Tag Archives: republican

What does Joe Biden have to do to win over the climate movement?

This story has been updated.

If Joe Biden had released his $1.7 trillion climate plan in a vacuum last year, the proposal would have been hailed as the most ambitious climate platform introduced by a presidential candidate in United States history. The 22-page plan aims to zero out emissions by 2050, protect disadvantaged communities from pollution, and create 10 million new jobs to boot.

Unfortunately for the former vice president, his proposal paled in comparison to plans from a number of his primary challengers that were three, five, and even 10 times as expensive. Bernie Sanders, for example, put out a $16 trillion climate plan called the Green New Deal that had the elderly pied piper of the progressive left collecting endorsements from climate groups like a Vermonter picking blueberries in July.

Whether progressives like it or not, Biden is the presumptive Democratic nominee for president. And on Monday, he snagged his first environmental endorsement from the League of Conservation Voters (LCV), a powerful environmental group that helps elect climate hawks to office and scores members of the House and Senate based on how they vote on environment and climate bills.

“We are confident that as president, Biden will immediately put our country on track for a 100 percent clean energy economy with policies centered in justice and equity that restore America’s global climate leadership,” Tiernan Sittenfeld, senior vice president of government affairs for LCV Action Fund, the political arm of the group, said in a statement.

Given that the choice in the general election comes down to Donald Trump, who has left no stone unturned in his effort to roll back environmental protections, and Biden, who has an 83 percent lifetime score for his environmental voting record from LCV, it’s not surprising that the group decided to endorse the former senator from Delaware.

What is surprising, and what might be welcome news to voters for whom climate change is a top priority, is that Biden plans to expand his climate platform. In his own statement in response to the LCV’s announcement, the former vice president said he was “honored” to receive the endorsement and indicated that there’s more to come. “In the months ahead, expanding this plan will be one of my key objectives,” he said, adding that he knows the issue “resonates” with young voters.

Biden’s statement said he aims to “campaign on climate change and win on climate change,” which isn’t a bad plan if he’s looking to convince a wider swath of Democratic voters — and maybe even pick up a Republican or two. In poll after poll after poll, climate change and health care are the top two issues for Democrats this election cycle. And the issue is no longer relegated to one side of the political aisle. Polls also show that young Republicans may care as much about the warming planet as their blue counterparts.

By his own admission, Biden has a lot of work to do to earn the progressive movement’s vote. Many local chapters of the Sunrise Movement, a youth-led climate group that backed Bernie Sanders in the primary and has emerged as a powerful force in the activist landscape, have said they aren’t endorsing Biden. But that could change if the candidate steps up his climate game.

“We’ve tried to be super clear about the way that we need them to improve on not only their climate policy but their immigration, criminal justice, and financial regulation policies,” Varshini Prakash, Sunrise co-founder and executive director, told Vice News, referring to the Biden campaign. “We’ll see if that conversation translates into policy changes.” In an interview on the New York Times’ The Daily podcast, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the Democrat from New York who is one of the architects of the Green New Deal, expressed a similar sentiment and said she was waiting to fully endorse him.

Will Biden be able to win over diehard Sanders supporters? Probably not. Biden’s campaign is premised on returning to a time of relative normalcy, not turning the economic system on its head. But if he does scale up his climate plan, he might be able to rack up a few more endorsements from environmental heavyweights.

Update: On Tuesday, a group of more than 50 scientists and climate experts wrote an open letter endorsing Biden for president. “We are confident that, unlike President Trump, Joe Biden will respect, collaborate with, and listen to leaders in the scientific community and public health experts to confront the existential climate crisis and other environmental threats,” the letter said. Prominent climate scientists Michael Mann and Jane Lubchenco (formerly head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration under President Obama) are among the letter’s signatories.

Read More:

What does Joe Biden have to do to win over the climate movement?

Posted in Accent, alo, Casio, FF, GE, ONA, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on What does Joe Biden have to do to win over the climate movement?

Trump’s environmental rollbacks are deeply unpopular with swing voters

It may be hard to tell, but in between jabs at climate science, federal science agencies, and stalwart environmental regulations, President Trump has been trying to position himself as an environmentalist. The president’s efforts to green his image go back as far as 2017, when he told business leaders, and I quote, “I’m a very big person when it comes to the environment.” Do voters agree? New research shows they most certainly do not.

Swing voters in four key states — Florida, Pennsylvania, Iowa, and Michigan — are squarely opposed to Trump’s environmental rollbacks. That’s the takeaway from a set of focus groups of dozens of swing voters — defined as those who switched their presidential vote from Democratic to Republican, or vice versa, between 2012 and 2016 — run by a non-partisan research groups Engagious and Focus Pointe Global.

Unlike polls, the focus groups don’t reflect the opinions of a representative sample of likely voters. Instead, they give us a glimpse into the minds of voters whose preferences could determine who will sit in the Oval Office come January. The participants were asked to rate their support for Trump’s environmental rollbacks on a scale of 1 to 10 twice: before seeing a list of 17 policies he’s gutted and after. (Those 17 policies were pulled from a comprehensive list of rollbacks compiled by the New York Times.) The groups’ ratings averaged 4.5 before seeing the rollbacks and 3.2 after.

In Florida, a state that’s particularly aware of the consequences of rising temperatures and seas, the average dropped to 2.6 after seeing the rollbacks enumerated. “Before seeing that list of rollbacks, my hand would have been up 100 percent for Trump,” one Florida focus group participant and 2016 Trump supporter said. “After seeing it, my hand was not up. I’m not 100 percent sold on him.” Another participant asked why she supported Trump less after seeing the list of rollbacks, said she didn’t know about half of those rollbacks before seeing them. “To me, it made a difference to actually see them and process it,” she said. Another participant said she didn’t expect or want Trump to roll back those regulations, despite voting for him in 2016. “He’s supposed to be protecting our country and our world,” she said. “He’s supposed to be a world leader.”

Trump’s environmental rollbacks might not be enough to prompt these swing-state voters to choose a Democrat in the voting booth — that first Florida participant who said he’s not 100 percent sold on Trump said he’s still “80 percent sold on Trump just because of a lot of the other things he stands for.” But the focus group results do show that Trump’s rollbacks are supremely unpopular with the people whose presidential votes count the most.

Other research supports the idea that climate change is an important consideration for bipartisan voters. In South Carolina, a state that votes for the Democratic nominee this Saturday, addressing climate change is a top issue. A January poll conducted by Conservation Voters of South Carolina and Audubon Action Fund found that 64 percent of all South Carolinians think climate change is a serious problem. Only 13 percent of folks surveyed for that poll self-identified as liberal, and only 31 percent said they were Democrats. It’s clear that rising temperatures aren’t just an issue for diehard Democrats anymore — other slices of the political spectrum are starting to get in on the climate action.

Continue reading here: 

Trump’s environmental rollbacks are deeply unpopular with swing voters

Posted in Accent, alo, FF, GE, LG, ONA, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Trump’s environmental rollbacks are deeply unpopular with swing voters

The plan to protect the Chesapeake is failing, and it’s Pennsylvania’s fault

In early January, members of the Chesapeake Bay Commission sat in a gray conference room in Annapolis, Maryland, for a routine meeting. The 21-member legislative body, with representatives from Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Maryland, convenes regularly to coordinate interstate efforts to restore and protect the Chesapeake Bay. But as the meeting drew to a close, EPA Chesapeake Bay Program director Dana Aunkst got up and delivered a demoralizing message to the group.

“The TMDL itself is not enforceable,” he said. He was referring to the Total Maximum Daily Load, a set of science-based limits for three pollutants — nitrogen, phosphorous, and sediment — flowing into the bay. The states in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed have agreed to achieve the TMDL by 2025, and the EPA committed to enforcing it under the terms of a 2010 settlement. But Aunkst went on to describe the TMDL as merely “an informational document” that was “aspirational.”

Aunkst’s comments were jarring to some in the room, but they weren’t entirely out of left field. Pennsylvania, by far the largest source of pollution entering the Chesapeake Bay Watershed, has failed to meet its pollution reduction benchmarks for years, with little response from the EPA. This single state’s negligence threatens the success of the entire regional program.

The Chesapeake is the largest estuary in the United States, a nationally significant economic resource, and a crucial habitat for thousands of species. But the influx of pollution from upstream sources has led to fishery declines, recurring “dead zones” where pollutants starve aquatic animals of oxygen, and regular algae blooms that suffocate underwater plant life. Even after nearly 10 years of strategic planning and implementation of these pollution reduction plans by neighboring states, its overall health is still poor.

And Pennsylvania seems increasingly to blame. In August of last year, the state’s Department of Environmental Protection released its third and final Watershed Implementation Plan, or WIP. The plan admitted that PA was only about 30 percent closer to achieving its target for nitrogen pollution than it had been in the 1980s. Not only was the Keystone State entering the final phase of the cleanup far behind where it should have been, but the state’s plan for phase three still had it falling 25 percent short of the 2025 target. That underwhelming plan also had a funding deficit of about $324 million per year. In December, the EPA signed off on the plan with no indication of imposing consequences.

According to Harry Campbell, the Pennsylvania executive director of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, a nonprofit that works closely with watershed states on the cleanup effort, there are a few reasons the state is having such a hard time making progress.

Of all the sources of pollution going into the watershed, Pennsylvania has already tackled the lowest-hanging fruit — wastewater treatment plants. In fact, the state met its 2017 pollution reduction goals for wastewater treatment plants three years early. But the vast majority of PA’s contribution doesn’t come from these easy “point source” targets, it comes from “non-point sources,” like stormwater from the thousands of municipalities in the watershed, and runoff from 33,000 small farms.

About 80 percent of the nitrogen Pennsylvania needs to tackle comes from those farms. And convincing 33,000 farmers — who are already operating on razor-thin profit margins because of trade wars and a poor farm economy — to shoulder new conservation practices is a time- and labor-intensive process. “You have to work with individual farmers, meet them at their table, oftentimes provide the technical and financial assistance necessary to actually design and implement those practices,” said Campbell.

Part of the problem was also the planning process the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection employed for its earlier WIPs, which was not very inclusive of the various communities and entities whose buy-in was necessary for success. But according to Campbell, a lack of funding and leadership from the legislature have also plagued the state’s performance. “If the legislature and the administration invested in implementation of those plans, we’d be in a far better place than we are right now,” Campbell said.

When it came time to draw up the WIP for phase three of the Chesapeake Bay cleanup, the state finally made an effort to start from a more grassroots level. It created workgroups for each sector that included farmers and county commissioners. But Campbell, who was on the Local Area Goals Workgroup, said that even though the process was improved, the funding gap hung over the proceedings. “We just see it every day — whether it be the local county conservation districts or the partners on the ground, like watershed groups and land trusts — this persistent and consistent scarcity-like mentality, that we just don’t have enough to get the job done,” he said. “And so everyone was able to sense it, feel it, or otherwise acknowledge it.”

The governor of Pennsylvania, Democrat Tom Wolf, has proposed a tax on natural gas extraction in the state to raise money for infrastructure projects for five years straight. His latest proposal, the Restore Pennsylvania Plan, would raise $4.5 billion and fund many of the water pollution reduction strategies written into the WIP. But the tax is unlikely to make it through the Republican-controlled legislature.

Over the years, the EPA has penalized Pennsylvania for its lack of progress in small ways. It has objected to permits for wastewater treatment plant expansions, temporarily withheld funding, and most recently, redirected funding in order for it be used more efficiently. But those consequences have not been enough to get the attention of elected officials who continue to devalue the program, putting the entire cleanup effort at risk, said Campbell.

One of Pennsylvania’s neighbors has had enough. Following Aunkst’s comments at the meeting, the Republican governor of Maryland, Larry Hogan, who’s administration has spent a record $5 billion on Chesapeake Bay cleanup efforts, directed his attorney general to sue both Pennsylvania and the EPA. But it’s unclear whether EPA can be held liable for not enforcing the TMDL in Pennsylvania.

In response to the lawsuit, Governor Wolf’s office suggested that Hogan’s time would be better spent using his sway as a Republican to help Wolf secure more funding for the program. “Instead of protracted litigation that will take resources away from our efforts to improve water quality in the watershed and undermine the partnership that has helped make progress, Governor Hogan and the foundation’s time would be better spent convincing Republicans that control the legislature in Pennsylvania to support Governor Wolf’s plan,” said J.J. Abbott, a spokesperson for Wolf.

This article is from: 

The plan to protect the Chesapeake is failing, and it’s Pennsylvania’s fault

Posted in Accent, alo, Everyone, FF, GE, LG, ONA, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on The plan to protect the Chesapeake is failing, and it’s Pennsylvania’s fault

Why did Lindsey Graham join a climate group?

Congress has long been a place where climate policy goes to die. That could soon change, and not only because there’s an election coming up in less than a year.

A new bipartisan climate caucus has formed in the Senate. It’s similar to a climate caucus in the House that’s been around since 2016: There must be one Republican for every Democrat who joins, and the group aims to educate members on policy and, ideally, propose pathways to action. But the House version has run into some serious roadblocks: it lost a chunk of its right flank in the 2018 midterm election, and it’s having trouble recruiting enough Republican members for the many Democrats who wish to join.

In the few weeks since it’s been up and running, the caucus in the upper chamber has had no difficulty attracting high-profile GOP members. Senators Mitt Romney, Lisa Murkowski, and Marco Rubio are among the Republicans who have joined the group. Surprisingly, so has South Carolina’s Lindsey Graham, one of President Trump’s staunchest supporters.

“I believe climate change is real,” Graham said in a statement. “I also believe that we as Americans have the ability to come up with climate change solutions that can benefit our economy and our way of life.”

That sounds like the Lindsey Graham of yore, who was more centrist than firebrand. In 2009, Graham teamed up with Democratic Senator John Kerry to push for climate legislation in the Senate. In 2015, he garnered praise for being one of only two Republican presidential contenders who had a history of engaging with climate and environment issues. In 2017, he urged President Trump to stay in the Paris climate accord, arguing that the leader of the Republican Party should not break with the rest of the world on an issue supported by sound science.

In the two years since he disagreed with Trump on the Paris Agreement, an unearthly transformation has transpired: Graham devolved from independent lone wolf to White House lapdog so rapidly that researchers were forced to reevaluate Charles Darwin’s seminal theory. Graham’s sudden zeal for defending the actions of the Commander in Chief — a man he once called “unfit for office” — inspired him to do things like go on Trump’s favorite Fox News show to compliment the president’s golf game. “To every Republican, if you don’t stand behind this President, we’re not going to stand behind you,” he said in South Carolina in February.

Given Trump’s aversion to climate science and working with Democrats, Graham’s decision to join a bipartisan climate solutions caucus is odd. Is Graham reverting to his old centrist ways? Or is there a more cynical explanation for his presence on the caucus?

It’s possible — in the sense that almost anything is possible — that Graham genuinely wants to reach across the aisle to take action on climate change. His recent voting record on the environment is surprisingly strong, by Republican standards. So far in 2019, he has cast five pro-environment votes, according to the League of Conservation Voters, a political group that keeps track of how members of Congress vote on environmental policy. That’s a far better record than other Republican members of the caucus, like Romney and Rubio, who only cast one pro-environment vote this year each.

But there’s another potential explanation, one that’s more in line with the partisan choices Graham has made in the past couple of years of the Trump administration. Perhaps Graham joined the caucus not to work with Democrats, but to stymie them. His motivation might be to ensure that other lawmakers decide to adopt a conservative vision of climate action, instead of something like the Green New Deal.

“If the only thing out there is the Green New Deal, well, the American people will take it,” Bob Inglis, former U.S. representative from Graham’s home state of South Carolina, told Grist. “You’ve got to get out there with an alternative. That’s what Republicans are doing, they’ve figured out how to enter the competition of ideas and present an alternative.”

Whether Graham and his fellow GOP-ers use the caucus as an opportunity to push for meaningful alternatives to progressive climate change solutions remains to be seen. The American Petroleum Institute, a group that has a long history of successfully lobbying against environmental regulations, called the caucus a “promising addition to the national conversation,” something that has climate activists on edge.

But activists would do well to remember that the new Lindsey Graham is in the habit of doing whatever is politically expedient. The South Carolinian may have sensed that denial may not serve the GOP much longer.

View original article:  

Why did Lindsey Graham join a climate group?

Posted in Accent, alo, ATTRA, Casio, Citizen, FF, G & F, GE, LG, ONA, solar, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Why did Lindsey Graham join a climate group?

Poll: Democrats are getting worried about climate change. Republicans? Not so much.

Climate change is scoring some major points with Democrats — polling points, that is. That’s according to a recent survey from the Pew Research Center that found the growing, year-round effects of our warming planet have not gone unnoticed by the members of at least one of the two major U.S. political parties compared to even six years ago.

Since 2013, the portion of Democrats who consider climate change a “major threat” has risen by 26 percentage points — a whopping 84 percent of Democrats surveyed this year are worried about it. That increase was even bigger among people who identify as liberal Democrats — 94 percent consider rising temperatures a major threat to the nation now, up 30 points from 2013.

Meanwhile, across the aisle, Republican opinions on the matter remain relatively unchanged. A little more than a quarter of GOPers consider climate change a major threat. Between 2013 and 2019, the share of conservative Republicans who consider climate change a major threat has risen only a few percentage points, an uptick Pew called “not statistically significant.”

There is one spot of good news: a different survey conducted by Amsterdam-based polling group Glocalities shows concern about the effect of human behavior on the environment is rising among young Republicans. Sixty-seven percent of Republican voters aged 18 to 34 are worried about the damage humans cause the planet, up 18 percent since 2014.*

But despite some movement among young Republicans on this issue, the Pew poll shows that climate change remains incredibly divisive. The concern gap between the two parties on climate is wide even when compared to other politically charged issues. Democrats and Republicans have more common ground when discussing the threat posed by Russia’s power and influence — one of the most divisive issues of the 2016 presidential election.

That may be because GOP leaders have remained impressively steadfast in their opposition to virtually any kind of climate action since the early ‘90s. The party that produced much of America’s environmental conservation policy throughout the 20th century has since stood by President Trump as he has worked to dismantle the building blocks of that legacy. It’s no wonder a measly 27 percent of Republicans are worried about climate change — unless you happen to live in Florida, there is little daylight between party leadership and base on this issue.

Conversely, as rank-and-file Democrats grow increasingly preoccupied with rising temperatures, their party leaders are still clapping on the one and the three. The Democratic establishment is only now fumbling to set up some kind of comprehensive response to the crisis, thanks in no small part to pointed encouragement from a certain freshman representative from New York. But despite Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez et al.’s efforts, the Democratic National Committee just voted not to hold a climate-themed debate. It’s not the first time the party has ignored the outspoken opinions of much of its progressive base: Last year, the same committee decided to reject donations from fossil fuel companies, only to reverse its decision a couple months later.

As usual, the GOP has succeeded in keeping its base in line. If Democratic leaders are out of step with their army, maybe it’s time they adjusted their messaging to match the scale of the crisis.

*This post has been updated to include the survey from Glocalities, published Thursday.

Original post: 

Poll: Democrats are getting worried about climate change. Republicans? Not so much.

Posted in Accent, alo, Casio, FF, G & F, GE, LAI, LG, ONA, Prepara, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Poll: Democrats are getting worried about climate change. Republicans? Not so much.

With hurricane season looming, Trump is blocking relief funds and mocking Puerto Rico

This story was originally published by Mother Jones and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

In the two hurricane seasons since Donald Trump was elected president, the United States was hit by five major hurricanes, including Hurricane Maria, which devastated Puerto Rico in 2017. In the immediate aftermath of the record-breaking storm, Trump accused the mayor of San Juan of “poor leadership” and suggested Puerto Ricans weren’t doing enough to help themselves. Nearly two years later, Trump is still criticizing Puerto Rico with misleading descriptions of what has transpired since the storm.

His disdain for the island and its leadership has bled into a fight in the Senate over disaster relief for victims of the 2018 hurricane season.

Since March, Congress has been working on an aid package to assist victims of recent floods, wildfires, and hurricanes. Last October, the first Category 5 hurricane since 1992’s Hurricane Andrew made landfall near Mexico Beach in the Florida Panhandle. Seven months, 59 deaths, and $25 billion in damage later, Congress has yet to send a relief package to the Floridians affected by the storm. Lawmakers haven’t been able to agree on a finalized deal because Republicans, following Trump’s lead, have rejected measures that include more funding relief for Puerto Rico, where torrential rain and extreme winds caused catastrophic damage, including a major power grid failure and nearly 3,000 deaths.

“That whole bill is being jeopardized because of pettiness,” Al Cathey, the mayor of Mexico Beach, told the Washington Post last month.

In Puerto Rico, crumbling infrastructure was made worse by the powerful hurricane. A year and a half later, residents are still waiting on funds to repair hospitals, roads, and public schools. On the mainland, Hurricane Michael victims are also in dire straits. Many residents in Bay County, Florida, home to Mexico Beach, are still living in tents and trailers. Debris still lines the streets of Mexico Beach, and some residents continue to live in severely damaged homes. Because of Congress’ delay, many of the short-term aid programs have run out. Just before the six-month anniversary of the storm, the housing vouchers that allowed victims to stay in hotels expired, leaving 250 households scrambling to find other shelters. “We are truly the forgotten storm,” Bay County Commissioner Philip Griffitts told the Miami Herald.

Despite the sense of urgency in Florida, the president seems intent on continuing the fight over Puerto Rico funding. He has repeatedly said that Puerto Rico has received $91 billion in aid, but that is far from reality. Congress has allocated only $41 billion to Puerto Rico, and only a small fraction of that has been used because local government officials must detail how they plan to use the funds before they are disbursed.

Trump’s misleading tweet comes days after Republican and Democratic senators appeared to be taking steps toward finalizing a package. It signals that the White House isn’t ready to acquiesce to Democrats’ desire to include more funding for Puerto Rico. Meanwhile, hurricane season is set to begin in just four weeks.

Link to original:  

With hurricane season looming, Trump is blocking relief funds and mocking Puerto Rico

Posted in Accent, alo, Anchor, FF, GE, LG, ONA, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on With hurricane season looming, Trump is blocking relief funds and mocking Puerto Rico

The House passes a climate bill for the first time in a freaking decade

On Thursday, the newly Democratic House came out swinging by passing a climate bill for the first time in … let me just check my notes here … a decade. Better late than never?

The Climate Action Now Act (H.R. 9) passed through the legislative chamber mostly along party lines, with a few Republican exceptions. The bill is aimed at reaffirming American commitment to the Paris agreement, a global climate accord that President Trump unceremoniously tried to ditch six months into his presidency.

The bill has little chance of passing the Republican-controlled Senate, a fact the Democratic leadership is acutely aware of. Rather, the act serves as a direct rebuke to Trump’s handling (or mishandling) of all things climate, and stands as a reminder to the rest of the world that at least one political party in the U.S. is still committed to taking climate action.

Illinois Representative Sean Casten, a Democrat with a background in renewable energy (and a background as a contributing writer to Grist), was tapped by Speaker Nancy Pelosi to preside over the House debate of the bill. He believes the bill serves a three-pronged purpose: restore America’s emissions reduction obligations, re-establish the nation’s trustworthiness on the international stage, and start the ball rolling on going even further than the Paris agreement.

“Reducing CO2 is kind of addictive,” he told me on the phone. “Every time that any country or any region has committed to reducing CO2, it has always been done faster and cheaper than they thought it was going to.”

This bill is the first step in a larger climate agenda in the climate-conscious House, Casten said. Before Democrats can get the ball rolling, though, they need to do some damage control: “We are unfortunately in this Congress playing defense against the damage done by the last two years of the Trump administration,” he said. “Maybe in the not-too-distant-future, depending on what Senate does, we can sit at the big kid’s table again at international climate negotiations.”

Continue at source: 

The House passes a climate bill for the first time in a freaking decade

Posted in Accent, alo, Anchor, FF, GE, LG, ONA, PUR, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on The House passes a climate bill for the first time in a freaking decade

New Yorkers might soon have a constitutional right to clean air and water

Lawmakers in Albany saw green on Tuesday as the Dem-controlled New York State Legislature passed a broad package of environmentally friendly bills, including nods to toxic toys, solar power, and even the humble dragonfly. But one of the biggest proposed changes is an amendment to the state constitution that would guarantee New Yorkers the right to clean air and water, and a healthful environment.

“For far too long, common sense environmental measures that would protect our air, water, and our health had little chance of becoming law in New York,” Peter Iwanowicz, the executive director of Environmental Advocates of New York, told the New York Daily News. “Now, in just one afternoon, the Legislature is making up for lost time by passing a suite of bills that will protect New Yorkers’ health and the precious natural resources we all love and enjoy.”

Here’s a roundup of a few of the measures, which will now go to Governor Andrew Cuomo to be signed or vetoed:

Show me the hazards

Bill S.181 requires the Department of Environmental Conservation to publish a list of areas in New York that are most adversely affected by existing environmental hazards. Senator José Serrano, who sponsored the bill, said he hoped the list would call more attention to environmentally overburdened and disadvantaged communities when the state considered future projects.

“As we move toward a greener, cleaner New York, we must make balanced and informed decisions on environmental matters as we protect the health and well-being of all New Yorkers,” he said.

It’ll get safer to chew on toys and jewelry

A handful of state bills took aim at harmful chemicals in toys, agriculture, and jewelry — happy news for crunchy parents and not-so-good news for several New York manufacturers.

Bill S.501B establishes strict regulations on certain chemicals in children’s products. Another bill, S.5343, prohibits the use of the widely used brain-damaging pesticide chlorpyrifos (except, for some reason, on apple tree trunks). Studies have linked prenatal exposure of chlorpyrifos to a variety of developmental issues in children, including lowered IQ.

If you’re a compulsive necklace gnawer, you’ll be happy to know that bill S.4046 requires jewelry containing 40 parts per million of lead to carry a warning to notify parents and consumers about jewelry that “may be harmful if eaten or chewed.”

And a light bit of legislation: Bill S.2139 ensures mercury-added lamps (which include fluorescent lamps, neon signs, and car headlights) sold in the state do not contain excessive levels of mercury.

A neighborly approach to solar power

Bill S.4742A prohibits homeowners’ associations from restricting the installation or use of solar power systems and bill S.752 increases the tax credit provided for solar energy system equipment.

A day for dragonflies

What are you doing on Saturday, June 8? Well if you’re in New York, you could celebrate the state’s new dragonfly day, courtesy of a new proclamation from Governor Andrew Cuomo. Organizers say it’s an opportunity to recognize the environmental value of the state wetlands and learn more about ways to reduce CO2 emissions.

Life, liberty, and clean air and water

That’s not all, folks. Perhaps the biggest piece of legislation is the Green Amendment, a.k.a. bill S.2072. The bill proposes a 15-word amendment to Bill of Rights in the New York State Constitution: “Each person shall have a right to clean air and water, and a healthful environment.”

Proponents say the new wording would allow the justice system to prosecute violations of the amendment, while critics point out that the vague wording could create confusion. “What is clean?” asked Republican Assemblyman Andy Goodell during Tuesday’s floor debate.

If Governor Cuomo signs off on the bill, New York would only become the third state — after Montana and Pennsylvania, which passed similar measures in the 1970s — to recognize environmental rights as on par with other political and civil liberties.

“The Senate Majority is working to protect our environment for future generations even if our federal government continues to counter important efforts to mitigate climate change,” Senator David Carlucci and Green Amendment sponsor said. “This package of bills […] will help ensure New Yorkers have healthier communities, safer drinking water, more sources of clean energy, and less exposure to harmful chemicals.”

Read the article: 

New Yorkers might soon have a constitutional right to clean air and water

Posted in Accent, alo, Anchor, FF, GE, LG, ONA, Safer, solar, solar power, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | Comments Off on New Yorkers might soon have a constitutional right to clean air and water

The latest House climate hearing went about as well as you’d expect

Subscribe to The Beacon

John Kerry deserves some kind of award (in addition to his Purple Hearts) for responding to a slew of truly dumb questions on Tuesday with his signature composure.

The House Committee on Oversight and Reform held its first climate hearing on Tuesday and, hoo boy, it was a doozy. The former secretary of state, alongside former Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagle, fielded questions from Republican and Democratic representatives — ostensibly on the subject of climate change and national security — for a good four hours. I know what you’re thinking: “Four hours of testimony? Count me out.” But this wasn’t your typical congressional snoozefest, I promise.

Despite some off-the-wall questions, Kerry only lost his cool (read: appeared vaguely exasperated) a few times. Exhibit A: when Kentucky Republican Thomas Massie asked a series of increasingly inane questions that culminated in: “Did geology stop when we got on the planet?”

Always free, always fresh.

Ask your climate scientist if Grist is right for you. See our privacy policy

Rather than taking the time to explain that geological change is, in fact, ongoing, Kerry responded: “This is just not a serious conversation.” Zing!

Not to be outdone, Paul Gosar of Arizona — the same Republican representative who suggested that photosynthesis discredits climate change — asked Kerry whether he supports a ban on plastic straws. An important national security question!

“It would be great to provide a way to move to a biodegradable straw, frankly,” Kerry replied, bemused. Then, Gosar picked up a dark gray ball of what he described as “rare earth … from the Mojave Desert” as a prop to demonstrate his point that the U.S. needs to be more aggressive about mining rare earth metals if it wants to develop renewable technology.

Kerry described the stunt as “a five-minute presentation on all the reasons we can’t do this or that without any legitimate question or dialogue.” Another zinger!

On the Democratic side, representatives Ro Khanna of California and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York focused on the need for swift action, promoting the progressive climate proposal called the Green New Deal. Ocasio-Cortez asked the bipartisan committee to read the contents of the 14-page resolution, which she co-introduced in February, in full. “We don’t need CliffsNotes,” she quipped.

Now that Democrats are back in control of the House, there have been more and more climate change hearings happening. But after four hours of questioning on Tuesday, the committee didn’t have much to work with. That’s a hard pill to swallow, even with the aid of a biodegradable straw.

Visit link – 

The latest House climate hearing went about as well as you’d expect

Posted in Accent, alo, Anchor, Casio, FF, GE, LAI, LG, ONA, PUR, Radius, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on The latest House climate hearing went about as well as you’d expect

Nathaniel Rich’s ‘Losing Earth’ tells lost history of our current climate predicament

Subscribe to The Beacon

Nathaniel Rich published his 30,000-word account of the years between 1979 and 1989 — the decade humanity missed its chance to fix climate change — in the New York Times Magazine last August. The response to the piece was so staggering that Rich put aside his other projects and started turning it into a book the very next week. Losing Earth: A Recent History is out on the shelves April 9, just eight months after the magazine version hit newsstands.

Our near-constant companion throughout the whole sordid tale is an environmental lobbyist by the name of Rafe Pomerance. In 1979, when the story begins, Pomerance happened upon a report warning that continued use of fossil fuels would cause “significant and damaging” changes to the planet’s atmosphere in the span of a few decades. Alarmed, Pomerance, with the aid of a geophysicist named Gordon MacDonald, decided to try to bring the issue to the attention of the U.S. government.

At first, serious progress appeared to be underway. The Carter administration commissioned a report to ascertain whether the issue was really as dire as some scientists were saying. (It was.) But when a team of scientists, policy experts, and government officials convened at a hotel in Florida to craft a framework for addressing the problem, they couldn’t even agree on what the opening paragraph of their statement should say. Thus began an excruciating decade of indecision, delay, and obstruction.

Pan Macmillan, 2019

If you finished the marathon task of reading the original magazine article, you’ll find the plotline more or less familiar, though there are some new chapters. And this time around, Rich addresses something many readers, including this one, were left wondering: What do we make of this history?

“We can realize that all this talk about the fate of Earth has nothing to do with the planet’s tolerance for higher temperatures and everything to do with our species’ tolerance for self-delusion,” he writes in the afterword. “And we can understand that when we speak about things like fuel efficiency standards or gasoline taxes or methane flaring, we are speaking about nothing less than all we love and all we are.”

Always free, always fresh.

Ask your climate scientist if Grist is right for you. See our privacy policy

Grist caught up with Rich to talk about his new book and what we can make of the agonizing history he unearthed. Our conversation has been condensed and edited for clarity.

Q.Did you plan to turn your article into a book?

A.As soon as the piece was published, I realized there were some very large questions that arose from the history. I felt some obligation to try to answer those questions more explicitly than I was able to do in the article. I wrote a new afterword that’s essentially a stand-alone essay. I also wanted to go into a little more depth and bring the story up to date from 1989 to the present. Despite the length of the magazine piece, there was actually a lot I had to leave out. And so I was excited for the opportunity to publish a definitive version of the story that I think is fuller, more comprehensive, and more complete as a work of writing.

Q.I’m curious about some of the criticism your article received. Robinson Meyer of the Atlantic wrote that you let “fossil-fuel interests off the hook entirely,” and Naomi Klein argued that you overlooked the role capitalism played in dooming us all. How did you respond to that?

A.I was very surprised at some of those criticisms. As you said, there was this accusation, and usually it was expressed very viciously, that I had downplayed the oil and gas industry’s role in blocking climate policy during that decade. At first I was worried. I thought maybe — in my two-year survey and my interviews with like 100 people — maybe I did miss something.

The [oil and gas] industry wasn’t helping matters, as I write about in detail. Of course, they were aware of the science, just like the government, just like anybody who was following the issue, and made little effort to publicize it or anything else. They made no efforts to pass laws to limit emissions — that would be sort of a ridiculous expectation.

No one is disputing what happened since 1988 and ’89, but the suggestion was that there was a coordinated effort to stop climate policy earlier than that, and nobody in their attacks on the piece was able to come up with a single example.

Q.Why did you choose to tell the story this way, through the lens of a single decade in American history?

A.I felt that the story from 1989 to the present has been extraordinarily well told, and exhaustively told. And I didn’t feel like I had much to add to the story of industry involvement, the corruption of politicians, the corruption of scientists, the Republican Party’s embrace of, first, disinformation propaganda fed to it by oil and gas industry, and then the metastasizing of that into the full-fledged fantasy world of denialism.

What I felt was not understood very well, including by me when I first started researching it, was how we got to that point: the pre-history of our current paralysis. Paralysis not only in the political process but in some sense the dialogue, the public conversation about the subject. It’s been relatively unchanged since the 1990s. So there was this opportunity to tell the story of exactly a decade, from the establishment of scientific consensus about the nature of the problem and the birth of this movement to try to bring about a solution. That was the story that I feel like has been forgotten, including by a lot of people who are on the front lines of the climate change conversation.

A lot of activists and advocates are still under the impression that the problem started with James Hansen speaking before Congress in 1988. Even New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez the other day was giving an extraordinarily passionate, eloquent speech on the floor of the House about how we need to take action on climate, and she said that the government has known about this since 1989. I don’t mean to single her out, but even people on the leading edge of this are still essentially taking for granted the industry talking point that this is a new problem, something that has just come to light as recently as the 1980s. Of course, the government knew about it in the 1950s. And scientists knew about it decades before that. The amount of public amnesia around the issue is staggering.

Q.A few times throughout the decade you focus on in your book, the United States was on the precipice of real climate action. It never materialized. Now, it feels like parts of the public are mobilizing toward action again. Could this time be different?

A.What’s changed really in recent months in the public conversation is that the young leaders are now bringing new momentum to the issue. They’re saying things like, “our lives are at stake, you people in positions of power are robbing our future from us.” They’re also making very emphatic connections in the way they talk about how the climate crisis is inextricable from almost every issue of social injustice in the U.S. and globally. When you hear Ocasio-Cortez or Greta Thunberg talk about it, they’re making a moral argument that I think is frankly stronger and more profound, and ultimately more politically effective, than making only the logical argument. There’s a moral tenor to the way they’re talking about it that I don’t think was present and couldn’t have been present in the 1980s.

It’s a transformation of the dialogue that I think was inevitable, but it’s heartening to see it happening now. It’s extremely powerful and it will only become more so. I also think it’s a more honest way of speaking about the problem, as something that is a threat to our very humanity and the way we view ourselves. That’s why I went back to this period [between 1979 and 1989] because I think it’s a way of writing about this story in human terms, before the poisoning of the dialogue.

Excerpt from:  

Nathaniel Rich’s ‘Losing Earth’ tells lost history of our current climate predicament

Posted in Accent, alo, Anchor, Casio, FF, GE, LG, New Chapter, ONA, Radius, The Atlantic, Ultima, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Nathaniel Rich’s ‘Losing Earth’ tells lost history of our current climate predicament