DOA … Dead On Arrival

Fortunately, since we have a caveman at the helm, the president does not write the budget – Congress does.  The president can submit his proposal, his request or wish list, but at the end of the day, it is Congress who writes the budget.  Thankfully.

This week, Trump gave his wish list to Congress, and as we all suspected, it is atrocious.  In short, he wants to take as much as he can possibly take from We the People and give as much as he possibly can to his wealthy cronies, raising the already-staggering deficit in the process.  Let’s take a look at some of the most egregious items, shall we?

  • First, there is “the wall”. Since he couldn’t bully Congress into giving him the $5.7 billion he asked for to start work on the wall, he is now asking for $8.6 billion!  And this guy is supposed to be a master dealmaker?  The art of compromise is entirely lost on him!
  • Then there is the environment. His proposal is to cut funding for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) by 31%.  It would cut the EPA’s Global Change Research office, which exists to provide scientific information to policymakers about the threats posed by climate change, as well as a number of other programs involving clean water and air.
  • Along similar lines, he proposes massive cuts to the Department of Energy’s (DOE) renewable energy and energy efficiency budget … some 70%!!! The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, which falls under the DOE, provides hundreds of millions of dollars a year in grants and other financial assistance for clean energy, has financed research into technologies ranging from electric vehicles to energy projects powered by ocean waves. It has been credited with financing research to help make the cost of wind power competitive with coal, and cutting the costs of LED lighting.

Note that Trump has repeatedly vowed to zero out federal spending on clean energy research and development, while doing everything in his power to promote and even subsidize the fossil fuel industry.  The only conclusion that can be drawn is that either he truly desires the destruction of the human race, or he is really that damn stupid.

  • He proposes to cut safety net programs such as food stamps, Medicaid, and housing assistance, all programs that low-income families depend on for their very survival. In spite of inflation, he proposes to freeze the maximum Pell Grant for low-income college students.
  • He has also proposed to cut Medicare … that benefit that we all paid into every single paycheck of our lives … by $845 billion over the next ten years! And … he plans to cut $25 billion from Social Security … again, a program that we all paid 6.2% of our gross pay into every paycheck we ever earned in our entire lives!

Note that in 2016, when he was still a wanna-be, he said, “I’m not going to cut Social Security, like every other Republican, and I’m not going to cut Medicare or Medicaid.” More damn lies! 

  • He also proposes to cut the Department of Housing and Urban Development by 16 percent and the Education Department by 12 percent.
  • He does, however, wish to increase the defense budget by $750 billion (that’s in addition to the $8.6 billion for his damn wall).

No part of the plan addresses increasing revenue, and in fact it extends the tax cuts for the wealthy that were passed in December 2017.  It is by no means a balanced budget, and will absolutely, without question add to the national debt and deficit, both of which are already out of control, by trillions of dollars.  What happened, I would ask, to those fiscal hawks that put Obama down for eight years for not balancing the budget, for deficit spending?  Yo!  Republicans!  Can y’all hear me out there in la-la land???  This ‘man’ you all think so much of, that you’re willing to lose friends over, is going to cut Social Security … the money you have saved for your retirement since the first day of your first job.  Are you going to continue to sit on those fat, white posteriors and not even raise a stink?

But, there is good news.  And that is …

Trump’s budget proposal does not stand snowball’s chance in hell of passing Congress!  Not even a slight chance.  Even the republicans don’t like it!  It is naught but his pie-in-the-sky wish list.  However … what it does do is it speaks volumes about Mr. Trump’s priorities, and his lack of concern for the people who put him into office.  A president is elected, in theory, by the majority of the voters.  In Trump’s case, he was not elected by the majority at all, but was nearly three million votes short of it.  One might think that would make him work a lot harder to win over those of us who did not vote for him, but instead, he devotes seemingly every waking moment to finding ways to stab us in the back.

We’re tired of it.  Instead of working with Congress to attempt to develop a budget that benefits the nation and its people, he is submitting a proposal that his own advisors have told him will not fly.  He is working against the very people he swore to represent.  His priorities are a wall, his rich cronies, his Star Wars-type toy, a ‘Space Force’, and other useless crap, for lack of a better word.  Meanwhile, the poor and middle class, the 99% of the nation, will suffer if he gets his way.  Those are his priorities, folks.  His budget proposal tells us exactly where we stand … out in the cold.

An Important Message …

I came across this video created by Greenpeace a few days ago.  Greenpeace, founded in 1971, is a non-governmental environmental organization focusing on worldwide issues such as climate change, deforestation, overfishing, commercial whaling, genetic engineering, and anti-nuclear issues.  Their mission statement:

Greenpeace is a global, independent campaigning organization that uses peaceful protest and creative communication to expose global environmental problems and promote solutions that are essential to a green and peaceful future.

The video contains probably some of the worst singing you will hear this week, but the message is important, the message is one that needs to be remembered and shared.  Our lives, the lives of our children and their children are at stake here, and every person on this planet has the ability to make a difference.

Killing Us For Profit

It’s a familiar scene in households where a toddler or two reside.  Mommy is going through the house picking up the toys, and other detritus left behind by the toddler, and the toddler is going right behind her, tossing all the toys right back into the middle of the floor.  Only in this case, “Mommy” is all the nations on the globe except the U.S., meeting in Poland for the COP24 where they debate the best ways to keep greenhouse gasses out of the atmosphere.  And the “toddler” is Donald Trump, alleging to represent the United States, seeking to put more of those same gasses into the atmosphere.  Only difference is that mommy can pick up the toddler and stick him in a playpen or high chair, distract him momentarily, and finish the clean-up.  Unfortunately, the other nations have no power to curb Donald Trump’s destructive urges.

The latest is the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposal to revise its “New Source Performance Standards” for coal power plants, allowing coal-fired generators to emit more CO2 per megawatt-hour of electricity generated.  In short, it is a reversal of one of the Obama administrations regulations that requires new coal plants to invest in technology such as carbon capture and storage.

Andrew WheelerEPA Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler, a former coal industry lobbyist, made quite clear what the priorities are, and a clean environment, a sustainable Planet Earth, are definitely not in the equation:

“By replacing onerous regulations with high, yet achievable, standards, we can continue America’s historic energy production, keep energy prices affordable, and encourage new investments in cutting-edge technology that can then be exported around the world.”

I’m not sure who Mr. Wheeler thinks will be buying all that coal, though, for most all nations are investing in renewable energy sources and are hoping to sever the bonds of fossil fuels as soon as possible.  And who, Mr. Wheeler, will mine that coal or buy it when there are no humans left on this earth?

Think of it this way … a classroom of children are each making cards for their mother for Mother’s Day.  Every child is engrossed in cutting, pasting and colouring that special card for mum.  Except one … little Donnie.  Not only is little Donnie sitting with his fat little arms crossed and a scowl on his face, making it clear that he has no intention of making a card for his own mother, but he periodically gets up, walks over to another student and rips their card, or pours ink on it, throws it on the ground and stomps on it.  This is what Donald Trump is doing … he is refusing to allow the U.S. to do our part to try to combat the disastrous effects of climate change, but he is determined to ruin the efforts of other, more conscionable nations.

“This is just one more foolhardy move by a misguided administration that will be judged harshly by future generations.” – David Doniger, senior strategic director of the Climate & Clean Energy program at the Natural Resources Defense Council.

“Today’s proposal is nothing more than another thoughtless attempt by the Trump Administration to prop up their backwards and false narrative about reviving coal at the expense of science, public safety, and reality.” – Mary Anne Hitt, senior director of Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign.

This is not the first action of Trump and his minions to attempt to revive a dying coal industry.  Prior to this, he rolled back regulations regarding carbon emissions and mercury emissions, as well as coal ash.  What’s next?  A requirement that every household install a coal-burning furnace?

The reality is that his actions will not save the coal industry.  It is a dinosaur headed for extinction, and in this case, the sooner the better.  U.S. coal consumption has declined over the last decade and this year is expected to be at its lowest level in 39 years. Coal has struggled in the U.S. to compete with cheaper electricity produced from natural gas and renewable energy.  And along those lines, there is some good news …

Xcel Energy, which provides electricity to 3.6 million customers in eight states, has become the first major U.S. utility committed to delivering 100 percent carbon-free power by 2050.

Equally remarkable, the plan Xcel announced on Tuesday promises an 80 percent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions by 2030. The company stated that “its 2030 goal can be achieved affordably with renewable energy and other technologies currently available.”

According to CEO Ben Fowke …

“This risk of climate change isn’t going away and we want to be the company that does something about it and hopefully inspire others to do something about it too.”

Do you hear that, Mr. Donald Trump???

Xcel has said it can already buy new renewable power plants for less money than it costs to simply operate existing coal plants.  In August, Colorado state regulators approved an Xcel plan to shutter two Colorado coal plants and replace them with renewables plus a battery storage, while saving consumers hundreds of millions of dollars.XcelColorado’s governor-elect, Jared Polis, said …

“One of the great things about this transition is it will create tens of thousands of good, green jobs that will never be outsourced. It’s not only about carbon; it’s also about cleaner air, which means people will be healthier. We’re showing the country the way.”

Do you hear that, Mr. Donald Trump???

There are cities, states and corporations within the U.S. that are determined, despite the whims of Trump and his wealthy cronies, to work toward a sustainable environment, but they cannot do it alone.  We need a federal government that puts life before profit.  We need a federal government that helps and supports efforts such as those being made by Xcel Energy and others.

Lest you fail to understand the urgency, a report released Wednesday by a consortium of researchers known as the Global Carbon Project finds that global carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels are likely to have increased by about 2.7% in 2018, after a 1.6% increase in 2017.  That’s a 4.3% increase in just two years!

Do you hear that, Mr. Donald Trump???  You are killing us all in your quest for more wealth!

Putting 2 + 2 Together …

A few of the recent headlines …

Heat Wave Grips Northeast U.S.

Dangerous Heat Wave Hitting U.S. Over Fourth of July Weekend

UK Weather Forecast:  Summer 2018 To Be Hottest Ever

Town Hit By Major Freak Flooding in the Midst of a National Heat Wave

And the list goes on.  In my city, it has been over 90° F (32° C) and with heat index factored in, has hit 104° F (40° C) for the past four days. A check with The Weather Channel shows that there is very little, if any relief in sight at least through July 15th, another two weeks.  The average temperatures here in the two hottest months, July & August, are typically 86° and 87° with rarely more than 3-4 days over 90°.  I remember a few years that there were no 90-degree days all summer!  Humidity has been between 56% – 99% for the past several days.climate map eastern usFunny thing about all of this, though … nobody seems to be too concerned beyond the inconvenience of being uncomfortable, having trouble breathing and/or sleeping, and worrying about seeing next month’s electric bill.  I haven’t once heard mention of that forbidden phrase … climate change. I haven’t heard any others express my own concern, that this is how summers will be from now on.  For the past two winters, we have barely had any snowfall.  Last year saw a record number of intense hurricanes, including three Category 5 hurricanes, Harvey, Irma & Maria, that together caused over $281 billion in damage!

When Trump took office on 20 January 2017, he had already made it known that he believed climate change was a “hoax invented by the Chinese”.  He then nominated Scott Pruitt to lead the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  Pruitt had already sued the EPA thirteen times while he served as Oklahoma’s Attorney General!  And now, as EPA Administrator, he has climbed into bed with the fossil fuel industry, hidden his agenda from the public eye, falsified records, spent taxpayer monies recklessly and on personal items, engaged in unethical activities and in short, been one of the most corrupt cabinet members in history!  The one thing he has not done, is address the most serious issue facing our environment, climate change.

In June 2015, Trump announced that the U.S. would cease all participation in the 2015 Paris Agreement, saying that “The Paris accord will undermine [the U.S.] economy, and puts [the U.S.] at a permanent disadvantage.”  In keeping with that philosophy, he has rescinded, via ‘executive order’, a large number of regulations and safeguards that were put into place to regulate CO2 emissions, water standards, chemical toxicity, wildlife and national park protections, and the list goes on.

Now, it is not my intention to say that because Trump has given free rein to coal and oil companies, that is the reason we are sweltering.  However, I do say that unless this nation, the only one on the globe that is not remaining in the Paris Accord, takes responsibility for doing its share to take care of the planet, we will continue to see the effects that we are seeing and they will only continue to multiply.  The predictions of the climate scientists are being realized even sooner than they anticipated.

Despite the losses of life and property during last year’s hurricane season, despite the nearly unbearable extended heat wave both in the U.S. and across the pond, people seem to be oblivious.  I don’t see people leaving their cars at home, taking a bus or walking to their destination.  The lady across the street from me even starts her car and drives her bag of trash to the dumpster at the end of the street!  And no, she is not disabled, but is more ‘abled’ than I am, while I walk my trash to the dumpster! The end result is that people are much more concerned with things such as jobs, the economy, health care, taxes and other things that they can see affecting their own lives on a day-to-day basis.

This explains in part why it has been so easy for the current bunch in Washington to pull the wool over the public’s eyes about climate change, for it is seen as having more long-term than immediate effects, and also the science is not well understood among those of us who are non-scientists.  One has to take much on faith, believing that the men and women who have the education and have spent most of their lives studying the earth and environment know of what they speak.  And, of course, part of the resistance to climate change is the convenience factor, for once you acknowledge that human behaviours are destroying the environment, it is hard to argue against changing those behaviours.dinosaurAnother part of the reason that people are failing to sit up and take notice, I think, is that lackadaisical attitude that “somehow things will work out … they always do”.  I imagine the dinosaurs believed much the same once upon a time, eh?

It is encouraging that some states and cities in the U.S., as well as some corporations are taking matters into their own hands and taking steps toward being more environmentally responsible.   It is encouraging to see that in 2017, renewable energy sources accounted for about 11% of total U.S. energy consumption and about 17% of electricity generation.  But it isn’t enough.  The U.S. is not only letting its own citizens down, but is letting every man, woman and child on the globe down, for this is a global problem, not a local one.  The U.S. has emitted more planet-warming carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than any other country.  Yet while we are a big part of the problem, we refuse to be a part of the solution.

This summer’s high temperatures and humidity will lead to increased energy use as air-conditioners run non-stop in homes and businesses.  People will drive their cars more, rather than walk, and run the a/c in the car, thereby using more fuel … more polluting fuel.  What does it take to wake people up to the fact that we are very likely bringing about the extinction of the human race, and unlike the dinosaurs, who did not have the ability to control their fate, we have a choice.  Perhaps we cannot force Donald Trump to care about the earth, to care about our survival, but we can get the knuckle-draggers out of Congress and elect people who care enough to do something.  AND … we can do something.  We can combine trips so we drive less, turn our thermostats up (or down in winter), turn off lights, conserve energy in any way possible.  It may seem like a drop in the bucket compared to the energy used by factories, office buildings and big trucks, but every little bit counts.  WE MUST WAKE UP!!!

A few informative links, if you’re interested:

A Few Bits Of Good News On The Environment

Yesterday the high temperature where I live was 76° (F), 24° (C).  Yesterday was 20 February 2018.  It is never 76° in my area in February, nor in March.  The average high temperature for this time of year is 43°. Perhaps by mid-April we see temps in the 70s on occasion, but never, ever in February.  Now, admittedly I enjoyed the warmth of the day — Miss Goose and I went for a nice walk … I only managed 3.2 miles, but she went 5.6, and we both felt good about our accomplishments after a winter of inactivity, but … You don’t believe in global warming or in climate change?  Well, I do.

bumblebee on flowerFor one thing, when nearly all of the world’s climate scientists confirm the same data and draw the same conclusion, I am convinced, for they are the experts, not me, not Donald Trump, Rick Perry or Scott Pruitt.  For another thing, I can see and feel the difference from, say, ten years, or even five years ago.  There are fewer bees about in the springtime, the air is harder to breathe, the humidity levels in summer are much higher and the temperatures throughout the year, on average, much warmer.  The sky never looks as clear (okay, sure, I am half blind, but still …) I can observe these things on my own.

Sadly, we are governed by a bunch of stodgy and stupid men who deny or choose to ignore the evidence produced by scientists, and who do not leave their air-conditioned offices long enough to observe nature.  Rather than consider the work of the scientists, they simply dismiss the scientists and remove the words “climate change” from their new, alternative vocabulary.  Problem solved, right?  WRONG.

I don’t do a regular feature on the environment, but when news crosses my path that I think matters, I try to incorporate it into my work.  Today, there is some good news (and some bad news).  But just for today, let’s look at the good news, for that always makes us feel a little better, and I find hope in some of the steps being taken to defy the administration’s destructive environmental policies, or rather undoing of policies.seperator

One of Michigan’s largest public utilities, Consumers Energy — which provides power for more than 60 percent of the state’s residents — has promised to stop burning coal completely by 2040 in an effort to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. The company plans to completely phase out coal and generate 40 percent of its energy from renewable sources like wind and solar.

wind turbinesIn 2016, Consumers Energy closed down 7 of its 12 coal-fired power plants, which reduced its emissions by 38%.  They currently get 24% of their energy from coal and 10% from renewable sources.

“We believe that climate change is real and we can do our part by reducing our greenhouse gas emissions, and we also believe it doesn’t have to cost more to do it,” Consumers Energy president and CEO Patti Poppe said, adding that coal has become less cost competitive as the cost of renewable energy continues to fall.

Michigan’s other major energy company, DTE Energy, has also pledged to shutter its coal plants by 2040 and reduce carbon emissions by 80% by 2050.

According to a recent cost analysis from the financial firm Lazard Ltd., it is currently cheaper to build and operate renewable energy projects than to operate coal and nuclear plants in many parts of the United States.

Despite Trump and Pruitt’s best efforts, many more power plants are steering away from coal and into cleaner, less costly renewable energy sources. seperatorJust the words “oil pipeline” raise the hackles of those of us who care about the environment.  Keystone, Dakota Access.  New Jersey Attorney General, Gurbir Grewal, is saying “hold on just a minute there …” in response to the 120-mile PennEast Pipeline. PennEast is seeking eminent domain over nearly 147 parcels of land in New Jersey and has started proceedings to condemn, or gain legal permission to take control of these areas.  Grewal, acting on behalf of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), has filed a motion with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), requesting information from PennEast regarding site-specific information detailing how environmental impacts would be avoided or minimized.  Thus far, the company has not provided any such information to DEP.

The pipeline would cross some 30 streams, and no information has been provided for how that would be safely done.  Additionally, there has been no study performed to determine whether the properties PennEast wants to condemn would even qualify for permits under the Clean Water Act.  February 1, the New Jersey DEP rejected PennEast’s application for a water quality permit pending provision of the requested information.

This is one to watch, and will speak volumes about whether FERC is serving to protect our environment or to lick Donald Trump’s boots, but I am pleased to see the DEP and New Jersey Attorney General taking a stand.seperator

Rick Perry

Rick Perry

Last week, a judge in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California took a stand against Trump’s destructive moves.  For 30 years, federal standards governing the efficiency of home appliances and commercial equipment have been updated with bipartisan approval, producing major cuts in energy usage and reduced carbon dioxide emissions. Consumers also have saved money on their utility bills by using highly energy-efficient appliances. But in the Trump administration, Secretary of Energy Rick Perry, has missed several deadlines for updating appliance efficiency standards and is expected to miss several more in 2018.

Last week, U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria ordered the Trump administration to end its hold on rules that would strengthen appliance energy efficiency standards and help consumers save money on their energy bills.  According to Kit Kennedy, a senior director of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) …

“The Trump administration’s baffling decision to block the final procedural step could have cost Americans $8 billion in higher energy bills and created uncertainty for U.S. manufacturers. Today’s ruling reaffirms that the Trump administration must follow the laws designed to ensure America’s consumers and businesses aren’t forced to pay needlessly higher energy bills.”

Score another one for We The People.seperatorSmall victories, of course, but victories nonetheless.  It is encouraging to see states, energy companies and the courts standing for protections for our planet, not afraid of Trump and his minions.

Finally … Some Good Sense!!!

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Monday unanimously rejected a proposal by Energy Secretary Rick Perry that would have propped up nuclear and coal power struggling in competitive electricity markets.

The independent five-member commission includes four people appointed by President Trump, three of them Republicans. Its decision is binding.

– The Washington Post, 08 January 2018

Paul Bledsoe, a former Energy Department consultant under President Obama, said, “This outright rejection of subsidies for coal and nuclear shows that Commissioners of both parties have little interest in manipulating electricity markets in favor of any fuel source,”

As with most things, there is a caveat.  The commission said that it shared Perry’s stated goal of strengthening the “resilience” of the electricity grid, and as such directed regional transmission operators to provide information to help the commission examine the matter “holistically.” Holistically, apparently meaning outside mainstream science? Perry’s proposal favored power plants being able to store 90 days fuel supply on site in case of emergency, unlike renewable energy or natural gas plants.

John Moore, director of the Sustainable FERC Project Coalition, said, “The law and common sense prevailed over special interests today. The FERC correctly found that the Department of Energy’s proposal violated the basic requirements of the Federal Power Act. Secretary Perry’s plan would have subsidized coal and nuclear plants with a 90-day fuel supply yet Perry never explained why those plants were inherently more reliable or resilient.”

Although FERC could issue a new order after submissions by regional grid operators, the language in the current order suggested it would stand by the trend toward free competitive electricity markets. For once, common sense protection of the environment won the day.  Let us hope this is only the first of many such moments.

California vs Trump

From an article in the Los Angeles Daily News, 19 February 2017:

In Clinton Huey’s 6th-grade science class at Bancroft Middle School in San Leandro just south of Oakland, students have made their own carbon dioxide, measured the acid content of car exhaust, created greenhouse gas models from plastic bottles, charted sea-level rise since 700 A.D. and built wind generators – all in a quest to understand climate change.

“To me, this is the single biggest issue facing humanity,” Huey said, referring to climate change. “We have to talk to our kids about it. We have to learn about it. … We need to educate our students to become citizens of the world, which is important if we care about what our future world will be.”

The State Board also voted last year to include environmental principles in the framework for the history-social science curriculum, which means students would learn about topics such as how humans have attempted to shape their environment throughout history, from Paleolithic times to the present, or how a healthy environment is crucial for human survival.

“If we have a more environmentally literate citizenry who more thoroughly understand the essential relationship between humans and natural systems, we’re in a better position to make sustainable choices – as individuals and as a society,” Bryan Ehlers, director of education for CalRecycle, said.

The environmental standards have triggered very little opposition, either in California or nationwide, officials said.

“My hope with all this is that ultimately we can slow climate change,” he said. “I was so happy to see the new curriculum reflect humans’ impact on the environment and climate change, especially at the elementary school level. I’m hopeful we can really make a difference.”

I see this as nothing short of great news.  I do not pretend to know whether the new administration could do anything to curtail California’s efforts to teach children about environmental science, including climate change, or not.  But I think if the Department of Education, or any other federal agency tries to undermine this effort, they will be in for some challenges, legal and otherwise.  Something to keep an eye on.

Trump is not a fan of California these days, and I think the feeling is mutual.  But California is on the cutting edge in a number of areas.  Led by reliably progressive Governor Jerry Brown and bolstered by the economic hothouse that is Silicon Valley, California has become the sixth biggest economy in the world. Californians pays $452.8 billion in federal income taxes to Washington, eclipsing second-place New York by $150 billion. It grows more food than any other state, and produces most of the technologies we’ve become reliant on. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, California has more electricity-generating solar plants than the rest of the nation combined. Also … and this is important … about 85 percent of American wine comes from California.

California’s ‘return to greatness’ didn’t require border walls or trade wars. Instead of rolling back environmental regulations to curry favor with corporate interests, California has passed the toughest green laws in the nation, the first of them championed by Brown’s predecessor, Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. The state’s citizens have voted in measures to increase taxes, legalize marijuana, restrict the rights of gun owners and enact criminal justice reforms. While conservative state legislatures are debating pointless “bathroom bills,” California has passed what some say are the strongest LGBT protections in the entire world.

California has the nation’s biggest share of undocumented immigrants, 2.4 million, who are allowed to get driver’s licenses in order to get to and from jobs, pick up their children at school, etc., and while Trump is calling for an indefinite ban on all immigrants from Syria, California welcomed more Syrian refugees in fiscal year 2016 than any other state. It was a major participant in 2015’s climate change accord in Paris — the one Trump is threatening to vacate, which has most of the industrialized world working to curb greenhouse gas emissions. California expects to get half of its energy from renewable sources by 2030, with billions of public and private dollars going to wind and solar projects around the state.

ca-vs-trumpWhatever the Trump/Pruitt team plan to do to undermine California’s environmental policies, Governor Brown says he is ready to fight. “We’ve got the scientists, we’ve got the lawyers, and we’re ready to fight,” he boasted of his state. “We’re ready to defend. California is no stranger to this fight. If Trump turns off the satellites, California will launch its own damn satellite. We’re going to collect that data.” (He refers to a potential diminution of the federal government’s role in collecting atmospheric data.) Brown laid out a road map for California legislators who have their own disagreements with the new president: Resist by simply continuing to do what California has been doing; dare Trump to play chicken.

Trump, for his part, has singled out California as one of the two states that he believes he would have won the popular vote were it not for “voter fraud”, and has announced plans to tighten immigration rules and punish jurisdictions that offer sanctuary to those without proper papers— penalties that in California could rise to millions or billions of dollars.

According to U.S. Representative Adam Schiff, “He could have a tremendous impact — probably no state is as much at risk as California. This is a president who is not above being very punitive for perceived slights. And so you could easily foresee him trying to reward states that are with him and punish states that weren’t.”

What is coming down the road is anybody’s guess at this point, since Trump does not direct policy based on anything akin to logic.  But California has made some great strides in the environment, education, and civil rights, and if any state is ready to defend such progress, it is certainly California.  The upside is that California is one of only six states that has what is known as a Democratic triumvirate:  a Democratic governor, and a Democratic majority in both houses of the state legislature. I think this latest, the teaching of environmental science, including climate change, is certainly a positive step and I would like to see more states follow suit, though that may be difficult under the current administration.  At any rate, I tip my hat to their efforts thus far.

doffing-hat

Links to Main Sources:

  1. California renews push to promote environmental literacy in schools 
  2. CALIFORNIA V. TRUMP: THE FIGHT BEGINS FOR HEALTH CARE, IMMIGRATION AND THE FUTURE OF AMERICA 
  3. Analysis Trump versus California: The feud turns from rhetorical to real 

Hillary Clinton – On the Issues (Part VII – Climate Change)

“I won’t let anyone take us backward, deny our economy the benefits of harnessing a clean energy future, or force our children to endure the catastrophe that would result from unchecked climate change.” – Hillary Clinton, November 29, 2015

hrc-climateYesterday I wrote about climate change supporters, interferers and deniers.  Today I shall take a look at what Hillary Clinton’s plans are in the area of climate change.  This is such an important issue, and yet it is such a complex issue that it is difficult to summarize in a nutshell.  Hillary’s platform includes the following:

  • Defend, implement, and extend smart pollution and efficiency standards, including the Clean Power Plan and standards for cars, trucks, and appliances that are already helping clean our air, save families money, and fight climate change.
  • Launch a $60 billion Clean Energy Challenge to partner with states, cities, and rural communities to cut carbon pollution and expand clean energy, including for low-income families. Read the fact sheet here.
  • Invest in clean energy infrastructure, innovation, manufacturing and workforce development to make the U.S. economy more competitive and create good-paying jobs and careers. Read the fact sheet here.
  • Ensure safe and responsible energy production. As we transition to a clean energy economy, we must ensure that the fossil fuel production taking place today is safe and responsible and that areas too sensitive for energy production are taken off the table. Read the fact sheet here.
  • Reform leasing and expand clean energy production on public lands and waters tenfold within a decade.
  • Cut the billions of wasteful tax subsidies oil and gas companies have enjoyed for too long and invest in clean energy.
  • Cut methane emissions across the economy and put in place strong standards for reducing leaks from both new and existing sources.
  • Revitalize coal communities by supporting locally driven priorities and make them an engine of U.S. economic growth in the 21st century, as they have been for generations. Read the fact sheet here.
  • Make environmental justice and climate justice central priorities by setting bold national goals to eliminate lead poisoning within five years, clean up the more than 450,000 toxic brownfield sites across the country, expand solar and energy efficiency solutions in low-income communities, and create an Environmental and Climate Justice Task Force. Read the fact sheet here.
  • Promote conservation and collaborative stewardship. Hillary will keep public lands public, strengthen protections for our natural and cultural resources, increase access to parks and public lands for all Americans, as well as harness the immense economic potential they offer through expanded renewable energy production, a high quality of life, and a thriving outdoor economy. Read the fact sheet here.

Ms. Clinton’s plan is comprehensive, complete with ideas of how to achieve her goals.  Since it is impossible for me to cover it all here, please do take a few minutes to click on the links to the fact sheets, as they contain a wealth of information.

wind-turbineMy concern is not with Ms. Clinton’s platform, per se, but rather with her ability to get legislation through a Congress in which, at last count, 170 elected representatives in the 114th Congress are deniers of the science of climate change.  That is 56% of Congressional Republicans and 39% of Congress in total!  I seriously considered naming each and every one in this post, but there is a great website that lists them all by state, includes a brief statement summarizing their views on climate change, and even has an interactive map. Please take a look and see where your own Senators and Representatives stand.  List of climate change deniers in Congress 

As we have seen during the past eight years, Congress has no compunction against sitting on their collective butts playing video games while significant and important proposed legislation falls by the wayside.  Given the current environment of hostility toward Ms. Clinton, I cannot imagine that her policy proposals will fare any better unless this November brings about a significant change in the structure of Congress.  Even with that, Ms. Clinton’s biggest challenge in this area is going to be finding ways to motivate Congress and the citizens.

According to a recent survey conducted by the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago (EPIC) and The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, 65% of Americans think climate change is a problem that the government needs to address, including 84% of Democrats and 43% of Republicans. 57% of those polled said they would pay at least $1 more on their monthly electric bill for climate action, including 29% who would pay $20 a month more, and 20% who said they would pay as much as $50 more!  On the flip side, 42% of the respondents said they were unwilling to pay even $1 for such policies. Other results of the survey were:

  • 54% of Americans (67% of Democrats and 46% of Republicans) favor federal regulations that would reduce U.S. coal use,
  • Only a quarter of Americans are confident that the U.S. will meet its obligations under an international climate agreement reached in Paris last December, but eight in 10 say the country should still try to meet those responsibilities.

The bottom line is that a majority of U.S. citizens do see climate change as a critical issue and are willing to make some sacrifices to address the issue.  This, I think, is what Ms. Clinton will need to use as her foundation, and build on it by finding ways to motivate and inspire people to send a clear message to Congress that they want action.  This will be Ms. Clinton’s greatest challenge when it comes to developing cleaner energy and working toward our global environmental commitments.

climateCurrently, 27 states, most with Republican governors, are challenging Obama’s Clean Power Plan in court. They say the lower emissions levels it would impose are an undue burden, despite the fact that most are already meeting the new standards, or close to meeting them.  In the words of Cynthia Coffman, attorney general of Colorado, “We don’t have anything against clean air. That really doesn’t factor into my decision to say the federal government has gone beyond its legal authority.” Just like anything else, if the states stepped up to the plate, if they had taken initiative to reduce carbon emissions, develop renewable energy sources, then we would not need to impose regulations at the federal level.  The states have had ample opportunity, yet they have failed.  We cannot continue to ignore this problem, to engage in partisan game-playing, while we are destroying the earth.

Briefly let us take a look at Mr. Trump’s environmental proposals. As with several other issues, he does not have climate change listed on his campaign website, so we will have to look at what he has said:

  • Trump rejects the scientific consensus on climate change
  • “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.”
  • “You want to have clean air, clean water. That’s very important to me.”
  • Trump issued an energy plan focused on promoting fossil fuels and weakening environmental regulation
  • Trump promised to “rescind” in his first 100 days in office a variety of Environmental Protection Agency regulations
  • Trump has specifically pledged to revoke the Climate Action Plan and the Waters of the United States rule, which he characterizes as two “job-destroying Obama executive actions.”
  • Trump has vowed to revive the U.S. coal economy and re-open old mines.
  • Trump implied that the regulations on hairspray and coal mining are both “unwarranted” and incorrectly asserted that hairspray use in a “sealed” apartment prevents the spray’s ozone-depleting substances from reaching the atmosphere. (You’ve really got to think about this one for a minute, folks!!!)
  • Trump pledged in his May 2016 speech on energy policy to “cancel the Paris climate agreement”.
  • “We’ll be fine with the environment. We can leave a little bit, but you can’t destroy businesses.”

buffoonHow can anybody fail to see what a dangerous buffoon he is?  Every one of his statements on climate change and environmental issues are a reflection of a lack of education, as well as a lack of concern for the planet we live on and for future generations.

dead-earthEach of us is responsible for our environment.  We must all do our part, but more importantly, we must do so collectively. No longer can we avoid the realities that mankind is destroying the environment and pretend we don’t see. While it will not happen tomorrow, next week, or even next year, at the current rate, eventually the earth will no longer be able to sustain life.  The earth was not created only for us to have fun and make monetary profit, it was created to sustain life. Ms. Clinton’s goals are a major step in the right direction, but she cannot even begin to implement them without us.  It is our responsibility to take climate change seriously, and to demand that our elected representatives do the same.