The Filibuster with a Side of Turkey
INFOGRAPHIC OF THE DAY
HOW TO USE PROP. 39 FUNDS. Lucid Blog. November 21, 2013
Getting 60 votes in the Senate has been a tough nut to crack, just ask Henry Waxman and Ed Markey.
The Senate’s vote ending the filibuster for most presidential appointments and judicial nominations is viewed by some as a positive environmental game changer and others as a potential threat to the EPA’s power. Before the vote in the Senate, 59 nominees to high-level executive branch appointments and 17 nominees to the federal judiciary were stuck in limbo waiting for confirmation because of the minority party’s excessive use of the filibuster. For context about how the vote to end the filibuster is intertwined with President Obama’s climate agenda, read this informative essay by Jonathan Chait. For additional clarity on why the D.C. Circuit is vitally important to moving President Obama’s climate agenda forward, read this.
To quote T.S. Elliot, the international climate talks in Warsaw ended not with ‘a bang, but with a whimper.’ For an assessment of the modest progress made at the conference, read this. The issues consistently stymieing consensus are discussed here. For an inside peek into what transpired during the final night of negotiations, check out this. In the wake of Warsaw, read Kofi Annan’s appeal for grassroots action.
Replicating many of the tactics used during the anti-apartheid movement of the 1980s, college students are waging divestment campaigns against oil and coal companies. Here’s an editorial from the Yale Daily News calling for divestment based on that university’s guidelines for ethical investment. Concurrently, investors and managers of pension funds also are contemplating divestment, mainly for pecuniary reasons. Mindy Lubber explains the origins and ramifications of this nascent trend, citing the work of Ceres and the corralling of 70 global investors around concepts like unburnable carbon, carbon asset risk and stranded assets.
One has to wonder how the claim that 90 companies cumulatively produced 63 percent of the globe’s CO2 emissions will affect both these movements. The L.A. Times supplies background on this report. A call for a robust conversation on these findings comes from the Union of Concerned Scientists. Andrew Revkin’s pragmatic reaction to this story appears here.
Last year, the U.S. spent $100 billion in disaster relief to cover the damage inflicted by extreme weather events. The results of the 2013 Iowa Farm and Rural Life Poll are in. Of the 1,209 farmers who participated, belief in climate change is up from 11 percent to 16 percent; and those still doubting the causal link between climate change and extreme weather are down from 27 percent to 23 percent.
Senior White House officials attended the first meeting of the Council on Climate Preparedness and Resilience to map out the future consequences of unchecked climate change. In an attempt to quiet the skeptics, the White House published the technical support document behind the decision to increase the ‘social cost of carbon.’ For a rundown of what the 113th Congress (2013-2014) has accomplished during the first half of its term to address climate change, read this.
The Defense Department’s release of a strategy addressing the impact of climate change in the Arctic and how it affects national security is reported on in detail here. The Environmental Defense Fund provides specific coverage of Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s speech outlining why climate change and sustainability are vital military concerns. A prophecy on how a tug-of-war over this region could play-out is here.
A new study tracking methane emissions in the U.S. claims the actual amount of this gas released into the atmosphere is higher than the EPA estimates by a factor of 1.5 percent. The analysis also contends discharges around places where high concentrations of oil and gas extraction occur were 2.7 times greater. These findings call into question whether natural gas provides a net benefit in reducing greenhouse-gas emissions. CH4 emissions, the main component of natural gas, are widely recognized as an adverse side effect of hydraulic fracturing. For a comparison of the steps Wyoming and California have taken to regulate fracking, read this about Wyoming and this about California.
Rep. Lois Capps is seeking a moratorium on offshore fracking in California’s coastal waters. Hear her criticism of two proposed House bills on fracking – H.R. 2728 and H.R. 1965. She contends both would weaken environmental protections. California’s latest cap-and-trade auction saw all 26.2 million tons of carbon allowances sold – fetching $11.48 per ton and meeting analysts’ expectations. It doesn’t appear as if California’s bullet train is destined to leave the station. A Superior Court ruled against the state's plan to issue more than $8 billion in bonds – rescinding the project's $68 billion funding plan. However, more than $106 million – the first round of funding under voter-approved Proposition 39 – is going to school districts next week for new energy efficiency projects around the state.
QUOTES OF THE DAY
“I think luxury is sunshine, good air and good water.” ‘Environmental refugee,’ Lin Liya who moved to the rural city of Dali, China to escape the urban pollution of her native city of Shanghai.
“Climate change does not directly cause conflict, but it can add to the challenges of global instability, hunger, poverty, and conflict. Food and water shortages, pandemic disease, disputes over refugees and resources, more severe natural disasters – all place additional burdens on economies, societies, and institutions around the world.” Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel in a speech delivered at the 5th annual Halifax International Security Forum.
“I am not going to accept the question of do you want a clean environment or do you want energy…in Wyoming we need both.” Wyoming Gov. Matthew H. Mead who championed the water-testing regulation for fracking.
“…if there were ever a practice that cried out for a clearly defined CEQA requirement, it's hydraulic fracturing…” LA Times Editorial Board calling for greater, more strict scrutiny of fracking beyond the protections of SB 4.
“Divesting is an acknowledgement of the scientifically proven link between carbon emissions and climate change, not an endorsement of policy.” A quote, from an article in the Yale Daily News, calling for the divestment from fossil fuels.
GRAPH OF THE DAY
COAL-FIRED ELECTRIC GENERATORS CONTINUE TO DOMINATE ELECTRIC SUPPLY IN THE CENTRAL REGION. EIA, November 25, 2013
VIDEO OF THE DAY
BREAKING THE CARBON BUDGET: EXPLAINED IN 90 SECONDS. Climate Desk. Published in Grist, November 24, 2013
WHAT THE FILIBUSTER MEANS FOR ENERGY and CLIMATE POLICY
As the World Burns. Ryan Lizza
OP ED. Climate Crisis: Who Will Act? Kofi Annan
RISKY BUSINESS/CHANGES IN PERSPECTIVE/FEDERAL ACTION
REPORT. Inaction on Climate Change: The Cost to Taxpayers. Ceres. October 2013.
EXECUTIVE ORDER. Preparing the United States for the Impacts of Climate Change. November 1, 2013
TECHNICAL SUPPORT DOCUMENT. Technical Update of the Social Cost of Carbon for Regulatory Impact Analysis-Under Executive Order 12866
REPORT. Arctic Strategy. Department of Defense. November 2013.
ED. Strict scrutiny for fracking. The L.A. Times.