Progressive Organizations Call For Clean Energy Standard Without "False Solutions"

Posted by Brad Johnson Fri, 14 May 2021 12:16:00 GMT

A broad coalition is asking the U.S. Congress to ensure any clean electricity standard (CES) passed into law be a renewable standard, which includes only renewable resources, particularly solar and wind energy, and excludes natural gas, biomass, and new nuclear plants.

Major signatories to the letter to Democratic congressional leaders include 350.org, Indigenous Environmental Network, the NAACP, Friends of the Earth, the Center for Biological Diversity, Food & Water Watch, Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation, California Environmental Justice Alliance, Oil Change International and The Democracy Collaborative.

The letter addresses provisions in the text of the Climate Leadership and Environmental Action for our Nation’s (CLEAN) Future Act (H.R. 1512), which admits gas and carbon capture and storage as qualifying energies. The letter cites an analysis of the CLEAN Future Act’s CES credit-trading system, which finds that the bill offers “little incentive for operators with a full mix of generation to replace gas with renewable energy until 2035, since they get a much better benefit from retiring coal.”

The signatories write:
The definition [of clean energy] must exclude all fossil fuels and false solutions, including but not limited to: gas with and without carbon capture and storage and other fossil-based technologies; waste incineration and other combustion-based technologies; bioenergy including biomass, biofuels, factory farm gas, landfill gas, and wood pellets; new nuclear; and new, large-scale and ecosystem-altering hydropower, and all market-based accounting systems like offsets. Energy efficiency and demand-side management technologies must also be paired with renewable energies to vastly reduce energy consumption.

Writing for Politico, Michael Grunwald criticized the signatories as a “circular firing squad” of “utopian” “eco-purists” engaging in “political lunacy.” The only named critic of the letter he quoted was Data For Progress’s Julian Brave Noisecat (“There’s just no reason to take positions that aren’t politically defensible in Congress, and probably aren’t even technically defensible”).

Politico not only accepts advertising and sponsorship from corporate polluters but also collaborates with them on lobbying events.

Robinson Meyer, a journalist at the Atlantic, was similarly dismissive. Like Politico, the Atlantic collaborates with the fossil-fuel industry on lobbying and propaganda.

Text of the letter:

Senate Committee Moves Carbon Market Bill Backed by Industrial Agriculture Titans Closer to Passage

Posted by Brad Johnson Fri, 23 Apr 2021 16:55:00 GMT

On Thursday, Earth Day 2021, the Senate Agriculture Committee unanimously approved by voice vote the Growing Climate Solutions Act of 2021 (S. 1251), which would expand voluntary agricultural carbon sequestration markets under private control.

“On Earth Day, our committee came together in a bipartisan way to pass the Growing Climate Solutions Act,” said Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.). “This brings us one step closer to providing more opportunities for farmers and foresters to lead in addressing the climate crisis and also benefit from new streams of income.”

The legislation was introduced by Stabenow and Mike Braun (R-Ind.) with the support of the biggest corporations in industrial agriculture, including Cargill, Bayer, McDonald’s, Archer Daniels Midland, General Mills, and Syngenta, as well as Big Ag lobbying groups like the American Farm Bureau and the US Chamber of Commerce. Corporate-funded-and-allied environmental organizations like the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions, Climate Leadership Council, and the Environmental Defense Fund are also supporting the bill.

Agribusiness has contributed $2,546,199 to Stabenow and $367,483 to Braun over their careers.

The bill now has 42 co-sponsors in the Senate, ranging from climate hawk Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) to climate denier Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.).

Companion legislation was introduced yesterday in the House of Representatives by Reps. Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.) and Don Bacon (R-Neb.). Agribusiness has contributed $198,675 to Spanberger and $478,040 to Bacon over their careers.

Other original co-sponsors of the House bill are Reps. Chellie Pingree (D-Maine), Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.), Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb.), Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.), Jim Baird (R-Ind.), John Katko (R-N.Y.), and Josh Harder (D-Calif.).

Advocates for small farmers, sustainable agriculture, and aggressive climate action criticized the legislation. In 2020, the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy’s Tara Ritter explained how the bill works:

Although farmers should be incentivized to adopt practices that boost resilience and sequester carbon, carbon markets have a failed and wasteful track record compared to public investments in proven conservation programs. This bill would tee up a framework incentivizing false solutions to climate change that benefits private companies over farmers. . .

Voluntary carbon markets are privately-run schemes that pay farmers for carbon sequestered in their soils to generate carbon credits. Then, the company running the carbon market sells those credits to other companies or individuals interested in reducing their carbon footprint. Companies such as Indigo Ag and Nori are starting up voluntary carbon markets, claiming that they will increase farm profits while addressing climate change, all without imposing government regulations on farmers. Yet, Indigo Ag also plans to sell farmers proprietary seed coatings and collect farm data, raising questions of who will benefit most. Unsurprisingly, some of the biggest backers of these schemes are large agribusiness companies, including ADM, Bunge, Cargill and more, that will be able to generate, buy and sell carbon credits to boost their profits and greenwash their own operations.

The Growing Climate Solutions Act sets up a weak verification system for the markets. The system relies on third-party entities to both provide technical assistance and verify the carbon credits. Allowing an entity to both consult on best practices and certify adherence to those practices could lead to conflicts of interest. In addition, verifying entities may self-register in the program simply by notifying USDA that they will “maintain expertise in and adhere to the standards published.” This type of self-reporting will almost certainly be abused, and without strict enforcement it will weaken the results of already flawed carbon markets.

Jason Davidson, Senior Food and Agriculture Campaigner for Friends of the Earth, responded to the committee’s approval of the bill:

We already have policies that will help farmers enhance soil health, protect biodiversity, and combat the climate crisis without perpetuating environmental injustice. Carbon markets have failed to reduce emissions and failed to provide opportunities for America’s family farmers.

Ecologically regenerative farming should be incentivized in addition to, and not instead of, carbon reductions in the energy sector. We should increase incentives for organic transition and heavily invest in existing successful USDA conservation programs while retooling them to help producers sequester carbon. Congress should support existing USDA technical assistance programs rather than outsource them to polluting agribusiness giants like Bayer. Family farmers should be supported in these efforts with structural reforms that ensure fair markets and fair prices, rather than creating more false promises of new markets that will predominantly benefit Big Ag.

“There are better bills on the table to meet the goals of maximizing soil carbon sequestration and reducing emissions from agriculture,” Ritter wrote, “including Representative Chellie Pingree’s (D-Maine) Agriculture Resilience Act and Senator Cory Booker’s (D-N.J.) Climate Stewardship Act.”

Markey and Ocasio-Cortez Introduce Civilian Climate Corps Act of 2021

Posted by Brad Johnson Tue, 20 Apr 2021 19:09:00 GMT

Today, Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) are introducing the Civilian Climate Corps for Jobs and Justice Act of 2021. The act establishes the Civilian Climate Corps (CCC), to be administered by the Corporation for National and Community Service within AmeriCorps.

Over five years, 1.5 million Americans in the CCC will complete federally-funded projects that help communities respond to climate change and transition to a clean economy. CCC work will reduce carbon pollution, enable a transition to renewable energy, build healthier and more resilient communities, implement conservation projects with proven climate benefits, and help communities recover from climate disasters.

Corpsmembers will receive education and training in coordination with local institutions, including labor unions, and will coordinate closely with local groups to help develop career pathways and union opportunities in new green sectors.

Markey and Ocasio-Cortez discussed the bill on the National Mall today:

The CCC will administer a large national service program and provide simplified and enhanced grants to scale up the existing network of over 130 local and state service and conservation corps.

All corpsmembers are guaranteed the following benefits:
  • Salary and benefits: Compensation of at least $15 per hour, full health care coverage, and critical support services such as transportation, housing, and childcare.
  • Educational Funding: Enabling educational grants of $25,000 per year of service, up to $50,000, eligible for further education at any level or to pay down student debt.
  • Career Opportunities: Corps will prioritize registered pre-apprenticeship curricula and union membership as part of service. Corpsmembers will receive vocational training appropriate to the local job market.
  • Explicit antiracist language ensures that environmental justice communities receive benefits of at least 50% of CCC and Partner Corps projects, and 50% of corpsmembers will be recruited from these same communities, with no age limit for participation in at least 50% of Partner Corps.
  • Labor groups will beintegrated into CCC and Partner Corps planning and operations, with DOL registered pre-apprenticeship and apprenticeship programs prioritized for grants, required coordination with local labor unions, buy American provisions in procurement, and advisory board representation from labor groups. The corps, partner corps, and any private companies partnered in corps activities will adhere to neutrality and card check agreements.
  • Tribal communities will receive 10% of the dedicated EJ benefits.
Eligible projects include but are not limited to:
  • Weatherizing and retrofitting residential and non-residential buildings for energy efficiency and electrification and participating in the construction of new net-zero buildings
  • Maintenance and operation of energy-efficient and net zero buildings and properties
  • Building energy-efficient affordable housing units
  • Conducting energy audits
  • Recommending ways for households to improve energy efficiency
  • Installing and upgrading public transit and electric vehicle infrastructure
  • Installing clean energy infrastructure in homes and small businesses, on farms, and in communities
  • Advising on climate and energy policy
  • Providing clean energy-related services
  • Expanding broadband access and adoption
  • Working with schools and youth programs to educate students and youth about ways to reduce home energy use and improve the environment
  • Assisting in the development of local recycling and composting programs
  • Renewing and rehabilitating public and tribal lands and trails owned or maintained by the Federal Government, an Indian tribe, a State, a municipal or local government, or any formal partners of those entities
  • Improving air quality or other pollution monitoring networks
  • Remediation of the effects of toxins and other hazardous pollution
  • Building and maintaining green stormwater management infrastructure
  • Creating and expanding local and regional food systems
  • Developing farm to institution distribution models to make schools, hospitals, and other institutions healthier and more food resilient
  • Performing community resilience assessments
  • Collecting and analyzing data related to climate change and disasters
  • Advising and planning for community resilience and adaptation
  • Building and maintaining resilient infrastructure
  • Conducting prescribed burns or engaging in reforestation activity
  • Supporting the activities of local emergency management agencies and programs
  • Advising and supporting farmers and ranchers in the implementation of management practices that account for climate change organizing community-based resiliency coalitions and working groups
  • Providing disaster preparedness or community emergency response team training to community-based organizations and residents, bincluding for animals in disasters
  • Providing education on climate change, disaster, and resilience at community-based organizations and schools
  • Developing community climate resilience hub infrastructure
  • Clearing debris after climate disasters
  • Repairing and rebuilding homes and buildings
  • Replanting locally adapted native trees and plants
  • Stabilizing shorelines and hillsides
  • Conserving, protecting, and restoring habitat, especially habitat to threatened, endangered, and at-risk species;
  • Stabilizing shorelines or riparian areas using green infrastructure such as native wetlands
  • Removing invasive species and planting locally adapted native species
  • Collecting, storing, and propagating native seeds and plant materials
  • removing hazardous fuels within one-quarter mile of dwellings and homes or one-quarter mile around delineated communities
  • Planting and maintaining urban, tribal, and rural forests, trees, native grasslands, and natural areas developing urban farms and gardens
  • Reforestation of native forest ecosystems, afforestation, and other projects to achieve demonstrable carbon sinks
  • Reclaiming unneeded roads and tracks and restoring affected lands to natural conditions
  • Restoring and managing wildlife corridors and habitat connectivity for native species, including building wildlife crossings and removing barriers to wildlife movement
  • Assisting farmers and ranchers in a transition to more regenerative farming and ranching systems

Download the bill here.

American Jobs Plan Overview

Posted by Brad Johnson Wed, 31 Mar 2021 11:31:00 GMT

Table modified by Hill Heat from the Committee for a Responsible Budget from the White House’s Fact Sheet.


  10-Year Estimate
Invest in Transportation Infrastructure $621 billion
Invest in Electric Vehicles (EV), including consumer rebates to purchase EVs, grants and incentives to build 500,000 new charging stations, and replacing and electrifying federal vehicle fleet $174 billion
Modernize bridges, highways, roads, and main streets in critical need of repair $115 billion
Modernize public transit $85 billion
Improve passenger and freight rail service $80 billion
Improve infrastructure resilience by safeguarding critical infrastructure and services, defending vulnerable communities, and maximizing resilience of land and water resources $50 billion
Improve airports $25 billion
Establish dedicated fund for beneficial projects to regional or national economy $25 billion
Improve road safety and establish Safe Streets for All program $20 billion
Establish program to reconnect neighborhoods and ensure new projects increase opportunity $20 billion
Improve ports and waterways $17 billion
Other spending $10 billion
 
Invest in Domestic Manufacturing, Research & Development, and Job Training Initiatives $590 billion
Provide additional funding for domestic manufacturing, investing in capital access programs, supporting modernizing supply chains, and creating a new financing program to support debt and equity investments $52 billion
Provide additional funding to the National Science Foundation $50 billion
Establish Department of Commerce office to monitor domestic industrial capacity and to fund investments in the production of critical goods $50 billion
Provide funding for semiconductor manufacturing and research $50 billion
Provide funding for workforce development infrastructure and worker protection $48 billion
Support clean energy manufacturing with federal procurement $46 billion
Provide funding to upgrade research infrastructure in laboratories $40 billion
Establish Dislocated Workers Program and invest in sector-based training $40 billion
Provide additional funding for climate change research and development $35 billion
Provide funding for community-based small business incubators and innovation hubs $31 billion
Provide additional funding for research and development to spur innovation and job creation $30 billion
Protect against future pandemics through medical countermeasures $30 billion
Establish regional innovation hubs and Community Revitalization Fund $20 billion
Create centers of excellence that serve as research incubators for HBCUs and MSIs $15 billion
Provide additional funding to National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) $14 billion
Provide funding for workforce development in underserved communities $12 billion
Provide funding for research and development at HBCUs and other MSIs $10 billion
Provide funding for enforcement of workforce protections $10 billion
Establish Rural Partnership Program $5 billion
Other manufacturing investments $2 billion
 
Expand Home Care Services and Provide Additional Support for Care Workers $400 billion
Expand access to long-term, home and community-based care services under Medicaid and extend the Money Follows the Person program $400 billion
 
Clean Energy Tax Credits ~$400 billion
 
Improve Housing Stock, Modernize Schools and Child Care Facilities, and Upgrade VA Hospitals and Federal Buildings $328 billion
Build over a million energy efficient housing units and eliminate certain zoning & land use policies $126 billion
Provide direct grants to upgrade and build new public schools, with an additional $50 billion leveraged through bonds $50 billion
Provide funding to improve public housing system $40 billion
Establish Clean Energy & Sustainability Accelerator $27 billion
Establish Child Care Growth and Innovation Fund and provide tax credits to encourage businesses to build child care facilities $25 billion
Incentivize the building or rehabilitation of over 500,000 homes for low- and middle-income homebuyers with a Neighborhood Homes Investment Act (NHIA) tax credit $20 billion
Modernize VA hospitals and clinics $18 billion
Improve community college facilities and technology $12 billion
Modernize federal buildings through bipartisan Federal Capital Revolving Fund $10 billion
 
Invest in Broadband, Electrical Grid, and Clean Drinking Water $311 billion
Purchase 100% carbon-free power for federal buildings.  
Establish an Energy Efficiency and Clean Electricity Standard (EECES) of 100% carbon-free power (including nuclear and hydropower) by 2035  
Provide funding to build high-speed broadband, reduce the cost of broadband internet service, and promote transparency and competition $100 billion
Invest in power infrastructure $100 billion
Upgrade and modernize drinking water supplies through grants and low-cost flexible loans to states, Tribes, territories, and disadvantaged communities $56 billion
Replace all lead pipes and service lines $45 billion
Provide funding to monitor PFAS substances in drinking water and invest in rural small water systems & household well & wastewater systems $10 billion
Plug orphan oil and gas wells and cleaning up abandoned mines $16 billion
Remediate and redevelop Brownfield and Superfund sites $5 billion
Establish the Civilian Climate Corps $10 billion
 
Total ~$2.65 trillion

White House Names Environmental Justice Advisory Council Members, First Meeting Tomorrow

Posted by Brad Johnson Mon, 29 Mar 2021 18:20:00 GMT

Today, the White House announced the members of the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council (WHEJAC). The advisory council will provide advice and recommendations to the Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality (soon to be Brenda Mallory) and the White House Environmental Justice Interagency Council on how to address current and historic environmental injustices.

The first meeting of the WHEJAC will be held virtually tomorrow, March 30, and will be open to the public.

The White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council (WHEJAC) was established by President Biden’s executive order, Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad. Biden’s order also established the White House EJ Interagency Council as the successor to the Environmental Justice Interagency Working Group, which was established in 1994 by Executive Order 12898, Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Populations.

The Environmental Protection Agency will fund and provide administrative support for the WHEJAC.

The council will advise on how to increase the government’s efforts to address current and historic environmental injustice through strengthening environmental justice monitoring and enforcement. The duties of the WHEJAC are to provide advice and recommendations on issues including, but not limited, to environmental justice in the following areas:
  • Climate change mitigation, resilience, and disaster management
  • Toxics, pesticides, and pollution reduction in overburdened communities
  • Equitable conservation and public lands use
  • Tribal and Indigenous issues
  • Clean energy transition
  • Sustainable infrastructure, including clean water, transportation, and the built environment
  • NEPA, enforcement and civil rights
  • Increasing the federal government’s efforts to address current and historic environmental injustice

The WHEJAC will complement the ongoing work of the National Environmental Justice Advisory Council, a federal advisory committee established in 1993 to provide advice and recommendations on EJ issues to the Administrator of the EPA.

For updates, subscribe to the EPA-EJ listserv.

Energy Expert Catherine Wolfram Joins Treasury Department As Climate Economist

Posted by Brad Johnson Mon, 08 Mar 2021 16:39:00 GMT

Catherine Wolfram, a leading energy economist, has joined the Department of Treasury as the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Climate and Energy Economics in the Office of Economic Policy.

Wolfram is a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, who has done real-world research into the outcomes of policies such as rural electrification and weatherization assistance.

In 2019, Wolfram wrote sympathetically about the Green New Deal:
“In general, though, I’m very sympathetic to the idea that the US government needs to do a lot more to address climate change, and the GND’s first steps aren’t totally whacky from an economics perspective. I hope Ocasio-Cortez and others succeed in mobilizing interest and putting climate change back in the political spotlight.”

She received her undergraduate degree from Harvard in 1989 and her Ph.D. in economics from MIT in 1996, and taught at Harvard before joining Berkeley.

From 2009 to 2018, she was the director of Berkeley’s Energy Institute, a utility and non-profit-funded research initiative.

In 2020, she became visiting faculty at Columbia University’s Center on Global Energy Policy, an initiative heavily financed by the oil and gas industry.

Biden's National Climate Task Force Has First Official Meeting, Forms Climate Innovation Working Group

Posted by Brad Johnson Fri, 12 Feb 2021 00:42:00 GMT

The White House National Climate Task Force, formed by a recent executive order, held its first meeting today. The first tweet from National Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy’s official account displayed the participants.

Additionally, the White House announced the formation of the Climate Innovation Working Group as part of the Climate Task Force. The working group, co-chaired by the White House Office of Domestic Climate Policy, Office of Science of Technology and Policy, and Office of Management and Budget, will focus on climate technology research, development, and deployment.

According to the White House, the working group’s priorities will be:
  • zero net carbon buildings at zero net cost, including carbon-neutral construction materials;
  • energy storage at one-tenth the cost of today’s alternatives;
  • advanced energy system management tools to plan for and operate a grid powered by zero carbon power plants;
  • very low-cost zero carbon on-road vehicles and transit systems;
  • new, sustainable fuels for aircraft and ships, as well as improvements in broader aircraft and ship efficiency and transportation management;
  • affordable refrigeration, air conditioning, and heat pumps made without refrigerants that warm the planet;
  • carbon-free heat and industrial processes that capture emissions for making steel, concrete, chemicals, and other important industrial products;
  • carbon-free hydrogen at a lower cost than hydrogen made from polluting alternatives;
  • innovative soil management, plant biologies, and agricultural techniques to remove carbon dioxide from the air and store it in the ground;
  • direct air capture systems and retrofits to existing industrial and power plant exhausts to capture carbon dioxide and use it to make alternative products or permanently sequester it deep underground.

As part of that initiative, the Department of Energy announced that $100 million of Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) funds will be directed to the new ARPA-Climate initiative in support of basic research for advanced climate technology.

White House participants in today’s National Climate Task Force meeting:
  • Vice President Kamala Harris
  • John Kerry, United States Special Presidential Envoy for Climate
  • Gina McCarthy, White House National Climate Advisor
  • Ali Zaidi, deputy White House National Climate Advisor
  • Bruce Reed, White House Deputy Chief of Staff
  • David Hayes, special assistant to the president for climate policy
  • Sonia Aggarwal, Senior Advisor to the President for Climate Policy and Innovation
  • Susan Rice, Director of the United States Domestic Policy Council
  • Nicole Budzinski, Chief of Staff at Office of Management and Budget
  • Brian Deese, Director of the National Economic Council
  • Kei Koizumi, Chief of Staff and Acting Director, Office of Science and Technology Policy; during Obama administration was Assistant Director for Federal Research and Development and Senior Advisor to the Director for the National Science and Technology Council at OSTP
  • Cecilia Martinez, senior director for environmental justice, Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ)
  • Mark Chambers, senior director for building emissions, CEQ; formerly director of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s sustainability office
  • Maggie Thomas, Chief of Staff, Office of Domestic Climate Policy
  • Jahi Wise, senior adviser for climate policy and finance in the Office of Domestic Climate Policy https://coalitionforgreencapital.com/cgcs-jahi-wise-heads-to-white-house-domestic-climate-policy-office/
Departmental participants:
  • Pete Buttigieg, Secretary of Transportation
  • Janet Yellen, Secretary of Treasury
  • Kathleen Hicks, Deputy Secretary of Defense
  • Tarak Shah, Chief of Staff, Department of Energy
  • Katelyn Walker Mooney, Policy Advisor, Department of Labor, previously the associate general counsel for House labor committee Chairman Bobby Scott
  • Jenn Jones, Chief of Staff, Housing and Urban Development
  • Robert Bonnie, Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy and Senior Advisor, Climate, Department of Agriculture
Unknown roles:
  • Raj Nayak; was on Biden Department of Labor transition team, and deputy Labor chief of staff during the Obama administration
  • Roque Sanchez; was on Biden DOE transition team, and a former White House climate advisor during the Obama administration
Officially, the members of the Climate Task Force are:
  • National Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy
  • Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen
  • Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin
  • Attorney General (Merrick Garland, nominated)
  • Secretary of the Interior (Deb Haaland, nominated)
  • Secretary of Agriculture (Tom Vilsack, nominated)
  • Secretary of Commerce (Gina Raimondo, nominated)
  • Secretary of Education (Miguel Cardona, nominated)
  • Secretary of Labor (Marty Walsh, nominated)
  • Secretary of Health and Human Services (Xavier Becerra, nominated)
  • Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (Marcia Fudge, nominated)
  • Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg
  • Secretary of Energy (Jennifer Granholm, nominated)
  • Secretary of Homeland Security (Alejandro Mayorkas, nominated)
  • Administrator of General Services (no nomination yet)
  • Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality (Brenda Mallory, nominated)
  • Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (Michael Regan, nominated)
  • Director of the Office of Management and Budget (Neera Tanden, nominated)
  • Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy (Eric Lander, nominated)
  • Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy Susan Rice
  • Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs Jake Sullivan
  • Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall
  • Assistant to the President for Economic Policy Brian Deese

Sanders, Blumenauer, and Ocasio-Cortez Introduce National Climate Emergency Act of 2021

Posted by Brad Johnson Thu, 04 Feb 2021 15:43:00 GMT

Legislation introduced today by Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) calls on the President of the United States to declare a national climate emergency and begin taking action in line with the goals of the Green New Deal resolution introduced in 2019.

The National Climate Emergency Act mandates a presidential declaration of a national emergency under the National Emergencies Act of 1976, and directs the president to mobilize the nation for climate and economic justice, rebuilding the national labor movement to protect the habitability of our planet.

To ensure accountability to Congress and the American people, the National Climate Emergency Act requires that the president deliver a report within one year of the bill’s enactment (and then every year thereafter until the emergency sunsets) that details the specific actions taken by the executive branch to combat the climate emergency and restore the climate for future generations.

As detailed in the legislation, this should include, but is not limited to, investments in large scale mitigation and resiliency projects, upgrades to public infrastructure, modernization of millions of buildings to cut pollution, investments in public health, protections for public lands, regenerative agriculture investments that support local and regional food systems, and more.

“It might be a good idea for President Biden to call a climate emergency,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow last week. “Trump used this emergency for a stupid wall, which wasn’t an emergency. But if there ever was an emergency, climate is one.”

The legislation introduced today is supported by dozens of climate justice organizations including 350.org, Center for Biological Diversity, The Climate Mobilization, Food & Water Watch, Labor Network for Sustainability, Progressive Democrats of America, Public Citizen, Sunrise Movement, Justice Democrats, Greenpeace, New York Lawyers for the Public Interest, Align NY, Friends of Earth, and Climate Justice Alliance.

“We are at a life changing, civilization altering moment in our history, as we face a climate crisis that demands a thunderous voice and a full mobilization of every sector to match its scale and its urgency – all while serving as a great opportunity to build a more just and prosperous country,” said Varshini Prakash, Executive Director of the Sunrise Movement. “This bill is a good sign that our leaders are finally understanding what young people and climate activists have been shouting from the rooftops for years – that the fires that burned our homes to rubble, the floods that took our family and friends with them, are a climate emergency, and bold action must be done now to save our humanity and our future.”

“We’re already in a five-alarm emergency for communities on the frontlines of fossil fuel pollution and the climate crisis,” said John Noël, senior climate campaigner of Greenpeace USA. “Our government has squandered precious time in the fight for a liveable planet, and now we need legislation like the Climate Emergency Act to kick things into gear. Congress must mobilize in full force to declare a climate emergency then immediately act to end fossil fuel subsidies and reinstate the crude oil export ban. We have the unprecedented opportunity this year to advance climate, racial, and economic justice, and to create millions of union jobs in the process. This historic legislation is just step one.”

“Obstruction, corporate greed, and denial has left us with just 10 years to rapidly transition off fossil fuels and toward a 100% clean and renewable energy economy,” said Alexandra Rojas, Executive Director, Justice Democrats. “There’s no time to waste in declaring this a national emergency and taking swift action to create millions of good-paying union jobs in the process.”

Full text of the legislation:

Biden Names Joe Bryan as Climate Advisor for Department of Defense

Posted by Brad Johnson Wed, 03 Feb 2021 18:42:00 GMT

The Department of Defense has named Joseph Bryan its Senior Advisor on Climate, joining several other agencies with this new position.

Joe Bryan, formally appointed as a Special Assistant to the Secretary of Defense, was the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Energy during the Obama administration starting in 2014, coming from the U.S. Senate where he was a military issues staffer. He started his career in energy and mining policy, with jobs in South Africa and Namibia, after earning a masters in energy and environmental policy from the University of Delaware.

After leaving the Obama administration, Bryan joined the Atlantic Council as a senior fellow and founded Muswell Orange, LLC, a one-man clean-energy consultancy. In recent years he wrote numerous pieces and offered testimony on climate change, clean energy, and the military.

In one piece he wrote: “Mitigating the worst impacts of climate change ultimately depends on significant reductions in global carbon emissions. The United States should rejoin the international community and recommit to aggressive cuts in CO2.”

He has also emphasized the strategic issue of the minerals supply chain for batteries and other renewable-energy technology.

Additionally, climate hawk Andy Oare was named the director of digital media for the Department of Defense. During the Obama administration, he was part of the digital media and outreach team for the Department of Energy.

Bryan’s biographical details:

Joseph M. Bryan was appointed as Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Energy in November 2014. Mr. Bryan served as the Secretariat focal point on all matters pertaining to the Department of Navy’s energy initiatives.

Mr. Bryan joined the Department of the Navy from the United States Senate where he served in several professional staff roles. Most recently, Mr. Bryan was the Investigations Team Lead for the Committee on Armed Services. During his tenure, the committee completed investigations into cyber intrusions affecting U.S. Transportation Command contractors, U.S. costs and allied contributions to support the U.S. military presence overseas, the presence of counterfeit electronic parts in the military supply chain, the use of private security contractors in Afghanistan, and the treatment of detainees in U.S. custody.

From 2005 to January 2007, Mr. Bryan served on the Select Committee on Intelligence, where he advised Senator Carl Levin on legal, policy, and programmatic issues affecting the U.S. Intelligence Community. He also represented Senator Levin in legislative negotiations and investigations into pre-Iraq war intelligence.

From 2001 to April 2005, he was responsible for legislative issues related to Senate Judiciary and Governmental Affairs Committees, including judicial nominations, criminal justice, legal reform, and federal employees.

Earlier in his career, Mr. Bryan worked at the University of Cape Town’s Energy and Development Research Center, Cape Town, South Africa. In this position, he coordinated research and briefings for Chairman of the South African Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Minerals and Energy on the development and regulation of domestic energy industries. He also advised Namibian Ministry of Minerals and Energy on the development of a white paper to guide development of national energy policy.

Mr. Bryan earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1991 from Fordham University and a Master of Arts in Urban Affairs and Public Policy, with a focus on energy and environmental policy from the University of Delaware.

Biden Administration Names Climate Advisors at NASA, SEC, USDA, GSA

Posted by Brad Johnson Wed, 03 Feb 2021 14:21:00 GMT


Administration names Gavin Schmidt, Robert Bonnie, Sonal Larsen, Satyam Khanna climate advisors (clockwise from top left)
President Joe Biden is continuing to build out an administration-wide climate infrastructure with new appointments. This interagency “climate cabinet,” anchored by National Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy and Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry in the White House, looks to extend to every department. Here are the recent announcement for four diverse agencies:



National Aeronautic and Space Administration: Gavin Schmidt, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York, will serve in the newly created position of senior climate advisor. Schmidt has been GISS director since 2014. His main research interest is the use of climate modeling to understand past, present, and future climate change, and he has authored or co-authored more than 150 research papers in peer-reviewed literature. He is a fellow of the American Geophysical Union (AGU) and the American Association for the Advancement of Science and was the inaugural winner of the AGU Climate Communication Prize in 2011. He also was awarded NASA’s Outstanding Leadership Medal in 2017. He has a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Oxford University and a doctorate in applied mathematics from University College London.

Securities and Exchange Commission: Satyam Khanna will serve as Senior Policy Advisor for Climate and Environmental and Social Governance. Khanna was most recently a resident fellow at NYU School of Law’s Institute for Corporate Governance and Finance and served on the Biden-Harris Presidential Transition’s Federal Reserve, Banking, and Securities Regulators Agency Review Team. He was previously a member of the SEC’s Investor Advisory Committee, where he served on the Investor-As-Owner Subcommittee, and was a senior advisor to the Principles for Responsible Investment. Prior to that, he served as Counsel to SEC Commissioner Robert J. Jackson Jr. Earlier in his career, Khanna was a member of the staff of the Financial Stability Oversight Council at the U.S. Treasury Department and was a litigation associate at the law firm McDermott Will & Emery. He is a graduate of Columbia Law School and Washington University in St. Louis. He was also a blogger at ThinkProgress for the Center for American Progress Action Fund.

U.S. Department of Agriculture: Robert Bonnie was named Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy and Senior Advisor, Climate, in the Office of the Secretary: Most recently Bonnie served as an executive in residence at the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions at Duke University. Previously, he served as Director of the Farm and Forests Carbon Solutions Initiative at the Bipartisan Policy Center, where worked to develop new initiatives to combat the climate crisis through agricultural innovation. During the Obama Administration, he served as Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment and as a Senior Advisor to Secretary Vilsack for climate and the environment. He worked at the Environmental Defense Fund for 14 years. Bonnie holds a master’s degree in forestry and environmental management from Duke University, and a bachelor’s from Harvard College.

General Services Administration: Sonal Kemkar Larsen, formerly a national advisor for the mayoral level City Energy Project partnership in Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker’s sustainability office. She was a former official at both the White House Council of Environmental Quality and at the Department of Energy. Previously she was a sustainability consultant at the United Nations Environment Program in Bangkok. She will play a role as senior advisor on Climate.

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