Monday, August 31, 2015

Will the residents of Kivalina, Alaska be the first climate change refugees in the US?

This puts a whole different perspective on what many times feels like a political or philosophical argument...watching people get displaced from their homes for what some call climate change others cyclical weather patterns.

Hard to imagine each day you wake up to a different landscape and more threats to your survival.  Kids have no stability, future.  Regardless of the cause, you are forced to flee your home land.

The complications of the shifting sea and legal fights unfolding are too numerous to calculate and they open up a new frontier of law.  Certainly you can see fossil fuel companies in the forefront of the legal assault, but every business, every home contributes to carbon levels (if that is what they decide drives the coastal changes).  Without doubt there will be a long line of liability suspects including governments that failed to take action to step the use of fossil fuel.

Many coastal communities have an ability to move inland.  Should they?  If they don't, do they have recourse if storm surge destroys their homes and businesses.  Then, who pays?

Will the residents of Kivalina, Alaska be the first climate change refugees in the US?


© Re-locate KivalinaScientists estimate that due to climate change, the village of Kivalina, in northwestern Alaska, will be underwater by the year 2025.
In 2008, the Inupiat village sued 24 of the world's biggest fossil fuel companies for damages. In 2013, the Supreme Court refused to hear the case and the village has declared it will not file a new claim in state court.
Meanwhile, nature, heedless of humankind’s eternal squabbles, goes about its business: the sea around Kivalina continues to rise, the storms get stronger, the ice gets thinner — and Kivalina's 400 residents must grapple with how to relocate in the decade they're estimated to have left. Kivalina is on a very thin barrier reef island between the Chukchi Sea and the Kivalina Lagoon, in the northwest of Alaska, above the Arctic Circle. It takes three plane flights to get there: one to Anchorage; another to a town called Kotzebue; and a third, aboard a tiny cargo plane, to Kivalina.
Kivalina City Council member Colleen Swan says the people of the village rely for food mostly on what the environment, especially the ocean, provides for them. “It’s been our way to make a living for hundreds of years,” she says. “During the winter months the ice is part of our landscape, because we go out there and we set up camps and hunt, and it's all seasonal. We were able to see the changes years ago.”
In May, June and July, the men of the village go out on the ice hunting bearded seals. They cut up the seals, dry them and store them for the winter. “That provides the winter supply,” Swan says. “That’s what keeps us warm in the Arctic.”
About 15 years ago, the villagers noticed the season started two weeks early and the ice began to thin sooner than before. “We didn't notice at first the gradual change until it became two weeks early consistently from year to year,” Swan says. Now, she says, the hunters must remain vigilant, keeping a close eye on the ice, the seals and the sea. If they don't, they could miss the hunting season. “The hardest one to swallow was the fact that our ice wasn't safe any more for us to set up whaling camps,” Swan says.
The Arctic is warming about twice as fast as the global average, so sea ice is forming on the Kivalina coastline later in the year and melting faster in the spring and summer. The lack of sea ice makes the island vulnerable to erosion from storms that occur regularly in the fall. Lack of sea ice also means warmer waters, which increase the severity of storms that hit the island.
The 2008 case against the fossil fuel companies was a 'public nuisance' claim that accused them of inflicting 'unreasonable harm' upon the villagers because they are among the world's largest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions. Climate science is nearly unanimous on the point that increased greenhouse gases emissions are leading to sea level rise around the world.
The village originally voted to relocate as far back as 1992, but it is massively expensive. Their court case against the fossil fuel companies sought damages to help pay for the residents’ relocation. Now, with the case dismissed on the basis that its claims comes under rules of the Clean Air Act and not federal tort law, the villagers have nowhere to turn except the government. They did get a $500,000 grant last month from an arts organization to study relocation, but in general, no dice.
“Whenever we bring up relocation or climate change and ask, ‘Where do we go to talk about this with the government,’ the reply is always, ‘There's no agency set up to address those questions,’” Swan says.
Christine Shearer, who wrote about Kivalina's legal case in her book, Kivalina: A Climate Change Story, agrees. Disaster management policies are designed to deal with the aftermath of a disaster, she says. A disaster declaration releases funding aimed at helping a community rebuild or relocate within the place the disaster occurred. But there are no policies in place to relocate an entire community, like Kivalina, prior to an actual disaster.
“We don't have a federal agency in charge of that, and so it's really fallen on the people of Kivalina and other Alaskan natives in a similar situation to try to put that together themselves, and that's quite a task,” Shearer says.
Interior Secretary Sally Jewell visited Kivalina earlier this year and Colleen Swan sees some hope in that. Jewell’s visit was intended to raise awareness of Kivalina’s plight and to highlight that in the coming decades numerous other towns along US coastlines may face the same problem.

“More communities, more cities, more states, more tribes are going to have to deal with trying to help people who are being affected by climate change,” Christine Shearer says. “I think more lawsuits will be filed, and I think it might get to a point where fossil fuel companies might find it's less costly to settle than to keep fighting these lawsuits.”
Swan says she is exhausted by the stress of watching her community wash away and wondering whether they will need to evacuate. “We just had a minor storm last fall and I'm one of the first responders if anything goes wrong, so I keep an eye on things,” she says. “When we got that storm last fall, I decided I'm just going to go to sleep. I'm tired of worrying, I want to get some rest.”
“The next morning when I woke up, I saw the impacts from a minor storm and how quickly the water rose, and I realized that was a very dangerous thing for me to do, to sleep, to not face the reality of that night,” she continues.
“I realized this is what climate deniers do — not us. Not us, who face the reality every day. We wake up to it. There was never a debate for the people of Kivalina. We just wake up to it every morning.”

Can't we just remove carbon dioxide

We get this question a lot and it is a good one.  Makes sense--why can't we just pull carbon out of the air and store it or reuse it (recently, we did a radio show on a possible new manufacturing facility that will pull carbon out and recycle it into gas for cars and trucks)?

Well, as seen below, we can't do it, right now, affordably--which is always key--and on a large scale.  Of course, if we cut down on what we produce, the task of pulling it back out will not be as daunting.

Optimistically, we are not that far removed from making this viable.  All science and technology around this possibility is getting much better.  Storage of carbon is on the edge, but we are not sure if solutions to how to use the carbon after are as ready.  The concept of cycling it back into fuel is, in our opinion, a true triple win for the environment and economy.

Stay tuned.  Send us your ideas and suggestions.

Can't we just remove carbon dioxide from the air to fix climate change? Not yet

                  by John Shepherd

Can’t we just remove carbon dioxide from the air to fix climate change? Not yet
Trees remove carbon dioxide naturally: can we do better? Credit: Coconino National Forest, CC BY-SA
If we have put too much CO2 into the air, wouldn't it make sense to find ways to remove it again?

Well, yes: it would. But sadly it isn't likely to be easy or cheap and, according to new research, it isn't an adequate "solution" to the problems of climate change.
The possible "carbon removal" techniques are very diverse. They include growing trees on land or algae in the sea and capturing and burying some of the carbon they have taken from the atmosphere.

There are also engineered solutions that "scrub" CO2 directly from the air, using chemical absorbents, and then recover, purify, compress and liquefy it, so that it can be buried deep underground. That sounds difficult and expensive, and at the moment, it is.

Both the UK Royal Society and the US National Research Council point out that doing it on a large enough scale to make a real difference would be hard. Nevertheless, a joint communiqué from UK learned societies recently argued that to limit global warming to 2℃ we are likely to need CO2 removal (CDR) rates in the latter part of this century that will exceed emissions at that time ("net negative emissions"). That will only be possible if we can deploy CDR technologies.

A new paper in Nature Communications shows just how big the required rates of removal actually are. Even under the IPCC's most optimistic scenario of future CO2 emission levels (RCP2.6), in order to keep temperature rises below 2℃ we would have to remove from the atmosphere at least a few billion tons of carbon per year and maybe ten billion or more – depending on how well conventional mitigation goes.

We currently emit around eight billion tonnes of carbon per year, so the scale of the enterprise is massive: it's comparable to the present global scale of mining and burning fossil fuels.

Carbon removal could potentially help to reduce problems such as ocean acidification. So a second paper in Nature Climate Change is also discouraging because it shows that even massive and sustained carbon removal at rates of five billion tonnes a year or more would not be enough to restore anything like pre-industrial conditions in the oceans, if mitigation efforts were to be relaxed.
Can’t we just remove carbon dioxide from the air to fix climate change? Not yet
‘Negative emission’ technology comes in many forms. Credit: Caldecott et al / SSEE
Don't give up
Does all this mean that carbon removal is a blind alley, and that further research is a waste of time (and money)? Well, no. But it is nothing like a magic bullet: this latest research should serve to prevent any unrealistic expectations that we could find a "solution" to climate change, or that carbon removal is any sort of alternative to reducing emissions.

Maintaining and increasing our efforts to reduce emissions is still the crucial top priority. But if we can develop removal methods that are safe and affordable, and that can be scaled up to remove a few billion tonnes per year, that would be useful even now, as it could augment those efforts to reduce CO2 emissions (which is not proving to be easy either).

In the longer term, once we have eliminated all the "easily" fixed sources of CO2 emissions, by generating more electricity from renewable sources and capturing carbon from power plants, we shall still be left with several intractable sources, including aviation and agriculture, that are exceedingly hard to abate.

It is then that we shall really need CO2 removal, to take from the air what cannot easily be prevented from reaching it. And beyond that, should we eventually decide that the level of CO2 in the air at which we have stabilised is too high for comfort, and should be reduced, carbon removal will be the only way to achieve that.

Massive scientific challenge

The low-tech biologically based removal methods are all going to be limited in their scale, not least by potential side-effects in the oceans and conflicts over alternative uses for any land required.
Can’t we just remove carbon dioxide from the air to fix climate change? Not yet
Is this the future? This US firm plans to capture carbon dioxide directly from the atmosphere. Credit: Carbon Engineering
However several groups are working on promising methods for direct (physical and/or chemical) capture from the air, trying to reduce the energy, water and materials demands – and of course the costs – to acceptable levels.

In the longer term someone may find a suitable catalyst to accelerate the natural geochemical weathering processes that already remove CO2 from the air (but much too slowly to cope with man-made emissions). That would solve the CO2 disposal problem too, especially if we can avoid mining billions of tons of minerals to use as absorbent. But it's likely to take several decades to get from the lab to industrial-scale deployment – and none of these technologies will be deployed in practice until we have established a price on carbon emissions that makes them commercially worthwhile.

Carbon removal is not a magic bullet, but it is still a vitally important technology that we shall almost certainly need eventually. We should be researching it steadily and seriously, because it is going to take time and a lot of effort to develop methods that are safe and affordable and can be deployed on a massive scale.

So we should continue to research removal, not as a possible quick fix, but as a vital tool for the end game. It's a massive scientific and engineering challenge that really needs the sort of concerted effort that was devoted to going to the moon or building the Large Hadron Collider. And in my opinion it would be far more worthwhile.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Obama's Climate-Change Rules

This proposed change by Obama and EPA was widely reported on.  Yet, looking behind the new limits to evaluate potential industry changes and how they will impact our lives.

We ran a video this week that adamantly opposed this change and outlined cost's increases.  Though we put it up, and will always showcase both sides of the argument around the economics of transformation and global change, we disagree with the author and spokesperson.

Let's look on a broad scale.  Short term, yes, we can see some price jumps. But they will be mitigated by efficiency measures which will accelerate our declining use of energy.  Our forecast is that the cuts in consumption will outpace any price adjustments and our net costs of energy will drop--perhaps significantly.

Longer term as grids invest 100 billion into upgrades to their plants, jobs will boom, new technology will flourish, grids will get smart and micro-grids will allow some of us to be energy independent and have redundant systems.

For too long utilities have failed to update antiquated production and delivery systems.  Obama and his EPA team is spurring investments that should have been done years ago.  We are sitting on the proverbial pot of gold;  this massive, historic shift away from fossil fuels.  Long term we will modernize our utility systems, fix our costs and bring jobs back home with local production plants.  Now, your job is to jump into the migration and get smart about powering your homes and companies.

Obama's Climate-Change Rules to Alter, Challenge Industry

WASHINGTON—A new rule mandating the first-ever federal limits on power-plant carbon emissions aims to change the way Americans make and consume electricity, accelerating a shift already under way toward cleaner fuels, renewable energy and consumer-generated power.

The new rule, which will be unveiled by President Barack Obama at a White House event Monday, is part of a broader push by the administration to position the U.S. as a leader in tackling climate change. The Environmental Protection Agency regulations are central to the administration’s submission to an international climate conference set for December in Paris.

White House officials say Mr. Obama views addressing climate change as part of his legacy. He announced an aggressive climate deal with China in November and has put the issue high on the agenda in meetings with world leaders in recent months. The president also will discuss climate change with Pope Francis during his visit to the U.S. next month, following the pope’s release of an encyclical on the issue in June.
“This rule enhances in important ways our ability to achieve the international commitments that we have made,” Brian Deese, a senior adviser to Mr. Obama, told reporters Sunday.
But divisions at home cast some doubt on the administration’s ability to fully implement the regulations, which were released in draft form a year ago.
Industry officials say they are worried about the plan’s cost and timetable. Republicans in Congress and states hardest hit by the plan say they expect to fight it. More than a dozen states and the coal industry have vowed to sue the EPA, and several states have threatened to refuse to comply with the rule.
The rule would require a 32% cut in power-plant carbon dioxide emissions by 2030 from 2005 levels, an increase from the 30% target proposed last year. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said Sunday the rule would result in an estimated annual cost of $8.4 billion by 2030 and have total benefits, including public-health benefits, of $34 billion to $54 billion per year by then.
The plan requires states to draft their own plans to reduce power-plant emissions to reach an overall carbon reduction target nationwide. States would have to put in place compliance plans by 2018 and meet their first targets for reductions by 2022. As with the draft rule released last year, the EPA would impose a federal plan on states that don’t comply, according to the administration.
The final rule calls for the nation to get 28% of its electricity from renewable resources by 2030, versus roughly 13% last year. Industry experts say cutting carbon emissions 32% by 2030 will require billions of dollars in investments for new transmission lines that accommodate more solar and wind power and new pipelines to feed natural-gas-fired power plants, as coal becomes less important as a fuel.
U.S. electric utilities have already taken steps to shift to less carbon-intensive fuels, and they worry about the degree to which their whole system will need to be upgraded to accommodate more renewable energy, much of it generated by customers with solar panels or other equipment.
The industry, experts said, expects to spend more than $100 billion next year on capital projects, and will adjust its spending programs to reflect the new rules even as court challenges proceed.
“Utilities already are moving in that direction by retiring coal plants and adding renewables,” said Nick Akins, chief executive of Ohio-based American Electric Power Co., one of the nation’s biggest utilities, which has been a major user of coal. Though some states may object to the EPA rule, he said, most utilities “will be reaching out to our states and be very factual and objective and see if we can comply.”
Executives worry about the EPA plan’s cost, in part because it could result in shutting power plants that aren’t yet paid off, Mr. Akins said, meaning consumers will have to pay for assets that aren’t providing benefits. Other executives said consumers may be able to trim their electricity use and keep their bills flat—or even reduce them.
Administration officials said Sunday they had taken industry concerns into account in the year since the draft was released. Most significantly, the final rule pushes back the first year that states must begin complying, to 2022 from 2020.
In another nod to industry concerns, the final rule would help encourage nuclear power generation, which doesn’t emit any carbon and accounts for about 20% of the U.S.’s electricity.
Nuclear reactors under construction in Tennessee, South Carolina and Georgia will get credit toward compliance with the rule, a change from the proposal, according to the administration. Nuclear plants that boost their output also will get more credit.
One industry concern is the final rule seeks to prevent a wholesale shift to natural gas. Over the past few years, utilities have been burning more gas, which produces 50% less carbon emissions than coal but still more than zero-emitting sources like wind and nuclear power. That shift has been helped along by the domestic boom in gas production since 2008 aided by new drilling methods such as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.
The 2014 draft rule relied on a large and early shift from coal to natural gas. The final regulations would remove that assumption and instead create a new program to encourage states to deploy more renewable energy and energy efficiency by giving credits toward compliance on such projects that begin construction early on.
“We’re disappointed and discouraged that they [the administration] seem to be ignoring the fact that natural gas has greatly reduced emissions,” said Marty Durbin, chief executive of America’s Natural Gas Alliance, a trade group representing natural-gas-producing companies.
Analysts at Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. said the rule would increase utility consumption of natural gas by 7.1 billion cubic feet a day, or 32%, enough to lift national demand for it by about 10%. The big loser—the coal industry—will see consumption drop 23% by 2020, adding to the crisis already rocking mining. Some opponents have labeled the rule a “war on coal.”
The administration is expected to address these and other concerns over coming weeks to make the case that urgent action is needed.
“We’ll hear the same tired plays from the same special-interest playbook, but the American people know better,” Ms. McCarthy said.
To date, states including California and nine in the Northeast have been in the minority in devising programs to trim carbon dioxide emissions blamed for climate change.
The new rule “will act like an accelerant,” said Ted Craver, chief executive of California-based Edison International, parent of Southern California Edison. “Now all the states will have to grapple with the need to reduce carbon emissions.”
Electric-grid operators would need to make sure their systems can handle power flowing from decentralized sources, such as millions of rooftop solar systems and thousands of wind turbines. Meanwhile, big utility-owned power plants that have provided round-the-clock electricity may face new restrictions that reduce their hours of operation to limit emissions.
Utilities have been shutting coal plants for several years to satisfy other EPA rules. Since 2011, Duke Energy Corp. says it has retired 40 older coal units in the Carolinas and the Midwest and replaced them with super-efficient coal units or gas-fired plants at a total cost of $9 billion.
The plan drew praise from Democratic lawmakers and presidential contenders. Hillary Clinton, the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination, lauded Mr. Obama’s plan on Sunday, pledging to push back against GOP threats to the regulations and to do more to address climate change.
Sen. Marco Rubio, a Republican candidate for president, said Sunday that Mr. Obama’s policies would hurt the economy and drive up the cost of electricity.
“They will do nothing to address the underlying issue that they’re talking about because, as far as I can see, China and India and other developing countries are going to continue to burn anything they can get their hands on,” he said.

Friday, August 28, 2015

The videos we post on the blog

Are not reflective of our opinion.  We don't endorse any particular expert and their presentation.  Our goal is to provide variety, sometimes opposite ends of the spectrum, many times directly contrasting "science" and approaches to change.  They are posted to inspire dialogue, thought, debate and an impetus to find the right answers after contemplating the many options.

Feel fee to post comments or respond to these posts.  Feel free to suggest others.  All of these contribute to the dialogue around our prism--the business side of green.  An evaluation of the economics around building a green economy, shifting energy from fossil fuel to clean, renewable sources and a look at the best investments to drive jobs and the growth of a sustainable, global economy.

We hope you listen, absorb and use this information to help guide your own journey into a clean and bright future.

They're called 'electric highways,' and they might change everything about how we drive

Charge-as-you-go technology could revolutionize the automotive industry

Electric highways...has a nice sound to it.  What a vision--charge-as-you-go across our nation, leaving behind very little emissions (none from the tail pipe, of course).  Speeding past gas stations and saving hundreds and thousands of dollars over the life of a car.  Cutting maintenance costs, enjoying quiet rides in which you can actually hear natural sounds around us, cutting off imported oil and the political costs  that commodity brings.

Future generations will laugh at our past (now current) dependence on fossil fuel.  They will also thank us for being the generation that shifted gears, in every aspect of life, and invested in building, for all, a sustainable, quality future.

The project is an ambitious attempt by the U.K.'s government to tackle two of the biggest complaints about electric vehicles.
The biggest problems facing owners of electric cars (and what's possibly preventing others making the jump from gas) are the cars' limited range and the inconvenience of finding scarce charging stations.

The 2015 Nissan Leaf can travel 84 miles on a single charge. The Tesla Model S (with 70 kWh battery) can travel 230 miles. But with charging stations so few and far between — especially when compared to gas stations — electric cars still aren't a great fit for long-distance trips.

Here's what the engineers at Highways England will be testing.

Along the road will be a series of power converters and stations connected to power transfer loops built into the left lane. If all goes according to plan, vehicles fitted with wireless charging technology will be able to stay charged as they drive in the powered lane.
Photo from Highways England.

But why invest so much time and money into a project that's only going to affect a fraction of the world's cars?

Because it has the potential to change the future of the automotive industry.
As is the case with most technology, advances come in stages. As breakthroughs happen in the electric vehicle market, demand for them will rise and more people will shift to the newer, lower-emission technology.
In Highways England's technology road map, informed by the Automotive Council,the prediction is that by 2050, nearly every vehicle purchased in the U.K. will be an electric car or other ultra-low-emissions vehicle (ULEV).
Image from Highways England.

This is just part of England's long-term plan to build the infrastructure needed for electric vehicles to thrive.

They'll also be adding charging stations.
The British government's Road Investment Strategyoutlines plans to install charging stations every 20 miles along highways. Their government's commitment to automotive innovation seems pretty far ahead of the U.S. government's. Hopefully, if the numbers continue to point toward a ULEV future, the U.S. will follow the U.K.'s lead.

Image from Highways England.

Tesla's new Model S P85D is so good it broke Consumer Reports' scoring system.

This is the fun side of sustainability.  You switch to a cleaner fuel--electric--and get an amazing, thrilling ride from Tesla.  Technology races forward and allows us to enjoy a high quality of life while limiting our environmental impact.

Tesla is ramping up with new models, their own battery factory and super-chargers.  Yet, they are just one player, albeit, a leader, on the EV side.  There's plenty of choices on the hybrid and EV side.  We saw great models at Green Fest in Boston last weekend, including an amazing high-performance model from BMW.

Don't get mislead by declining gas prices.  The better future rides on clean energy not fossil fuel.  We shift dollars back home, remove carbon from our air, power using the sun, wind and other natural resources and eliminate most of the risks of extracting and distributing fuel.  

Our next story will show innovation around electric charges embedded into our roads to keep us fueled and moving.  Cars will get quiet, clean and ultimately powered by renewables as grids, too, move away from coal, oil and natural gas.

Consumer Reports rates vehicles on a zero-to-100 scale, but Tesla's high-performance, all-wheel-drive car scored 103. simply exceeded on those measures even more.

For instance, it was given less credit for improving its acceleration and efficiency which, in other versions of the Model S, already outperformed other cars.
Once those changes were made, the P85D earned the top score of 100, making it the first car ever to earn that score.Two years ago, a Tesla (TSLA) Model S earned a near-perfect score of 99. That car had less power than the P85D, however, and didn't have all-wheel-drive.
Tesla P85D
In the magazine's tests, the P85D accelerated from a stop to 60 miles an hour in 3.5 seconds. That's slightly slower than the 3.2 seconds Tesla claims for the car, but it still makes the P85D the quickest car the magazine has ever tested. (The second-quickest was the Porsche 911, which the magazine's test drivers got from zero to 60 mph in 4.1 seconds.)
The all-electric Tesla also got the equivalent of 87 miles per gallon in efficiency tests.
At a total price of $127,820, the Model S P85D wasn't just the highest-scoring car Consumer Reports has ever tested. It was also the most expensive, said Jake Fisher, head of auto testing for Consumer Reports.
The 100-point score doesn't mean the Tesla Model S P85D is, literally, perfect.
Especially given its price, the materials in the Tesla were not as nice as those in other six-figure cars. It was also louder and didn't ride as nicely.
Also, because the car is purely electrically powered, long road trips could be less convenient than they would be in a gasoline-powered car, the magazine noted.
The next-highest score after the Tesla Model S is the Mercedes-Benz S550, a full-sized luxury sedan. Consumer Reports tests cars on its own track in Connecticut and also on public roads and highways.
This isn't the first time the Model S has defied ordinary measures. The Model S has earned 5-star crash safety ratings from the federal government but, according to Tesla, ordinary safety tests weren't enough. In rollover tests, the car wouldn't flip even in the hardest turns and "special measures" had to be used to get it to turn over. During roof crush tests, the roof-crushing machine broke before the car's roof did, according to the automaker.
To bring the score back in line, the P85D was given less credit for areas in which the Model S already beat other cars but, in this version, simply exceeded on those measures even more.

For instance, it was given less credit for improving its acceleration and efficiency which, in other versions of the Model S, already outperformed other cars.

Once those changes were made, the P85D earned the top score of 100, making it the first car ever to earn that score.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

White House insists tough new carbon restrictions are legal under Clean Air Act

Interesting how the declining price of fuel is pushing SUV sales and distracting people from thinking about efficiency.  If we are to get to cleaner air standards, including reduced carbon levels, how will we do it if transportation does not contribute?

Yes, tougher clean air standards will increase some costs.  Yet, by forcing an investment in reduced energy use and renewables, the long-term returns, as shown, will be great.  

We think the economy will easily handle the tougher standards and the increased health benefits of choking on less carbon and air pollution will more than compensate for the added fees.

White House insists tough new carbon restrictions are legal under Clean Air Act


© AP Steam billows from the coal-fired Merrimack Station in Bow, New Hampshire.

The White House insisted on Sunday it was on strong legal footing as it unveiled details of ambitious carbon-reduction plans that are likely to be fiercely opposed by coal-burning Republican states.

Gina McCarthy, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), told reporters the Obama administration’s goal of reducing carbon dioxide emissions from US power plants by 32% between 2005 and 2030 kept squarely “within the four corners” of the Clean Air Act.

The US supreme court determined in 2007 that this anti-pollution legislation, which was originally aimed at mercury and sulphur emissions, could be used to tackle greenhouse gases too.

But the Obama administration’s decision to tackle climate change by introducing new rules through amending pollution regulation rather than an attempt to pass so-called “cap and trade” legislation or implement a carbon tax has been attacked by several states, who plan a series of legal challenges.

Similar administration attempts to circumvent opposition in Congress with executive actions on immigration reform have become bogged down in the courts. The 2007 supreme court ruling on the Clean Air Act, however, gives environmentalists hopes that carbon reduction efforts may prove more resilient.

Speaking to reporters on Sunday ahead of a formal announcement of the new carbon rule by Barack Obama on Monday, White House adviser Brian Deese said the new EPA rules represented the “biggest step that any single president has made to curb the carbon pollution that is fuelling climate change”.

A White House statement said: “Taken together these measures put the United States on track to achieve the president’s near-term target to reduce emissions in the range of 17% below 2005 levels by 2020, and lay a strong foundation to deliver against our long-term target to reduce emissions 26 to 28% below 2005 levels by 2025.”
Crucially, the US hopes that leading by example will put it in a stronger position to negotiate international reductions at the Paris climate conference in December and build on bilateral talks with China and Brazil.

Later this month, Obama will make trips to Nevada and the Alaskan arctic – the latter the first by a sitting president – to talk up renewable energy investments and the threat from climate change ahead of a US visit by Pope Francis in September. The pope has also backed the moral imperative of carbon-reduction strategies.

Details of the US rules, which began emerging over the weekend but were announced formally on Sunday afternoon, confirm slightly higher targets for carbon reduction than were envisaged in draft proposals last year, at a cost of $8.4bn.

McCarthy said the higher target was mainly because renewable energy investment and efficiency gains among electricity customers were improving faster than expected.
She stressed that the EPA had listened to industry concerns in its decision to allow an extra two years to phase in the new rules and to lower the target for mandatory carbon capture equipment in coal plants.

The administration argues that its approach leaves it up to individual states to determine if overall carbon emissions can be best reduced on the demand side, through making existing plants more efficient or by swapping coal generation for renewable sources, nuclear and gas.

“They can cut carbon pollution in whatever way makes sense for them,” said McCarthy.
Nonetheless, the administration stuck to its uncompromising position on the overall necessity of the rule change.

“Over the next few days we will hear the same tired old plays from the old special interests playbook,” said McCarthy, who argued “climate change is personal”.
Republican candidates to replace Obama in the White House were quick to express their opposition to the move.

“President Obama’s carbon rule is irresponsible and overreaching,” said the former Florida governor Jeb Bush, in a statement. “The rule runs over state governments, will throw countless people out of work, and increases everyone’s energy prices.”

The Florida senator Marco Rubio followed a similar line.

“A lot of what these people are advocating for would hurt our economy badly,” he said. “If you’re a single mom in Tampa, Florida and your electric bill goes up by $30 a month, that is catastrophic.”

Navy Signs Agreement for Largest Purchase of Renewable Energy by Federal Entity

Keeping up the good news on USA investment in sustainability (following the NASA satellite piece), we report on the Navy's--and US military in general--continued heavy shift to renewable energy.  Reaching large-scale projects like this one accelerates tremendously their cut in emissions and use of fossil fuel.

This story is the lead on our 24.7 network main site at Renewable Now. biz.   See lots more stories and listen to the remarkable interview with Igor Zacek as he talks about his love of change incorporated into his team's design of the Ecocapsule, the most efficient home available today.  Here's a brief description of Igor and his interview with us:

And our lead story:

Navy Signs Agreement for Largest Purchase of Renewable Energy by Federal Entity

he Department of the Navy (DON), Western Area Power Administration (Western), and Sempra U.S. Gas & Power hosted a ceremony Aug. 20 at Naval Air Station North Island, California, commemorating an agreement to construct a 210 megawatt (MW) direct current solar facility to benefit 14 DON installations.

The agreement, signed last month, is the largest purchase of renewable energy ever made by a federal entity.

"The collaboration on Mesquite Solar 3 is a triumph of innovative problem solving, and will help to increase the DON's energy security by diversifying our power portfolio and improving energy efficiency," said Mabus. "This agreement is also projected to save the DON at least $90 million over the life of the project."

In addition to the energy security benefits to the DON, the Mesquite Solar 3 project will help the 14 installations comply with California's Renewable Portfolio Standard. At 210 MW, the solar facility will contribute 21 percent of the power needed to meet Secretary Mabus' goal of bringing one gigawatt of renewable energy into procurement by the end of 2015.

"We are pleased to partner with both the DON and Western to help contribute to the DON's renewable energy portfolio and to expand out Mesquite Solar complex," said Patti Wagner, president and CEO of Sempra U.S. Gas & Power. "The development of Mesquite Solar 3 will continue to stimulate the local economy in the region and would not have been possible without the strong support of neighboring communities, regulators and local, state and federal officials."

Western's Senior Vice President and Desert Southwest Regional Manager, Ronald Moulton, also commended the project. "The powerful collaboration between all parties made this project possible. We look forward to facilitating similar agreements with other Federal agencies, helping them meet their renewable energy goals, and building more partnerships for powering the energy frontier," he said.

In 2009, Congress mandated that the Department of Defense (DoD) produce or procure 25 percent of total DoD facility energy from renewable sources by 2025, with each service responsible for generating a portion of that renewable energy. Mabus accelerated that goal, directing the DON to procure one gigawatt (GW) of renewable energy by the end of 2015.

With the signing of Mesquite 3 (210 MW), the recent groundbreaking at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, (17 MW) last month and upcoming groundbreaking at Kings Bay, Georgia, (42 MW), the Navy is on track to meet that goal with a total 1.2 GW of projects in the pipeline.

The list of installations that will be provided solar energy from the Mesquite 3 Solar farm include: Naval Base (NB) San Diego, NB Coronado, NB Point Loma, NB Ventura County, Naval Support Activity (NSA) Monterey, Naval Weapons Station (NWS) Seal Beach, NWS Det Norco, NWS Fallbrook, Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center (MCAGCC) 29 Palms, Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Miramar, Marine Corps Logistics Base (MCLB) Barstow, Marine Corps Recruitment Deport (MCRD) San Diego and Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center (MCMWTC) Bridgeport. 
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NASA Satellites Start

We discussed this on a recent radio show.  Knowledge is power.  We applaud NASA for giving us the tools to track carbon and get better data on its intensity, shifting patterns and potential global influence on weather.

Satellites are one of our greatest scientific tools.  They are now also one of our greatest economic tools as we monitor environmental changes and revamp our lives to live resiliently within those changes. 

NASA Satellites Start Tracking Down the Sources of Climate Change