Today’s Blog

Aug 25 2020: NO renewable energy did not cause CA outages

“Collectively, our organizations want to be clear about one factor that did not
cause the rotating outage: California’s commitment to clean energy.
Renewable energy did not cause the rotating outages.” From official letter to Governor Newsom from California Public Utilities and Energy Commission. Read the letter here: https://www.cpuc.ca.gov/uploadedFiles/CPUCWebsite/Content/News_Room/NewsUpdates/2020/Joint%20Response%20to%20Governor%20Newsom%20Letter%20August192020.pdf

Aug 18 2020: ANWR open for lease, not yet for business

We are not surprised that this Administration has fulfilled its promise to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) for oil & gas drilling but it will be some time before business happens there. Many banks have yielded to pressure and will not be providing funding. Oil companies see the risks and the market is not demanding it. Yes, it is bad news, but for now it is bad news on paper. This is another example of this Administration’s obsession with promoting environmental threats for the optics. That’s not to say the leases won’t lead to drilling and we are not comforted with Alaskans saying it would be done responsibly. Yet, there is still time to protect ANWR before drilling happens.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/ellenrwald/2020/08/17/trump-to-open-anwr-to-oil-but-drilling-isnt-a-sure-thing/#3fe122974de4

Aug 16 2020: Former EPA leaders plan resets the course

“Reset” sounds pretty soft but the details in the comprehensive plan to counter the egregious curtailing of environmental protections (it is the Environmental PROTECTION Agency) from the current Administration offer hope for rebound, return, regulations, and relief. Read all about it here: https://www.environmentalprotectionnetwork.org/reset/resetting-the-course-of-epa-report/

August 15, 2020. Even Big Oil wants methane rule

Widely reported and below taken from NPR story. How can it be that the Administration insists on rollback when even the industry itself doesn’t want that to happen??? Instead of Nero and his lyre perhaps it is the President and a paper shredder, attempting to eliminate all regulations that safeguard our health.

“Shell, BP and the Exxon Mobil Corp. have big natural gas portfolios. They worry that if methane emissions aren’t controlled that could undermine arguments that natural gas is a cleaner-burning fossil fuel than coal.

‘The negative impacts of leaks and fugitive emissions have been widely acknowledged for years, so it’s frustrating and disappointing to see the administration go in a different direction,’ said Gretchen Watkins, Shell’s president in the United States.

Methane is the main ingredient in natural gas. But when it’s released before it burns, say from a leaky valve at a drilling site, it’s far more potent than carbon dioxide. The Trump administration rule would eliminate a 2016 requirement that oil and gas companies monitor and limit methane leaks from wells, compressor stations and other operations.”

(NPR: https://www.npr.org/2020/08/13/901863874/trumps-methane-rollback-that-big-oil-doesn-t-want)

August 13, 2020 Now it’s showerheads?!

“Frankly it’s silly,” Appliance Standards Awareness Project Executive Director Andrew deLaski told The Associated Press. “The country faces serious problems. We’ve got a pandemic, serious long-term drought throughout much of the West. We’ve got global climate change. Showerheads aren’t one of our problems.” (from EcoWatch article: https://www.ecowatch.com/trump-showerheads-water-2646968010.html?rebelltitem=2#rebelltitem2)

It would be one thing if consumers were unhappy but Consumer Reports  found that ‘the top water-saving and rain-shower models we tested provide a strong flow.’”

Beyond wasting water deLaski said “the plan would raise greenhouse gas emissions when more fuel is burned in homes with gas water heaters and at the power plants that supply power to homes with electric water heaters.” (from https://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/511736-energy-department-showerheads-rollback-trump-complaints).

August 2, 2020. Trump Administration to Endangered Species: Stay Where You Are!

In another move that refuses to acknowledge any sense of future, notably climate change, a new proposal from the Fish and Wildlife Service can block any land that isn’t currently habitat but might be needed in the future. Let it be noted that this Administration is allergic to any consideration of future impacts, a consistent viewpoint across many areas, not just environmental.

“The purpose of the Endangered Species Act is to help endangered species flourish and expand back into their former habitats. If this rule were in place fifty years ago, the bald eagle would have been kept at death’s door in perpetuity, limited to a few square miles here and there. If this administration can’t tell the difference between where an endangered species lives today and where it would live if it were no longer endangered, it has no business rewriting this or any other law,” House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.) — from The Hill

You can read it the proposed new rule here: https://www.fws.gov/endangered/esa-library/pdf/proposed-definition-of-habitat-web-version.pdf

July 14, 2020: GAO shows carbon cost maneuvering

The Trump Administration has revised the metrics used to measure the social cost of carbon to further deregulations. While this itself is not news, the GAO has revealed these efforts to manipulate cost-benefits analysis leading to more deregulation.

The General Accounting Office (GAO), non-partisan investigative agency for Congress, released a report that shows the revised model with its vaunted seven times reduction in carbon cost was based on changing two metrics: 1. only factoring damages within the United States instead of globally which ignores all the US assets and personnel abroad and 2. changing an economic measure, the discount rate, in a way that puts more value on future benefits and so reduces rationale for paying costs today.

Further the GAO report states an executive order from 2017 disbanded an interagency working group charged with developing social cost of carbon estimates and discarded that group’s guidance and cost estimates.

“Without identifying a federal entity or entities to be responsible for addressing the National Academies’ recommendations, including monitoring scientific research and ensuring that updates to the federal estimates consider such research, the federal government may not be well-positioned to ensure agencies’ future regulatory analyses are using the best available science,” GAO wrote.

July 9, 2020: Issues Importance Survey

We recently fielded a survey to better understand what issues among the 13 that make up the BCDP platform are most important to you.  With 78 of you responding, here’s what you told us:

Looking at the top two most important issues and grouping those that scored tightly the first segment were 1. Affordable Healthcare, 2. Voting and 3. Equality/Discrimination (tied for second) and 4. Environment. The next grouping a few points down were 5. Support for Benefits and Coverages: Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, 6. Employee Rights and Benefits, 7. Education and 8. Criminal Justice Reform. Next grouping was 9. Improving Local Government Operations, 10. Infrastructure, 11. Economy and 12. Immigration.  Final segment was 13. Access to Firearms and Gun Safety. It should be noted that the last one had the most spread across importance measures and may have been interpreted differently by different people.

Looking at top responses only Voting, Equality/Discrimination and Affordable Healthcare were the top contenders.

You can read the Blount County Democratic Party Platform above on this site.