On Thursday, March 7, President Barack Obama met with energy industry executives, cleantech entrepreneurs, and influential Obama supporters to discuss an approach to energy policy that emphasizes fracking, renewables, and energy efficiency.
The White House described the meeting as such: “During the meeting, the president reiterated his commitment to a cleaner and more secure energy future. The discussion covered a variety of topics including the important role of natural gas in our domestic energy portfolio, new opportunities for renewables like wind, solar and advanced biofuels, the importance of clean energy research and development, as well as the promise and potential of increased energy efficiency in our homes and businesses.”
According to The Hill, the only climate scientist in the room was Dr. John Holdren, the White House science adviser. There were no representatives of environmental organizations.Participants:
- James T. Hackett, executive chairman, Anadarko, gas and oil
- Jeffrey W. Shaw, chief executive, Southwest Gas
- Lew Hay, executive chairman, NextEra (low-coal utility); chairman, Edison Electric Institute
- Debra Reed, chief executive, Sempra, natural-gas
- Frederick W. Smith, chairman, president, and chief executive, FedEx
- Terry Royer, president and chief executive, Winergy, wind-power company
- Cynthia Warner, president, Sapphire Energy, biofuel entrepreneur
- Alex Laskey, president and founder, Opower, smart-grid entrepreneur
- Walter Isaacson, president and chief executive, Aspen Institute, author of Steve Jobs biography, Chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors
- Dr. Shirley Ann Jackson, president, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, nuclear physicist
- Dr. Eric Lander, professor, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard, PCAST, biologist
- Bill Ritter Jr., director, Center for New Energy Economy, Colorado State University, former Democratic Colorado governor
- Dr. Cass R. Sunstein, professor, Harvard Law School, former Obama OMB OIRA administrator
- Susan F. Tierney, managing principal, Analysis Group, director, World Resources Institute, Policy Subgroup Chair of the National Petroleum Council’s study of the North American natural gas resources, Bipartisan Policy Center, Obama transition team
- Heather Zichal, White House energy and climate adviser
- Dr. John Holdren, White House science adviser
- Cecilia Muñoz, Domestic Policy Council Director
Obama is scheduled to visit the Argonne National Laboratory near Chicago next Friday for a public speech on energy policy.
State Department: Keystone XL Pipeline 'Would Be Buried Deep Enough To Avoid Surface Impacts of Climate Changes' It Would Help Cause
During the operations period, climate change projections suggest the following changes:
- Warmer winter temperatures;
- A shorter cool season;
- A longer duration of frost-free periods;
- More freeze-thaw cycles per year (which could lead to an increased number of episodes of soil contraction and expansion);
- Warmer summer temperatures;
- Increased number of hot days and consecutive hot days; and
- Longer summers (which could lead to impacts associated with heat stress and wildfire risks). The pipeline would be buried deep enough to avoid surface impacts of climate changes (freeze-thaw cycles, fires, and temperature extremes).
As Secretary of State John Kerry said six years ago, “we’re on an urgent clock” to confront fossil-fueled climate change, which he compared to the threat of nuclear weaponry as a “man-made” and “uncontrolled” weapon with “the ability to change life as we know it on this Earth.” Kerry’s recognition of the scientific necessity to keep global concentrations of carbon dioxide below 450 ppm should preclude the possibility of building a pipeline designed to pump 7 gigatons of carbon dioxide worth of tar sands crude over decades. In one of his first speeches as Secretary of State, Kerry said that the United States is in “this moment of urgency to lead on the climate concerns that we share with our global neighbors.”
Why then, does the State Department’s draft impact statement ignore Kerry’s clear understanding of the threat posed by the Keystone XL pipeline? Perhaps it’s because the statement is literally bought and paid for by Keystone XL’s maker, the foreign tar sands company TransCanada.
The impact statement was written by a TransCanada contractor, not by State Department officials. The “sustainability consultancy” Environmental Resources Management was paid an undisclosed amount under contract to TransCanada to write the statement, which is now an official government document.
The impact statement did not take into account the predicted political instability that is already starting to occur because of global warming, however. As Kerry said in 2009, “catastrophic climate change represents a threat to human security, global stability, and
- yes - even to American national security.” As economist Sir Nicholas Stern said, “the cost of inaction” on climate change is a “serious risk of global war.”
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has announced an allocation plan for the $1.77 billion in federal Community Development Block Grants that are part of the Sandy disaster relief bill HR 152. It is not clear if mitigation of climate pollution is part of planned investments in housing, business, and infrastructure resiliency.
- Housing Recovery – $720 Million
- Single-Family Rehabilitation: $350 million to establish a grant program for up to 9,300 homeowners whose residences were sustained damage as a result of Hurricane Sandy and need additional funding to restore their homes, implement resiliency measures and remediate mold. Will assist up to 1,000 low-, moderate- and middle-income one- and two-family homeowners whose primary residences were destroyed or had major damage, and 8,300 low-, moderate- and middle-income homeowners whose primary residences were damaged but not destroyed.
- Multi-Family Rehabilitation: $250 million to fund programs to enhance the resiliency of up to 12,790 units of housing for low-, moderate- and middle-income New Yorkers damaged by Sandy that still require significant resources to permanently address damage and resume sustainable operations. The City’s program will provide grants and low-interest loans, depending on need and scope.
- Public Housing: $120 million to address initial resilience measures for public housing developments, such as permanent emergency generators at key buildings to provide backup power to critical building systems.
- Business Recovery – $185 Million
- Business Resiliency Investments: $100 million to provide grants to up to 1,300 businesses. $100,000 per company will go to small- and mid-sized companies, and $1 million per company will go to large companies in vulnerable areas. Program will require companies to commit to reinvest in their New York City presence.
- Expanded Loans and Grants: $80 million to provide loans and grants to as many as 1,000 businesses. This program will provide expedited low-interest loans of up to $150,000 on similar terms to the City’s existing emergency loan program; provide expedited grants of up to $60,000 to affected businesses; and invite community development finance institutions to compete in a business plan competition to solicit ideas for additional loan and grant programs which would then be funded on a pilot basis, with the best program(s) then funded at scale.
- Innovations in Resiliency Technologies Competition: $5 million to allocate, through “Race-to-the-Top”-style competitions, grants to the most innovative and cost-effective ideas for demonstration projects featuring resiliency products and technologies that can be replicated citywide.
- Infrastructure Resiliency – $140 Million
- Neighborhood Game-Changer Investment Competition: $100 million to jump-start economic activity in the five Business Recovery Zones by allocating, through “Race-to-the-Top”-style competitions, grants to the most innovative and effective investment ideas for spurring long-term economic growth. Possible ideas could include attraction of growing companies and/or companies of significant size, attraction of companies that serve the needs of underserved populations, or other transformative investments in key corridors.
- Critical Utility Infrastructure Resiliency Competition: $40 million to allocate, through “Race-to-the-Top”-style competitions, grants to the most innovative and cost-effective resiliency measures identified by the utilities for their critical networks. Grants will be allocated to utilities in one or more of the following categories: i) liquid fuel networks; ii) other energy networks (power, steam, natural gas); and iii) telecommunications networks (wires and wireless).
In his annual address to the state of New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) raised an urgent alarm about climate change in the wake of the Superstorm Sandy. “Climate change is real,” he said. “It is denial to say each of these situations is a once-in-a-lifetime. There is a 100-year flood every two years now. It is inarguable that the sea is warmer and there is a changing weather pattern, and the time to act is now.”
President Barack Obama avoided such language in the days after Sandy struck. Obama’s second inaugural address is January 19, 2013.
There’s significant evidence that Barack Obama as an individual cares very deeply about climate change, particularly in his role as a parent.
However, he built a governing team around him with deep, unresolved conflicts on climate action. Inspiring scientists like John Holdren, Jane Lubchenco, and Stephen Chu are at key leadership positions in his administration. However, his top economic advisers – Timothy Geithner, Peter Orszag, Ben Bernanke, Larry Summers – reflect the false economic orthodoxy that climate action comes at the price of economic growth. (Even though Summers believes that climate change is on par with nuclear war as an existential threat to the human race.) His top political advisers – Bill Daley, David Axelrod, Rahm Emanuel, Jim Messina, Anita Dunn, Stephanie Cutter – believe climate action to be a political loser.
As president, he economic advisers hold sway first, followed by the political advisers, then last the scientists.
As a candidate, the political advisers come first, followed by the economic advisers. The scientists are thought to be irrelevant.
This has led to problems.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid spoke today at the National Clean Energy Summit 5.0: The Power of Choice, in Las Vegas, Nev.
Good morning, and welcome to the National Clean Energy Summit: The Power of Choice. I am pleased to once again host this important event with the support of the Center for American Progress, the Clean Energy Project, the MGM Resorts International and the UNLV.
Over the last four years, this summit has brought together investors, innovators, academics and policy makers dedicated to moving the clean energy industry forward.
There should be no one in this room who doubts the importance of reducing our reliance on fossil fuels – not only because it’s good for the environment, but because it’s good for the economy and good for national security.
We’ve already seen how incentives, funding and public-private partnerships have spurred job creation and innovation in this critical sector. This has been a ray of sunshine during the Great Recession.
It is easy to see the logic, the urgency and the opportunity of a clean energy revolution. That is why President Obama has fought hard to advance the policies that will reduce our reliance on oil and other fossil fuels, increase our production of clean energy and create good-paying jobs that can never be outsourced.
But his administration has waged an up-hill battle against moneyed special interests and their allies in Congress, who are invested in maintaining their sweetheart relationship with coal and oil companies.
As hard as it is to comprehend, there are still members of Congress resisting clean energy’s American success story. And sadly they’re doing their best to send clean energy industries and jobs overseas, and hindering the revolution in the process.
Twenty-five years ago, President George H.W. Bush promised to use the “White House effect” to combat the “greenhouse effect.” Yet a quarter century later, too many elected officials in Washington are still calling climate change a liberal hoax. They falsely claim scientists are still debating whether carbon pollution is warming the planet.
Of course, if those skeptics had taken a stroll along the Potomac River on a 70-degree day this February, they would have seen cherry trees blossoming earlier than at any time since they were planted 100 years ago. Washington experienced its warmest spring since record keeping began in 1895.
And back in the skeptics’ home states, the harbingers of a changing climate are just as clear as those delicate February blossoms – and infinitely more perilous.
This year alone, the United States has seen unparalleled extreme weather events – events scientists say are exactly what is expected as the earth’s climate changes.
The Midwest is experiencing its most crushing drought in more than half a century – or maybe ever. Presently, disasters have been declared in the majority of U.S. counties. More than half the country is experiencing drought, and seventy-five percent of the nation is abnormally dry this year.
Corn crops are withering and livestock are dying – or going to slaughter early – as heat waves parch America’s breadbasket, breaking records set during the Woody Guthrie Dust Bowl years.
Now ravaging wildfires have replaced the dust storms of the 1930’s. Devastating fires have swept New Mexico, Idaho, Colorado, Nevada and other parts of the Mountain West, destroying hundreds of homes and burning millions of trees. These fires are fed in part by vast areas of dead forest ravaged by beetles and other pests that now survive through warmer winters.
On the East Coast, extreme thunderstorms and high winds called “derechos” – literally meaning straight-line storms – have eliminated power for 4.3 million customers in 10 states in the mid-Atlantic region. One 38-year veteran of the utility industry told the New York Times this: “We’ve got the ‘storm of the century’ every year now.” At the height of this storm – while the power was out and the air conditioning wasn’t working – the East Coast experienced record high temperatures.
Down south, the Mississippi River is nearly dry in various places, with shipping barges operating in only 5 feet of water. Just Friday, barges were grounded because the water level was so low. And New Orleans’ water supply is now being threatened by salt water moving up the Mississippi due to extremely low water.
But while record drought has struck many parts of the United States, torrential rains have poured down in others. In June, the fourth tropical storm of the hurricane season – a season which typically begins in the fall – dropped 20 inches of rain on Florida.
And our nation’s infrastructure is literally falling apart because it wasn’t designed to withstand these conditions. Runways are melting, trapping planes. Train tracks are bending, derailing subways. Highways are cracking, buckling and breaking open. The water used to cool power plants – including nuclear power plants – has either run dry or reached dangerously high temperatures.
And that’s just in the United States – just through the month of July.
Arctic sea ice is also at its lowest point in recorded history.
This month, the massive ice sheet atop Greenland experienced sudden and almost uniform melting – a phenomenon not seen in the modern age.
This spring, rain fell unexpectedly in Mecca despite 109-degree temperatures. It was the hottest downpour in the planet’s recorded history.
The Amazon River Basin has experienced super-flooding – reaching record high levels due to long summer rains and greater than normal glacial melting.
Massive forest fires have swept Siberia.
Monsoons in Bangladesh left hundreds dead and nearly 7 million people homeless.
And last week more than 600 million people in India were without power. Late monsoons and record temperatures increased demand for electricity to irrigate crops and air condition homes, overloading the fragile power grid and causing the blackout.
Scientists say this is genesis – the beginning. The more extreme climate change gets, the more extreme the weather will get. In the words of one respected climate scientist: “This is what global warming looks like.”
Dozens of new reports from scientists around the globe link extreme weather to climate change. Not every flood or drought can be attributed to human-induced transformation of our planet’s weather patterns. But scientists report that these extreme events are dozens of times more likely because of those changes.
The seriousness of this problem is not lost on your average American. A large majority of people finally believe climate change is real, and that it is the cause of extreme weather. Yet despite having overwhelming evidence and public opinion on our side, deniers still exist, fueled and funded by dirty energy profits.
These people aren’t just on the other side of this debate. They’re on the other side of reality.
It’s time for us all – whether we’re leaders in Washington, members of the media, scientists, academics, environmentalists or utility industry executives – to stop acting like those who ignore the crisis or deny it exists entirely have a valid point of view. They don’t.
Virtually every respected, independent scientist in the world agrees the problem is real, and the time to act is now. Not tomorrow. Not a week from now. Not next month or next year. We must act today.
As Americans, we have the power to choose the kind of world in which we live. Every decision we make – large and small – matters. Some choices are as simple as turning off the light when you leave the room. Others are more ambitious – such as committing the Department of Defense, the largest energy consumer in the world, to transition to clean, renewable energy.
But every choice has benefits – or consequences.
About 50 miles north of Las Vegas, the Reid-Gardner coal-fired power plant is nestled in the pastoral Moapa Valley. Since it began operating during the Johnson Administration, Reid Gardner has burned tens of millions of tons of coal.
Each year for the last 47 years, more than 2.8 million tons of climate-changing carbon dioxide – not to mention thousands of pounds of toxins such as arsenic, mercury and lead - go up the plant’s four giant smokestacks.
About two football fields away from those smoke stacks lives a band of 300 Moapa Paiute Indians. Every day Reid-Gardner rains down on the dwindling Native American tribe fine particulates and coal ash filled with chemicals that cause cancer, emphysema and heart problems.
The soot – and the dangerous chemicals inside it – is literally killing the Pauites.
It’s no secret coal plants kill. Each year, more than 24,000 deaths are attributed to emissions from coal-fired power plants in the United States alone.
That’s why it is time to close the dirty relic, Reid-Gardner.
Just imagine living two football fields from thousands of tons of poisons, ever present, always spewing their toxins on your home.
Every year we spend hundreds of millions of dollars buying coal from other states to burn in Nevada. It’s time to make a different choice – a choice that brings new clean energy industries and jobs to Nevada. A choice to invest in our own natural resources.
The more dirty coal we use, the higher the price of coal gets. The more solar power we use, the cheaper it gets. Shutting down this one coal-fired power plant won’t save the planet all at once – but it would save an Indian homeland.
A famous maxim says “a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” For consumers, that step might be deciding to buy energy-efficient light bulbs, drive a next-generation vehicle or turn off the lights when you leave the room. For NV Energy, the first step should be deciding to turn out the lights on Reid-Gardner – and turn them out forever.
Our guests and speakers today will outline some of the other decisions that lie ahead.
Today my friend, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, will tell you what the federal government has already done to accelerate development of renewable energy offshore and on public lands.
The job-creation power of clean technology is on display in Nevada, where more than a dozen renewable energy facilities have been constructed on public lands.
This week Pattern Energy will dedicate the 150 megawatt Spring Valley Wind project. It is the first commercial wind project in Nevada, also located on federal land in White Pine County.
And dozens of geothermal wells on public lands power the cities of Reno and Sparks, in Northern Nevada.
Today you’ll also hear from utility and renewable energy industry executives, scientists, educators and lawmakers about the combination of policies and incentives the government and the private sector can use to create jobs and expand clean technologies.
You’ll hear from inventors of next-generation electric vehicles.
You’ll hear from innovators with solutions to reduce our energy needs and meet our electricity demand without climate-changing fuels. They are helping to bring new technologies and products to market that give consumers more and better choices, and help them save money on their energy bills.
And you’ll hear from President Bill Clinton – on the challenge – and the choice – facing every American – and facing our nation: how to grow our economy – and save the planet – at the same time.
Today’s speakers and panels will lay out a path forward that may seem daunting, but is entirely achievable if we invest our collective effort. It’s entirely achievable if we stop allowing deniers to frame the debate, and demonize clean energy for their own short-term, political gain.
After all, the technology to change course is not futuristic. It’s available and affordable today. All we have to do is decide to use it.
The power of choice is in our hands. I urge you to choose the clean, safe and reliable path with me. Our future depends on it.
And now it’s my honor to introduce a man who has always been a leader on clean energy issues. As a farmer and an environmental lawyer, Ken Salazar understands as well as anyone the challenges of climate change, and what it will take to address them. As a Senator, Ken had a vision to build an economy that relied on clean, renewable energy. And as Secretary of the Interior, Ken has led the effort to increase development of renewable resources on federal land. It is my pleasure to introduce my friend, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar.
As climate change accelerates, it appears the Obama administration is in retreat. In an address on Thursday, the top climate negotiator for the United States rejected the administration’s formal commitment to keeping global warming less than two degrees Celsius (3.6°F) above pre-industrial levels. This about-face from agreements endorsed by President Barack Obama in 2009 and 2010 indicates a rejection of the United Nations climate negotiations process, as well as an implicit assertion that catastrophic global warming is now politically impossible to prevent.
Speaking before an audience at his alma mater Dartmouth College, U.S. Special Envoy for Climate Change Todd Stern argued that treaty negotiations based around “old orthodoxies” of a temperature threshold ”will only lead to deadlock”:
For many countries, the core assumption about how to address climate change is that you negotiate a treaty with binding emission targets stringent enough to meet a stipulated global goal – namely, holding the increase in global average temperature to less than 2° centigrade above pre-industrial levels – and that treaty in turn drives national action. This is a kind of unified field theory of solving climate change – get the treaty right; the treaty dictates national action; and the problem gets solved. This is entirely logical. It makes perfect sense on paper. The trouble is it ignores the classic lesson that politics – including international politics – is the art of the possible… . These basic facts of life suggest that the likelihood of all relevant countries reaching consensus on a highly prescriptive climate agreement are low, and this reality in turn argues in favor of a more flexible approach that starts with nationally derived policies… . The keys to making headway in this early conceptual phase of the new agreement is to be open to new ideas that can work in the real world and to keep our eyes on the prize of reducing emissions rather than insisting on old orthodoxies… This kind of flexible, evolving legal agreement cannot guarantee that we meet a 2 degree goal, but insisting on a structure that would guarantee such a goal will only lead to deadlock. It is more important to start now with a regime that can get us going in the right direction and that is built in a way maximally conducive to raising ambition, spurring innovation, and building political will.
Stern is absolutely right that the political challenge of achieving a 2°C goal is extremely high, but what is the “flexible, evolving” regime he proposes?
Stern argued in favor of a treaty structure without any overall emissions or temperature goal, but one that allows individual countries to pick their own targets without a requirement that they be internationally binding. (This structure resembles what the Bush administration favored, although the non-binding Obama administration goal for the United States of achieving 1990-level emissions by 2020 is much better than the non-binding Bush goal of having US emissions peak in 2025.) He recognized that “the risk of a system like this is that the policies and targets countries submit prove to be too modest,” and admitted that “[h]ow to encourage ambition in an agreement that is broadly inclusive will be one of the fundamental challenges in designing a new system.” In other words, he has no idea how a climate emissions treaty with no target or enforcement mechanism would do anything to prevent catastrophic global warming.
Scientific organizations first began recommending a 2°C target in the late 1980s, based on risk assessments of the adaptive capability of forests, long-term sea level rise, and the climate history of the human race. (Our species has never experienced an Earth more than 2.5°C warmer than pre-industrial times.) The Kyoto Protocol established pollution reduction targets consistent with the warming limit, but political opposition in the United States, the world’s greatest carbon polluter, eviscerated the effectiveness of the treaty.
On July 9, 2009, after a decade was lost under the climate denial of the Bush administration, the member nations of the G8 officially recognized the 2°C goal: “We recognize the scientific view that the increase in global average temperature above pre-industrial levels ought not to exceed 2C.” The Cancun agreements in 2010 codified the 2°C goal: “[W]ith a view to reducing global greenhouse gas emissions so as to hold the increase in global average temperature below 2 °C above pre- industrial levels … Parties should take urgent action to meet this long-term goal.”
Last year in the Durban round of international climate talks, Stern hinted at this new stance when he described the 2°C target as just a ”guidepost.” His comments last week make clear that the Obama administration has fully abandoned the president’s commitments made just two years ago.
Meanwhile, the impacts of global warming are coming faster than scientists predicted when the 2°C threshold was set. With only 0.8°C of warming, Arctic sea ice and polar ice caps are melting decades ahead of predictions, oceanic warming and acidification are degrading ecosystems in unforeseen ways, and extreme weather has increased in stunning fashion. Civilization itself is at risk from the exponentially accelerating decline of the planetary support system.
Politics may be the art of the possible, but climate change is an inflexible reality. With its new stance on international climate policy, the administration has abandoned slim hope for none.
The Obama administration’s Bureau of Land Management auctioned a major tract of Wyoming coal to Peabody Energy at a bargain-basement price of $1.10 per ton today. The North Porcupine coal tract in the Powder River Basin went to the single bidder, Peabody subsidiary BPU Western Resources, for $793,270,310.80 for 721 million tons, BLM representative Beverly Gorny stated in a telephone interview. This sale, made under the provisions of the Mineral Leasing Act of 1920, represents a massive fossil-fuel subsidy based on the assumption that the use of the coal benefits the American public. However, it is likely this coal is intended for the Asian market, where sub-bituminous coal fetches a much higher price. The non-competitive leasing program is under federal investigation.
Moreover, the costs of the carbon pollution from mining and burning this coal were not taken into consideration. The 721 million short tons of sub-bituminous coal in the lease sale will generate approximately 1.1 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide when burned. With a modest estimated social cost of carbon at $65 per ton of CO2, the global-warming impacts to society of this lease sale exceed $70 billion—90 times the price paid for the lease. More than 27,000 people signed a Credo Action petition opposing the fire sale of Wyoming’s sub-prime carbon reserves.
The lease sale still has to be approved by the BLM post-sale panel, which rejected Peabody’s original offer of $0.90 a ton for the coal.
The Smarter Safer Coalition, an effort to reform the National Flood Insurance Program by top insurers, environmental organizations including American Rivers, the Sierra Club, National Wildlife Federation, Environmental Defense Fund, Defenders of Wildlife, Ceres, and the Nature Conservancy, alongside conservative groups such as the Competitive Enterprise Institute, American Conservative Union, and Americans for Tax Reform
The Green Scissors Campaign, an initiative to reduce anti-environmental government spending with Friends of the Earth and Taxpayers for Common Sense.
According to leaked documents, Lehrer brought about $700,000 a year into the Heartland Institute for his Center on Finance, Insurance, and Real Estate, including the majority of Heartland’s corporate funding. The insurers who announced their departure from Heartland include the Association of Bermuda Insurers and Reinsurers, XL Group, Renaissance Re, Allied World Assurance, and State Farm Insurance.
Corporate sponsors of the Heartland Institute who have resisted calls to end their financial support include Microsoft, Pfizer, GlaxoSmithKline, Comcast, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
Heartland’s seventh climate-denier conference will take place in Chicago in two weeks.
The Vulnerability of U.S. Water Resources to Climate Change: From the Mississippi River floods to growing shortages in the West
Speaker: Peter Gleick
Title: An update on the vulnerability of U.S. water resources to climate change: From the Mississippi River floods to growing shortages in the West
The scientific evidence supporting growing impacts of human-induced climate change on U.S. water resources continues to strengthen. Dr. Peter Gleick, one of the nation’s leading experts on climate and water, will discuss recent reports on increased precipitation intensity in North America, the Mississippi River flood events, the new Department of Interior assessment of climate and western river basins, and efforts to prepare for climate and water risks facing cities, farmers, and natural systems. He will also explore some of the adverse implications of recent budget decisions for emergency preparedness and warning systems, weather forecasting, military preparedness, and national response to extreme events.