What to do about the "Social Cost of Carbon" metric? -- Part 1

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Is the Social Cost of Carbon (SCC) metric a good tool for use in making government decisions related to climate change and fossil fuel development? The EPA uses it in economically justifying its rules on reducing carbon emissions from vehicles and power plants. A federal judge recently rejected a proposed coal mine expansion in Colorado because the federal agencies failed to consider the SCC.  But can the expected damages from climate disruption be captured adequately in SCC and cost-benefit analyses? What are the alternatives? Continue reading

Posted in Activism, Assessments of Climate Impacts and Adaptation, Climate Litigation, Energy, Obama Administration, Science-Policy Interaction | 1 Comment

Deep Decarbonization: Truly facing the climate challenge

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NASA EarthThe recently released Deep Decarbonization report shows that current government emission reductions commitments fall far short of what is needed to keep the world from warming more than 2 C degrees from preindustrial times. Few countries have analyzed the implications of such reductions for their economies, and few politicians have fully understood those implications. The US, for example, has an “all of the above” approach to energy development that is inconsistent with climate stabilization and that reflects the political class’s unwillingness to grapple with the implications of the 2 C warming limit. The report uses a methodology that is consistent with the strategy of “working forward toward a goal” by assessing the cost effectiveness of different paths for meeting a normatively-determined target.  Continue reading

Posted in Climate Change Mitigation, Science-Policy Interaction | 2 Comments

On Obama's new actions to support state and local climate preparedness

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New Jersey beach house on stilts that survived Hurricane Sandy (Photo: FEMA)

New Jersey beach house on stilts that survived Hurricane Sandy (Photo: FEMA)

It's been a long time coming, but climate change preparedness has finally moved into the mainstream of national policymaking. Responding to the State, Local, and Tribal Leaders Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience he established in 2013, the President announced a number of initiatives through which the federal government will support preparedness action by states and local communities to enhance resilience to global climate disruption. These are positive steps, though of course they fall far short of a comprehensive strategy, there is little in the way of new funding, and only proactive state and local leaders are involved, not the denialist governors and other 'leaders' who won't take action to protect their people. Continue reading

Posted in Climate Change Preparedness, Obama Climate Plan | Leave a comment

Weekend reading on climate change mitigation and fossil-fueled politics

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(1) No False Choices: To Preserve a Livable Climate, We Need to Slash Both CO2 and Methane ASAP; (2) Oil Change International Report: Fossil Fuel Production Subsidies Exceed $21 Billion Annually in United States, have increased by 45% under Obama's “All of the Above” energy policy; (3) Joint Economic Committee Hearing on "The Economic Impact of Increased Natural Gas Production" (video); (4) Leaked Trade Deal Document Shows EU Pressuring U.S. to Lift Crude Oil Export Ban; (5) Deep Decarbonization Pathways Project (DDPP) Presents Interim Report to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon. Continue reading

Posted in Climate Change Mitigation, Energy | Leave a comment

July 13: First national rally to stop fracked natural gas exports

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Dominion Resources LNG import terminal, Cove Point' MD (Photo: EARTHWORKS)

Dominion Resources LNG import terminal, Cove Point, MD (Photo: EARTHWORKS)

On July 13 in Washington, DC, demonstrators will rally near the U.S. Capitol to call on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to reject a permit for Dominion Resources' proposed LNG export facility at Cove Point, Maryland – 50 miles from the White House on the Chesapeake Bay. "For far too long, President Obama has allowed FERC to put the interests of the oil and gas industry above our health, safety and climate, rubber-stamping project after project," say the organizers, who include activists from the Chesapeake Climate Action Network and 350. More than 150,000 people have submitted public comments opposing the project. Continue reading

Posted in Activism, Energy | 2 Comments

Wrong Track

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Two crises reveal a pathological political dynamic darkening the prospects for our nation and its people, writes award-winning author Andy Schmookler:         **The accelerating replacement of government by and for the people by government by and for big money.                                                                             **The disruption of Earth's climate system, on which our lives depend,  gaining momentum while our nation remains incapable of responding appropriately.

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Scientific integrity and whistleblower retaliation problem at Fish & Wildlife Service

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U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe, an Obama political appointee, has failed to act and refuses to provide relevant documents on findings of scientific misconduct and whistleblower retaliation by agency managers, according to a lawsuit filed by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). Some of the findings of misconduct involved political interference with endangered species research relevant to the Keystone XL pipeline permit.

Recall that it was on Ashe's watch that the agency last year proposed, under political pressure and without a sound scientific basis, to remove endangered species protection nationwide for the gray wolf. And it is Ashe who will soon make a determination on protection for the wolverine -- a case in which agency management, perhaps under political pressure from western governors, has moved to overrule a recommendation by the relevant expert biologists that the wolverine be listed as threatened by climate change impacts. Continue reading

Posted in Scientific Integrity | Leave a comment

Save the Wolverine

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Photo: National Science Foundation

Photo: National Science Foundation

A U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service official has directed federal scientists to withdraw their recommendation that the last 300 wolverines in the continental United States deserve threatened species status. There has been pressure from Western states to overrule biologists who have concluded that climate change will threaten the wolverine with loss of habitat. A final decision will be made in August by an Obama political appointee. Continue reading

Posted in Science-Policy Interaction, Scientific Integrity | 3 Comments

Federal coal mining permit blocked for failing to consider climate change impacts

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Arch Coal leasing area, Colorado (Photo: WildEarth Guardians)

Arch Coal leasing area, Colorado (Photo: WildEarth Guardians)

Federal regulators failed to consider the social cost of carbon emissions in approving a proposed coal mine expansion in Colorado, said a U.S. district court judge last week in blocking the permit. The reasoning in this case should be applied to other federal decisions on permitting fossil fuel leasing, production, pipelines, and export terminals. This would help hold the Obama administration accountable for the current contradictions between its climate change rhetoric and its policy on promoting fossil fuel production.

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Posted in Energy, Science-Policy Interaction | Leave a comment

Bipartisan push for stepped up natural gas fracking and LNG export

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LNG RIVERS liquefied natural gas tanker (Photo:   Wikimedia Commons)

LNG RIVERS liquefied natural gas tanker (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

A bipartisan push for stepped-up natural gas production and export, via hydrofracking and more liquefied natural gas export terminals, was evident at a recent hearing held by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Concerns about greenhouse gas emissions and climate change took a back seat. A couple of Democratic Senators questioned the economic benefits of promoting LNG exports. Continue reading

Posted in Congress: Legislation and Oversight, Energy | 2 Comments