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Gravity Exists. The Earth is Round. Climate Policy is Happening.


“Gravity Exists.  The Earth is Round.  Climate Change is Happening.”  A tweet from Organizing for Action seeking political support for the White House's climate agenda.


The Washington Post reports President Obama has re-prioritized his domestic agenda and boldly will move on climate change.  Interlocking policy efforts by the departments headed by Moniz, McCarthy and Jewell comprise an indispensable part of the White House strategy.  A key area of concern involves the vulnerability of the country’s power grid.  A new report evaluates the economic cost of electrical outages due to severe weather and violent storms.  Yet, despite the proliferation of tangible, ‘teachable moments’ from Hurricane Sandy and Moore, Oklahoma, the partisan divide on climate remains fully entrenched.

The climate action plan President Obama announced in June includes significant goals related to renewable energy and energy efficiency.  But, with Congress mired in gridlock, a big push is currently underway by opponents of renewables to repeal state renewable standards; however, the market performances of renewable energy firms are up and clean-energy sources like solar and wind continue to grow—remaining broadly popular.  Take it from a seasoned politician, like Ed Rendell, American’s like renewable energy because it saves the planet, spurs American innovation and creates jobs.  For a discussion of the opportunities and challenges facing renewables, check this out.

In 2012, wind energy became the number one source of new U.S. electricity—representing 43% of all new capacity—enough to power the homes located in California and the state of Washington combined.  72% of wind turbine equipment used in the U.S. is manufactured domesticallyEstimates peg the workers employed by the wind industry to be about 80,000 nationwide.  Wind power is the cheapest option for new electricity generation in much of the U.S.  And, states as diverse as California, Texas, Kansas, and Oklahoma love the clean energy produced by the wind.  However, experts warn inconsistent federal and state policies stymie investment and an antiquated Midwest power grid leaves a significant amount of wind energy untapped

Here in California, two pieces of good news—2,500 MWs of solar electricity flowed into the State's power grid and energy storage has commandeered the attention of the investment community—have helped mollify but not alleviate the bad news.  Even before the arrival of the Santa Ana winds, California has battled 4,300 wildfires so far this year and an inventory of more than 3-dozen environmental indicators consistent with the early phases of climate change are occurring now—altering the California landscape.  An informative list of some of the significant changes impacting California can be found here.    

The issuance of 300,000 registry offset credits awaits approval from ARB.  The controversy surrounding the transaction is alive and kicking.  Opponents claim the rule permitting California businesses to offset up to 8% of required greenhouse gas reductions leaves local communities without any relief from residual pollution.  But, proponents counter and assert climate change is a global issue and offsets afford greater leeway in how they comply with AB 32.  One media outlet predicts Chevron plans on using carbon trading to balance out the higher 3% sulfur content contained in the crude oil produced at its new planned facility in Richmond.

Having survived expansive amendments, SB 731, Senate President Darrell Steinberg’s effort to reform CEQA is hobbling to the Assembly's Committee on Local Government.  The fate of SB 4, Sen. Fran Pavley’s fracking bill remains uncertain.  The oil industry is lobbying heavily against the legislation and environmental groups feel it falls far short of making the fracking process safer.  The revelation that hydraulic fracturing has been conducted in the Santa Barbara Channel and the rumor that acidizing rather than conventional fracking will be used in the Monterey Shale has amplified the issue of safety—practically guaranteeing that fracking will incur greater scrutiny from California’s environmentally attentive population.

After power plants, the transportation sector discharges 28% of America’s greenhouse gas emissions.  A new report from Climate Central explores the ‘life-cycle’ of a car’s carbon emissions.  With continued improvement in the production of alternative fuels and a successful effort to boost a vehicle’s efficiency by about 2.5% per year, Brad Plumer discusses how the world’s demand for oil could actually start declining.  In the first seven months of this year, Americans purchased 350,000 hybrid and electric cars and the NYT attributes the surge to innovations and supportive government policies, like tax credits.  The transportation sector’s on a roll.  So, beam me up, Elon.


Infographic of the Day

Energy Saver 101 Infographic: Home Energy Audits  U.S. Department of Energy.  August 13, 2013. 



“Gravity Exists.  The Earth is Round.  Climate Change is Happening.”  A tweet from Organizing for Action seeking political support for the White House's climate agenda. 

 “They’re using every tool they have to destroy the most abundant, reliable and affordable resource that we have.” Sen. Joe Mancin (D-WVa) reporting on the White House agenda to conduct a ‘war on coal’ to reduce CO2 emissions. 

“It appears to be a lasting and real policy shift.” Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, co-founder of the Safe Climate Caucus, on the noticeable shift by the Obama Administration to actively address climate during the President’s second administration.

…the President considers global warming a personal issue because it will affect his children.”  Natural Resources Defense Council President Frances Beinecke recalling a statement made by Chief of Staff, Denis McDonough, on why the President is taking a more activist role on climate during his second term. 

“This bill does not place a moratorium on the process. It will go on. I consider this a compromise measure.”  Sen. Fran Pavley’s description of her fracking bill SB 4

 "The local communities living on the fence lines of the refineries and power plants and incinerators don't receive the benefits." Jeff Conant of Friends of the Earth, critic of the offsets under consideration by ARB.   

"The whole system is like a bank account — it's being drawn down." Natural resources specialist, Tom Scott, a teacher at University of California campuses in Riverside and Berkeley, commenting on the rise in wildfires due in part to lower than average rainfall.

We’ve got to bottle the sun.”  California Governor Jerry Brown on the need to invest in energy storage to ensure the energy generated by renewables can be available whenever needed and evenly distribution throughout the grid. 



Who’s to blame for climate change?  Alexis Madrigal.  The Atlantic Cities.  August 13, 2013.  Reprinted in GRIST. 



Beyond Tailpipe Emissions  DOE. 



Can China clean up fast enough ($) The Economist.  August 10, 2013. 



In his second term, Obama becomes bolder on the environment

White House warns of rising threat to power grid from ‘extreme weather’

REPORT. Economic Benefits of Increasing Electric Grid Resilience to Weather Outages  Executive Office of the President. August 2013.

Protecting the Electric Grid from Increasingly Severe Weather Due to Climate Change

U.S. Electrical Grid Report Calls For More Spending; Cites Climate Change And Aging Infrastructure

Weather-related tragedies point up a partisan divide on climate change

N.Y.'s hospitals ponder future risks and lessons learned from Sandy's shock

Hurricane Sandy Fast Facts

Tornado devastates Moore, Oklahoma



FACT SHEET: President Obama’s Climate Action Plan

President Obama Touts Renewable Energy, Efficiency in Climate Plan

The biggest fight over renewable energy is now in the states

Performance of cleantech firms improved in 2012 E&Y report.

U.S. Renewable Energy Use Continue to Grow LLNL Report.

State renewable-energy laws turn out to be incredibly hard to repeal

The Inevitable Convergence: Corporations, Carbon, and Consumers

How Bright Is Renewable Energy's Future?

OP ED.  Ed Rendell.  Clean energy progress.



Energy Dept. Reports: U.S. Wind Energy Production and Manufacturing Reaches Record Highs

REPORT.  2012 U.S. Wind Technologies Market Report  Department of Energy.  August 2013. 

U.S. Energy Consumers Install 62% More Wind Turbines

US Wind Energy Market Takes Off

U.S. wind power fastest-growing energy source in 2012, report says

US Wind Power Prices Down To $0.04 Per kWh

Texas Wind Energy Industry Surges, Supporting Jobs and Diversifying U.S. Energy Mix

Wind Energy a Wise Investment in Kansas and the Nation

Wind power becoming major Oklahoma export



Interesting Wind Energy Facts

Rollercoaster Policy Threatens US Wind Energy’s Record-Setting Pace

Newly available wind power often has no place to go



New Solar Records in California This Week

California Looks to Energy Storage

California aims to 'bottle sunlight' in energy storage push

California wildfire season: 43 percent more fires, so far

Effects of climate change in California are 'significant and growing'

Climate Change Already Taking Toll on California

SB 731 Bill Documents

California Legislature faces raft of bills on volatile issues

CEQA Roundup: Reform bill amendments reveal what’s been taken off the table

SB 4 Bill Documents

California's Fracking Regulatory Bill: Less Than Zero

California Legislators Call for Offshore Oil Fracking Investigation

A New California Oil Boom?  Drilling in the Monterey Shale—Part I:  Distracted by Fracking?

Monterey Shale Shakes Up California's Energy Future

OP ED.  Renewable energy, not fracking, is the best choice for California

Cap-and-trade system issues new types of carbon credits

Carbon offsets plan stirs up controversy in California

Environs not happy with Calif. carbon offsets

Assembly Bill 32: Global Warming Solutions Act

Businesses soon may meet California air rules by paying someone else to slash emissions

California Carbon Trading Would Counteract Emissions From Expanded Chevron Refinery, State Says



National Greenhouse Gas Emissions Data  U.S. Department of Environmental Protection.  June 21, 2013.

Hybrids Better for Climate than Leaf, Tesla in Most States

Is peak oil demand just around the corner?

ED. NYT.  A Clean-Car Boom.

Boost electric-car tax credit, say advocates

Revealed: Elon Musk Explains the Hyperloop, the Solar-Powered High-Speed Future of Inter-City Transportation

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