upgrades to consumers. The updated best practices reflect input gained from over 200 comments on draft guidelines released for public review earlier this summer. The new guidelines include additional protections for consumers who voluntarily opt into PACE programs and lenders who hold mortgages on properties with PACE assessments. DOE also provides additional guidelines and program design recommendations to help ensure PACE financing is used appropriately and at the lowest cost for low-income households that otherwise meet program eligibility criteria. DOE will continue supporting state and local governments in incorporating the guidelines into PACE statutes and regulations as they are developed and modified. Additional information about PACE financing and technical assistance available at DOE can be found at their State and Local Solution Center. The best practices build on the PACE financing guidance issued by the Federal Housing Administration and Department of Veterans Affairs this summer.

Announcing a New Partnership to Help Improve Energy Efficiency in HUD-Assisted and Public Housing: This summer, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development began partnering with EDF Climate Corps fellows to promote utility benchmarking of HUD-Assisted and Public Housing.  The fellows will be embedded with organizations across the country to offer assistance in analyzing and documenting portfolio-wide energy usage and developing strategies to improve energy performance and reduce operating costs.

Creating a Clean Energy Compact between the Department of Energy and Historically Black Colleges and Universities to Forge a Workforce and Community Investment Program: As the energy industry continues to transform, the U.S. Department of Energy is working with Historically Black Colleges and Universities to establish the Historically Black Colleges and Universities Clean Energy Coalition (HBCU-CEC).  The goal is to strategically engage the nation’s HBCUs in the adoption of energy efficiency, solar and other renewable energies on campus and within the communities where HBCUs are located, primarily populated by low and moderate income individuals and families.  Collectively, the coalition, with technical assistance from the Department of Energy, led by the Energy Jobs Strategy Council and the Office of Economic Impact and Diversity, will forge a workforce and community investment program focusing on energy education and awareness, low and moderate income solar deployment, building energy efficiency, job creation, jobs skills training, utility costs savings, and reduction in environmental impacts.  These efforts will help to position HBCUs as demonstrated leaders in deploying clean energy in low and moderate income communities while insuring the community benefits from resultant economic and social opportunities.

 

Climate Action: 200 Countries Agree to Phase-Out Major Greenhouse Gas, With Aim to Avoid Half Degree of Global Warming

 

President Obama: The Montreal Protocol, phasing out hydrofluorocarbons together with the Paris Climate Agreement “show that, while diplomacy is never easy, we can work together to leave our children a planet that is safer, more prosperous, more secure, and more free than the one that was left for us.” © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
President Obama: The Montreal Protocol, phasing out hydrofluorocarbons together with the Paris Climate Agreement “show that, while diplomacy is never easy, we can work together to leave our children a planet that is safer, more prosperous, more secure, and more free than the one that was left for us.” © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

With all the focus on the circus the Donald Trump campaign has made of the Presidential Election, people are likely unaware that important things are being accomplished by President Obama who is very much not a lameduck. Today, nearly 200 countries signed on to the Montreal Protocol, which furthers the crucial climate action goal of not just stemming global warming, but has the potential to reduce warming by a half-degree through phasing out the production and use of hydrofluorocarbons, a super polluting greenhouse gas.

Here is the President’s statement and a White House Fact Sheet:

Statement by the President on the Montreal Protocol

For several years, the United States has worked tirelessly to find a global solution to phasing down the production and consumption of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). This super polluting greenhouse gas, used in air conditioners and refrigeration, can be hundreds to thousands of times more potent than carbon dioxide, and represents a rapidly growing threat to the health of our planet.

Today in Kigali, Rwanda, nearly 200 countries adopted an ambitious and far reaching solution to this looming crisis. Through the Montreal Protocol, a proven forum for solving environmental challenges like protecting the ozone layer, the world community has agreed to phase down the production and consumption of HFCs and avoid up to 0.5°C of warming by the end of the century – making a significant contribution towards achieving the goals we set in Paris. The plan provides financing to countries in need, so that new air conditioning and refrigeration technology can be available for their citizens. It shows that we can take action to protect our planet in a way that helps all countries improve the lives and livelihoods of their citizens.

Today’s agreement caps off a critical ten days in our global efforts to combat climate change. In addition to today’s amendment, countries last week crossed the threshold for the Paris Agreement to enter into force and reached a deal to constrain international aviation emissions. Together, these steps show that, while diplomacy is never easy, we can work together to leave our children a planet that is safer, more prosperous, more secure, and more free than the one that was left for us.

FACT SHEET: Nearly 200 Countries Reach Global Deal to Phase Down Potent Greenhouse Gases and Avoid Up to 0.5°C of Warming

Today, in another major milestone for international climate action, nearly 200 countries reached an agreement to phase down the potent greenhouse gases known as hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). At the 28th Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol in Kigali, Rwanda, countries adopted an amendment to phase down HFCs, committing to cut the production and consumption of HFCs by more than 80 percent over the next 30 years.  This global deal will avoid more than 80 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent by 2050 – equivalent to more than a decade of emissions from the entire U.S. economy – and could avoid up to 0.5°C of warming by the end of the century.  It reflects a significant contribution towards achieving the Paris Agreement goal to limit global temperature rise to well below 2°C.  Today’s accomplishment follows years of engagement and leadership by the Obama Administration and our partners towards adopting an amendment and provides further momentum to global efforts to address climate change.

The Montreal Protocol is the international agreement designed to protect the ozone layer by phasing out the production and consumption of numerous substances that are responsible for ozone depletion, many of which are also potent greenhouse gases, and it is considered by many to be the most successful environmental treaty in history.  While the Montreal Protocol successfully phased out ozone-depleting substances and put the ozone layer on the path to a full recovery, it led to a shift towards HFCs.  Like the substances they replaced, HFCs are potent greenhouse gases that can be hundreds to thousands of times more potent than carbon dioxide in contributing to climate change.  HFCs are used in numerous applications, including refrigeration and air conditioning.  As safer chemicals continue to be developed, they can replace HFCs in these uses.  If left unchecked, global HFC emissions could grow to be equivalent to 19 percent of total carbon dioxide emissions in 2050 under a business-as-usual scenario.  However, today’s amendment will prevent that from happening by ensuring that countries begin to phase down HFCs starting in 2019, with subsequent reductions on a clear timeline that will lead to more than an 80 percent reduction in HFCs globally by 2047.

Key Elements of the Montreal Protocol Amendment to Address HFCs 

  • Innovative and Flexible Structure:  The amendment will lead to strong near-term action, with phase-down obligations for all countries: starting with a 2024 freeze for the vast majority of Article 5 Parties (i.e., developing countries that meet certain criteria, including China) and a first reduction in 2019 for most Article 2 Parties (i.e., all other countries, including the United States). 
  • Ambitious Phasedown Schedule:  The amendment establishes a rapid pathway for the phasedown, with most Article 2 Parties reducing HFCs by 10 percent by 2019 and by 85 percent by 2036 relative to production and consumption levels in 2011-2013.  The vast majority of Article 5 Parties – including China and Latin American, African, and island nations – will follow soon after on a similar trajectory, with a freeze by 2024 and then ultimately a reduction of 80 percent by 2045 relative to production and consumption levels in 2020-2022.  In addition, Parties came together to accommodate the national circumstances of a small number of countries by agreeing to flexibilities to meet the demands of a global HFC phase-down.  This small group of countries will freeze their consumption by 2028. 
  • Incentive for Earlier Action:  A group of donor countries and philanthropists announced last month their intent to provide $80 million in support to help Article 5 countries take early action to implement an ambitious amendment and improve energy efficiency.  These funds will be provided to Article 5 countries that have chosen the freeze date of 2024. 
  • Broad Participation:  The Montreal Protocol was the first treaty in the history of the United Nations to achieve universal ratification, and we expect such broad participation to continue under the amendment to address HFCs.  Today’s agreement was reached by consensus, and its provisions that restrict trade in HFCs with non-Parties will act as a powerful incentive for all countries to join. 
  • Enforcement and Accountability:  The Montreal Protocol’s accountability processes ensure regular reporting and robust review, and its efforts to help countries facing implementation problems come into compliance has historically enabled all countries to achieve the reductions agreed.
  • Multiple Opportunities to Increase Ambition:  The amendment calls for periodic reviews every five years, during which a technical panel will assess the pace of technology development and adoption in affected sectors in order to allow countries to consider phase-down commitments and any needed adjustments.  Such periodic reviews represent opportunities to ratchet up ambition.  Indeed, the Montreal Protocol has been adjusted several times to accelerate the phase-out of ozone-depleting substances.  In addition, experience shows that once the world begins a transition away from polluting substances, many countries are actually able to go faster relative to the originally scheduled reductions.

Today’s amendment builds on strong action on HFCs that the United States has already taken domestically.  Notably, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has finalized two rules under its Significant New Alternatives Policy program to prohibit the use of certain HFCs where safer and more climate-friendly alternatives are available.  In parallel, EPA has also listed as acceptable additional climate-friendly alternatives to expand the options for businesses to use, and has finalized a rule that strengthens existing refrigerant management rules for ozone-depleting refrigerants and applies those same requirements to HFCs.  In addition, the White House has held two summits at which private-sector commitments to reduce the use and emissions of HFCs were announced.  Taken together, the private-sector commitments and executive actions announced to date will slash U.S. reliance on HFCs and reduce cumulative global consumption of these greenhouse gases by the equivalent of more than 1 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent through 2025.

 

Dueling Candidates: Hillary Clinton Sees Energy Policy as Climate Action, Donald Trump Touts ‘America First Energy Plan’

Dueling candidates: Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton have diametrically opposed energy plans © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Dueling candidates: Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton have diametrically opposed energy plans © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The contrast between the candidates’ ideas for energy could not be starker. Hillary Clinton recognizes that energy policy is critical climate action (saving the planet and human habitability), seeing the potential for economic revolution and jobs creation through making the US the world leader in the emerging clean, renewable energy industry. Donald Trump, who never mentions climate change except to say it is a “hoax” perpetrated by China, frames his “America First Energy Plan” as unleashing production of fossil fuels – properly presenting it as “USA, USA and the rest of the planet be damned.” Keep in mind, the US is 5% of the world’s population but is responsible for 25% of the planet’s carbon emissions that are already rendering island nations virtually uninhabitable. China may be close, but it also has four times the population and, in face of choking, debilitating air pollution, is already implementing its agreement to reduce emissions. Here are their campaigns’ own statements about their plans. – Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features.

Clinton Has A Plan To Combat Climate Change

Hillary Clinton, first woman to head the Democratic ticket for President, takes a victory lap at a rally in Westbury, Long Island following a triumphant first debate, at Hofstra © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Hillary Clinton, first woman to head the Democratic ticket for President, takes a victory lap at a rally in Westbury, Long Island following a triumphant first debate, at Hofstra © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Hillary Clinton believes climate change is an urgent threat and a defining challenge of our time. That’s why she’s released a bold plan to make the United States the clean energy superpower of the 21st Century, create millions of good-paying jobs across the country, save families money on their energy bills, and ensure that no community is left out or left behind in the clean energy economy, from coal country to Indian country to our inner cities.

Her strategy calls for three goals to achieve within ten years of taking office:

  • Generate half of our electricity from clean sources, with half a billion solar panels installed by the end of her first term.
  • Cut energy waste in American homes, schools, hospitals and offices by a third and make American manufacturing the cleanest and most efficient in the world.
  • Reduce American oil consumption by a third through cleaner fuels and more efficient cars, boilers, ships and trucks.

Clinton has long fought for clean energy and measures to curb climate change:

  • As Secretary of State, she built an unprecedented global effort to combat climate change, making it a key U.S. foreign policy priority, and with President Obama achievedthe key diplomatic breakthrough that yielded the first international climate agreement in which major developing countries like China, India, and Brazil committed to reduce their GHG pollution.
  • She has praised the Paris climate agreement, calling it a “testament to America’s ability to lead the world in building a clean energy future where no one is left out or left behind.”
  • TIME op-ed: America Must Lead at Paris Climate Talks — “As Secretary of State, I put combating climate change on the agenda for my first trip to Beijing and kept it there over the next four years. I appointed the first high-level special envoy for climate change and led an international effort to launch the Climate and Clean Air Coalition to reduce so-called “super pollutants” that make up just a fraction of emissions, but drive a disproportionate share of warming. As President, I will protect and build on the progress President Obama has made at home.”
  • As Senator, she twiceintroduced the Strategic Energy Fund Act to prioritize investment in smarter energy and extend tax credits for ethanol, wind, and other renewable energy sources. The Strategic Energy Fund Act would have eliminated key tax breaks for oil and gas companies. She also introduced a measure that was signed into law requiring the Pentagon to address the risks of climate change in its strategic planning.
  • She worked with Senate colleagues of all stripes to confront these challenges, teaming upwith Bernie Sanders to create job training opportunities in the clean energy industry, and working with Jim Inhofe to expand alternative energy use in federal buildings.
  • She worked with Senator Chuck Schumer on legislation calling for the study and potential creation of a national heritage area surrounding Niagara Falls. Following the release of the study, the Niagara Falls National Heritage Area was established in 2008. She workedwith Carl Levin to safeguard wildlife and promote sound water management in the Great Lakes region, and she consistently fought against opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling.

While Clinton believes the U.S. must act to tackle climate change, Donald Trump is burying his head in the sand by claiming it’s a hoax.

DONALD J. TRUMP’S AMERICA FIRST ENERGY PLAN

Donald Trump addresses New York State Conservative Party in New York City © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Donald Trump addresses New York State Conservative Party in New York City © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Donald J. Trump’s Vision On Energy

Mr. Trump’s America First Energy Plan will make America energy independent, create millions of new jobs, and protect clean air and clean water. We will conserve our natural habitats, reserves and resources. And we will unleash an energy revolution that will bring vast new wealth to our country.

We must make American energy dominance a strategic economic and foreign policy goal of the United States. President Obama’s anti-energy orders have weakened our security, by keeping us reliant on foreign sources of energy. Every dollar of energy we don’t explore here, is a dollar of energy that makes someone else rich over there. Imagine a world in which our foes, and the oil cartels, can no longer use energy as a weapon.

America will become, and stay, totally independent of any need to import energy from the OPEC cartel or any nations hostile to our interests. And at the same time, we will work with our Gulf allies to develop a positive energy relationship as part of our anti-terrorism strategy.

Mr. Trump’s plan is an “all of the above” energy plan that encourages the use of natural gas and other American energy resources. It reduces emissions, the price of energy, and increases our economic output. In addition, we will decrease residential and transportation energy costs, leaving more money for American families as they pay less each month on power bills and gasoline for cars. Electricity will be more affordable for U.S. manufacturers, which will help our companies create jobs, and heaper energy will boost American agriculture.

An America First Energy plan will make the choice of sharing in our great American energy wealth, over sharing in the poverty promised by Hillary Clinton. We will engage in energy exploration which will create a resurgence in American manufacturing, dramatically reducing both our trade deficit and our budget deficit. The Trump plan will end the war on the American worker, putting our coal miners and steel workers back to work.

This new direction will end all job-destroying Obama executive actions as well as reduce and eliminate all barriers to responsible energy production. We must support coal production, safe hydraulic fracturing, and allow energy production on federal lands in appropriate areas. It is also time to open up vast areas of our offshore energy resources for safe production.

The Trump plan will use the revenues from energy production to reduce our debt, rebuild our inner cities, roads, schools, bridges and public infrastructure. It will ensure a reliable, streamlined regulatory and permitting process for energy infrastructure projects to be completed on time and on budget. We commit to solving real environmental problems in our communities like the need for clean and safe drinking water. Most importantly, American workers will be the ones building this new infrastructure.

Mr. Trump’s 100-Day Action Plan

Mr. Trump will rescind all the job-destroying Obama executive actions including the Climate Action Plan and the Waters of the U.S. rule.

Mr. Trump will ask TransCanada to renew its permit application for the Keystone Pipeline.

Mr. Trump will lift moratoriums on energy production in federal areas

Mr. Trump will revoke policies that impose unwarranted restrictions on new drilling technologies. These technologies will create millions of jobs with a smaller footprint than ever before.

Mr. Trump will cancel the Paris Climate Agreement and stop all payments of U.S. tax dollars to U.N. global warming programs.

Any regulation that is outdated, unnecessary, bad for workers, or contrary to the national interest will be scrapped. Mr. Trump will also eliminate duplication, provide regulatory certainty, and trust local officials and local residents.

Any future regulation will go through a simple test: Is this regulation good for the American worker? If it doesn’t pass this test, the rule will not be approved.