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Spotlight on green news & views: China eating our lunch on renewables; bumblebee endangered

CRITTERS AND THE GREAT OUTDOORS

Angmar writes—The Daily Bucket: Winter time on NY’s Lake Ontario: “Rochester New York [located basically on the borders of Canada in the North] used to be very very snowy in winter,
and there was very little walking on the beaches, as generally speaking there would be way too much snow. Rochester was a snow belt state. It was very famous for lake effect snow, because of the fact that it was by Lake Ontario and it was quite mild [comparatively], in winter, therefore seemingly causing a lot of precipitation. Nowadays, it seems like we hardly get almost any precipitation in the winter. Once in a while we still get the lake effect snow, but not on the same level. This is actually ironically quite handy for people who like to walk, but sad for those who enjoyed winter. The upside of this however is one can walk by the lake in the winter time now, and enjoy the beauty of the water. The days that we went out recently, it was in the upper 30s, so it wasn’t terribly cold. There is a definite serenity to being on beaches in winter, much more so than probably any other time of the year. Therefore, if one has an opportunity to do so, one should absolutely take a walk by bodies of water in seasons when no one is about, and when the weather is gray and cloudy.

Rabbit_Dear.jpeg

The author calls this a “wererabbit,” but you’ll have to read his diary to learn why.

Michael Kal writes—Daily Bucket: Wild Ridge Deer Games: “In the past, I was impressed in seeing 23 does and fawns together in a small meadow above Strawberry, near Sonora. Our own backyard herd was coeducational, not segregated a fairly stable 18 or so. We had spikes, fork horns, 3 pointers and more, together with 4-5 does and their fawns. The residual mounds of topsoil from our construction, made a par course for both males and females to chase one another around on. Fawns chased each other, does sometimes chased the bucks, and the bucks played king of the mounds. The bucks would get crazy, running across property lines, dashing through the brush and around the oaks and pines like motocross riders. If the bucks got too rambunctious around the fawns, mom would stomp her feet or kick at the offending buck.

CLIMATE CHAOS

hestal writes—How will you protect your family against global warming? ”My neighbor came to see me last weekend. When I answered the door I invited him in, which I always do, and he came in, which he almost never does–usually we talk in the front yard and often other neighbors wander over. It is all good. When he sat down, I could clearly see that he was worried. He told me that he was worried about his children. He has three, one in high school, one in the fifth grade, and one in diapers. He and his wife are well-educated. He is a manager for a large national corporation that is growing, and she is a nurse with a very special specialty. He said that he was worried about the future of his children. He said that he was worried about the climate and global warming. He wanted to know what he should do to protect his children. This is the first time this topic has ever come up with him or any of my other neighbors.”

ClimateDenierRoundup writes—Koch Front “Serving” Underserved Communities, Namely Itself: “As Trump’s administration begins to take shape, we’re learning more and more about the Koch puppets that Trump is appointing to #StaffTheSwamp. The other day, an EDF post called out Trump’s EPA Admin nominee Scott Pruitt for possible impropriety and what looks like ‘pay-to-play’ situations, where Pruitt, on multiple occasions, received money from the energy industry and shortly after took efforts to defend them. And as E&E points out, since Pruitt has a super-PAC, he can still ‘keep raising money from the corporate interests he is charged with regulating.’ On top of that, as one of the first Cabinet-level appointees (who are prohibited from soliciting money) to have a super-PAC (which exists to solicit money), the legality and potential for corruption threatens to undermine what little credibility Scott ‘unprecedented, secretive alliance Pruitt would have as the EPA administrator. But not content merely pulling strings behind the scenes, the Koch network continues to pander the public with an offensively ironic effort to improve the reputation of fossil fuels by supposedly ‘standing up for poor, underserved communities.’”

POPULATION, SUSTAINABILITY & EXTINCTION

lynn47 writes—An Icon of Nature is disappearing, The Bumble Bee is on the Endangered Species list: “It is hard for me to process this new information. The Bumble Bee is on the Endangered Species list for the first time in North America. I grew up with Bumble Bees everywhere, we used to run from them in fear when I was a kid. Now they should probably run from us. This is just so disheartening, and to think we have an incoming President who is anti science. I am not sure if we can save this beautiful little creature without some help from our Government. Maybe the fact that they contribute 3 Billion dollars to our economy every year might get some Politicians to open their eyes. I know, but I can dream. The Bombus affinis has declined very quickly over the last 20 years. There has been a 90% decline in their population in that time frame.arcoM”

CANDIDATES, STATE AND DC ECO-RELATED POLITICS​

Mark Sumner writes—EPA nominee Scott Pruitt sued the agency 13 times and has 8 cases still in the works: “Donald Trump’s Secretary of State nominee may be the head of ExxonMobil, the man behind a $500 billion deal to drill the high arctic, and a ready source of funds for climate denying Congressmen. But Tillerson is warm and fuzzy panda next to Trump’s nominee to head the EPA. The climate change denying, earthquake ignoring, friend-to-polluters Scott Pruit is being given the chance to address America’s crisis of too clear air and too clean water. ‘As far as we can tell there’s literally nothing in his record showing any indication of protecting the environment in any way that matters,’ Natural Resources Defense Council’s director of government affairs David Goldston said on a call with reporters on Wednesday. … Since 2011 he has sued the EPA 13 times and has led the effort to overturn new water regulations and Obama’s signature climate policy.”

MarcoCanepari writes—Trump’s EPA Pick Is Widely Supported By The Energy Lobby: “Politico revealed that Pruitt has received financial backing from oil and coal companies, as well as an organization called ‘Protecting America Now.’ The organization is registered as a 501(c)(4) and can take anonymous donations of up to $500,000, according to Politico, in their efforts to bolster and support Pruitt before he is confirmed by the 115th Congress. In other words, we can’t even identify the exact people supporting Pruitt because they’ve taken steps to obscure it. We do know, however, that he has a public track record of fighting environmental protections. He’s opposed attempts to study the impacts of fracking, literally plagiarized propaganda created by oil companies, tried to argue against protections against mercury, and has repeatedly denied the reality of man-made climate change, according to EcoWatch. His own website describes him as ‘a leading advocate against the EPA’s activist agenda,’ according to Bloomberg, blatantly characterizing the government organization meant to protect the environment as something bad, selfish or political instead of designed to address environmental problems caused by corporations.”

esiegfried writes Rex Tillerson and “We’ll Adapt” to Climate Change: Millionaire Oilmen Say the Darndest Things: “Rex Tillerson? The man who for 40 years served and eventually led Exxon Mobil? Who was there when the corporation came to understand the science and risks of climate change and worked, not to sound the alarm and contribute to solutions, but to ensure that doubt about the science became pervasive and that society wasted that time doing nothing? Who oversaw such activity? And now that we can never get that time back, and Exxon Mobil has used that time to grow to be one of the world’s most profitable corporations, he talks about how our species thrives on adversity and should just adapt to climate change?  And he continues to undercut climate modelsdownplay climate impacts, and mock renewable energyThat guy? I feel like I have irony poisoning. It’s so late in the climate fight. The Paris Climate Agreement—on which hangs our last best hope for avoiding deep climate disruption—is taking its tottering first steps. In this moment, Americans have a deep obligation to ensure the solutions take root and succeed, at home and globally. The nomination of Rex Tillerson reflects us, as a nation, retreating to our self-interested corner, the future be damned.”

Carolyn Kenney writes—What You Need To Know About Rex Tillerson, Trump’s Secretary of State Nominee: “The existence of human-caused climate change and its destructive effects on the American people and countries around the world are beyond dispute. Tillerson himself has recognized that ‘the risks of climate change are real and require serious action.’ He has, however, made light of climate threats, claiming that climate change is a mere ‘engineering problem.’ Exxon Mobil, for its part, knew about climate change as early as the 1970s. Yet the company and Tillerson have aggressively fought efforts to combat the problem. Exxon is well known for being under investigation for deceiving the public and investors about climate threats. It is also notable that the company has funneled millions of dollars to groups that deny or spread misinformation about climate science. Exxon supported such groups with nearly $2 million in 2015 alone.

RayMathis writes—The Oil Rigged Election of 2016: “If you think I’m off my rocker, just look at who Trump is nominating for key cabinet posts. Rick Perry from Texas to run the Department of Energy. What’s Texas famous for? Black gold. Perry even said he’d abolish the Department of Energy if he were President. Then there’s the Attorney General from Oklahoma, another state synonymous with oil, and now fracking and natural gas as well, being nominated to run EPA – a guy who sued it to block Obama’s Clean Power Plan. But best of all, there’s Tillerson, the former Exxon-Mobil CEO to be Secretary of State.

Brett Wilkins writes—John Hoeven, New Senate Indian Affairs Chair, Supports Dakota Access Pipeline, Targeted #NoDAPL: “The incoming Republican-controlled Senate has named John Hoeven, a staunch proponent of the highly controversial Dakota Access Pipeline, as the new chair of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs. ‘I am honored to serve as the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs and look forward to working… to pass legislation that helps improve the lives of people across Indian Country,’ the former North Dakota governor and the state’s current senior US senator said in a statement. ‘We will address the issues of job creation, natural resource management, health care, education, public safety and housing in Indian communities, [and] we will also make it a priority to promote economic growth.’ However, as Mic notes, Hoeven is a vocal supporter of both the Keystone XL and Dakota Access oil pipelines. Keystone XL, which would transport tar sands oil from Alberta, Canada to refineries on the US Gulf Coast, is opposed by leading Native American and environmental groups because it would transport what the National Congress of American Indians calls “the world’s dirtiest and most environmentally destructive form of oil.”

ENERGY

Fossil Fuels

DaveH writes—Trump: Support Big Coal, Don’t Support Solar & Wind: “With respect to vital mitigation measures — primarily energy conservation and replacing oil and coal with cleaner energy sources, Trump has repeatedly done things like fighting against and disparaging wind farms and solar, and openly supports big coal and oil.  Not only do those two energy sources contribute the most CO2 emissions, they don’t create and maintain nearly as many jobs as the wind and solar industries.  The world is changing over to cleaner energy sources, and the U.S. can either join the movement and compete for employment by solar, wind, and other manufacturing related businesses – or ignore a golden opportunity. […] It is ironic that Trump supports the coal industry with it’s many fewer jobs and high levels of pollution and CO2 emissions, and will apparently not support the wind and solar manufacturing and installation industries with their significant number of long term skilled and semi-skilled jobs.  This would effectively hand over some of the future profits of those industries to China and other countries, and damage U.S. solar companies as noted in the below PV Magazine quote.” 

Emissions Controls & Carbon Pricing

Walter Einenkel writes—FBI arrests a Volkswagen executive in their ongoing investigation of emissions fraud: “The New York Times is reporting that a Volkswagen executive, Oliver Schmidt, was arrested on Monday, in Florida. The FBI is accusing the former top emissions compliance manager of being an important person in the company’s conspiracy to mislead U.S. regulators, and keep them from finding out that Volkswagen’s diesel vehicles were cheating emissions tests. The arrest of Mr. Schmidt is an escalation of the criminal investigation into emissions cheating by Volkswagen and comes amid talks between the company and the United States Justice Department about what penalties the carmaker should accept as part of a settlement. After a study by West Virginia University first raised questions over Volkswagen’s diesel motors in early 2014, Mr. Schmidt played a central role in trying to convince regulators that excess emissions were caused by technical problems rather than by deliberate cheating, Ian Dinsmore, an F.B.I. agent, said in a sworn affidavit used as the basis for Mr. Schmidt’s arrest.”

Renewables, Efficiency & Conservation

Next Conservatism writes—No Going Back: the private sector takes the lead against climate change: “Just to demonstrate how far from its moorings the GOP has gone: in addition to its abandonment of seeking a balanced budget, in addition to its abandonment of treating Russia as an adversary, in addition to its absolute repudiation of even the pretense to ethics and character; they have also abandoned being the party of, by, and for business, except for centralized, oligarchic fossil-fuel business.

Hunter writes—Writing for ‘Science,’ President Obama calls the trend toward clean energy ‘irreversible’: “As we await the reign of President Dumpster Fire, let’s take a moment to savor our current president, who has been making the rounds writing for a series of scientific journals. [W]riting Monday in the journal Science, the president also makes an economic argument for a national policy that embraces renewable energy, rather than the renewed focus on fossil fuel production that his successor has promised. […] ‘This should not be a partisan issue. It is good business and good economics to lead a technological revolution and define market trends,’ he writes. ‘And it is smart planning to set long-term, emission-reduction targets and give American companies, entrepreneurs, and investors certainty so they can invest and manufacture the emission-reducing technologies that we can use domestically and export to the rest of the world.’ Obama also calls the worldwide trend toward clean energy ‘irreversible.’”

Pipelines & Other Oil  and Gas Transport

LakeSuperior writes—Pipeline News & Notes — DAPL, Enbridge Line 5 and More Pipeline Matters: “The Bad River Chippewa Indian Tribe recently voted to turn down a pipeline easement reauthorization for the 64 year old Enbridge Line 5 and the Tribe wants Enbridge to physically remove Line 5 from the Reservation.   The Bad River Reservation is located in Northern Wisconsin and is transected by at least 3 long distance transmission pipelines for crude oil and natural gas. www.duluthnewstribune.com/… www.apg-wi.com/… This map shows hydrocarbon pipelines running through the Bad River Reservation: wcmcoop.files.wordpress.com/… Line 5 runs from Superior, WI through northern Wisconsin and Northern Michigan to Sarnia, Ontario. The pipeline delivers light sweet crude oil, synthetic light crude oil from tar sands derivatives, natural gas liquids and propane. It supplies crude oil to the Marathon Detroit Refinery and refineries in Ontario, and is used to ship oil produced in Michigan.”’

LakeSuperior writes—Pipeline News & Notes — DAPL, Enbridge Line 5 and More Pipeline Matters by LakeSuperior: “Today, the Standing Rock Sioux Indian Tribe (through their counsel, EarthJustice) and the Army Corps of Engineers (through counsel, U.S. Department of Justice) have answered Energy Transfer Partners motion in DC District Court before Judge seeking a grant of the easement for the Dakota Access Pipeline to cross Lake Oahe on the Missouri River. Both the Tribe and the Army Corp also filed counter motions for summary judgement and dismissal of Energy Transfer Partners motion seeking the easement.  Here are the pleadings filed today with Federal DC District Judge James Boasberg by Standing Rock and the Army Corps of Engineers: Because both pleadings involve new countermotions for dismissal of the Energy Transfer Partners (ETP) motion, ETP will have the opportunity to respond under the federal court rules and Judge Boasberg will rule on all of the motions by all parties after ETP’s response is filed with the Court. This future ruling is unlikely to happen before January 20 when Lying Trump takes office.”

LakeSuperior writes—Obama Administration Army Corps ReAdopts Nationwide General Permit 12 Addressing Crude Oil Pipelines: “On Friday, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issued new, 5-year versions of its general permits (NWPs) addressing dredge/fill and water-related activities regulated under the Clean Water Act and the Rivers and Harbors Act: The permits issued included a re-issuance of NWP 12 addressing ‘utility lines’ with some minor modifications, which include crossings of waters of the United States by crude oil, natural gas and hazardous liquid pipelines. NWP 12 is the only federal permit required for crude oil and hazardous liquid pipelines and it only addresses the physical crossings, and the dredge, fill and construction activities necessary for such physical crossings.  The Army Corps of Engineers action makes clear that ACE only has jurisdiction under Section 404e of the Clean Water Act and provisions of the Rivers and Harbors Act over the actual crossings and not over the entire length of pipeline projects. That such jurisdiction is the case is the reason why the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and national environmental groups have repeatedly lost in attempts to extend ACE jurisdiction over entire pipeline projects addressing crude oil pipelines.”

e2247 writes—Besides DAPL fight Trans-Pecos Pipeline (TPPL) water protector camp needs help south of Marfa, TX: “It is not over: DAPL is still drilling! Withstand With Wolves (Fb video here)a collective of water protectors and land defenders, has a significant fundraiser Sat., Jan. 14, 2017 in Santa Cruz, CaliforniaA world-class interactive map of struggles to Kill the Black Snake and the various camps of Black Snake Killaz is on the homepage of Withstand With Wolves right here so, open the link and click on the black snakes slithering through the entire U.S. and Canada! Some Withstand With Wolves water protectors may go to Texas after the Saturday event at Santa Cruz, CA. Two Rivers camp located south of Marfa,TX also fights Energy Transfer Partners (ETP). “Two Rivers Camp”(Facebook here), known as “La Junta de los Rios” by the local native communities such as the Jumano, Apache and Conchos People is active. Society of Native Nations (SNN) is helping start Two Rivers camp opened Dec 30, 2016 to receive Water Protectors using the Standing Rock model of working against ETP. ETP is digging up sacred land and permitted by Obama for a major international water-crossing to install TTPL. TTPL is Obama’s permitted international Rio Grande pipeline cutting through several indigenous nation’s pre-historic and historic sacred sites in Big Bend area of Texas just as DAPL cuts through similar sacred sites in North Dakota.”

Jen Hayden writes—San Francisco 49ers quarterback made a huge donation to the Standing Rock Health Clinic: “San Francisco 49er’s backup quarterback has been drawing attention all season long with his refusal to stand for the national anthem, taking a knee to draw attention to racial injustice in America. He’s drawn wide criticism for acting so free and brave during a song about the free and the brave. Nevertheless, he’s not just talking the talk when it comes to standing up for the disenfranchised, he’s putting his money where his mouth is: Kaepernick announced the month of December’s donations Friday, with the largest portion — US$50,000 — donated to the Mni Wiconi Health Clinic Partnership at the Standing Rock camp, set up in resistance to the construction of the Dakota Access pipeline. According to Kaepernick’s website, 50 percent of the funds will pay the salaries of the doctors and nurses, while the rest is split between building materials for the camp’s mobile medical clinic, medical supplies and liability insurance.”

ECO-ACTION & ECO JUSTICE

The Climate Mobilization writes—Democrats: embrace Climate Mobilization NOW to rebuild the party against existential threats! “After 8 years of a Democratic Administration theoretically committed to climate progress, the biosphere, our common home, has never been in worse shape. There are complicated reasons for this state of affairs, including Republican intransigence and the enormous opposition of entrenched interests, but the truth is that the Democratic Party and the mainstream environmental movement have never advocated or implemented a policy framework that would successfully roll back the ecological crisis and heal our world. With Donald Trump coming to power, there has never been a better time for the Democrats and their allies in the mainstream environmental movement to adopt a new approach. This approach must be oriented toward solving existential threats such as global warming, the 6th extinction, ecological overshoot, and poverty — not just aiming for marginal progress around the edges. At this late hour, with extremism rising everywhere and the the international system breaking down, saving civilization requires a package of comprehensive solutions delivered at emergency speed — a WWII-scale mobilization that tackles all of the existential threats we face simultaneously. This is our only choice if we want a future worth living through. The statement below calls on the Democratic Party Leadership to introduce a package of maximum-strength climate mobilization legislation and to hold the climate emergency summit promised in their 2016 platform as a first step toward becoming an effective vehicle for humanity’s self-rescue.”

TRANSPORTATION & INFRASTRUCTURE

terrypinder writes—Transportation Roundup–Some short notes and links: “Did you know USDOT has a climate change initiative? They do, and have for years. I recommend downloading everything here before 1/20. • Transportation planning is complicated. That leads to people not being involved, which leads to bad decisions, which leads to people not being involved. It’s really circular. I’m not sure if the incoming regime will keep this going but USDOT does have guides for making the whole process easier for the public to understand. Again, I recommend downloading everything here before 1/20. • Good article at Strong Towns about how building shiny new infrastructure at the expense of everything else is bad. No one has a ribbon cutting for repair, after all. In fact, most people yell about it because they have to sit in traffic.”

MISCELLANY

ClimateDenierRoundup writes—Fake News You Can’t Use, They’ll Abuse, We All Lose. Except Putin. Putin Wins:  ”Along with ‘alt-right’ and ‘post-truth,’ ’fake news’ has become the latest and greatest term to describe the bizarre media landscape we all now inhabit. Sadly, it’s a home we’re comfortable in, as we’ve been exploring it for the last five years. (That said, Politico’s Simon Van Zuylen-Wood does a good job chronicling a two-week fake news diet.) Since we’ve called out Breitbart’s fake climate news on numerous occasions, we’re encouraged that other outlets are now debunking its propaganda, too. Case in point, both AP and Guardian covered a Breitbart story which falsely claimed that on New Year’s Eve, a mob chanting ‘Allahu Akbar’ attacked police and “set fire” to Germany’s oldest church. It was shared nearly 17,000 times on Facebook. A more realistic version of the story is that a stray firework lit some netting outside a scaffolding around the church on fire, and it was put out in just 12 minutes. And there was no damage to the church, which isn’t actually the oldest in Germany at all. Not content to let the fake news rebuttal lie, Breitbart instead alleges that the debunking is a ‘dishonest attack’ coordinated by a web of the German press, establishment politicians, German police and the liberal media. Because, just like with climate change, there’s no conspiracy theory outlandish enough not to use to justify their anti-Islamic fake news.” 


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