Tag Archives: climate change

New Yorkers Among Multitudes in Cities Around the World Marching for Science on Earth Day

Science is Golden. Marchers for Science pass in front of Trump International Hotel, NYC © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features

Tens of thousands of people in Washington DC and 600 cities around the world on Earth Day, April 22, joined in the first-ever global March for Science, co-organized by the Earth Day Network.

“We’ve just lived through the three hottest years on record, and yet, we continue to see policymakers politicize climate change, roll it back, and ignore it,” stated Kishore Hari, one of the March for Science organizers. “We need to show policymakers that we will not be complacent as they make cuts to life-saving scientific research. That’s why it’s important for us to show up in big numbers and prove that we will not let science be ignored.

“Scientific discovery and innovation are a critical part of our nation and our future — science extends our lives, protects our planet, puts food on our table, contributes to the economy, and allows us to communicate and collaborate with people around the world,” said Caroline Weinberg, National Co-Chair, March for Science. “Despite this fact, science and scientists, and evidence based policies are under attack. Policymakers threaten our present and future by ignoring scientific evidence when crafting policy, threatening scientific advancement through budget cuts, and limiting the public’s knowledge by silencing scientists. On April 22, scientists and science supporters will unite worldwide to protest these actions. Thousands of people in almost 500 cities around the world will march together in support of science’s role in society and policy and to ensure our future.”

March for Science, New York City © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“The March for Science is an unprecedented call to action for everyone who knows that science is essential to public health, global and economic security, and the livelihood of communities around the world,” said Christine McEntee, Executive Director & CEO, American Geophysical Union. “This moment is bigger than the scientific community. It is truly an important moment for all people, not just scientists, to make a strong statement in support of policy that is informed by evidence-based science, and to promote the free and open exchange of ideas, innovation and discovery, diversity and inclusion, and to stand up for the people and programs who make it possible.”

Here in New York City, some 20,000 joined the march which extended from Central Park West down to Times Square, with the loudest cheers and jeers recorded as the marchers passed by the Trump International Hotel across from the entrance to Central Park.

“This is what intelligence looks like.” They chanted.

“Hey hey what do you say, let’s all save the EPA.”

Grab ‘em by the Data © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Signs were hand-drawn but heart-felt: “Data, Not Deceit.” “Make America Smart Again.” “Science, Saving Humanity Since 1612.” “Science, not Silence” “Science is like Magic but Real.”

“You Can’t Spell Existence Without Science.”  “A Planet is a Terrible Thing to Waste.”

“Don’t Acid Rain on My Parade.” “More Science. Less Fear.”

Indeed, at the rally that preceded the march, several speakers – including scientists and science teachers – thanked the science community for saving their life.

Some of the public school speakers at the March for Science, New York City © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Several pre-teen girls and boys from the city’s public schools extolled the value of science education, of science that has made America the great innovator in the world, responsible for the Internet, driverless cars and manned spaceflight, and lectured the government officials on the importance of funding education and innovation.

“The progress we have made would not have happened without science,” one said. “Einstein. Tesla. Anything created came from science. Our parents, our doctors use science. Medicine was created by science. Everything is Science.”

“Science is everything that happens in this world” © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Lily Beshell, a young girl straining on a crate to reach the microphone, who proudly declared herself to be one of the “black girls who code,” said, “Science is everything that happens in this world – even when you drop a pencil. That may not be so exciting, but if you think how the pencil drops – by gravity. “

Ferdinand, representing the STEM Teachers of NYC and one of 150 marching today, said he is a prostate cancer survivor whose life was saved by science. “Learning how to do science is important for all kids – they gain knowledge and power over their lives. They use evidence, not opinion or heresay or authority, to decide how to think about the world.”

An 18-year old, working in stem cell research at the Centers for Excellence in Youth Education program at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, said he had developed a passion for mitigating the effect of global climate change, “the greatest threat, and I hope to be part of the solution.

Here, thanks to Science © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“Hundreds of years ago, it was believed that evil spirits and bad air caused sickness. Today we now know disease is caused by microbes and we have developed cures.”

Debbie Lee Cohen of Cafeteria Culture – also a cancer survivor – teaches scientific principles through creating things, like the massive puppets built out of toxic, polluting Styrofoam plates that were used to convince the City Council to ban them from school lunches.

Teaching through doing: Debbie Lee Cohen of Cafeteria Culture, has kids create giant puppets out of cafeteria styrofoam to demonstrate public health hazard of environmental pollution © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“We need science to show how environmental protection is linked to public health. We need the US EPA to protect our health, NOAA, NASA, we need publicly funded science for basic survival. Climate crises are affecting us, especially kids. Science is fundamental to a healthy democracy, a healthy planet for all.”

Ross Cagen, a professor at Mount Sinai working on next-gen cancer therapies, said, “We are part of the greatest scientific community the world has ever seen. We value knowledge, discovery, facts [rolling cheers through the crowd for “facts”]; use evidence to make basic decisions, we value diversity.

“In a world where standing up for scientific evidence is suddenly a political act, curing disease is losing its standing as a priority…. Let’s march.”

“These are scary times. I feel your anxiety, concerns. As scientists, we never wanted to merge science and politics. But that is happening to us.

“For parents with cancer scared for themselves and their children, science offers hope. The American population lives 30 years longer than years ago because of science…. We need courage to stand against those who would destroy our freedoms.

“In a world where standing up for scientific evidence is suddenly a political act, curing disease is losing its standing as a priority…. Let’s march.”

New York City March for Science organizers: Let the force be with you © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

And to the strains of Star Wars, and an invocation, “May the force be with you,” they set off down Broadway.

The New York City march was one of several hundred around the world in a global effort to push back against a political climate that has become increasingly hostile toward sound, evidence-based science and its value to society. The flagship event took place on the National Mall in Washington, DC.

Organizers have partnered with over 170 organizations to make an impact throughout the world, including Earth Day Network, American Geophysical Union, National Science Teachers Association, and Carnegie Science. (A full list of partner organizations can be found here.)

“Make America Smart Again” © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“We are thrilled by the outpouring of support from museums, aquaria, scientific societies, NGOs, universities, religious groups and citizen science organizations,” said Ayana Elizabeth Johnson, Co-Director of Partnerships, March for Science. “This grassroots movement — with 198 partner organizations (and counting!) — represents a broad, diverse, and inclusive coalition in support of science and evidence-based policy making.”

“An ethical science is meaningful to us all and its role in our communities, our homes and policy making should be protected and celebrated,” said Kristian Aloma, Director, March for Science Chicago. “Chicago is a science city, and we look forward to joining communities throughout the world marching in support of science that can help answer the important questions that affect us all.”

Fact: We Are Made of Stars. Your Science Today. Our Jobs Tomorrow. © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“Defending science, innovation, and discovery is an absolute must in every community throughout the world,” said Claudio Paganini, Organizer, March for Science Berlin. “We are proud to join each of the marches on April 22 to say in one, unified, global voice that science is essential to our futures.”

More information is at www.marchforscience.com.

Trump Earth Day Message Fails to Mention Climate Change

I’m not a Zoologist but I know that’s a Cheatah © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

As if to confirm the protesters’ worst fears, Trump released a statement for Earth Day which did not mention Climate Change, but did emphasize prioritizing the economy over environment.

“Our Nation is blessed with abundant natural resources and awe-inspiring beauty.  Americans are rightly grateful for these God-given gifts and have an obligation to safeguard them for future generations.  My Administration is committed to keeping our air and water clean, to preserving our forests, lakes, and open spaces, and to protecting endangered species.

“Real News. Lying President.” New Yorkers March for Science © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“Economic growth enhances environmental protection.  We can and must protect our environment without harming America’s working families.  That is why my Administration is reducing unnecessary burdens on American workers and American companies, while being mindful that our actions must also protect the environment.

Dump responsibly © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“Rigorous science is critical to my Administration’s efforts to achieve the twin goals of economic growth and environmental protection.  My Administration is committed to advancing scientific research that leads to a better understanding of our environment and of environmental risks.  As we do so, we should remember that rigorous science depends not on ideology, but on a spirit of honest inquiry and robust debate.

“This April 22nd, as we observe Earth Day, I hope that our Nation can come together to give thanks for the land we all love and call home,” Trump’s statement read.

______________________

© 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

Trump Issues ‘Energy Independence Policy’ Dismantling Obama’s Clean Power Plan

Black smoke spews from burner. Donald Trump announced “Energy Independence Policy” aimed at reversing the transition to clean, renewable energy in favor of fossil fuels © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Today, Donald Trump took steps to dismantle President Obama’s Clean Power Plan, aimed at reducing climate-changing carbon emissions that are warming the planet, resulting in melting icecaps at the Arctic and Antarctic, rising sea levels that are making island nations and coastal communities uninhabitable, contributing to catastrophic weather events that are producing floods and famine and triggering millions of climate refugees, and was incentivizing a transition to a clean, renewable energy economy and away from a society run on fossil fuel. Trump claimed it would save money and reinvigorate the coal industry, restoring jobs to coal miners. But you pay now or later in terms of repairing infrastructure, not to mention the public health impacts of air and water pollution, wildfires, heat exhaustion, and so forth. Trump is pitching it as “energy independence policy” but the US already is becoming energy independent and there are far more people permanently employed in an emerging clean energy industry than there are coal miners.

In the announcement, the White House made sure to emphasize how Trump is fulfilling a campaign promise, giving the beleaguered Donald a “win.” But instead of it being an American Energy Independence Policy, it is an American Dependence on Fossil Fuel Energy Policy. It will be up to states like California and New York, whose governors’ announced a commitment to continuing to meet or exceed the Clean Power Plan targets.

Here are the details from the White House on Trump’s “Energy Independence Policy.” – Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features

“I am going to lift the restrictions on American energy, and allow this wealth to pour into our communities.” – Donald J. Trump

 MUCH NEEDED REFORM: The past Administration burdened Americans with costly regulations that harmed American jobs and energy production.

  • The previous Administration’s Clean Power Plan could cost up to $39 billion a year and increase electricity prices in 41 States by at least ten percent, according to NERA Economic Consulting.
  • The Clean Power Plan would cause coal production to fall by 242 million tons, according to the National Mining Association.
  • 27 states, 24 trade associations, 37 rural electric co-ops, and 3 labor unions are challenging the Clean Power Plan in Federal court.

 AMERICAN ENERGY INDEPENDENCE: President Donald J. Trump’s Energy Independence Policy Executive Order reverses the regulations on American jobs and energy production.

  • President Trump’s Executive Order directs the Environmental Protection Agency to suspend, revise, or rescind four actions related to the Clean Power Plan that would stifle the American energy industry.

o   President Trump’s Executive Order directs the Attorney General to seek appropriate relief from the courts over pending litigation related to the Clean Power Plan.

  • President Trump’s Executive Order rescinds Executive and Agency actions centered on the previous administration’s climate change agenda that have acted as a road block to energy independence.

o   President Trump’s Executive Order lifts the ban on Federal leasing for coal production.

o   President Trump’s Executive Order lifts job-killing restrictions on the production of oil, natural gas, and shale energy.

  • President Trump’s Executive Order directs all agencies to conduct a review of existing actions that harm domestic energy production and suspend, revise, or rescind actions that are not mandated by law.

o   Within 180 days, agencies must finalize their plans.

  • President Trump’ Executive Order directs agencies to use the best available science and economics in regulatory analysis, which was not utilized by the previous administration.

o   It disbands the Interagency Working Group (IWG) on the Social Cost of Greenhouse Gases.

  • By revisiting the federal overreach on energy regulation, President Trump is returning power to the states – where it belongs.

FREEING AMERICA’S POTENTIAL: President Trump has worked tirelessly to free American industry and ingenuity from the constraints of Government overreach.

  • President Trump has signed four pieces of legislation to clear burdensome and costly regulations on energy production from the previous Administration.
  • President Trump has required that for every new Federal regulation, two existing regulations be eliminated.
  • President Trump has directed each agency to establish a Regulatory Reform Task Force to identify costly and unnecessary regulations in need of modification or repeal.
  • President Trump has directed the Department of Commerce to streamline Federal permitting processes for domestic manufacturing and to reduce regulatory burdens on domestic manufacturers.
  • President Trump signed legislation, House Joint Resolution 38, to prevent the burdensome “Stream Protection Rule” from causing further harm to the coal industry.
  • President Trump ordered the review of the “Clean Water Rule: Definition of Waters of the United States,” known as the WOTUS rule, to evaluate whether it is stifling economic growth or job creation.
  • President Trump signed a Presidential Memorandum and gave a Presidential permit to clear roadblocks to construct the Keystone XL Pipeline.
  • President Trump signed a Presidential Memorandum declaring that the Dakota Access Pipeline serves the national interest and initiating the process to complete its construction.

FULFILLING HIS PROMISE: By taking action on the Clean Power Plan, President Trump is fulfilling his promise to the American people.

  • As a candidate, Mr. Trump promised “we will eliminate… the Clean Power Plan—these unilateral plans will increase monthly electric bills by double-digits without any measurable improvement in the climate.”

 

NYS, California Governors Reaffirm Commitment to Exceed Clean Power Plan Targets as Trump Moves to Dismantle

New York State Governor Andrew M. Cuomo standing by plan to create largest offshore wind farm in the US. Cuomo and California Governor Edmund G. Brown reaffirmed commitment to exceeding President Obama’s Clean Power Plan targets in face of Trump’s plan to dismantle the regulations, in order to reinvigorate the coal industry © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

With the announcement that the United States will begin to dismantle the Clean Power Plan, New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and California Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. today issued the following statement reaffirming their ongoing commitment to exceed the targets of the Clean Power Plan and curb carbon pollution:

“Dismantling the Clean Power Plan and other critical climate programs is profoundly misguided and shockingly ignores basic science. With this move, the Administration will endanger public health, our environment and our economic prosperity.
 
“Climate change is real and will not be wished away by rhetoric or denial. We stand together with a majority of the American people in supporting bold actions to protect our communities from the dire consequences of climate change.
 
“Together, California and New York represent approximately 60 million people – nearly one-in-five Americans – and 20 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product. With or without Washington, we will work with our partners throughout the world to aggressively fight climate change and protect our future.”

New York and California lead the nation in ground-breaking policies to combat climate change. Both states – which account for roughly 10 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States – have adopted advanced energy efficiency and renewable energy programs to meet and exceed the requirements of the Clean Power Plan and have set some of the most aggressive greenhouse gas emission reduction targets in North America – 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030 and 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050. New York and California will continue to work closely together – and with other states – to help fill the void left by the federal government.

New York’s Climate Leadership

Greenhouse Gas Emission Reductions: Established ambitious greenhouse gas emission reduction targets to reduce emissions 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030 and 80 percent by 2050. These targets have made New York a leader across the country in fighting climate change.

Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI): Spearheaded the formation of the successful RGGI cap-and-trade program between northeast and mid-Atlantic states, led effort to reduce RGGI’s carbon emission cap by 45 percent in 2014, and recently called for an additional cap reduction of at least 30 percent between 2020 and 2030.

Reforming the Energy Vision: Established a comprehensive energy strategy to make the vision for a clean, resilient, and affordable energy system a reality, while actively spurring energy innovation, attracting new jobs, and improving consumer choice.

Clean Energy Standard: Established the most comprehensive and ambitious clean energy mandate in the state’s history, requiring that 50 percent of electricity in New York come from renewable energy sources like wind and solar by 2030.

Clean Energy Fund: Established a $5 billion fund that is jump-starting clean-tech innovation, mobilizing private investment, capitalizing the nation’s largest Green Bank, and helping eliminate market barriers to make clean energy scalable and affordable for all New Yorkers.

Coal-Free New York: Committed to close or repower all coal-burning power plants in New York to cleaner fuel sources by 2020.

Offshore Wind: Approved the nation’s largest wind energy project off the Long Island coast in 2017 and made an unprecedented commitment to develop up to 2.4 gigawatts of offshore wind power by 2030.

Governor Andrew Cuomo with Long Island Power Authority CEO Tom Falcone. LIPA is moving forward with its first offshore wind project © 2017 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

California’s Climate Leadership

Greenhouse Gas Emission Reductions: Established ambitious greenhouse gas emission reduction targets to reduce emissions 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030 and 80 percent by 2050. These targets have made California a leader across the country in fighting climate change.

Cap-and-Trade: Established the most comprehensive carbon market in North America, investing more than $2.6 billion from the Cap-and-Trade program in programs and projects that reduce emissions and support communities disadvantaged by pollution.

Renewable Energy: Established landmark targets that require at least 33 percent of California’s electricity comes from renewable energy sources by 2020, and 50 percent by 2030.

Energy Efficiency: Established targets that double the rate of energy efficiency savings in California buildings and require residential buildings to be Zero Net Energy by 2020, and all commercial buildings to be Zero Net Energy by 2030.

Super Pollutant Reduction: Established the nation’s toughest restrictions on destructive super pollutants, such as methane, black carbon, and hydrofluorocarbon gases.

Low Carbon Fuel Standard: Established requirements for producers of petroleum-based fuels to reduce the carbon intensity of their products, helping drive the replacement of fossil fuels with renewable natural gas and diesel, low-carbon ethanol, and clean electricity, giving consumers more clean fuel choices while driving significant clean fuel investment and creating new economic opportunities.

Zero Emission Vehicles: Established a program requiring increased sales of zero emission vehicles – a policy adopted by 10 states – resulting in more than 30 new models of clean and affordable vehicles that are reducing consumer gasoline and diesel costs. California also adopted North America’s first greenhouse gas emission car standards – later adopted as a national program – and adopted the nation’s first heavy-duty vehicle and trailer greenhouse gas emission reduction requirements, which led to similar national requirements.

These efforts complement New York and California’s ongoing efforts to broaden collaboration among subnational leaders on climate change, including through the Under2 Coalition – a pact among cities, states and countries around the world to limit the increase in global average temperature to below 2 degrees Celsius in order to avoid potentially catastrophic consequences. New York and California are among the Under2 Coalition’s 167 jurisdictions representing more than one billion people and $25.9 trillion in combined GDP – more than one-third of the global economy.

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.

 

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.

______________________________

© 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

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.

 

Obama Takes Historic Step To Address National Security Implications of Climate Change

Climate disasters like Superstorm Sandy pose a national security threat because they potentially could make 200 million people around the world climate refugees and put further stress on food and water supplies © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Climate disasters like Superstorm Sandy pose a national security threat because they potentially could make 200 million people around the world climate refugees and put further stress on food and water supplies © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“Climate change is an urgent and growing threat to our national security, contributing to increased natural disasters, refugee flows, and conflicts over basic resources like food and water. The present day effects of climate change are being felt from the Arctic to the Midwest. Increased sea levels and storm surges threaten coastal regions, infrastructure, and property. In turn, the global economy suffers, compounding the growing costs of preparing and restoring infrastructure.”  U.S. National Security Strategy, February 15, 2015

The White House issued a Fact Sheet on President Obama’s historic step to address national security implications of climate change:

On Sept. 21, President Obama signed a Presidential Memorandum (PM) on Climate Change and National Security, establishing a policy that the impacts of climate change must be considered in the development of national security-related doctrine, policies, and plans.  To achieve this, 20 Federal agencies and offices with climate science, intelligence analysis, and national security policy development missions and responsibilities will collaborate to ensure the best information on climate impacts is available to strengthen our national security. The Presidential Memorandum was released alongside a report from the National Intelligence Council identifying pathways through which climate change will likely pose significant national security challenges for the United States over the next two decades, including threatening the stability of other countries.

There is current and growing attention paid by national security experts to ways in which climate impacts are adversely affecting national security now, and will stress national security even more dramatically in the coming decades.  In addition to tackling the impacts from climate change by reducing emissions, there is a need for increased collaboration among the climate science, intelligence, and national security policy communities to prepare for the impacts that we can no longer avoid.

This announcement builds on steps the Obama Administration has already taken to address emerging national security challenges impacted by climate change. For example, because climate change in the Arctic will necessitate greater presence in the region’s open seas, the Administration proposed in 2015 to accelerate the acquisition of a replacement heavy icebreaker for the Arctic and began planning for the construction of additional icebreakers. This year, the Administration requested $150 million from Congress to accelerate production of a new Polar Icebreaker, and the Administration continues to call on Congress to provide this critical funding to the U.S. Coast Guard this year.

PRESIDENT OBAMA DIRECTS FEDERAL AGENCIES TO TAKE ACTION TO ADDRESS THE NATIONAL SECURITY IMPLICATIONS OF CLIMATE CHANGE

Today’s Presidential Memorandum adds an essential element to the President’s comprehensive approach to addressing climate change at all levels, providing the policy guidance and direction needed to ensure that climate risks are fully characterized and considered in our national security planning, through:

  • Establishing a dedicated Federal Climate and National Security Working Group, led by representatives from the National Security Council staff and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, and including over 20 Federal agencies and offices with climate science, intelligence, and national security responsibilities. The Working Group will identify the U.S. national security priorities related to climate change and national security, and develop methods to share climate science and intelligence information to inform national security policies and plans.
  • The Climate and National Security Working Group will create a Climate Change and National Security Action Plan within 90 days to identify specific steps that are required to perform the Working Group’s functions, which includes facilitating the exchange of climate data and information with the intelligence community and identifying gaps; recommending research guidelines concerning the Federal Government’s ability to detect climate intervention activities; identifying the most current information on regional, country, and geographic areas most vulnerable to current and projected impacts of climate variability for the next 30 years; and developing recommendations for the Secretary of State to help ensure that the work of U.S. embassies, including their planning processes, are better informed by relevant climate change-related analyses.
  • Directing individual agencies to develop Implementation Plansaddressing climate-related hazards and threats to national security; identifying economic considerations arising from the impacts of climate change globally and the resulting specific impacts on national security, human mobility (including migration and displacement), global water and food security, nutrition, public health, and infrastructure; identifying climate change-related risks to agency missions; and identifying risks that may be caused by agency policies, programs, and actions concerning international development objectives, fragility, and regional stability.

NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE COUNCIL RELEASES REPORT ON IMPLICATIONS FOR US NATIONAL SECURITY OF ANTICIPATED CLIMATE CHANGE

The National Intelligence Council released a report finding that the effects of climate change are  “likely to pose significant national security challenges for the United States over the next two decades,” including by stressing our military operations and bases. Globally, the report found that climate-related national security disruptions are underway now and climate change and its resulting effects are likely to pose wide-ranging national security challenges for the United States and other countries over the next 20 years through a number of pathways including:

  • Overwhelming a state’s capacity to respond or recover, its authority can be so undermined as to lead to large-scale political instability. In the most dramatic cases, state authority may collapse partially or entirely;
  • Decreasing water and disputes over access to arable land will increase the risk of conflict between people who share river basins, aquifers, or land areas;
  • Contributing to migrations that exacerbate social and political tensions, some of which could overwhelm host governments and population; and
  • Straining the capacity of US and allied armed forces to deliver humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.

“These effects will be especially pronounced as populations continue to concentrate in climate-vulnerable locations such as coastal areas, water-stressed regions, and ever-growing cities.

“While President Obama continues to pursue all practical actions to reduce harmful greenhouse gases and other carbon sources, it is important to evaluate and pursue the actions needed to identify the current and projected climate impacts on our national security, and develop actions to mitigate these impacts,” the White House stated in the fact sheet.

White House Announces 2016 GreenGov Presidential Awards, New Steps to Advance Federal Sustainability

The Smithsonian Institution, the world’s largest museum and research complex, received a 2016 GreenGov Presidential Award for reducing water use at its museums and the National Zoo by 54.5% since 2007, exceeding the Federal 26% reduction goal for FY 2020.  The Smithsonian accomplished this achievement by using sub meters and leak detectors to discover water waste, and by focusing on water efficient landscapes for iconic public buildings on the National Mall and at the National Zoo © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
The Smithsonian Institution, the world’s largest museum and research complex, received a 2016 GreenGov Presidential Award for reducing water use at its museums and the National Zoo by 54.5% since 2007, exceeding the Federal 26% reduction goal for FY 2020. The Smithsonian accomplished this achievement by using sub meters and leak detectors to discover water waste, and by focusing on water efficient landscapes for iconic public buildings on the National Mall and at the National Zoo © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“Since taking office, President Obama has taken unprecedented steps to address climate change and protect our planet for future generations. Building on the President’s historic action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and build a clean energy economy, the Administration has sought to lead by example, investing in Federal sustainability to improve environmental, energy and economic performance across the Federal government,” the White House stated in a fact sheet announcing the 2016 GreenGov Presidential Awards, along with new initiatives to advance federal sustainability.

“With 343,000 buildings, 630,000 fleet vehicles, and $438 billion in annual purchasing power, the government has taken significant steps to operate more efficiently across the board.”

Here is the fact sheet:

Today, in recognition of the progress our Federal agencies have made, the White House announced the winners of the 2016 GreenGov Presidential Awards, honoring those who have gone above and beyond to implement innovative sustainability projects within the government. Senior Administration officials will recognize the 12 individuals and team winners today in a ceremony at the White House.

The Administration also announced today new steps to advance sustainability in federal purchasing with the release of the General Services Administration’s new “Green ✓” tool to help agencies make informed decisions about products and services that save money, increase sustainability and meet green purchasing requirements. Additionally, this week, Federal agencies will release their annual Federal Agency Strategic Sustainability Performance Plans, outlining how they are working to meet sustainability goals such as achieving a 40% reduction in Federal greenhouse gas emissions by 2025.

Winners of 2016 GreenGov Presidential Awards 

The GreenGov Presidential Awards celebrate outstanding achievement in the pursuit of President Obama’s Federal sustainability goals. They recognize Federal civilian and military personnel, agency teams, agency projects, facilities, and programs. These awardees have contributed to the Nation’s prosperity, promoted energy security, protected the interests of taxpayers, and combated climate change to safeguard the health of our environment.

  • Climate Champion Award: Dr. Richard Bennett, Department of the Interior, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Following the devastation left by Hurricane Sandy in 2012, Dr. Richard Bennett led the Department of the Interior team charged with helping the region recover, overseeing 167 million dollars in project funding to revitalize the Northeast, and to protect it from future storms and sea level rise. Dr. Bennett worked to launch more than 100 sustainability-focused projects, and led a team that developed performance metrics for climate resilience that are changing the way the Federal government prepares for severe weather events.

  • Sustainability Heroes Award: Dr. Rosalind A. Grymes, National Aeronautics and Space Administration

For nearly a decade, Dr. Rosalind Grymes has been working to enhance NASA’s sustainability portfolio with a focus on optimizing the use of water, energy and other resources.  She has held numerous leadership roles in the pursuit of a more sustainable NASA, including as the Executive Director of the NASA Astrobiology Institute, and as the Founding Director of the Advanced Studies Laboratories.

  • Green Innovation Award: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers & Department of Defense

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Department of Defense have created a software tool that is revolutionizing sustainability planning for their agencies. The tool helps evaluate the sustainability and energy needs of an installation, and then generates a list of energy projects perfectly suited to meet the organization’s goal. The software tool has been successfully leveraged by other agencies across the country to transform federal sustainability planning and implementation.

  • Lean, Clean, and Green Award: Department of Veterans Affairs

Under the leadership of Timothy Morris, the Calverton National Cemetery has implemented energy saving measures and revolutionized its sustainability efforts, including the incorporation of the first ever installation of solar power at a national cemetery. From the use of automatic lighting sensors to programmable thermostats and timers, the Calverton National Cemetery has made sustainability a core part of its daily mission, becoming an energy efficiency model for cemeteries across the country.

  • Green Dream Team Award: Environmental Protection Agency / General Services Administration

An employee-led team at EPA established the first compost collection program at EPA’s Washington, DC headquarters. The team coordinated with custodial staff, repurposed existing collection bins, and developed low cost communication tools to educate 4,500 employees about the program. GSA partnered with EPA in this effort, and is now working to expand compost services to over 50 Federal buildings in the National Capital region.

  • Good Neighbor Award: Environmental Protection Agency

In the years following the foreclosure crisis, the number of vacant homes across the country grew by 44% from 2000 to 2010. To guard against the significant environmental impact from demolishing these homes, EPA created a toolkit that’s changing the way communities deal with demolitions across the country. The toolkit helps municipalities make sound environmental decisions during the demolition process, reducing pollution, among other benefits.

  • Building the Future Award: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers & Department of Defense

The Army Corps of Engineers and Department of Defense have constructed the first LEED Platinum certified, net-zero energy aviation hangar at Fort Carson, Colorado.  This innovative building includes high efficiency lighting and solar panels that supply half its power needs, and is a major step in support of Fort Carson’s goal to become a Net Zero Energy facility by 2020.

  • Greening the Fleet Award: Timothy Currie, National Aeronautics and Space Administration

As NASA’s Fleet and Transportation Manager, Timothy Currie has helped transform NASA’s fleet of over 3,000 vehicles nationwide. In just two years, NASA has replaced almost two-thirds of its fleet with vehicles that run on cleaner fuels, including biofuels, compressed natural gas, and electricity. This transition contributed to NASA achieving a 62% reduction in petroleum use since 2005.

  • Purchasing Power Award: National Aeronautics and Space Administration

NASA’s White Sands Test Facility in Las Cruces, New Mexico has developed a software tool that seamlessly integrates management and oversight of green purchasing. The tool provides a list of green products available for order, captures data on purchases, and tracks compliance with sustainability requirements. With real-time data, NASA’s Sustainability Program team members can now track performance on green purchasing goals from their desktops.

  • Keeping It Clean Award: Department of Energy

Faced with the need to treat groundwater at a former nuclear weapons production facility, the Department of Energy’s Office of Legacy Management developed an innovative groundwater treatment system.  Installed at Rocky Flats, Colorado, the system runs on battery power and recharges with solar power.  This design enhances safety, improves groundwater treatment reliability, reduces long-term maintenance and costs, and reduces waste.

  • Resilience Role Model Award: Environmental Protection Agency / Department of Homeland Security-FEMA

Soon after Hurricane Sandy, a group of Federal, State, and local government leaders formed the Long Island Smart Growth Resiliency Partnership, focused on implementing recovery efforts that would be environmentally sustainable, and make the region more resilient to climate-related threats in the future. The partnership has held numerous events to educate and train the public, and is currently developing a joint EPA-FEMA guidance document for use by other impacted communities throughout the nation.

  • The Ripple Effect Award: Department of Health and Human Services

In response to employee interest in electric vehicle (EV) charging, the Department of Health and Human Services launched an initiative to support EV commuting, and to install charging infrastructure across its agencies. The National Institutes of Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Food and Drug Administration have developed innovative plans to make commuting by EV easier, including dedicated parking spaces and use of the conference room scheduling system to reserve charging stations.

To find out more about the GreenGov program visit:https://www.whitehouse.gov/greengov.

Federal Agency Strategic Sustainability Performance Plans 

This week, the Administration is also releasing the Federal Agency Strategic Sustainability Performance Plans.  In these strategic plans, Federal agencies detail how they are working to meet the President’s goals to cut greenhouse gas emissions, increase use of renewable energy, reduce energy and water used in Federal buildings, improve efficiency of Federal fleet vehicles, and enhance climate resilience.

Below are some examples of how Federal Agencies are leading by example:

  • Saving Energy and Saving Money for Veteran Care: When compared to hospitals nationwide, Veterans Administration (VA) hospitals are a top energy performer. VA hospitals are approximately 35% more efficient than the average U.S. hospital, allowing more resources to be directed to the care of Veterans. The Department of Veterans Affairs has reduced energy intensity by 23.2% compared to a 2003 baseline.
  • Reducing Water Use at the World’s Largest Museum and Research Complex: The Smithsonian Institution has reduced water use at its museums and the National Zoo by 54.5% since 2007, exceeding the Federal 26% reduction goal for FY 2020.  The Smithsonian accomplished this achievement by using sub meters and leak detectors to discover water waste, and by focusing on water efficient landscapes for iconic public buildings on the National Mall and at the National Zoo.
  • Navy Achieves 1 GW in Renewable Energy: In the 2012 State of the Union address, President Obama announced that the Department of the Navy would seek to produce or procure 1 gigawatt (GW) of renewable energy by 2020.  The Navy not only met that goal, but they did it by the end of 2015, five years ahead of schedule.  One recent project represents the largest renewable energy procurement in Federal government history – a solar project that will bring 210MW of renewable power to 14 Navy bases in California.  Over the life of the 25-year contract, the Navy will save more than $90 million, while enhancing energy security and resiliency.

Obama Administration’s Record on Federal Sustainability 

Since taking office, President Obama has taken unprecedented steps to lead by example in the Federal government, investing in innovative and cost effective initiatives to reduce carbon pollution. In March 2015, President Obama set aggressive targets for the government to cut Federal greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent by the year 2025, from a 2008 baseline. To date, the Federal government has met the challenge by achieving the following: 

Emissions Reductions:

  • The Federal Government has reduced its annual greenhouse gas emissions 17.6 percent since 2008, and avoided the emission of over 41 million metric tons of GHGs, equivalent to taking 8.7 million cars off the road for one year.
  • Federal agencies have cut energy use at Federal facilities by 15.4 percent since 2008. In 2015 alone, the government consumed almost 38 trillion British Thermal Units less than 2008, saving $680 million in energy costs.
  • The amount of greenhouse gas emissions resulting from Federal government business air travel in 2015 was 35 percent less compared to 2008. That is comparable to 4.8 million flights across the U.S.

Water Consumption:

  • Over the past 8 years, the Federal government has saved almost 140 billion gallons of drinkable water, comparable to the amount of water used by almost 1 million households over the course of a year.

Clean Energy Use:

  • The Federal government has nearly doubled the amount of clean energy used in facilities since 2008, totaling over 6% of facility energy use.

Vehicle and Equipment Energy Use:

  • The Federal government reduced spending on  gasoline/diesel by more than $963 million in 2015 compared to 2008.
  • The government has tripled its consumption of alternative fuels since 2005, to 15.1 million gallons, surpassing the Administration’s fleet alternative fuel consumption goal by 50 percent. These fuels are produced in the U.S., decreasing our dependence on foreign oil and enhancing our energy security.
  • The number of electric vehicles in the Federal fleet have increased over 50-fold, from 83 vehicles in 2008, to 4,337 in 2015. The number of hybrid electric vehicles in the Federal fleet increased 1,194% between 2008 and 2015, from 1,766 to 22,863 vehicles.

Obama Administration Announces New Policies to Promote Conservation and Build Resilience to Climate Change, with a focus on Pacific Islands

President Obama quadrupled the size of the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument off the coast of Hawaii, creating the world’s largest marine protected area. When he declared National Oceans Month in June, he stated, “Oceans and their nearby regions are also highly vulnerable to the effects of a changing climate -- a once-distant threat that is now very present and is affecting ecosystems and shoreline communities on every coast. Rising sea levels, coastal storms, and a growing risk of erosion and flooding are looming realities faced by seaside towns.”(photo by James Watt).
President Obama quadrupled the size of the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument off the coast of Hawaii, creating the world’s largest marine protected area. When he declared National Oceans Month in June, he stated, “Oceans and their nearby regions are also highly vulnerable to the effects of a changing climate — a once-distant threat that is now very present and is affecting ecosystems and shoreline communities on every coast. Rising sea levels, coastal storms, and a growing risk of erosion and flooding are looming realities faced by seaside towns.” (photo by James Watt).

The Obama Administration has announced nearly $40 million in new programming to enhance resilience to climate change and advance clean-energy development by building regional, national, and local capacity in the Pacific Islands to prepare for and help mitigate the negative impacts of climate change. These steps come as sea level rise and the increased strength and frequency of catastrophic weather events pose an existential threat to places most vulnerable to their impacts, such as the Pacific Islands. In addition, and consistent with the theme of this year’s World Conservation Congress, the Administration is announcing policies to promote conservation and combat climate change by protecting wildlife, oceans, and lands.

(See the New York Times, Flooding of Coast, Caused by Global Warming, Has Already Begun, Sept. 4, 2016, which describes how US coastal communities are already being impacted.)

The announcement coincided with the World Conservation Congress, which the United States hosted for the first time, President Obama addressed leaders from Pacific Island Conference of Leaders and the World Conservation Congress before traveling to Midway Atoll in the newly expanded Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument.

At Midway, the President discussed the reality that climate change is already altering the structure and function of ecosystems, changing the distribution and abundance of plants and animals, and in many cases limiting the ability of lands and waters to provide critical services to communities.

Throughout the week, senior Administration officials, including Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, attended the World Conservation Congress to discuss these steps and hear directly from leaders in government, business, NGOs, Indigenous groups, and youth groups on a broad range of topics related to conservation and climate change.

Building Regional, National, and Local Capacity to Prepare for Climate Change

The United States announced new investments over the coming years to build regional, national, and local capacity in the Pacific Islands to enhance resilience to climate change.

  • Building Regional Capacity through the Institutional Strengthening in Pacific Island Countries to Adapt to Climate Change (ISACC) ProgramUnder this program the United States intends to invest up to $5 million to support regional organizations, which are critical to address the collective needs of Pacific Islands. The program will leverage the substantial regional expertise and professional networks of the Pacific Community (SPC), the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP), and the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS). The program will embed climate-adaptation coordinators from the three partner organizations in eight Pacific Island countries to provide technical assistance and train key staff of national climate-change agencies.
  • Building National Capacity through the Climate Ready Program: The United States will be launching a new program to enhance the resilience of Pacific Island nations. Under the Climate Ready program, USAID is announcing $9 million to help national governments develop and implement policies that promote resilience, enhance access to climate finance, and improve national capacity to manage and monitor adaptation programs. Climate Ready will engage in twelve Pacific Island nations: the Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu.
  • Building Local Capacity for Climate Change Adaptation: To enhance the capacities of communities and governments in the Pacific Islands to reduce the risk of disasters, the United States is announcing $15 million in disaster risk reduction programs next year, and will continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with Pacific Island countries to prepare for natural disasters in the face of a changing climate.

In addition, seven new local recipients have been awarded a total of over $1.7 million by the Pacific American Climate Fund, which overall has provided 22 grants valued at $9.5 million to civil- society organizations across the Pacific Islands, to help communities adapt to the impacts of climate change.  Specifically, the grants will support community-based farmers in Fiji, a women’s council in the Federated States of Micronesia, and vulnerable communities in Samoa, the Solomon Islands, and Palau.

Finally, USAID will continue its ongoing community-based initiatives that help particularly at-risk communities better prepare for and respond in the immediate aftermath of a disaster.  For example, in Vanuatu, USAID helped to reintroduce indigenous preparedness practices, such as safe water collection and food-preservation techniques that, in the wake of Tropical Cyclone Pam, enabled affected communities to survive until the arrival of international assistance.  In Papua New Guinea, USAID supports community- and provincial-level DRR investments that enable community members and policy makers to identify and mitigate the increasing effects of climate-change-induced hazards.  In Micronesia and the Marshall Islands, USAID trains school-aged children and community members in climate change and community preparedness.  And across the Pacific, USAID is investing to develop strong, local Red Cross Societies to help countries better manage disasters and to ensure that community-preparedness work is sustainable and fully institutionalized.

  • Contributing to the Pacific Catastrophe Risk Assessment and Financing Facility: The United States will contribute $8 million to a World Bank multi-donor trust fund to support the creation of a disaster and climate risk insurance facility for Pacific Islands (“the Pacific Catastrophe Risk Assessment and Financing Initiative (PCRAFI) Facility”). The PCRAFI multi-donor trust fund will establish a long-term, sustainable insurance facility to provide climate- and disaster-risk insurance products to the Pacific Islands countries. It will also support technical assistance to these countries and related regional organizations to bolster capacity to assess and manage climate and disaster risks, with the overall objective of strengthening the financial resilience of Pacific Islands to climate and natural disaster risks.

Expanding Research on Climate Migration and Relocation

The United States is committed to engaging with the international research community to understand how to build a comprehensive approach to reduce the risk of climate-related displacement and manage the consequences of unplanned migration while also harnessing the opportunities of voluntary, planned migration and community relocation.  This research can help facilitate migration and community relocation as effective adaptation and coping strategies to the effects of climate change.

  • Symposium on Climate Migration: The Council on Environmental Quality, in collaboration with Hawaii and Alaska Sea Grant College Programs, the William S. Richardson School of Law at the University of Hawai’i Manoa, and the National Sea Grant Law Center, will host a Symposium on Climate Displacement, Migration, and Relocation in December 2016. The Symposium will provide an opportunity for stakeholders, researchers, policy experts, indigenous leaders, and local, State, and Federal, government officials to explore legal and policy opportunities and challenges arising from climate displacement. This includes questions about how to plan for and implement voluntary migration and community-led relocation as adaptation strategies to the impacts of climate change, both domestically and in the context of the Pacific Islands.

Facilitating the Transition to a Cleaner Energy Future

Although they are not large emitters of greenhouse gases, the Pacific Islands are committed to combating climate change and to making major changes in their energy profiles as part of their Nationally Determined Contributions within the Paris Agreement.  The United States is committed to helping the Pacific Islands increase their resources and technical expertise in order to develop a comprehensive approach to energy transformation.

  • Energy Excelerator Targeting Half a Billion Investment in Clean Energy: The Energy Excelerator, a public-private partnership financed through the U.S. Navy and located in Hawaii, is setting the goal of achieving half a billion dollars in total private, follow-on investment in companies in its accelerator program, including those developing clean-energy technologies for the Pacific Islands, by September 2017. This effort builds upon the $350 million already raised by the accelerator’s 42 companies to create innovative clean-energy technologies to support Pacific Islands in transitioning to cleaner sources of energy, agriculture, and transportation. (Of the 42 companies, 23 are already actively deploying solutions in the Pacific Islands.)
  • Developing a New Pacific Energy Transition Program: The U.S. Department of Energy and the State Department are announcing the creation of a new Energy Transition Initiative Pacific Program to assist Pacific Islands with their transition away from imported fuels. Building on U.S. government technical assistance delivered to Caribbean nations under the Caribbean Energy Security Initiative, and ongoing successful Energy Transition Initiative efforts in Hawaii and the U.S. Virgin Islands, this new effort will bring the lessons learned and technical assistance to the Pacific Islands, including those setting ambitious targets to deploy clean energy.  To initiate this process, the Department of State, Department of Energy, the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), and the Pacific Community (SPC) are announcing they will host a workshop to provide regional governments with concrete strategies for implementing an Energy Transition Initiative model in their countries, to identify specific areas for follow-on technical assistance and/or advisory support, and to facilitate access to Green Climate Fund and sources of finance for clean-energy projects. This workshop will support IRENA’s Small Islands Developing States (SIDS) Lighthouses Initiative‎.

Promoting Conservation

The United States is continuing our leadership in addressing conservation challenges across the continent and globe, from the Hawaiian Islands, known as the “extinction capital” of the world, to Africa, where elephant poaching is a gruesome reality.  New, innovative approaches to conservation, including conservation finance and mapping technology, are taking hold, alongside of long-tested strategies like land protection and smart public-land management.

Releasing the State of Conservation in North America Report: The Department of Interior is releasing the State of Conservation in North America Report, which highlights progress in protecting 12 percent of all land in North America under the highest protection standards. The analysis and information in the report create a baseline for progress in protecting important ecosystems and can offer a catalyst for future conservation actions in the United States and with international partners.

Signing an Arrangement with the Vietnam Biodiversity Agency: The United States Geological Service will establish a partnership and conclude an arrangement with the Vietnam Biodiversity Agency to offer scientific and technical support of their effort to revise the Vietnam Biodiversity Conservation Law.  The arrangement will be a “Project Annex” to the 2010 MOU signed by DOI and the country of Vietnam’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, which provided a framework for the exchange of scientific and technical knowledge with respect to earth sciences and effective management of natural resources.

Launching the Next Generation Conservation Ambassadors Program:The Department of Interior will also launch an international mentorship partnership, Next Generation Conservation Ambassadors, which will involve matching subject-matter experts from the Department of the Interior with young people working on various conservation-related topics in other countries. Topics may include but are not limited to water management, historical preservation, land management, relationships with indigenous people, climate change, wildlife monitoring, and habitat restoration. Mentors will provide input, counsel, and guidance for one year. This program will provide avenues to share our expertise and knowledge with emerging young leaders from other countries, furthering a vision for comprehensive, collaborative approaches toward addressing climate change.

Restoring Humpback Whale Populations around the Globe: NOAA will announce its final decision to remove 10 populations of humpback whales from the endangered species list, including almost all the populations found around North America.  This is continued evidence that U.S. efforts to protect and restore thousands of endangered animals and plants are working.

Supporting the Expansion of Large-Scale Marine Protected Areas: In 2015, NOAA and partners launched a multi-year effort to provide a foundation of publicly accessible baseline data and information from the deepwater areas of central and western U.S. Pacific Islands marine protected areas (MPAs). Recent and planned expeditions using vessels such as NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer are informing priority MPA science and management needs such as the identification and mapping of vulnerable marine habitats like high-density, deep-sea coral and sponge communities.  To continue to support the global expansion of large-scale MPAs, NOAA vessels in 2017 will total more than 200 days at sea; include complementary work across multiple research vessels;; and improve fundamental understanding of at least four existing MPAs.

Issuing a Unified Strategy with the International Oceanographic Commission (IOC): NOAA’s Ocean Service will later this month conclude a formal unified strategy with the International Oceanographic Commission (IOC), ensuring closer coordination between the U.S. Marine Biodiversity Observation Network (MBON) and international ocean observing and data networks such as the Global Ocean Observation System (GOOS) and the Ocean Biogeographic Information System (OBIS).  This will improve the acquisition, delivery and application of information on change in the marine environment, and support marine conservation and decision-making at the national, regional, and global levels.

Announcing New Grants to Combat Wildlife Trafficking: USAID and partner organizations will announce the grand prize winners of the Wildlife Crime Tech Challenge, whose innovative technology has the best potential to strengthen forensic evidence, reduce consumer demand or address the corruption that fuels poaching and illegal trafficking.  The Fish and Wildlife Service will announce $1.3 million in grant funding for combating wildlife trafficking. Up to 13 grants will contribute to efforts to reduce demand for illegally traded wildlife products. The grant program was developed as part of the Implementation Plan which resulted from President Obama’s 2015 release of the National Strategy for Combatting Wildlife Trafficking.