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.
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
The Impact of a Carbon Tax on Greenhouse Gas Emissions Source Regional Economic Models Inc. Printed in GRIST. July 25, 2013.
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.
REPORT. The International Energy Outlook 2013 U.S. Energy Information Administration. July 2013.
Report: Carbon tax could spur economy
THE 18-34 COHORT AND CLIMATE CHANGE
Youth Poll on Climate. League of Conservation Voters July 24, 2013.
REPORT. A Review of Solar PV Benefit and Cost Studies. The Rocky Mountain Institute April 2013.
Keystone Pipeline: Shaheen–Portman Bill the Wrong Place for a Keystone Amendment Heritage Foundation.
THE PRESIDENT AND KXL
2013 Cal Facts Legislative Analysts Office.