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19Sep/14Off

Naomi Klein: Pitting Environment Against Economy Risks Failure of Both


Joshua Holland September 17, 2014

Original source: http://prospect.org/article/naomi-klein-pitting-environment-against-economy-risks-failure-both

The solutions to climate change, she writes in a new book, are not those that consolidate wealth.

Naomi Klein, author of This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate, at her December 2010 TED Women Talk.

This article was originally published at BillMoyers.com, the website of the television program, Moyers & Company.

In her new book, This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate, Naomi Klein argues that if we had taken action years ago when scientists first established that human activities were changing our climate, we might have been able to deal with the problem of global warming with only minimal disruption to our economic system. But as we approach a tipping point, and the consequences of climate change come into sharper focus, that time has passed, and we now have to acknowledge that preserving humans’ habitat requires a paradigm change.

But Klein doesn’t just offer us a depressing litany of the damage we’ve already done. She calls on us to seriously rethink the way our economy is structured to address not only climate change, but also other longstanding social problems like persistent global poverty and rising inequality.

I spoke with Klein about the fundamental challenges—and opportunities—that come from dealing with a warming planet at this stage of the game. Below is a transcript of our discussion that’s been edited for length and clarity.

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19Sep/14Off

Environmental groups crank up heat on methane mandates

Posted on September 18, 2014 at 9:50 pm by Jennifer A. Dlouhy in Environment, Politics/Policy

WASHINGTON _ Environmental groups on Thursday pressured the Obama administration to clamp down on methane leaking from the oil and gas sector by imposing new regulations targeting wells, valves and other infrastructure.

Those mandates are urgently needed to keep that potent heat-trapping gas out of the atmosphere and are an “essential” ingredient in any plan to combat climate change, said the coalition of 16 environmental organizations in a letter to President Barack Obama. And they called on the Environmental Protection Agency to use its Clean Air Act authority to issue methane pollution standards for all new and existing oil and gas sources of the material.

“The environmental community is united in their view that the oil and gas industry must reduce their methane emissions and that federal regulation is essential to making this happen,” said Mark Brownstein, associate vice president of the Environmental Defense Fund’s U.S. Climate and Energy Program, in a conference call with reporters. “This industry is simply too big, too diverse and focused solely on profits and quarterly earnings to think that regulation is unneeded.”

To read the entire article go to: http://fuelfix.com/blog/2014/09/18/environmental-groups-crank-up-heat-on-methane-mandates/

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19Sep/14Off

Why Al Gore Is a Natural-Gas Skeptic

The former vice president says the popular fuel’s future is "not what it once seemed." And that’s just fine with him.

By Ben Geman

September 18, 2014

The U.S. natural-gas boom is a big reason why the nation's carbon emissions have dropped by around 10 percent over the past decade.

But don't look for climate crusader Al Gore to cheer the rise of gas, even though gas produces just half the carbon-dioxide emissions of coal.

In an interview with National Journal, Gore explained why he's no fan of natural gas, which has enjoyed support from the Obama administration and has eaten into a big chunk of coal's leading share of U.S. power generation.

He's skeptical of the fuel even if regulators decide to clamp down hard on leaks of methane from natural-gas production and distribution, which he believes EPA should do. Those leaks erode at least a portion—some researchers believe a huge amount—of the climate edge gas holds over coal as a power source.

"[I]t is still a losing game for two reasons: It is still a carbon fuel. [Gas] still contributes to the problem, and the skies are already saturated. They say it is a glass half-full, glass half-empty issue, because, in theory, gas has only 50 percent of the CO2 of coal, two-thirds of that of oil. But the atmosphere is already completely full. That is one reason why I don't think it is the best option," Gore said in an interview with National Journal in New York City on Wednesday.

To read the entire article go to: http://www.nationaljournal.com/energy/why-al-gore-is-a-natural-gas-skeptic-20140918

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19Sep/14Off

Climate Roundup: Air Board Keys Vehicles to Generation

September 18, 2014

Original source: http://www.cacurrent.com/storyDisplay.php?sid=7799

To go well below 1990 carbon emission levels in California, reductions from the transportation and electricity sectors must be married, said Michael Gibbs, California Air Resources Board assistant executive officer.

“The key to success is understanding how to make simultaneous progress in the transportation and electricity sectors, and figuring out how to get them to work together,” Gibbs said at a Sept. 16 Power Association of Northern California meeting.

California is within reach of its 2020 goal of cutting greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels and reaching a 33 percent renewable energy standard.

Cutting global warming emissions 80 percent, principally from the two biggest climate polluting sectors—transportation and energy—will be far more challenging, he added.

Gibbs noted the stark difference in the two sectors. The former is made up of millions of vehicles and does not entail folding costs into a set rate base—unlike the largely centralized electricity industry.

He also pointed out that vehicles have a much shorter life expectancy than power plants.

The goal is to develop an approach in which the two sectors “move together at the same pace and are not out of sync,” Gibbs explained.

Aligning power plants and vehicles is expected to include using electricity to power transportation, he said.

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19Sep/14Off

Viewpoints: Fracking disclosure law a complete bust

By Hollin Kretzmann

Special to The Bee

Hollin Kretzmann is an attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity.

Published: Friday, Sep. 19, 2014 - 12:00 am

What if California’s Legislature passed a law that state officials simply didn’t bother to enforce?

One year ago, Gov. Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 4, which aims to regulate hydraulic fracturing. Fracking is a controversial practice that blasts huge amounts of water mixed with chemicals into the ground to crack rocks and release oil and gas.

By signing SB 4 last September, Brown hoped to calm growing alarm sparked by revelations that oil companies had fracked wells in at least 10 California counties – as well as hundreds of offshore wells near Santa Barbara and Los Angeles – without oversight. The watered-down version of the bill passed by the Legislature wasn’t backed by a single conservation organization. But supporters argued it would at least reveal when and where oil companies were fracking – and allow Californians to track how much water and what toxic chemicals were being used.

That turns out to be dead wrong. Since SB 4 took effect in January, the state’s Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources has been unable to meet the basic reporting requirements of the industry-friendly regulations.

To read the entire article go to: http://www.sacbee.com/2014/09/19/6718641/viewpoints-fracking-disclosure.html

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19Sep/14Off

Viewpoints: PUC is too cozy with utilities it regulates

By Deborah Behles

Special to The Bee

Published: Friday, Sep. 19, 2014 - 12:00 am

On Monday, Pacific Gas & Electric Co. released another series of emails demonstrating improper private communications between high-level utility officials and decision-makers at the California Public Utilities Commission. They show PG&E pushing aggressively for the assignment of an administrative law judge to preside over a contested ratemaking case because another judge “has a history of being very hard on us.”

Two commissioners and a senior PUC official involved in the email exchanges did not report these improper communications or insist that they stop. Far from it, these officials actively participated in the exchanges and, if anything, seemed to encourage them. When asked about the failure to do the right thing, one commissioner reportedly stated that he was unaware that the rules prohibited such a contact, and that commissioners would “take a refresher course on the rules.”

A refresher course is not the solution.

This latest disclosure shows why California needs to join most states by banning all such private communications related to contested proceedings. Though current rules prohibit communications regarding the assignment of a proceeding to a particular administrative judge, the rules broadly allow private contacts in rate-making cases as long as notice is provided to other parties.

To read the entire article go to: http://www.sacbee.com/2014/09/19/6718570/viewpoints-puc-is-too-cozy-with.html

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19Sep/14Off

Pols want AG to probe CPUC’s ties with PG&E

Peninsula politicians want state Attorney General Kamala Harris to investigate possible crimes involving the California Public Utilities Commission’s shockingly cozy relationship with PG&E during the agency’s probe of the utility after the deadly 2010 gas explosion in San Bruno.

State Sen. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo; Assemblyman Kevin Mullin, D-South San Francisco; and San Bruno Mayor Jim Ruane will hold a news conference Friday morning in San Francisco to deliver a letter to Harris.

The latest revelation of emails between CPUC staff and PG&E executives led to the outser of officials at both this week. The utility also disclosed in a regulatory filing that it may have violated PUC rules with emails it sent the agency as recently as January.

To read the entire article go to: http://www.ibabuzz.com/politics/2014/09/18/pols-want-ag-to-probe-cpucs-ties-with-pge/

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19Sep/14Off

Ukraine crisis: How the US can help

The war between Ukraine and Russia may appear to be waning, but Ukraine's energy dependence on Russia remains its greatest weakness, Holland writes. As winter heating season quickly approaches, the United States and Europe must build a strategy now for buttressing Ukraine with energy support.

By Andrew Holland, Energy Trends Insider September 19, 2014

It appears that the war between Ukraine and Russian-backed separatists may now be coming to an end, as a cease fire agreed on September 5 looks (increasingly) durable.

However, the end of the war does not mean the end of the struggle. Western policymakers must beware of complacency. Once CNN, the BBC, and the New York Times have gone home and NATO’s leaders have turned their attention to the next global flashpoint (Iraq, as it looks to be), we know that the Russians will test Ukraine. They will test the Ukrainian people’s desire to remain truly independent. They will test the Ukrainian leadership’s ability to turn down the comforts and corrupt spoils that working with Russian businesses has brought to former leaders. They will test the West’ attention span and commitment.

Ukraine’s Weakness: Dependence on Russia for Gas

To read the entire article go to: http://www.csmonitor.com/Environment/Energy-Voices/2014/0919/Ukraine-crisis-How-the-US-can-help

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18Sep/14Off

Electric vehicles are getting cleaner, group says

Posted on September 17, 2014 at 9:48 am by Rhiannon Meyers in Electricity, Transportation

As the U.S. shifts away from coal-fired power plants and electric vehicles get more efficient, most Americans now live in regions where electric vehicles produce fewer greenhouse gas emissions than the most efficient hybrid cars, according to a new analysis.

While touted as more environmentally friendly options, electric vehicles have been criticized for contributing to the carbon footprint by relying on electricity generated in many cases from coal-fired power plants.

Related: Electric vehicles’ carbon footprint depends on the state

However, recent changes in electricity markets combined with technological improvements to electric vehicles led the Union of Concerned Scientists this week to conclude that electric vehicles are getting cleaner. In a new report out this week, the nonprofit science advocacy group said electric cars are doing more to fulfill their technological promise.

“If we want to reduce transportation pollution and oil use, a big part of the answer is to be like Bob Dylan and go electric,” Don Anair, research director for the group’s clean vehicles program said in a statement.

To read the entire article go to: http://fuelfix.com/blog/2014/09/17/electric-vehicles-are-getting-cleaner-group-says/

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18Sep/14Off

Greening Up in Burlington, Rocking Out in Allentown


As American government seems ever more paralyzed at the national level, cities continue to find ways to grapple with real problems. Two more examples.

James Fallows Sep 15 2014, 1:15 PM ET

1) Green Power in Vermont. Last year our American Futures team reported on several almost-too-good-to-be-true aspects of life in Burlington, Vermont. A print newspaper that was thriving. A commercial airport that was actually pleasant. A brewery whose output was so much in demand that it rationed sales to give everyone a chance. A strong business-and-social-responsibility culture, including in clean tech and info tech. Advances in traditional higher-ed but also in a "career-oriented" approach. An ability to absorb refugees and immigrants. Overall, effective governance and public-private collaboration, from the era of its onetime Socialist mayor Bernie Sanders to the current Democratic mayor Miro Weinberger.

Today, a significant news announcement via this AP story by Wilson Ring. It begins:

Vermont's largest city has a new success to add to its list of socially conscious achievements: 100 percent of its electricity now comes from renewable sources such as wind, water and biomass....

"It shows that we're able to do it, and we're able to do it cost effectively in a way that makes Vermonters really positioned well for the future," said Christopher Recchia, the commissioner of the Vermont Department of Public Service.

To read the entire article go to: http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2014/09/greening-up-in-burlington-starting-up-in-allentown/380222/

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18Sep/14Off

Green Latinos: Will environmental worries dispel idea of one-issue voters?

In some key races, Hispanics who care about climate, air quality could provide key support for candidates

September 17, 2014 5:00AM ET

by Haya El Nasser @hayaelna

A recent poll of Florida voters showed that Latinos are more concerned about the effects of climate change than voters overall.

All nine surveys conducted since 2011 gauging Hispanics’ views on the environment show that green issues matter. And, now, major environmental groups, from the Sierra Club and the League of Conservation Voters to the Natural Resources Defense Council, are targeting Latinos to bolster their agendas.

Activists believe a tipping point has been reached for the green movement: a shift that political operatives are slowly waking up to and that could be instrumental in their courting of the all-important Latino vote on the eve of midterm elections.

“Contrary to the myth that Latinos are concerned with other issues, such as immigration and the economy, and that environmental issues ranked low among Latinos, our studies show that it’s a top issue for Latinos,” said Adrian Pantoja, senior analyst with political opinion research firm Latino Decisions and politics professor at Pitzer College in Claremont, Calif. “It’s shattering the stereotype.”

To read the entire article go to: http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2014/9/17/green-latinos-midtermelections.html

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18Sep/14Off

Natural Resources Defense Council names Obama official as new president

By Steven Mufson September 17 at 3:55 PM

Rhea S. Suh, President Obama’s nominee to head the Fish and Wildlife Service at the Interior Department, was named president of the Natural Resources Defense Council, a leading environmental group that has been particularly influential in pressing the Obama administration to move ahead with carbon dioxide limits on coal plants.

Suh becomes only the third president in the NRDC’s 44-year history, replacing Frances Beinecke.

Suh is currently serving as assistant secretary of the Interior for policy, management and budget, overseeing the department’s $12 billion budget and 70,000 employees. Earlier in her career she taught earth science in the New York City school system, worked as a program officer for the David and Lucile Packard Foundation and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and Hewlett Packard Foundation, and served as senior legislative assistant to then-Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell (D-Col.).

A 1992 graduate of Barnard College, she also has a master’s degree from Harvard University’s graduate school of education. She is a first generation Korean American and a native of Colorado.

To read the entire article go to: http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/business/wp/2014/09/17/natural-resources-defense-council-names-obama-official-as-new-president/

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18Sep/14Off

Study: Climate change could expand areas wildfires burn, raise damage amounts

By CINDY CARCAMO AND MICHAEL MUSKAL

Los Angeles TimesSeptember 17, 2014

TUCSON, Ariz. — As wildfires burned in California, a study by several major environmental groups estimated that climate change could mean that future blazes will be much larger and add billions of dollars to already costly losses.

The 46-page study released this week, titled "Flammable Planet: Wildfires and the Social Cost of Carbon," is part of an ongoing project by three groups to examine what it calls the missing risks, such as wildfires, that climate change can make more expensive. The groups are the Environmental Defense Fund, the Institute for Policy Integrity at NYU School of Law, and the Natural Resources Defense Council.

To read the entire article go to: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2014/09/17/240151/study-climate-change-could-expand.html?sp=/99/200/260/

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18Sep/14Off

Natural gas boom boosts companies from coast-to-coast

By Eric Boehm

Published September 17, 2014

watchdog.org

There are no drilling rigs in Holland, Mich., but the local economy is still feeling the effects of America’s natural gas drilling boom.

The same is true in Newton, N.C., which is hundreds of miles from the rich natural gas deposits being tapped in North Dakota, Pennsylvania and Texas.

In those places and many others, the massive supply chain for the natural gas industry is breathing new life into all facets of the country’s manufacturing sector, thanks to demand for pipes, equipment and technology.

To read the entire article go to: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/09/17/natural-gas-boom-boosts-companies-from-coast-to-coast/

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18Sep/14Off

Study: East Coast states could cash in on offshore drilling

Posted on September 17, 2014 at 3:36 pm by Jennifer A. Dlouhy in featured, Offshore, Politics/Policy

WASHINGTON — The economic benefits that would flow from offshore oil drilling in U.S. Atlantic waters outweigh the potential environmental costs of the activity, according to a study released Wednesday.

The report, commissioned by the Interstate Policy Alliance and South Carolina’s Palmetto Policy Forum, says oil and gas drilling from Delaware to Georgia would generate $10.8 billion to $60 billion in added economic value for those states, plus $2.1 billion to $11.6 billion in tax revenues.

Environmental effects from the activity — including costs associated with air emissions, carbon pollution and oil spills — are estimated to have a price tag of $395 million to $19 billion.

To read the entire article go to: http://fuelfix.com/blog/2014/09/17/study-east-coast-states-could-cash-in-on-offshore-drilling/

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