Climate and Energy News 3/17/2018

Les Grady is away. This week’s roundup has been compiled by Joy Loving. 

We headline this week’s roundup with some words from the late Stephen Hawking, who died March 14:

A Call to Care and Do Something:   “Remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see and wonder about what makes the universe exist. Be curious. And however difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at. It matters that you don’t just give up.”
https://www.theguardian.com/science/2018/mar/14/best-stephen-hawking-quotes-quotations

Caring for the Planet:   “Perhaps in a few hundred years, we will have established human colonies amid the stars, but right now we only have one planet, and we need to work together to protect it,” he wrote. “To do that, we need to break down, not build up, barriers within and between nations.”
https://www.ecowatch.com/stephen-hawking-climate-change-2547368270.html

POLITICS & POLICY

1. The current Administration appears to be of multiple minds on whether and how to address risks from our warming climate.

Recently George David Banks, former Special Assistant to the President for International Energy and Environment, discussed the decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord.  Although he advised against this action, he “personally thought the Obama administration’s pledge was just unattainable, and would have required burdensome regulations across their economy.”  http://energypolicy.columbia.edu/us-climate-policy-under-trump-administration

Some current actions within the Administration point to a serious lack of interest in environmental protections and even active collaboration with fossil fuel interests:
Industryhttps://thinkprogress.org/scott-angelle-meets-almost-exclusively-with-industry-f2e52ffb4a69/
Lobbyistshttp://augustafreepress.com/groups-sue-for-information-about-heartland-institutes-involvement-in-epa-climate-science-decisions/
Conflicts of Interesthttps://grist.org/briefly/the-epa-is-riddled-with-conflicts-of-interest-according-to-new-analysis/
Crank Bloggershttps://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/interior-climate-change-crank-blogs_us_5aa2df63e4b086698a9da922

The Interior Department (DOI) gives its employees easy-to-follow directions about presenting its initiatives:  https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/powerpost/paloma/the-energy-202/2018/03/16/the-energy-202-interior-agency-gives-employees-vision-cards-depicting-oil-rigs/5aaaadcd30fb047655a06cbf/

Actions by DOI and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) point to a move away from both mitigation and adaptation strategies:
DOI plans to accelerate its plans for Utah’s Grand Staircase, following the recent decision to greatly reduce the protected area.  https://www.motherjones.com/environment/2018/03/report-trump-administration-making-controversial-expedited-plans-for-utahs-grand-staircase/
FEMA’s strategic plan no longer mentions “climate change”.  https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2018/03/15/594140026/fema-drops-climate-change-from-its-strategic-plan

On the other hand, within the President’s party there are proponents of a more climate-and-environment-friendly approach:
Young Republican campus push for a “carbon tax”https://www.facebook.com/republicen/videos/1155782204565099/
https://www.wired.com/story/thank-colleges-for-imminent-carbon-taxes-no-seriously-thank-them/

However, there is also debate about whether such a tax will come about:
What’s certain besides Taxes–https://grist.org/article/nothing-is-certain-but-death-and-maybe-carbon-taxes/

2. The Administration is facing several challenges to its policies and actions.

From the judiciaryhttps://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-epa-ozone/federal-court-orders-epa-to-implement-smog-rules-idUSKCN1GO2RB

From citizen groupshttp://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/environment/article204217279.html

From the stateshttps://www.utilitydive.com/news/new-york-petitions-epa-to-force-emissions-reductions-in-9-states/519057/ This New York State action is of particular interest because Virginia is one of nine states whose emissions New York says are contributing to its pollution, despite its efforts to curb them.  The others are Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia.

From shareholders:   https://insideclimatenews.org/news/07032018/shareholder-resolutions-climate-change-2-degrees-methane-lobbying-trump-administration

From environmental and social justice activistshttps://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-climatechange-lawsuit/u-s-government-sued-after-failing-to-submit-climate-change-report-idUSKCN1GP25H ; https://grist.org/article/koch-brothers-preached-the-fossil-fuel-gospel-in-virginia-then-black-churches-fought-back/

From within the Administration itself:

Climate Change Reporthttps://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2018/03/12/the-government-is-close-to-finishing-a-climate-change-report-trump-wont-like-it/

Some officials Fighting Global Warminghttps://www.reuters.com/article/us-trump-effect-climatechange/weathering-trumps-skepticism-u-s-officials-still-fighting-global-warming-idUSKCN1GR0F5

EPA and Coal Ash– https://insideclimatenews.org/news/15032018/epa-regulations-coal-power-plant-waste-ash-ponds-toxins-health-jeremy-orr-water-testing

EPA versus Chief of Staff Kelly–https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/09/climate/pruitt-red-team-climate-debate-kelly.html?mtrref=t.co

CLIMATE

1. What History Tells Us

Mass Extinction and Coal—Can It Happen Again?  https://www.theguardian.com/environment/climate-consensus-97-per-cent/2018/mar/12/burning-coal-may-have-caused-earths-worst-mass-extinction

What Do the Oceans Tell Us?  https://www.hakaimagazine.com/news/when-it-comes-to-climate-change-the-ocean-never-forgets/

2. What about the Future?

    A. How Bad Is It Going to Be?

Pretty badhttps://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/mar/12/climate-change-is-a-disaster-foretold-just-like-the-first-world-war
But there’s hope—if we can wait 400 years:  https://www.technologyreview.com/s/610457/at-this-rate-its-going-to-take-nearly-400-years-to-transform-the-energy-system/
Why Hurricane Harvey was so Wet:
https://grist.org/article/climate-change-made-hurricane-harvey-wetter-heres-how-we-know/ (Video)

    B. How About the Weather?

The Seasons

Spring, Anyone?  https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/11/opinion/winter-early-spring-.html

Winter?  https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/mar/13/extreme-winter-weather-becoming-more-common-as-arctic-warms-study-finds

Blizzards?  https://insideclimatenews.org/news/13032018/global-warming-weather-data-winter-storms-arctic-sea-ice-jet-streams-ocean-temperature

The Oceans:

Iceland:   http://news.trust.org/item/20180310162428-945cl/

Hampton Roads:  https://pilotonline.com/news/local/environment/article_8c7de40e-261b-11e8-86b1-9f38ed9e53b8.html

Circulation:   https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2018/03/14/the-melting-arctic-is-already-messing-with-a-crucial-part-of-the-oceans-circulation-scientists-say/

    C. And Then There’s Fire
Peat/Bogs:  https://www.sciencenews.org/article/bogs-peatlands-fire-climate-change

3. Addressing What’s Coming

Can Technology Help?

Weather Satellites:    https://www.motherjones.com/environment/2018/03/americas-newest-weather-satellite-is-a-game-changer-for-forecasting-catastrophic-natural-events/

Geoengineering Polar Glaciers:  https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-018-03036-4

What about Trees?   https://grist.org/article/the-last-ditch-effort-to-save-the-worlds-forests-from-climate-change/

Disaster Planning, Anyone?  https://insideclimatenews.org/news/12032018/red-cross-disaster-relief-climate-change-attribution-studies-extreme-weather-science-trends

ENERGY

Coal Ash

Getting Rid of It:  http://www.greensboro.com/opinion/n_and_r_editorials/our-opinion-keep-the-rules-in-place-for-coal-ash/article_8cda656d-cda5-5da8-b146-c268c42c98dd.html

Virginia Legislature and Proposed Regulations

Dominion “Rate Freeze Repeal”:
Overhaulhttp://www.richmond.com/news/virginia/governor-signs-sweeping-utility-overhaul-affecting-million-virginia-ratepayers/article_ce65175d-c789-5517-bc0c-e4cbd5d2c554.html
Maybe Not a Good Deal for Every Virginianhttps://powerforthepeopleva.com/2018/03/06/virginia-buys-dominions-pig-in-a-poke/

Carbon Reduction:
Harrisonburg Speaks Up—  Supporters Back Carbon Regs

Offshore Drilling

Pros:
Economic Benefitshttp://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/377618-oil-industry-trumps-offshore-drilling-plan-could-contribute-590b-to

Cons:
Trump Rollbacks Target Offshore Rules ‘Written with Human Blood’https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/10/business/offshore-drilling-trump-administration.html
Clergy Oppositionhttp://pulse.ncpolicywatch.org/2018/03/09/nc-religious-leaders-voice-opposition-trumps-offshore-drilling-push/#sthash.d1N0gM1x.0tbhMn60.dpbs
Another BP Spill Could Happen-https://www.pnj.com/story/news/2018/03/11/panhandle-risk-bp-style-blowout-guestview/407853002/
“Economic and Ecological Folly”-https://news.mongabay.com/2018/03/analysis-u-s-call-to-drill-off-all-coasts-economic-and-ecological-folly
States Say Nohttps://www.politico.com/states/florida/story/2018/03/09/states-vow-to-fight-offshore-drilling-by-any-means-at-their-disposal-309656

Maybes:
Economically Beneficial or Not-http://www.theadvocate.com/baton_rouge/news/business/article_8916feae-23e6-11e8-a2da-33c5ad605708.html
Scale Backhttps://www.washingtonexaminer.com/policy/energy/ryan-zinke-suggests-riskier-offshore-drilling-plan-likely-to-be-scaled-back
Florida Exemptionhttp://www.graydc.com/content/news/Zinke-clarifies-offshore-drilling-stance-FLs-exemption-476588773.html
Georgia Pros and Cons: http://www.savannahnow.com/news/20180312/studies-compare-pros-and-cons-of-drilling-off-georgia
Washington/Oregon/California Exemption:  https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2018/03/13/zinke-oil-and-gas-exploration-off-the-pacific-coast-might-not-happen

Pipelines

Virginia:
Dominion “Loss” at SCC Hearing-http://www.richmond.com/news/virginia/government-politics/dominion-fails-in-attempt-to-bar-testimony-on-pipeline-s/article_fd1b3914-fd12-569e-9c58-77c82a0ab032.html
What the Pipelines Do for Virginiahttps://www.nrdc.org/experts/amy-mall/are-appalachian-pipelines-being-built-increase-exports
Governor Moving to Protect Virginia Water-http://augustafreepress.com/northam-announces-additional-powers-to-protect-virginias-clean-water/
Virginia Department of Environmental Quality Enforcing Violations–http://augustafreepress.com/deq-takes-enforcement-action-against-atlantic-coast-pipeline-llc/

Maryland:
Baltimore Crude Oil Ban–https://thinkprogress.org/baltimore-crude-oil-ban-2a00dab1d1ec/

Canada:
Protest– https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/indigenous-environmental-leaders-protest-canada-pipeline/2018/03/10/8b4c689a-2430-11e8-946c-9420060cb7bd_story.html

 Coal

Future Parity:  https://rmi.org/news/net-zero-future-cost-parity-coal-heart-coal-country/

Fracking

Health risks:  https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/fracking-health-risk-asthma-birth-defects-cancer-w517809

Hopeful Closing

Will utilities finally embrace renewable energy?
https://www.vox.com/energy-and-environment/2018/3/13/17108590/utilities-electrify-everything

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