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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 18th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


NEW REPORT: Regardless of Trump’s indecision on Paris, US states, cities and businesses accelerate climate action.

Yasmin Perez <yperez@maitland.co.uk>
Attachments1:18 PM (1 hour ago)

Following media speculation on the US position on the Paris Agreement, and ahead of Climate Week NYC Helen Clarkson, CEO of The Climate Group has reiterated the findings of a report released today (see below and attached) which shows the climate actions being delivered by US states, cities and businesses can already get the US halfway to delivering its commitments by 2025 under the Paris Agreement.

Please see below and attached the full press release (for immediate release), and do get in touch with me to discuss. Helen Clarkson is available for interview.

Thanks,
Yasmin

PRESS RELEASE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
***ANNOUNCED AT CLIMATE WEEK NYC***

US states, cities and businesses keep US climate action on track

The US can already meet half its climate pledge by 2025 thanks to the unstoppable action of US states, cities and businesses

New initial analysis released at Climate Week NYC today includes 342 commitments coming from 22 US states, 54 cities and 250 businesses headquartered in the US

Because of their leadership and size, large states such as New York, California and Colorado are making the largest contribution to projected greenhouse gas reductions

Cities are generally more ambitious and have crucial role in implementing greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction targets

Businesses are setting the most ambitious GHG goals (25% reduction in the next ten years)
NEW YORK: The impact from the US decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement could be significantly mitigated thanks to the determined action demonstrated by US states, cities and businesses – a new report shows.

The findings from the report, entitled ‘States, cities and businesses leading the way: a first look at decentralized climate commitments in the US’ authored by NewClimate Institute and The Climate Group and powered by CDP data, show that the US can already meet half of its climate commitments under the Paris Agreement by 2025, if the 342 commitments included in the analysis are implemented.

This report provides the first steps in helping to quantify the contribution of states, cities and business to reduce US greenhouse gas emissions. As more and more commitments emerge, further analysis will be undertaken within the Initiative for Climate Action Transparency (ICAT), where this work originated.

Launched today at the Climate Week NYC Opening Ceremony, Helen Clarkson, Chief Executive Officer, The Climate Group, organizers of Climate Week NYC, said:

“US states, cities and businesses are not waiting for the US federal government to make its position clear on Paris. This new report clearly highlights their unwavering commitment to climate leadership. Importantly, it shows us that climate action is not solely dependent on the actions of national government. US states, cities and businesses have the power to mitigate the consequences of a full Paris pull out.

“At Climate Week NYC, we are highlighting the unstoppable force of action from business and government in tackling climate change, and how this can drive innovation, jobs and prosperity for all – our central theme for the week. Through our work with businesses, states and regions, we will continue to drive the implementation of these goals, so that we can keep global warming well below 2°C.

In the report, the analysis shows that because of their leadership and size, large states such as New York, California and Colorado are making the largest contribution to projected greenhouse gas reductions. In fact, US states alone deliver more than two thirds of the total estimated emissions reductions. However, cities are more ambitious (average of 22% GHG reduction between 2015 and 2025) and crucial for the implementation of specific actions. Businesses currently have the steepest targets, aiming for a 25% reduction in the next ten years.

“Strikingly, there are more reasons to believe that the calculated impact of states, cities and businesses in the report is currently underestimated rather than overestimated”, said Prof. Dr. Niklas Höhne from NewClimate Institute, one of the authors. “We only included currently recorded and quantified commitments and the actors represented in this report currently only represent 44% of total US emissions. Much more action is happening that is not yet recorded or formulated in a quantified way.”

For example, global climate initiatives, such as the Under 2 Coalition, for which The Climate Group acts as Secretariat, and the organization’s RE100 campaign have not yet been fully included in the study although they serve to support individual actors and subnational governments to take on more ambitious climate action, and report on progress.

California Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr, said: “Cities, states and businesses are stepping up and taking action to reduce the threat of catastrophic climate change.”

Taking place between September 18-24 in New York City, Climate Week NYC is one of the key summits in the international calendar and has been driving climate action since it was first launched by The Climate Group in 2009. The summit annually takes place alongside the UN General Assembly and brings together international leaders from business, government and civil society to showcase the unstoppable momentum of global climate action. More about this year’s event can be found here.

Other initiatives, including America’s Pledge, are also planning to compile and quantify efforts from U.S. states, cities, businesses and other actors to address climate change in alignment with the Paris Agreement.

Nazneen Nawaz
Head of Media and Corporate Communications, The Climate Group
 NNawaz at TheClimateGroup.org; 020 7960 2716

Prof. Dr. Niklas Höhne (technical enquiries, in NYC)
Founding Partner, The NewClimate Institute

 n.hoehne at newclimate.org; +49 173 715 2279

The “Current administration policies” scenario does not consider the Clean Power Plan because it anticipates the plan’s suspension.

The results presented here represent a collective intent of selected subnational governments, states and cities which may not necessarily happen.

The current analysis only covers a selected set of actions; the analysis results could change over time as more subnational and non-state actors commit to quantifiable mitigation pledges and more relevant data are collected.

The study covers 342 subnational and non-state actions by individual actors – of which 22 are from states, 58 from cities and 262 from companies headquartered in the US. If every commitment by states, cities and companies is fully implemented, then the US greenhouse gas emissions level will reduce to 12-14% below 2005 levels by 2025. This amounts to 340-540 MtCO?e per year reduction from the current administration policies scenario.

About the NewClimate Institute

The NewClimate Institute supports research and implementation of action against climate change around the globe. We generate and share knowledge on international climate negotiations, tracking climate action, climate and development, climate finance and carbon market mechanisms. We connect up-to-date research with the real world decision making processes, making it possible to increase ambition in acting against climate change and contribute to finding sustainable and equitable solutions.

We are committed to delivering high quality results and workable solutions to the public and decision makers. We apply research-oriented, robust approaches, responding to on-the-ground realities. We seek to enhance and foster knowledge sharing and exchange with other institutions and individuals around the globe.

 newclimate.org | @newclimateinst

About The Climate Group:

The Climate Group works internationally with leading businesses, states and regions to deliver a world of net zero greenhouse gas emissions and greater prosperity for all. We are at the forefront of ambitious climate action. Our focus is on collaborative programs with corporate and government partners that deliver impact on a global scale. The Climate Group stimulates action by businesses, states and regions, bringing them together to develop and implement the policies that make change happen. We also communicate their achievements to secure global public acceptance of, and even greater ambition for, a prosperous, net-zero future for all. The Climate Group is an international non-profit with offices in Beijing, London, New Delhi and New York.

 TheClimateGroup.org | @ClimateGroup

About Climate Week:

Climate Week NYC is one of the key summits in the international calendar and has been driving climate action forward since it was first launched in 2009 by The Climate Group. Taking place between September 18-24 in New York City alongside the UN General Assembly, Climate Week NYC 2017 will bring together international leaders from business, government and civil society to showcase the unstoppable momentum of global climate action.

Climate Week NYC is brought to you by The Climate Group
 Climateweeknyc.org | @ClimateWeekNYC | #CWNYC

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 8th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Elon Musk: Model 3 passed all regulatory requirements for production two weeks ahead of schedule. Expecting to complete SN1 on Friday – 1:48 AM – 3 Jul 2017

Tesla’s Model 3, its mass-market car, expected to roll off factory floor Friday July 7, 2017.

The $35,000 electric car passed regulatory requirements two weeks ahead of schedule, and the first 30 owners will receive their cars at the end of the month, chief executive Elon Musk said.

Everything you need to know about Tesla Model 3, which is starting production today.

We’re gonna rock down to Electric Avenue, and the stakes couldn’t be any higher.

by Andrew J. Hawkins@andyjayhawk Jul 7, 2017,

Today’s the day for Tesla. The automaker says it expects to complete production of “SN1” (or “Serial Number one”) of the Model 3, its first electric car for the masses. But the Model 3 isn’t just any car. Everything for the success of Tesla as a viable car company has been building up to this point. The Model 3 will define the future of the company — and the stakes for Tesla and CEO Elon Musk couldn’t possibly be higher.

Earlier this week, Musk tweeted that Friday was the day the first Model 3 would be rolling off the assembly line. In subsequent tweets, he added that the first 30 Model 3 customers will receive their new Teslas on July 28th at a handover party hosted by the automaker.

“I think I can say, without irony of mawkishness, that this is the most important electric car ever produced,” said Michael Ramsey, research director at Gartner. “That’s because if it meets expectations of hundreds of thousands of sales, it changes the global landscape for electric cars. And if it fails, it relegates the move toward electrification to the trudging march that it has been so far.”

“I THINK I CAN SAY, WITHOUT IRONY OF MAWKISHNESS, THAT THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT ELECTRIC CAR EVER PRODUCED.”
Skepticism about Tesla’s ability to meet the enormous demands of mass production is extremely high. Practically no one believes Musk will be able to meet the benchmarks he has set for the Model 3. Tesla’s share price has been savaged over the last week, losing nearly 20 percent of its value, while Wall Street analysts predict that demand for Tesla’s two other current vehicles, the Model S and Model X, has already peaked. Other experts say that Musk will need to reduce costs by as much as 60 percent if it wants the Model 3 to be profitable.

And then there’s the fact that most auto startups throughout the 20th century eventually failed and fell into obscurity. Tesla, a 15-year-old company, could be poised to challenge those odds. The manufacturing and quality challenges of starting a brand-new automotive company are titanic.

“The Model 3 is critical for Tesla’s long-term viability,” said Karl Brauer, executive publisher at Kelley Blue Book. “The company had been around for almost 15 years yet has never turned a profit. The Model 3 will be Tesla’s first attempt at a high-volume car meant for mainstream consumers. If Tesla can satisfy the Model 3’s pent-up demand with a dependable and profitable vehicle it will finally justify a stock value that has it rivaling GM in capital value. If it can’t, Tesla will confirm many critic’s suspicions that it’s never had a truly sustainable business model.”

Tesla’s sky-high valuation — it recently surpassed BMW’s market cap — depends largely on Musk’s ability to sell his vision of sustainable, battery-powered driving to a much broader population. The Model S and Model X are both extremely expensive. Even with tax incentives, both cars easily push $100,000. The Model 3 will start at $35,000, making it the cheapest in Tesla’s range. In order for Tesla to sell 10 times as many cars as it does now, it needs a much cheaper automobile.

But the marketplace for affordable electric vehicles is suddenly much more crowded than it was when the Model 3 was first announced in 2016. GM was able to grab first-mover status when it released the Chevy Bolt, a $36,620, 238-mile-per-charge, electric vehicle, last December. Other midlevel electric vehicles include the Volkswagen e-Golf ($36,415), Ford Focus Electric ($29,995), and Nissan Leaf ($37,675).

These companies have the infrastructure in place to maintain quality and dealer service networks, however. There are signs that Tesla is rethinking its approach to selling and maintaining cars. (Most car dealers now act as the service arm for new buyers.)

Tesla can’t survive on its buzz-worthiness alone, but it’s certainly helped buoy its stock price. The number of people who plunked down the $1,000 deposit to preorder the Model 3 after it was first announced last year blew away pretty much everyone’s expectations. It took less than a week for the company to receive 350,000 preorders, leading Tesla to claim the Model 3 had the “biggest one-week launch of any product ever.” Eat your heart out, Apple.

But Tesla still has a long way to go before it can stick the landing. Musk says production is expected to grow exponentially: 100 cars in August, more than 1,500 by September, and then 20,000 per month by December. If the company fails to hit these marks or runs into manufacturing issues that happen at higher scales, or demand for the Model 3 drops, analysts argue it would be a setback not just for Tesla, but perhaps the entire electrification movement.

BY 2040, ANALYSTS SAY THAT 54 PERCENT OF ALL CARS SOLD ON THE PLANET WILL BE ELECTRIC
In 2016, Bloomberg’s new energy think tank predicted that electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles would make up about 35 percent of the world’s auto market by the year 2040. This year, the group upped that figure considerably: by 2040, analysts now say that 54 percent of all cars sold on the planet will be electric. France’s environmental minister said yesterday his country would ban the sale of all fossil fuel-burning vehicles by 2040. And Volvo said it would stop selling gas-only cars by 2019.

The world is trending toward battery-powered, electric vehicles, thanks in no small part to Musk’s vision and ingenuity. Tesla has helped spur the biggest automakers to accelerate their electrification plans. “The Chevy Bolt might not exist now were it not for Tesla,” said Sam Abuelsamid, an analyst at Navigant. “VW Group is running as fast as it can to move from diesel to electric.”

But the timing of the Model 3’s release could spell doom for Tesla, which still sells a fraction of the automobiles produced by the world’s biggest OEMs. Auto sales are stagnant in the US, while most consumers are trending toward SUVs and crossover vehicles rather than sedans. Tesla faces the problem of introducing a compact sedan when the market is running headlong away from this form factor to sport utilities. “Their timing couldn’t have been worse,” Abuelsamid said.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 8th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

The Austrian daily Salzburger Nachrichten has today a cartoon showing the G20 roundtable
with one chair not in correct position. This leads to a second Round Table on which sits
a farting big yellow cat.

Governor Jerry Brown of California is ready to lead where an alternate leader is needed.


California’s Governor Just Followed Trump To Hamburg And Stole His Spotlight.

BY BENJAMIN LOCKE
POLITICS | Washington Journal, JULY 8, 2017

In a call to action, California Governor Jerry Brown told an international audience at a climate conference going on in Hamburg, Germany at the same time as the G-20 conference that “President Trump doesn’t speak for the rest of us,” as he announced plans for a global environmental summit next September in San Francisco.

Speaking via video to attendees at the Global Citizens Festival, Brown sent a strong signal that there are Americans ready to take a leadership role in combatting climate change despite the president.

“It’s up to you and it’s up to me and tens of millions of other people to get it together to roll back the forces of carbonization and join together to combat the existential threat of climate change,” Brown said.

His next statement drew loud applause from the crowd: “Yes, I know President Trump is trying to get out of the Paris agreement, but he doesn’t speak for the rest of America.”

“We in California and in all states across America,” continued Brown, “believe it’s time to act, its time to join together and that’s why at this climate action summit we’re going to get it done.”
When California becomes the first state to host a global climate summit, it will precede the 14th United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which will be an even larger effort to bring together state, city and municipal governments to promise to fight climate change and then follow through by making good on their pledges, Brown’s staff told the Mercury News.

Trump thumbed his nose at the climate change advocates by scheduling his first sit-down with Russian President VBladimir Putin at the same time the G20 countries were scheduled to discuss issues around climate change.

Trump was not invited to speak at the Global Citizens Festival, but attendees did hear from other world leaders including Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg and Argentina’s President Mauricio Marci.

There were also musical performances during the event by Coldplay, Shakira, Pharrell Williams and others.

Brown was introduced to the conference by Christiana Figueres, the former UN climate chief, who called the California Governor “a stubborn optimist from a surprising country.”

Figueres said the message that the conference will send to the world is that Trump does not speak for all Americans, most of whom do believe that climate change is real and that it is a real danger to the entire planet.

Brown has been a leader on the need to address climate change for a long time, helping shape policies in California that emphasize renewal energy sources and a respect for the planet nad its people.

Last December, Brown said if Trump took away the satellites that monitor world climate change, California would put “it’s own damn satellites” into the sky to do the job.
Brown has amped up his campaign since June when Trump announced the U.S. would withdraw from the Paris agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Shortly after that Brown took a trip to China where he met with President Xi Jinping to deliver his message that “disaster still looms,” unless governments take action, says the Mercury News, while predicting Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris agreement would only be a temporary setback. He said Europe, China, individual U.S. states, and cities, among others, would take over the leadership role that has been abandoned by Trump.

Brown told the Mercury News just before his China trip that if Trump stays on his current course, “California will just redouble its efforts and the people of the world will have to rise up and take action. And I think in a paradoxical way, that’s exactly what Trump is stimulating – the very opposite of climate denial is climate activism.”
Brown met earlier this week with other municipal and state leaders from Germany, Argentina, Australia and other countries as part of the Under2 Coalition, to urge G20 leaders to stand by the Paris agreement and welcome the role of states, cities and regional governments in working to address climate change.

“All over the world,” Brown said in a statement, “momentum is building to deal seriously with climate change. Despite rejection in Washington, California is all in. We are fully committed to the Under2 Coalition and the Paris agreement.”

Brown said the steps he is taking are designed to build a consensus and encourage negotiations at every level. He told the Los Angeles Times that given the scope of the challenges, finding solutions will not be “a walk in the park.”

“Decarbonizing the world,” added Brown, “it’s like going from the Roman Empire to Christianity. It’s a total paradigm shift.”
Brown is showing real leadership even in the face of constant criticism from his Republican opponents and their surrogates, and he is making the entire world aware that the U.S. is not going to give up on addressing climate change just because the current president is a science denier.

Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, current New York Mayor Bill DeBlasio, Governor Kate Brown of Oregon, and progressive leaders from more than 30 cities, three other governors, university presidents, business leaders and others across the country are joining with Brown.

They are determined to not let commercial interests with huge lobbying budgets who are in the pocket of corrupt Republicans pollute freely and destroy the world while they stand by.

Take that, Koch brothers.

In the twilight of his political career, Brown is taking action and inviting the whole world to join with him.

———————————————–
BENJAMIN LOCKE
BENJAMIN LOCKE IS A RETIRED COLLEGE PROFESSOR WITH AN UNDERGRADUATE DEGREE IN INDUSTRIAL LABOR AND RELATIONS FROM CORNELL UNIVERSITY AND AN MBA FROM THE EUROPEAN SCHOOL OF MANAGEMENT.

California’s Governor Just Followed Trump To Hamburg And Stole His Spotlight


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please see also:

 www.alternet.org/news-amp-politic…

Is Jerry Brown the ‘President’ of Anti-Trump America? He Shows Up in Germany for the G20
Trump “doesn’t speak for the rest of America,” says the California governor.
By Tom Boggioni / Raw Story July 7, 2017,

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on June 1st, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

From the New York Times, June 1, 2017:

Jean-Claude Juncker, the president of the European Commission, suggested Mr. Trump did not understand the mechanics of the treaty. “Not everything written in international agreements is fake news,” he said.
Major players still hope to sway Mr. Trump’s decision. Here’s what other countries might do if the U.S. pulls out.


.* China’s premier, Li Keqiang, met with Chancellor Angela Merkel in Germany, before heading to Brussels for a Europe-China summit today. China may see President Trump’s antagonistic behavior in Europe last week as an opportunity.
President Trump’s criticism of German trade policy has set off alarm bells in parts of the American South. He is popular there, but German companies are important employers.
Meanwhile, China’s economic might is increasingly apparent in Europe, its top trade partner. Consider how China’s wealthy are turning to European clinics for medical treatment. Or the German engineer who moved to China, where he received a grant for artificial intelligence research six times larger than what he might have gotten in Europe.

From The Washington Post – Today’s WorldView

BY ISHAAN THAROOR June 1, 2017


If Trump quits the Paris climate accord, he will lead the U.S. into the wilderness

After months of speculation, it might finally be happening: President Trump appears ready to withdraw the United States from the 2015 Paris climate agreement. If he does, he will place Washington at odds with virtually the entire international community.

Despite the excited tone of Trump’s tweet (and reports suggesting that he had made up his mind), the matter seemed far from settled at the time of writing. The president’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson are supposedly urging Trump to stick with the Paris agreement. A host of big companies have urged Trump to reconsider withdrawing. On Wednesday, the shareholders of ExxonMobil, Tillerson’s former company, voted by a wide margin for a resolution they say will compel the oil giant to stick to the goal of transitioning to a low-carbon economy. Many analysts also point to how clean energy is fueling job growth: There are already twice as many solar jobs as there are coal jobs in the United States.

Their opponents include White House chief adviser Stephen K. Bannon and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt, a climate skeptic who has already set about dismantling Obama-era regulations on the U.S. fossil fuel industry. Trump seems inclined toward the Bannon and Pruitt position, which has some — though not unanimous — support from the Republican Party. (Only in the United States, of course, is the question of climate change subject to partisan debate.)

Championed by the Obama administration, the Paris agreement created, for the first time, a single framework for developed and developing countries to work together and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The New York Times has a helpful primer on what the landmark accord entailed:

“Under the Paris agreement, every country submitted an individual plan to tackle its greenhouse gas emissions and then agreed to meet regularly to review their progress and prod each other to ratchet up their efforts as the years went by,” explained the Times. “Unlike its predecessor treaty, the Kyoto Protocol, the Paris deal was intended to be nonbinding, so that countries could tailor their climate plans to their domestic situations and alter them as circumstances changed. There are no penalties for falling short of declared targets. The hope was that, through peer pressure and diplomacy, these policies would be strengthened over time.”

If the United States withdraws from the accord, it would find itself in farcically lonely company. The pact was signed by 195 countries, with only Nicaragua and Syria bowing out.

In coastal, low-lying Nicaragua’s case, leaders refused to sign because the pact didn’t go far enough. “Nicaragua’s lead envoy explained to reporters that the country would not support the agreed-upon plan as it hinged on voluntary pledges and would not punish those who failed to meet them,” wrote my colleague Adam Taylor.

As for Syria, the country “was effectively an international pariah when the Paris accord was first signed, making Damascus’s involvement at the least impractical,” wrote Taylor. Numerous officials in President Bashar al-Assad’s regime are the subject of international sanctions that limit their movement, and the ongoing, devastating war in the country means the Syrian government isn’t paying much attention to limiting its emissions.

The implications of a U.S. withdrawal, though, are profound and far-reaching.

“A U.S. withdrawal would remove the world’s second-largest emitter and nearly 18 percent of the globe’s present day emissions from the agreement, presenting a severe challenge to its structure and raising questions about whether it will weaken the commitments of other nations,” wrote Washington Post environment reporter Chris Mooney.

Some climate experts actually suggest that, given Trump’s steady dismantling of environmental protections, it’s better for the United States to leave the pact altogether than to undermine it from within.

“The success of Paris largely relies on its pledge and review process to create political pressure, and drive low-carbon investments,” wrote Luke Kemp, an environmental policy expert at Australian National University. “A great power that willfully misses its target could provide political cover for other laggards and weaken the soft power of process.”

But given the importance of U.S. investment in clean energy, as well as the huge effect U.S. emissions have on the environment, experts warn that the international community’s efforts to limit global warming to about 2 degrees Celsius may founder without U.S. compliance. The effects would be felt by vulnerable communities all around the world.

If Trump goes ahead and pulls the United States out, it would be “a decision made for domestic political purposes that puts the livelihood and lives of millions of people in developing countries at risk,” said Trevor Houser, a former climate negotiator for the Obama administration, to Vox’s Jim Tankersley. “This is a craven, symbolic political move without any direct benefits for the constituents he’s targeting.”

Although the Paris agreement is nonbinding, it may take three to four years to formally withdraw. Trump could expedite the process by quitting the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, signed by President George H.W. Bush and ratified by the Senate in the early 1990s, which laid the foundation for the Paris accord. “But that is a more radical move, which would further withdraw the United States from all international climate change negotiations,” wrote Mooney.

And that’s the other effect of a withdrawal: the disappearance of U.S. leadership on a fundamental issue affecting the future of the planet. Already, other countries are taking the mantle once donned by Obama. Ahead of a Friday meeting between European Union leaders and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, Beijing and Brussels issued a joint statement saying they were “determined to forge ahead” with measures to “lead the energy transition.” The statement, seen by the Financial Times, also stressed a point seemingly lost on the Trump administration: “Tackling climate change and reforming our energy systems are significant drivers of job creation, investment opportunities and economic growth.”

At a time when the world focuses its efforts to reckon with global warming, Trump may really leave the United States out in the cold.

• Another crucial argument around climate action in the age of Trump: The emergence of a global low-carbon economy may not require the full endorsement of a federal government or nation-state, but actors below that level. I’ve written in the past on how real work around combating emissions is being carried out by cities and regional governments, as well as by corporations themselves. The latter form a crucial constituency that may be unmoved by Trump’s “America First” posturing, writes U.S. climatologist Benjamin Sanderson in The Washington Post:

“Businesses (oil companies included) are well aware that the carbon economy is coming and their shareholders are increasingly demanding long-term investment strategies that allow those companies to profit in a low-carbon future. One can make the argument that the greatest casualty from U.S. withdrawal from the Paris accord will be the United States itself. By sidelining mitigation investment, and leaving companies to act alone, U.S. companies are placed at a disadvantage while China races to establish itself as the world leader in clean technology.”

We, at SustainabiliTank.info believe that it is better for the world to pass the times of the Trump Presidency of the US with the non-participation of the US at Climate Change meetings.
Having them there would onnly impede progress by the wise world. So, rather then chasing after the Trump presence – invite them to leave and continue on President Obama’s path.

For Joe Biden see:  twitter.com/JoeBiden/status/8700…

For Mit Romney see:  twitter.com/MittRomney/status/87…


EU and China strengthen climate ties to counter US retreat
Tighter alliance comes as US prepares to announce decision on Paris accord withdrawal

China and the EU have forged a green alliance to combat climate change and counteract any retreat from international action by Donald Trump

 www.ft.com/content/585f1946-45e2…

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 25th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


Where We Drill, We Spill: Commemorating Exxon Valdez

By Franz Matzner, Natural Resources Defense Council
24 March 17

Twenty eight years ago today the world experienced a massive wake-up call on the hazards and harms of oil spills when the Exxon Valdez oil tanker split open and poured oil into Alaskan waters.

At the time, images of oil coated wildlife and a devastated ecosystem in one of the world’s most delicate, iconic and majestic environments drew global attention. Today, oil still lurks under the surface of Prince William Sound, impairing wildlife and human lives.

Eleven years later, BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded, killing 11 workers and spreading millions of gallons of crude throughout the Gulf of Mexico.

Gulf communities are still trying to recover from this devastating blow to local economies and human health. Years of legal challenge and delay by the oil industry meant those least able to absorb the blow to their way of life abandoned and foundering.

In the aftermath of the BP disaster, a non-partisan, blue ribbon commission was established to provide recommendations to mitigate the risk of future events, providing hope to communities already exposed to oil drilling that finally their voices would be heard.

Despite these consensus proposals, adequate safety reforms have never been formulated, let alone implemented and even the progress that has been made is at risk.

As I write, crude oil is flowing into the Mississippi and a gas leak in Alaska’s Cook Inlet is ongoing—and has been for more than three months. Sea ice is making repairs impossible, underscoring again the unique challenges of oil and gas exploration in Alaska’s frozen and tumultuous waters.

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EcoWatch @EcoWatch
3 Months and Counting: Pipeline Leaks Natural Gas Into Alaska’s Cook Inlet ow.ly/AJCX30a1p3F @kxlblockade @TarSandsAction
3:50 AM – 18 Mar 2017
Photo published for “This dangerous leak could stop immediately if regulators did their job and shut down this rickety..

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“This dangerous leak could stop immediately if regulators did their job and shut down this rickety… Pipeline Leaks 210,000 Cubic Feet of Natural Gas Per Day Into Alaska’s Cook Inlet
 ecowatch.com

100 100 Retweets 59 59 likes
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But it’s not just the major, headline dominating spills that are degrading our environment and impacting human health. Wired reported in December that there are about 30,000 oil spills per year in U.S. waters, most of which are in the Gulf of Mexico. It’s being killed, literally, by a thousand cuts. Nor are spills the only concern. Ongoing operations produce other pollutants, including toxic metals and carcinogens, that are dumped into the ocean. A toxic mix of metals, fluids and other drilling bi-products harm marine ecosystems and are suspected in increasing mercury levels in some fish populations. To say nothing of the infrastructure development that can rip apart habitats and the industries that rely on them.

Adding insult to injury, the agencies responsible for managing our publicly owned ocean resources have been identified by the Government Accountability Office as “high risk.” The Government Accountability Office is a nonpartisan “congressional watchdog” that seeks to identify performance issues and inefficiencies in the federal government. Its high risk designation, granted to the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement in 2016, indicates that the agency charged with limiting offshore oil spills is not doing its job effectively. Just this week, in fact, the Government Accountability Office released a report expanding on its findings about the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement. And the House Oversight committee held a hearing on oil well safety, which focused on that report and further exposed the lack of meaningful safety measures as well as the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement’s significant lack of staffing and resources.

Fortunately, at the close of the previous administration, bold actions were taken to preserve and protect large swaths of our Arctic and Atlantic oceans from future oil disasters. These decisions came in direct response to the broad and unwavering call from all corners of the country to stop the expansion of oil drilling into these public waters and recognized that the rapid growth of clean energy means there is simply no need to expose our still oil-free beaches, local economies and climate to the inherent harms of offshore drilling.

This victory is something that should be built on. Yet the Trump administration’s oil cabinet and its allies in Congress have instead launched a systematic attack to do precisely the opposite, opening the door for these vital oceans owned by all American’s to be sold and exploited at the behest of select private oil companies.

The very first piece of legislation signed by President Trump was a gift to Exxon and global despots, designed to make it easier for oil, gas and coal companies to bribe foreign governments without accountability.

The Trump “starvation” budget would axe funding to the already beleaguered and under resourced agencies tasked with managing oil drilling safety risks, effectively taking what few cops are left off the beat.

And to complete the package, legislation is being proposed in the House and Senate that would open the door to a radical expansion of offshore drilling. One proposal would overturn recently finalized drilling safety standards specifically designed to meet recommendations made by the Oil Spill Commission.

Draft legislation being circulated by Rep. Bratt (R-VA) and another bill introduced by Sen. Cassidy (R-LA) would remove current permanent protections in the Arctic Ocean, along the Atlantic coast and in Alaska’s Bristol Bay, bar any future President from providing such protections and gut the underlying law that ensures public input into how public resources are utilized.

Extreme by any measure, these legislative proposals should be rejected, even by those who do not oppose offshore drilling. It is simply unconscionable to discount the documented safety, environmental and health risks that come with offshore drilling and to put in place a system designed to exclude the coastal residents most in harm’s way, flout the science of climate change and flatly reject the basic principles of responsible management of our public lands and oceans.

Fortunately, across the country millions of concerned citizens, communities, businesses and local residents are ready to stand strong against this attempt to rob future generations of our pristine beaches, healthy oceans and a stable climate.

Urge your Members of Congress to oppose Big Oil’s plan to bring Big Spills back to our beaches. Ask them to instead cosponsor legislation to protect our oceans, communities and climate. You can reach your Representative and Senators through the Capitol switchboard, at (202) 224-3121.

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###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 24th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


Success: Defeat for Trump and Paul Ryan – Obamacare stays the law of the land.

Ryan: We came close but we didn’t have enough votes so for now Obamacare stays the law of the land. Republicans will move on to other items on the agenda.

Trump: typical Trump. Obamacare will explode and the democrats will be blamed and they will still come to us and beg to replace Obamacare. Bad things will happen to Obamacare and to the American people, but that’s because we had no support from the democrats. He was also mostly disappointed by the conservative Republicans who did not support his bill.


The pundits say Trump is delusional: They also say those are the worst first 100 days of any President in modern times.

——————-


California’s vow to reduce auto pollution may be setting up a full-out war with Trump
From smog to greenhouse gases, state regulators refuse to yield as legal battles loom.

By CHRIS MEGERIAN

MAR 24, 2017 | REPORTING FROM RIVERSIDE

Wielding the same authority created decades ago to fight smog, California regulators on Friday moved forward with tough new pollution-reduction requirements for automakers selling cars in the state.

The rules set escalating targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from 2022 through 2025, and officials are planning tougher steps after that. There’s also a requirement for automakers to sell more zero-emission vehicles in the state, with a goal of 1 million on the road by 2025.

The decision to push ahead with cuts to greenhouse gas emissions came even as President Trump has begun rolling back federal rules intended to battle global warming over the next several years.

California has a long history of pushing the envelope to reduce tailpipe pollution, and the latest move signals the state is prepared to do battle with Trump’s White House.

“We’re going to press on,” Mary Nichols, California’s top emissions regulator, said during a meeting of the Air Resources Board in Riverside.

The state’s rules on greenhouse gases were written in partnership with former President Obama’s administration, creating a single national standard for new vehicles.

But with Trump in the White House and conservatives in charge of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, state and federal regulators have started drifting in separate directions. The divergence could reignite historic conflicts that once raged in Sacramento, Washington and Detroit.

Mary Nichols chairs the Air Resources Board meeting held in Riverside.

Automakers have chafed at the rules imposed by the Obama administration. However, they fear returning to an era where they needed to build two versions of their vehicles — a cleaner, more expensive one for sale in California and a standard model available everywhere else.

“We should all be getting back to work on this,” John Bozzella, who advocates for international car companies at the Assn. of Global Automakers, said at Friday’s hearing.

Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency has until next year to decide whether to loosen federal regulations, which would require passenger cars to average about 54 miles per gallon by 2025, up from 36 miles per gallon today.


But California has the unique ability to set tougher rules than federal standards under a waiver program that recognizes the state’s long struggle with pollution. In addition, a dozen other states have adopted California rules as their own, giving regulators here an outsize influence on the national marketplace.

ALSO SEE IN THE ORIGINAL: Historical photos of pollution in California

Over the years they’ve shown little hesitance about setting higher benchmarks for emissions, steps that often eventually become federal requirements. The rules approved Friday could force automakers to build more efficient engines, use increasingly lightweight materials and develop more electric vehicles.

Ann Carlson, an environmental law professor at UCLA, said negotiations still could resolve disagreements and preserve a single national standard.

And if they don’t?

“The other possibility is it’s full-out war,” Carlson said.

War over vehicle rules would not be new for California, where thick smog decades ago made tougher regulations a necessity. In Los Angeles, motorcycle riders wore gas masks and children were kept inside during school recess.

Highlights from California’s emissions regulations

1959
California launches the first statewide standards on vehicle emissions

1967
Gov. Ronald Reagan signs legislation creating the Air Resources Board; federal government grants California unique ability to pursue tougher regulations than federal standards

1971
California creates the country’s first standards for NOx emissions from tailpipes

1975
Catalytic converters are required to reduce vehicle pollution, six years before they become a national standard

2004
Air Resources Board creates first rules for greenhouse gas emissions from tailpipes

2012
The Obama Administration creates one national standard for vehicle emissions until 2025

2017
President Trump begins to roll back federal rules, while California pushes forward with higher standards

Source: Los Angeles Times reporting

“My eyes would sting. Sometimes you couldn’t see a block,” said Tom Quinn, who was appointed to lead the Air Resources Board when Gov. Jerry Brown took office for his first term in 1975. One of his fellow board members was Nichols, who returned to the agency in 2007 and remains in charge today.

The board quickly ran into opposition from automakers, who said higher standards would be impossible to meet. Quinn remembers turning to Bob Sawyer, another board member and a mechanical engineering professor, during a break in a meeting.

“I said, ‘Bob, what’s going to happen? They insist they can’t sell cars,’ ” Quinn recalled. “Bob said, ‘They’re lying.’ ”

The board passed the rules, Quinn said, and “of course they sold cars.”

Sometimes regulators clamped down on individual manufacturers, barring sales of certain cars or instituting financial penalties. Regulators issued a $328,400 fine, the largest at the time, against Chrysler for violating smog rules. A company representative dropped off a check at Quinn’s house on a weekend.

The state’s clout has only grown since then. An update to federal law in 1990 allowed other states to adopt California’s higher standards; New York and Massachusetts are among the dozen that have taken that step.

“California has set itself as an example, and other states are following behind,” said Michael Harley, an Irvine-based automotive analyst at Kelley Blue Book. “We don’t have a ‘rogue state’ syndrome.”

The latest round of battles began in 2002, when California enacted the country’s first rules for greenhouse gases from tailpipes to fight global warming.

Fran Pavley, the former lawmaker who wrote the legislation, recalled bitter opposition.

“One person threatened to come over with a baseball bat,” she said of a threat to her office. “This got really, really heated.”

Automakers sued the state, and President George W. Bush’s administration rejected California’s request for a waiver to move forward with the regulations, the only time such a request has been turned down.

A potential legal battle dissipated, however, once Obama took office. His administration granted California’s waiver and worked toward a single national policy for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

High gas prices and political pressure to reduce the country’s reliance on foreign oil — not to mention Obama’s desire to address climate change — led to additional fuel efficiency regulations finalized in 2012.

It was a period of relative harmony, but the circumstances that fostered cooperation and ambitious national regulations no longer exist. With gas prices lower, consumers have proved more interested in pickup trucks and sport utility vehicles than hybrids and electric cars.

Automakers argue that Obama improperly rushed to finalize the rules before he left office, and Trump does not share California’s commitment to fighting climate change.

The unraveling consensus on vehicle regulations has concerned advocates.

“There’s no reason for environmentalists, automakers and conservatives to risk a nuclear war over these rules, which will result in zero progress for all sides,” said Robbie Diamond, who leads Securing America’s Future Energy, a group of business and former military leaders that wants less dependence on foreign oil.

Now that California has recommitted itself to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the next steps are up to Trump. If the administration’s review leads to only slight changes, automakers might be able to balance California and federal regulations without much trouble.

“They could just shuffle cars around,” Harley said, ensuring the mix of vehicles available for sale meet California’s benchmarks. Consumers here already buy more electric cars and fewer pickup trucks than national averages.

But there’s still the potential for a dramatic change, or even an unprecedented legal assault on California’s cherished ability to set higher standards. Although automakers insisted they weren’t calling that into question, Nichols expressed skepticism about their commitment because they asked Trump to review federal rules.

“What were you thinking when you threw yourself upon the mercy of the Trump administration?” she said.

At this point, state leaders seem unwilling to yield to any pressure on regulating emissions.

“I don’t like to say anything is nonnegotiable,” said Brown on Monday during a visit to Washington.

But to fight climate change, he said, “we have to intensify, not fall back.”

Downtown Los Angeles’ tallest buildings rise above a blanket of smog in October 1973. (Fitzgerald Whitney / Los Angeles Times)
Times staff writer Evan Halper contributed to this report.

 chris.megerian at latimes.com

ALSO

Trump wants to shelve fuel mileage rules, inviting a fight with California

Trump’s EPA pick poised to survive Senate fight, but his brewing battle with California will be harder to win

========================================

‘Hello, Bob’: President Trump called my cellphone a Washington Post correspondent, to say that the health-care bill was dead.

Trump on health care bill: ‘We couldn’t quite get there’

President Trump addressed his plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, saying he will let Obamacare “explode,” before taking questions from the media on March 24 at the White House. (The Washington Post)

By Robert (Bob) Costa March 24 at 5:59 PM
President Trump called me on my cellphone Friday afternoon at 3:31 p.m. At first I thought it was a reader with a complaint since it was a blocked number.

Instead, it was the president calling from the Oval Office. His voice was even, his tone muted. He did not bury the lead.

“Hello, Bob,” Trump began. “So, we just pulled it.”

Trump was speaking, of course, of the Republican plan to overhaul the Affordable Care Act, a plan that had been languishing for days amid unrest throughout the party as the president and his allies courted members and pushed for a vote.

Before I could ask a question, Trump plunged into his explanation of the politics of deciding to call off a vote on a bill he had been touting.

The many ups and downs of the GOP health-care battle Play Video3:56
Republicans withdrew the American Health Care Act moments before a scheduled vote on March 24, after failing to woo enough lawmakers to support it. Here are the key turning points in their fight to pass the bill. (Jenny Starrs/The Washington Post)
The Democrats, he said, were to blame.

“We couldn’t get one Democratic vote, and we were a little bit shy, very little, but it was still a little bit shy, so we pulled it,” Trump said.

Trump said he would not put the bill on the floor in the coming weeks. He is willing to wait and watch the current law continue and, in his view, encounter problems. And he believes that Democrats will eventually want to work with him on some kind of legislative fix to Obamacare, although he did not say when that would be.

[House Republican leaders abruptly pull their rewrite of the nation’s health-care law]

“As you know, I’ve been saying for years that the best thing is to let Obamacare explode and then go make a deal with the Democrats and have one unified deal. And they will come to us; we won’t have to come to them,” he said. “After Obamacare explodes.”

“The beauty,” Trump continued, “is that they own Obamacare. So when it explodes, they come to us, and we make one beautiful deal for the people.”

My question for the president: Are you really willing to wait to reengage on health care until the Democrats come and ask for your help?

“Sure,” Trump said. “I never said I was going to repeal and replace in the first 61 days” — contradicting his own statements and that of his own adviser, Kellyanne Conway, who told CNN in November that the then-president-elect was contemplating convening a special session on Inauguration Day to begin the process of repealing the Affordable Care Act.

Turning to an aide, Trump asked, “How many days is it now? Whatever.” He laughed.

Trump returned to the theme of blaming the Democrats.

“Hey, we could have done this,” he said. “But we couldn’t get one Democrat vote, not one. So that means they own Obamacare and when that explodes, they will come to us wanting to save whatever is left, and we’ll make a real deal.”

There was little evidence that either Trump or House Republicans made a serious effort to reach out to Democrats.

Still, I wondered, why not whip some more votes this weekend and come back next week to the House with a revised piece of legislation?

“Well,” Trump said, “we could do that, too. But we didn’t do that. It’s always possible, but we pulled it.”

Trump brought up the vote count. “We were close,” he said.

How close?

“I would say within anywhere from five to 12 votes,” Trump said — although widespread reports indicated that at least three dozen Republicans opposed the measure.

[There were at least three dozen Republicans opposed to the health-care bill

That must have hurt after all of his attempts to rally Republicans, I said. He made calls, had people over to the White House, invited House members on Air Force One. He may not have loved the bill, but he embraced the negotiations.

“You’re right,” Trump said. “I’m a team player, but I’ve also said the best thing politically is to let Obamacare explode.”

Trump said he made the decision to pull the bill after meeting Friday at the White House with House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.).

Was that a tense, tough conversation with Ryan, I asked?

“No, not tough,” Trump said. “It’s just life. We had great support among most Republicans but no Democratic votes. Zero. Not one.”

I mentioned to Trump that some of his allies were frustrated with Ryan. Did he share those frustrations, and would he be able to work with Ryan moving forward on plans to cut taxes and build an infrastructure package?

“I don’t blame Paul,” Trump said.

He then repeated the phrase: “I don’t blame Paul. He worked very hard on this.”

And again.

“I don’t blame Paul at all.”

As he waits for Democrats, I asked, what’s next on health care, if anything, policy-wise?

“Time will tell. Obamacare is in for some rough days. You understand that. It’s in for some rough, rough days,” Trump said.

“I’ll fix it as it explodes,” he said. “They’re going to come to ask for help. They’re going to have to. Here’s the good news: Health care is now totally the property of the Democrats.”

Speaking of premium increases, Trump said: “When people get a 200 percent increase next year or a 100 percent or 70 percent, that’s their fault.”

He returned again to a partisan line on the turn of events.

“To be honest, the biggest losers today are Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer,” Trump said of the House minority leader and the Senate minority leader. “Because now they own the disaster known as Obamacare.”

Okay, I asked, they may own it, in his view, but he will at some point be tasked with shaping whatever comes forward as a partial replacement. What will that be? What kind of policy could he support?

“Oh, lots of things can happen,” Trump said. “But the best would be if we could all get together and do a real health-care bill that would be good for the people, and that could very well happen.”

Does Trump regret starting his agenda this year with health care?

“No, I don’t,” he said. “But in a way I’m glad I got it out of the way.”

“Look, I’m a team player,” Trump said of the Republican Party. “I’ve played this team. I’ve played with the team. And they just fell a little bit short, and it’s very hard when you need almost 100 percent of the votes and we have no votes, zero, from the Democrats. It’s unheard of.”

What happened with the House Freedom Caucus, the hard-line conservatives he had wooed over and over again?

“Ah, that’s the big question,” Trump said with a slight chuckle. “Don’t know. I have a good relationship with them, but I couldn’t get them. They just wouldn’t do it.”

Trump alluded to long-running, simmering dramas on Capitol Hill, which he said had little to do with him, as a reason the Freedom Caucus could not back the bill.

“Years of hatred and distrust,” he said. “Long before me.”

Was Trump saying, perhaps, that the inability of Ryan and his team to work well with that caucus was part of why talks stalled?

“Well, look, you can say what you want,” Trump said. “But there are years of problems, great hatred and distrust, and, you know, I came into the middle of it.”

“I think they made a mistake, but that’s okay,” Trump said of the Freedom Caucus.

As we wrapped up, I tried to get some clarity. The president was blaming the Democrats and was willing to let the law “explode.” Yet he also seemed to be teasing the possibility of doing something bipartisan down the road, a fresh start at some point.

I asked: Would working on a bipartisan health-care deal a year from now be something he would find more agreeable than whipping the hard right?

“A lot of people might say that,” Trump said, laughing. “We’ll end up with a better health-care plan. A great plan. And you wouldn’t need the Freedom Caucus.”

What about the moderates, the Tuesday Group?

“They were great,” Trump said. “They were really great.”

He turned once more to the Democrats.

“They own it,” he said.

“You’ve said that,” I told him.

“This is a process,” Trump concluded, “and it’s going to work out very well. I was a team player, and I had an obligation to go along with this.”

As Trump tried to hang up the phone and get back to work, I asked him to reflect, if at all possible, on lessons learned. He’s a few months into his presidency, and he had to pull a bill that he had invested time and energy into passing.

What was on his mind?

“Just another day,” Trump said, flatly. “Just another day in paradise, okay?”

He paused.

“Take care.”

Read more at PowerPost

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 26th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


The Disjointed World that never was based on Human Rights.

————————–

AN ADDITION WITH GLOBAL INTEREST:

Muhammad ali Jr. – Muhammad Ali’s son detained by immigration staff and repeatedly asked – are you Muslim?
by: Nicole MorleyNicole Morley for Metro.co.ukSaturday 25 Feb 2017

The son of legendary boxer Muhammad Ali was detained by immigration staff who asked – ‘are you Muslim?’ {ah! those Trump goons have no idea about America!}

A lawyer claims Muhammad Ali Jr, was asked targeted by immigration officials at a Florida airport who repeatedly asked about his religion and where he got his name.

Chris Mancini tells the Courier-Journal in Louisville that 44-year-old Muhammad Ali Jr. and his mother Khalilah Camacho-Ali, the second wife of Muhammad Ali, were arriving at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport on Feb. 7 after returning from Jamaica.
Khalilah Camacho-Ali, who married the boxer in 1967, was in Jamaica with her son to deliver a speech on black history.

Read more: metro.co.uk/2017/02/25/muhammad-a…

Read more: metro.co.uk/2017/02/25/muhammad-a…

=========================================================================================


Iran tells U.S. chess champion to wear a hijab – here’s how she responds

By Carlos Garcia Feb 21, 2017

Nazi Paikidze is the reigning U.S. chess champion, but when the Iranian government told her she had to wear a hijab, the Muslim head veil, and restrict contact with men in order to compete in the world competition hosted by Iran this year, she refused. The “morality laws” were supported by FIDE, the international organization that coordinates the world chess championship event.

“By participating, I would be forced to submit to forms of oppression designed specifically for women,” Paikidze told Marie Clare magazine. “It sets the wrong example, particularly for young girls interested in chess.”

Paikidze further explained her decision in a post on Instagram in September.

This is a post for those who don’t understand why I am boycotting FIDE’s decision. I think it’s unacceptable to host a WOMEN’S World Championship in a place where women do not have basic fundamental rights and are treated as second-class citizens. For those saying that I don’t know anything about Iran: I have received the most support and gratitude from the people of Iran, who are facing this situation every day.
Paikidze also retweeted this tweet noting the irony of members of the Swedish team, a country known for its feminist advances, giving in to the gender-specific oppression imposed by Iran by wearing the hijab.

=================================================

SECOND ADDITION/UPDATE to this article

This after the night of the Oscar’s and the fact that the Iranian Director Asghar Farhadi won it for best foreign language film – for the second time. But this time, under Trump’s goons – he voluntarily refused to come to the big event as he did not want to submit to the official present US insanity!


Iranian director Asghar Farhadi just won his second Best Foreign Language Film Oscar for The Salesman — but as an act of protest against President Trump’s executive order banning people from seven majority-Muslim countries, and nearly all refugees, from entering the United States, he wasn’t at the ceremony to accept the award.

As Farhadi told the New York Times in a statement when Trump first signed the order in late January, he decided not to attend even if he could be granted an exception, saying it “now seems that the possibility of this presence is being accompanied by ifs and buts which are in no way acceptable to me even if exceptions were to be made for my trip.”

So instead of Farhadi giving a speech, Iranian-American businesswoman Anousheh Ansari — the first Iranian to go to space — read a statement from him:

It’s a great honor to be receiving this valuable award for the second time. I would like to thank the members of the academy, my crew in Iran, my producer, Amazon, and my fellow nominees.

I’m sorry I’m not with you tonight. My absence is out of respect for the people of my country and those of other six nations whom have been disrespected by the inhumane law that bans entry of immigrants to the US. Dividing the world into the “us” and “our enemies” categories creates fear. A deceitful justification for aggression and war. These wars prevent democracy and human rights in countries which have themselves been victims of aggression. Filmmakers can turn their cameras to capture shared human qualities and break stereotypes of various nationalities and religions. They create empathy between us and others. An empathy which we need today more than ever.
This statement falls right in line with one he released in conjunction with all of his fellow Best Foreign Language Film nominees, which they wrote to “express our unanimous and emphatic disapproval of the climate of fanaticism and nationalism we see today in the U.S. and in so many other countries, in parts of the population and, most unfortunately of all, among leading politicians.”

So whether the winner was Farhadi, Denmark’s Martin Zandvliet, Sweden’s Hannes Holm, Germany’s Maren Ade, or Australia’s Martin Butler and Bentley Dean, it’s a safe bet that this acceptance speech wasn’t about to shy away from the harder realities lurking outside the sparkling Hollywood theater.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 8th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

POLITICS

Like Many Americans, A Judge On The Court Weighing Trump’s Refugee Ban Was A Refugee
Judge Alex Kozinski’s family fled communism when he was a child.

02/06/2017 — by Matt Ferner
National Reporter, The Huffington Post

Judge Alex Kozinski isn’t assigned to the three-judge panel considering a federal court’s halt of the travel ban but will vote on it when all 11 judges of that court will be convened.

.
LOS ANGELES ? A federal judge who sits on the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which is set to rule on a block of President Donald Trump’s refugee ban, came to the United States as a refugee when he was a boy.

Alex Kozinski, one of the most well-respected judges on the 9th Circuit, fled with his parents, Moses and Sabine, from communist Romania in 1962. Kozinski has spoken publicly about his immigration experience for years, even joking that he went from being a committed communist as a boy to an “instant capitalist” after his first trip outside the Iron Curtain to Vienna ? on his way to the United States ? where he was introduced to “bubble gum, chocolate and bananas.”

Kozinski isn’t assigned to the 9th Circuit panel of three judges who will hear the case Tuesday evening. The panel consists of William C. Canby Jr., Michelle Friedland and Richard Clifton. But as the case progresses, the 9th Circuit, which is based in San Francisco, may grant a “full court” hearing before 11 judges. Along the way, Kozinski may or may not get to express his views on the legality of Trump’s travel ban.


Regardless of whether he ultimately rules on the ban, Kozinski’s journey is coming full circle. On Monday, HIAS ? a refugee agency that has been assisting Jews and others fleeing persecution since 1881 ? filed a legal brief with the 9th Circuit in strong opposition to Trump’s travel ban. HIAS was the same group that helped to resettle the Kozinski family, eventually helping them get all the way to the United States.

Photo -COURTESY OF ALEX KOZINSKi – Alex with his father, Moses, and his mother, Sabine, about a year before the Kozinskis left Romania.

Until contacted by The Huffington Post, HIAS officials were unaware that one of the children it helped decades ago was now serving on the court to which it was appealing.


Officials at HIAS searched their records and found official documentation of arrival for the Kozinski family. HIAS provided it to The Huffington Post, and it is printed here with the permission of Judge Kozinski.

The Kozinski family arrived in Baltimore in late October 1962. Alex was just 12, Moses was 47 and Sabine 43.


“[HIAS] was very generous and kind to us in all respects,” Kozinski told The Huffington Post of his journey to America. Kozinski recalled that the paperwork, all arranged and prepared by HIAS, was completed in Vienna around 1962. The agency then supported the Kozinskis while Moses and Sabine sought employment.

“Then we came to the U.S. on a Sabena four-propeller airliner ? it took about 18 hours to cross the Atlantic, with one stop somewhere in Newfoundland,” Kozinski said. The Kozinskis landed in New York, where they passed through customs, like so many immigrants before them and after them. They briefly settled in Baltimore, where HIAS continued to support the family until Moses and Sabine found steady work.

“Our caseworker was named Mrs. Friedman,” Kozinski said. “I remember her quite well. She smoked Parliaments.”

After about five years in Baltimore, the Kozinskis moved to California in search of warmer weather. They’d settle in the Los Angeles area, where Moses would open a grocery store and Alex would eventually graduate from UCLA’s law school. After several years of private practice and then clerking for Supreme Court Justices Warren Burger and Anthony Kennedy (while Kennedy was still on the 9th Circuit), Kozinski was named by President Ronald Reagan first to U.S. Claims Court and then, in 1985, to the 9th Circuit.

That HIAS helped Kozinski’s family escape totalitarianism doesn’t disqualify him from ruling on the case. “They’re an amicus, not a party, and any association I had with them ended half a century ago,” Kozinski said. (Indeed, judges routinely rule on cases that involve organizations they previously had involvement with.)


Even if he doesn’t end up ruling on the travel ban, the judge has already given the public a taste of how he feels about the federal government’s power over immigration ? and how it can have a profound effect no matter who is in power.

“We may soon find ourselves with new conflicts between the President and the states,” Kozinski wrote last week in an impassioned dissent to an order by the full 9th Circuit declining to hear a challenge by the state of Arizona to President Barack Obama’s policy aimed at helping young undocumented immigrants. His colleagues had declined to take up the case again, leaving in place a ruling that more or less forces Arizona to grant driver’s licenses to those covered by the policy.

But that result, under the Constitution, left Kozinski uneasy ? perhaps because of who is now the nation’s chief executive.

“Executive power favors the party, or perhaps simply the person, who wields it,” Kozinski warned his own court. “That power is the forbidden fruit of our politics, irresistible to those who possess it and reviled by those who don’t. Clear and stable structural rules are the bulwark against that power, which shifts with the sudden vagaries of our politics. In its haste to find a doctrine that can protect the policies of the present, our circuit should remember the old warning: May all your dreams come true.”

Trump’s controversial executive order temporarily bans all refugees and indefinitely bars Syrian refugees from entering the U.S. The order also suspends travel to the U.S. by citizens of seven countries: Iraq, Iran, Libya, Sudan, Somalia, Syria and Yemen. The policy, which covers 200 million people, sparked chaos and protests at many U.S. airports last week as travelers from the targeted countries were detained and lawyers were denied access to the detainees.

The order was soon challenged in court by multiple states. On Friday, a nationwide restraining order was issued by U.S. District Judge James Robart, who ruled that the order was likely to cause immediate and irreparable harm to the states of Washington and Minnesota to education, business, family relations and the freedom to travel. Over the weekend, the Justice Department filed an appeal to immediately restore the ban, but the 9th Circuit denied that request. The appeals court is now preparing to hear full arguments in the case.

On Monday, HIAS filed in support of the stay of the executive order. HIAS argued that Trump’s executive order has “fractured many refugee families” and “risks the lives of many who relied on the promises of the United States when they received their visas.” The order, HIAS argues, closes the door to avoiding “immense dangers” they currently face in their home countries.

Trump has made a habit of smearing the judicial system and specifically attacking judges who challenge his authority or who issue rulings that unravel his plans. Over the weekend Trump blasted Judge Robart after he issued the nationwide temporary restraining order.

Follow Trump’s tweet of 9:39 PM – 5 Feb 2017: Donald J. Trump ? @realDonaldTrump
Just cannot believe a judge would put our country in such peril. If something happens blame him and court system. People pouring in. Bad!

28,815 28,815 Retweets 134,593 134,593 likes

As a candidate, Trump also attacked Gonzalo Curiel, a federal judge who presided over lawsuits against Trump University. Trump accused the judge of an “absolute conflict” in the case because of the judge’s Mexican heritage. He repeatedly referred to Curiel as “Mexican” and said he couldn’t be an impartial judge because of Trump’s proposal to build a wall along the Mexican border. Curiel is a U.S. citizen, born in Indiana.

Kozinski is American, too.

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Photo: ALEX KOZINSKI
Moses Kozinski at his store in Hollywood in 1971. His son went to UCLA and became a lawyer, then a judge.

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CORRECTION: This article previously suggested that Kozinski was the only former refugee on the 9th Circuit. Judge Jacqueline Nguyen is also a former refugee.

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OUR COMMENT at SustainabiliTank: Not all those the US good meaning folks helped turned out well and good Americans.

I have a cousin who came here with his wife in 1962 – via Vienna – just like the Kozinskis – having a $50 bill from HIAS in his pocket. This happened also in 1962 and our extended family collected ransom money from inside its membership to pay Ceausescu’s goons. Then they helped him launch a Business in Chicago followed by a move to Los Angeles. He is now an American multi-millionaire with business on the East Coast and the West Coast – his American Dream. He has a town house in Manhattan and a mansion in Palos Verde. He has the audacity to be Trump’s friend – drinking from his poisoned well. The only such man in my whole American circle. Our shame.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 2nd, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Iranian man barred from entering U.S. lands at LAX; first to return after court order
Trump deportee to return

Hundreds sit Sunday in on the departure level of the Tom Bradley International Terminal to protest President Trump’s travel restrictions.

An Iranian man who was barred from entering the U.S. under President Trump’s travel ban returned to Los Angeles on Thursday, the first person allowed into the country as a result of a legal challenge to the White House’s executive order.

Ali Vayeghan was aboard a flight from Qatar that landed at LAX at 12:40 P.M, said family members and attorneys who took up his case. Vayeghan reunited with supporters around 1:30 p.m. after border patrol officials allowed him into the U.S. in compliance with a judge’s order.

A roar of approval went up from immigration attorneys and relatives who had gathered at LAX’s Terminal 2 when it was announced Vayeghan’s plane had landed.

Flanked by people holding balloons and flowers, attorney Talia Inlander, part of the legal team that fought for Vayeghan’s return, spoke to reporters of the man’s tortuous journey to the U.S. She blasted federal immigration authorities for turning Vayeghan away the first time.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, who has spoken out against the severe travel restrictions, was on hand to celebrate the news of Vayeghan’s arrival, but warned the impact the president’s order continues to be felt.


“The moment we are about to witness should not be extraordinary,” he said of Vayeghan’s impending arrival.

Trump’s order, which went into effect Friday, bars people from seven predominantly Muslim countries, including Iran, from entering the U.S. for three months. It also imposed a 4-month ban on refugees from any country coming in to the U.S.

Vayeghan’s return marked a dramatic reversal from Friday evening, when the 61-year-old touched down at LAX just hours after Trump signed the executive order, setting of chaotic scenes in airports as confused border control officers scrambled to decipher the new rules.

Waiting for Vayeghan at the airport on that day was his brother, who lives in Los Angeles. The men had planned to spend a short visit catching up before Vayeghan continued on to Indiana, where he would reunite after 12 years with his son, a U.S. citizen.

The brother and other family members waited at LAX until after 3 a.m. Saturday, with scant information about his whereabouts.

The American Civil Liberties Union and L.A.-based immigration attorney Stacy Tolchin stepped in, filing a habeas corpus petition on Saturday. Attorneys argued that Trump’s executive order violated Vayeghan’s due process and was hostile to a specific religion, Islam, putting it at odds with the 1st Amendment’s establishment clause.

U.S. District Judge Dolly M. Gee granted an emergency temporary restraining order instructing that Vayeghan be allowed to enter the country, but it arrived too late. Vayeghan was put on a plane to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates on Saturday afternoon.

According to his brother and attorneys who had sporadic phone contact with him, Vayeghan was pressured by border control officials to sign documents that revoked his immigrant visa. Regretting the decision afterward, he resisted demands that he board a plane for Dubai and was carried to his seat, an attorney for the ACLU said.

Gee amended her order and instructed that U.S. officials were to return Vayeghan from Dubai and admit him to the country. Citing the “irreparable harm” Vayeghan would face if he was forced to go back to Iran, Gee ruled that his attorneys had showed a strong likelihood of successfully arguing that his denial to the U.S. violated federal law.

Instead, however, officials in Dubai placed Vayeghan on a plane bound for Tehran.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 2nd, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


Union of Concerned Scientists – Thank Your Senator for Opposing Former ExxonMobil CEO

From The Union of Concerned Scientists:

The US Senate voted on the nomination of former ExxonMobil head Rex Tillerson for Secretary of State. An unprecedented 43 senators voted against his nomination!

Tell your senator thanks for opposing a nominee who has spent decades questioning the validity of climate science. During his nomination hearings, Secretary Tillerson failed to show how he would resolve conflicts of interest over the next four years, demonstrated ignorance on foreign policy, and refused to take an unequivocal stand against human rights violations.

While his confirmation still passed the Senate 56-43, this vote goes down in history as the largest tally against a Secretary of State since at least 1949. Now, we will need your senator to hold Secretary Tillerson accountable for his actions and ensure he puts the interests of the American people above those of the fossil fuel industry.

Your senator showed determination by standing in opposition to a nominee who questions the validity of climate science.

Thank your senator for opposing Rex Tillerson’s nomination for Secretary of State.

Please make your letter personal by adding in your own thoughts and concerns. Every letter makes a difference, but customized letters have the greatest effect!

Learn more about Rex Tillerson and five reasons to oppose him.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 1st, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


Betsy DeVos ‘is unprepared and unqualified’ to be Education secretary, charter school booster Eli Broad says

Eli Broad, the prominent local philanthropist behind a massive effort to increase the number of charter schools in Los Angeles, is protesting the appointment of Betsy DeVos as secretary of Education.

Broad sent a letter to U.S. senators Wednesday, asking them to vote against President Trump’s nominee.

“I believe she is unprepared and unqualified for the position,” Broad wrote. “Indeed, with Betsy DeVos at the helm of the U.S. Department of Education, much of the good work that has been accomplished to improve public education for all of America’s children could be undone.”

Betsy DeVos is a billionaire Republican fundraiser based in Grand Rapids, Mich. Before Trump announced her nomination, she spent her dollars and connections promoting school choice, in the form of both vouchers and charter schools.

Confirmation of Betsy DeVos as secretary of Education in peril as two GOP senators defect.

School vouchers use public money to fund private — often religious — schools, and charter schools are publicly funded, but can be privately run.


Broad has contributed heavily through a political action committee to local school board candidates who support charter schools, and his philanthropic group is backing an effort to increase their growth in Los Angeles, which already has more such schools than any other city in the U.S.

But despite their agreement on charter schools, Broad thinks DeVos’ views are too extreme. “We must have a Secretary of Education who believes in public education and the need to keep public schools public,” he wrote.

During a contentious confirmation hearing last month, DeVos drew ire for her apparent lack of basic understanding of some key education laws. Before the hearing, Broad wrote, he questioned her support for “unregulated charter schools and school vouchers.” Her performance reinforced his doubts.

On Tuesday, the Senate education committee voted along party lines to advance her candidacy.

But her confirmation might be in trouble. On Wednesday, two Republican senators on the education committee who voted for DeVos to get through committee said they would vote no on the Senate floor. One more Republican defection would mean DeVos doesn’t get the job.


DeVos’ nomination has put Democratic charter school supporters in a hard spot because she also supports school vouchers. Vouchers are a third rail in Democratic politics — they arouse fears not just about the draining of dollars from public schools but about erosion of the separation of church and state as well.

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Editor’s note: Education Matters receives funding from a number of foundations, including one or more mentioned in this article. The California Community Foundation and United Way of Greater Los Angeles administer grants from the Baxter Family Foundation, the Broad Foundation, the California Endowment and the Wasserman Foundation. Under terms of the grants, The Times retains complete control over editorial content.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 4th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

California is destined to be the anti-Trump like Texas was the anti-Obama.
Take notice – California is the Fifth largest economy in the World and its legislature does not want Trump to mess it up.

California braces for a Trump presidency by tapping former U.S. Atty. General Eric Holder for legal counsel.

By Melanie MasonMelanie Mason, Contact Reporter based in Sacramento, The Los Angeles Times.

Bracing for an adversarial relationship with President-elect Donald Trump, the California Legislature has selected former U.S. Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. to serve as outside counsel to advise the state’s legal strategy against the incoming administration.


The unusual arrangement will give Holder, leading a team of attorneys from the firm Covington & Burling, a broad portfolio covering potential conflicts between California and the federal government.

“He will be our lead litigator, and he will have a legal team of expert lawyers on the issues of climate change, women and civil rights, the environment, immigration, voting rights — to name just a few,” Senate leader Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles) said in an interview.

Such a task typically falls to the state attorney general. On Tuesday, Gov. Jerry Brown formally nominated Democratic Rep. Xavier Becerra to replace former Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris, who now serves in the U.S. Senate. Becerra, whose nomination hearings in the Legislature begin next week, is expected to be easily confirmed.

But De León and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon began contemplating hiring outside legal counsel for the Legislature almost immediately after Trump’s election, in hopes of protecting existing state policies that are at odds with the president-elect’s stated positions.

“While we don’t yet know the harmful proposals the next administration will put forward, thanks to Donald Trump’s campaign, cabinet appointments and Twitter feed, we do have an idea of what we will be dealing with,” Rendon said in a statement.

“The Covington team will be an important resource as we work with the governor and the attorney general to protect Californians,” he added.

The two legislative leaders have taken an unabashedly combative posture against Trump.
Rendon, in remarks last month at a swearing-in ceremony for lawmakers, described the incoming administration as a “major existential threat,” and asserted “Californians do not need healing. We need to fight.”

De León said the additional counsel would offer “more legal firepower” that would complement and bring additional heft to the state attorney general’s efforts.

“Hiring the former attorney general — the nation’s top lawyer — it shows that we’re very serious in protecting the values of the people of California against any attempt to undermine the policies that has made us the fifth-largest economy in the world,” De León said.

Bringing on outside counsel is not unprecedented for the Legislature. The state Senate hired special counsel for a select committee investigating price manipulation in the wholesale energy market by Enron in the early 2000s. The Senate also sought outside counsel to sort through the federal investigation of former Democratic state Sen. Ron Calderon, who later pleaded guilty to corruption charges.


Updates from Sacramento:

But it is far more unorthodox for both houses to join together in retaining counsel in a preemptive bid to prepare for as-yet-unknown litigation and policy-making at the federal level. Much of the arrangement remains murky, including how Holder’s efforts will differ from or align with Becerra’s.

Also unclear: the price tag. Aides to legislative leaders declined to specify how much Covington & Burling’s services will cost the state, citing still-unfinished contracts, but said the payment would come out of both chambers’ operating budgets and would not require additional state funds.

Holder, who was a partner at Covington from 2001 until 2009 before rejoining the firm in 2015, will direct the efforts from the firm’s Washington, D.C., office. The firm, which has a long-established presence in the nation’s capital, has in recent years expanded its footprint in California. Covington’s Los Angeles office, which will play a major role in working with the Legislature, was launched in part by former federal prosecutor Dan Shallman, whose brother, John Shallman, is a prominent Democratic strategist whose clients include De León.

“I am honored that the legislature chose Covington to serve as its legal advisor as it considers how to respond to potential changes in federal law that could impact California’s residents and policy priorities,” Holder said in a statement provided by De León’s office.

“I am confident that our expertise across a wide array of federal legal and regulatory issues will be a great resource for the legislature.”

Holder, a close friend of President Obama, left the Justice Department in 2015. As one of the most liberal figures in the Obama administration, his tenure was defined by a focus on civil rights and criminal justice reform and was marked by a tumultuous relationship with Congress and scandal stemming from the failed gun-trafficking operation known as Fast and Furious.

Representing California lawmakers against Trump won’t be Holder’s sole foray into politics in the coming years. He is also overseeing a Democratic campaign focused on redistricting, the process of redrawing political maps that, in recent years, has tilted state legislative and congressional landscapes in the Republicans’ favor.

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 melanie.mason at latimes.com

Follow @melmason on Twitter for the latest on California politics.

ALSO

California is itching to take on Trump. Here are the prominent figures leading the charge.
Texas was Obama’s chief antagonist. In Trump’s America, California is eager for the part.

California’s new legislative session begins with a message: We’re ready to fight Trump.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 31st, 2016
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


Trump Could Be Fighting Obama’s Climate Policies for Years

By Timothy Cama, The Hill
30 December 16

President-elect Donald Trump’s energy agenda is shaping up to be a years-long effort to undo President Obama’s policies.

Supporters of Trump and industries that have opposed Obama’s regulatory actions say turning back the clock is the most important thing the president-elect can do to help businesses succeed.

But it won’t be easy to undo many of the energy and climate regulations that Obama has put in place.

Under federal law, reversing major regulations requires a time-consuming process that can drag on for months and sometimes years. And even after new rules are issued, they can be challenged in court — something environmental groups are already vowing to do.

The Obama administration, meanwhile, has in recent weeks added to Trump’s list of targets by issuing a new coal-mining regulation and offshore drilling bans in the Arctic and Atlantic oceans.

Obama also created controversial national monuments in Utah and Nevada that Republicans are pushing Trump to repeal, something Obama says is not in Trump’s power to do.

“Some actions they will be able to do in relatively short order. Other major rules will take time to meet the burden of regulatory process,” said Scott Segal, a lobbyist at Bracewell who represents numerous energy companies.

“The next administration needs to be careful, transparent and follow the rule of law, or else they’ll have potential trouble in front of a reviewing court,” Segal said. “Because there’s no doubt that the environmental community would sue to prevent these actions.”

Still, much of Obama’s environmental agenda was enacted through executive actions, which are within Trump’s power to quickly reverse.

The Republican Congress can also help undo some of Obama’s recent rules by using the Congressional Review Act, which provides for the expedited repeal of regulations.

“The Obama administration has done a lot unilaterally, and the silver lining of that is that it can be undone unilaterally,” said Nick Loris, an economist at the conservative Heritage Foundation.

What seems clear is that Trump is dedicated to the fight.

While Trump has given a few nods to the green movement — Trump met separately with climate activists Al Gore and Leonardo DiCaprio after the election — his Cabinet picks are vocal critics of Obama’s agenda.

Trump’s selections include Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt (R) to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, Montana Rep. Ryan Zinke (R) to lead the Interior Department and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) to lead the Energy Department.

William Yeatman, a senior fellow at the conservative Competitive Enterprise Institute, said an aggressive fight against Obama’s policies is a welcome change and something to be expected when the White House changes hands.

“It is not uncommon whenever there’s a change of party, given how much policy emanates from the executive branch these days, for recension to be of the order for the incoming president,” he said. “When policy emanates from the executive, and there’s a change in the executive, policy is supposed to reflect that.”

During the campaign, Trump ran in part on an aggressive deregulatory plan, saying in September that he would pursue “the elimination of all unnecessary regulations and a temporary moratorium on new regulations not compelled by Congress or public safety.”

Trump has specifically pledged to undo the Clean Power Plan, the Waters of the United States rule, Interior’s stream protection rule and the moratorium on new coal-mining leases on federal land.

He’s also promised to stop all payments to international climate efforts, to pull the United States out of the Paris climate agreement, and to open more federal land and water to oil and natural gas drilling.

The Trump transition website promises that the next administration “will unleash an energy revolution that will transform us into a net energy exporter, leading to the creation of millions of new jobs, while protecting the country’s most valuable resources — our clean air, clean water, and natural habitats.”

Environmentalists and other Trump opponents say many of Obama’s actions are popular with the public and should be preserved. They accuse the Republican of focusing solely on reversing Obama, rather than putting forward energy and environmental plans of his own.

“If President-elect Trump decides to go in the direction that it appears he is, trying to undermine a full range of environmental protections, weakening or eliminating a move to a clean-energy economy, there will be a very strong reaction,” said David Goldston, director of government affairs at the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Goldston compared Trump’s plans to those of presidents George W. Bush and Ronald Reagan, as well as that of former Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.). All three came to power with broad deregulatory promises but failed to overcome opposition, he said.

“There was a strong vocal backlash, and they eventually decided this was not worth their effort. And we expect that to be the case again,” he said.

James Goodwin, a senior policy analyst at the Center for Progressive Reform, said he is optimistic that the country will continue to move toward clean energy sources like wind and solar, no matter what Trump does.

“There’s only so much you can do with policy that’s going to change the way we’re headed,” he said.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 13th, 2016
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Why Is LA Toxic?

By Mark Ruffalo, Reader Supported News
Friday, 13 May 2016


With 840 miles of beautiful coastline and palm trees swaying in the breeze, “toxic” is not the first word that comes to mind when one thinks of California. Yet, in spite of its reputation as a progressive environmental state, California’s toxic affair with oil and gas has been hiding in plain sight.

Nowhere is this more apparent than in Los Angeles, the nation’s largest urban oil field. Though it is the second most populous city in the country, L.A. is still the wild, wild west when it comes to oil development. Active oil wells dot the cityscape, connected by a spider web of pipelines carrying oil, explosive fumes, and corrosive acids directly under homes. Worst of all, these oil wells have a devastating impact on Angelenos’ long-term health.

I went on a “toxic tour” of L.A. and witnessed what it looks like when extreme fossil fuel extraction collides with the places where people live, work, and play. Our reliance on fossil fuels puts real communities at risk across the city. Extreme oil extraction injects a toxic mixture of chemicals into the ground to stimulate oil wells in a manner similar to fracking, and the emissions can cause headaches, nosebleeds, respiratory ailments, inter-generational reproductive harm, and even cancer for surrounding neighbors.

Last year, the state of California mandated an independent scientific assessment of oil and gas development. They found that in areas of high population density — such as South Los Angeles — oil drilling poses elevated health risks because more people are exposed to toxic air contaminants. The 580,000 Angelenos living less than a quarter mile from an oil well are subjected to the dangers of neighborhood drilling every single day. L.A.’s oil problem is more than just a problem; it’s a crisis of human health and safety.


On that eye-opening tour, I met young Nalleli Cobo — a South L.A. teenager who has been fighting neighborhood drilling since she was sickened at age nine by the AllenCo Energy drill site across the street from her home. For years, she was in and out of hospitals trying to get answers to the long list of symptoms she experienced daily. On some days, Nalleli had to be carried to the car to go to the doctor because painful body spasms made it difficult to move.


After hundreds of community complaints, USEPA investigators finally conducted an inspection — only to fall ill immediately upon entering the drill site. Though they were temporarily forced to shut down, AllenCo is now working to reopen the drilling site this year.

Make no mistake about it, L.A.’s oil drilling is toxic.

Shockingly, Nalleli’s story isn’t unique. California is the third largest oil producing state in the nation and over 75% of the active oil wells in Los Angeles are within 2,000 feet of homes, schools, or hospitals, where they pose the gravest threat to human health.

Concrete walls may try to shield extreme extraction from neighbors’ eyes, but they are useless at protecting them from poisonous fumes. It’s common to see workers in hazmat suits monitoring rigs on one side of a wall, while families on the other side remain completely unprotected sitting around their dinner table.

That’s why Nalleli, fueled by her sense of duty to protect her neighbors and fellow Angelenos, wants to hold her elected leaders accountable for allowing the oil industry to pollute her community. As a member of the coalition called Stand Together Against Neighborhood Drilling (STAND-L.A.), she has spoken at press conferences with Senator Barbara Boxer, organized health surveys to track symptoms in her community, and serves as a youth plaintiff in a lawsuit against the City of L.A. for violating her civil rights. Nalleli has even taken the fight to Pope Francis, asking him to urge the Archdiocese of Los Angeles to stop leasing their land to AllenCo Energy and other oil companies.

Fortunately, Nalleli is not alone in this fight. This Saturday, thousands of Californians will gather to support the communities on the front lines of neighborhood drilling at the March to Break Free from Fossil Fuels. They will gather at Los Angeles City Hall to call on Mayor Eric Garcetti and City Council President Herb Wesson to put an end to urban oil drilling.


Confronting the mighty oil industry is not an easy task, but Mayor Garcetti and President Wesson need only follow the courageous lead of Nalleli and others in STAND-L.A. who have been fighting for years. L.A.’s elected leaders have the opportunity to send a clear signal to the rest of the nation with a victory in this climate battle. We must keep oil in the ground. Stand with Nalleli and families like hers on the front lines at this critical moment in history.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 24th, 2016
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Carbon dioxide is invisible and odorless. Dawn Stover wonders: What if we could see carbon pollution in the air and water?

Seeing (pollution) is believing: ow.ly/YHEtd

Janice Sinclaire
Communications Director

Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists
1155 East 60th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
U.S.A.
T. 773.382.8061
C. 707.481.9372
F. 773.980.6932E.
 jsinclaire at thebulletin.org

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23 February 2016,

SEEING (POLLUTION) IS BELIEVING.

by Dawn Stover — stover.jpeg

of The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. IT IS THREE MINUTES TO MIDNIGHT!
Stover is a science writer based in the Pacific Northwest and is a contributing editor at the Bulletin.

The snow has melted along the roads in my rural community, revealing a surprising number of beer cans, plastic bottles, and other trash in the roadside ditches. This is a sparsely populated area, yet I drive past mile after mile of terrestrial flotsam and jetsam. Most of it, I suspect, is jetsam—the stuff that is deliberately thrown overboard.

It probably won’t be long before some disgusted (or enterprising) neighbors start tackling this mess. Most of the cans and bottles can be redeemed for a five-cent deposit or put into bags for free curbside recycling. The worst thing about this roadside pollution is also the best thing about it: We can see it. That makes it easy to clean up.

Imagine if carbon pollution was as recognizable as a Bud Light can. What if, every time you started up your car or boarded an airplane or sliced into a Porterhouse steak, a sour-smelling beer can was ejected from your vehicle or pocket? Pretty soon there would be cans lining every highway and tarmac, and coal-fired power plants would literally be buried under them. But even this foul onslaught of aluminum might be less damaging than the 40 billion metric tons of heat-trapping carbon dioxide (plus other greenhouse gases) that humans are dumping into Earth’s atmosphere and oceans every year, raising the temperature of our planet. Unfortunately, carbon dioxide is invisible and odorless, which makes it easier to ignore. If we were dumping 40 billion metric tons of aluminum into the air and sea annually—the equivalent of 2,800 trillion beverage cans—surely we would do something about that.

Air quality alert. One of the reasons China is getting serious about clean energy is that the air pollution in Beijing, Shanghai, and other Chinese cities has become intolerable at times. The visibility gets so poor that flights are sometimes canceled because of smog, and residents are frequently forced to don masks when venturing outdoors—where the air quality can be worse than an airport smoking lounge. The pollution sometimes reaches all the way to California.

“The air in Los Angeles used to be like Beijing,” a California-based colleague recently reminded me. Los Angeles still has some of the most contaminated air in the United States, but the situation has improved significantly since 1970—when President Richard Nixon created the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and Congress passed the first of several major amendments to the Clean Air Act, empowering the federal government to regulate air pollutants.

The EPA’s new Clean Power Plan—announced in 2015 but challenged in court by 27 states and currently on hold pending a judicial review—would do for carbon pollution what the Clean Air Act did for smog in an earlier era. This time around, though, many elected officials can’t see what the problem is. Literally.

Making the invisible visible. Instead of implementing a carbon tax or federal limits on power-plant emissions, maybe we just need to add a smelly dye to all fossil fuels—something like the red colorant that is added to fire retardants so that pilots can see where they have sprayed, or the rotten-egg-like chemical that is injected into natural gas so that homeowners can detect gas leaks before they become life-threatening. Instead of subjecting airlines to proposed new emissions limits, we’d simply see a hideous red contrail every time an airplane flew overhead. Standing on the beach, we’d see a red tide—the carbon dioxide absorbed by the North Atlantic alone has doubled in the past decade. And the smell of the recent enormous methane leak from a ruptured pipeline in southern California would pale in comparison to the collective stench emitted by fracking operations and thousands of fossil-fuel-burning power plants. On the plus side, we’d be able to see trees and other plants sucking up carbon, which might make us think twice about turning forests into pallets.

This is only a thought experiment, of course. We shouldn’t have to go to these lengths to realize that the byproducts of fossil fuel combustion are bad for our health. Most of us know better than to breathe from our car’s tailpipe or leave the garage door shut with the engine running. That’s how you kill yourself, after all. And yet we think nothing of dumping copious amounts of exhaust into the air that everyone breathes. It’s out of sight and out of mind.

Turning a blind eye. Although greenhouse gas emissions aren’t visible, their climate impacts are. It’s not hard to see melting glaciers, wilted crops, and storm surges—or to find photographs, charts, and other images showing how quickly our planet is changing. And yet, as President Barack Obama remarked during a press conference on February 16, “There’s not a single candidate in the Republican primary that thinks we should do anything about climate change, that thinks it’s serious.” That’s a problem, said Obama, because other countries “count on the United States being on the side of science and reason and common sense.”

How can Marco Rubio not see the impacts of rising sea level in Florida? How did Donald Trump miss the meaning of Hurricane Sandy, a bellwether for the type of extreme events that scientists say will become more common and more severe as global warming continues? Where was Ted Cruz when Texas was enduring devastating heat, drought, and wildfires—or the deadly floods that followed? All of the GOP candidates, including self-professed climate change “believer” John Kasich, are turning a blind eye to the decades of scientific research that place the blame squarely on human activities, and it’s possible that even a putrid red haze would not move them.

There will always be some people who are willfully ignorant and inconsiderate and lazy, who toss their trash out the window and leave it for others to pick up. The rest of us can stand around shaking our heads, or we can pull on our gloves and do something about this dreadful mess. Unfortunately, the past two centuries’ worth of carbon dioxide emissions is like a heap of discarded cans and bottles that are already hopelessly bent, broken, and ground into the mud. This carbon buildup will have consequences for Earth’s climate and sea level for tens of thousands of years to come.

That’s no excuse to put off spring cleaning, though. Climate change is largely irreversible on human time scales, but rapid and aggressive action would keep the worst impacts of global warming to a minimum. It’s more important than ever to make drastic reductions in carbon dumping, and get serious about reforestation and other cleanup measures. These are the Bud Light cans we can still get our hands on.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 11th, 2016
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

THE NEW YORK TIMES Politics section:

Supreme Court’s Blow to Emissions Efforts May Imperil Paris Climate Accord.

By CORAL DAVENPORT February 10, 2016

Photo — A coal-fired power plant behind homes in Poca, W.V., in 2014. Credit Robert Galbraith/Reuters

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court’s surprise decision Tuesday to halt the carrying out of President Obama’s climate change regulation could weaken or even imperil the international global warming accord reached with great ceremony in Paris less than two months ago, climate diplomats say.

The Paris Agreement, the first accord to commit every country to combat climate change, had as a cornerstone Mr. Obama’s assurance that the United States would enact strong, legally sound policies to significantly cut carbon emissions.
The United States is the largest historical greenhouse gas polluter, although its annual emissions have been overtaken by China’s.

But in the capitals of India and China, the other two largest polluters, climate change policy experts said the court’s decision threw the United States’ commitment into question, and possibly New Delhi’s and Beijing’s.

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Related Coverage

Supreme Court Deals Blow to Obama’s Efforts to Regulate Coal EmissionsFEB. 9, 2016
With Coal Industry Under Pressure, Some See Long-Term DeclineDEC. 2, 2015
Climate Deal’s First Big Hurdle: The Draw of Cheap OilJAN. 25, 2016
2015 Was Hottest Year in Historical Record, Scientists SayJAN. 20, 2016

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“If the U.S. Supreme Court actually declares the coal power plant rules stillborn, the chances of nurturing trust between countries would all but vanish,” said Navroz K. Dubash, a senior fellow at the Center for Policy Research in New Delhi. “This could be the proverbial string which causes Paris to unravel.”

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Short Answers to Hard Questions About Climate Change

The issue can be overwhelming. The science is complicated. We get it. This is your cheat sheet.

The court did not block the rule permanently, but halted it from being carried out in the states until legal challenges against it have been decided, a process that could take a year or more. Legal experts said the justices’ decision to stop work on the rule before any court had decided against it was unprecedented and signaled that the regulation might ultimately be overturned. That could set back the United States’ climate efforts for years, although there would still be a chance for Washington to meet its commitments by 2025.

“If the American clean energy plan is overturned, we’ll need to reassess whether the United States can meet its commitments,” said Zou Ji, the deputy director general of China’s National Center for Climate Change Strategy and International Cooperation, a government think tank in Beijing.

Mr. Zou, who was an adviser to the Chinese delegation at the Paris negotiations, said by telephone: “It had seemed that with the American commitments, it was possible to get on the right emissions path globally. But without those commitments, that could be a blow to confidence in low-carbon development. In China domestically, there is also resistance to low-carbon policies, and they would be able to say: ‘Look, the United States doesn’t keep its word. Why make so many demands on us?’ ”

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Paris Climate Change Conference 2015
Complete coverage of the United Nations meeting in Paris from Nov. 30 to Dec. 11, and efforts to reach an emissions deal.

Paris Climate Accord Is a Big, Big Deal
DEC 16

Silence on the Climate Pact From the Republican Candidates
DEC 14

The Paris Climate Pact Will Need Strong Follow-Up
DEC 14

Republicans on Campaign Trail Largely Ignore the Climate Deal
DEC 13

A Climate Deal, 6 Fateful Years in the Making
DEC 13

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Inaction by the United States has long been the chief obstacle to meaningful global climate change agreements.

Mr. Obama sought to change that with aggressive but politically controversial Environmental Protection Agency rules to cut planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fired power plants. With those rules, Mr. Obama won agreements from China and India to enact pollution reduction plans and helped push other countries to sign on to the Paris measure.

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The top priority for Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India remains to provide cheap electricity to the 300 million Indians without power. If the United States reneges on its commitments, “it really would strengthen the hand of those who say Paris was ineffective and a bad deal for India,” Mr. Dubash said.

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What the Supreme Court’s Decision to Halt Climate Regulation Means:

Answers to questions about the court’s decision to temporarily block the Obama administration’s effort to regulate emissions from coal-fired power plants.

Under Mr. Obama’s commitment to the Paris Agreement, the United States will cut its emissions 26 percent to 28 percent by 2025, largely through the E.P.A. regulations on power plants and a mix of rules reining in pollution from cars, buildings and other sources. All of those policies were set to be carried out briskly so they would be well underway by the time Mr. Obama left office.

White House officials insisted on Wednesday that the rule would eventually be upheld, and that given the timetable for litigation and for meeting the target, the United States could still achieve its Paris commitment.

A White House spokesman, Eric Schultz, pointed to other greenhouse gas reduction policies Mr. Obama had established to help meet the 2025 target, including a federal budget agreement late last year that included long-term extensions of tax credits for wind and solar power.

Still, the Supreme Court’s decision ensures that climate policy will not be set on Mr. Obama’s watch. A Federal District Court will hear oral arguments on the climate rule June 2 and is expected to issue its decision later this year, but an appeal to the Supreme Court is all but certain. If the justices agree to hear the case, a ruling is unlikely before June 2017.

If the rule is eventually overturned, the E.P.A. is still required by law to put forth a regulation controlling carbon dioxide emissions. That rule would be shaped by the next president and face its own legal gantlet, pushing action years into the future.

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The White House and its supporters took hope from announcements that the governors of some states, including California, New York and Washington, would continue to work voluntarily to carry out the rule.

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More Reporting on Climate Change

A Climate Deal, 6 Fateful Years in the Making Dec. 14, 2015
Climate Accord Is a Healing Step, if Not a Cure Dec. 13, 2015
The Marshall Islands Are Disappearing Dec. 02, 2015
Short Answers to Hard Questions About Climate Change Nov. 28, 2015
Naomi Oreskes, a Lightning Rod in a Changing Climate June 16, 2015
The New Optimism of Al Gore March 17, 2015

But most states are expected to halt their compliance efforts. Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, had already been urging governors to refuse to comply with the plan. “These regulations are, in my view, likely illegal,” Mr. McConnell said Wednesday. “Yesterday’s Supreme Court order is just the latest sign of that. If nothing else, it shows we were right to let governors know their options.”

American policy experts said that the Supreme Court decision might be the first of many fractures in the deal.

“This pushback is not something that’s unique to the United States,” said John Sterman, a professor of management at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who attended the negotiations in Paris. “It’s happening all over the developed world.”

Poland and some other coal-reliant countries have resisted the European Union’s commitment under the agreement to more stringently reduce emissions across member states.

Already, some people close to the climate talks worry that the events in the United States could lead to a repeat of what happened after the signing of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, the first major climate change treaty. Vice President Al Gore, a staunch environmentalist, negotiated the treaty with other world leaders, but the Senate voted against it. Then President George W. Bush pulled the United States out entirely.

The Democratic presidential candidates, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, have pledged to continue and strengthen Mr. Obama’s climate change agenda, so a rule developed by their administrations would probably let the country meet its Paris goals.

But Republican contenders, including Donald J. Trump, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas and Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, have questioned or denied the science of human-caused climate change and sharply criticized the climate change regulations and the Paris Agreement.

“The Supreme Court just clarified the stakes for the American people in the election when it comes to climate change,” said Nigel Purvis, the president of the Climate Advisers consulting group and a climate diplomat under Bill Clinton and Mr. Bush.


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Ellen Barry contributed reporting from New Delhi, Chris Buckley from Beijing and Justin Gillis from New York.

You can follow The New York Times’s politics and Washington coverage on Facebook and Twitter, and sign up for the First Draft politics newsletter.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 29th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Environment
Headaches and Nosebleeds Reported as Months-Long Methane Leak Continues in Los Angeles (VIDEO)
Over 1,000 families have chosen to relocate and the school district recently authorized the two local schools to move out of the area.

By Hilary Lewis / Earthworks posted by Alternet
December 29, 2015

Have you ever seen methane? What about benzene? Or the chemical the gas company adds to make your stovetop gas stink, mercaptan? I asked residents at a Save Porter Ranch meeting in northwest Los Angeles if they had seen the pollution they knew was in their community, pouring down from the SoCal Gas storage facility on the hill behind town.

No one responded.

For months now, methane pollution has been billowing from the breached facility into their community. Families have reported bad odors resulting in headaches and nosebleeds. Over 1,000 families have already chosen to relocate and the school district recently authorized the two local schools to move out of the area. But no one had actually seen the pollution.

When an oil spill happens, you see it. At a coal fired power plant, you can often see the pollution blowing in the wind. But when a natural gas storage facility pollutes, what do you see?

Until now, you saw nothing. That’s because much oil and gas air pollution is normally invisible.

My colleague Pete Dronkers and I traveled to the community of Porter Ranch to show them the pollution they knew was there, but couldn’t see.

For Porter Ranch this was a critical step in gaining recognition for the problem. In Earthworks’ experience, showing someone pollution that is otherwise invisible makes it real, and helps catalyze much needed action. For many of the communities we serve, the polluter won’t admit there is pollution at all, so our videos are concrete evidence that something is wrong.

Earthworks uses a FLIR (Forward Looking InfraRed) Gasfinder 320 camera that is specially calibrated to expose otherwise invisible air pollution from oil and gas operations. Methane, the primary component of natural gas, is one of about 20 gases it can detect. It also recognizes known carcinogens like benzene and other toxins like volatile organic compounds.


The camera is the same model that industry and government regulators use to detect leaks and other pollution associated with oil and gas. And Pete went through the three day training that FLIR recommends and state regulators also use to get certified to operate it. That, plus the $100,000 price tag, have kept this eye-opening technology out of the hands of the communities that need it most, until now.

What I saw in Porter Ranch was shocking. The black plume picked-up by the camera went on-and-on. But, unfortunately, I have seen it many times before.

Earthworks has filmed over 150 oil and gas facilities in New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, North Dakota, Texas, Colorado, New Mexico and other parts of California. While the camera shows the presence of the group of pollutants it detects, we can be relatively certain in this situation that the pollution is mostly methane because it was leaking from a natural gas storage field.

In Porter Ranch, and across the country, air testing is used to figure out exactly what type and how much pollution is in the air. Tests are ongoing in Porter Ranch, and have already found elevated levels of benzene. But no matter the facility, in our experience, almost everything is leaking something.

This pollution must be stopped:

Methane is 86 times worse for climate change than carbon dioxide over a 20 year period. This one leaking facility in Porter Ranch accounts for an estimated 25% of California’s daily methane emissions. Imagine if other storage facilities like this one (and there are many across the U.S.) burst, the climate impact would be catastrophic.

Natural gas and natural gas drilling operations (mostly hydraulic fracturing a.k.a fracking) often bring up ‘hitchhikers’ like benzene with the natural gas that drillers seek. These pollutants can be harmful to human health and have led to documented health impacts for people living near compressor stations, pipelines, fracking facilities, etc.

Making visible the normally invisible pollution from oil and gas development is a critical step in generating the political will to take meaningful action on potent climate and health pollutants. The new climate agreement signed in Paris will fall short if we do not address all sources of oil and gas methane pollution.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has proposed a rule that would help us meet our climate commitments by cutting oil and gas methane pollution. But EPA’s proposal doesn’t cover existing facilities, or storage fields like the one near Porter Ranch. Hopefully we will learn from SoCal Gas’ disastrous Porter Ranch experience. Without strong standards that require cutting oil and gas methane pollution from all sources, our climate and our communities will remain at risk.

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Hilary Lewis the the Communications Manager at Earthworks. She is the founder of Composting Toilets International, which provides an affordable, safe and sustainable sanitation solution. She also served as an environmental policy researcher in the U.S. and Europe for ZAG International. Hilary has a B.A. in Environmental Studies and International Relations from Lehigh University.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 27th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


Los Angeles Gas Leak Growing Into Environmental Disaster.

By Joby Warrick, The Washington Post

26 December 2015

runaway natural gas leak from a storage facility in the hills above Los Angeles is shaping up as a significant ecological disaster, state officials and experts say, with more than 150 million pounds of methane pouring into the atmosphere so far and no immediate end in sight.

The rupture within a massive underground containment system — first detected more than two months ago — is venting gas at a rate of up to 110,000 pounds per hour, California officials confirm. The leak already has forced evacuations of nearby neighborhoods, and officials say pollutants released in the accident could have long-term consequences far beyond the region.

Newly obtained infrared video captures a plume of gas — invisible to the naked eye — spouting from a hilltop in the Aliso Canyon area above Burbank, like smoke billowing from a volcano. Besides being an explosive hazard, the methane being released is a powerful greenhouse gas, more potent than carbon dioxide in trapping heat in the lower atmosphere.

Scientists and environmental experts say the Aliso Canyon leak instantly became the biggest single source of methane emissions in all of California when it began two months ago. The impact of greenhouse gases released since then, measured over a 20-year time frame, is the equivalent of emissions from six coal-fired power plants or 7 million automobiles, environmentalists say.

“It is one of the biggest leaks we’ve ever seen reported,” said Tim O’Connor, California climate director for the Environmental Defense Fund, a nonprofit group that obtained the video. “It is coming out with force, in incredible volumes. And it is absolutely uncontained.”

The gas is pouring from an underground storage field owned by the Southern California Gas Co. The facility, the largest of its kind on the West Coast, contains billions of cubic feet of natural gas, stored under pressure to supply the company’s 20 million customers. While the exact cause of the leak is unknown, company officials believe the problem began when an underground well casing failed, allowing the pressurized gas to push through geological cracks to the surface near the community of Porter Ranch.

About 1,700 homes and two schools were evacuated because of the leak, as noxious odors settled over Porter Ranch, about 20 miles from downtown Los Angeles. California officials have aided the company in a series of efforts to stop the leak, but the state officials say it could be weeks or months before the gas flow is halted.

The gas company has pledged in statements to “execute all possible efforts” to plug the leak.

“SoCalGas recognized the impact this incident is having on the environment,” company president Dennis V. Arriola said in a letter last week to Gov. Jerry Brown (D). ). The company has drilled a relief well while also pouring a brine solution and other materials into the damaged well in an attempt to seal it, so far without significant results.

The company’s losses in natural gas alone are estimated in the tens of millions of dollars, with total damages likely to exceed that figure many times over. A number of neighbors already have filed lawsuits, part of a growing outcry that includes calls for the company to close the facility altogether.

The leak is a setback to California’s efforts to reduce emissions blamed for climate change. The Brown administration is seeking to implement the country’s toughest standards on greenhouse-gas emissions by promoting renewable energy and strengthening measures to prevent methane from escaping from refineries, pipelines and storage facilities.

“We’ve been working to terminate leaks,” Dave Clegern, a spokesman for the California Air Resources Board, said in an interview. “This has been distressing to watch.”

While the leak is unusually large, scientists and environmental groups have long sought to call attention to the problem of methane emissions from oil and gas operations.

The Obama administration announced proposed regulations over the summer to cut down on methane leaks from drilling and storage, citing concerns about the climatic impact of the approximately 7­ million tons of methane lost to the atmosphere from industrial sources in the United States each year. Pound for pound, methane is about 25 times more potent as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas.

Adam Brandt, an assistant professor at Stanford University’s Institute for the Environment, said substantial leaks can sometimes go completely undetected.

“Even large leaks can be hard to find if they occur away from populated areas,” Brandt said. “ One important step forward for sustainability will be to design ways to quickly detect and fix these large leaks soon after they happen.”

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 7th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Monday, 7th Dec 2015, EUobserver from Brussels


Germany criticizes Saudi Arabia for funding radical mosques.

By Eszter Zalan
BRUSSELS, Today, 09:22

German vice chancellor Sigmar Gabriel urged Saudi Arabia on Sunday (7 December 2015) to stop supporting religious radicals, amid growing fear it is funding militant mosques across Europe.

“We need Saudi Arabia to solve the regional conflicts,” Sigmar Gabriel, the head of the Social Democrats (SPD), who are part of a coalition with the conservative chancellor Angela Merkel, told Bild am Sonntag newspaper in an interview.

“But we must at the same time make clear that the time to look away is past. Wahhabi mosques are financed all over the world by Saudi Arabia. In Germany, many dangerous Islamists come from these communities,” he said.


Gabriel’s criticism, though not the first, is a rare rebuke from a Western politician directed at Riyadh, the world’s biggest oil exporter.

In a statement, the Saudi Arabian embassy in Berlin said the Kingdom was interested in countering radicalisationzof young people.

“Like Germany, we are part of the anti-Islamic State coalition and fighting side by side against terror,” it said.

Saudis have cracked down on jihadists at home and cut militant finance streams, but have continued to finance imams and mosques, in the EU and in the Western Balkans, which are sympathetic to an ultra-conservative form of Islam – Wahhabism.


Islamic State (IS) and al Qaeda follow the extreme interpretation of the Salafi branch of Islam, of which Wahhabism was the original strain.

For his part, Jamal Saleh Momenah, the Saudi director of the Parc du Cinquantenaire mosque, the largest in Brussels, recently told EUobserver that: “Nobody like this [an IS recuiter] can come here. I wouldn’t allow them to come to this place and they understand my way.”

But in Germany, authorities are worried about growing support for radical Islam in its Muslim community.

German intelligence says the number of Salafists in the country has risen to 7,900, up from 5,500 just two years ago, Reuters reports.

This is not the first time Gabriel publicly voiced criticism of the Saudis.

During a trip in March to Saudi Arabia, he criticized the Gulf country over its sentencing of blogger Raif Badawi to 1,000 lashes.

With Germany, last Friday, opting to join the international coalition fighting IS in Syria, there is growing concern about possible jihadi attacks on German soil.
Foreign policy

Last Wednesday, Germany’s foreign intelligence service issued a warning about Saudi Arabia’s destabilizing role, saying the new king, Salman bin Abdulaziz, who assumed the throne in January, and his son, who is second in line for the throne, Mohammed bin Salman, and who is also defence minister, want to make their mark among Arab leaders.

It indicated that Saudi foreign policy is becoming more “impulsive”.

Saudi Arabia’s more assertive foreign policy, the German Intelligence Service, the BND said in a public report, was highlighted by a bombing campaign in Yemen against Iran-backed Houthi rebels, which started in March.

German intelligence also voiced concern on Saudi Arabia’s role in Bahrain, Lebanon, and Iraq.


The Saudis have been irked by the nuclear deal between Iran, another regional heavyweight, and the US and five nations in July, which eases sanctions on Iran, in exchange for limiting its nuclear programme.


Riyadh is worried that a strengthened Iran could undermine Saudi interests in the region.

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The US ought to be worried that most recent terrorist was a Saudi good girl, veiled Ms. Tashfeen Malik – that excelled in Pakistan as a student, and surely Pakistan benefited from Wahhabi largess in content and money.

So did America since that meeting on a boat between President Roosevelt and King Ibn Saud – and do not forget Texas Oil-man President G.W. Bush shipping out a plane load of Bin Ladins when airspace in the US was closed after 9/11-and those people could not be interrogated. It seems to be easier to close the door of the US to European travelers then to the Saudis.

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Related stories:

Germany to send 1,200 military to Middle East

Raif Badawi: Saudi blogger wins Sakharov Prize
EU to mediate in Saudi-Swedish dispute on Human Rights

today – US lawmakers preparing to vote on bill that could see select EU states lose visa waiver perks if they don’t comply with stricter security measures.

today – Germany’s vice chancellor has criticized Saudi Arabia for funding jihadist mosques across Europe in a rare rebuke to the world’s biggest oil exporter.

Today, 09:22
Germany criticizes Saudi Arabia for funding radical mosques
Today, 09:16
EU states could lose US visa waivers

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 18th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

From William Rivers Pitt, Columnist and Editor, Truthout
Truthout, P.O. Box 276414, Sacramento, CA 95827
September 18, 2015


So I sat through the first Republican debate on CNN on Wednesday night, and then sat through the mind-erasing eternity that was the three-hour-long second Republican debate that came hot on the ridiculous heels of the first, took voluminous notes, and then wrote about it for Truthout … and I reached one utterly inescapable conclusion when all was said and done.

We are in deep trouble.

I’ve known this for a while, but it was reinforced during my long slog through Wednesday’s nonsense: In order to exist in that vapid atmosphere, one must accept – down through the bone and into the very marrow – a carefully concocted, vicious, violently delirious fiction of the world that has no contact whatsoever with reality.

If this is the best we can do as far as assembling presidential candidates – and the Democratic side of the deal is no New Orleans parade, mind you – doom is tapping us on the shoulder and blowing sweet nothings in our ears. We can do better, we must do better, and information is how we will do better.

Truthout is where that information can be found, come Hell or high water.

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