Look Around: The Costs of Not Acting on Climate Are Adding Up Fast

From major hurricanes and flooding to droughts and fires, the refusal to accept the science of global warming is getting very expensive.

— by Common Dreams staff

The La Tuna fire that raged in Los Angeles over the weekend was the largest ever seen in the city. Wildfires in California have been tied to the effects of climate change. (Photo: @climatesignals/Twitter)

As Houston begins a recovery from Hurricane Harvey that is likely to last several years and cost many billions of dollars, the threat of extreme weather events around the country and the globe are illustrating the impact of climate change—and the damage being done by right-wing politicians including President Donald Trump who have refused to heed repeated warnings from scientists and other experts.

Author and 350.org co-founder Bill McKibben summed up the current state of affairs in a number of major U.S. cities, juxtaposed with Trump’s decision earlier this year to withdraw from the 2016 Paris agreement on climate change:

Texas Governor Greg Abbott has warned that the damage done to the country’s fourth-largest city could cost the government $180 billion—more than Hurricane Katrina cost in 2005. Aside from rebuilding costs, Houston-area residents may pay in other ways as well: as Common Dreams reported, the Center for Biological Diversity finds that “Oil refineries and chemical plants across the Texas Gulf coast released more than 1 million pounds of dangerous air pollutants in the week after Harvey struck.

On Monday morning, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said there is an “increasing chance” that the Florida Peninsula and the Florida Keys will see “some impacts” from the rapidly-approaching Hurricane Irma, and that “rough surf and dangerous marine conditions will begin to affect the southeastern U.S. coast by later this week.”

In Los Angeles, meanwhile, firefighters spent the weekend fighting what Mayor Eric Garcetti called “the largest fire in the history of” the city, covering about 7,000 acres and forcing hundreds of residents to evacuate. The wildfire, known as the La Tuna fire, broke out amid temperatures in the hundreds, and the Union of Concerned Scientists has noted that climate change is “fueling the frequency of wildfires” throughout the state in recent years.

As Andy Rowell, writing for Oil Change Internationalwrote in a column on Monday, Harvey’s damage in Houston and across the region “should also be a wake-up call to the climate-denying president that unless he acts on climate, there will be more Harveys.”

Rowell continues:

It is a wake-up call to the media to accurately report the disaster, including how climate change fuelled its intensity. It is also a wake-up call to the oil industry in so many, many ways.

On a national and international level it shows how our continuing dependence on fossil fuels will drive more extreme weather events. On a regional level it shows how ill-prepared the fossil fuel industry—and wider petrochemical industry—were to an event like this, despite decades of warnings.

Instead the fossil fuel industry’s complacency, malaise, self-regulation and capture of the political system are all to blame too. They have led to a system of peril.

Writing for Common Dreams on Monday, Randall Amster refers to it as the “new normal of destabilization”—a world in which climate-related disasters are happening more often and with escalating costs.

“In just the past week,” he writes, “we’ve seen record-breaking rainfall and wildfires plague parts of the United States. Globally, such extreme events appear to be increasing in frequency and magnitude. Droughts, floods, fires, and more can be seen as warning signs of impending ecosystem collapse at the planetary scale, with impacts felt in locales and regions around the world. While no single event may be able to draw a causal line directly from climate change, the cumulative correlation indicates escalating destabilization.”

Meanwhile, Trump and his cabinet remain reluctant to discuss the causes of disasters like Harvey as they strike. Environmental Protection Agency head Scott Pruitt declared it was “misplaced” to discuss the storm’s link to climate change last week.

But that view was specifically countered by journalist Naomi Klein who said that it is in the midst of these climate-related disasters when the conversation about global warming and its impacts is most important.

“Talking honestly about what is fueling this era of serial disasters—even while they’re playing out in real time—isn’t disrespectful to the people on the front lines,” argued Klein at The Intercept. “In fact, it is the only way to truly honor their losses, and our last hope for preventing a future littered with countless more victims.”


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News & Views | 04.25.17

 

Betraying ‘Hire American’ Pledge, Trump Rewards Companies Offshoring US Jobs
by Lauren McCauley
Though he has the power, President Trump has yet to wield his executive authority to stop U.S. jobs from being shipped abroad

 

It’s Now Been Three Long Years Since Flint Had Clean Water
by Nika Knight
Flint, Michigan has not had clean water since the city switched its water source to the Flint River on April 24, 2014

 

Ivanka Trump Is Booed, Hissed in Germany for Defending Donald Trump
by Nika Knight
German audience also appeared confused by prominent role president’s daughter is playing in the administration

 

‘Truly Dumb’: Why $2.4 Trillion Corporate Tax Cut Will Not Magically Pay for Itself
by Jon Queally
Economists and tax experts push back against White House reported plan to slash corporate rate by 60 percent

 

‘Conveyor Belt of Death’ Continues as Arkansas Carries Out Double Execution
by Lauren McCauley
‘The sentences of Jack Jones and Marcel Williams are another heinous example of how the death penalty is applied to people with severe mental impairments and history of abuse’

 

Ontario to Launch North America’s First Test of Universal Basic Income
by Nadia Prupis
“We want to find out whether a basic income makes a positive difference in people’s lives”

 

FCC’s “Puppet Bureaucrat” Chair Pai to Announce Plan to Kill Net Neutrality
by Nadia Prupis
“Trump’s FCC chairman has put on blinders because he’s determined to take away basic rights against online discrimination that Congress granted everyone in this country”

 

Attention, Please: We Can Guarantee Healthcare for All Californians
by Deborah Burger
It’s time for a better plan. One that puts everybody in and leaves nobody out.

 

Making Sense of the Deportation Debate
by Aviva Chomsky
How Bill Clinton and Barack Obama laid the groundwork for Trump’s immigration policies

 

Where Is the Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders of Foreign Policy?
by Katrina vanden Heuvel
Many Democrats are positioning themselves to take on Trump four years from now. They’d be wise to seek leadership by demonstrating it.

 

Why Was Heath Mello Thrown Under the Bus?
by D.D. Guttenplan
Was the candidate for mayor of Omaha held to a different standard than other Democrats?

 

Why We Are Joining the March on Harrisburg
by Frances Moore Lappé, Adam Eichen
A vibrant pro-democracy movement is on the march

 

Everything Wrong with Charter Schools on Display in New Orleans
by Bill Quigley
Major challenges of ctiy’s charter schools exposed at recent NAACP Hearing

 

Trump’s AP Interview: Unhinged, Bombastic, and “[Unintelligible]”
by Nadia Prupis
President sits down with Associated Press to rail against the media, dismiss his 100-day threshold, and discuss his broken pledges

 

American Dream in Freefall: It’s This Bad
by Andrea Germanos
‘Declines in absolute mobility have been a systematic, widespread phenomenon throughout the United States since 1940,’ the authors of the new study write

 

‘Major Setback’ for Justice as Supreme Court Rejects Torture Report Lawsuit
by Nadia Prupis
“The full report is the definitive account of one of the darkest chapters in our nation’s history, and the public has a right to see it,” said ACLU’s Hina Shamsi

 

Planet Breaches 410 ppm as Back-to-Back Protests Demand Trump Wake Up
by Lauren McCauley
Bridging March for Science with Peoples Climate March, week of action will focus on creating a just transition from fossil fuels

‘Sheer Reckless Folly’: Trump Destroys Obama-Era Climate Rules

“Aside from provoking a large-scale nuclear war, it is hard to imagine an American president taking an action more harmful to the U.S. than Trump’s effort to accelerate greenhouse gas emissions”
— by Nika Knight, staff writer at CommonDreams

Smog envelopes the Salt Lake City skyline in November 2016. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons/cc)

President Donald Trump on Tuesday set about aggressively dismantling Obama-era climate policies with an executive order decried as “sheer reckless folly,” which will increase U.S. greenhouse gas emissions and accelerate the climate crisis.

“Aside from provoking a large-scale nuclear war, it is hard to imagine an American president taking an action more harmful to the U.S. than Trump’s effort to accelerate greenhouse gas emissions,” said David J. Arkush, managing director of Public Citizen’s Climate Program, in a statement.

“This day may be remembered as a low point in human history—a time when the world’s preeminent power could have led the world to a better future but instead moved decisively toward catastrophe,” Arkush added.

The order instructs the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to rewrite former President Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan (CPP), which would have limited the emissions of coal-powered power plants. It also lifts the moratorium on federal coal leasing, repeals limits on methane emissions from fracking, and directs the agency to reconsider the Social Cost of Carbon and the National Environmental Policy Act guidance on greenhouse gas emissions.

“The EPA’s rollback of basic environmental rules demonstrates that when it comes to the health of our children, our communities, and our climate, this is an administration of lawlessness and disorder,” said Elizabeth Yeampierre, executive director of the grassroots sustainability group UPROSE, in statement.

“Indigenous peoples will not stand idle as we tell the world the Earth is the source of life to be protected, not merely a resource to be exploited and abused.”
—Tom BK Goldtooth, Indigenous Environmental Network

“For frontline communities, those of us impacted first and worst by the extraction economy, this means an escalation of public health crises, from asthma to cancer. It means an utter disregard for those of us most vulnerable to climate disasters,” Yeampierre added. “It means a world of volatility and exploitation for our children and grandchildren.”

Environmentalists, local and state leaders, and advocacy groups are vowing to resist.

“The best way to fight against these executive orders is to take to the streets,” as 350.org executive director May Boeve put it.

“President Donald Trump tearing apart the CPP is an act of aggression and violence against the sacredness of Mother Earth and Father Sky,” said Tom BK Goldtooth, executive director of the Indigenous Environmental Network, in a statement. “Our indigenous prophecies and teachings tell us that Life as we know it is in danger. The atmosphere and the environment cannot absorb anymore concentration of greenhouse gases. As Indigenous peoples, we still understand our responsibility as guardians and the need to take action as defenders of the Earth. Indigenous peoples will not stand idle as we tell the world the Earth is the source of life to be protected, not merely a resource to be exploited and abused.”

“As a member of the climate justice movement, we stand defiant in the face of these orders and are prepared to hold the line,” Yeampierre said. “We will meet these violent policies with a deeper commitment to a Just Transition away from fossil fuels, toward renewable energy, local resiliency, and a regenerative economy worthy of leaving our children.”

The climate movement has numbers on its side, groups observe. “Millions of Americans have called for strong climate action, submitting more than 8 million comments asking the EPA to take action to cut carbon pollution from power plants,” noted Environment America. Recent polling confirms that a vast majority of Americans support climate action.

Moreover, despite the Trump administration’s dubious claims of job creation, the Department of Energy showed that renewable energy jobs have already overtaken fossil fuel industry jobs, and the trend shows no sign of slowing.

As the federal government gives up its role in the climate fight, many now see local and state leaders taking up the charge.

“The West Coast will be allied with the rest of the world that understands science.”
— Washington Gov. Jay Inslee”

[A]s our most successful climate programs face attack on the federal level, it is incumbent on states to double down on their climate commitments,” Environment America wrote. “We are calling on our governors to keep leading the charge and push the progress we need to tackle the climate crisis and get 100 percent renewable energy.”

West Coast politicians are already uniting under the umbrella of the Pacific Coast Collaborative to battle the federal government’s rightward turn on climate.

“As the governors of Washington, Oregon, and California and the mayors of Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Oakland, and Los Angeles, we speak today in support of the Clean Power Plan,” the Pacific Coast Collaborative wrote in advance of the executive order. “We speak in unified opposition to the idea of any decision by the President to limit our region’s economic opportunities or our commitment to doing what’s right to make our cities and states cleaner and healthier for future generations.”

“The West Coast is going to move forward to beat climate change,” said Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington state, according to Northwest Public Radio. “The West Coast going to move forward to build clean energy jobs. The West Coast will be allied with the rest of the world that understands science.”

“It is up to the American public to move the nation in the right direction on climate and clean energy despite the worst efforts of the so-called leader in the White House.” — David J. Arkush, Public Citizen

“Many states and cities in the West will continue to lead on clean energy because it makes economic sense, and those states that tie their fate to Scott Pruitt’s doomed strategy of delay and deny face an increasingly risky future,” said Bill Corcoran, Western campaign director for the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign.

And despite the frightening actions of the Trump administration, states and cities are already taking strong action to fight climate change. California last week passed the nation’s strictest methane regulations, and on Monday the Maryland state senate passed a statewide fracking ban. Maryland’s Republican governor has already signaled his support for the ban.

People nationwide are also ready to rise up and march for climate justice.

“Even as Trump dismantles environmental protections to shore up the fossil fuel industry, support for action to stop global warming is at an all-time high,” said 350.org’s Boeve. “Now it’s up to communities to bring our vision of a healthy climate and a just transition to renewable energy to life.”

Those who support climate action and oppose Trump’s fossil fuel-friendly administration will gather for the Peoples Climate March in Washington, D.C., on April 29, as well as the March for Science in D.C. and elsewhere on April 22.

“From the upcoming congressional recess through the Peoples Climate March and beyond, we’ll be putting pressure on lawmakers to defend the climate and building power to stop the fossil fuel industry for good,” Boeve said.

“Now is the time to come together and build an economy where investments are made to benefit workers, communities of color, women, and low-income folks, not the fossil fuel industry,” said Rae Breaux, lead climate justice organizer for the People’s Action Institute, in a statement.

Public Citizen’s Arkush added: “It is up to the American public to move the nation in the right direction on climate and clean energy despite the worst efforts of the so-called leader in the White House.”


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On Day One, Trump’s WhiteHouse.gov Scrubs Every Mention of Combating Climate Change

New administration’s official site offers ‘America First Energy Plan’ which boasts ‘direct obstacle to a livable future’ by promoting fracking and coal

Trump’s America First Energy Plan isn’t a plan at all, said Sierra Club head Michael Brune, but “a polluter wishlist that will make our air and water dirtier, our climate and international relations more unstable, and our kids sicker.” (Photo: Julia DeSantis via Climate J20/flickr/cc)

Soon after Donald Trump took his oath as the 45th President of the United States, the new White House web page for his administration went up. Among the key differences from the previous administration’s—the lack of any reference to the threat of climate change.

While climate change was listed as a top issue on the Obama White House official site, the new page now lists ‘America First Energy Plan’ as among the top six issues.

The new page states: “For too long, we’ve been held back by burdensome regulations on our energy industry. President Trump is committed to eliminating harmful and unnecessary policies such as the Climate Action Plan and the Waters of the U.S. rule” That is the only use of “climate” on the page.

WH Energy page just minutes before new Administration took office

Screenshot from the new Trump administration's White House site

Screenshot from the new Trump administration’s White House site The Climate Action Plan refers to Obama-era climate regulations, and the Waters of the U.S. rule, as the Washington Post explains, “is an EPA action to protect not only the nation’s largest waterways but smaller tributaries that critics think should fall under the jurisdiction of states rather than the federal government,” a rollback of which could “end up benefiting some Trump-related businesses.”

The “energy plan” page adds that the new administration “will embrace the shale oil and gas revolution” and is “committed to clean coal technology,” referring to carbon capture and storage—a costly technological process that has so far proven a failure.

The page adds: “President Trump will refocus the EPA on its essential mission of protecting our air and water”—though it stands to be “every polluter’s ally” if Trump’s pick to head the agency, Scott Pruitt, is confirmed.

The Obama White House site, in contrast, listed climate change as a top issue, stating: “President Obama believes that no challenge poses a greater threat to our children, our planet, and future generations than climate change.”

Addressing that magnitude, Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club, said, “Minutes after he was sworn in, any illusion that Trump would act in the best interests of families in this country as President were wiped away by a statement of priorities that constitute an historic mistake on one of the key crises facing our planet and an assault on public health.”

Rather than a plan, Brune said it’s a “polluter wishlist that will make our air and water dirtier, our climate and international relations more unstable, and our kids sicker.”

At the same time, the pledges for more fossil fuel extraction are not at all surprising, said 350.org executive director May Boeve. “Trump’s energy plan is par for the course of the President’s climate denial, but it’s nonetheless alarming for the movement to keep fossil fuels in the ground.”

“Fulfilling this plan would not only set back years of progress we’ve made towards protecting the climate, but would undoubtedly worsen the devastating impacts of the climate crisis, from rising sea levels to extreme weather. This is not a plan for a brighter future—it’s a direct obstacle to a livable future, and we will do everything we can to resist it,” she said.

As New York magazine notes, also missing from the new White House site are sections on LGBTQ equality, civil rights, and healthcare.

#Rexxon ‘not aware’ of the existence of fossil fuel subsidies

But independent analysis suggests that Exxon gets as much as $1 billion in oil and gas subsidies.

Rex Tillerson testifies on Capitol Hill at his confirmation hearing to become the Secretary of State. CREDIT: Patsy Lynch/MediaPunch/IPX

During former Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson’s confirmation hearing for Secretary of State on Wednesday, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) wanted to know how, if confirmed, the former oil executive would work to fulfill a 2009 G20 pledge to phase out fossil fuel subsidies.

“I’m not aware of anything the fossil fuel industry gets that I would characterize as a subsidy,” Tillerson responded. “Rather it’s simply the application of the tax code broadly, tax code that broadly applies to all industry.”

CREDIT: C-SPAN/YouTube

But environmental groups argue that Tillerson’s statements are misleading at best, noting fossil fuel companies like Exxon receive significant benefits from parts of the tax code that apply only to them — and no other industry.

“Rex Tillerson lied under oath today,” Alex Doukas, a senior campaigner with Oil Change International, told ThinkProgress. “Oil, gas, and coal corporations receive big subsidies in the U.S, and definitions used by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, the World Trade Organization, the International Energy Agency, and the International Monetary Fund would all agree on that point,” he said, adding that “these are hardly radically progressive organizations.”

According to analysis by Oil Change International — a research group focused on understanding the true costs of fossil fuels — Exxon receives anywhere from $700 million to $1 billion in government subsidies each year.

Those subsidies are doled out in a number of ways, which are perhaps best highlighted in a 2015 U.S. self-review, submitted to the G20, of the country’s fossil fuel subsidies. Subsidies can come from things like tax breaks, such as deductions for the “intangible drilling costs” or an oil and gas operation, or deductions for manufacturing fossil fuels domestically. They can also come from provisions that allow fossil fuel companies to set aside the costs of certain geological and geophysical expenditures. Under the current tax code, mining companies may deduct 70 percent of domestic exploration and development costs.

The 2015 U.S. review states that there are currently 16 federal fossil fuel production tax provisions that apply only to producers of fossil fuels, and no other industry.

As Exxon CEO, it’s likely Tillerson knew about these tax deductions available to the oil and gas industry, and knew the extent to which Exxon was taking advantage of them. As a company, Exxon has spent millions on lobbying related to fossil fuel subsidies — in 2012, they were the leading force on lobbying surrounding the Repeal Big Oil Tax Subsidies Act, which would have repealed several tax breaks for five big oil companies, including Exxon. In 2016, they were the only company to register a lobbying presence with regards to the FAIR Energy Policy Act, which would have also ended certain big tax preferences for fossil fuel companies.

Under Tillerson, Exxon’s political spending greatly increased, growing from a little over $700,000 in 2004 to $1.5 million in 2016. And, according to OpenSecrets, each year, around 90 percent of that money went to Republican candidates, the same candidates more likely to vote against ending fossil fuel subsidies (in 2012, for example, only two Republican senators voted for the Repeal Big Oil Tax Subsidies Act).

During Wednesday’s hearing, Tillerson made it clear that he would not support the G20 pledge to revoke fossil fuel subsidies as Secretary of State — a position he shares with President-elect Donald Trump, who has repeatedly called for an increase in fossil fuel production domestically.

“I think as the president-elect has made clear in his views, in his whole objective of his campaign, of putting America first, that he is not going to support anything that would put U.S. industry in any particular sector at a disadvantage to its competitors outside of the U.S., whether it’s automobile manufacturing or steel making or the oil and gas industry,” Tillerson said.

That’s not exactly true, however. Trump has promised to end federal funding for renewable energy development, a decision that would make U.S. industries like solar and wind much less competitive compared to international producers. China, for instance, recently announced that it plans to invest $360 billion in clean energy — a move that would create 13 million jobs by 2020. China already has over 40 percent of all jobs in renewables, globally. The U.S., meanwhile, claims just under 10 percent of the global renewable job share.


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Worth the Repeat: Rep. Mark Amodei NV2 = Certifiable Climate Denier

(Originally posted on Rockolitics on May 20, 2014)

I wrote to Rep. Mark Amodei NV2 expressing my concerns about climate.  Here’s his response in which (1) he espouses climate change denialism (“I do not believe it is appropriate for the federal government to advocate one position over the other”), and (2) advocates that we should commission an “unbiased research effort funded by both the government and the private sector to answer the essential questions about climate change.”  Unbiased? Really? What’s biased about 97% agreement amongst scientists who study the world’s climate? I guess that isn’t good enough for “Mr. I Know Better Than Scientists” and that he’ll do all he can to stall out any action until it’s too late to do absolutely ANYTHING that might mitigate the dire circumstances in which we’ll find ourselves mired within the next decade or two.

Thank you for contacting me to express your thoughts on climate change. I appreciate hearing from you on this issue.

As you know, climatology is complex issue. For the past century scientists have widely accepted that the earth is slowly becoming warmer. Over the past 30 to 40 years, some have noted the rate of increase has become steeper.

There are many theories regarding what has caused the increase and how it can affect life as well as the environment. Most believe the earth’s warming is largely man made and that the increase in greenhouse gases is the main factor in rising temperatures. The focus of debate comes from the lack of scientific consensus on how the earth will continue to warm, and what we should to do curb the effects of any warming. Some political leaders and environmental supporters stipulate that the earth’s temperature could rise by as much as 6 degrees by the end of the century. Other noted environmentalists say that rate of increase is implausible. Over the past decade, we have seen a major slowdown in global warming and scientists are still in the process of explaining this phenomenon.

Like you I believe we need to be good stewards of our environment. I also believe we need to be wary about sweeping environmental policies driven more by emotions than by sound science. We need to be careful that our policies don’t trade one bad environmental practice for another. As an example, some of our more fuel efficient and therefore emission friendly vehicles are made with materials that are very energy intensive to mine and take much longer to decompose than those of their less fuel efficient counterparts.

I do not believe it is appropriate for the federal government to advocate one position over the other. I do agree we must have an unbiased research effort funded by both the government and the private sector to answer the essential questions about climate change. Since 1990, the U.S. has spent at least $50 billion on climate research.

With sound science and a clear understanding of the natural climate cycles that the earth undergoes, we will be able to develop effective solutions to the human causes of global warming. As legislation to address this issue comes to the House floor for a vote, be assured I will consider it carefully and keep your thoughts in mind.

I appreciate the fact that you have taken the time to apprise me of your opinions and hope that you will contact me again should you have any further comments or concerns. If you would like additional information on my activities in the House, please visit my website, www.Amodei.house.gov or connect with me on facebook.com/MarkAmodeiNV2 and twitter.com/MarkAmodeiNV2.

In closing, please know that I consider it a privilege to serve and represent you and your family in Congress.

Sincerely,
Amodei-signature


Most interestingly, and hilariously, his letter invites me to connect with him on Twitter:

Blocked

When I clicked on “FOLLOW” … I got the cute little note at the top of the page indicating that I’ve been BLOCKED from being able to follow MY REPRESENTATIVE TO CONGRESS at the request of the user.

With Nevada Poised to Squash Rooftop Solar, Clean Energy Fight Heats Up

Decision “puts Nevada embarrassingly out of step with the national and international agenda recently set in Paris to save our climate,” says local activist

Renewable energy advocates say the move could “destroy the rooftop solar industry in one of the states with the most sunshine.” (Photo: SolarCity Advocacy/Twitter)

Renewable energy advocates in Nevada are outraged by the state’s solar-killing moves, and they’re not going down without a fight.

The state’s Public Utilities Commission considered requests Wednesday from solar company groups, homeowners, activists, and the state consumer advocate to put a stay on a rate hike that took effect January 1.

The Republican-appointed Commission (PUC) in late December voted to increase a fixed monthly fee for solar customers by about 40 percent while simultaneously reducing the amount customers get paid for excess power they sell to the grid. It also made these changes retroactive—a move one solar executive said would “sabotage” consumers’ investments.

Clean energy advocates swiftly decried the changes, which have left the state’s solar sector “in turmoil.”

Lyndon Rive, CEO of SolarCity, said the move would “destroy the residential rooftop solar industry in one of the states with the most sunshine.”

In fact, he added, “the one benefactor of this decision would be NV Energy, whose monopoly will have been protected. The people will have lost choice, jobs and faith in their government.”

According to Bloomberg, SolarCity announced last week plans to fire 550 field and support staff in Nevada and Sunrun Inc. followed a day later with “hundreds” more job cuts.

The PUC’s decision “forces Sunrun to displace our Nevada employees, inflicting enormous pain on hard-working Nevada families,” said Bryan Miller, the company’s senior vice president of public policy and power markets. “Nevada passed incentives to attract residents to go solar. But after baiting homeowners with incentives, the state switched the rules, penalizing solar homeowners to deliver additional profit to NV Energy. This bait and switch hurts Nevada families, many of whom are retirees on fixed incomes, and who use solar savings to meet their monthly budgets.”

Renewable energy advocate Judy Treichel, who serves as executive director of the Nevada Nuclear Waste Task Force, belongs to one of those families.

In a guest column for the Las Vegas Sun published Tuesday, Treichel explained how “when the price of solar panels for residential installations dropped significantly, we tapped $8,500 from our retirement savings—after taking into account an NV Energy rebate and federal tax credit—and become a solar household. We were solar-powered all of last year, and our annual savings showed our system would pay for itself within 14 years. Moreover, it was right for the environment.”

Now, she said, “we feel financially ambushed,” continuing:

With the new pricing for NEM customers, the value or price of the energy they produce will be vastly reduced. In addition, the flat service charge for NEM customers will rise to three times that charged to nonsolar residential customers, a kind of penalty for producing much of our own electricity. The people with solar on their homes feel cheated; solar businesses are closing or leaving.

Similar arguments were reiterated on Wednesday, when actor-activist Mark Ruffalo joined hundreds of Nevadans calling on the PUC to change course—and for Gov. Brian Sandoval to take a stand against the new rates.

“Today’s decision puts Nevada embarrassingly out of step with the national and international agenda recently set in Paris to save our climate,” said Rt. Rev. Dan T. Edwards, Bishop of the Episcopal Churches of Nevada, following the PUC’s vote in December.

Indeed, squashing solar can be seen as a desperate attempt to hold on to the status quo, as Danny Kennedy, author of the book Rooftop Revolution and co-founder of solar company Sungevity in California, said in an interview with Alternet in 2013:

Solar power represents a change in electricity that has a potentially disruptive impact on power in both the literal sense (meaning how we get electricity) and in the figurative sense of how we distribute wealth and power in our society. Fossil fuels have led to the concentration of power whereas solar’s potential is really to give power over to the hands of people. This shift has huge community benefits while releasing our dependency on the centralized, monopolized capital of the fossil fuel industry. So it’s revolutionary in the technological and political sense.

536

537

538

539

Of course, while the PUC’s residential solar-killing move directly impacts locals, it comes amid a growing global push for a clean transition to renewable energy.

Hillary Clinton’s Plan to Combat Climate Change

“Climate change is one of the most urgent problems facing our nation and our world. I’m proud to announce the first steps of an ambitious plan to combat it and help make America a clean energy superpower.  Too many Republicans in this race deny the very existence of this global threat by reminding you that they’re not scientists. Well, I may not be a scientist, but I’m a grandmother with two eyes and a brain. That’s all it takes to know that we must immediately address climate change, one of the defining challenges of our time. I hope you’ll stand with me to do just that.” — Hillary Clinton

Hillary for Nevada Facebook Page 

Hillary on Economics

Hillary on defending America and our core values 

Hagar: Clinton’s ‘gender card’ campaign picks up steamRGJ // Ray Hagar

Clinton campaign stops in Ely on Nev. tourEly Times// Garrett Estrada

Clinton’s grassroots tour stops in FallonLahontan Valley News // Steve Ranson

Clinton staffers make local stopThe Humboldt Sun // Joyce Sheen

Why were they in Gardnerville—Let’s Talk Nevada // Andrew Davey (video)

Naomi Klein Makes Moral Case for World Beyond Fossil Fuels

Activist and author, Naomi Klein, praises ‘courageous’ invitation by Pope in face of fossil fuel industry’s power

by Nadia Prupis, staff writer

Author and activist Naomi Klein spoke at the Vatican on Wednesday, calling climate change a “moral crisis” that should unite all people. (Photo: Adolfo Lujan/flickr/cc)

Naomi Klein—activist, author, and self-described “secular Jewish feminist”—spoke at the Vatican on Wednesday where she championed the Pope’s message for global action on climate change and made the case for “the beautiful world” beyond fossil fuel addiction.

Klein, who was invited to speak by the Vatican, gave her speech ahead of a two-day conference to discuss the Pope’s recent encyclical, Laudato Si’, on the environment and the threat of the global economic system—subjects that the author of This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate knows well.

The encyclical has garnered praise from environmental campaigners like Greenpeace International’s Kumi Naidoo, who called it a “clarion call for bold, urgent action.”

“Pope Francis writes early on that Laudato Si’ is not only a teaching for the Catholic world but for ‘every person living on this planet.’ And I can say that as a secular Jewish feminist who was rather surprised to be invited to the Vatican, it certainly spoke to me,” Klein told reporters ahead of the conference, which is called People and Planet First: the Imperative to Change Course.

She praised what she described as “the core message of interconnection at the heart of the encyclical.”

Klein also expanded on what may appear to be an unlikely alliance with the leader of the Catholic Church.

“Given the attacks that are coming from the Republican party around this and also the fossil fuel interests in the United States, it was a particularly courageous decision to invite me here,” she said, according to the Associated Press. “I think it indicates that the Holy See is not being intimidated, and knows that when you say powerful truths, you make some powerful enemies and that’s part of what this is about.”

“In a world where profit is consistently put before both people and the planet, climate economics has everything to do with ethics and morality.”  — Naomi Klein

“I have noticed a common theme among the critiques. Pope Francis may be right on the science, we hear, and even on the morality, but he should leave the economics and policy to the experts,” Klein said in her speech. “They are the ones who know about carbon trading and water privatization, we are told, and how effectively markets can solve any problem. I forcefully disagree.

“The truth is that we have arrived at this dangerous place partly because many of those economic experts have failed us badly, wielding their powerful technocratic skills without wisdom,” she said. “In a world where profit is consistently put before both people and the planet, climate economics has everything to do with ethics and morality. Because if we agree that endangering life on earth is a moral crisis, then it is incumbent on us to act like it.”

Echoing the Pope’s message to address inequities, Klein said that “our current system is also fueling ever widening inequality.”

But Klein stressed that her appearance at the Vatican did not mean that any one world view was “being subsumed by anyone else’s.”

“This is an alliance on a specific issue. It’s not a merger,” Klein said. “But when you are faced with a crisis of this magnitude, people have to get out of their comfort zones.”

Despite the magnitude of the crisis, Klein stressed: “We can save ourselves.”

“Around the world, the climate justice movement is saying: See the beautiful world that lies on the other side of courageous policy, the seeds of which are already bearing ample fruit for any who care to look.

“Then, stop making the difficult the enemy of the possible.

“And join us in making the possible real,” she said.

The two-day conference, which comes in the lead-up to the COP21 international climate talks in Paris later this year, is being coordinated by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and the International Cooperation for Development and Solidarity (CIDSE), an alliance of Catholic development agencies. Alongside Klein, other speakers include Ottmar Edenhofer, co-chair of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, pontifical council president H.E. Cardinal Peter Turkson, and CIDSE secretary general Bernard Nils.


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‘Thirsty’ Global Fracking Industry Puts Water, Environment, Communities at Risk

‘The fracking industry needs to be urgently reined in before it’s too late for our planet and people across the globe.’

— by Deirdre FultonCommon Dreams staff writer

Multinational oil and gas companies are moving into increasingly vulnerable countries in Latin America, Africa, and Asia where the ecosystems, communities, and authorities are even less able to cope with the impacts of fracking and shale gas extraction, according to a new report from Friends of the Earth Europe.
Fracking
Mexico’s shale gas reserves and water-stressed regions overlap significantly. (Credit: Friends of the Earth/World Resource Institute/US EIA)

The report, Fracking Frenzy: How the Fracking Industry is Threatening the Planet (pdf), shows how the pursuit of fracking in countries such as Mexico, China, Argentina, and South Africa is likely to exacerbate the climate, environment, social, and human rights problems those countries already face. While much has been written about fracking in the United States and the European Union, this study “seeks to provide a global overview of shale gas development in the rest of the world,” its authors note, focusing specifically on 11 countries that are leaders in shale development on their respective continents.

“From Brazil and Mexico to Algeria and South Africa, this thirsty industry is exploiting weak regulation and causing untold environmental and social damage in the pursuit of profit,” said Antoine Simon, shale gas campaigner at Friends of the Earth Europe. “The fracking industry needs to be urgently reined in before it’s too late for our planet and people across the globe.”

Released as United Nations climate talks open in Peru, the report illustrates the variety of dangers posed by the rapidly expanding fracking industry. In Northwest Africa and Mexico, for example, longstanding water scarcity issues will only be exacerbated by fracking operations that require millions of liters of water per project. In the earthquake-prone Sichuan basin in China, the Karoo basin in South Africa, the Himalayas, or the Sumatran basin in Indonesia, drilling around complex underground geologies raises the prospect of increased seismic activity, higher costs, and “incalculable environmental impacts and risks.” In Argentina, Brazil, Russia, and South Africa, drilling activity on or near indigenous lands is already leading to conflicts with local communities.

“The emerging planned expansion of the shale gas industry outside the EU and North America raises serious concerns because of the almost unavoidable environmental, social, and health impacts already seen at existing fracking sites,” reads the report. “Given that these problems have proved difficult to avoid in countries with relatively strong regulations to protect the environment, how can this industry be properly monitored in countries where environmental standards are often lower (and sometimes non-existent), and/or where enforcement capacities are frequently limited and where corruption can be an everyday reality?”

Far greater scrutiny of the industry’s climate impacts is warranted, the report concludes, “particularly in countries which are already and will be much more directly affected by the consequences of climate change.”

Natural gas “is not—and never has been—the clean fuel that the industry has tried to claim,” it reads. “In fact it poses an immediate threat to attempts made to fight climate change.”

Friends of the Earth is urging the 195 nations gathered in Peru this week to consider these assertions.

“Around the world people and communities are already paying the price of the climate crisis with their livelihoods and lives,” said Susann Scherbarth, climate justice and energy campaigner at Friends of the Earth Europe. “Fracking will only make things worse and has no place in a clean energy future. Europe and other industrialized countries most responsible for the climate crisis need to use the talks in Lima to make genuine commitments to end their reliance on corporate-controlled fossil fuels and embrace clean, citizen energy.”


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