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The growing risk of climate change - and how cities can prepare

VIDEO OF THE DAY

Project U.S. Temperature Changes by 2100. NASA

 

 

 

THE LOWDOWN

A long to-do-list awaits Gina McCarthy.  Everyone agrees limiting greenhouse gas emissions for new and existing power plants will be her primary objective; but, for too many members of the House, theirs will be to stymie the President’s climate plan.  Yet, despite continued efforts to curtail energy innovation, a new poll from the NRDC reveals 65% of Americans favor setting limits on carbon pollution.  The poll exhibits surprising support across the political spectrum.  And, a fledgling movement for divestment from fossil fuel companies, a movement that started in New England and has spread, indicates support for the President’s climate plan is running deep.

The findings contained in the DOE report on the vulnerability of the U.S. energy sector remains a hot subject of discussion.  The memory of Hurricane Sandy’s $70 billion bill burns bright, keeping Swiss Re Americas’ CEO awake at night—compelling him to break from traditional allies and request federal action to deal with extreme weather.  James Hansen authored a new paper that won’t calm the CEO’s nerves anytime soon.  Five states comprising about 77% of the insurance market, are requiring insurers to answer a survey that provides detailed information about their planned responses to catastrophes triggered by climate change and extreme weather.

In a new report, the World Meteorological Organization found floods were the most “frequently experienced” weather event of the past decade.  June 2013 ranks among the warmest Junes on record by the ‘2Ns’- NOAA and NASA.  Another ‘N,’ NSIDC, the National Snow and Ice Data Center says this season’s melt of sea ice in the Arctic could equal or even surpass last year’s record breaking ice loss.  In the NYT, the unpredictable flood surges of Alaska’s Mendenhall Glacier are described in detail.  The WaPo presents an interactive depiction of how a sea-level rise of 4 millimeters per year will impact Maryland’s 3,100 miles of tidal shore.  Adaptation plans around the globe come with hefty, hefty price tags.

A new IEA report offers suggestions from 30 cities that could help transport the 6.3 billion people inhabiting the planet in 2050.  40,000 EVs moved off the showroom floor in the first six months of this year—if you need a laundry list of why EVs are here to stay, beyond the ‘selection effect’ and $1.53, the average cost of an eGallon in California, look no further.  GM’s partnership with TimberRock could revolutionize the recharging of EVs.  And, Chrysler’s partnership with NextEnergy could create a charging module able to simulate any electrical grid in the world.  But Tesla’s Model S begins and finishes its battery swap in 91 seconds—it’s an iPhone moment and just one reason why people love Tesla.  A joint venture taking place at Argonne National Laboratory is working on creating global standards for electric vehicles and their charging infrastructure.

Fracking activity in California will be bigger than humongous.  The salient issues left unresolved are fracking's liquid recipes and trade secrets.  Two studies raise the possibility of increased seismic activity due to fracking.  Acidization may be used to unlock the oil in CA’s Monterey Shale.  The process is explained here and here.  A grassroots campaign instituted by CREDO against fracking is underway in 15 cities.   A 4th generation farmer expresses his concerns over fracking in the Central Valley and Sen. Fran Pavley explains SB 4, her bill that attempts to inject transparency into the fracking process.

At Rep. Jackie Speier’s request, the DOT has entered the controversy over the CPUC’s handling of the San Bruno Pipeline explosion.  The environmental impact of a large-scale effort to capture carbon dioxide from a coal plant located in Bakersfield is under scrutiny by the DOE and CEC.  The state is interviewing scouts to hit the trail in search of the perfect high-speed rail route.  A citywide election has residents of Hermosa Beach taking sides on whether the California beach town should be opened to oil drilling for the first time in 80 years.  Federal officials say drought conditions in Northern California could bring water levels in Folsom Lake and the American River to five-year lows.  California leads the nation in cumulative solar electric installations.  California’s lead in the sector proves consistent government support of clean energy from the sun generates more solar activity.

 

QUOTES OF THE DAY

"We have a clear responsibility to act now on climate change…This agency has the courage to act." Newly installed U.S. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy in a brief video message to agency staffers. 

“…skirting the will of Congress.” According to Sen. James Inhofe what EPA chief Gina McCarthy will do now that she has been confirmed. 

What keeps us up at night is climate change.”  J. Eric Smith, CEO of Swiss Re Americas, one of the world’s biggest reinsurers, quoted in Time Magazine.  

"I know what oil smells like, I know what it looks like, what it sounds like.  I don't want that in my backyard."  Mike Collins, a resident of Hermosa Beach, whose house is 100 yards from the spot where an oil company wants to drill. 

“It’s like an invasion of Saudi Arabia.”  Tom Frantz, a fourth generation farmer living near the town of Shafter where fracking is currently underway. 

A “witches brew of pollutants”  How Mary Anne Hitt, director of the Sierra Club's Beyond Coal campaign describes the discharges of toxic coal ash and sludge from power plants into the nation's waterways. 

 

VIDEO 

Michael Levi Talks Fracking, Clean Energy And More At Aspen Ideas Festival

 

 

 

 

 

INFOGRAPHIC 

2012 Top Ten Solar States. Solar Energy Industries Association.   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

INFOGRAPHIC 

A SUSTAINABLE ENERGY SYSTEM.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

GRAPH 

Rail Incidents Involving Crude Oil, 2000-2012.  Source:  PHMSA Hazardous Materials Incident Database.  Printed in GRIST. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

GRAPH 

APPROPRIATIONS FOR KEY DOE ENERGY INNOVATION OFFICES.  Published by The Energy Collective.  July 23, 2013.  

 

 

 

 

 

NATIONAL

New EPA chief has an ambitious to-do list

New EPA Chief will take on Sweeping Climate Agenda.  

Congratulations Gina McCarthy, Our New U.S. EPA Administrator

Republicans Seek to Limit Obama Climate Plan in 2014 Budget (1)Washington Heading for Another Round of Devastating Cuts to Energy Innovation 

Two in Three Americans Endorse Setting Limits on Carbon Pollution from Power Plants that Drives Climate Change 

Poll finds broad public support for Obama’s climate change plan 

Movement aims to curb climate change through divestment in fossil fuel 

($) National fossil fuel divestment effort grows despite skepticism 

New England Churches Divesting from Fossil Fuels

Whitehouse preps amendment to maintain fossil-fuel phaseout in federal buildings 

 

CLIMATE

Can America's Energy Infrastructure Survive Severe Weather?  

REPORT.  U.S. Energy Sector Vulnerabilities to Climate Change and Extreme Weather 

Burning all fossil fuels spells doom for humans -- Hansen report. 

Insurance Industry, Republicans Split on Climate Change 

Two New States to Require Climate Risk Survey; More Companies Must Now Respond  

Insurance Commissioner Expands Climate Change Survey 

($) First climate rule imposed on insurers expands after a stormy star

 

FLOODS

The "new normal” in climate change and climate politics 

REPORT. 2001-2010, A Decade of Climate Extremes. The World Meteorological Association 

NCDC Releases June 2013 Global Climate Report 

GISS Surface Temperature Analysis. June 2013. NASA.

A Change of Pace.  NSIDC. 

Alaska Looks for Answers in Glacier’s Summer Flood Surges 

Vulnerable Maryland weighs threat of sea-level rise 

REPORT.  Updating Maryland’s Sea-Level Rise Projections.  The Maryland Climate Change Commission. 

6 of the World's Most Extensive Climate Adaptation Plans 

 

TRANSPORTATION AND EVs

Cities Could Save $70 Trillion Through Energy-Efficient Transportation 

EV Sales are Skyrocketing 

Green with anger: The future is now for electric vehicles 

Energy Department Releases Updated eGallon Prices as Electric Vehicle Sales Double 

Why Electric Cars Won’t be Unplugged 

GM To Test Utility-Controlled Solar Charging For Electric Cars Chrysler looks at vehicle-to-grid technology 

Why Everybody Loves Tesla 

U.S., Europe launch center for smart grids and plug-in vehicles 

 

FRACKING IN CALIFORNIA

Fracking Potential in California is Vast But Barriers Stall Process 

California officials wrestle with handling trade secrets on fracking  

Quake studies complicate questions about fracking 

Beyond fracking: is California being pumped full of acid? 

Beyond Fracking: Injecting Acid into the Ground – Really? 

California Fracking Regulations Near Approval

 

OTHER CALIFORNIA NEWS

($) Obama admin probes state's handling of deadly pipeline blast 

($) Calif. coal project has 'significant' environmental impacts – report 

California seeks firms to scout the high-speed rail route

Northern California water levels to hit 5-year lows 

In Hermosa Beach, a sheen of divisiveness over oil's possible return 

California is a leader on solar power, Environment California says 

Study: State government support leads to more solar installations 

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