Climate and Energy News Roundup 6/1/2018

This week’s Roundup was prepared by Joy Loving.

POLITICS and POLICY

The Detroit News reported that “[a]utomakers urged the White House to cooperate with California officials in a coming rewrite of vehicle efficiency standards, saying ‘climate change is real.’” They argued multiple regulations would be inefficient.  The automakers may not be so happy at the EPA’s proposed actions on their requests.  Certainly former CA Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger isn’t happy with the EPA either, per the Washington Post and Vice News.  And neither are some of the EPA’s science advisors.  Most recently, they issued an unusual and public rebuke to the EPA’s Administrator.

The EPA may have joined forces with a climate change denier group that isn’t a registered lobbyist.  By contrast, the Department of Interior’s Secretary may be rethinking his earlier positions related to conservation.

Last year the current President had a telephone conversation with the major of Virginia’s tiny Tangier Island to reassure him that the residents needn’t be concerned about the effects of sea level rise.  The America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018 “includes provisions for flood-risk reduction measures for Virginia’s coast and Tangier that were included at the urging of Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA)”.  The Environment and Public Works Committee passed the bill on May 22.  Maybe the mayor will get the sea wall he believes will solve his problems?

If you live in a city (or a town or a rural county), you may wonder whether, given the U.S.’s withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord a year ago, local government can step in and make any difference.  Here’s a brief commentary by a Cornell associate professor on city and regional planning.  And here’s a Grist article about how some Republican majors, while allergic to the phrase “climate change”, are nonetheless starting to address its implications.  Speaking of the Paris agreement, what’s happened since we pulled out?  Find out here and here.

CLIMATE SCIENCE

A recent NY Times interactive article brings into sharp focus how drought in the southwest US is affecting its water supply.  The focus is on the Rio Grande River.

Been wondering whether the Hawaii volcano-eruption-that-won’t-quit is worsening global warming?  Here’s an answer from The New Republic (spoiler alert:  not so much). And here’s a wonderful opinion piece on the beauty of the Kilauea eruption, including some stunning photos.

We hear a lot about the likely dire results of the melting ice sheets in the Arctic and Antarctica.  Maybe here’s some hope about that.  We also hear about its negative effects on health; a recent study talked about ways to lessen them.  Somewhat related, could methane be of help in addressing our carbon addiction?

Was Ellicott City’s recent horrible flood the result of climate change?  Read for yourself.  And also this one.

If you like to eat and/or drink, here’s a couple of items to make you think twice.  First, what do you like to eat and second, are you a beer lover?  Hint:  Cows and hops are involved.

ENERGY

Legal attacks on the two VA pipelines continue; some tree sitters have given up, under court order.  Franklin County, has decided not to provide its land for a pipeline construction yard, perhaps following Augusta’s lead (it denied zoning approval earlier this year for a construction facility near Churchville).  Even the Army Corps of Engineers has pulled a Mountain Valley Pipeline permit.  And an insurance industry expert doesn’t believe the pipelines are a good idea.  The VA State Water Control Board has authority to order a stream-by-stream crossing review for these pipelines.  The question is, will they?  Public comment period closed May 30.  Let’s hope they’ll have more effect than they do on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) that approved these and many other pipelines.  Speaking of FERC, environmental organizations have had difficulty suing it.  Lastly, this story from Ohio talks about utilities trying to muzzle that state’s water quality commission; this couldn’t happen in VA could it?

Given all this, here’s a reminder that in April, VA Governor Northam announced a “new” strategy for conservation of VA lands.  The Governor will “work with state agencies and partners” to “focus resources on preserving lands with the highest conservation value for the commonwealth.”  Given the vast acreage under assault by the Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast Pipelines, with the accompanying economic losses to the communities through which these pipelines would operate, one wonders just how the Governor’s stated aims square with his stated priorities and the “scientific analyses” he expects to happen, especially since some lands formerly and formally under conservation were in the pipeline corridor and were “traded” for other land elsewhere.

The world (well, at least India and China) is taking some steps toward increasing renewable energy, according to this Bloomberg article.  And some US businesses are stepping up also; here’s some ideas for evaluating business leadership in this regard.  Perhaps some wind projects are finally underway.  And hydropower is going strong world-wide.  Even VA’s electric cooperatives are beginning to get on-board.  As to pipelines, the Canadian government is buying one.  But they’re also investing in geothermal power.  What about solar?  And solar + storage?  Energy efficiency, anyone?

You might be a confused about what’s going on in the coal industry.  Here’s an example of why:  Virginia’s Governor Northam recently approved a bill to help metallurgical coal companies.  Last year, Former Governor McAuliffe vetoed a somewhat similar bill that would have also helped steam coal companies.  The former type of coal is used for steel making; the latter, for making electricity.  The current Governor wants to help VA’s economy and expand our use of Renewable Energy.  Analysis of the effects of previous VA coal tax credits suggest they haven’t been effective in reversing the decline in jobs.  To add to the confusion, the NY Times reported that big banks are now willing to lend money to the coal industry.  And that same China noted above is considering buy more US coal, according to this Bloomberg article.  Finally, the current President wants to use “national security” as a reason for coal and nuclear industry bailouts.  Maybe he believes Canada plans to attack some of them?

Transportation is a big part of greenhouse gas emissions.  Here’s an item about how “old-fashioned” sailing ships might help.  In contrast, the EPA wants to keep dirty trucks arollin’.  Here’s a prediction about Electric Vehicles—they’re coming in large numbers sooner than you may think!

 

We’ll finish up with the arts….  Grist published a list of new documentaries about climate change.  Here’s area links to two of them.  One talks about little ol’ Tangier Island mentioned above.  First, The Human Element (takes a while to load).  Second, a film on Patagonia’s website reminds us that even renewable energy has its downsides.

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