The Costs of Climate Change: From Coasts to Heartland, Health to Security

Posted by Brad Johnson Wed, 24 Jul 2019 14:00:00 GMT

Last month, expert witnesses told us that the economic costs of climate change will be significant. But what will these costs look like for the individuals, businesses, and communities facing severe coastal flooding and storms, decreased agricultural productivity, increased health threats, and national risks to security? To answer this question, on July 24th, the House Budget Committee will hear testimony from five expert witnesses on the impacts of climate change to coastal communities, agricultural economies, public health, and national security – and the implications for the federal budget.

Climate change puts millions of people at risk from coastal flooding and storms — Coastal homes, businesses, infrastructure, and lives are threatened by more intense hurricanes, increased flooding, saltwater intrusion into freshwater supplies, and reduced fishery productivity. More than 300,000 residential and commercial coastal properties , valued at approximately $136 billion today, are projected to be at risk of chronic tidal flooding by 2045 – even absent heavy rains or storms. Major disasters related to hurricanes, severe storms, and flooding have been getting worse, too. In the last three years, such disasters caused more than 3,400 deaths in the United States, compared to less than 200 deaths over a similar period 35 years ago. By 2050, the risk of being hit by a category 4 or 5 hurricane could increase by 275 percent from 1980 levels, and eight out of nine U.S. real estate companies are already citing operational risks and costs from flooding and hurricanes in their environmental disclosures. Cumulative damages to coastal property from sea level rise and storm surge are projected to reach $3.6 trillion through 2100 unless we take action. The federal costs for flood prevention, flood insurance, and disaster response will grow. Flood insurance claims under the National Flood Insurance Program are already increasing, with the six costliest years all occurring since 2005, and federal spending on hurricane relief and recovery is projected to increase 33 percent faster than the growth in the economy by 2075.

Climate change will further strain farmers and the agricultural economy — The changing climate will lead to heat stress in plants and livestock, reduced soil health and moisture, shifts in pollination, and greater pressure from weeds, pests, and diseases. These changes will result in declining crop yields and livestock and poultry productivity , increased rates of crop failure, and reduced food nutrition. For example, hotter temperatures and a doubling of water deficits by midcentury are expected to reduce corn yields in Indiana by 16 to 20 percent, reduce soybean yields by 9 to 11 percent, and double the number of livestock heat stress days. The average inflation-adjusted price of crops is projected to increase 20 percent by 2050 . Planting alternate crops, new farm and soil management practices, and emerging technologies can help farmers adapt but come at a cost for agricultural communities already under significant financial pressure. The federal government will also absorb additional costs. For example, climate change could increase crop insurance costs for corn, soybeans, and wheat by 40 percent by 2080.

Climate change is the greatest public health challenge of the 21st century — More than 90 health organizations have jointly identified climate change as a public health emergency, and children, pregnant women, older adults, outdoor workers, and low-income and marginalized communities are disproportionately vulnerable. By midcentury, more than 90 million people in the United States – a 100-fold increase – will experience 30 or more days with a heat index above 105°F in an average year. Such extreme heat and heat waves will increase hospitalization for heatstroke and cardiovascular, respiratory, and kidney disorders and could cause thousands of deaths annually. Degraded air quality and higher pollen concentrations will increase the incidence of respiratory illnesses, heart attacks, asthma, and allergies. More people will be exposed to infectious diseases transmitted by mosquitoes and ticks (such as Zika and Lyme disease), toxic algal blooms, and waterborne diseases. Cases of tickborne disease have already more than doubled from 2004 to 2016. Severe storms can disrupt critical healthcare systems and infrastructure for months, as well as directly costing lives. The costs to the public health system and federal programs such as Medicare and Medicaid, although not yet quantified, are likely to be significant.

Climate change threatens defense readiness and stability around the world — The intelligence community, senior defense officials, and Department of Defense (DOD) strategies and plans have consistently identified climate change as a national security challenge and threat multiplier. U.S. military facilities, operations, and equipment are vulnerable to storms, sea level rise, flooding, wildfires, and drought. In just the last year, hurricane and flood damage to Camp Lejeune and Tyndall and Offutt Air Force Bases will require $8.5 billion to repair – and the DOD assesses that approximately two-thirds of mission assurance priority installations are at risk. Melting sea ice is opening the Arctic to increased competition with Russia and China for natural resources and access to sea routes. Globally, climate change will exacerbate food and water insecurity, infectious disease outbreaks, natural resource scarcity, commodity price shocks, economic distress and inequality, natural disaster severity, and population displacement and migration. These in turn will increase the risk of social unrest, political instability, and conflict abroad – and increase the frequency, scale, complexity, and cost of future DOD missions.

At this upcoming hearing, the Budget Committee will continue to examine the challenges that climate change poses to the American people and economy, building on its June hearing and looking more closely at specific sectors.

Witnesses
  • Georges C. Benjamin, M.D., Executive Director, American Public Health Association
  • Stefani Millie Grant, Senior Manager for External Affairs and Sustainability, Unilever
  • Rear Admiral Lower Half Ann C. Phillips, Special Assistant to the Governor for Coastal Adaptation and Protection, Office of the Governor of Virginia
  • Rich Powell, Executive Director, ClearPath
  • Rear Admiral Upper Half David W. Titley, Ph.D., Affiliate Professor of Meteorology and of International Affairs, Department of Meteorology and Atmospheric Science, The Pennsylvania State University

Environmental Organizations Cross Racial Divides To Present Climate Justice Platform

Posted by Brad Johnson Tue, 23 Jul 2019 19:11:00 GMT

In an encouraging sign for those seeking to make the vision of the Green New Deal a reality, a coalition of mostly white environmental organizations and predominantly black environmental justice organizations have released the “Equitable & Just National Climate Platform.”

The platform is a vision statement for American climate justice policy, with signatories “committed to advancing a bold and equitable national climate agenda and believe that all people and all communities have the right to breathe clean air, live free of dangerous levels of toxic pollution, access healthy food, and share the benefits of a prosperous and vibrant clean economy.”

The Sierra Club, League of Conservation Voters, Natural Resources Defense Council, and Union of Concerned Scientists are also members of the BlueGreen Alliance which released a similar labor-focused platform in June.

Platform co-authors and inaugural signatories: Center for American Progress, Center for Earth, Energy and Democracy, Center for the Urban Environment, John S. Watson Institute for Public Policy, Thomas Edison State University, Deep South Center for Environmental Justice, Earthjustice, Environmental Justice Health Alliance for Chemical Policy Reform, Harambee House–Citizens for Environmental Justice, League of Conservation Voters, Little Village Environmental Justice Organization, Los Jardines Institute, Michigan Environmental Justice Coalition, Midwest Environmental Justice Network, Natural Resources Defense Council, New Jersey Environmental Justice Alliance, ReGenesis Project, Sierra Club, Tishman Environment and Design Center at the New School, Union of Concerned Scientists, WE ACT for Environmental Justice.

Environmental justice organization inaugural signatories: 2BRIDGE CDX / BTB Coalition, Agricultura Cooperative Network, Alaska Community Action on Toxics, Black Environmental Collective-Pittsburgh, Black Millennials 4 Flint, Black Youth Leadership Development Institute, Center on Race, Poverty and the Environment, Citizens for Melia, Clean Power Lake County, Coalition of Community Organizations, Community Housing and Empowerment Connections, Community Members for Environmental Justice, Concerned Citizens Coalition of Long Branch, Concerned Citizens of Wagon Mound and Mora County, Connecticut Coalition for Environmental Justice, Dakota Wicohan, Delaware Concerned Residents for Environmental Justice, Dr. Cesar G. Abarca, Dr. Fatemeh Shafiei, Dr. Marisol Ruiz, Dr. Robert Bullard, East Michigan Environmental Action Council, Eduardo Aguiar, El Chante: Casa de Cultura, Farmworker Association of Florida, Flint Rising, Georgia Statewide Network for Environmental Justice and Equity, Greater Newark Conservancy, Green Door Initiative, Greenfaith, Ironbound Community Corporation, Jesus People Against Pollution, Las Pistoleras Instituto Cultural de Arte, Lenape Indian Tribe of Delaware, Louisiana Democracy Project, Minority Workforce Development Coalition, Mossville Community in Action, Native Justice Coalition, Organizacion en California de Lideres Campesinas, Inc., Partnership for Southern Equity, People Concerned About Chemical Safety, People for Community Recovery, PODER, Reverend Canon Lloyd S. Casson, Rubbertown Emergency ACTion, Tallahassee Food Network, Texas Coalition of Black Democrats, Texas Drought Project, Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services, The Wise Choice, Inc., Tradish “Traditional Real Foods,” Tusconians for a Clean Environment, UrbanKind Institute, We the People of Detroit, West County Toxics Coalition, Wisconsin Green Muslims.

Download Equitable & Just National Climate Platform or read the text below:

AN EQUITABLE AND JUST NATIONAL CLIMATE AGENDA

To effectively build an inclusive, just, and clean-energy economy, the national climate agenda must achieve the following:

No community left behind

All communities have a right to live free from exposure to dangerous toxic pollution in their soil as well as in the air they breathe, the food they eat, and the water they drink. Yet persistent racial and economic inequalities—and the forces that cause them—embedded throughout our society have concentrated toxic polluters near and within communities of color, tribal communities, and low-income communities. These underlying social forces, including persistent and systematic racial discrimination and economic inequality, have created disproportionately high environmental and public health risks in these areas relative to wealthier white neighborhoods. The national climate policy agenda must address this environmental injustice head-on by prioritizing climate solutions and other policies that also reduce pollution in these legacy communities at the scale needed to significantly improve their public health and quality of life. The agenda must also build the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to fulfill its mission to protect the nation’s health and the environment by developing and enforcing effective regulations for all communities.

A healthy climate and air quality

The devastating and costly consequences of climate change threaten the health, safety, and livelihoods of people across the country. Generations of economic and social injustice have put communities on the frontlines of climate change effects. The national climate policy agenda must have as its foundation policies that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and locally harmful air pollution at the ambitious scale and speed needed to avoid the worst and most costly health impacts, especially for the most vulnerable communities and communities coping with the legacy pollution from the present economy. This includes reducing emissions in low-income areas and communities of color—EJ communities—through a suite of policies, including climate mitigation policy. The agenda must mobilize vast new resources to reduce carbon pollution, curb locally harmful pollution, and build resilience to improve the health, safety, and livability of all communities in a climate-changed world.

Reduction in cumulative impacts

History shows that environmental regulation does not necessarily mean healthy environments for all communities. Many communities suffer from the cumulative effects of multiple pollution sources. A national climate policy agenda that addresses climate pollution must not abandon or diminish the important goal of reducing toxic pollution in all its forms. Climate solutions must be part of a comprehensive approach to reducing legacy environmental and economic impacts on communities and be designed intentionally to ensure that they do not impose further risks. Strategies to address climate change must not disproportionately benefit some communities while imposing costs on others. In fact, the national climate policy agenda should be used to reduce the disproportionate amount of pollution that is often found in EJ communities and that is associated with cumulative impacts, public health risks, and other persistent challenges.

An inclusive, just, and pollution-free energy economy

The shift to a sustainable, just, and equitable energy future requires innovative forms of investment and governance that distribute the benefits of this transition equitably and justly. This includes investing in the development of innovative decentralized models of energy provision; community governance and ownership; incorporation of social and health benefits into energy systems planning; incentivizing the inclusion of equity into future energy investment through public programs; and supporting public and private research and development to include equity considerations in new technology development.

The national climate policy agenda must drive a rapid shift toward a pollution-free, inclusive, and just economy as well as create high-quality jobs with family-sustaining wages and safe and healthy working conditions. Breaking down the barriers that produce unemployment and underemployment must be a priority. Workers must be treated fairly and supported through investments in workforce and job training programs, especially in communities with disproportionately high underemployed and unemployed populations and in communities that have been historically reliant on fossil fuel extraction and energy production.

Access to affordable energy

The national climate policy agenda must significantly reduce domestic energy vulnerability and poverty by addressing the problem of high energy cost burdens. To live and prosper in today’s society, access to affordable, reliable, and sustainable energy is a basic need in daily life and fundamental to achieving rights related to health, environmental quality, education, and food and income security. Given the disparities in the housing stock and infrastructure across communities, it is imperative that future energy systems provide affordable energy access that ensures a healthy standard of living that provides for the basic needs of children and families. The nation needs bold new leadership that will ensure access to sustainable energy, including by supporting investments in cooperative and nonprofit energy organizations; community and stakeholder engagement and participation in energy planning; public-private partnerships; and renewable and energy efficiency demonstration projects in our most vulnerable communities.

A healthy transportation and goods movement system

As a major contributor to climate and air pollution, we must build the next century’s transportation system to ensure healthy air quality for all communities. This will require massive investment in affordable, reliable, and environmentally sustainable transportation. As with other sectors, the transportation system has a direct effect on economic and social opportunities. Public resources and planning decisions affect patterns of urban development and the structure of local economies, including where jobs and employment are located. The transportation sector is also responsible for providing accessibility to basic human needs. Therefore, transportation planning must ensure affordable transportation that provides for community members’ mobility and access to daily activities and services, including jobs, education, health care, affordable housing, and social networks.

Clean and affordable energy and transportation through an increased and appropriate level of new federal investment in zero-emissions transportation options for all community members in both rural and urban areas must be a priority. This includes programs to scale up investment in public transit; zero-emissions transit buses, diesel trucks, and school buses; and accessible and affordable adoption of electric cars. We also need smart planning that will make our communities safe for pedestrian and bicycle travel.

The goods movement system that distributes raw materials and consumer products currently relies on diesel engines that produce emissions that have significant health and environmental effects on workers and members of surrounding communities. A national climate policy agenda must reduce pollution by advancing a zero-emissions goods movement transportation system to protect the health of workers as well as fenceline and frontline communities and ensure that they benefit from new clean transportation technology development.

Safe, healthy communities and infrastructure

Climate change exacerbates existing vulnerabilities and creates new risks in our communities. As a result, climate change presents historic challenges to human health and our quality of life. Communities across the country need a national climate policy agenda that will mobilize the massive investments necessary to prepare for climate change impacts. Climate solutions provide opportunities for localized benefits that enhance the quality of life for all communities, including by improving local air quality, access to healthy food, local economic development, public health, and community vitality.

We need to build housing and infrastructure that can withstand more powerful storms, floods, heat waves, cold snaps, and wildfires; reduce carbon and air pollution in areas with high cumulative pollution; build a more sustainable food and agricultural system; and expand access to family-sustaining jobs and other economic opportunities. As climate change deteriorates air quality, increases vector-borne disease and allergens, and contributes to a host of other public health threats, we must ensure full access to health care for all. The national climate policy agenda must prioritize investments in communities that are the most vulnerable to climate change, including in health monitoring and research to provide rigorous and reliable research on our progress.

Economic diversity and community wealth building

A national climate policy agenda must acknowledge the continuing increase in wealth and income inequality that plagues our communities. This growing wealth gap makes inclusive local economic development a priority for communities and governments. Economic diversification is critical to effectively address climate change and reduce economic and social vulnerability. We must create and support strategies that shift away from high pollution products and production processes toward those that are low-emission and sustainable. This also includes investments in innovative and worker-supported economic organizations such as cooperatives and other community wealth-building strategies.

Anti-displacement, relocation, and the right to return

A national climate policy agenda must ensure that sustainable investments for both mitigation and adaptation do not impose costs—both social and otherwise—on overburdened and vulnerable communities. Therefore, it is essential that we as a nation invest resources to eliminate barriers to and provide affordable and safe housing for all community members. It is imperative that new investments in resilient infrastructure in communities that have been historically disinvested be a national priority.

Climate-related events are already having severe and often devastating effects on communities, including requiring people to evacuate and relocate out of harm’s way. These types of events are expected to become even more intense and damaging in the future. Leaders at all levels of government must recognize their duty and responsibility to support displaced families to return to their communities or to relocate to places of their choosing. This includes prioritizing public and private investments to rebuild affordable and accessible housing and transportation for residents who have been displaced due to climate and other disaster events—including those with the least resources and ability to respond—and to ensure that displaced people can participate in the planning and management of their return or relocation.

To effectively address the steady rise in climate-related and other disasters, the national climate policy agenda must support equitable and responsive relocation planning and investment in the wake of such events as well as proactively help to protect communities from climate change effects and displacement. In places exposed to extreme climate risks, planned relocation must provide for the improvement of community members’ living standards. Social cohesion is a foundation for community well-being, and, therefore, relocation must strive to maintain and support family unity as well as community and kinship ties. The economic and social disruption to communities that require relocation have significant health, economic, and emotional impacts. It is imperative that relocated community members have access to a full range of health and economic services and the right to choose their residence.

Water access and affordability

Climate change affects the water cycle, which in turn affects the nation’s water quality and supply. The nation’s drinking water infrastructure is already in dire need of massive investment. The national climate policy agenda requires solutions that take into account the effects of climate change on this stressed water infrastructure. As we develop climate solutions, we must focus on avoiding those which impair or burden aquifers, lakes, rivers, and oceans.

A comprehensive infrastructure plan that will focus on water and other basic necessities—specifically for communities that have already experienced significant health and economic impacts—is of the highest priority. Investments must prioritize communities that are already affected by inadequate, harmful, and health-impairing water infrastructure. Bold new leadership is needed to ensure that all community members have access to safe, clean, and affordable drinking water as well as to maintain and protect water as a common resource. Access to clean water is a basic human right that we must protect for all children and families. As we develop climate solutions, we must avoid those that harm or burden oceans, lakes, rivers, and waterways.

Self-determination, land access, and redevelopment

A national climate policy agenda must be predicated on the principle that land is fundamental to the exercise of community self-determination. Land is integrally tied to community and cultural identity, and its use is directly related to community members’ ability to meet their social, economic, and cultural needs. Urban and rural development and redevelopment must not lead to greater socioeconomic gaps or escalating costs that displace community members. These projects must result in lower pollution emissions for the surrounding community. It is imperative that programs and initiatives to protect and redevelop the environment promote community wealth building and economic diversity that directly benefit local community residents.

Funding and research

A national climate policy agenda must include funding for climate research on equity and climate issues. This research must effectively address equity and justice in climate planning and policy and be at a scale and level of rigor that has been historically invested in previous carbon-mitigation policies and programs. Public and private supporters of these past efforts have a moral obligation to also invest in the needs of communities that have been made vulnerable by past environmental, energy, and economic policies. If we do not sufficiently fund and perform EJ and equity research as it relates to climate change, then climate change policy and research has a significant potential to perpetuate and even exacerbate inequalities rooted in race and income.

U.S. responsibility for climate action and international cooperation

We must aim to limit global warming to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius over preindustrial levels by 2050. The national climate policy agenda must ensure that the United States acts effectively, responsibly, equitably, and justly to achieve this goal. This requires advancing global climate justice, including by committing to even more ambitious emission reduction goals in the future to contribute our fair share in the global effort to stabilize the climate system, and committing financial resources for least-developed nations to cope with the impacts of climate change. We must do this by radically scaling up both U.S. domestic actions and international cooperation in ways that end poverty and inequality; build sustainable communities and cities; improve public health and well-being; and reach universal achievement of the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.

Labor-Environmental Alliance Releases High-Level Climate Action Principles

Posted by Brad Johnson Mon, 24 Jun 2019 15:29:00 GMT

On June 24th, the BlueGreen Alliance released “Solidarity for Climate Action”, a compendium of labor and environmental principles with the goal of achieving net-zero carbon pollution by 2050 in line with the Green New Deal vision.

Several union leaders associated with the fossil-fuel industry have responded to the call for a Green New Deal with skepticism or hostility, despite its emphasis on full employment and a unionized workforce; the work of the BlueGreen Alliance represents the viewpoint of another side of labor movement. The opening lines of the document emphasize the importance of collaboration as much as the end result:

“The BlueGreen Alliance and its labor and environmental partners are committed to the vision, principles, and policies outlined in this document, and are committed to a process of working together to identify concrete solutions to achieve these goals.”

The high-level vision document was unveiled at a presentation featuring Mike Williams of the BlueGreen Alliance, Leo Gerard of the United Steelworkers, and the National Wildlife Federation’s Collin O’Mara.

The members of the Alliance include the environmental organizations Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council, Union of Concerned Scientists, Environmental Defense Action Fund, League of Conservation Voters, and the National Wildlife Federation; and the labor unions United Steelworkers, Communication Workers of America, Service Employees International Union, International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers (SMART), Utility Workers Union of America, American Federation of Teachers, United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters (UA), and the International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers (BAC).

This effort echoes The Leap Manifesto and the platform of the European Green Party, though with less ambition.

Download “Solidarity for Climate Action” or read the text below:

Vision

Americans face the dual crises of climate change and increasing economic inequality, and for far too long, we’ve allowed the forces driving both crises to create a wedge between the need for economic security and a living environment. We know this is a false choice—we know that we can and must have both, and we need a bold plan to address both simultaneously.

Many solutions are already being put into place across the country. For example, tradespeople built the Block Island offshore wind project off the coast of Rhode Island, autoworkers are on the factory floors building cleaner cars and trucks in Michigan, and previously unemployed workers in St. Louis and Los Angeles are gaining access to high-skilled jobs in energy efficiency retrofitting, pipefitting, and transit manufacturing, while mine workers are extracting palladium to be used in catalytic converters. These are all good, union jobs building a clean energy and climate-resilient economy today.

At the same time, not enough of the new jobs that have been created or promised in the clean energy economy are high-quality, family-sustaining jobs, nor are these jobs in the same communities that have seen the loss of good-paying, union jobs. Wildfires, hurricanes, heat waves, droughts, and sea-level rise driven by climate change are hurting communities across the country and will only worsen if we don’t take decisive action. Lower income workers and communities of color are hit the hardest and are less able to deal with these impacts as wages have fallen and their economic mobility and power in the workplace has declined.

It is critical that working people are front and center as we create a new economy: one that values our work, our families, our communities, and our environment. It is with that imperative that we call for a new plan to create jobs and protect the environment for the next generation. This plan must respond to the climate crisis on the scale that science demands, while simultaneously addressing inequality in all its forms.

Principles

Climate Stability: It is projected that the emissions path the world is currently on could result in an increase in global average temperature above pre-industrial levels of at least 2.5°C—and could exceed 4°C by 2100—if some countries do not fulfill their Paris Agreement commitments. This will have devastating impacts on both human communities and natural ecosystems. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Special Report on Global Warming, we must act now to shield workers and communities from increased climate disasters: “Limiting global warming to 1.5°C would require rapid, farreaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society,” which “could go hand in hand with ensuring a more sustainable and equitable society.” This global effort to address climate change and inequality must happen at the speed and scale demanded by scientific reality and the urgent needs of our communities.

High-Quality Jobs: We must strive to create and retain millions of high-quality jobs while putting forward bold solutions to climate change. Unions are a primary vehicle to confront the economic insecurity most Americans face. Unions empower workers, create quality jobs, and sustain families. Making union jobs more accessible to all and increasing our nation’s union density will lift up all working people. When working people have power, they have greater capacity to fight for change.

Community Resilience: We must dramatically increase the capacity of the public sector, the health care system, and community-based nonprofit sectors to prepare for and respond to the demands our changing climate places on first responders, healthcare workers, social workers, and others who deal with climate-induced disasters. We must also deal with the increasing stresses placed on communities and the health of workers due to more gradual manifestations of climate change. We need to expand public and private sector investments in our infrastructure and built environment that incorporate social, environmental, and economic considerations. We must support the efforts of frontline communities to adapt to and recover from the increased frequency and severity of climate change-induced natural disasters and impacts, ensuring that resources flow to those most impacted.

Repair America: We cannot address climate change with derelict infrastructure. It is time we made the long and deep commitment to fully and properly remake and modernize all sectors of our nation’s infrastructure, while also building out the new systems demanded by an advanced economy dealing with climate change demands. Infrastructure must be designed in ways that reduce emissions and that reflect projected conditions over its lifespan, including the ability to withstand the increased frequency and severity of climate-driven natural disasters.

Rebuild American Manufacturing: American leadership in inventing—and manufacturing—the most advanced technology of all kinds was once a cornerstone of a strong and growing middle class and a pathway for many out of poverty. U.S. manufacturing could be revitalized by building cutting-edge products and materials with clean, safe, and efficient industrial processes. A comprehensive national commitment to sustainably manufacture the next generation of energy, transportation, and other technologies in the United States will fully capture the benefits to workers and communities.

Clean Air, Clean Water, Safe and Healthy Workplaces and Communities: Tackling climate change goes hand in hand with ensuring that all workers and communities have access to clean air and water. We must also guarantee that our workplaces and communities are safe, clean, and free of hazardous chemicals and toxic pollution. This must include stepping up workplace protections and improving our industrial infrastructure through improved process safety and investments in inherently safer technologies.

Equity for Marginalized Communities: Generations of economic and racial inequality have disproportionately exposed low-income workers, communities of color, and others to low wages, toxic pollution, and climate threats. We must inject justice into our nation’s economy by ensuring that economic and environmental benefits of climate change solutions support the hardest hit workers and communities. Special attention must be given to the industries and communities that are most likely to be impacted by the effects of climate change and the transition to a clean economy.

Fairness for Workers and Communities: Working people should not suffer economically due to efforts to tackle climate change. The boldness of any plan requires that the workers and communities impacted are afforded a just and viable transition to safe, high-quality, union jobs. We must also maintain a focus on reducing environmental burdens, continuing to be stewards of our air, water, and lands, and deploying technologies that are safe, as well as effective.

Promote Inclusive Public Dialogue: Workers and communities must have a central role in framing the problem and developing solutions to address climate change. Public dialogue between workers, employers, and governments should be present at all levels, from policy design to implementation and the measurement of results. Representatives of organized labor, community-based groups, and business associations should participate actively and equitably in dialogue at the enterprise, sectoral, and national levels to assess opportunities and resolve challenges posed by the climate transition.

Policies

Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emissions Reductions: To avoid the catastrophic consequences of climate change, we must significantly reduce the pollution that causes it. Doing so can and should benefit working people and communities across the country. As such, America must commit to implementing the following:
  • Rapid GHG emissions reductions—based on the latest science and in line with our fair share—which would put America on a pathway of reducing its emissions to net zero emissions by 2050. The urgency required to stave off the worst impacts of climate change requires that by 2030 we are solidly on a path to net zero emissions;
  • Deploy clean and renewable technology nationwide. Low-and-no carbon electricity production; carbon capture, removal, storage, and utilization; natural ecosystem restoration; and zero carbon transportation options are important parts of the solution;
  • Make massive immediate investments in energy efficiency across all sectors;
  • Utilize continual scientific review to inform and refine our progress; and
  • Recommit to achieving our emissions reduction pledges under the Paris Agreement, and to restoring American leadership in global negotiations going forward.
Infrastructure and Community Resilience: Our nation must move forward with an ambitious plan to rebuild and transform America’s infrastructure. If we do it right, we will boost our economy, create millions of jobs, and strengthen the resilience of our communities in their ability to prepare and respond to climate related disasters, while also reducing pollution and combating climate change. Strategic investments in infrastructure and a well-trained workforce—including significant investments in revitalizing our public sector workforce—can further ensure that our infrastructure and communities are prepared for the impacts of climate change and the challenges of the next century. Federal, state, and local governments play a crucial role in planning and leading our transition to a cleaner economy while responding to the growing threats of climate change. Our plan must include:
  • Ambitious and strategic public investments to rebuild and modernize America’s infrastructure and make our communities more resilient—repairing our failing roads and bridges, replacing lead pipes and upgrading our water systems, stopping fugitive emissions from existing natural gas distribution pipelines, modernizing our schools, increasing the energy efficiency of new and existing buildings in all sectors from commercial to residential to hospitals and universities, expanding and modernizing our electric grid, building clean and affordable transportations systems, and redeveloping brownfields and cleaning up hazardous waste sites;
  • Investment in the revitalization and expansion of the public sector workforce and ensuring staffing levels are sufficient to accomplish clean energy, resilience, adaptation, and crisis response objectives;
  • Robust investments in natural infrastructure, including improving climate resilience through natural defenses that act as carbon sinks, recovering America’s wildlife, restoring forests and wildlands, reclaiming mines, and addressing the public lands maintenance backlog;
  • Vigorous investment in broadband networks to close the digital divide, achieve universal access to high-speed Internet, and full utilization of the federally backed FirstNet network for first responders;
  • Adaptation, resilience, and pre-disaster mitigation policies and investments, including sustainable land-use, housing, transportation, and natural infrastructure investments that are equitable, community-driven, and designed to uplift rather than uproot communities;
  • Targeted policies and investments to communities with the most need and engaging local organizations to advocate, plan, and sustain positive development outcomes; and
  • Prioritization of the use of the most efficient, resilient, and cleanest materials and products with the lowest carbon and toxicity footprints.
Competitiveness, Strength, and Innovation: The economic strength of our country has long been connected to the well-being of the middle class. Yet, we can’t ensure prosperity if we’ve fallen behind the rest of the world in building the technologies of the future, and if working people and communities don’t see the gains from innovation and a cleaner economy. We need an aggressive agenda to regain American leadership in clean technology innovation, deployment, manufacturing, and good job creation. We can rebuild American competitiveness in the global economy, and secure and create a new generation of good, middle-class jobs across America through:
  • A national strategy to lead in clean and emerging technology production and supply chain development, including major investments in domestic advanced technology manufacturing and innovation, penalizing offshoring, and a commitment to at least doubling funding of clean technology research, development, manufacturing, and deployment;
  • Application of strong Buy American and Davis-Bacon requirements, as well as utilization of project labor agreements, for all public spending, and procurement policies that ensure the use of domestic, clean, and safe materials made by law-abiding corporations throughout the supply chain;
  • Environmentally, economically, and socially responsible mining projects and effective recycling initiatives for strategic materials necessary for a clean energy future; Investment in efficient domestic materials production and innovation to greatly limit the emissions associated with energy intensive manufacturing;
  • Closing the carbon loophole and stopping the leakage of jobs and pollution overseas through procurement standards, sound trade enforcement, and border adjustments; and
  • Ensuring trade agreements are enforceable, fair for all workers, and benefit the environment, including the climate.
High-Quality Job Creation and Retention: American workers have faced wage stagnation, difficult working conditions, and a wholesale effort to decimate their ability to organize for the past several decades. Unionization offers the best pathway for quality jobs and more importantly a good, family-sustaining livelihood. A commitment to high-quality job creation across all sectors of the economy—but especially related to clean energy, adaptation, and resilience—will only be realized if we commit to:
  • Increasing union density across the country through strong support of the right to organize throughout the economy, including in the clean technology sectors;
  • Remove policy barriers to organizing and promote productive policies to ensure that workers have a meaningful voice on the job;
  • Applying mandatory labor standards that include prevailing wages, safety and health protections, project labor agreements, community benefit agreements, local hire, and other provisions and practices that prioritize improving training, working conditions, and project benefits. This includes respect for collective bargaining agreements and workers’ organizing rights such as neutrality, majority sign-up, and first contract arbitration for construction, operations, and maintenance;
  • Raising labor standards in the nonconstruction sectors through improved wages and benefits and the prioritization of full-time work that eliminates the misclassification of employees and misuse of temporary labor;
  • Investing in training, equipment, preparedness, plan development, and other tools including through registered apprenticeship programs to ensure a robust, skilled, and well-prepared workforce to address the extreme weather events and other impacts caused by climate change; and
  • Maximizing the utilization and support for established training providers (such as registered apprenticeships, community colleges, and union training centers) and skill certifications for manufacturing.
Equity, Responsibility, and Safe and Healthy Communities: Justice and equity are critical aspects of any effective climate plan. We must utilize our collective power to solve climate change in ways that lift up all people and make every community more resilient against the impacts of climate change as well as changes in the economy. We must also make sure through this plan that communities are made safer and healthier. As such, America must commit to just solutions through:
  • Community benefit, workforce, and other similar agreements that improve access to jobs and career paths, and identify and implement mechanisms to ameliorate and improve local economic and environmental impacts;
  • Direct reduction of hazardous waste, toxic chemical emissions, particulate matter, and other non-GHG pollutants across the country, but first and foremost in frontline communities;
  • Addressing cumulative environmental impacts that burden frontline communities with disproportionate air, water, and land pollution and climate risks;
  • Improve the safety of our industrial facilities and protect workers, first responders, and fence-line communities;
  • Taking steps to avoid creating a “low-carbon, high-toxicity” economy, including reducing our toxicity footprints through investment and innovation in green chemistry;
  • Ensuring that frontline communities and workers have equitable access to energy efficiency savings and clean, affordable energy, water, and transportation choices;
  • Ironclad commitments to safe and healthy working conditions; and
  • A recognition of our country’s opportunity and responsibility to help fund a clean energy economic development model for developing and emerging countries, including the transfer of technologies and capacity building, as well as assisting vulnerable developing countries in coping with the mounting impacts of climate change through ramped-up investments in adaptation and resilience strategies.
Fairness to Workers and Communities: America lacks a decent support system for people who have fallen through the cracks in our economy. Solutions that rely on or fail to address these systems are doomed to create new problems and ensure that America lags behind in the global race for a prosperous 21st century economy. As such, the United States must establish a globally competitive social safety net, including:
  • Effective and equitable access to high-quality employment, training, and advancement for all workers, particularly those from low-income households, those historically underrepresented on the basis of race, gender, and other criteria, and those adversely impacted or dislocated by technological change—notably including those in energy, transportation, and trade impacted communities;
  • Guaranteed pensions and a bridge of wage support, healthcare, and retirement security until an impacted worker either finds new employment or reaches retirement;
  • Dedicated community engagement including workers, community members, and leaders to support and enhance the development of the local economy;
  • Massive economic investment in deindustrialized areas, including remediating any immediate loss of tax base or public services for communities;
  • Mandated reclamation of closed and abandoned industrial sites to remediate deindustrialized blight, coupled with economic development and diversification; and
  • Requirements for fair and safe working conditions throughout global supply chains.

Following the Lead of Other Candidates, Biden Becomes 15th to Call for Climate Debate

Posted by Brad Johnson Tue, 11 Jun 2019 21:50:00 GMT

Today, Joe Biden became the 15th Democratic candidate for president to call for a climate debate, making a mockery of Democratic National Committee chair Tom Perez’s claim such a debate would be “at the request of one candidate.”

Perez was evidently singling out Jay Inslee, who has made climate action a centerpiece of his campaign.

In fact, the demand for a presidential debate focused on climate began with the youth climate activist groups U.S. Youth Climate Strike and Sunrise Movement. Inslee was the first candidate to support their campaign, though over a dozen fellow candidates soon followed suit.

Biden joined the calls for a climate debate in a conversation with a climate activist following a rally today in Ottumwa, Iowa, Greenpeace reports.

Biden is the ninth of the 13 candidates who have fully qualified for the DNC debates to endorse a climate debate.

In a Medium post, Perez—handpicked as chair by Barack Obama to thwart the candidacy of Keith Ellison—pushed back on the growing calls for a climate debate.

“If we change our guidelines at the request of one candidate who has made climate change their campaign’s signature issue, how do we say no to the numerous other requests we’ve had?”

Perez has not indicated specifically what other existential issue a majority of the Democratic candidates for president, spurred by activists, have requested to debate.

Transcript of Biden exchange:

Q: “Should we have a climate change debate?”

BIDEN: “Yeah we should have a climate change debate. We should. That’s what we should be doing.”

Q: “One debate?”

BIDEN: “Yeah.”

Q: “Dedicated to climate change?”

BIDEN: “Yeah, I’m all in. I’m all in, man. Take a look at what I’m talking about. By the way, first climate change plan ever introduced in the United States Congress: Biden.”

Q: “You’re the man. All right.”

For Years, The New York Times Has Run "Oil & Money," A High-Dollar Summit For The Global Oil Industry

Posted by Brad Johnson Mon, 10 Jun 2019 23:46:00 GMT

The New York Times has for years also hosted a high-priced global summit for the chieftains of Big Oil.

The Oil & Money summit, which occurs each October in London, will meet for the fortieth time this October 8th to 10th at the luxury Intercontinental London Park Lane hotel. Top speakers this year include the CEOs of BP and Royal Dutch Shell, and the oil ministers of Qatar and Iraq.

The theme, “Strategies for the Energy Transition,” “reflects the crossroads at which the energy industry now finds itself:”

Advances in technology, ranging from electric vehicles and battery charging to solar and wind power promise extensive disruption to existing patterns of energy usage and threaten the dominance of oil and gas in areas like transportation and power generation. But at the same time, technology breakthroughs in other fields have made the exploration and development of petroleum resources cheaper, safer and more efficient.

The overview politely avoids mention of fossil-fueled global warming, referring only to how the oil and gas industry is “harnessing new technologies” to “reduce its carbon footprint.”

The first day’s focus is the natural gas industry—two of the sessions do explicitly mention climate change, in the context of environmentally conscious investors and the promotion of natural gas “as a bridge fuel to a lower carbon economy.”

The second day’s focus is on the geopolitics of the global oil market; the third day discusses what’s needed to keep the U.S. fracking boom going (“technology holds the key to sustaining US tight oil growth once all the best sweet spots have been produced”) and the threat of electric vehicles to the oil industry.

At no point does it appear that the threat of civilizational collapse due to the continued combustion of fossil fuels, nor the industry’s decades-long campaign to thwart government regulation of climate pollution, will be discussed.

Tickets to the summit are $4,195; for another $795 attendees get the benefit of “Toasting the Energy Intelligence Petroleum Executive of the Year with colleagues and clients at the prestigious annual gala dinner.” This year’s honoree is Ben van Beurden, CEO of Royal Dutch Shell.

With about 500 attendees, this one conference raises over two million dollars for the Times and its co-host, the industry publisher Energy Intelligence.

A handful of young oil and gas professionals get to attend the conference with the ironically named “Energy Leaders for Tomorrow” sponsorship.

The New York Times Company’s president of its international business, Stephen Dunbar-Johnson, will be opening the summit. On Twitter, he has frequently professed great concern about the Trump administration’s attacks on climate policy. He has not indicated how he will address the world’s lords of oil.

Climate activists have protested the “climate criminals” at the conference the past several years.

In a statement to DeSmog UK in 2018, a New York Times Company spokeswoman said the conference would “address the transition to a low carbon economy, an issue which has been covered extensively by The New York Times. That transition is unlikely to occur without the participation of the world’s largest energy companies.”

A newer addition to the New York Times Conferences line-up is the New Rules Summit, where the New York Times calls on leaders “to create a boldly inclusive vision of the workplace— and transform it into reality.” Its speakers reflect that mission- 29 of 34 are women, the majority non-white. The New York Times does not appear to be calling on Oil & Money attendees to do the same—only two of the 53 speakers are women. There do not appear to be any black speakers.

The Times’ editorial board purports that “most sentient people agree the world must rapidly wean itself from” fossil fuels “or risk ecological and social disaster.”

By that measure, the Times’ involvement in helping ExxonMobil develop climate-denial and greenwashing advertorials on its pages and website, as well as its organization of the Oil & Money Conference, puts into question the sentience of its leadership.

Oil & Gas Companies in attendance:

  • Amoco
  • Bapetco
  • BP
  • Cepsa
  • Chevron
  • ConocoPhillips
  • Eni
  • Esso Petroleum
  • ExxonMobil
  • Gasterra
  • GE Oil & Gas
  • Igas
  • Jogmec
  • Lukoil
  • Mol
  • Omv
  • Oryx
  • Pluspetrol
  • Premier Oil
  • Repsol
  • Royal Dutch Shell
  • Scimitar
  • Total
  • Tullow Oil

National Oil Companies

  • Adnoc
  • Gazprom
  • Kuwait Petroleum
  • Pemex
  • Petroleos De Venezuela
  • Polish Oil And Gas
  • Qatar Petroleum
  • Qatar Gas
  • Rosneft
  • Saudi Aramco
  • Sonangol
  • Socar Equinor

Advisory Services

  • Accenture
  • Bain Company
  • The Boston Consulting Group
  • EY
  • Halliburton
  • Husseini Energy
  • L1 Energy
  • KBC
  • Mckinsey Company
  • Schlumberger
  • SBM Offshore
  • Weatherford

Financial Services

  • Adia
  • Atlas Invest
  • Bank Of America
  • MUFG
  • Barclays
  • BNP Paribas
  • Blackrock
  • Carlyle Group
  • CHS
  • CIBC
  • First Reserve
  • Glencore
  • Goldman Sachs
  • Gunvor
  • Moody’s Investors
  • Morgan Stanley
  • Mubadala
  • Riverstone
  • Schroders
  • UBS

Government And Academic Institutions

  • ANH
  • Executive Affairs Authority
  • French Embassy UK
  • House Of Commons
  • House Of Lords
  • IEA
  • Oil & Gas Authority
  • OPEC
  • UK Trade & Investment
  • US EIA
  • Sciences PO
  • University Of Notre Dame
  • University Of Texas

Spurred by Youth Climate Activists, Over A Dozen Democratic Candidates Call for Climate Debate - Nixed By DNC

Posted by Brad Johnson Mon, 10 Jun 2019 12:40:00 GMT

Spurred by teen-aged climate activists, a majority of the Democratic candidates for president have called on the Democratic National Committee to hold a debate focused on climate change.

This week, DNC chair Tom Perez announced no such debate would happen, tweeting that the DNC “will not be holding entire debates on a single issue area – we want to make sure voters have the ability to hear from candidates on all the issues.”

The U.S. Youth Climate Strike, led by a group of teenagers inspired by 16-year-old activist Greta Thunberg, has been bird-dogging candidates since April 2019. With the support of MoveOn, the group launched an online petition to the DNC that now has nearly 55,000 signatures. A broad coalition of environmentalist and progressive groups followed suit with a joint petition that now has over 191,000 signatures. A DailyKos petition has an additional 17,000 signatures and counting.

Below is a sourced listing of the 14 Democratic candidates for president who have announced their support for a climate debate and when they did so. Not only is that a majority of the 23 major candidates running for president, the list includes eight of the 14 candidates who have passed the DNC threshold to qualify for their debates (bold below).

Most of the announcements were in response to an in-person request from a U.S. Youth Climate Strike activist, though some were in response to reporter questions.

In their announcement of support for a climate debate, Gabbard and Moulton campaigns called for another debate to focus on national security.

Unlike the 2012 and 2016 elections, most of the Democratic candidates have climate change a central theme of their campaigns, outlining competing visions for transforming the United States toward sustainability and climate justice.

Strangely, DNC spokesperson Xochitl Hinojosa argued the DNC couldn’t host a climate debate because it would favor Jay Inslee, who has made climate the central theme of his presidential campaign. “Once we start allowing one candidate to dictate what the debate is about, we have to say ‘yes’ to all of them on their core issue,” Hinojosa told HuffPost. “Otherwise people would say we are benefiting one candidate. And if we were to have issue-area debates, how do you pick 12 issue areas?”

On Sunday, Perez gave an even more incoherent excuse for refusing to hold a climate debate, the Tampa Bay Times reported. Perez told activists at an event in Orlando: “It’s just not practical. And as someone who worked for Barack Obama, the most remarkable thing about him was his tenacity to multitask, and a president must be able to multitask.”

Perez seems to be confused about the cross-cutting implications of climate change despite his role as the head of the Democratic Party. The 2016 Democratic platform claimed that “Democrats believe that climate change poses a real and urgent threat to our economy, our national security, and our children’s health and futures, and that Americans deserve the jobs and security that come from becoming the clean energy superpower of the 21st century,” and that “Democrats recognize the catastrophic consequences facing our country, our planet, and civilization.”

Update 6/13 Updated to reflect that Kirsten Gillibrand had passed both criteria (polling and contributors) for the debates on Monday.

Biden, Warren Release Similar Climate Investment Plans

Posted by Brad Johnson Tue, 04 Jun 2019 20:01:00 GMT

Democratic presidential contenders Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren have released climate plans. Warren’s plan appears somewhat more ambitious, whereas Biden’s plan explicitly endorses carbon-capture technology.

Some specific highlights from Biden:
  • “100% clean energy economy and net-zero emissions no later than 2050”
  • “federal investment of $1.7 trillion over the next ten years”
  • “investing $400 billion over ten years” in “clean energy research and innovation”
  • including “double down on federal investments and enhance tax incentives for carbon capture, use and storage” and nuclear power research

The Biden plan also notes: “If the global temperature continues to increase at the current rate and surpasses 1.5°C, the existential threat to life will not be limited to just ecological systems, but will extend to human life as well.” However, the goals of the plan do not appear to be in line with the global emissions reductions needed to keep warming below 1.5°C.

In other newsmaking, it appears Joe Biden is accepting the aims of the No Fossil Fuel Money Pledge, if not yet having formally signed on: “Biden for President will not accept contributions from oil, gas and coal corporations or executives.”

Warren released her Green Manufacturing Plan, with highlights including:
  • ”$400 billion in funding over the next ten years for clean energy research and development”
  • ”$1.5 trillion federal procurement commitment over the next ten years”
  • ” a new federal office dedicated to selling American-made clean, renewable, and emission-free energy technology abroad and a $100 billion commitment to assisting countries to purchase and deploy this technology”
  • “we must cut projected global emissions by more than half by 2030”

The plans are surprisingly similar in terms of scope, especially in terms of the budget expenditures, and in many of the details. Warren’s plan calls for greater expenditure in federal procurement than Biden’s, and appears more ambitious in terms of emissions targets. Notably, Warren frequently refers to the Green New Deal, which she has endorsed, whereas Biden praises the Green New Deal’s “framework” but does not appear to follow its particulars closely.

Update: As first noticed by Credo Action’s Josh Nelson, the Biden plan cribbed some text directly from the labor-environmentalist group Blue Green Alliance and from the fossil-fuel-industry Carbon Capture Coalition. The Biden campaign has since directly credited those organizations, which appear to be advising the campaign.

WOW 101: The State of Wildlife

Posted by Brad Johnson Tue, 12 Mar 2019 20:42:00 GMT

Chair Jared Huffman opening statement:

Welcome to the Water, Oceans, and Wildlife subcommittee 101 hearing on the state of wildlife. So far, we’ve talked about the state of our water supplies, the state of our oceans, and now it’s time to talk about wildlife.

Our topic today is especially fitting because it is National Wildlife Week. This week celebrates the anniversaries of several important events in the preservation of our nation’s wildlife, including the establishment of the first National Wildlife Refuge, Pelican Island, in 1903; the Duck Stamp Act of 1934; and the founding of the US Fish and Wildlife Service in 1940. For over a century, Americans have expected that their representatives work together to protect wildlife. And that’s because our experiences with nature and wildlife are fundamental to our cultures, our families, and our way of life. Maybe you go hunting or fishing with your family, maybe your kids watch the birdfeeder in the backyard, or maybe you’ve visited our national parks and wildlife refuges and seen all the wild beauty that our country has to offer. I, for one, get out as much as possible in my district to fish. There are few things better than a relaxing day spent fishing at a quiet spot on the North Coast of California.

I think it’s safe to say that we all want to protect native wildlife, both for the sake of wildlife itself and for us and future generations to enjoy. In fact, 4 out of 5 Americans support the Endangered Species Act and protecting species. We also share the goal of helping endangered wildlife around the globe, whether it is elephants, rhinos, tigers, polar bears, whales, or pandas.

Although we come from different states, with different landscapes and regional issues, the goal of today’s hearing is to get a clear and fact-based overview of the state of wildlife. Unfortunately, what I know so far, and what our expert witnesses will likely tell you, is that the state of many species in this country and across the globe is dire. In the history of the planet, there have been 5 major extinctions of life on Earth, including the time a meteor wiped out the dinosaurs. While you may not see a meteor falling from outer space or volcanoes filling the skies with ash right now, scientists have determined that we are in the middle of a sixth mass extinction.

And the truth is, it’s because of us. Human activity has destroyed all kinds of habitat, polluted our water and air, and is changing the climate in ways that many species of wildlife are struggling to keep up with. If we don’t do something about climate change, scientists predict that 1 in 6 species could face extinction.

However, it’s completely in our ability to solve these problems. There are several legislative proposals to protect wildlife that have been put forward by members of this Congress. We plan to hold legislative hearings soon to get many of these bills moving. We will also be conducting oversight of this administration, which we’ve seen place industry interests above those of the American people over and over again, including protecting wildlife and outdoor recreation.

Just last week, we held a hearing on the many threats facing one of the most endangered whales alive today, the North Atlantic right whale. Catering to oil and gas companies, the Trump administration has decided to increase the stressors facing this already imperiled species, even in the face of opposition from local communities and states.

The Endangered Species Act is another top target for the Trump administration. The administration is currently finalizing rules that would create loopholes in the law, putting more species at risk of extinction and giving more leeway to industry. We expect the administration to release the final rules any day now. The Trump administration is also undermining protections for wildlife in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, one of the last remaining pristine habitats on Earth, by opening it up to oil and gas drilling. Over 700 species of plants and animals call the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge home, including polar bears, wolves, and the Porcupine caribou herd, which the Gwich’in people have relied on for time immemorial. I introduced the Arctic Cultural and Coastal Plain Protection Act to restore protections for the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and urge my colleagues to join over one hundred other Members of Congress in supporting the bill.

The Trump administration announced last year that “incidental take” under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act would no longer be interpreted as prohibiting the incidental killing of birds. And guess who benefits? You guessed it: oil and gas companies. Finally, the quality of key habitats that promote recreation, hunting, and fishing, as well as access to these habitats, are being eroded by the administration’s energy-dominance policy. As you can see, there is a clear pattern here. And unfortunately, the list goes far beyond these few instances I’ve described today. So this Congress, this committee has a lot of work to do – making sure we hold this administration accountable for decisions that further threaten wildlife and putting new, innovative ideas forward to address the sixth mass extinction. We’re going to hear from a great panel of wildlife experts today. Thank you all for being here. I now invite the Ranking Member for his remarks, and then we will welcome and introduce our witnesses.

Majority witnesses
  • Jamie Rappaport Clark, President and Chief, Executive Officer, Defenders of Wildlife
  • Dan Ashe, President and Chief Executive, Officer, Association of Zoos & Aquariums
  • Christy Plumer, Chief Conservation Officer, Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership
Minority witnesses
  • Valerie Covey, Commissioner, Precinct Three, Williamson County Commissioner’s Court, Georgetown, TX
  • Rodger D. Huffman, President, Union County, Oregon Cattlemen’s Association

Former Waxman-Markey Staffers Ana Unruh Cohen and Alison Cassady Hired to Staff Committee on Climate Crisis

Posted by Brad Johnson Tue, 26 Feb 2019 20:50:00 GMT

Experienced environmental lobbyists and former House colleagues Ana Unruh Cohen and Alison Cassady have been tapped by Rep. Kathy Castor (D-Fla.) to become the chief and deputy chief of staff respectively for the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis. Unruh Cohen had been the deputy director of the committee’s predecessor, the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming.

They previously worked directly together as staffers helping to craft the American Clean Energy and Security Act (H.R. 2454) for their bosses Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) and Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) from 2007 until the bill’s demise in 2009.

Dr. Unruh Cohen was a long-time staffer for Markey, moving with him to the U.S. Senate before becoming the top lobbyist for the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC); Cassady was a long-time staffer for Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) before becoming the head of Energy and Environment Policy at the Center for American Progress—a role Unruh Cohen originated in 2004.

Unruh Cohen’s Hill experience also includes working as the deputy staff director of the Natural Resource Committee Democratic staff.

Unruh Cohen holds a bachelor’s in chemistry from Trinity University and received her PhD in earth sciences from Oxford University, where she was a Rhodes Scholar. She is based in NRDC’s Washington, D.C., office.

As the managing director of Energy and Environment Policy at the Center for American Progress, Cassady wrote reports on issues as varied as the social cost of carbon and the power of corporate polluter lobbyists. Cassady joined CAP after working as a senior professional staff member for Rep. Henry Waxman and the U.S. House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee, where she focused on unconventional oil and gas development, climate change, air quality, and nuclear issues.

As a House staffer, Cassady led an investigation into hydraulic fracturing, uncovering the continued use of diesel fuel in hydraulic fracturing and writing a first-of-its-kind report on the chemical components of hydraulic fracturing fluids. Cassady developed additional expertise on offshore oil and gas development as a key member of the Energy and Commerce Committee team investigating the BP Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill in 2010.

She also served Rep. Waxman during his tenure as chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and helped investigate the events leading to the financial crisis in 2008. Before beginning her time in the House, Cassady was research director for Environment America and the U.S. Public Interest Research Group. She is a graduate of the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service.

The Denial Playbook: How Industries Manipulate Science and Policy from Climate Change to Public Health

Posted by Brad Johnson Tue, 26 Feb 2019 19:00:00 GMT

The Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee planned to hold a Feb. 26 hearing titled The Denial Playbook: How Industries Manipulate Science and Policy from Climate Change to Public Health. Witnesses at the hearing – part of the Natural Resources Committee’s historic month-long series of hearings on climate change – will speak to the tactics used by various industries to mislead the public about health and environmental risks and explain how to recognize the signs of a denialist misinformation campaign in any field.

However, as the hearing began with two Democrats and four Republicans present, Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) was able to call the hearing out of order. The testimony continued as a forum.

Majority Witnesses

  • Chris Borland, Retired NFL player. Chris Borland is a former linebacker for the San Francisco 49ers of the National Football League. He retired early from a successful career because of concerns about chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a neurological condition caused by repeated blows to the head and body experienced by professional, college, and early age football players.
  • Mr. Ryan Hampton, Founder, Voices Project. Ryan Hampton is a national addiction recovery advocate and person in sustained recovery from 10 years of active opioid use. He has worked with multiple non-profits and community organizing campaigns—including the nation’s top addiction recovery advocacy organizations.
  • Ms. Alexandra Precup. Ms. Precup is a native of Puerto Rico who was displaced by Hurricane Maria. She will speak to the effects of climate change on her and her family.
  • Dr. David Michaels, Professor, Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, George Washington University. Dr. Michaels is the former Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health. He is among the nation’s top experts in disinformation campaigns, including climate denial, and will speak to the ways in which denial campaigns across industries share similar recognizable traits.

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