Text of EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy's Speech on the Clean Power Plan

Posted by Brad Johnson Tue, 03 Jun 2014 16:15:00 GMT

The full text of EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy’s speech introducing the draft rule for greenhouse pollution from existing power plants, June 2, 2014.

Gina McCarthyAbout a month ago, I took a trip to the Cleveland Clinic. I met a lot of great people, but one stood out—even if he needed to stand on a chair to do it. Parker Frey is 10 years old. He’s struggled with severe asthma all his life. His mom said despite his challenges, Parker’s a tough, active kid—and a stellar hockey player.

But sometimes, she says, the air is too dangerous for him to play outside. In the United States of America, no parent should ever have that worry.

That’s why EPA exists. Our job, directed by our laws, reaffirmed by our courts, is to protect public health and the environment. Climate change, fueled by carbon pollution, supercharges risks not just to our health, but to our communities, our economy, and our way of life. That’s why EPA is delivering on a vital piece of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan.

I want to thank Janet McCabe, our Acting Assistant Administrator at the Office of Air and Radiation, and the entire EPA team who worked so hard to deliver this proposal. They should be very proud of their work; I know I am.

Today, EPA is proposing a Clean Power Plan that will cut carbon pollution from our power sector, by using cleaner energy sources, and cutting energy waste.

Although we limit pollutants like mercury, sulfur, and arsenic, currently, there are no limits on carbon pollution from power plants, our nation’s largest source. For the sake of our families’ health and our kids’ future, we have a moral obligation to act on climate. When we do, we’ll turn climate risk into business opportunity, we’ll spur innovation and investment, and we’ll build a world-leading clean energy economy.

The science is clear. The risks are clear. And the high costs of climate inaction keep piling up.

Rising temperatures bring more smog, more asthma, and longer allergy seasons. If your kid doesn’t use an inhaler, consider yourself a lucky parent, because 1 in 10 children in the U.S. suffers from asthma. Carbon pollution from power plants comes packaged with other dangerous pollutants like particulate matter, nitrogen oxides, and sulfur dioxide, putting our families at even more risk.

Climate inaction is costing us more money, in more places, more often. 2012 was the second most expensive year in U.S. history for natural disasters. Even the largest sectors of our economy buckle under the pressures of a changing climate, and when they give way, so do businesses that support them, and local economics that depend on them.

As our seas rise, so do insurance premiums, property taxes, and food prices. If we do nothing, in our grandkids’ lifetimes, temperatures could rise 10 degrees and seas could rise 4 feet. The S&P recently said climate change will continue to affect credit risk worldwide.

This is not just about disappearing polar bears or melting ice caps. This is about protecting our health and our homes. This is about protecting local economies and jobs.

The time to act is now. That’s why President Obama laid out a Climate Action Plan—to cut carbon pollution, build a more resilient nation, and lead the world in our global climate fight.

Today’s proposed Clean Power Plan is a critical step forward. Before we put pen to paper, we asked for your advice. Our plan was built on that advice—from states, cities, businesses, utilities, and thousands of people. Today kicks off our second phase of crucial engagement.

Shaped by public input, present trends, proven technologies, and common sense, our Plan aims to cut energy waste and leverage cleaner energy sources by doing two things: First, setting achievable, enforceable state goals to cut carbon pollution per megawatt hour of electricity generated. And second, laying out a national framework that gives states the flexibility to chart their own, customized path to meet their goals.

All told, in 2030 when states meet their goals, our proposal will result in 30 percent less carbon pollution from the power sector across the U.S. when compared with 2005 levels. That’s like cancelling out annual carbon pollution from two thirds of all cars and trucks in America. And if you add up what we’ll avoid between now and 2030—it’s more than double the carbon pollution from every power plant in America in 2012.

As a bonus, in 2030 we’ll cut pollution that causes smog and soot 25 percent more than if we didn’t have this plan in place. The first year that these standards go into effect, we’ll avoid up to 100,000 asthma attacks and 2,100 heart attacks—and those numbers go up from there.

That means lower medical bills and fewer trips to the emergency room, especially for those most vulnerable like our children, our elderly, and our infirmed. This is about environmental justice, too, because lower income families, and communities of color are hardest hit.

Now let me get into the details of our proposal.

This plan is all about flexibility. That’s what makes it ambitious, but achievable. That’s how we can keep our energy affordable and reliable. The glue that holds this plan together, and the key to making it work, is that each state’s goal is tailored to its own circumstances, and states have the flexibility to reach their goal in whatever way works best for them.

To craft state goals, we looked at where states are today, and we followed where they’re going. Each state is different, so each goal, and each path, can be different.

The goals spring from smart and sensible opportunities that states and businesses are taking advantage of right now. From plant to plug.

Let me tell you about the kinds of opportunities I’m talking about:

We know that coal and natural gas play a significant role in a diverse national energy mix. This Plan does not change that—it recognizes the opportunity to modernize aging plants, increase efficiency, and lower pollution. That’s part of an all-of-the-above strategy that paves a more certain path for conventional fuels in a carbon constrained world.

States also have the opportunity to shift their reliance to more efficient, less polluting plants. Or, instead of low carbon sources, there’s always the opportunity to shift to “no” carbon sources like nuclear, wind, and solar. Since 2009, wind energy in America has tripled and solar has grown ten-fold. Our nuclear fleet continues to supply zero carbon baseload power. Homegrown clean energy is posting record revenues and creating jobs that can’t be shipped overseas.

Those are all opportunities at plants, but what about at the plug? Existing technologies can squeeze the most out of every electron, helping us use electricity more efficiently in our homes and businesses. More efficiency means we need less electricity to cool our refrigerators or charge our phones. For the fuel we burn, let’s get the most bang for our buck.

All of these options are not new ideas. They’re based on proven technologies, proven approaches, and are part of the ongoing story of energy progress in America. Our plan doesn’t prescribe—it propels that progress already underway.

And like I said, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. States can pick from a portfolio of options to meet regional, state, and community needs—from ones I mentioned, or the many more I didn’t, and in any combination. It’s up to states to mix and match to get to their goal.

If states don’t want to go it alone, they can hang out with other states, and join up with a multi-state market based program, or make new ones. More players mean more flexibility and lower costs. States have flexibility not just in means and method, but in timeline, too. Under our proposal, states have to design plans now, and start reducing so they’re on a trajectory to meet their final goals in 2030. That kind of flexibility means a smooth transition to cleaner power that doesn’t leave investments behind.

The flexibility of our Clean Power Plan affords states the choices that lead them to a healthier future: Choices that level the playing field, and keep options on the table, not off. Choices that reflect where we are today, and look to seize opportunities for tomorrow. Choices that are focused on building up, not shutting down, so we can raise the common denominator for a cleaner, low carbon economy that’ll fuel growth for decades to come.

What’s special about the flexibility of our plan is that it doesn’t just give states more options—it gives entrepreneurs and investors more options, too. It’ll deliver the certainty that will unleash market forces that drive even more innovation and investment, and spur even cleaner power and all sorts of new low-carbon technologies. Our plan pulls private investment off the shelves and into our clean energy revolution, and sends it in every direction, not just one or two. The opportunities are tremendous.

The good news is states, cities, and businesses have already blazed the trail. Our clean energy revolution is unfolding in front of us. Just in the past few weeks, I went to Salt Lake City, where the mayor and utilities are teaming up on efficiency. I went to St. Paul, where a science center is recycling energy waste, saving money and teaching kids what we adults are just learning. I’ve seen fortune 500 companies revamp strategies to lower business risk by meeting the demands of a carbon constrained future.

I want to give a shout out to all the local officials, rural co-ops, public power operators, and investor owned utilities leading on climate change: It’s clear that you act not just because it’s reasonable, but because it’s the right thing to do for the people you serve. Governors and mayors of all stripes are leaning into climate action. They see it not as a partisan obstacle, but as a powerful opportunity. And we know that success breeds success. Those of us who’ve worked in state and local government have seen healthy competition push states to share ideas and expertise. That’s when everybody wins.

EPA has had a longstanding partnership with states to protect public health. We set goals, and states are in the driver’s seat to meet them. So releasing the Clean Power Plan shifts the conversation to states. If you’re a teacher, scientist, mechanic, business person—or just someone with a good idea—share your thoughts with your state leaders. Help them see how they can build a plan that will better our future.

I know people are wondering: can we cut pollution while keeping our energy affordable and reliable? We can, and we will. Critics claim your energy bills will skyrocket. They’re wrong. Any small, short-term change in electricity prices would be within normal fluctuations the power sector already deals with. And any small price increase—think about the price of a gallon of milk a month—is dwarfed by huge benefits. This is an investment in better health and a better future for our kids.

In 2030, the Clean Power Plan will deliver climate and health benefits of up to $90 billion dollars. And for soot and smog reductions alone, that means for every dollar we invest in the plan, families will see $7 dollars in health benefits. And if states are smart about taking advantage of efficiency opportunities, and I know they are, when the effects of this plan are in place in 2030, average electricity bills will be 8 percent cheaper.

This plan is a down payment on a more efficient, 21st century power system that cuts energy waste, cuts pollution, and cuts costs. It’s a proven path—a lot of states have been doing it for years. Think about it like this: we set historic fuel efficiency standards that will double the distance our cars go on a gallon of gas. That means you fill up less often, and save more money. Efficiency is a win for our planet and our pocketbooks. That’s how it is in the auto industry, and that’s how it is in the power sector, too. And given the astronomical price we pay for climate inaction, the most costly thing we can do; is to do nothing.

The critics are wrong about reliability, too. For decades, power plants have met pollution limits without risking reliability. If anything, what threatens reliability and causes blackouts is devastating extreme weather fueled by climate change. I’m tired of people pointing to the Polar Vortex as a reason not to act on climate. It’s exactly the opposite. Climate change heightens risks from extreme cold that freezes power grids, superstorms that drown power plants, and heat waves that stress power supplies. And it turns out, efficiency upgrades that slow climate change actually help cities insulate against blackouts.

Despite all that, there are still special interest skeptics who will cry the sky is falling. Who will deliberately ignore the risks, deliberately overestimate the costs, and deliberately undervalue the benefits. But the facts are clear. For over four decades, EPA has cut air pollution by 70 percent and the economy has more than tripled. All while providing the power we need to keep America strong. Climate action doesn’t dull America’s competitive edge—it sharpens it. It spurs ingenuity, innovation, and investment. In 2011, we exported almost 33 percent more cars than we did in 2009—a clear sign of a competitive industry. And our fuel efficiency standards strengthen that.

Companies like Best Buy are investing in low-carbon operations. Bank of America pays its employees to cut carbon pollution, because investors see climate risk as business opportunity. Any business will tell you eliminating waste means more money for other things, like hiring employees. Corporate climate action is not bells and whistles—it’s all hands on deck.

And even without national standards, the energy sector sees the writing on the wall. Businesses like Spectra Energy are investing billions in clean energy. And utilities like Exelon and Entergy are weaving climate considerations into business plans. All this means more jobs, not less. We’ll need thousands of American workers, in construction, transmission, and more, to make cleaner power a reality.

The bottom line is: we have never—nor will we ever—have to choose between a healthy economy and a healthy environment.

There’s a reason empty allegations from critics sound like a broken record. It’s the same tired play from the same special-interest playbook they’ve used for decades. In the 60’s, when smog choked our cities, critics cried wolf and said EPA action would put the brakes on auto production. They were wrong. Instead, our air got cleaner, our kids got healthier—and we sold more cars. In the 90’s, critics cried wolf and said fighting acid rain would make electricity bills go up and our lights go out. They said industry would, quote, die a “quiet death.” Wrong again. Industry is alive and well, our lights are still on, and we’ve dramatically reduced acid rain. Time after time, when science pointed to health risks, special interests cried wolf to protect their own agenda. And time after time, we followed the science, protected the American people, and the doomsday predictions never came true.

Now, climate change is calling our number. And right on cue, those same critics once will flaunt manufactured facts and scare-tactics, standing in our way of our right to breathe clean air, to keep our communities safe, and to meet our moral duty as stewards of our natural resources. Their claims that the science-driven action that’s protected families for generations would somehow harm us flies in the face of history, and shows a lack of faith in American ingenuity and entrepreneurship.

I don’t accept that premise. The President of the United States doesn’t accept that premise. We can lead this fight. We can innovate our way to a better future. It’s what America does best. Yes, our climate crisis is a global problem that demands a global solution, and there’s no Hail Mary play we can call to reverse its effects. But we can act today to advance the ball and limit the dangers of punting the problem to our kids.

It’s no accident that our proposal is a key piece of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan—and key to American leadership in our global climate fight. Although there’s still much work to do to get carbon pollution down to safe levels, I’m hopeful when I see the progress we’ve made. I’m hopeful because I see the pattern of perseverance that defines America.

From the light bulb to the locomotive; from photovoltaic cells to cellphones, America has always turned small steps into giant leaps. We’ve cured diseases, we’ve explored the stars, we’ve connected corners of the globe with the click of a mouse, because when critics say it can’t be done, we say—watch us. That’s what America is made of. We don’t settle. We lead. And that’s how we’ll confront our climate crisis.

When it comes to our Plan, we may not agree on details of how we do it, but we agree on why we do it. When our kids ask us if we did everything we could to leave them a safer, cleaner world, we want to say, yes, we did. When we think of our children—kids like Parker from Cleveland, Ohio—it’s easy to see why we’re compelled to act.

As governors and mayors, as CEOs and school teachers, as faith leaders, nurses, factory workers, and most of all, as parents, we have a moral obligation to ensure the world we leave behind is as safe, healthy, and vibrant as the one we inherited. Our Clean Power Plan is a huge step toward delivering on that promise.

Thank you very much.

Draft EPA Rule Will Seek 17 Percent Cut In Carbon Pollution From Existing Power Plants By 2030

Posted by Brad Johnson Sun, 01 Jun 2014 20:43:00 GMT

The long-awaited Environmental Protection Agency rule for greenhouse pollution from existing power plants will seek a 30 percent reduction from the 2005 peak, the Wall Street Journal’s Amy Harder reports. Half of that reduction has already been achieved in the seven years between 2005 and 2012, where only carbon dioxide emissions are concerned. The draft rule is expected to be unveiled Monday, with a year delay before finalization in 2015. States will be expected to submit compliance plans in June 2016, the final year of the Obama administration.

Because coal-fired power plants emit three-quarters of the greenhouse pollution from electricity generation in the United States, the rule is expected to impact the aging coal-fired fleet of plants, which also cause the lion’s share of traditional air pollution from the country’s power plants.

Coral Davenport of the New York Times summarizes the draft rule:
Under the proposal to be unveiled on Monday, states will be given a wide menu of policy options to achieve the pollution cuts. Rather than immediately shutting down coal plants, states will be allowed to reduce emissions by making changes across their electricity systems – by installing new wind and solar generation, energy-efficiency technology and by starting or joining state and regional “cap-and-trade” programs, in which states agree to cap carbon pollution and buy and sell permits to pollute.

The proposed rule calls for most of the reduction to happen by 2020, with a 25 percent cut from 2005 levels (11 percent cut from 2012) by then.

Carbon-dioxide pollution from electricity generation is already down 15 percent from 2005. This reduction has come primarily from a switch to natural gas and renewables. Any reduction in overall greenhouse pollution from a switch from coal to natural gas requires low levels of methane leakage, a requirement that has not been clearly shown.

Interestingly, the reduction in greenhouse pollution from the proposed rule is about one-third greater than the footprint of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline.

Electricity generation is responsible for one-third of U.S. domestic greenhouse pollution. The announced target represents a reduction of 340 million metric tons of CO2 from 2012 levels, five percent of the United States’ total greenhouse pollution that year. That cut is about double the annual 120-200 MMT/yr climate footprint of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline. The total pollution saved over 2016-2030 due to the rule would be thirty percent greater than the footprint of the tar-sands crude carried by the pipeline.

The international benchmark for greenhouse pollution is 1990 levels. Measured against 1990’s pollution levels, the proposed rule represents a one percent reduction in power plant emissions by 2020, and a 7 percent cut by 2030 (a two percent cut from total U.S. 1990 greenhouse pollution).

The process for establishing the rule was begun by the Obama administration in March 2011, years after the 2007 Massachusetts v. EPA decision by the Supreme Court overturning the EPA’s 2003 rejection of greenhouse regulation.

Update: The EPA has released what it’s calling the Clean Power Plan. The EPA estimates the rule will “cut particle pollution, nitrogen oxides, and sulfur dioxide by more than 25 percent as a co-benefit” and “shrink electricity bills roughly 8 percent by increasing energy efficiency and reducing demand in the electricity system.”

Iowa's Joni Ernst Chalks Up Global Warming to 'Cyclic Changes in Weather'

Posted by Brad Johnson Tue, 20 May 2014 03:06:00 GMT

The leading contender for the Republican nomination to compete for Sen. Tom Harkin’s (D-Iowa) seat doubts the science of climate change and rejects any response that calls for more than voluntary actions. In a May 9, 2014 interview with the Des Moines Register editorial board, Iowa state senator Joni Ernst, a candidate for the U.S. Senate, expressed her disbelief in the science of anthropogenic climate change.

Yes, we do see climates change but I have not seen proven proof that it is entirely man-made. I think we do have cyclic changes in weather, and I think that’s been throughout the course of history. What impact is man-made. . . but I do think we can educate people to make good choices.

In reality, the carbon-dioxide greenhouse effect is a physical fact known since the 1800s. The only scientifically plausible systematic explanation for the rapid and continuing warming of the planetary climate since 1950 is industrial greenhouse pollution.

When asked how she believes the nation should respond to “our current climate situation,” her first recommendation was “encouraging people to, obviously, recycle.” She repeatedly and adamantly opposed “cap and trade” as a “tax on energy” and a “mandate.” She then argued the renewable fuel standard, which mandates the use of ethanol in gasoline, was not a mandate.

During the interview, Ernst expressed the similarly contrarian and evidence-less belief that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction before the United States invaded in 2003.

Ernst has been endorsed for the June 3 Republican primary by the Register, Sarah Palin, the National Rifle Association, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. If she wins, she will face Rep. Bruce Braley in the general election.

Sen. Marco Rubio: "I Do Not Believe That Human Activity Is Causing These Dramatic Changes to Our Climate"

Posted by Brad Johnson Mon, 12 May 2014 01:18:00 GMT

During an interview in which he expressed his readiness to be President of the United States, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) rejected the science of climate change. Rubio told ABC News’ Jonathan Karl on Sunday’s “This Week” that he does not accept the findings of the National Climate Assessment which warned of the damages already occurring in Florida because of human-caused global warming. He went on to claim that “these scientists” are proposing laws to “destroy our economy.”

I do not believe that human activity is causing these dramatic changes to our climate the way these scientists are portraying it. That’s what I do not—and I do not believe that the laws that they propose we pass will do anything about it. Except it will destroy our economy.

Transcript:

KARL: Do you think you’re ready to be president?

RUBIO: I do.

. . .

KARL: But you think you’re ready?

You think you’re qualified?

You think you have the experience to be president, if you make that decision?

RUBIO: I do, but I think we have other people, as well. I think in essence, I think our party is blessed to have a number of people in that position.

And the question is what—who’s vision is the one that our party wants to follow?

. . .

KARL: Miami, Tampa, are two of the cities that are most threatened by climate change. So putting aside your disagreement with what to do about it, do you agree with the science on this? I mean, how big a threat is climate change?

RUBIO: Yes, I don’t agree with the notion that some are putting out there, including scientists, that somehow there are actions we can take today that would actually have an impact on what’s happening in our climate.

Our climate is always changing. And what they have chosen to do is take a handful of decades of research and say that this is now evidence of a longer-term trend that’s directly and almost solely attributable to manmade activity, I do not agree with that.

KARL: You don’t buy it. You don’t buy it.

RUBIO: I don’t know of any era in world history where the climate has been stable. Climate is always evolving, and natural disasters have always existed.

KARL: But let me get this straight, you do not think that human activity, its production of CO2, has caused warming to our planet.

RUBIO: I do not believe that human activity is causing these dramatic changes to our climate the way these scientists are portraying it. That’s what I do not—and I do not believe that the laws that they propose we pass will do anything about it. Except it will destroy our economy.

KARL: It’s talk like that that Rubio hopes will appeal to the conservatives he would need to win the Republican nomination.

Green Responses to the National Climate Assessment

Posted by Brad Johnson Tue, 06 May 2014 15:33:00 GMT

This post collects statements from environmental and progressive organizations in response to the Third National Climate Assessment of the U.S. Global Change Research Program.

Joint statement from Earthjustice, Environmental Defense Fund, Center for American Progress, Natural Resources Defense Council, League of Conservation Voters, League of Women Voters, National Wildlife Federation, Sierra Club:
The National Climate Assessment provides more stark evidence that climate change is happening now and threatening our health, homes, businesses and communities. It must be addressed immediately. The NCA comes only weeks after the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report reaffirmed the overwhelming scientific consensus that climate change is underway and that carbon pollution from human activity is responsible for it. The message from the NCA is blunt. Without action, the damage from climate change on our communities will worsen, including: more asthma attacks and respiratory disease; threats to our food and water supplies as well as our outdoor heritage; and, more violent and deadly storms that shutter businesses and cost billions of dollars in recovery. Next month, the Environmental Protection Agency is expected to unveil an ambitious proposal to set the first-ever federal limits on carbon pollution from existing power plants — the largest U.S. contributor to climate change. We applaud the administration for its commitment to protecting our communities and our economy through the National Climate Action Plan, and call on other public officials to support the plan and these life-saving safeguards.

Sierra Club executive director Michael Brune:

Today’s landmark report is a wake-up call that we simply cannot afford to sleep through yet again. American families are already paying the costs of the extreme weather and health risks fueled by the climate crisis. Now, the nation’s most comprehensive study of climate threats shows the toll on our health, our communities, and our economy will only skyrocket across the country if we do not act. We applaud the Obama Administration for listening to these alarm bells, and urge them to continue to take critical, common-sense steps, including the first-ever limits on carbon pollution from power plants. We don’t just have an obligation to future generations to take action now—we will seize an enormous opportunity as we do. By leaving dirty fossil fuels in the ground and continuing the transition to clean energy solutions like wind and solar, we can create good American jobs and power homes and businesses nationwide without polluting our air, water, or climate.

National Wildlife Federation senior global warming specialist Patty Glick, co-author of the Pacific Northwest chapter:

What strikes me most about this report is how many changes we’re already experiencing and how quickly they’ve occurred. The first National Climate Assessment back in 2000 was considered a look into the future, but just 14 years later, we’re no longer just talking about forecasts and models. Today we’re reporting on the changes we’re already seeing in our own backyards, and frankly I’m alarmed at the speed. Compared to previous projections, we’re seeing temperatures rising faster, oceans more quickly becoming acidic, fish and wildlife habitat shifting sooner than many species can adapt. That we’re seeing so many changes so rapidly is a call to act now to prevent these changes from overwhelming us in the future. We must confront the underlying cause of climate change by cutting carbon pollution, investing in clean energy and saying no to dirty energy. And we will also need to step-up efforts to prepare for and adapt to the impacts climate change already is having on our communities and wildlife by promoting climate-smart approaches to conservation.

Green For All Executive Director Nikki Silvestri:

The National Climate Assessment finds what we know to be true. Climate change is real and affects neighborhoods all across the United States – especially those hit first and worst, communities of color and low-income Americans. We are already paying more for heat and air conditioning to stay comfortable during record high or low temperatures. Severe droughts and floods in America’s agricultural areas strain food production. People are losing loved ones and homes due to extreme weather. We can’t disregard the environment any longer. We need to expand jobs in clean energy and make sure disadvantaged communities have a shot at them. We need to encourage people to come together to plant gardens and promote sustainable lifestyles. We also need to prepare ourselves to leap forward into a healthier future after a hurricane, blizzard, or flood — not just bounce back to where we were before. The good news is that our leaders are already acting on climate change. We are excited by the potential impacts of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan and support the Administration’s efforts to cut emissions from future and existing power plants. We are eager to see the National Climate Assessment move this work forward, so we can build cleaner, stronger communities.

Environment America Executive Director Margie Alt:

We’ve known for decades that global warming threatens our future. This report shows how our families and communities are being harmed today. Today’s report explains the science behind what farmers, first responders, flood insurers, victims of hurricane Sandy and other major storms have seen firsthand: global warming is increasing the frequency of extreme weather events, contributing to sea level rise, and increasing drought, and no region of the country is off the hook. In less than a month, the Environmental Protection Agency is expected to propose limits on carbon pollution from existing power plants for the first time. Despite power plants being the largest source of carbon pollution in the county, they have gone for decades without the kinds of limits they have for soot, smog, and other dangerous air pollution. This isn’t the only action we need to solve the climate crisis. But limiting carbon pollution from power plants is a major step that will move us dramatically closer to staving off the worst impacts of climate change.

Fossil-industry backed Center for Climate and Energy Solutions President Eileen Claussen:

The Third National Climate Assessment makes clearer than ever that climate change is taking a toll here and now, and that it poses growing risks to communities across the country. Based on an exhaustive review of the latest scientific evidence, the report brings it home to Americans that we are not immune to threats posed by climate change to our infrastructure, water supplies, agriculture, ecosystems, and health. The impacts vary from region to region – more competition for water in the arid West, more heavy downpours in the Northeast and Midwest, and rising sea levels fueling powerful storm surges along the Gulf Coast. What is clear is that every region faces impacts that could be costly and severe. Motivated in part by the billions in damages caused by recent extreme weather events, many companies are starting to take action to build their climate resilience, as documented in our “Weathering the Storm” report. Companies, communities, and individuals all need to better manage climate risks, both by reducing carbon emissions and by becoming more climate-resilient. Investments in mitigation will give our adaptation efforts a greater chance of success. We agree with the NCA: More must be done across the public and private sectors to reduce - and to safeguard ourselves against - the rising risks of a warming planet.

Center for American Progress Distinguished Senior Fellow Carol M. Browner (Browner is also on the leadership council of the nuclear-industry group Nuclear Matters):

Once again the scientific community is sounding the alarm, this time with the National Climate Assessment, and reaffirming that carbon pollution is driving climate change, fueling more violent and frequent weather events, and threatening public health. The NCA underscores the urgency to address climate change and the biggest step the Obama administration can take is to set the strongest possible limits next month when they unveil the first-ever limits on carbon pollution from existing power plants. Tackling climate change will require a comprehensive plan to reduce carbon pollution, improve energy efficiency, and innovate our way to cleaner and safer sources of energy. The EPA and the states must work together to develop solutions that cut carbon pollution and move us toward a cleaner energy future.

American Lung Association Assistant Vice President and Director, Healthy Air Campaign Lyndsay Moseley Alexander:

Today’s Assessment released by the Administration affirms what we’ve long known about the urgent need to address the health effects of climate change. Too often, the health impacts of climate are left out of the conversation. In the new National Climate Assessment, the message is clear: climate change threatens our ability to protect our communities, especially those most vulnerable, against the dangers of air pollution, increased allergens, extreme weather, and wildfire. We must meet the climate challenge now if we want to protect the health of millions of Americans living with asthma and other lung diseases, as well as children, seniors, low income and minority communities. This Assessment comes on the heels of the American Lung Association’s most recent 2014 State of the Air report that found that nearly half of the people in the United States (147.6 million) live in counties with unhealthy levels of either ozone or particle pollution, nearly 16 million more than in the last report. The “State of the Air” report confirms that warmer temperatures increased ozone pollution in large areas across the United States. For example, of the 25 metro areas most polluted by ozone, 22 had worse ozone problems including Los Angeles, Houston, Washington-Baltimore, Las Vegas, Phoenix, New York City, Cincinnati, Chicago, and Philadelphia in large part due to heat waves in 2010 and 2012. Drought and wildfires threaten communities with clouds of dust and smoke that can shorten life. Extreme weather events leave families living in damp homes, inhaling moldy debris and soot as they recover. Longer pollen seasons release allergens that can worsen asthma and other lung diseases. As we see on-going record-setting drought in the West and recent record-breaking rain in the East, we know that these changes already exist. They can get worse. As a nation, we have a very important choice to make. Placing first-ever limits on carbon pollution from existing power plants is a vital step to prevent the worst effects of climate change. We cannot allow politics and pressure from polluters to slow clean-up of carbon pollution. Unless we adopt strong carbon standards, the National Climate Assessment shows that reducing air pollution and protecting our families and our neighbors will become even more challenging.

Natural Resources Defense Council president Frances Beinecke:

Our leading scientists send a stark message: Climate change is already seriously disrupting our lives, hurting our health and damaging our economy,” Beinecke said. “If we don’t slam the brakes on the carbon pollution driving climate change, we’re dooming ourselves and our children to more intense heat waves, destructive floods and storms, and surging sea levels. Fortunately, the Obama Administration is taking action – by setting standards for cleaner more efficient cars and, within weeks, by issuing the first-ever nationwide limits on carbon pollution from our existing power plants. Cleaning up the air is a win-win: It can create thousands of jobs, expand energy efficiency and lower electric bills while improving public health. That’s the climate legacy we can, and must, leave future generations.

Natural Resources Defense Council health and environment program senior scientist Kim Knowlton, co-author of the Human Health Chapter:

This report shows how climate change’s effects are now firmly in the present, posing threats to our health—and that of our children, and their children. Rising temperatures increase the frequency and intensity of dangerous heat waves, worsen illnesses like asthma, contribute to the spread of insects that carry infectious diseases, and fuel more dangerous storms and flooding. We have important opportunities now to limit climate change’s worst effects by cutting carbon emissions. At same time, we can prepare to deal with what’s happening now, and for what’s coming, to protect communities and people.

Union of Concerned Scientists Climate and Energy Program director of government affairs Robert Cowin:

The stakes keep getting higher as emissions increase and as scientists learn more about the risks of climate change. The report clearly outlines the need to make climate resilience a national priority. We’re already feeling the impact of climate change and the costs are formidable. Ideally, we’d have a price on carbon to reduce emissions and help pay for climate resilience measures. In the meantime, Congress can do more to make infrastructure and industry less vulnerable to climate change and extreme weather.

World Resources Institute U.S. Climate Initiative director Kevin Kennedy:

The National Climate Assessment brings to light new and stronger evidence of how climate change is already having widespread impacts across the United States. The report confirms what numerous scientific authorities have been saying: climate change is fundamentally altering our nation’s environment and poses a significant threat to our health and our economy. Thankfully, there are solutions available if leaders act quickly to tackle climate change head on. Further delay will only accelerate climate change and raise the costs of addressing its impacts. Next month, the Obama administration is expected to take a critical step forward by introducing the first-ever federal limits on carbon pollution from existing power plants. Power plants produce one-third of U.S. emissions and represent the greatest opportunity for the U.S. to drive down its emissions. This will be a major – though not the only – step along the way to put America on course for a safer, low-carbon future.

World Wildlife Fund vice president for climate change Lou Leonard:

Often we consider climate change tomorrow’s problem, but this report reads like it was ripped from today’s headlines. The assessment paints the clearest picture yet that extreme weather and climate disruption are already here, impacting communities across America, and it’s not pretty. If we want to avoid the dangerous future predicted in this report, we need to start today by doing two things: use the information in the report to prepare our communities for these risks; and change the way our country chooses and uses energy. The Administration’s work to set new standards for old, dirty power plants is a key step toward a renewable energy future and puts our nation on the road to meeting President Obama’s mid-century goal of reducing emissions by 80%. This isn’t a typical climate report. Over the past several years, experts from around the country have contributed to and led its creation: local university professors, experts from state and local agriculture and water resources agencies, and leaders from the private sector. The report was created by America’s best and we need to use it to protect America’s communities and natural wonders. In addition to addressing current and future impacts to our climate and oceans, this is the first national assessment that details response strategies, including the need to avoid the most extreme impacts by rapidly driving down emissions of greenhouse gases. The next steps couldn’t be clearer. We need to use this practical report as a guidebook for preparing local communities for extreme weather and other climate impacts. At the same time, we need to transform the way we produce and use energy, leaving dirty coal, oil and gas behind. There is no time to lose. The longer we wait, the more costs and suffering we will endure.

New York Times Joins the Bumbling Keystone XL Cops

Posted by Brad Johnson Fri, 25 Apr 2014 13:21:00 GMT

Coral Davenport
Coral Davenport
In a New York Times Earth Day story, the usually excellent Coral Davenport grossly misrepresents the Keystone XL tar-sands pipeline’s true impact on global warming, and questions the wisdom of pipeline opponents like the activists now encamped on the National Mall.

The pipeline is intended to ship upwards of 830,000 barrels of tar-sands crude a day for a 40-year lifespan. The pipeline will add 120-200 million tons of carbon-dioxide-equivalent to the atmosphere annually, with a lifetime footprint of 6 to 8 billion tons CO2e. That’s as much greenhouse pollution as 40 to 50 average U.S. coal-fired power plants. Furthermore the Keystone XL pipeline is recognized by the tar-sands industry as a key spigot for the future development of the Alberta tar sands, which would emit 840 billion tons CO2e if fully exploited.

Interviewing Washington insiders who have offered various forms of support for the Keystone XL project, Davenport claims instead that “Keystone’s political symbolism vastly outweighs its policy substance.” To support the claim, Davenport then erroneously underestimates the global warming footprint of the pipeline by a factor of ten. Davenport’s crucial error is to contrast the actual carbon footprint of existing fossil-fuel projects — such as US electric power plants (2.8 billion tons) and tailpipe emissions (1.9 billion) — to the impact of the pipeline’s oil being dirtier than traditional petroleum, without explaining that she was switching measurements:
Consider the numbers: In 2011, the most recent year for which comprehensive international data is available, the global economy emitted 32.6 billion metric tons of carbon [dioxide] pollution. The United States was responsible for 5.5 billion tons of that (coming in second to China, which emitted 8.7 billion tons). Within the United States, electric power plants produced 2.8 billion tons of those greenhouse gases, while vehicle tailpipe emissions from burning gasoline produced 1.9 billion tons.

By comparison, the oil that would move through the Keystone pipeline would add 18.7 million metric tons of carbon [dioxide] to the atmosphere annually, the E.P.A. estimated.

[There are two side errors in the passage: Davenport uses “tons of carbon” where she means “tons of carbon dioxide equivalent”. One ton of carbon is the equivalent of 3.67 tons of carbon dioxide. All of her numbers refer to tons of carbon dioxide-equivalent. Secondly, the estimate was not made by the E.P.A. but by a State Department contractor hired by TransCanada; the E.P.A. cited that analysis but did not make the calculations.]

What the oil-industry contractor for the State Department actually calculated is that the oil that would move through the Keystone pipeline would add 147-168 million metric tons of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere annually, 1.3 to 27.4 million of which (central estimate 18.7 million from the draft assessment) are because tar-sands crude is dirtier than other petroleum sources. Those 18.7 million tons are the “incremental” or “additional” footprint of the pipeline, not the full 160 million-ton footprint.

Based on this order-of-magnitude measurement-switching error, Davenport incorrectly concludes that “the carbon emissions produced by oil that would be moved in the Keystone pipeline would amount to less than 1 percent of United States greenhouse gas emissions, and an infinitesimal slice of the global total.”

In fact, the carbon dioxide emissions produced by oil that would be moved in this single pipeline would amount to 3 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, and half a percent of the global carbon footprint. Only thirty-two countries have larger annual footprints than this single tar-sands project.

Climate scientist John Abraham made this point in The Guardian last week. “People who think Keystone is a minor issue don’t understand science and they sure don’t understand economics,” he wrote.

Jason Bordoff
Jason Bordoff
How on earth could Davenport and the pipeline supporters she cites — Michael Levi of the Council on Foreign Relations, Kevin Book of the fossil-industry consultancy ClearView Energy Partners, former Obama White House climate advisor Jason Bordoff of Columbia University’s Center on Global Energy Policy, Adele Morris of the Brookings Institution, and fossil-industry lobbyist David Goldwyn (a former advisor for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and also a Brookings fellow) — make this basic and outsized mistake?

Putting aside any possible political and economic motivations to support the intentions of the global petroleum industry, the intellectual failure rests on an obvious error made subtle through convolution.

Whether one is looking at actual or incremental footprints of carbon-infrastructure projects, the results should be equivalent from a policy standpoint, although the numbers would be different. Why, then, does the incremental analysis used by the EPA and the State Department’s oil-industry contractors appear to give the absurd result that the Keystone XL impact is “infinitesimal”?

The methodology of incremental footprint analysis assumes a baseline of future projected carbon pollution, and then looks whether a given project would increase or decrease the baseline. The validity of incremental-footprint analysis thus depends on the baseline.

In line with scientific warnings, President Barack Obama and the U.S. State Department have committed to limiting global warming to below 2°C above pre-industrial levels. In the International Energy Agency’s 2°C scenario, global oil consumption would fall by 50 percent from current levels by 2050, within the intended operating lifetime of the Keystone XL pipeline.

The Keystone XL final environmental impact statement instead assumes that global oil demand will increase over that time period. The baseline used is the Energy Information Administration’s 2013 Annual Energy Outlook, which projects that global oil consumption will increase by 30 to 40 percent by 2040. In that scenario, the world would be on a pathway for rapid and catastrophic global warming of 4 to 6°C (or greater) by 2100.

No matter the analysis, the Keystone XL pipeline is incompatible with climate security. The global-warming impact of constructing Keystone XL is only “infinitesimal” if you assume catastrophic global warming is inevitable and that the signed climate pledges of the United States government are worthless.

Perhaps Ms. Davenport should ask Levi, Book, Bordoff, Morris, and Goldwyn if that is their assumption.

Update May 2: The Times has posted a correction:

Correction: May 2, 2014

An article and an accompanying chart on April 22 comparing the projected Keystone XL pipeline with other sources of carbon emissions referred imprecisely to projected emissions from tar-sands oil moving through the pipeline. Producing and burning that oil would emit 18.7 million more metric tons annually than would conventional oil, or far less than 1 percent of United States emissions, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. The tar-sands oil would not emit 18.7 million tons total, but about 150 million tons, or less than 3 percent of United States emissions.

The correction itself is in error; the estimate of 18.7 million metric tons is not from the E.P.A., but is from the draft assessment prepared by TransCanada contractor Environmental Resources Management for the State Department.

A Review of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Budget for Fiscal Year 2015

Posted by Brad Johnson Thu, 27 Mar 2014 13:00:00 GMT

Witness

  • Charles F. Bolden, Jr., Administrator, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

Statement of The Honorable Charles F. Bolden, Jr. Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration before the Subcommittee on Space Committee on Science, Space and Technology U. S. House of Representatives

Mr. Chairman and Members of the Subcommittee, I am pleased to have this opportunity to discuss NASA’s FY 2015 budget request. The requested budget of $17.46 billion provides the resources NASA needs to pursue the goals and priorities that the Congress and the Administration have established for the Agency and will ensure that NASA will remain the world’s leader in space. A summary of the FY 2015 budget request is appended to this statement.

The President’s FY 2015 request supports NASA’s continuing quest to extend human presence into deep space and on to Mars. NASA will continue to perform research aboard the International Space Station (ISS), partner with American industry for crew and cargo delivery to low Earth orbit (LEO), develop the Space Launch System (SLS) and Orion crew vehicle, and test our new capabilities in the proving ground of cis-lunar space before sending a human mission to the Red Planet. NASA will also continue to develop a rich array of commercial and international partnerships as part of its overall exploration framework. As we speak, American astronauts aboard the ISS are learning the fundamental lessons necessary to safely execute extended missions deeper into space. Later this year we will see the Exploration Flight Test-1 (EFT-1) of Orion atop a Delta IV Heavy launch vehicle. NASA is pressing forward with development of SLS and Orion, preparing for a first, uncrewed mission in FY 2018. As a critical element in this long-term exploration strategy, as well as a source of continuing scientific and material benefits to life on Earth, operations in LEO remain among NASA’s highest priorities. With the Administration’s commitment to the extension of ISS operations through 2024, NASA looks forward to expanded research opportunities with continuing support from our commercial partners for both crew and cargo. Two American companies are launching supplies to the ISS from U.S. soil. NASA will complete a commercial crew competition this summer, and if Congress fully funds our FY 2015 budget request, we believe we can stay on track to launch astronauts to the ISS from American soil by the end of 2017. This capability is critically important to safe/sustained operations, and will end our sole reliance on our Russian partners for this service. The requested funding is required to meet this critical near-term need.

Consistent with the 2010 NASA Authorization Act (P.L. 111-267) and the National Space Policy, NASA continues to make solid progress on the development of SLS and Orion for a series of test flights including a compelling mission in the proving ground of cis-lunar space to redirect a small asteroid into orbit around the Moon, and to send U.S. astronauts to rendezvous with and explore this target. The proving ground of cis-lunar space also puts the Nation in a position from which we may help our commercial and international partners robotically explore other destinations on that pathway, such as the Moon.

The Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM) will enable NASA to test powerful Solar Electric Propulsion (SEP) and integrated human/robotic vehicle operations in deep-space trajectories. Like the invaluable ISS, this mission will provide NASA with critical knowledge, experience and technologies for future human exploration missions deeper into space. Drawing on our long-term investments across three Mission Directorates, the FY 2015 request supports continued core capability development and formulation of the integrated mission concept. The overall asteroid initiative also includes enhanced Near Earth Object (NEO) detection and characterization, which will extend our understanding of the NEO threat while providing additional opportunities for investigations of asteroids and demonstrations of technologies and capabilities.

NASA’s FY 2015 request for Science supports operation of the world’s premier constellation of spacecraft dedicated to exploring Earth, the solar system, and the universe beyond, while we continue to develop the next generation of missions in pursuit of our Nation’s highest priority space and Earth science. The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), NASA’s next-generation successor to the Hubble Space Telescope (HST), continues on schedule for its 2018 launch. In recent months, NASA has completed rigorous testing of the spine of the massive telescope and completed the primary mirrors for integration. As we announced last year, we have begun work on a large Curiosity-scale rover for a 2020 mission to Mars, and the FY 2015 request includes funding to continue pre-formulation activities of a potential mission to Europa, one of Jupiter’s moons believed to harbor a vast subsurface ocean. NASA will launch five Earth science missions in calendar year 2014, taking advantage of the unique vantage point of space to secure new insights into our home planet. The Earth science budget will support airborne campaigns to the poles and hurricanes, development of advanced sensor technologies, and use of satellite observations and data analysis tools to improve natural hazard and climate change preparedness.

With NASA’s FY 2015 request, our pioneering Aeronautics research program will continue to focus on substantially reducing aircraft fuel consumption, emissions, and noise – and help make the Next Generation Air Transportation System, or NextGen, a reality. NASA’s Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate (ARMD) will continue to implement the strategic vision for aeronautics that NASA launched last year, with a focus on addressing the challenges facing the U.S. aviation community – civil and military – in the coming decades.

In essential support of the Agency’s broader mission, the FY 2015 request supports an active Space Technology Program to advance cutting-edge technologies, providing an on-ramp for new space technologies, creating a pipeline that matures them from early-stage through flight, and delivering innovative solutions that dramatically improve technology capabilities for NASA, the aerospace sector, and the Nation. The request supports the sustained investments that NASA must make to mature the capabilities we need to achieve the challenging goals that the Congress has set for us. By the end of FY 2014, NASA will test and deliver two candidate designs for high-power solar electric systems for SEP with critical applications for deep-space exploration as well as for Earth-orbital activities. By the end of calendar year 2015, NASA will have completed seven Space Technology missions in 24 months, including demonstration of a deep-space atomic clock for advanced navigation, the green propellant demonstration (an alternative to highly toxic hydrazine), a solar sail to demonstrate propellant-free propulsion, and four small spacecraft missions pioneering new technologies. The Space Technology Program is also developing high performance systems for decelerating spacecraft at Mars, high bandwidth laser communications with the potential to transform communication systems for both space exploration and commercial use, advanced life support technology, advanced robotics, and lightweight composite propellant tanks.

The program laid out in detail in NASA’s FY 2015 request continues NASA’s implementation of the priorities established for it in the bipartisan NASA Authorization Act of 2010. In the current constrained budget environment, we have designed a balanced program that pursues the Nation’s highest priorities in science, exploration, and aeronautics; with a critical technology development program to develop essential capabilities. The FY 2015 request supports the next steps on the way to Mars in a sustainable way. It enables NASA to restore an American capability for sending humans to orbit while continuing development of a deep-space capability for human space flight. This is not an either-or scenario. Each is critically dependent on the other. The request supports the Nation’s highest priority science and technology goals for space. NASA appreciates the strong budget support the Agency has received despite a difficult budget environment, and we are fully committed to delivering the world’s leading space program on behalf of the American people.

NASA is pleased to be included in the President’s Opportunity, Growth, and Security Initiative (OGSI). Under this initiative, NASA would receive nearly $885.5 million in additional funding in FY 2015 to focus on specific priorities. This initiative recognizes NASA as a critical source of innovation and technology that creates opportunity, economic growth, and ultimately security and prosperity. NASA’s funding under OGSI would focus on priority investment opportunities such as an expanded Space Technology Program, reducing risk and enhancing competition in the Commercial Crew Program, continuing currently operating science missions and accelerating work on potential future missions. NASA’s portion of OGSI would also enable further development work on SLS and Orion, more fully utilize the ISS, and support additional Earth Science mission development, advanced computational fluid dynamics research and increased investment in composite materials.

Science

With 95 missions in development and actively observing Earth, the Sun, the planets, and the universe beyond, NASA remains the world’s premier space science organization and the critical source of information on the home planet. The President’s FY 2015 budget request for the Science program includes $4,972.0 million, with $1,770.3 million for Earth Science, $1,280.3 million for Planetary Science, $607.3 million for Astrophysics, $645.4 million for the James Webb Telescope, and $668.9 million for Heliophysics.

Earth Science

The President’s FY 2015 budget request enables NASA to continue to make critical spaceborne measurements of Earth, our home; to conduct and fund a comprehensive, competed scientific research program to turn those measurements into an understanding of our complex planet; and to use the measurements and understanding to develop and demonstrate applications that will provide direct benefit to our Nation, and indeed all of humanity. Today, there are 17 NASA- developed research satellites on orbit, making measurements of more than 60 key aspects of our planet’s environment. Just a few weeks ago, in collaboration with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), the Global Precipitation Measurement mission (GPM) was launched to provide the first-ever, accurate, global maps of rain- and snowfall over the globe. During the rest of 2014, NASA will be launching four more Earth observing research missions: Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2) to measure global carbon dioxide concentrations with unprecedented coverage and accuracy; RapidScat to the ISS, to make measurements of ocean wind speed and direction; Cloud-Aerosol Transport System (CATS), also to the Space Station, to measure atmospheric aerosols; and, in November, the Soil Moisture/Active Passive (SMAP) mission to make accurate measurements of soil moisture and freeze-thaw cycling. These 2014 missions will be followed in 2015-2017 by the SAGE-III (Stratospheric Aerosol and Gas Experiment III) instrument to the ISS for atmospheric trace gas profile data, including ozone measurements; the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE)-Follow On gravity mission with our German partners to measure changes in the Earth’s gravity field and water storage, such as aquifer level changes; a constellation of eight smallsats, called Cyclone Global Navigation Satellite System (CYGNSS), to use reflected Global Positioning System (GPS) signals to measure conditions in cyclones and hurricanes; an instrument called Tropospheric Emissions: Monitoring of Pollution (TEMPO) to fly on a commercial geostationary communications satellite, to measure air quality over greater North America; and Ice, Cloud, and land Elevation Satellite-2 (ICESAT-2), to make precise measurements of our planet’s rapidly changing ice caps and glaciers. NASA is now developing the Pre-Aerosol, Clouds and ocean Ecosystem (PACE) ocean color and aerosol continuity mission, and the NASA-Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) Synthetic Aperture Radar (NI-SAR) mission in collaboration with the Indian space agency to measure solid earth processes, ice flows, global vegetation, and response to disasters and geohazards. The FY 2015 budget request also supports NASA to develop missions that will continue key climate data series, including a set of solar irradiance, ozone profile, and Earth radiation budget instruments, and follow-on capabilities in support of U.S. Geological Survey for sustained land imaging following our successful launch of Landsat-8 just one year ago.

Astrophysics and James Webb Space Telescope

NASA is making strong progress on JWST, the most powerful space telescope in history, and remains on cost and schedule for launch in 2018. The Webb telescope is the next in a series of astrophysics missions, including the venerable, yet still unrivaled, HST and the incredibly productive Kepler exoplanet mission, which are revolutionizing our understanding of the universe. After launching in 2018, the Webb telescope will travel one million miles from Earth, unfold its sunshield to the size of a tennis court, and keep its instruments cooled to a temperature of 370-387 degrees below zero Fahrenheit (40-50 Kelvin). The Webb telescope will allow us to observe objects even fainter than HST can see, which will allow us to study every phase in the history of our universe, ranging from the first luminous glow after the Big Bang, to the formation of solar systems capable of supporting life on planets like Earth, to the evolution of our own solar system. The FY 2015 request will support work to continue testing the integrated science instrument module for JWST, continue the construction of the spacecraft that will carry the science instruments and the telescope, and begin the assembly of the delivered mirror segments into the telescope backplane. NASA’s Astrophysics Program operating missions include the Hubble, Chandra, Spitzer, and Kepler telescopes; and other missions that together comprise an unrivaled, and in many ways unprecedented resource for the study of our universe. NASA is currently working with our German partner to identify a path forward for the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA), a mission with high annual operating costs that cannot be accommodated within the FY 2015 budget request. In FY 2015, NASA’s next two astrophysics Explorer missions will continue their development. The Neutron Star Interior Composition Explorer (NICER) will probe the interiors of neutron stars and determine the laws of physics that govern atomic nuclei. NICER will be launched to the ISS in 2016. The Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) will extend the pioneering work of the Kepler Space Telescope, which showed us that virtually every star in the sky has a planetary system. TESS launches in 2017 and will discover rocky exoplanets orbiting the nearest and brightest stars in the sky in time for the JWST to conduct follow-up observations that will characterize their atmospheres and other properties.

Planetary Science

Planetary science missions continue to explore the solar system in unrivaled scope and depth. This past November, the Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) was successfully lowered into its optimal position in lunar orbit to enable science data collection. Using its ion engines, the Dawn spacecraft is nearing its next target, Ceres, the largest asteroid in the asteroid belt, with an expected arrival in April 2015. Other upcoming outer planet encounters include the New Horizons mission flyby of Pluto in July 2015 and the Juno mission orbit insertion around Jupiter in August 2016. The FY 2015 budget request also includes funding for continuing pre-formulation activities and studies for a potential mission to Jupiter’s icy moon, Europa; with compelling evidence of a liquid water ocean beneath its crust, exploration of Europa is vital to our understanding of the habitability of other planets. Building on the success of NASA’s Curiosity rover on Mars, the FY 2015 request supports plans for a robust multi-year Mars program. In a little more than a year on the Red Planet, Curiosity has landed in an ancient river bed, determined the age of the surrounding Martian rocks, found evidence the planet could have sustained microbial life, taken the first readings of radiation on the surface, and shown how natural erosion could be used to reveal the building blocks of life protected just under the surface. Curiosity is providing vital insight about Mars’ past and current environments that will aid plans for future robotic and human missions. The current Mars portfolio includes the Curiosity and Opportunity rovers, the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, the Mars Odyssey orbiter, and our collaboration on the European Space Agency’s Mars Express orbiter. It also includes the new Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN) orbiter, launched in 2013 to study the Martian upper atmosphere, which will arrive at the Red Planet in mid-September 2014. Future missions include the 2016 Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport (InSight) mission, which will take the first look into the deep interior of Mars; participation in the European Space Agency’s 2016 and 2018 ExoMars missions; and the new Mars rover planned for launch in 2020. The FY 2015 budget request includes enhanced funding for NASA’s Near Earth Object survey and characterization activities in support of the ARM effort, as well as to protect our planet. Just last year, the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer spacecraft was reactivated, renamed NEOWISE and given a renewed mission to assist NASA’s efforts to identify the population of potentially hazardous near-Earth objects (NEOs). NEOWISE’s first discovery of its renewed mission came on December 29, 2013 – a large near-Earth asteroid designated 2013 YP139, which was about 27 million miles from Earth with an estimated diameter of roughly 0.4 miles. NEOWISE can also assist in characterizing previously detected asteroids that could be considered potential targets for future exploration missions.

Heliophysics

NASA’s Heliophysics Program is composed of 29 spacecraft and the associated research to understand the universal physical phenomena of magnetized plasmas and their interactions. These include the influence of the Sun in our local region of the galaxy, the origins of solar variability, and the coupling among various regions at the Earth and other planetary systems. Last year, NASA successfully launched the Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph (IRIS), a Small Explorer mission. Within a few months, IRIS provided a new understanding of how the outer solar atmosphere is heated to over a million degrees. The FY 2015 budget request will support completion of development of the Magnetospheric Multiscale (MMS) mission, which will launch in 2015 to investigate how magnetic fields connect and disconnect, often releasing tremendous amounts of energy in the process. NASA will continue to develop the Solar Probe Plus (SPP) mission for a planned launch in FY 2018, together with our instrument contributions to the European Space Agency’s Solar Orbiter mission; Solar Probe Plus will repeatedly pass through the hot outer atmosphere of the Sun, to within five times the Sun’s diameter, which is much closer than any man-made object ever has flown before. Finally, the Explorer missions selected in 2013 to study Earth’s outer atmosphere – Ionospheric Connection (ICON) and Global-scale Observations of the Limb and Disk (GOLD) – are in their preliminary design phases for planned launches in 2017.

Aeronautics Research

NASA’s Aeronautics research is making air travel cleaner, safer, and more efficient. NASA’s FY 2015 budget request provides $551.1 million to fulfill the Agency’s strategic research agenda. This innovative research is aimed at transforming the aviation industry through game-changing advances in the safety, capacity, and efficiency of the air transportation system, while minimizing negative impacts on the environment. NASA’s FY 2015 research portfolio is aligned with six strategic research thrusts to directly address the growing global demand for mobility, severe challenges to sustainability of energy and the environment, and technology advances in information, communications, and automation technologies. This portfolio includes those activities in our current portfolio deemed to be the most relevant and critical, as well as new activities focused on high-risk, forward thinking ideas to address aviation’s big problems. The Agency will clearly define the most compelling technical challenges facing the aviation industry, and retire these challenges in a time frame that is supported by stakeholders and required by NASA’s customers. Over the next two years, NASA will continue to develop, demonstrate, and transition to industry and the Federal Aviation Administration new vehicle and airspace management concepts and technologies to help realize the promise of NextGen, as well as provide technical data, analysis and recommendations to support the integration of unmanned aerial systems (UAS) into the National Air Space. We will strengthen our external partnerships through joint flight experiments using alternative aviation fuels and advanced flight deck and vehicle technologies, and through demonstrations of advanced sensors to improve safety and identify emerging faults before damage occurs. By the end of FY 2015, NASA will close out the six-year Environmentally Responsible Aviation project with a series of integrated technology demonstrations to demonstrate the feasibility of a suite of technologies to meet our aggressive environmental goals. Through the alignment of our research portfolio to address the most critical challenges facing the aviation sector, NASA will be best positioned to continue supporting the global competitiveness of the U.S. aviation industry that contributes to a $47 billion positive balance of trade, infuses $1.3 trillion annually into the U.S. economy and supports more than 10 million direct and indirect jobs1,2. NASA is truly with you when you fly.

Space Technology

NASA’s FY 2015 request includes $705.5 million for Space Technology, to enable our future in space, drawing on talent from the NASA workforce, academia, small businesses, and the broader national space enterprise, by delivering innovative solutions that dramatically lower costs and improve technological capabilities for NASA and the Nation. By the end of FY 2014, NASA will test and deliver two candidate designs for large deployable solar array systems, power processing units, and advanced thrusters to support a flight demonstration of SEP. In addition to being important to the future of human spaceflight and the ARM effort, high-power SEP can enable orbit transfer capability for satellites, and addresses the rapid power demand increases facing today’s communications satellites. Having successfully demonstrated a 2.4-meter propellant tank in 2013, NASA will complete testing a 5.5-meter diameter composite tank to enable lower-mass rocket propellant tanks for future systems, including the SLS. By the end of 2015, NASA will have completed seven Space Technology missions in 24 months, including demonstration of a deep-space atomic clock for advanced navigation that has commercial application for improving GPS systems, the green propellant demonstration (a higher-performing, less toxic alternative to hydrazine), a solar sail to demonstrate propellant-free propulsion, and four small spacecraft missions pioneering new technologies. Building on recent successes with its Low Density Supersonic Decelerator, NASA plans to conduct high-speed tests – at an altitude of 170,000 feet – of the largest planetary parachute ever developed to enable precise landing of higher-mass payloads to the surface of other planets, with particular focus on infusing advanced capabilities into the Mars 2020 mission and future human exploration missions. NASA’s Space Technology investments are aligned with NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations and Science Programs to reduce technological barriers and mission risk, and to foster affordable missions. The Space Technology Game Changing Development effort is delivering advanced life-support, advanced robotics, and battery technologies for system demonstrations planned by Human Exploration and Operations. For Science, Space Technology is improving navigational accuracy, developing advanced computing and avionics, and developing advanced Entry, Descent, and Landing (EDL) solutions, observatory technology, and optical communication technology to transmit large amounts of science data from deep space. Space Technology is partnering with Human Exploration and Operations and Science on many activities, including demonstration of in-situ resource utilization, optical communications, and advanced measurements on Mars. These precursor activities will pave the way and reduce risk for future Mars exploration.

Exploration and Space Operations

NASA is building the capabilities and knowledge to send humans farther from the home planet then we have ever been before. The FY 2015 budget request for Exploration is $3,976.0 million with $2,784.4 million for Exploration Systems Development, $848.3 million for Commercial Space Flight, and $343.4 million for Exploration Research and Development. Space Operations, including the ISS and Space Flight Support, form a critical component of the Agency’s exploration plans by enabling us to develop the knowledge, experience, and technology necessary for safely living and working in space. The FY 2015 request for Space Operations is $3,905.4 million, with $3050.8 for ISS and $854.6 for Space Flight Support (SFS).

Exploration Systems

The FY 2015 request will enable NASA to continue to meet its milestones in the development of the Space Launch System (SLS), a rocket system ultimately capable of bringing an unprecedented 130 metric tons of payload to Earth orbit. The Orion program continues on track for an uncrewed test flight later this year. This test flight, Exploration Flight Test-1 (EFT-1), will see Orion conduct two orbits of Earth and reenter the atmosphere at approximately 85 percent of lunar re- entry speed of a returning deep-space exploration mission. The test will provide valuable data about the spacecraft’s systems – most importantly its heat shield and structure. The flight test article for this mission is already in place at the Kennedy Space Center and being readied for this test. The FY 2015 budget request supports progress toward a first uncrewed test of the Orion and the SLS together, known as Exploration Mission-1 (EM-1) in FY 2018, with the first crewed mission of the two vehicles slated for FY 2021-2022. Orion, SLS, and Exploration Ground Systems (EGS) are using the latest in systems and manufacturing technology to develop the safe and sustainable systems this country needs to extend human presence to Mars. Examples include Orion’s use of time-triggered gigabit Ethernet, SLS’ use of friction-stir welding on large structures to build the Core Stage, and EGS’ replacement of cables from Pad 39B with the latest in fiber optics. In developing the Orion, SLS, and EGS, NASA is building a national capability for the long-term human exploration of space.

International Space Station

The FY 2015 request supports the ISS with its international crew of six orbiting Earth every 90 minutes. The Station is making deep-space exploration possible, as we build on the knowledge and experience we are gaining from the astronauts living, working, and conducting research on the ISS. On January 8, 2014, the Administration announced it is committing the United States to the extension of ISS operations through at least 2024. This will allow NASA to complete many of the research and technology development activities aboard the ISS necessary to enable planned long-duration human missions beyond LEO; extend the broader flow of societal benefits from research on the Station, which has already resulted in a discoveries that could have significant medical and industrial implications; provide NASA and its private-sector partners time to more fully transition to the commercial space industry the transportation of cargo and crew to LEO; instill confidence in the science community that the ISS platform will be available for important, long-term research endeavors; and help cement continuing U.S. leadership in human spaceflight going forward. NASA’s plans for the coming year include preparing for an extended duration, year-long human-crewed mission – slated to launch in March 2015 – to explore human adaptation to space; and continuing to utilize the ISS to improve our ability to live and work in space, including conducting technology demonstrations enabling future exploration. The Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) continues to manage the National Laboratory research being conducted in the U.S. segment of the ISS by an array of organizations, including commercial researchers interested in taking advantage of this unique, microgravity facility. One company, NanoRacks, uses standardized hardware to provide a microgravity research option for scientists working in venues ranging from grade school to academia to industry. During its first three years of business, NanoRacks sent 91 investigations to ISS, returned 10 to Earth, and deployed one CubeSat – a new area of focus using satellites that measure about four inches on all sides.

Commercial Crew and Cargo

A top priority for NASA and the Nation is to affordably and safely launch American astronauts and their supplies from U.S. soil, ending our sole reliance on foreign providers and bringing that work back home. Under NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) contracts, Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) was awarded 12 cargo flights to the ISS, and Orbital Sciences Corporation (Orbital) was awarded 8 flights. Counting demonstration flights and CRS resupply flights, SpaceX has now completed three cargo missions to the ISS, successfully delivering cargo and returning scientific samples to Earth, with the fourth mission expected to launch in the next few days. Orbital Sciences Corporation has completed their demonstration mission to the ISS and their first contract mission under CRS to deliver crew supplies, research and other cargo onboard the Cygnus spacecraft. NASA continues to work with its commercial partners to develop a U.S. commercial capability for human spaceflight and plans to launch American astronauts from U.S. soil by the end of 2017. 2014 will be a pivotal year for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program (CCP) as the Agency intends to award development and certification contract by August/September for the Commercial Crew Transportation Capability (CCtCap) phase that would lead to operational crewed flights to the ISS. Competition is a key to controlling costs over the long term, and NASA’s Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel has opined that competition should be maintained until safety confidence is achieved. Through the successful execution of this partnership, we will return to the United States the vital capability to launch astronauts to the ISS from U.S. soil and return them to Earth.

Education

The Administration is proposing increased interagency coordination of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education investments, aligned with the Five-Year Strategic Plan released last year by the Committee on STEM Education (CoSTEM). The FY 2015 budget request for Education will enhance the impact of the Federal investment in STEM Education through greater interagency coordination and cooperation in support of a cohesive national STEM strategy focused on four priority areas: K-12 instruction, undergraduate education, graduate fellowships, and informal education activities. The Office of Education will continue its intra-agency consolidation of certain educational programs to eliminate duplication of efforts and achieve maximum leverage of resources. The FY 2015 budget request of $88.9 million consolidates education activities in the Office of Education, including several elements that may be transferred from NASA’s mission directorates under a competitive process. The FY 2015 budget request for the Education account includes funding for the National Space Grant College and Fellowship Program, the Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR), and the Minority University Research and Education Project (MUREP), and STEM Education and Accountability Projects. These education investments link to NASA’s research, engineering, and technology missions. Each of these investments provides unique NASA experiences and resources to students and faculty. The budget also provides $15 million to the Science Mission Directorate to competitively fund the best application of NASA Science assets to meet the Nation’s STEM education goals.

Conclusion

Mr. Chairman, thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today to provide you with our progress and status over the past year. I would be pleased to respond to any questions you or the other Members of the Subcommittee may have.

Data-Driven Efforts To Boost Climate Change Preparedness and Resilience

Posted by Brad Johnson Wed, 19 Mar 2014 21:00:00 GMT

On Wednesday, March 19, the White House, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) will host an event highlighting the Administration’s commitment to empower America’s communities with the information they need to prepare for the impacts of climate change. The event will include new announcements from Federal agencies, businesses, researchers, academia, and others to deploy data-driven technologies and leverage freely available open government data to build products and services that strengthen our Nation’s ability to prepare for the effects of climate change today and in the future.

The Obama Administration recognizes that even as we act to curb the carbon pollution that is driving climate change, we must also improve our ability to prepare for climate impacts that are already occurring across the country. The insights gathered from scientific data are essential to help communities and businesses better understand and manage the risks associated with climate change. The cutting-edge technologies built by American innovators and businesses must be harnessed in order to unleash the insights of science in ways that directly benefit communities on the front lines of climate change.

Over the past few years, the Obama Administration has launched a series of Open Data Initiatives, which have released troves of valuable data that were previously hard to access in areas such as energy, health, education, public safety, and global development. These data are being used by innovators, businesses, researchers, and the public to create new services and applications that benefit Americans.

  • John Podesta, Counselor to the President
  • Dr. John P. Holdren, Assistant to the President for Science and Technology and Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy
  • Mike Boots, Acting Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality
  • Dr. Kathryn D. Sullivan, NOAA Administrator and Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere
  • Dr. Ellen Stofan, NASA Chief Scientist
  • Jack Dangermond, CEO of Esri
  • Rebecca Moore, Founder of Google Earth Engine
  • Rachel Kyte, World Bank Group Vice President & Special Envoy for Climate Change
  • Joel Dunn, Executive Director, Chesapeake Conservancy
  • Denice Ross, Director of Enterprise Information, City of New Orleans
  • Stephen Harper, Global Director, Environment and Energy Policy, Intel Corporation

The event will also feature remarks, presentations, and demonstrations of data-driven tools by private-sector technology companies, communities, scientists, and other climate experts.

MEDIA REGISTRATION: This event is OPEN PRESS. Media wishing to cover this event must RSVP. Press holding White House hard passes must send their name, media outlet, phone, and email, to media_affairs@who.eop.gov, by Wednesday, March 19, at 12:00PM ET, with the subject line “CLIMATE.” Press not holding White House hard passes must include their full legal name, date of birth, Social Security number, gender, country of citizenship, and current city and state of residence. All press will enter the White House at the Northwest Gate.

Nate Silver Hires Climate 'Trickster' Roger Pielke Jr

Posted by Brad Johnson Wed, 19 Mar 2014 18:26:00 GMT

Nate SilverNate Silver’s new ESPN venture has hired political scientist and blogger Roger Pielke Jr. as one of its first contributing writers, Silver announced Friday. Pielke Jr., a fellow at the University of Colorado’s CIRES program, is known primarily for defending climate deniers like Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) and attacking climate scientists and environmental advocates in the public sphere. Pielke Jr. is the son of climate scientist Roger Pielke Sr., one of the handful of contributing climatologists who question the scientific consensus of the threat of anthropogenic warming. Silver’s embrace of Pielke Jr. is surprising, as Pielke’s record of misusing statistics and misinterpreting scientific information goes against Silver’s record of data-based analysis and reporting.

In 2009, prominent climate scientist Stephen Schneider harshly criticized Pielke Jr. for engaging in “sleazy” semantic games to mislead the public.
I can’t figure him out, except that one consistent pattern emerges-he is a self-aggrandizer who sets up straw men, knocks them down, and takes credit for being the honest broker to explain the mess-and in fact usually adds little new social science to his analysis.

Rep. Paul Broun (R-Ga.) Thinks Global Warming is a Hoax

Posted by Brad Johnson Mon, 24 Feb 2014 20:28:00 GMT

During the floor debate on the American Climate and Energy Security Act (HR 2454) on June 26, 2009, Rep. Paul C. Broun Jr. (R-Ga.) declared that global warming is a hoax.
Now we hear all the time about global warming. Actually, we have had flat-line temperatures globally for the last 8 years. Scientists all over this world say that the idea of human-induced global climate change is one of the greatest hoaxes perpetrated out of the scientific community. It is a hoax. There is no scientific consensus.

In reality, the carbon-dioxide greenhouse effect is a physical fact known since the 1800s. The only scientifically plausible systematic explanation for the rapid and continuing warming of the planetary climate since 1950 is industrial greenhouse pollution.

Broun is a member of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology. He has received 146,050 from the energy sector including $87,550 in lifetime political contributions from the oil and gas industry, of which $33,500 is from Koch Industries and $31,750 from Georgia Power.

BROUN: This bill is going to kill millions of jobs in America. People are going to be put out of work because of this bill.

Now we hear all the time about global warming. Actually, we have had flat-line temperatures globally for the last 8 years. Scientists all over this world say that the idea of human-induced global climate change is one of the greatest hoaxes perpetrated out of the scientific community. It is a hoax. There is no scientific consensus.

But this is going to kill jobs. It’s going to raise the cost of food. It’s going to raise the cost of medicines. It’s going to raise the cost of electricity and gasoline. Every good and service in this country is going to go up, and who is going to be hurt most? The poor, the people on limited income, the retirees, the elderly, the people who can least afford to have their energy taxes raised by, MIT says, over $3,100 per family.

This rule must be defeated. This bill must be defeated. We need to be good stewards of our environment, but this is not it. It’s a hoax.

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