Four years ago, I gave a very positive review to Richard Muller’s “Physics for Future Presidents”, despite his very lukewarm treatment of climate change which, in my opinion, had more than enough scientific gravitas by that time to be treated as a legitimate national and international issue. Because of his status as one of the most credible scientific skeptics (although not really a “denier”), Muller was able to get a sizable grant from the ultraconservative Koch Brothers to fund further studies on the subject by Muller. The study’s goal was to extend backward in time the historical record of hand-measured temperatures, using data that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change had thrown out because it was poorly documented or otherwise unreliable. I am sure that the Kochs assumed that Muller would be reinforcing his prior conclusion, that climate change was too little understood to be worth a sizable national investment. However, Muller changed his position after his own very minimal contribution to the science reinforced the IPCC conclusion. Of course, that’s not all that you will find in “Energy for Future Presidents”, which includes topical information about the Fukushima accident, the Gulf oil spill, alternative energy sources, energy storage, and fission and fusion power, among other important issues. It is a shame that energy policy (other than some political questions about the Keystone XL pipeline and misleading statistics about investments in renewables) has not been featured in the campaigns. At least there is this year the presidential candidates responses to some of the key science policy questions, courtesy of Scientific American. You can read them at http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=obama-romney-science-debate. There is a lot of circumlocution there, but it is better than nothing.
Tags: climate change, President Obama second inaugural address climate change remarks
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I guess what I am the most curious about is what Indiana Governor Mike Pence says in his first State of the State address this evening. The speech will be carried live on most TV stations in Indiana and also some radio stations. You can also watch it on your computer, as the state will live stream it at http://www.IN.gov/gov.
I am still the most interested if Governor Pence will address his Executive order 13-06 creating the Indiana Office of Energy Development as a distinct executive office within the Office of the Governor. See
Executive Order 13-06
Creation of the Indiana Office of Energy Development
By the way, state legislation will be needed to make this change. I didn’t catch it the first few times but the Executive Order states: “This Executive Order shall expire at such time as the General Assembly enacts legislation to codify OED.”
So I guess we will see action on SB 529 to establish the Indiana Office of Energy Development within the Office of the Governor introduced by Sen. Ed Charbonneau (R-Valparaiso) who chairs the Senate Committee on Environmental Affairs. SB 529 has been referred to the Senate Environmental Affairs Committee.
Perhaps we will learn more about this in the State of the State tonight. Keep reading this blog!
Laura Ann Arnold
WASHINGTON — President Obama made addressing climate change the most prominent policy vow of his second Inaugural Address, setting in motion what Democrats say will be a deliberately paced but aggressive campaign built around the use of his executive powers to sidestep Congressional opposition.
“We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that failure to do so would betray our children and future generations,” Mr. Obama said on Monday at the start of eight sentences on the subject, more than he devoted to any other specific area. “Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms.”
The central place he gave to the subject seemed to answer the question of whether he considered it a realistic second-term priority. He devoted scant attention to it in the campaign and has delivered a mixed message about its importance since the election.
Mr. Obama is heading into the effort having extensively studied the lessons from his first term, when he failed to win passage of comprehensive legislation to reduce emissions of the gases that cause global warming. This time, the White House plans to avoid such a fight and instead focus on what it can do administratively to reduce emissions from power plants, increase the efficiency of home appliances and have the federal government itself produce less carbon pollution.
Mr. Obama’s path on global warming is a case study in his evolving sense of the limits of his power and his increased willingness to work around intense conservative opposition rather than seek compromise. After coming to office four years ago on a pledge to heal the planet and turn back the rise of the seas, he is proceeding cautiously this time, Democrats said, intent on making sure his approach is vetted politically, economically and technologically so as not to risk missing what many environmental advocates say could be the last best chance for years to address the problem.
The centerpiece will be action by the Environmental Protection Agency to clamp down further on emissions from coal-burning power plants under regulations still being drafted — and likely to draw legal challenges.
The administration plans to supplement that step by adopting new energy efficiency standards for home appliances and buildings, a seemingly small advance that can have a substantial impact by reducing demand for electricity. Those standards would echo the sharp increase in fuel economy that the administration required from automakers in the first term.
The Pentagon, one of the country’s largest energy users, is also taking strides toward cutting use and converting to renewable fuels.
Mr. Obama’s aides are planning those steps in conjunction with a campaign to build public support and head off political opposition in a way the administration did not the last time around. But the White House has cautioned activists not to expect full-scale engagement while Congress remains occupied by guns, immigration and the budget.
The president’s emphasis on climate change drew fire from conservatives. Tim Phillips, president of Americans for Prosperity, a group financed by the Koch brothers, who made a fortune in refining and other oil interests, criticized the speech in a statement. “His address read like a liberal laundry list with global warming at the top,” Mr. Phillips said. “Americans have rejected environmental extremism in the past and they will again.”
Still, Mr. Obama has signaled that he intends to expand his own role in making a public case for why action is necessary and why, despite the conservative argument that such changes would cost jobs and leave the United States less competitive with rising powers like China, they could have economic benefits by promoting a clean-energy industry. In addition to the prominent mention on Monday, Mr. Obama also used strong language inhis speech on election night, referring to “the destructive power of a warming planet.”
Those remarks stood in contrast to Mr. Obama’s comments at his first postelection news conference, when he said he planned to convene “a wide-ranging conversation” about climate change and was vague about action. He is also expected to highlight his plans in his State of the Union address next month and in his budget plan soon afterward.
Beyond new policies, the administration is seeking to capitalize on the surge of natural gasproduction over the past few years. As a cheaper and cleaner alternative to coal, natural gas gives it a chance to argue that coal is less economically attractive.
After the defeat in 2010 of legislation that would have capped carbon emissions and issued tradable permits for emissions, Mr. Obama turned to regulation and financing for alternative energy. Despite the lack of comprehensive legislation, emissions have declined roughly 10 percent since he took office, a result both of the economic slowdown and of energy efficiency moves by government and industry.
The administration is discussing with Congressional Democrats, some of whom are leery of the issue because their states are home to coal businesses, how to head off a Republican counterattack on the new regulations. Democrats are paying particular attention to the likelihood of Republicans employing a little-used procedure to block new regulations with a simple majority vote.
Senate Democrats are also girding for a battle when Mr. Obama nominates a new head of the E.P.A. The agency, excoriated by Republicans as a job-killing bureaucracy, would take the lead in setting the new regulations.
The approach is a turnabout from the first term, when Mr. Obama’s guiding principle in trying to pass the cap-and-trade bill was that a negotiated legislative solution was likely to be more politically palatable than regulation by executive fiat. Now there is a broad expectation that he will follow up his first big use of the E.P.A.’s powers to rein in emissions — proposed rules last year for new power plants — with a plan to crack down on emissions from existing power plants.
According to estimates from the Natural Resources Defense Council, emissions from current coal-fired plants could be reduced by more than 25 percent by 2020, yielding large health and environmental benefits at relatively low cost. Such an approach would allow Mr. Obama to fulfill his 2009 pledge to reduce domestic greenhouse gas emissions by about 17 percent from 2005 levels by 2020, the group says.
“There’s a really big opportunity, perhaps bigger than most people realize,” said Dan Lashof, director of the defense council’s climate and clean air program.
The regulatory push will be particularly important because Mr. Obama has little prospect of winning as much money for clean energy as he did in his first term, with Republicans now in control of the House. Despite the renewed attention to climate change following Hurricane Sandy and record-high temperatures in the continental United States last year, there is little sign that the politics of the issue will get any easier for Mr. Obama.
WSJ: Rhetoric Heats Up on Climate Change/ Climate Change Climbs Up Agenda
WASHINGTON—President Barack Obama used some of his most impassioned language to date on climate change in his speech Monday, but his policy options are limited after Republicans blocked his approach to the issue in his first term.
“We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations,” Mr. Obama said in his inaugural address.
“Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires and crippling drought and more powerful storms,” he said.
Environmentalists cheered the remarks, hoping that Mr. Obama would press harder to control greenhouse-gas emissions. Republicans, some of whom are skeptical about the extent of global warming or see the cost of tackling it as too high, described his address as lacking in gestures of bipartisanship.
Mr. Obama began to stress climate change in the later stages of the presidential campaign. He said at the Democratic National Convention that global warming was “not a hoax” and called recent droughts and floods “a threat to our children’s future.” Since then, he has repeatedly pledged to make the climate a second-term priority.
Despite Monday’s forceful rhetoric, he has few policy options. In 2009, the House, then controlled by Democrats, passed a bill to cap carbon-dioxide and other greenhouse-gas emissions and to introduce an emissions trading system. The bill died in the Democratic-controlled Senate the next year. It has no chance of passing the current House with the GOP in the majority. Likewise, the House GOP is opposed to a tax on carbon.
That leaves further regulatory action by the Environmental Protection Agency as the likeliest way the president could take steps to curb emissions.
As early as this spring, the EPA could make final greenhouse-gas emissions rules for new power plants that would effectively rule out new coal-fired plants using the current standard in technology. The EPA is also weighing rules for existing power plants. Mr. Obama’s inaugural address left environmentalists who want a strict standard encouraged.
A surge in natural-gas production has already reduced demand for coal to power electric-generating plants and helped reduce U.S. greenhouse-gas emissions from energy.
The president also reiterated his support for the American renewable energy industry. “America cannot resist this transition. We must lead it,” he said. “We cannot cede to other nations the technology that will power new jobs and new industries. We must claim its promise.”
Mr. Obama’s first-term support for solar energy, wind farms and electric-battery technologies came under attack from Republicans. The failure of solar-panel manufacturer Solyndra LLC gave the GOP ammunition to argue that the administration was wasting money on uneconomic technology.
A version of this article appeared January 22, 2013, on page A7 in the U.S. edition of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: Rhetoric Heats Up On Climate Change.
By the way, the print edition of the WSJ delivered to me this morning ran this same article with the headline, ‘Climate Change Climbs Up Agenda’, which I believe is a slightly more neutral headline. Curious. LAA
Outgoing Ind. Gov. Daniels and incoming Purdue Univ. Pres. recommends “Energy for Future Presidents” by Richard Muller November 26, 2012Posted by Laura Arnold in Uncategorized.
Tags: climate change, Energy for Future Presidents by Richard Muller, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, Koch Brothers, Mitch's Final Christmas Book List
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Dear IndianaDG Readers:
In my email this morning I received Mitch’s Final Christmas Book List. You might be interested in seeing the complete Christmas Book List but I am primarily concerned again with only the book on energy on his book list.
Last year Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels put another book on his recommended Christmas Book List. It was Robert Bryce’s book entitled, Power Hungry: The Myths of “Green” Energy and the Real Fuels of the Future. This book doesn’t even pretend to be objective in my opinion so that’s why I am interested in this year’s choice of a book on the subject of energy.
Please find below two different reviews on this book recommended by Indiana Governor Mitch Daniel’s. Why is this of interest or importance? I think it is important because it gives some insight into the thinking of the next President of my “alma mater”, Purdue University.
I have not read this book yet but I plan to do so if I can. If you have read this book, please share your thoughts with IndianaDG Readers.
Laura Ann Arnold
Tags: C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, climate change, endorsement of President Obama, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, PlaNYC
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Dear IndianaDG Readers:
I believe this endorsement by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg in the aftermath of Sandy places the issue of climate change front and center in the General Election next week–where it belongs. It seems a shame that it took a devastating event like Sandy to raise the profile of this important issue.
Laura Ann Arnold
By Michael R. Bloomberg Nov 1, 2012 2:55 PM ET
The devastation that Hurricane Sandybrought to New York City and much of the Northeast — in lost lives, lost homes and lost business — brought the stakes of Tuesday’s presidential election into sharp relief.
The floods and fires that swept through our city left a path of destruction that will require years of recovery and rebuilding work. And in the short term, our subway system remains partially shut down, and many city residents and businesses still have no power. In just 14 months, two hurricanes have forced us to evacuate neighborhoods — something our city government had never done before. If this is a trend, it is simply not sustainable.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Photographer: Spencer T. Tucker
Our climate is changing. And while the increase in extreme weather we have experienced in New York City and around the world may or may not be the result of it, the risk that it might be — given this week’s devastation — should compel all elected leaders to take immediate action.
Here in New York, our comprehensive sustainability plan —PlaNYC — has helped allow us to cut our carbon footprint by 16 percent in just five years, which is the equivalent of eliminating the carbon footprint of a city twice the size ofSeattle. Through the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group — a partnership among many of the world’s largest cities — local governments are taking action where national governments are not.
But we can’t do it alone. We need leadership from the White House — and over the past four years, President Barack Obamahas taken major steps to reduce our carbon consumption, including setting higher fuel-efficiency standards for cars and trucks. His administration also has adopted tighter controls on mercury emissions, which will help to close the dirtiest coal power plants (an effort I have supported through my philanthropy), which are estimated to kill 13,000 Americans a year.
Mitt Romney, too, has a history of tackling climate change. As governor of Massachusetts, he signed on to a regional cap-and-trade plan designed to reduce carbon emissions 10 percent below 1990 levels. “The benefits (of that plan) will be long-lasting and enormous — benefits to our health, our economy, our quality of life, our very landscape. These are actions we can and must take now, if we are to have ‘no regrets’ when we transfer our temporary stewardship of this Earth to the next generation,” he wrote at the time.
He couldn’t have been more right. But since then, he has reversed course, abandoning the very cap-and-trade program he once supported. This issue is too important. We need determined leadership at the national level to move the nation and the world forward.
I believe Mitt Romney is a good and decent man, and he would bring valuable business experience to the Oval Office. He understands that America was built on the promise of equal opportunity, not equal results. In the past he has also taken sensible positions on immigration, illegal guns, abortion rights and health care. But he has reversed course on all of them, and is even running against the health-care model he signed into law in Massachusetts.
If the 1994 or 2003 version of Mitt Romney were running for president, I may well have voted for him because, like so many other independents, I have found the past four years to be, in a word, disappointing.
In 2008, Obama ran as a pragmatic problem-solver and consensus-builder. But as president, he devoted little time and effort to developing and sustaining a coalition of centrists, which doomed hope for any real progress on illegal guns, immigration, tax reform, job creation and deficit reduction. And rather than uniting the country around a message of shared sacrifice, he engaged in partisan attacks and has embraced a divisive populist agenda focused more on redistributing income than creating it.
Nevertheless, the president has achieved some important victories on issues that will help define our future. His Race to the Top education program — much of which was opposed by the teachers’ unions, a traditional Democratic Party constituency –has helped drive badly needed reform across the country, giving local districts leverage to strengthen accountability in the classroom and expand charter schools. His health-care law — for all its flaws — will provide insurance coverage to people who need it most and save lives.
When I step into the voting booth, I think about the world I want to leave my two daughters, and the values that are required to guide us there. The two parties’ nominees for president offer different visions of where they want to lead America.
One believes a woman’s right to choose should be protected for future generations; one does not. That difference, given the likelihood of Supreme Court vacancies, weighs heavily on my decision.
One recognizes marriage equality as consistent with America’s march of freedom; one does not. I want our president to be on the right side of history.
One sees climate change as an urgent problem that threatens our planet; one does not. I want our president to place scientific evidence and risk management above electoral politics.
Of course, neither candidate has specified what hard decisions he will make to get our economy back on track while also balancing the budget. But in the end, what matters most isn’t the shape of any particular proposal; it’s the work that must be done to bring members of Congress together to achieve bipartisan solutions.
Presidents Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan both found success while their parties were out of power in Congress — and President Obama can, too. If he listens to people on both sides of the aisle, and builds the trust of moderates, he can fulfill the hope he inspired four years ago and lead our country toward a better future for my children and yours. And that’s why I will be voting for him.
(Michael R. Bloomberg is mayor of New York and founder and majority owner of Bloomberg News parent Bloomberg LP.)
To contact the Bloomberg View editorial board:email@example.com.
States Diverting Money From Climate Initiative November 29, 2010Posted by Laura Arnold in Emissions Trading/Cap and Trade.
Tags: climate change, Purdue University Climate Change Research Center, Reggie, Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI)
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November 28, 2010
By MIREYA NAVARRO
In New York, government officials found $90 million to pay for schools by dipping into money generated by a multistate greenhouse gas initiative.
In New Hampshire, the state took $3.1 million from a similar environmental fund. And in New Jersey, the government diverted its whole share: $65 million.
At least three financially troubled states have discovered in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a cap-and-trade system, a convenient pool of money that can be drawn on to help balance state budgets.
In just over two years, the initiative, known as RGGI, has generated more than $729 million for the 10 states that have participated. Each state is supposed to use its share of the money raised to invest in renewable energy and to promote energy efficiency and consumer benefits, like programs that help low-income electricity customers pay their utility bills.
But the money is proving too much of a temptation for states not to use in other ways.
Critics say that diverting money from the fund for general spending, instead of using it on emissions control and energy savings, makes the initiative little more than a hidden tax on electricity.
Already, RGGI opponents in New Jersey have sponsored a bill to end the state’s participation.
“This is nothing but a new form of taxation, and environmentalists have been used,” said Steve Lonegan, New Jersey state director for Americans for Prosperity, a conservative group founded and largely financed by oil industry interests.
Under RGGI, which is pronounced Reggie, 10 Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states agreed to cap carbon dioxide emissions from electric power plants and charge the plants for the emissions they produce. As an incentive for power plants to pollute less, the states allow the plants that cut their emissions below the cap to sell or trade their excess carbon allowances through online auctions four times a year.
The agreement binds the states to spend at least 25 percent of the money on direct consumer benefits or “strategic” energy purposes.
The participating states have agreed to devote virtually all their RGGI money to energy-use reduction. Administrators of the system say that, even with the diversion of money by state governments, about 80 percent of the proceeds for carbon credit auctions still goes to such programs.
Some environmentalists who support the multistate pact agree that without the investment in programs that cut energy use and create green jobs, the initiative’s potential economic benefit becomes an expense.
“There’s a direct consequence for taking this money,” said Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey chapter of the Sierra Club. “Families are going to pay higher energy bills this winter if they didn’t weatherize their homes.”
At the national level, efforts by Democratic leaders and the Obama administration to include a cap-and-trade scheme as part of a national energy policy were contested in Congress, with opponents branding it “cap-and-tax” and Tea Party followers singling it out as a symbol of what was wrong with Washington. But the controversy over cap-and-trade has percolated down to the states, where it became fodder for some candidates in the midterm elections and sparked anti-RGGI rallies in New York and New Jersey, organized by Americans for Prosperity.
“We don’t need this when the federal government didn’t go forward with a national plan,” said Alison Littell McHose, a Republican assemblywoman in New Jersey who sponsored the bill to get that state out of the initiative.
Some opponents said they feared that the multistate system would encourage cap-and-trade to spread. “The other states are watching this program to see if they can get away with it,” Mr. Lonegan said.
Two agreements similar to RGGI — the Midwestern Greenhouse Gas Reduction Accord, with six states and one Canadian province, and the Western Climate Initiative, with seven states and four Canadian provinces — envision their own cap-and-trade systems. The regional groups have their own rules and features, but the 23 states in them have discussed linking efforts.
The regional carbon-trading market among the states has been free of speculation, administrators for the initiative say, and so far most carbon credits have been purchased by power suppliers. The main criticism from environmental groups is that the cap on emissions is too lax — in fact, power suppliers have easily met their caps, and carbon credits are trading at bottom-level prices, because plants are taking advantage of cheap prices for natural gas, which pollutes less than fuel sources like coal.
But with the renewed opposition, “now we’re going to be fighting to save RGGI,” Mr. Tittel of the Sierra Club said, rather than focusing on strengthening and expanding the program.
Gov. David A. Paterson of New York set the precedent last year when he took $90 million from the money generated by the initiative to deal with a projected state budget deficit of nearly $50 billion through March 2013. New York has so far collected $265 million from RGGI, the most of any of the participating states.
Peter Iwanowicz, the governor’s environmental adviser and acting commissioner of the State Department of Environmental Conservation, called the action “a one-time deal.”
“New York was facing historic deficits,” he said. “It wasn’t a decision that was made lightly.”
In New York, much of the money in the fund has gone to investments in alternative energy technologies, training for green jobs, and energy efficiency programs like subsidized energy audits for homes and other buildings. The energy initiative has added 72 cents to the monthly electricity bill of New Yorkers, Mr. Iwanowicz said, but he noted that because of reductions in energy use and cheaper fuel prices in the last two years, customers might not have seen a rise.
In New Jersey, Gov. Chris Christie said that the state would use its $65.2 million in RGGI money to help offset a $10.7 billion budget deficit for fiscal year 2011. Mr. Christie has yet to add his voice to calls among fellow Republicans to withdraw from the cap-and-trade regional group. Still, some experts note that the availability of RGGI money to help states deal with their economic woes may be the very thing that saves the initiative and similar accords.
“The states are so broke that it’s going to be unbelievably difficult for them to stop this program,” said Leigh Raymond, the associate director of the Climate Change Research Center at Purdue University. “They’re desperate for money.”