Biden Names John Kerry As Special Climate Envoy, With Seat on National Security Council

Posted by Brad Johnson Mon, 23 Nov 2020 21:08:00 GMT

President-elect Joe Biden has named former senator and Secretary of State John Kerry as his special envoy for climate, sitting on the National Security Council. Throughout his long career of public service, Kerry has been an ardent environmentalist who seeks to find common ground through diplomacy. His approach has found greater success on the international stage than with American conservatives, despite repeated attempts.

As a Massachusetts senator, Kerry worked desperately to salvage climate legislation when it was abandoned by the Obama White House following the Tea Party uprising of 2009. Lacking a unified Democratic caucus, Kerry tried without success to find Republican votes for climate legislation by working with former running mate Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.).

As Obama’s second Secretary of State, John Kerry’s diplomatic leadership was key to the successful Paris agreement, which marked a dramatic turnaround from the 2009 debacle of the Copenhagen climate talks. His support for killing the Canada-to-US Keystone XL tar-sands pipeline – in response to powerful pressure from climate activists – was also a change in direction from Kerry’s predecessor Hillary Clinton, who fast-tracked the permit process for the project. Like Clinton, however, Secretary of State Kerry was bullish on fracking as a means of energy diplomacy, despite its threat to the climate.

Kerry’s diplomatic approach has borne less fruit at home. Republicans such as Newt Gingrich and Donald Trump mocked Secretary Kerry for calling global warming “perhaps the world’s most fearsome weapon of mass destruction,” presaging the burn-it-all-down Trump presidency.

During the Trump years, Kerry founded a new organization called World War Zero, still attempting to find Republicans to get on board with climate action. Although Kerry’s organization supposedly intends to build a broad coalition of climate activists, World War Zero’s Republican participants include climate-science skeptic John Kasich, who mocks youth climate activists and vilifies the Green New Deal.

In his role Kerry will face several challenges unresolved by previous administrations. To date, immigration, trade, peace, and climate policy have been treated as wholly distinct milieus by government and advocates alike. Remarkably, even energy and climate diplomacy have largely operated on parallel tracks, with clashing agendas.

A critical test will be whether Kerry has say over international trade agreements which have always trumped climate negotiations. The so-called free-trade agenda has rendered international climate deals moot.

Similarly, it remains to be seen if Kerry will be an effective spokesman for the global South as it is ravaged by fossil-fueled storms and floods and drought, destabilizing governments and fueling the global migration crisis.

The military euphemism is that climate pollution is a “threat multiplier” – in other words, global conflict is now defined by the devastation to human civilization that results from the industrial destabilization of a habitable climate.

In response to this rising destabilization, right-wing movements around the globe have seized on the politics of militarized nativism and environmental exploitation, described approvingly by white-nationalist ecologist Garrett Hardin as “lifeboat ethics” in 1974.

One hopes that Kerry’s position on the National Security Council could mean the US military may shift away from its longtime role as the armed protection for the global oil industry. Kerry is highly interested in the military’s role during the Anthropocene. With his World War Zero campaign, Kerry has brought together a long list of military brass and former Defense Department officials.

Unfortunately, the primary narrative for climate policy within military circles is one of responding to the rising threats of climate destruction, with little to no engagement in ending climate pollution.

Of course, Kerry can’t guide international climate policy on his own. The makeup of Biden’s team will determine what is possible.

Rahm Emanuel, the neoliberal who was instrumental in killing White House support for climate legislation as Obama’s chief of staff, is being considered for U.S. Trade Representative. His selection would be a devastating setback.

Biden campaign advisor Heather Zichal, who has become notorious for joining the fracked-gas industry after leaving the Obama White House, came to prominence as the top Kerry climate policy staffer on his presidential campaign and in his Senate office. Zichal has been mentioned as a possible high-level staffer in the Biden White House despite broad opposition from climate activists.

Biden’s pick for Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, began his career studying fossil-fuel geopolitics. He wrote his dissertation in the 1980s on the Siberian pipeline crisis, in which the Reagan administration imposed far-reaching sanctions on oil-sector technology sharing in an attempt to block the pipeline’s construction. Blinken criticized the sanctions effort. His career since has been interventionist and pro-fossil-fuel development.

Surmounting the challenges of being Biden’s international climate czar will be a life-defining test for the 76-year-old statesman.

"Climate Mandate": Sunrise and Justice Democrats Call For a Green New Deal Biden Cabinet

Posted by Brad Johnson Tue, 17 Nov 2020 14:32:00 GMT

The youth-led Sunrise Movement and progressive political group Justice Democrats have teamed up for the Climate Mandate campaign to push President-elect Biden to assemble a progressive governing team. Their message:

“President-elect Joe Biden defeated Donald Trump with the highest youth turnout ever. Now, Joe Biden must assemble a powerful governing team to stop the climate crisis, create millions of good-paying jobs, address systemic racism, and control the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The “Climate Cabinet” should have no ties to fossil fuel companies, or corporate lobbyists; be representative of America; and “fight with the urgency that the climate crisis demands,” the groups say.

In addition, they are calling for the formation of the White House Office of Climate Mobilization to coordinate efforts across agencies.

They offer three recommendations each for many Cabinet-level agencies, with a top pick listed first. The list leans heavily into the progressive caucus of the House of Representatives, not surprisingly previously endorsed for election by the groups. The list does not include some major departments, like Defense and Energy. Some of their recommendations, like Rep. Deb Haaland (D-N.M.) for Interior, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) for Treasury, and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) for Labor, are known to be on Biden’s short list of candidates.

People can support the effort by signing a petition for a “fierce and creative governing team” to “build back better from the crises we’re in.”

In an aggressive video promoting the effort, the groups ask of Biden: “Will he be the leader of the American majority, or will he be Mitch McConnell’s vice president?”

Their recommended picks:

Harvard Magazine "Climate Crisis" Cover Article Features Nine White Men (And One Woman)

Posted by Brad Johnson Sat, 31 Oct 2020 01:49:00 GMT

Climate Crisis: Can We Dial It Down?,” the November cover issue of the magazine sent to all of Harvard University’s thousands of alumni, is yet another in a long line of climate-change think pieces by white men interviewing other white men.

(Understandably, all of the interviewees are professors or alumni of Harvard University.)

The piece, written by managing editor Jonathan Shaw ‘89, hits the traditional technocratic notes with such an approach – a physics-heavy understanding of the enormity of the global crisis, some trenchant words from Bill McKibben questioning neoliberalism, and then several pages of discussion of the potential deployment of new technology, from electric vehicles to direct air capture and solar geoengineering (blotting out the sun with stratospheric pollution to cool the earth).

Nine of the ten interviewees are white men:

  • Dan Schrag, director of the Harvard University Center for the Environment
  • Bill McKibben, Harvard ’82, journalist and climate activist
  • James Stock, professor of political economy
  • Richard Zeckhauser, professor of political economy
  • Joseph Aldy, professor of the practice of public policy
  • David Keith, professor of public policy and applied physics
  • Peter Huybers, a professor of earth and planetary sciences and of environmental science and engineering
  • Raymond Pierrehumbert, Harvard ’76, professor of physics at Oxford
  • Frank Keutsch, professor of engineering and atmospheric science

The tenth, Katharine Mach, Harvard ’04, an associate professor at the University of Miami School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, provides a voice of caution about geoengineering.

Shaw gives the last word to Schrag’s perspective that the catastrophe of man-made global warming may compel the catastrophe of deliberate man-made global cooling. This hubristic logic of destructive escalation has of course led to great tragedy throughout human history. Harvard’s role in one such disaster, the Vietnam War, was detailed in David Halberstam’s “The Best and the Brightest.”

Shaw was not able to incorporate a section on climate refugees into the cover article; the piece appears as a sidebar in the printed magazine. It features his other female interviewee, Jennifer Leaning, professor of the practice of health and human rights at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and associate professor of emergency medicine at Harvard Medical School.

The nine men interviewed are highly intelligent and accomplished men who have dedicated their lives to understanding and combatting the climate crisis. But like all people they do so within the constraints of their skills, experiences, and social position; their numerous commonalities (including those with the author of the piece) lead to a stunted vision of what is at stake and what can be done, let alone what should be done, about the poisoning of our climate system for the profit and power of the few.

An intentional corrective to this bias and limited perspective can be found in the newly published All We Can Save, an anthology of climate essays and poems by 50 racially and geographically diverse women, co-edited by Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson, Harvard ‘02.

Biden: Climate Change Is 'The Number One Issue For Me'

Posted by Brad Johnson Wed, 28 Oct 2020 17:16:00 GMT

Speaking on the Pod Save America show, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden explained that acting on climate change is his top priority and why he doesn’t expect another fossil-fueled electricity plant to be built in the United States.

Biden told hosts Dan Pfeiffer and Jon Lovett, both former Obama White House staff, “It’s the number one issue facing humanity. And it’s the number one issue for me.”

Biden’s campaign is running multiple ads on television and the Internet highlighting the costs of climate pollution to Americans and Donald Trump’s climate denial.

Biden argued that because of the Recovery Act “which [Obama] gave me the authority to run,” “we were able to invest in bringing down the cost of renewable energy to compete with coal, gas, and oil.” The Recovery Act did play a significant role in spurring renewable energy deployment, including wind manufacturing, although other countries have seen solar power costs decline even more rapidly than the U.S. (The Recovery Act’s energy components were primarily overseen by Joseph Aldy.)

“It’s becoming a fait accompli,” Biden continued, “No one’s going to build another oil or gas-fired electric plant. They’re going to build one that is fired by renewable energy.”

Biden’s prediction runs counter to current industry projections, which bullishly expect continued growth even though Biden is right about the financial advantage of renewable power. If a Biden administration restores sanity to the U.S. power market by eliminating distortionary subsidies for the construction of new natural-gas plants, his expectation may come true.

In the interview, Biden went on to claim that in the 1980s he was “the first person ever to lay out the need to deal with global warming,” and that Politifact said “it was a game changer.” This bit of puffery refers to his successful introduction in 1987 of the Global Climate Protection Act, amending Rep. George Brown (D-Calif.)’s 1978 Global Climate Program Act (15 USC Chapter 56) to explicitly discuss manmade global warming as a U.S. policy priority.

Biden was far from the first in the world (or in the U.S. Congress) to call attention to the greenhouse effect, however. Scientists raised the specter of global warming in congressional testimony in the 1950s and 1960s, and the Clean Air Act of 1970 explicitly mentioned climate pollution. Hearings for Rep. Brown’s legislation began in 1976.

Politifact has confirmed Biden’s considerably less grandiose claim that he was “one of the first guys to introduce a climate change bill,” which is entirely accurate. However, Politifact did not call his bill a “game changer,” a false claim Biden has repeatedly made. Rather, they cited Josh Howe, a professor of history and environmental studies at Reed College, who said it was “important not to overstate the impact of Biden’s bill.”

Consistent with the campaign spots, Biden explained why he believes “we have a moral obligation to everyone” to act on climate change:
Look what’s happening right now. You just look around the United States of America. Forests are burning at a rate larger than Connecticut and Rhode Island combined being lost. People are losing their homes, their lives. In the middle of the country, we’re in a situation where you have 100-year floods occurring every several years wiping out entire, entire counties, and doing great damage.

He argued that the United States makes up “15 [percent] of the problem” and other countries are responsible for the rest. (The United States is actually responsible for about 25 percent of cumulative climate pollution.)

Calling it “bizarre” that everyone doesn’t recognize the economic potential of climate action, Biden noted that “the fastest growing industries are solar and wind.” This remarkable claim is essentially correct: solar panel installers and wind turbine technicians share the top three spots with nurse practitioners as the fastest growing professions in the United States.

Biden noted these jobs are “not paying 15 bucks an hour, they’re paying prevailing wage.” He did overstate the quality of these jobs, saying they pay “45 to 50 bucks an hour, plus benefits,” or a $90,000 annual salary. The actual median wage of solar installers and wind technicians is closer to $50,000, which is still considerably more than a $15-an-hour ($30,000 annual) salary.

The solar industry largely opposes unionization, something Biden has elsewhere pledged to change.

Full Transcript:

2020 Climate and Energy Ballot Initiatives

Posted by Brad Johnson Mon, 26 Oct 2020 15:09:00 GMT

Columbus' ballot initiative would give Ohio's largest city 100% renewable electricity.
Although there are fewer climate ballot initiatives than in 2018, there are some important local measures on the ballot this November. In particular, Columbus, Ohio has an initiative to confirm AEP as its monopoly electricity provider as part of a plan to rapidly reach 100% renewable electricity.

The only major statewide initiatives are in Alaska and Louisiana, both of which have ballot measures to increase oil drilling taxes.

Here is a review of climate and energy initiatives, measures, and state constitution amendments on the ballot this November 3, drawn from Ballotpedia and Earther's Dharna Noor:


Alaska Ballot Measure 1, the North Slope Oil Production Tax Increase Initiative: The campaign Vote Yes for Alaska's Fair Share proposed the ballot initiative to increase taxes on oil production fields located in Alaska's North Slope that exceeded certain output minimums. According to Robin Brena, chairperson of Vote Yes for Alaska's Fair Share, three oil production fields—Alpine, Kuparuk, and Prudhoe Bay—met those criteria. BP ($4.54 million), Conoco Phillips ($4.70 million), Hilcorp Energy ($4.3 million), and ExxonMobil ($3.74 million) are funding the campaign to defeat Measure 1.

California Proposition 15, the Tax on Commercial and Industrial Properties for Education and Local Government Funding Initiative, would require commercial and industrial properties, except those zoned as commercial agriculture, to be taxed based on their market value, rather than their purchase price, overturning part of 1978's Proposition 13.

"Oil and gas companies are among the biggest forces lobbying against this measure because they could stand to lose out on a lot of money if it passes," according to Noor. For example, Contra Costa County, the home of Chevron's oil refinery in Richmond, would gain about $400 million a year in property taxes.

Opponents are falsely claiming Prop 15 would harm California's solar industry.

Louisiana Amendment 2, the Include Oil and Gas Value in Tax Assessment of Wells Amendment: This amendment would allow the presence or production of oil or gas to be taken into account when assessing the fair market value of an oil or gas well for ad valorem property tax purposes. It is supported by Louisiana's oil and gas industry.

Louisiana Amendment 5, the Payments in Lieu of Property Taxes Option Amendment: amends the state constitution to authorize local governments to enter into a cooperative endeavor agreement with new or expanding manufacturing establishments -- such as the oil and gas facilities -- and allowing the manufacturing establishments to make payments to the taxing authority of whatever amount instead of paying property taxes.

This amendment is widely opposed by environmental, religious, and other civic organizations.

"The main lobbying force behind this measure is Cameron, a liquified natural gas firm," writes Noor. "Last year, based on a payment in lieu of taxes agreement, the company paid just $38,000 in taxes. But if it had to pay their full taxes, it would have paid $220 million. The company’s agreement is now expiring, so it’s fighting to make it—and other agreements like it—last forever."

These kinds of industry tax breaks are why Louisiana stays poor forever, explains Together Louisiana:

Michigan Proposal 1, the Use of State and Local Park Funds Amendment: makes changes to how revenue in the state's park-related funds can be spent, including (a) making projects to renovate recreational facilities eligible for grants and (b) requiring that at least 20% of the parks endowment fund spending be spent on park capital improvements, and (c) removing the cap on the size of the natural resources trust fund. The initiative has split the climate movement in the state, as the measure "would allow Michigan’s Parks Endowment Fund to sell off oil and gas leases on public lands," Noor writes. "After that fund is full, any additional oil and gas money would go into a Natural Resources Trust Fund, which is also used for natural resources protection and recreation."

The Michigan Democratic Party, conservation organizations, and the Michigan Oil and Gas Association support the measure, but the Michigan Sierra Club and the Environmental Caucus of the Michigan Democratic Party stands in opposition.

Nevada Renewable Energy Standards Initiative Question 6 (2020) is the required second vote on the initiative, passed in 2018, to add language to the Nevada Constitution requiring the state's Renewable Portfolio Standard to increase to 50 percent by 2030. In 2018, this ballot initiative was approved as Question 6, and therefore needs to be approved again in 2020 to amend the Nevada Constitution. On April 22, 2019, Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) signed Senate Bill 358 (SB 358), which was designed to require the same RPS percentage by 2030 as the amendment on the ballot.

New Mexico Constitutional Amendment 1, the Public Regulation Commission Amendment: changes the utility-oversight Public Regulation Commission (PRC) from an elected five-member commission to an appointed three-member commission. New Mexico's PRC is currently dominated by fossil-fuel supporters. Climate organizations overwhelmingly support the amendment.

"Supporters of the measure say that New Mexico is unlikely to meet its 100% clean energy target under its current system because the commissioners’ elections are so often riddled with corporate money," Noor writes. "Under the new system, a bipartisan nominating committee, which would include at least one representative from a local Indigenous group, would come up with a list of environmental experts from the state, and the governor could choose which ones to appoint."


Albany, California, Measure DD, Utility Tax: A “yes” vote supports authorizing an increase to the utility users tax from 7% to 9.5% and application of a 7.5% tax on water service, generating an estimated $675,000 per year for general services including disaster preparedness, reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, emergency response and environmental services.

Berkeley, California, Measure HH, Utility Tax: A “yes” vote supports authorizing an increase to the utility users tax from 7.5% to 10% on electricity and gas and a 2.5% increase to the gas users tax, generating an estimated $2.4 million per year for municipal services including reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Boulder, Colorado, Ballot Measure 2C, Public Service Company Franchise, and Measure 2D, to Repurpose the Utility Occupation Tax: These initiatives would allow the city of Boulder to abandon its efforts to establish a 100% renewable-electricity municipal utility and instead enter a long-term monopoly agreement with Xcel Energy with less ambitious renewable targets.

Local climate organizations overwhelmingly oppose 2C.

Denver, Colorado, Ballot Measure 2A, Sales Tax to Fund Environmental and Climate-Related Programs and TABOR Spending Limit Increase: A "yes" vote supports authorizing the city and county of Denver to levy an additional 0.25% sales tax generating an estimated $40 million per year to fund climate-related programs and programs designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution, thereby increasing the total sales tax rate in Denver from 8.31% to 8.56%.

Columbus, Ohio, Issue 1, Electric Service Aggregation Program Measure: A "yes" vote supports authorizing the city to establish an Electric Aggregation Program, which would allow the city to aggregate the retail electrical load of customers within the city's boundaries, and allowing customers to opt-out of the program. If passed, the City of Columbus will develop a detailed plan for operation and management of aggregation; include in the plan a commitment to 100 percent renewable energy; and commit to encourage development of renewable-energy facilities in Central Ohio. AEP is financing the campaign in support of the initiative. If voters approve the aggregation program, AEP Energy would lock in most of Ohio’s largest city as its power customer for up to 15 years; the program would be the largest outside California, the company says. The initiative is also strongly backed by local and national environmental organizations and trade unions. The Ohio Coal Association stands against the proposal.

Portland, Oregon, Measure 26-219, Uses of Water Fund Charter Amendment: A "yes" vote supports amending the city's charter to authorize the city council to spend monies from the Water Fund and increase rates to cover expenses for general public uses, such as neighborhood green areas and community gardens.

The various other tax, policing, infrastructure, and campaign finance initiatives on the ballot have climate justice implications, as do, of course, the candidate elections.

Report: Big Law Overwhelmingly Supports Big Carbon

Posted by Brad Johnson Thu, 01 Oct 2020 21:11:00 GMT

The 2020 Law Firm Climate Change Scorecard is the first to detail the scale of top law firms’ role in the climate crisis. Using the best data available, the Law Students for Climate Accountability assessed litigation, transactional, and lobbying work conducted by the 2020 Vault Law 100 law firms—the 100 most prestigious law firms in the United States—from 2015 to 2019.

Their findings:

  • Vault 100 firms worked on ten times as many cases exacerbating climate change as cases addressing climate change: 286 cases compared to 27 cases.
  • Vault 100 firms were the legal advisors on five times more transactional work for the fossil fuel industry than the renewable energy industry: $1.3 trillion of transactions compared to $271 billion of transactions.
  • Vault 100 firms lobbied five times more for fossil fuel companies than renewable energy companies: for $36.5 million in compensation compared to $6.8 million in compensation.
There are four firms that have only engaged in pro-climate work in the covered period, earning an A grade:
  • Cozen O’Connor
  • Schulte Roth & Zabel
  • Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton
  • Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati
The worst firms include:
  • Paul, Weiss worked on as many cases exacerbating climate change as 62 other Vault 100 firms combined.
  • Allen & Overy was the legal advisor on more transactional work for the fossil fuel industry than 78 other Vault 100 firms combined.
  • Hogan Lovells lobbied more for fossil fuel companies than 92 other Vault 100 firms combined.
  • Latham & Watkins is the only firm to be in the Top 5 Worst Firms for both transactions and litigation exacerbating climate change

The report also details the work that Latham & Watkins, Norton Rose Fulbright, Vinson & Elkins, Gibson Dunn, Baker Botts, and Greenberg Traurig did on behalf of the Dakota Access Pipeline project, including numerous efforts to crack down on the water defenders.

The group is calling on law students and firms to take the Law Firm Climate Responsibility Pledge to stop taking on new fossil fuel industry work, continue to take on renewable energy industry work and litigation to fight climate change, and to completely phase out fossil fuel work by 2025.

Top 5 Worst Firms for Litigation
  • Paul Weiss: 21 cases (7x the average)
  • Gibson Dunn: 18 cases
  • Sidley Austin: 16 cases
  • Latham & Watkins: 13 cases
  • Tie: Baker & Hostetler / Baker Botts / Munger, Tolles: 10 cases
Top 5 Worst Firms for Transactions
  • Allen & Overy: $153,365,000,000 (15x the average)
  • Vinson & Elkins: $108,217,000,000
  • Latham & Watkins: $94,815,000,000
  • Clifford Chance: $83,708,000,000
  • Milbank: $59,180,000,000
Top 5 Worst Firms for Lobbying
  • Hogan Lovells: $7,085,000 (24x the average)
  • Akin Gump: $6,820,000
  • Squire Patton Boggs: $4,755,000
  • McGuire Woods: $2,320,000
  • Steptoe & Johnson: $1,920,000

Download the full report.

The Biden-Trump Climate Debate, Transcribed With An Attempt At Accurately Portraying Trump's Interruptions And Identifying His Falsehoods

Posted by Brad Johnson Thu, 01 Oct 2020 01:47:00 GMT

WALLACE: I would like to talk about climate change.
BIDEN: So would I.
WALLACE: Okay. The forest fires in the west are raging now. They have burned millions of acres. They have displaced hundreds of thousands of people. When state officials there blame the fires on climate change, Mr. President, you said, 'I don't think the science knows.' Over your four years, you have pulled the US out of the Paris climate accord. You have rolled back a number of Obama environmental records [sic]. What do you believe about the science of climate change and what will you do in the next four years to confront it?
TRUMP: I want crystal clean water and air. I want beautiful clean air. We have now the lowest carbon. If you look at our numbers right now, we are doing phenomenally. [Ed.: False.] But I haven't destroyed our businesses. Our businesses aren't put out of commission. If you look at the Paris accord, it was a disaster from our standpoint. And people are actually very happy about what is going on, because our businesses are doing well.

As far as the fires are concerned, you need forest management in addition to everything else. The forest floors are loaded up with trees, dead trees that are years old, and they're like tinder and leaves and everything else. You drop a cigarette in there, the whole forest burns down. You've gotta have forest management, you've gotta have cuts ...
WALLACE: What do you believe about the science of climate change, sir?
TRUMP: Uh, I believe that we have to do everything we can to have immaculate air, immaculate water and do whatever else we can that's good. You know, we'e planting a billion trees, the billion tree project, and it's very exciting to a lot of people.
WALLACE: Do you believe that human pollution, gas, greenhouse gas emissions contributes to the global warming of the planet?
TRUMP: I think that lot of things do, but to an extent yes, I think to an extent yes, but I also think we have to do better management of our forests. Every year, I get the call, California's burning, California is burning. If that was cleaned, if that were, if you had forest management, good forest management, you wouldn't be getting those calls. You know, in Europe they live their forest cities. They're called forest cities and they maintain their forests. I was with the head of a major country it's a forest city. He said, 'Sir, we have trees that are far more, they ignite much easier than California. There shouldn't be that problem.' [Ed.: He completely made this up.] I spoke with the Governor about it. I'm getting along very well with the governor. But I said, 'At some point you can't every year have hundreds of thousands of acres of land just burned to the ground.'
WALLACE: But sir ...
That's burning down because of a lack of management.
WALLACE: But sir, if you believe in the science of climate change, why have you rolled back the Obama Clean Power Plan which limited carbon emissions and power plants? Why have you relaxed...?
TRUMP: Because it was driving energy prices through the sky.
WALLACE: Why have you relaxed fuel economy standards that are going to create more pollution from cars and trucks?
TRUMP: Well, not really because what's happening is the car is much less expensive and it's a much safer car and you talk it about a tiny difference. And then what would happen because of the cost of the car you would have at least double and triple the number of cars purchased. We have the old slugs out there that are ten, twelve years old. If you did that, the car would be safer. It would be much cheaper by $3,500. [Ed.: Basically everything he said here is false.]
WALLACE: But in the case of California they have simply ignored that.
TRUMP: No, but you would take a lot of cars off the market because people would be able to afford a car. Now, by the way, we're going to see how that turns out. But a lot of people agree with me, many people. The car has gotten so expensive because they have computers all over the place for an extra little [WALLACE: Okay.] bit of gasoline. [BIDEN: That's not...] [Ed.: False.] And I'm okay with electric cars too. I think I'm all for electric cars. I've given big incentives for electric cars. [Ed.: False.] But what they've done in California is just crazy.
WALLACE: All right, Vice President Biden. I'd like you to respond to the president's climate change record but I also want to ask you about a concern. You propose $2 trillion in green jobs. You talk about new limits, not abolishing, but new limits on fracking. Ending the use of fossil fuels to generate electricity by 2035 and zero net emission of greenhouse gases by 2050. The president says a lot of these things would tank the economy and cost millions of jobs.
BIDEN: He's absolutely wrong, number one. Number two, if, in fact, during our administration in the Recovery Act, I was in charge, able to bring down the cost of renewable energy to cheaper than or as cheap as coal and gas and oil. [Ed.: Getting there.] Nobody's going to build another coal-fired plant in America. No one's going to build another oil-fired plant in America. They're going to move to renewable energy.

Number one, number two, we're going to make sure that we are able to take the federal fleet and turn it into a fleet that's run on their electric vehicles. Making sure that we can do that, we're going to put 500,000 charging stations in all of the highways that we're going to be building in the future.

We're going to build a economy that in fact is going to provide for the ability of us to take 4 million buildings and make sure that they in fact are weatherized in a way that in fact will, they'll emit significantly less gas and oil because the heat will not be going out.

There's so many things that we can do now to create thousands and thousands of jobs. We can get to net zero, in terms of energy production [sic], by 2035. Not only not costing people jobs, creating jobs, creating millions of good-paying jobs. Not 15 bucks an hour, but prevailing wage, by having a new infrastructure that in fact, is green.

And the first thing I will do, I will rejoin the Paris accord. I will join the Paris accord because with us out of it, look what's happening. It's all falling apart. And talk about someone who has no, no relationship with foreign policy. Brazil - the rainforests of Brazil are being torn down, are being ripped down. More, more carbon is absorbed in that rainforest than every bit of carbon that's emitted in the United States. Instead of doing something about that, I would be gathering up and making sure we had the countries of the world coming up with $20 billion, and say, 'Here's $20 billion. Stop, stop tearing down the forest. And If you don't, then you're going to have significant economic consequences.'
WALLACE: What about the argument that President Trump basically says, that you have to balance environmental interests and economic interests? And he's drawn his line.
BIDEN: Well, he hasn't drawn a line. He still for example, he wants to make sure that methane's not a problem [sic]. You can now emit more methane without it being a problem. Methane. This is a guy who says that you don't have to have mileage standards for automobiles that exist now. This is the guy who says that, the fact that ...
TRUMP: Not true. Not true.
TRUMP: He's talking about the Green New Deal.
BIDEN: It's all true. And here's the deal ...
TRUMP: And it's not 2 billion or 20 billion, as you said. It's 100 trillion dollars.
WALLACE (to TRUMP): Let him go for a minute, and then you can go.
Where they want to rip down buildings and rebuild the building. It's the dumbest, most ridiculous where airplanes are out of business,
where two car systems are out,
where they want to take out the cows too.
BIDEN: I'm talking about the Biden plan. I'm ... I'm ...


That is not...

That is not...
BIDEN: Not true.
TRUMP:That's not true either, right?
BIDEN: Not true.
TRUMP:This is a 100 trillion-
BIDEN: Simply... Look-
TRUMP: That's more money than our country could make in 100 years if we're -
WALLACE: All right. Let me . . . Wait a minute, sir.

That is simply not the case.
WALLACE: I actually have studied your plan, and it includes upgrading 4 million buildings, weatherizing 2 million homes over four years, building one and a half million energy efficient homes. So the question becomes, some, the president is saying, I think some people who support the president would say, that sounds like it's going to cost a lot of money and hurt the economy.
BIDEN: What it's going to do, it's going to create thousands and millions of jobs.
TRUMP: 100 trillion dollars.
Good paying jobs.
WALLACE: Let him finish, sir.
BIDEN: He doesn't know how to do that.
BIDEN: The fact is, it's going to create millions of good paying jobs, and these tax incentives for people to weatherize, which he wants to get rid of. It's going to make the economy much safer. Look how much we're paying now to deal with the hurricanes, deal with... By the way, he has an answer for hurricanes. He said, maybe we should drop a nuclear weapon on them, and they may-
TRUMP: I never said that at all-
BIDEN: Yeah, he did say that.
TRUMP: They made it up.
BIDEN: And here's the deal.
TRUMP: You make up a lot.
We're going to be in a position where we can create hard, hard, good jobs by making sure the environment is clean, and we all are in better shape. We spend billions of dollars now, billions of dollars, on floods, hurricanes, rising seas. We're in real trouble. Look what's happened just in the Midwest with these storms that come through and wipe out entire sections and counties in Iowa. They didn't happen before. They're because of global warming. We make up 15% of the world's problem. We in fact ... But the rest of the world, we've got to get them to come along. That's why we have to get back into, back into the Paris accord.
WALLACE: All right, gentlemen-
TRUMP: Wait a minute, Chris. So why didn't he do it for 47 years?
BIDEN: For 47-
You were vice president, so why didn't you get the world... China sends up real dirt into the air. Russia does. India does. They all do. We're supposed to be good. And by the way, he made a couple of statements.
BIDEN: That is not my plan. The Green New Deal is not my plan. If he knew anything about, if he knew anything about ...
The Green New Deal is a hundred trillion dollars, not 20 billion. You want to rebuild every building, you want to rebuild every building.
WALLACE: Gentlemen. . .
TRUMP: He made a statement about the military. He said I said something about the military. He and his friends made it up, and then they went with it. I never said it.
BIDEN: That is not true.
You're done in this segment.

Mister, please, sir.

What he did is he said he called the military stupid bastards.
He said it on tape. He said stupid bastards. He said it.
I would never say that.
You're on tape . . [Snopes: Mostly false.]

I did not say that . . .

Play it. Play it-
WALLACE: Go ahead, Mr. Vice President, answer his final question.
BIDEN: The final question is, I can't remember which of all his rantings he was talking about.
WALLACE (laughing): I'm having a little trouble myself, but...
BIDEN: Yeah.
WALLACE: And about the economy and about this question of what it's going to cost.
BIDEN: The economy-
WALLACE: I mean, the Green New Deal and the idea of what your environmental changes will do.
BIDEN: The Green New Deal will pay for itself as we move forward. We're not going to build plants that, in fact, are great polluting plants-
WALLACE: So, do you support the Green New Deal?
BIDEN: Pardon me?
WALLACE: Do you support the ...
BIDEN: No, I don't support the Green New Deal.
TRUMP: Oh, you don't? Oh, well, that's a big statement.
BIDEN: I support the -
TRUMP: That means you just lost the radical left.
BIDEN: I support the Biden plan that I put forward.
BIDEN: The Biden plan, which is different than what he calls the radical Green New Deal.
Transcript from with additional edits and formatting by Hill Heat.

Sen. Whitehouse & Rep. Quigley Introduce Grid Services and Efficiency Act

Posted by Brad Johnson Tue, 29 Sep 2020 20:02:00 GMT

U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and Congressman Mike Quigley (D-Ill.) have introduced legislation to prepare the nation’s power grids to affordably and reliably deliver clean energy. Many of the provisions of the Grid Services and Efficiency Act were included in Clean Economy Jobs and Innovation Act, which the House of Representatives passed last week.

“The Grid Services and Efficiency Act instructs a cross-section of federal and regional agencies to work together to pinpoint gaps in grid services and operator platforms that may hamper the introduction of clean energy sources to the power grid. The legislation authorizes funding to upgrade electricity delivery infrastructure to better accommodate clean energy sources. The bill would also help determine whether federal regulators have the proper authorities to oversee the siting of interregional transmission lines necessary for expanding clean energy.”

The Grid Services and Efficiency Act takes steps to accelerate the transition by improving power system modeling and grid operator planning, commissioning studies of grid efficiency, and improving the connectivity of the electricity transmission system.

This legislation is supported by Advanced Energy Economy, Sunrun, National Grid, the Natural Resources Defense Council, Exelon, and the WATT Coalition.

Further summary:

Rep. Haaland Leads Introduction Of THRIVE Resolution, Adding Covid Response To Green New Deal Agenda

Posted by Brad Johnson Thu, 17 Sep 2020 21:45:00 GMT

Rep. Deb Haaland (D-N.M.) has introduced a resolution that calls for a comprehensive justice-based response to the crises facing the nation and the world, from the fossil-fueled climate crisis to the global Covid-19 pandemic.

The Transform, Heal, and Renew by Investing in a Vibrant Economy (THRIVE) Resolution (H. Res. 1102) is modeled in part after 2019’s Green New Deal resolution introduced by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.). The resolution is also largely consistent with the 2020 Democratic Party platform and the Biden campaign agenda.

Haaland introduced the agenda at a press conference on September 10 with Markey and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.). Keya Chaterjee, the director of the U.S. Climate Action Network, an environmental coalition, also participated.

The resolution was formally introduced on September 11th with 76 co-sponsors, all Democrats.

Haaland’s resolution was praised by several other emocratic members of the U.S. Senate, including former presidential candidates Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), as well as Sens. Jeff Merkley (D-N.M.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).

While the resolution has limited specifics, it does include a call for a national “carbon pollution-free” electricity system by 2035, in line with presidential candidate Joe Biden’s plan.

The resolution calls for the expansion of union protections and increased union density in clean-energy jobs, and investment in “Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities to build power and counteract racial and gender injustice.”

Notably, the resolution says nothing about foreign policy or the military.

Unlike the Green New Deal resolution, the THRIVE resolution does not call for universal employment, housing, or health care.

The resolution is supported by The Sunrise Movement, Sierra Club, Movement for Black Lives, Working Families Party, Service Employees International Union, Indigenous Environmental Network and Center for Popular Democracy.

Full text:

Full Transcript: Joe Biden Remarks On Climate Change And Wildfires

Posted by Brad Johnson Mon, 14 Sep 2020 19:53:00 GMT

This afternoon, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden made an extended speech in Delaware about global warming and climate disasters, outlining his vision for “net-zero emissions by no later than 2050.” This speech was reminiscent of then-candidate Barack Obama’s climate speech of 2007.

Good afternoon.

As a nation, we face one of the most difficult moments in our history. Four historic crises. All at the same time.

The worst pandemic in over 100 years, that’s killed nearly 200,000 Americans and counting.

The worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, that’s cost tens of millions of American jobs and counting.

Emboldened white supremacy unseen since the 1960s and a reckoning on race long overdue.

And the undeniable, accelerating, and punishing reality of climate change and its impact on our planet and our people — on lives and livelihoods — which I’d like to talk about today.

Jill and I continue to pray for everyone in California, Oregon, Washington, and across the West as the devastating wildfires rage on — just as we’ve held in our hearts those who’ve faced hurricanes and tropical storms on our coasts, in Florida, in North Carolina, or like in parts of New Orleans where they just issued an emergency evacuation for Hurricane Sally, that’s approaching and intensifying; Floods and droughts across the Midwest, the fury of climate change everywhere — all this year, all right now.

We stand with our families who have lost everything, the firefighters and first responders risking everything to save others, and the millions of Americans caught between relocating during a pandemic or staying put as ash and smoke pollute the air they breathe.

Think about that.

People are not just worried about raging fires. They are worried about breathing air. About damage to their lungs.

Parents, already worried about Covid-19 for their kids when they’re indoors, are now worried about asthma attacks for their kids when they’re outside.

Over the past two years, the total damage from wildfires has reached nearly $50 Billion in California alone.

This year alone, nearly 5 million acres have burned across 10 states — more acres than the entire state of Connecticut.

And it’s only September. California’s wildfire season typically runs through October.

Fires are blazing so bright and smoke reaching so far, NASA satellites can see them a million miles away in space.

The cost of this year’s damage will again be astronomically high.

But think of the view from the ground, in the smoldering ashes.

Loved ones lost, along with the photos and keepsakes of their memory. Spouses and kids praying each night that their firefighting husband, wife, father, and mother will come home. Entire communities destroyed.

We have to act as a nation. It shouldn’t be so bad that millions of Americans live in the shadow of an orange sky and are left asking if doomsday is here.

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