- 'Job-Killing' EPA Regulations for Chesapeake Bay Will Create 35 Times as Many Jobs as Keystone XL Pipeline
- How the White House Does Messaging on Issues It Cares About, Unlike, Say, Climate Change
- Knot Now: Another Year Goes By and Our Pursuit of Fool's Gold Leaves Us No Closer to Solving Climate Change
- Report Details How Fox News Fueled Newt Inc. and Pushed His "Drill Here, Drill Now" Agenda
- January 4 News: Romney Squeaks Out Win in Iowa Over Fellow Climate Denier Rick Santorum
- Breaking: Climate Science Denier Wins Iowa Caucuses
- Mother Nature is Just Getting Warmed Up: December Heat Records Exceed Cold By 80%, Annual Ratio Hits 2.8-to-1
- Pipeline Inspector-Turned Whistleblower Calls Keystone XL a Potential "Disaster"
'Job-Killing' EPA Regulations for Chesapeake Bay Will Create 35 Times as Many Jobs as Keystone XL Pipeline
Posted: 04 Jan 2012 08:43 AM PST
by Michael Conathan
If rhetoric from the Republican Presidential candidates is to be believed, the Environmental Protection Agency is "a tool to crush the private enterprise system" (Mitt Romney), "a cemetery for jobs" (Rick Perry), and "should be re-named the job-killing organization of America" (Michele Bachmann). But it's a safe bet the tens of thousands of people who may soon find jobs implementing EPA regulations aimed at cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay would disagree with those assertions.
A new report released today by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation highlights the job creation numbers expected to come from achieving new pollution goals set by the EPA's "Total Maximum Daily Load" restrictions. Finalized in December 2010, these rules require a 25 percent reduction of pollution flowing into the Bay by 2025 and have already spurred state and federal investment in stormwater mitigation projects, upgrades at sewage treatment facilities, addition of power plant smokestack scrubbers, and improvements to management of agricultural runoff and livestock waste management.
The Bay's watershed covers more than 64,000 square miles including all of Maryland and the District of Colombia, large areas of Virginia and Pennsylvania, and portions of Delaware, New York, and West Virginia. Therefore infrastructure projects to reduce pollution will encompass a massive region and provide a major boost to the economy.
Of course, the clock is already ticking on a newly minted, 60 day, congressional mandate for the President to issue a decision on the controversial Keystone XL pipeline that would carry dirty Canadian tar sands oil from the great white north across America's heartland and endanger a critical aquifer. By setting up what one former pipeline inspector called a potential "disaster," the pipeline would ultimately deliver massive quantities of oil to the Gulf Coast only to see the vast majority of it exported.
Keystone proponents, including House Speaker John Boehner, have asserted that the project would immediately create "tens of thousands" of American jobs. These claims seem just a tad hyperbolic now that the oil company itself has conceded that the actual number of jobs that would be created is closer to 6,000 to 6,500, and would only last for two years.
Meanwhile, the jobs spawned by coastal restoration and pollution reduction projects in the Chesapeake are already here, and they are permanent. According to the Foundation's report, environmental clean-up and monitoring jobs have increased by 43 percent — 42,000 jobs — over the last two decades in Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia alone. Montgomery County, MD has begun work on a stormwater pollution control project that will create 3,300 jobs in that county alone. And these numbers don't begin to account for the increase in employment opportunities and revenue for small businesses that depend on a healthy coastal ecosystem, from tourism to commercial and recreational fishing and aquaculture.
This is yet another example of how strong environmental standards can create new employment opportunities. This is the type of strategy we need – cleaning up pollution, increasing efficiency, developing renewable energy – that will make this country stronger.
When they talk about the EPA, Republicans use the term "job-killing" with great frequency. As Iñigo Montoya famously said to Vizzini in The Princess Bride, "You keep using that word. I don't think it means what you think it means."
Michael Conathan is Director of Ocean Policy at the Center for American Progress.
Posted: 04 Jan 2012 09:41 AM PST
The Obama White House had a major tactical victory last month in getting a two-month extension of the payroll tax cut and unemployment insurance. Yes, it came with the Keystone XL rider, but that mainly gives them an easy out on the pipeline decision — see "House GOP Cave on Tax Cut Extension Paves Way for Obama to Deny Keystone XL Permit."
The reason I'm bringing this old news up is that just before I went on vacation, Politico Playbook — a must read for political junkies — explained "HOW THE WHITE HOUSE POUNDED ITS MESSAGE."
I'm excerpting the Friday, December 23 piece below so you can see how the White House uses the bully pulpit when it actually cares a great deal about an issue, which it obviously — and nonsensically — doesn't about climate change:
Contrast that with climate change, where the administration won't even use the word (see "Can you solve global warming without talking about global warming?).
Back in June 2010, Eric Pooley, former managing editor of Fortune, emailed me about his book on the story of the climate bill, The Climate War: True Believers, Power Brokers, and the Fight to Save the Earth:
We all know what happened. They faked it, and they failed.
The notion that you win major political battles like these behind-the-scenes is laughable. Silence equals surrender.
What's particularly sad about all this is that the polling and public opinion analysis makes crystal clear that both global warming and clean energy are wedge issues — aggressive messaging on either divides the Tea Party from pretty much everyone else in the entire country:
Some day some smart politician will figure all this out.
Posted: 04 Jan 2012 07:36 AM PST
Events of 2011 show that no matter how solid the science, some people will never accept that humans are causing global warming. So how can we cut the Gordian Knot that is manmade global warming?
by Auden Schendler, reposted from the Atlantic
One version of the myth of King Midas holds that he was not greedy. Instead, he loved his daughter so much that he longed to leave her a stable future. When given the chance, he asked for the golden touch as a way to create an endowment. But when they embraced, she turned to gold as well. In trying to protect his beloved daughter, Midas destroyed her.
Some climate change deniers have the same admirable motive as Midas. The actions required to solve climate, they fear, will preclude us from capturing the wealth that can benefit or save many children today. Even the left argues that a rising economic tide lifts all boats, despite the fact that continued growth probably dooms the planet to runaway warming. Environmentalists fear that no action on climate condemns us to an even more costly fate that threatens every child, forever.
Finding a fix, then, seems close to impossible. What we learned in 2011 –a banner year for human understanding of climate change and its impact on our lives — helps explain why.
In October, climate-change skeptic Dr. Richard Muller released the results of a two-year study at the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature Project that was funded in part by the Koch brothers, leading climate deniers. Muller's report, in his own words, found that "global warming is real." In fact, Muller found warming to be "on the high end" of what others had found. The results were reported in the Wall Street Journal's editorial page.
2011 also gave a taste of what climatologists have long predicted: that a warmer world will experience more severe weather events, both droughts and storms. PBS reported on "mind-boggling extreme weather" resulting from warming, what Dr. Jeff Masters, Director of Meteorology at the Weather Underground, Inc. calls "steroids for the atmosphere." This summer, droughts in the Southwest matched those of the dust bowl and a tornado outbreak blew away the record 1974 season. USA Today reported how natural disasters were straining FEMA's budget. In the last week of 2011, Vermont fixed the last of the roads destroyed by flooding from Hurricane Irene.
At the same time, still more peer-reviewed science came out showing that the anthropogenic warming signal is unmistakable. Grant Foster and Stefan Rahmstorf's paper in Environmental Research Letters stripped out the known non-human influences on climate (El Niño, volcanic aerosols and solar variability, among others) and found human-induced warming to be clear and consistent.
Meanwhile, a new paper by Kevin Anderson and Alice Bows, from the Tyndall Center for Climate Change Research at the University of Manchester and published in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society argued that society is at substantial risk of exceeding warming of 2°C, the threshold widely seen to be the difference between something to which we could possibly adapt and disaster.
Last, and least noted, has been the inability of climate deniers to produce peer-reviewed science showing that warming is not human caused. Their anecdotal claims are easily debunked: the sun is at a minimum, despite record global temperatures. Cosmic-ray activity hasn't coincided with modern warming. Volcanoes emit far less CO2 than humans. Water vapor is a greenhouse gas that is exacerbated by CO2 induced warming. The earth has warmed before, of course, but always with a well understood cause, just like we have today.
One might imagine the economic damage of 2011′s storms would get deniers thinking. Can we continue to rebuild roads and bridges, sump out towns and drench fires, or, might ought we do something about it? And since cutting CO2 emissions will cool the planet, is that not a good place to start?
Well, no. In 2011, the result of the head-smacking obviousness of the science, as Naomi Klein pointed out in The Nation, is that opposition has become even more strident, in large part because deniers are no fools. Fully dealing with climate change, Klein observed, would require "that we break every rule in the free-market playbook and that we do so with great urgency." The climate message didn't fail, Klein argued: It simply got through too clearly.
At the same time that the right became more rigid, Leslie Kaufman of the New York Times reported on the radicalization of the environmental movement in response to lack of policy action. She quoted Roger Ballentine, a climate adviser to the Clinton White House:
"The failure to address climate is catastrophic, and young people are justifiably outraged. What we have now is an antagonized grassroots calling for a radicalized approach." Such an approach did develop, most notably in the form of 12,000 protesters who surrounded the White House and blocked the Keystone XL pipeline that would bring the most carbon-intensive fuel–tar sands oil–into the US from Canada.
In 2011, scientific certainty didn't clear up anything at all, it just energized the left and the right, in opposite directions, confirming historian Naomi Oreskes's notion that climate-change denial has never been about the science, it was always about ideology.
So we start 2012 with an unprecedented understanding of climate science and the consequences of warming, and at the same time seemingly irreconcilable differences on what to do, a Gordian Knot of a problem; complex and intractable, ingeniously self-tightening.
Solutions will require the boldness, innovation, and rule breaking of Alexander the Great, who famously used a sword to cut that knot. But uniquely today, we'll need the political right and left to hold the blade without killing each other first. Some feel the only path to this future is enough of a climate signal — Manhattan under water — to make action obvious. Others see bipartisan solutions percolating even today: eliminating the payroll tax and replacing it with a carbon fee, for example, or eliminating subsidies for big oil and using that money for clean energy development, meet goals both left and right.
Sometimes the best way to solve a problem is to understand its cause. Who, for example, tied the legendary Gordian Knot, a good metaphor for the puzzle we face today? It turns out it was a man known by some to be kind and fair, but whose vision of affluence led to disaster. He was a king. And his name was Midas.
Auden Schendler is Vice President of Sustainability at Aspen Skiing Company and author of the book "Getting Green Done: Hard Truths from the Front Lines of the Sustainability Revolution." This piece was originally published at Atlantic.
Posted: 04 Jan 2012 06:52 AM PST
This is an excerpt from a larger report by Media Matters detailing Fox News' promotion of Newt Gingrich's political and business groups. This piece deals mostly with energy issues. You can find the rest of the report at Media Matters.
In November 1998, following midterm losses and a Republican revolt, Newt Gingrich announced he would step down as House speaker and resign from Congress. Thirteen years after his downfall, Gingrich is now a contender for the Republican nomination for president.
During his years away from office and campaigning, Gingrich stayed in the public spotlight as a frequent contributor and occasional host on Fox News. Between October 1999, when he was hired, and March 2, 2011, when his contract was suspended, Gingrich appeared on Fox News over 600 times.
As a Fox News commentator, Gingrich regularly made incendiary and false remarks that helped ingratiate himself to the conservative base. But Gingrich's time at Fox News went beyond conservative punditry and attacks against progressives.
Fox News was a powerful ally when it came to boosting Gingrich's political and business groups. As The Atlanta Journal Constitution noted, Gingrich "built a network of for-profit businesses and nonprofit organizations that seamlessly promote his vision of American government and politics. … Well before Gingrich announced his candidacy, those groups were providing him with money and public exposure."
Fox News heavily promoted American Solutions for Winning the Future, which served as Gingrich's non-profit political organization before he ran for president. Fox News boosted the work and profile of the Center for Health Transformation, Gingrich's for-profit health care consulting company, and The Americano, Gingrich's Hispanic outreach organization. Fox News also served as a constant and reliable promotional vehicle for Gingrich Productions, a for-profit conservative multimedia company run by Newt and wife Callista.
During his employment, Gingrich made over 600 appearances on Fox News, according to a search of the Nexis database. Gingrich also briefly served as a guest host for The O'Reilly Factor and Hannity & Colmes; and hosted several Fox News specials. While a complete list of his specials do not appear to be available online or in Nexis, they include:
American Solutions for Winning the Future was officially launched by Gingrich on September 27, 2007. As The New York Times noted, the non-profit organization was formed "to finance and promote his speaking and traveling schedule" and "Gingrich used the group as a way to promote his ideas of government reform." After he became a presidential candidate, Gingrich left the group and it eventually went bankrupt and shut down.
Fox News played a significant role in promoting the group and its initiatives. In one case, Gingrich, with Fox News' help, promoted a pro-drilling petition in fifteen separate appearances. Fox News also regularly allowed Gingrich to advocate for the interests of energy companies even though American Solutions collected significant amounts of contributions from energy companies.
Pro-Drilling Petition. A further example of how Fox News helped Gingrich with an American Solutions campaign can be found with Gingrich's "Drill Here, Drill Now, Pay Less" petition campaign, which urged "Congress to immediately start drilling for oil domestically to lower gas prices." The factually-challenged petition campaign was promoted during fifteen separate Gingrich appearances on Fox News. Gingrich himself told Sean Hannity, "you have been helping us" and "you, of course, have been a very key part of this on both radio and television." Here's a timeline of Fox News and Gingrich's promotions:
May 28, 2008. When told by Sean Hannity that he got an American Solutions bumper sticker saying, "Drill Here, Drill Now, Pay Less," Gingrich told viewers there's "a petition drive at American Solutions." During the segment, Hannity held up Gingrich's bumper sticker.
Fox Allowed Gingrich To Push Interests Of Donors. American Solutions raised significant amounts of money from energy interests. Still, Gingrich was allowed to repeatedly appear on Fox News to push his pro-drilling petition and discuss issues related to energy companies.
Eric Hananoki is a researcher with Media Matters for America. This piece was originally published at Media Matters.
Posted: 04 Jan 2012 05:43 AM PST
Other stories below: Climate models may underestimate extinction, say researchers; Storehouses for Solar Energy Can Step In When the Sun Goes Down
Posted: 03 Jan 2012 03:16 PM PST
It was a battle down to the wire in Iowa with many unexpected twists and turns. But in the end, Climate Science Denier (CSD) edged out Denier of Climate Science (DCS) and Science of Climate Denier (SCD) in the first GOP contest for the right to compete against Climate Science Ignorer (CSI) in the general election.
CSD told a small crowd at the airport, "The citizens of Iowa have spoken and decided that I am uniquely qualified to deny climate science. They've sent a message to the president that simply ignoring climate change isn't going to cut it with the American people, especially the job creators. We need somebody who can deny the problem entirely so the job creators can feel better about pocketing most of the wealth generated in this country while ruining a livable climate for everyone else."
The real story of the caucuses may be SCD, who came from nowhere just a week ago to come within a few points of victory. SCD told a smaller crowd at the airport, "I am the only true denier in the race. CSD has flip-flopped on this issue, like so many others. Just last spring he said he actually believed in the findings of the overwhelming majority of climate scientists, that the climate is changing, humans are the main cause, and failing to act threatens modern human civilization. What poppy-cock! There isn't an inch of difference between CSD and CSI."
Meanwhile, SCD told a massive crowd at the airport, "We really need to get rid of the Federal Reserve. As for climate change, that's best left to individuals to address, even it exists, which I doubt." SCD said he did not think he would win the nomination but refused to say whether he would mount a third-party run, which many fear would split the denial vote and allow CSI to capture a third term, thereby threatening 4 more years of left-wing, socialist inaction on the gravest threat to humanity.
One-time front runner, GWSOCWNPBRDCS (Guy who sat on couch with Nancy Pelosi but really denies climate science), finished far behind the 3 leaders, but vowed to press on saying, "CSD has been lying to you and getting his millionaire buddies to fund ads attacking me. He's really someone who used to believe in climate science, whereas I was just pretending to so I could be more credible as a critic of cap-and-tax. I'm a genius, don't you forget, and so even my mistakes are unintentional works of brilliance. I'm going to win this thing just as soon as I come up with a shorter, catchier acronym."
Jon Huntsman, speaking to his wife and family in New Hampshire, said something about how we must teach our children to respect science and scientists, since they are the engine of economic growth and the only hope for humanity, but no reporter was there to record it.
In unrelated news, greenhouse gas emissions and concentrations reached record levels in 2011, as did extreme weather disasters.
NOTE: Watch this space for any late breaking updates.
Posted: 03 Jan 2012 01:15 PM PST
Steve Scolnik at Capital Climate analyzed the data from NOAA's National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) and created the chart above.
So if you live on the East Coast and thought it was unusually warm the last few weeks, you were right. Although "unusual" isn't what it used to be. As the figure makes clear, this was a very hot summer (see "Third Hottest Summer Globally, Second Warmest for U.S. With Stunning Weather Extremes, Texas Drought Worst in Centuries").
I like the statistical aggregation across the country, since it gets us beyond the oft-repeated point that you can't pin any one record temperature on global warming.
If you want to know how to judge whether the 2.8-to-1 ratio for the entire year is a big deal, here's what a 2009 National Center for Atmospheric Research study found over the past six decades (see "Record high temperatures far outpace record lows across U.S."):
So, yes, 2.8-to-1 (along with 2.3-to-1 for 2010) continues the warming trend of the past few decades.
NCAR explained their 2009 findings in a news release:
The scientific paper itself is here (subs. req'd). And NCAR posted a video of lead author Meehl discussing his findings here. The study looked into the future and found that "if nations continue to increase their emissions of greenhouse gases in a 'business as usual' scenario, the U.S. ratio of daily record high to record low temperatures would increase to about 20-to-1 by mid-century and 50-to-1 by 2100."
I interviewed Diffenbaugh for my book, Hell and High Water, and in 2008 wrote about his earlier work in a post titled, "When can we expect very high surface temperatures?"
Bottom line: By century's end, extreme temperatures of up to 122°F would threaten most of the central, southern, and western U.S. Even worse, Houston and Washington, DC could experience temperatures exceeding 98°F for some 60 days a year.
The peak temperature analysis comes from a Geophysical Research Letters paper that focused on the annual-maximum "once-in-a-century" temperature. The key scientific point is that "the extremes rise faster than the means in a warming climate."
The results, depicted above (in °C), are quite remarkable, especially when you consider that this is just the A1B scenario. In 2100, A1B hits about 700 ppm with average global temperatures "only" about 3°C (5 F) warmer than today.
In fact, on our current emissions path, a 3C temperature rise will happen much sooner (see Hadley Center: "Catastrophic" 5-7°C warming by 2100 on current emissions path and M.I.T. doubles its 2095 warming projection to 10°F — with 866 ppm and Arctic warming of 20°F). And remember, the worst-case scenario is that this happens by mid-century [see Royal Society special issue details 'hellish vision' of 7°F (4°C) world — which we may face in the 2060s!]
On our current emissions path, these record temperatures could be seen closer to 2060 than 2100:
As you can see from the map, extreme temperature peaks are only slightly lower over large parts of this country. The study notes:
So now the question is, has anybody done an analysis of what global warming could do to intense heat waves that last very long times, weeks or months? The answer is yes, and the results of that study are more worrisome — and it also received relatively little attention.
The November 2005 study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, "Fine-scale processes regulate the response of extreme events to global climate change," found that "peak increases in extreme hot events are amplified by surface moisture feedbacks." The study looked at the A2 scenario (about 850 ppm in 2100) in the second half of this century (from 2071 to 2095). It examined temperature rise projections, plus "fine-scale processes," such as how local warming is affected by loss of snow cover and loss of soil moisture. I interviewed the lead author, Noah Diffenbaugh, of Purdue University, for my book.
Houston and Washington, DC would experience temperatures exceeding 98°F for some 60 days a year. Oklahoma would see temperatures above 110°F some 60 to 80 days a year. Much of Arizona would be subjected to temperatures of 105°F or more for 98 days out of the year–14 full weeks. We won't call these heat waves anymore. As Diffenbaugh told me, "We will call them normal summers."
And again, that's not even the worst case, since it's "only" based on 850 ppm.
The definitive NOAA-led U.S. climate impact report from 2010 warns of scorching 9 to 11°F warming over most of inland U.S. by 2090 with Kansas above 90°F some 120 days a year with 850 ppm. By 2090, it'll be above 90°F some 120 days a year in Kansas — more than the entire summer. Much of Florida and Texas will exceed 90°F half the days of the year. These won't be called heat waves anymore. Again, it'll just be the "normal" climate.
And remember, high heat means dry areas become drier and humid areas become intolerable.
On our current emissions path, we may well exceed the A2 scenario and hit A1FI, 1000 ppm (see here). In a terrific March 2010 presentation, Climate scientist Katherine Hayhoe has a figure of what the A1FI would mean:
Mother Nature is just warming up.
The time to act is yesterday.
Posted: 03 Jan 2012 11:43 AM PST
By forcing the White House to make a decision on the politically and environmentally-toxic Keystone XL pipeline as part of an agreement reached in December to extend the payroll tax cut, Republicans are being lambasted by environmental groups for undercutting the federal environmental review process.
Now a whistleblower is claiming that the company overseeing the development of the proposed project, TransCanada, also has a track record of undercutting quality at the expense of the environment — further calling into question the decision by Congress to prevent a new federal environmental impact study for Keystone XL.
Mike Klink is a former inspector for Bechtel, one of the major contractors working on TransCanada's original Keystone pipeline, completed in 2010. Klink says he raised numerous concerns about shoddy materials and poor craftsmanship during construction of the pipeline, which brings tar sands crude from Canada to Midwestern refineries in the U.S. Instead of actually addressing the problems, Klink claims he was fired by Bechtel in retaliation. He filed a complaint with the Department of Labor in March of 2010, and made his story public last fall.
Klink, who says he's speaking as an engineer and not an environmentalist, has just published a scathing op-ed in the Lincoln Journal Star criticizing Keystone XL, a proposed extension of the current tar sands pipeline network that would bring crude down to refineries in the Gulf Coast, crossing a major aquifer along the way:
A recent environmental impact statement — outsourced by the State Department to another major TransCanada contractor — found that there would be "limited adverse environmental impacts" associated with the 1,700-mile Keystone XL pipeline. Opponents of the pipeline cried foul, saying it was yet another major conflict of interest between the State Department and TransCanada.
Klink's assertions about poor management of the first Keystone pipeline provide yet more ammunition for critics of the pipeline:
White House officials say the 60-day timeline forced by Congress on the Keystone XL pipeline will force the Administration to deny the project. This is exactly what Republicans want — but only to make the pipeline an election issue, not to consider the myriad environmental issues being raised.