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As Sea Levels Rise, So Do Understanding and the Will to Act on Climate Change

INFOGRAPHIC OF THE DAY

Sea Level Rise 'Lock In' Growing Much Faster Than Current Measurements.  Climate Central.  July 29, 2013.

 

THE LOWDOWN

Three new reports directly address the fragile state of the planet.  The first discloses that carbon emissions have already locked in 4 feet of future sea-level rise.  What this means for 316 U.S. coastal cities is discussed here.  The second explains the role of natural gas, as an effective bridge fuel, while warning that over-reliance on it, as a substitute for renewable energy, will make it impossible for the U.S to meet its climate-stabilization goals.  The third predicts that the consumption of coal will increase by over one-third by 2040, despite the best efforts of the world’s advanced countries. All of this reaffirms the need to cut carbon emissions by either a cap or a tax – ­a course of action with no chance of advancing on the Hill.  But, Massachusetts offers some hope.

Both parties plan to politick on climate during the August recess.  The Atlantic Wire asks: will denial of the scientific reality of climate change play well among both party’s constituents?  New bipartisan polling suggests not if the constituents are 18-34.  According to the poll’s results, 80 percent of voters in this age group support the President’s plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and 73 percent describe climate change deniers as “ignorant,” “out-of-touch” or “crazy.”  Cohort replacement just can’t come quick enough. 

Is solar energy hastening the demise of the American electricity industry?  The utility companies act worried.  To avoid the same fate that befell black rotary-phones, they’re fighting back, in tone and tactics described as highly questionable. Others contend rooftop solar and net metering present opportunity, not a threat.  Successes like Vote Solar prove there’s no turning back on investing in solar energy.  But, a battle is brewing over the shift from central to distributed energy generation.  The Rocky Mountain Institute contends the tensions between the solar industry and utilities will continue until an accurate assessment of the benefits and costs of PV distributed electricity emerges.  In the meantime, don’t underestimate the power of consumers either motivated by saving money or doing something positive for the environment or both to tilt the balance in this tug of war.

Movement on S. 761, the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act of 2013, the first big federal energy bill since 2007 appears likely to occur after the August recess, unless it’s derailed by an amendment making its passage contingent on the approval of the Keystone XL Pipeline.  Denouncing the bill, the Heritage Foundation says even the Keystone amendment does nothing to improve it.  However, proponents of the bill praise S. 761’s components on energy efficiency.  A thorough analysis of the bill is provided here.  Senators Shaheen and Portman plead the case for their bill here.  Inside Climate News certifies the importance of pursuing policy promoting energy efficiency here

Speaking of KXL, in an interview with the New York Times the President lifted the spirits of KXL’s opponents saying his evaluation rests with the amount of carbon the Pipeline contributes to the atmosphere.  Both The HILL and Think Progress emphasize the President’s skepticism about KXL’s economic benefits.  GRIST addresses the claim KXL will result in higher gas prices in the Midwest.  But, the President earned 2 Pinocchios from the WaPo fact checker for low-balling the number of construction jobs he said KXL would generate.  A profile of Gina McCarthy describes her as a “tough” leader who writes “tough” legislation.  But, after his visit to West Virginia, the heart of coal country, to defend the President’s climate agenda, Ernest Moniz earns well-deserved props for bravery. 

The LA Times reports the broad provisions of the Chemical Safety Improvement Act, pending in the U.S. Senate, inadvertently places dozens of California’s laws and regulations at risk under preemption.  A letter to Senators Feinstein and Boxer from California’s Secretary of Environment Protection calls for greater clarity in the language of the bill.  ARB passed new smog rules for dirt bikes and off-road vehicles calling for a reduction in fumes by 70%.  The California Wind Energy Association wants Californians to know that there are 5,549MWs of wind capacity in California today, and that’s not blowing hot air.  Surprise, Cal’s business community wants to stick with the current version of CEQA.  JP Morgan got its hands caught in CAL’s cookie Jar.  The Obama Administration has resuscitated the Palen Solar Electric Generating System and the Mojave Desert Tortoise lives to tell the tale…the saga of the Gopherus agassizii continues.

 

QUOTES OF THE DAY

a blip relative to the need.”  President Obama disputing claims made by Republicans that the construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline would produce many jobs in the United States.

“For voters under 35, denying climate change signals a much broader failure of values and leadership.”  A quote taken from a memo attached to a poll of youth voters on current climate policy conducted by Benenson Strategy Group and GS Strategy Group.

"I like to describe the Clean Air Act as a freight train; it's slow, but hard to stop."  Dallas Burtaw, a senior fellow at Resources for the Future describing the power of regulation in lieu of a carbon tax for cutting pollution.

"What is called the fracking boom in our communities, it might be a kaboom.”  Jose Bravo, executive director of the Just Transition Alliance, commenting on potential negative impact of fracking on local communities.

It may be too late.” Clark Gellings, a fellow at the Electric Power Research Institute, a nonprofit arm of the American Electronic Industry, on the failure to stop net metering.

 

TODAY’s LONG READ

Flood, Rebuild, Repeat: Are We Ready for a Superstorm Sandy Every Other Year?

 

GRAPH

The Impact of a Carbon Tax on Greenhouse Gas Emissions  Source Regional Economic Models Inc.  Printed in GRIST. July 25, 2013. 

 

CLIMATE

REPORT.  The multimillennial sea-level commitment of global warming Proceedings of the Natural Academy of Science.  June 2013.

COMMENTARY.  Rapid Accumulation of Committed Sea-Level Rise from Global Warming Benjamin H. Strauss.

Sea Level Rise ‘Locking In’ Quickly, Cities Threatened

Study: Sea-level rise threatens 1,400 U.S. cities

U.S. Natural-Gas Use Must Peak by 2030

US natural gas guzzling ‘must peak’ by 2030 – report

REPORT.  The International Energy Outlook 2013  U.S. Energy Information Administration.  July 2013. 

Absent Climate Policies, Global Coal Use Will Soar In Coming Decades, EIA Report Says

The positive economic impact of a carbon tax in, uh, hang on … 10 charts

$Carbon price unlikely to pass Congress but necessary to drive clean technology, experts say

Could Massachusetts become the first state to impose a carbon tax?

Report: Carbon tax could spur economy

 

THE 18-34 COHORT AND CLIMATE CHANGE

GOP climate change deniers insist on remaining easy targets

Republican Climate Denial Is No Political Problem – For Now

Youth Poll on Climate.  League of Conservation Voters  July 24, 2013.

 

SOLAR/NET METERING

Dazzling dozen show how clean energy policy work for solar

On Rooftops, a Rival for Utilities

What's in store for the future of net metering and rooftop solar?

The End of the Electric Utilities? The Industry Thinks So Too

The Battle Begins: Utilities Unleash PR Might on Distributed Solar

Arizona’s Big Utility Power Grab Revealed

Fight Against Solar Net Metering in Arizona Gets Controversial Support

What is Net Metering?

Net Metering and Rooftop Solar for the Utility of the Future

Five Benefits of Solar Energy

Solar users hope more Utahns will make the switch

Another Banner Year for CA Rooftop Solar as Successful Rebate Program Winds Down

REPORT.  A Review of Solar PV Benefit and Cost Studies.  The Rocky Mountain Institute  April 2013.

New Insights Into the Real Value of Distributed Solar

Climate Poll: Three-Quarters Of Young, Independent Voters Describe Deniers As ‘Ignorant, Out Of Touch Or Crazy’

Want to win over young voters? Get serious about climate action

 

SHAHEEN-PORTMAN

S. 761: Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act of 2013

Senate nears first big energy bill since 2007.  Shaheen/Portman Bill

Keystone Pipeline: Shaheen–Portman Bill the Wrong Place for a Keystone  Amendment Heritage Foundation. 

Energy Efficiency Bill Will Help In Fight Against Climate Change

A Closer Look at the Shaheen-Portman Energy Efficiency Bill

$Final vote on Shaheen-Portman likely to slip to after recess – sponsor

Making case for energy efficiency

Efficiency Drove U.S. Emissions Decline, Not Natural Gas, Study Says

 

THE PRESIDENT AND KXL

President Obama Says He’ll Evaluate Pipeline Project Depending on Pollution

President Obama’s Keystone comments give opponents reason for hope

President Obama criticizes pro-Keystone pipeline jobs, gas price claims

President Obama: Keystone Jobs ‘A Blip’, Pipeline ‘Might Actually Cause Some Gas Prices In The Midwest To Go Up’

President Obama points out economic downsides of Keystone XL

State Dept.: Keystone XL jobs impact 'negligible.’

President Obama’s low-ball estimate for Keystone XL jobs

News bites: Obama's curious Keystone math

After Delayed Vote, E.P.A. Gains a Tough Leader

$Amid charges of a 'war on coal,' Moniz travels to W.Va. to push climate plan

 

CALIFORNIA

CEQA.  Calif. groups worry over environmental law reform

U.S. accuses JPMorgan of manipulating California energy market

2013 Cal Facts Legislative Analysts Office.

Landmark California regulations under federal fire

S.  1009.  Chemical Safety Improvement Act

California EPA Calls Foul Over Chemical Safety “Improvement” Act

Letter from Matthew Rodriquez to Senators Feinstein, Boxer and Gillibrand:  Re S. 1009 June 25, 2013

California Tightens Smog Rules for Off-Road Vehicles

Wind, the 'workhorse' of renewable energy

$BLM revises massive Calif. project to lessen species impacts

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