Home / Politics / Spotlight on green news & views: Arctic melting alarms scientists; greenwashing Trump

Spotlight on green news & views: Arctic melting alarms scientists; greenwashing Trump

CRITTERS AND THE GREAT OUTDOORS

OceanDiver writes—The Daily Bucket – high flight on a windy day: “May 9, 2018. Salish Sea, Pacific Northwest. Sometimes there are just those days when it seems like everybody’s in the neighborhood — the sky neighborhood in this case. I’d seen my FOY (first of year) osprey the day before and was hoping it was still around. The day was mixed sun and clouds, with a brisk westerly wind over the bay. Even before I got down to the bay from my house a quarter mile inland, I saw a repeat of an encounter from the day before as I headed down the road: a crow dive-bombing a raven. I’d heard the wuf wuf of the raven’s wings, but didn’t get a good look at them that day. This time I could see the raven’s shape and hear the crow calling, so there was no question. Perhaps the raven was getting too close to a nest. They were a ways off, and moving fast, so my pics aren’t great, but you can see the crow come tearing out of the pine tree, dive at the raven and pull up on the other side.”

Angmar writes—The Daily Bucket: Phases of the moon: A photo diary.

Kestrel writes—Dawn Chorus: There’s More Than One LBJ: “If you’re like most people, when you see the initials LBJ, you think of the nation’s 36th president, Lyndon Baines Johnson. But if you’re a birder, LBJ stands for something else entirely: Little Brown Job. Lest you think I’m making that up, here’s the Wikipedia entry: Little brown job. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Little brown job or LBJ is an informal name commonly used by birders for any of the large number of species of small brown passerine birds, many of which are notoriously difficult to distinguish. This is especially true for females, which lack much of the coloring present in males Lord knows, there are a great many LBJs in the birding world, but I’m going to make sparrows the main thrust of this Dawn Chorus.”

Besame writes—Daily Bucket: Twitter rebrands species with witty descriptive names: “I think it began with Wisconsin’s New Zoo deciding to kick it up Thursday. They created the hashtag #RebrandASpecies and posted the first tweet.

Another zoo joined in.

CLIMATE CHAOS

gmoke writes—How to Avoid Catastrophic Climate Change: “My prescription: 1. 100% Renewables. Transition to 100% renewables as quickly as possible along with net zero and net positive energy buildings and advanced energy efficiency throughout the society and culture, noting that about 2/3 of the energy we produce is ‘rejected’ or lost to friction, heat, distribution, etc. and our annual energy production has been around the same level, 100 quads, since the year 2000.  Keep as much carbon, methane,  and other greenhouses gases in the ground as possible. 2. Zero Emissions Economies. Use zero emissions as an approachable goal as zero defects is on a production line in W Edwards Deming’s Total Quality Management (‘Total Quality Environmental Management’ used to be a concept and a magazine once upon a time).  I suspect that even just thinking through a zero emissions economy would bring us closer to such a system and possibly uncover significant savings.  I remember an energy efficiency expert years ago saying, “Maybe it’s all low-hanging fruit.’ 3.  Accelerated Removal of  Carbon from the Atmosphere […] 

OCEANS, WATER, DROUGHT

Hunter writes—White House more concerned about PR nightmare over toxic water than about toxic water: “Over in the Scott Pruitt-led Environmental Protection Agency, the hard work of dismantling regulations on polluters doesn’t stop merely because the boss is up to his watering eyeballs in scandal. His underlings have apparently been a state of alarm over Centers of Disease Control recommendations ratcheting down the federal standard of what’s considered a ‘safe’ level of two industrial chemicals found in drinking water, redeclaring ‘safe’ levels of PFOA and PFOS to be only about a sixth of what was previously tolerated. And the Trump White House and EPA apparently have been trying to stifle the new findings—not because there’s any scientific dispute that the chemicals are indeed substantially more dangerous than thought, but because revealing it would be a ‘public relations nightmare’.

Dan Bacher writes—Bills to protect California coast from new offshore drilling go into suspense file: “After passing the Senate Natural Resources Committee on a 6 to 2 vote on April 16, legislation authored by Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara) to block the Trump Administration from expanding federal oil drilling in new leases off the California coast was referred to the suspense file of the powerful Appropriations Committee on April 30. Jackson this January reintroduced Senate Bill 834, jointly authored by Senator Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens), after Big Oil pumped millions of dollars of lobbying money into the campaign to defeat the measure and other legislation last year. Many bills in the Appropriations Committee are placed on the suspense file to be heard at a suspense hearing on May 25. The bill is at this time still “alive and well,” according to Jackson’s Office.”

Dan Bacher writes—State, water contractors move forward quickly on Delta Tunnels design & construction plans: “Governor Jerry Brown’s plan to build the Delta Tunnels has accelerated at an alarming rate in the wake of the Metropolitan Water District’s vote on April 10 and the Santa Clara Valley Water District’s vote on May 8 to fully support the California Water Fix. First, in a story broken here on Friday (www.dailykos.com/…), a memo released by California Department of Water Resources Director Karla Nemeth outlined ‘organizational adjustments’ prompted by the latest developments in Governor Jerry Brown’s Delta Tunnels project, including a Joint Powers authority tasked with designing and constructing the controversial project. In the memo, she proclaimed, ‘Final permitting for WaterFix is on the horizon and implementation is imminent,’ apparently assuming that the State Water Resources Control Board will approve the petition by DWR and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation to change the points of diversion of the State Water Project and Central Valley Project in order to construct the Delta Tunnels.”

CANDIDATES, STATE AND DC ECO-RELATED POLITICS​

ClimateDenierRoundup writes—With Congressional Funds as Paint, the Wash Examiner Greenwashes Trump: “…on Sunday, the Examiner went past its regular bias with a story claiming that ‘Trump is a lot greener than you think he is. The piece uses a greenwashing framing one would expect Trump’s PR team to churn out, trumpeting Trump’s claims that he is ‘to a large extent, an environmentalist.” Unsurprisingly, the story fails to live up to its headline. The focus of the piece is the flurry of research and development funding coming out of the Department of Energy. We’re apparently supposed to be impressed that unlike the Trump cabinet members who seek to entirely dismantle their agency and hand it over to the industry they’re supposed to regulate (Pruitt, DeVos, Zinke), Rick Perry is, by contrast, working to really advance energy innovation. The greatest sin of the piece is one of omission. Nothing is said about all the ways Trump is hurting the environment, or how his administration chooses to ignore or suppress information about public health and the environment.

Dan Bacher writes—Today: Panel of Climate and Environmental Leaders to Discuss the Road to a Fossil-Free California: “Today, Monday, May 14th, climate and environmental movement leaders will hold a discussion on how California can be a global model for the fast and just transition from a major oil-producer to a 100% renewable energy economy. The event comes on the heels of a letter sent to Gov. Jerry Brown and signed by nearly 800 organizations, urging him to take a stand against fossil fuels ahead of his Global Climate Action Summit in September. Panelists will discuss the steps already underway, and the work that remains, to build a fossil free California that works for communities and the climate. This panel coincides with community-led events being held at city halls around the country calling for public officials to support resolutions that ban new fossil fuel projects and jumpstart transitions to renewable energy.

ENERGY

Fossil Fuels

Walter Einenkel writes Federal judge deals blow to Oakland’s coal shipping ban: “U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria ruled in favor of developer Phil Tagami Tuesday, saying that Oakland city officials ‘breached’ their contract when they enacted a ban on shipping coal from the city’s ports. The ban was put in at the end of June 2016 with a unanimous vote by the Oakland City Council. SF Gate reports: Chhabria said there was insufficient evidence to support the City Council’s contention that coal operations ‘pose a substantial danger to people in Oakland.’ “’n fact, the record is riddled with inaccuracies, major evidentiary gaps, erroneous assumptions, and faulty analyses, to the point that no reliable conclusion about health or safety dangers could be drawn from it,’ he wrote.

Emissions Controls & Carbon Pricing

Rmuse writes—Trump eliminates NASA greenhouse gas monitoring and expansion of human knowledge: “Maybe Trump believes that if scientists cannot measure greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, land, and oceans, they will concluded that the climate is not warming; it is what one expects from an ignoramus like Trump. But it is more likely he is doing everything in his power to sabotage the rest of the world’s effort to address what most sane human beings consider is an existential threat to human life, anthropogenic climate change. The Earth will recover from man’s destruction over a couple centuries after humans are gone, but with Trump in the White House and a nation steeped in Dark Ages superstition and religious ignorance, it is unlikely that America can every recover.

Renewables, Efficiency & Conservation

Walter Einenkel writes—Duke Energy convinces NC court that solar panels on church rooftops is against the law: “North Carolina is a state that’s been profoundly affected by the undemocratic gerrymandering the Republican Party uses to consolidate their minority share of the American imagination. Back in November of 2015, North Carolina Waste Awareness and Reduction Network (NC WARN), an advocacy group for environmental change, made a stand by trying to install solar paneling to the rooftop of a predominantly black church. The challenge was to the state’s utility monopoly and the big fossil fuel boys were out fighting to stop the possibility for a free market in energy. Inside Climate News reports that NC WARN has lost their appeal to the state’s highest court. The utilities argue that electricity generated by customers or sold by third-party providers—in this case the environmental group that was selling power to the church—would upend their business model, leaving them with fewer customers who would then have to pay more for power. Often, when states in the region have changed the rules to expand access to rooftop solar, they have done so within a framework set by the utilities and with restrictions.

NewsPhotosFeatures writes—NYS strategy: Turn Long Island into Leader for Nascent Offshore Windpower Industry: “Cuomo has set a standard of the state generating 50% of its energy needs through renewable by 2030, and offshore wind, in addition to solar, hilltop windpower, hydroelectric and other sources (‘all of the above’) are considered essential to meeting that goal, which Cuomo has proudly declared the most ambitious in the nation. Environmental groups including Sierra Club have long advocated offshore wind, especially as Long Island faces a crucial transition juncture of expanding or upgrading fossil-fuel based power plants to meet its energy needs, versus investing and transitioning to renewable energy. The state is targeting acquiring 2,400 megawatts of energy from offshore wind – the equivalent of what is generated by the Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant – enough to power 1.2 million households. The associated industries that would develop to manufacture the wind turbines and platforms, construct ports and stage the equipment, install the turbines, operate and maintain the systems are expected to employ some 5,000 people in relatively high-paying jobs, and generate $6 billion for the region. What is more, over time, windpower will bring down the cost of electricity on Long Island, where high costs of energy are considered impediments to economic growth.

REGULATIONS & PROTECTIONS

Walter Einenkel writes—EPA’s Pruitt hid dinner with accused serial child-molesting priest to talk climate change denial: “The New York Times has the classic story of corrupt EPA chief Scott Pruitt meeting with a climate change-denying Catholic cardinal. Sadly, this is nothing surprising, coming from an administration that is more swamp than human. What is slightly surprising—but also probably not really—is that the cardinal in question, senior Australian Catholic cleric George Pell, has had an open investigation going since 2016 into allegations that he molested and raped numerous children over the last four decades. According to the Times, Pruitt dined last year in Rome with Cardinal Pell, and later his EPA intentionally released reporting on that dinner omitting Pell’s name or presence. Kevin Chmielewski, Mr. Pruitt’s former deputy chief of staff for operations, said in an interview that top political appointees at the agency feared that the meeting would reflect poorly on Mr. Pruitt if it were made public. Twenty days after the dinner, authorities in Australia charged Cardinal Pell with sexual assault; he has denied the charges.

Mark Sumner writes—Scott Pruitt’s biggest lie blown wide open: He requested 24/7 security on his very first day: “The request for Scott Pruitt’s extraordinary level of security didn’t come from the inspector general, and wasn’t the result of a stack of accumulated threats—Pruitt himself ordered his 24/7 security. And, according to the Washington Post, he did it on his very first day at the EPA. Scott Pruitt has one all-purpose excuse for his first-class flights, his 20-man security team, his taking over an entire floor of the EPA building, and his hiding of many facets of his schedule and activities: Threats. He’s claimed that he was subject to threats that were so bad, so “unprecedented” that it justified surrounding the EPA administrator with $3 million in personal security, taking military jets across the country, first-class flights around the world, and in every way making sure he never has to associate with the people who are paying his bills. Every last word of it has turned out to be a lie.

Mark Sumner writes—EPA and White House blocked release of pollution study that would be a ‘public relations nightmare’: “Donald Trump has tried to sell the public on two ideas: that EPA restrictions on dumping chemicals into America’s water supply have to go, and that we can still have ‘clean, clean water … the cleanest.’ If it seems difficult for both things to be true, it’s because they are not. That’s why, as Politico reports, Scott Pruitt’s EPA and Trump’s White House teamed up in an attempt to block a report on water contamination after one White House staffer warned that the report would be a “public relations nightmare.’ The report comes from the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, which is actually a part of HHS. But the contents of that report have been blocked from publication, along with any action to address the problems it records, because of concerns raised by Pruitt and Trump staffers.

Mark Sumner writes—Letters reveal how Pruitt hired an unqualified lobbyist to head one of EPA’s most important offices: “The massive archive of documents produced when the Sierra Club sued the EPA for both hiding public information and refusing to obey FOIA requests continues to produce details about how profiteer Scott Pruitt has operated the agency. Looking through the emails, Think Progress has discovered just how one of Pruitt’s lieutenantsgot his position as a top official. Bill Wehrum is the Assistant Administrator for the EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation. The OAR is responsible for developing programs that promote energy efficiency, as well as dealing with regulations on both air quality and industrial pollution. Its regulatory reach extends for rules on radon on basements to ozone depleting chemicals and acid rain from power plants. It’s also the office that’s responsible for collecting information connected to climate change. It’s one of the EPA’s most critical offices. Which is why the previous administrator of the office had both a degree in biology from Yale and a degree in public policy from Harvard. So what exactly are Wehrum’s qualifications? It’s hard to determine, because although previous versions of the page showing the leadership team of the OARincluded biographies of the principal officials, the new version of that same page has ditched all information about the backgrounds of the people in charge.”

committed writes—Pruitt asked for 24/7 security the very first hour: “Scott Pruitt requested and received 24/7 security starting on his first day at EPA. it was never a response to anything at all. the entire gop’r party is nothing but a pack of liars and cowards Scott Pruitt began receiving round-the-clock security from the moment he stepped foot inside the Environmental Protection Agency in February 2017, the agency’s inspector general revealed Monday. ‘EPA’s Protective Service Detail began providing 24/7 coverage of the Administrator the first day he arrived,’ Inspector General Arthur Elkins wrote in response to inquiries from Democratic Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse (R.I.) and Thomas R. Carper (Del.) about what threats prompted Pruitt’s nonstop security, which has cost in excess of $3 million. ‘The decision was made by the Office of Criminal Enforcement, Forensics and Training after being informed that Mr. Pruitt requested 24/7 protection once he was confirmed as Administrator’.”

Xaxnar writes—Kevin Drum Explains Why Scott Pruitt Still Has A Job: “A growing mystery is why EPA devastator administrator Scott Pruitt still has a job. Since being confirmed (and even before), there were multiple issues that should have raised red flags. His performance since then has resulted in jaw-dropping examples of corruption and mendacity. Nonetheless, he persists. How does he do it? How has he remained in place while so many others have come and gone under the kleptocracy of God-Emperor Trump?”

AGRICULTURE​, FOOD & GARDENING

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Pakalolo writes—Saturday Morning Garden Blogging Vol 14.19: Dis and Dat: “Good morning gardeners. The rainy season is here. We are going to get drenched with heavy tropical rainfall over the next few days, up to 7 inches of is predicted. This is good news for the Everglades as it has been quite dry there, and some swamps have dried up. Along the coast, we have been getting regular rain that has kept my garden green, but with this moisture it will be lush. So I look forward to that. There are a few things I need to get done before the deluge, bulk needs to go to the curb for pickup on Monday so I will be in and out today.”

TRANSPORTATION & INFRASTRUCTURE

ClimateDenierRoundup writes—Why Is It Only Fossil Fueled Pundits Criticize Electric Cars? There seems to be no shortage of deceptive attacks on electric vehicles, whether from the GOP’s opposition research arm or the Koch brothers themselves. The latest attempt to malign EVs is a report released Monday, which claims increased adoption of EVs will actually increase air pollution. Multiple reports in the past have come to the opposite conclusion–so what makes this one different? For starters, the ‘Short Circuit report was published by the Koch (and Mercer, and Big Tobacco) and Exxon-funded Manhattan institute, and authored by Jonathan Lesser, an energy industry consultant with a history of doing utility and industry bidding and a long track record of anti-climate action writing. With these credentials, it’s not exactly surprising that the report advocates against EV subsidies. What is surprising is that Politico gave Lesser space to promote the report–without any disclosure of his energy industry clients or the Manhattan Institute’s fossil fuel funding.

MISCELLANY

ClimateDenierRoundup writes—Mother Jones and Trive Show Two Routes for Fighting Fake News: One Real, One Fake: “On the other hand, WUWT recently ran a pair of posts announcing a new effort, not in any apparent or direct way related to WUWT or climate denial, ‘designed to destroy fake alarmist news.’ Whereas the Mother Jones approach is housed squarely in journalistic tradition, this new website, called Trive, is part of the shiny new blockchain bandwagon. The author of the WUWT posts, Mike Lorrey, is an advisor to Trive and a former WUWT contributor and moderator–raising huge questions about the sites’credibility. Although the project doesn’t have any of the obvious signs of bias in its launch materials or press releases, it’s not a great sign that its founder David Mondrus’s Twitter feed appears to embrace right-wing deepstate paranoia, fear of communism, Trump Russia propaganda, victimization, Seth Rich conspiracies from 4chan, and UFOs. Though he mainly tweets about bitcoin stuff, Mondrus has dipped a toe into climate denial: he once retweeted Steve Goddard, a climate denier so consistently fake he’s not even welcome at WUWT, and also retweeted a story about the Tom Karl pausebuster non-scandal that was literally deemed fake news.”


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