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Westlake Legal Group > Carbon Dioxide

A Plan to Mine the Minnesota Wilderness Hit a Dead End. Then Trump Became President.

ELY, Minn. — In the waning months of the Obama administration, a Chilean conglomerate was losing a fight with the United States government over a copper mine that it wanted to build near a pristine wilderness area in Minnesota.

The election of President Trump, with his business-friendly bent, turned out to be a game-changer for the project.

Beginning in the early weeks of Mr. Trump’s presidency, the administration worked at a high level to remove roadblocks to the proposed mine, government emails and calendars show, overruling concerns that it could harm the Boundary Waters, a vast landscape of federally protected lakes and forests along the border with Canada.

Executives with the mining company, Antofagasta, discussed the project with senior administration officials, including the White House’s top energy adviser, the emails show. Even before an interior secretary was appointed to the new administration, the department moved to re-examine leases critical to the mine, eventually restoring those that the Obama administration had declined to renew. And the Forest Service called off an environmental review that could have restricted mining, even though the agriculture secretary had told Congress that the review would proceed.

An Interior Department spokesman said it simply worked to rectify “a flawed decision rushed out the door” before Mr. Trump took office. Several senior department officials with previous administrations, however, said they were surprised by the swift change of course for the little-known Minnesota project, which was not a focal point of Mr. Trump’s presidential campaign.

For the family of the billionaire Andrónico Luksic, which controls the Chilean conglomerate, the policy reversals could provide a big boost to its mining business. Since the change in administration, the Antofagasta subsidiary Twin Metals Minnesota has significantly ramped up its lobbying in Washington, according to federal disclosures, spending $900,000.

ImageWestlake Legal Group 00CLI-HOUSE-luksic-articleLarge A Plan to Mine the Minnesota Wilderness Hit a Dead End. Then Trump Became President. Zinke, Ryan (1961- ) Wilderness Areas Wetlands washington dc United States Politics and Government Trump, Ivanka Trump, Donald J Tidwell, Thomas L Renting and Leasing (Real Estate) Minnesota Mines and Mining Lobbying and Lobbyists Kushner, Jared Kushner, Charles Interior Department Greenhouse Gas Emissions Global Warming Forests and Forestry Forest Service environment Chile Carbon Dioxide Banco de Chile Bachelet, Michelle Appointments and Executive Changes

Andrónico Luksic’s plan for a copper mine in Minnesota was blocked by President Barack Obama. His fortunes have since shifted.CreditMartin Bernetti/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Ivanka Trump, left, and Jared Kushner, second from left, two of the president’s closest advisers.CreditAlex Wong/Getty Images

But the mining project’s breakthrough, already unpopular with environmentalists, has drawn additional scrutiny and criticism because of an unusual connection between Mr. Luksic and two of Mr. Trump’s family members.

Just before Mr. Trump took office, Mr. Luksic added a personal investment to his portfolio: a $5.5 million house in Washington. Mr. Luksic bought the house with the intention of renting it to a wealthy new arrival to Mr. Trump’s Washington, according to Rodrigo Terré, chairman of Mr. Luksic’s family investment office, which handled the purchase.

The idea worked. Even before the purchase was final, real estate agents had lined up renters: Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump.

The rental arrangement has been a point of concern for ethics experts and groups opposed to mining near the Boundary Waters, and has focused national attention, particularly among some Democrats in Congress, on an otherwise local debate.

The Wall Street Journal first reported about the house in March 2017. At that time, Twin Metals was suing the federal government over the mining leases, but the Trump administration’s direction on the mine since then had only begun to take shape.

In recent months, the scrutiny has grown. In March, Representative Raúl M. Grijalva, the Arizona Democrat who is chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, wrote a letter with other lawmakers to the interior and agriculture secretaries raising significant concerns about the proposed mine.

The letter said the two departments’ actions “blatantly ignored scientific and economic evidence.” It also mentioned the “interesting coincidence” surrounding the rental of the Luksic house to Mr. Trump’s relatives. Separately, a group in Minnesota opposed to the mining, Save the Boundary Waters, has called the rental arrangement “deeply troubling” and has seized on it to cast doubt on the administration’s actions.

The White House and representatives for the couple declined to answer questions about whether the rental deal had been reviewed by ethics officials. “Both Mr. Kushner and Ms. Trump follow the ethics advice they received when they entered government service,” said Peter Mirijanian, a spokesman for Mr. Kushner’s lawyer, Abbe Lowell.

Mr. Terré called the lease a simple real estate transaction that happened to involve the incoming president’s family. “I do not believe there was anything unethical or inappropriate about this business transaction,” he said.

Both Mr. Mirijanian and Mr. Terré said the rental was not related to the Minnesota mine. “There is no correlation in any way,” Mr. Mirijanian said. They were “two entirely unrelated matters” and tying them together was “based on unfounded rumors and speculation,” Mr. Terré said.

An Interior Department spokeswoman said that neither Mr. Kushner nor Ms. Trump been involved in discussions about the mine.

Nonetheless, several ethics experts said they would have cautioned Mr. Kushner and Ms. Trump against renting the home, given the Luksic family’s business before the administration.

“There may be nothing wrong,” said Arthur Andrew Lopez, a federal government ethics official for two decades who is now a professor at Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business. “But it doesn’t look good.”

Antofagasta hopes to mine on the edge of the Boundary Waters, which encompasses more than a million acres of lakes and forest.CreditTim Gruber for The New York Times

The Boundary Waters hold a special place in American geography: More than a million acres of lakes and forests provide a rich habitat for thousands of species, including the gray wolf and Canada lynx. But below the surface and beyond lies richness of another sort, an estimated four billion tons of copper and nickel ore — believed to be one of the world’s largest undeveloped mineral deposits.

The mining giant controlled by the Luksic family, Antofagasta, took full control of the project in 2015, and its executives have called it the company’s “most advanced international opportunity.” Antofagasta, which is publicly traded in London, is poised to benefit from the growing use of copper in renewable-energy technologies like wind and solar. It lists Mr. Luksic as a board member, and his younger brother, Jean-Paul Luksic, as chairman.

The company has spent more than $450 million so far on the project, run by the subsidiary, Twin Metals Minnesota. It says the project will generate hundreds of mining jobs.

The promise of employment resonates in Minnesota’s Iron Range, which has lost a quarter of its mining jobs since 2000. “The mining industry brings a tsunami effect for the community with regard to jobs, schools, everything,” said Andrea Zupancich, the mayor of Babbitt, a town of 1,500 near the proposed mine.

Antofagasta’s environmental record, however, has raised concerns. In Chile, the company’s Los Pelambres copper mine has suffered toxic spills, according to environmental groups. The company said the mine had experienced only “minor incidents involving limited spills” which were not toxic, and said it was proud of its environmental record.

In a 2016 analysis, Thomas Tidwell, who was then chief of the United States Forest Service, warned of risks to the Boundary Waters from the proposed Twin Metals mine, including the leaching of harmful metals. Mining, he concluded, risked “serious and irreplaceable harm to this unique, iconic, and irreplaceable wilderness.”

Twin Metals called the analysis “riddled with errors” and said “environmental risks will be properly managed.”

Still, the fears have divided nearby residents. “In the summer, we drink out of this water,” said Susan Schurke, who runs Wintergreen Northern Wear, an outdoor clothing company. “Once that’s tainted, it’s over. How can we risk that?”

When the Obama administration moved to block the project in 2016, Twin Metals sued. The company said in a statement then that the administration’s move threatened jobs and would “hinder access to one of the world’s largest sources of copper, nickel and platinum — resources of strategic importance to the U.S. economy and national defense.”

Just as the mining company’s hopes appeared to be on the ropes, it got a welcome surprise: Mr. Trump’s election, and the promise of a pro-industry agenda.

“In 100 years, this water is going to be far more valuable a resource here than copper,” Sullen Sack, a wilderness educator, said.CreditTim Gruber for The New York Times
A map of the Boundary Waters at Ely Outfitting Company in Ely, Minn.CreditTim Gruber for The New York Times The region has lost a quarter of its mining jobs since 2000.CreditTim Gruber for The New York Times

With a new administration on its way to Washington, Mr. Luksic contacted a real estate broker he knew for help with an investment idea: buying residential properties in Washington, including a luxury home, to rent out.

With the help of the broker, Rodrigo Valderrama, Mr. Luksic’s family investment office, which through corporate entities owns a portfolio of real estate in the United States, bought two condominiums in the capital. One was never rented and the other was later sold at a loss.

As for the luxury home, Mr. Valderrama spent weeks touring homes and alerting brokers that he had an interested client. One house he saw was on Tracy Place, in the Kalorama neighborhood, being handled by the real estate firm Washington Fine Properties.

Ms. Trump and Mr. Kushner were using the same firm for their hunt for a house to rent. With Mr. Kushner’s parents tagging along, they saw the six-bedroom, 7,000-square-foot Kalorama home as well.

In the space of a week, Mr. Luksic’s representatives agreed to buy the house and closed on the all-cash transaction, while their would-be tenants waited for the purchase to be complete.

The two sides, working through brokers, agreed on rent of $15,000 per month. Mr. Terré described it as being in the “high range” for the area, which some real estate agents confirmed. Still, that rent was significantly lower than what the couple had discussed paying for another more expensive house, according to interviews.

The home rented by Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump in the Kalorama neighborhood of Washington.CreditTom Brenner for The New York Times

Mr. Terré said both sides were aware of each others’ identities before the rental deal was finalized. “We disclosed our name and the name of my boss,” he said in a telephone interview. Mr. Mirijanian said the couple had decided to lease the home before knowing the landlord’s identity. He did not directly respond to questions about whether they learned of that identity before signing the lease.

Mr. Luksic has written on Twitter that he does not know Mr. Trump or any member of his family, and only met Mr. Trump briefly at a New England Patriots football game years ago. Mr. Terré said Mr. Luksic “has not had any interactions with the Trump White House.”

Critics of the Luksic family say they were suspicious of the Washington investments because of Mr. Luksic’s past in Chile, where he has faced claims of attempts to win favor with the family of a former Chilean president. The Luksic family, one of the world’s wealthiest, has interests spanning banking, manufacturing, energy, shipping and beer.

Mr. Luksic came under fire for meeting with the son and daughter-in-law of Michelle Bachelet, who was running to be president of Chile at the time, as they sought a $10 million loan for their company from Banco de Chile, which is controlled by the Luksic family conglomerate. After Ms. Bachelet’s 2013 election, the bank approved the loan.

A spokesman for Ms. Bachelet said an investigation into the meeting didn’t lead to any charges. Representatives for Mr. Luksic said that he never discussed the loan with Ms. Bachelet, and that regulators found “there was absolutely nothing irregular about the bank’s approval of the loan.”

The Trump administration’s efforts to smooth the way for Antofagasta’s mining ambitions began less than two weeks after the inauguration, when Interior Department officials began re-examining the leases, the government emails show.

The message from an early meeting, according to an attendee who spoke on condition of anonymity, was that officials should prepare for a change in direction.

Officials also made sure the incoming interior secretary, Ryan Zinke, not yet in the job, was briefed. In an email, one Interior Department official described that effort as a “fire drill.”

The administration’s efforts are documented in part in thousands of pages of government emails and calendars, many obtained through records requests by Louis V. Galdieri, a documentary filmmaker, and the Sierra Club, an environmental organization.

A key meeting occurred in early May, when Antofagasta’s chief executive, along with other executives and lobbyists, discussed the issue with the White House’s top adviser on domestic energy and the environment, Michael Catanzaro. The company said it wanted to reverse the Obama-era decisions, which it said were illegal and inflicted “undue damage.”

Rock core samples taken by Twin Metals as part of preparations for mining.CreditTim Gruber for The New York Times
Near the Wintergreen Dogsled Lodge outside Ely. Dogsledding in the Boundary Waters wilderness is popular in winter.CreditTim Gruber for The New York Times A slab of taconite iron ore, a major local industry in decades past, on display in Babbitt, Minn.CreditTim Gruber for The New York Times

The next month, Interior Department officials learned that the White House had “expressed interest in the Twin Metals matter,” according to an email sent by a department lawyer marked “TIME SENSITIVE.” Soon after, top interior appointees traveled to the Minnesota site.

That December, the department reversed course on denying the company’s leases, and Twin Metals withdrew its lawsuit. The Interior Department formally renewed the leases last month, with some restrictions.

Twin Metals scored another victory in September when the Forest Service cut short its mining-ban review. An agency spokesman said it had determined that neither the study nor a ban was needed.

A Twin Metals spokesman, David Ulrich, said the company’s outreach was part of a long-running effort to share its views with the federal government. Obama administration officials had also visited the mining site, he said.

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“We are confident that this world-class mineral resource can be developed safely and with a minimal impact to the environment,” he said in a statement.

The mine still faces a yearslong permitting and approval process. Engineers have been drilling boreholes and wells to study the region’s geology and water, and the company is preparing an operating plan.

“The last administration created some challenges,” Mr. Ulrich said during a tour of the site on the Boundary Waters’ edge. “But it was never not moving forward.”

On a trip to Minnesota in April, Mr. Trump was jubilant about the restoration of mining.

“Under the previous administration,” he said at a truck factory, “America’s rich natural resources were put under lock and key.” The changes since then, he said, were “really pretty amazing.”

Moonrise over Garden Lake, on the edge of the Boundary Waters in Minnesota.CreditTim Gruber for The New York Times

Reporting was contributed by Lisa Friedman in Washington, Jesse Drucker and Kate Kelly in New York, and Pascale Bonnefoy in Santiago, Chile. Kitty Bennett and Alain Delaquérière contributed research.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Automakers Say Trump Pollution Rules Could Mean ‘Untenable’ Instability and Lower Profits

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WASHINGTON — Many of the world’s largest automakers joined together Thursday to tell President Trump that one of his most sweeping deregulatory efforts — his plan to weaken pollution standards for automobiles — threatens to hurt their profitability and produce “untenable” instability in one of the nation’s most important manufacturing sectors.

In a letter signed by 17 companies including Ford, General Motors, Toyota and Volvo, the automakers asked Mr. Trump to go back to the negotiating table on the planned rollback. It represents the most forceful statement to date by the auto industry against Mr. Trump’s effort to weaken the tailpipe pollution rules, one of President Barack Obama’s signature policies to fight climate change.

Mr. Trump’s new rule, which is expected to be made public in the coming weeks, would all but eliminate the Obama-era auto pollution regulations, essentially freezing mileage standards at about 37 miles per gallon for cars, down from a target of 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025. The policy makes it a near certainty that California and 13 other states will sue the administration while continuing to enforce their own, stricter rules — in effect, splitting the United States auto market in two.

For automakers, a bifurcated market is their nightmare scenario. In the letter to Mr. Trump, a copy of which was reviewed by The New York Times, they warned of “an extended period of litigation and instability” should his plans be implemented.

The letter was delivered to the White House on Thursday morning, the same time as a similar letter to Gov. Gavin Newsom of California, according to a senior auto industry lobbyist who was not authorized to speak about the matter because the letters had not yet been made public.

“We strongly believe the best path to preserve good auto jobs and keep new vehicles affordable for more Americans is a final rule supported by all parties — including California,” the letter says.

To Mr. Newsom, the companies wrote, “We are writing with a desire to resurrect discussions” on the plans.

A White House spokesman, Judd Deere, said Thursday afternoon that he was unaware of the letter and therefore unable to respond to questions about it. Stanley Young, a spokesman for the California Air Resources Board, the agency that runs the state’s tailpipe pollution program, did not respond to an email seeking comment.

The automakers’ letter is the latest unusual turn in Mr. Trump’s quest to roll back regulations on auto manufacturing, an industry he has vowed to support, only to be told by that same industry that his efforts may do more harm than good. Some industry chief executives and lobbyists have been privately telling the White House the same thing for months, but Thursday’s letter represents the most forceful pushback by the industry in their efforts to temper the president’s plan.

“Our thinking is, the rule is still being finalized, there is still time to develop a final rule that is good for consumers, policymakers and automakers,” said Gloria Bergquist, a vice president at the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers.

But criticizing the president’s plan comes with risk for the automakers. The White House has courted their support for his moves, and, in particular, executives at auto companies have said they expect to be asked to stand with Mr. Trump in the Rose Garden when he announces the rollback — just as they once stood with Mr. Obama in 2009 when he announced the creation of the pollution rules.

Privately, some officials have said that they fear auto industry criticism of Mr. Trump’s rollback could lead the president to retaliate by imposing tariffs on auto imports. That, too, could be painful for the industry, because many cars and components are now made or partly assembled across the border in Mexico or Canada.

In asking Mr. Trump to rewrite his planned rollback of the pollution rule in such a way that it could be supported by the environmentally progressive state of California, the automakers effectively withdrew their support for Mr. Trump’s current plan and asked the president to make a deal with a state that he appears to relish antagonizing. Mr. Trump has variously described California as “ridiculous,” “out of control” and “the state that has wasted billions of dollars.”

Xavier Becerra, the California attorney general, has said repeatedly that the state intends to sue Mr. Trump over the weakening of the auto pollution rules. In one such remark this year, he said he was “prepared to defend our national clean car standards even if the Trump administration intends to go AWOL.”

While two of the nation’s Big Three companies signed the letter, the third, Fiat Chrysler, which has been more supportive of the administration’s plan, did not. Other automakers who signed the letter include BMW, Honda, Mazda, Nissan, Subaru and Volkswagen.

ImageWestlake Legal Group 06CLI-AUTOS2-articleLarge Automakers Say Trump Pollution Rules Could Mean ‘Untenable’ Instability and Lower Profits United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Toyota Motor Corp Regulation and Deregulation of Industry Newsom, Gavin Greenhouse Gas Emissions Global Warming General Motors Ford Motor Co environment Carbon Dioxide Automobiles Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers Air Pollution

The president during a March 2017 meeting in Michigan with auto industry executives.CreditNicholas Kamm/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The automakers conceded in their letter that they were seeking to solve a crisis of their own making. Soon after Mr. Trump took office, chief executives from Detroit’s top automakers personally asked him to loosen some elements of the Obama-era regulations.

However, the Trump administration went further than the industry expected, using the rollback to attack California’s legal authority to set its own rules. Since the 1970 Clean Air Act, California has had special privileges to write its own pollution regulations.

The Trump administration last year unveiled a draft plan that would have rolled back the Obama rule and stripped California of the right to set tougher state standards. In subsequent months, both sides said they hoped to negotiate their way to a final plan that would lead to one national standard, avoiding potential courtroom showdowns.

But in February, the White House announced that it had ended talks with California, essentially ensuring that the final outcome would lead to litigation.

The Car Industry Is Under Siege

June 6, 2019

Westlake Legal Group 00auto-1-threeByTwoSmallAt2X Automakers Say Trump Pollution Rules Could Mean ‘Untenable’ Instability and Lower Profits United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Toyota Motor Corp Regulation and Deregulation of Industry Newsom, Gavin Greenhouse Gas Emissions Global Warming General Motors Ford Motor Co environment Carbon Dioxide Automobiles Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers Air Pollution

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Automakers Tell Trump His Pollution Rules Could Mean ‘Untenable’ Instability and Lower Profits

Want climate news in your inbox? Sign up here for Climate Fwd:, our email newsletter.

WASHINGTON — Many of the world’s largest automakers joined together Thursday to tell President Trump that one of his most sweeping deregulatory efforts — his plan to weaken pollution standards for automobiles — threatens to hurt their profitability and produce “untenable” instability in one of the nation’s most important manufacturing sectors.

In a letter signed by 17 companies including Ford, General Motors, Toyota and Volvo, the automakers asked Mr. Trump to go back to the negotiating table on the planned rollback. It represents the most forceful statement to date by the auto industry against Mr. Trump’s effort to weaken the tailpipe pollution rules, one of President Barack Obama’s signature policies to fight climate change.

Mr. Trump’s new rule, which is expected to be unveiled in the coming weeks, would all but eliminate the Obama-era auto pollution regulations, essentially freezing mileage standards at about 37 miles per gallon for cars, down from a target of 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025. The policy makes it a near certainty that California and 13 other states will sue the administration while continuing to enforce their own, stricter rules — in effect splitting the United States auto market in two.

For automakers, a bifurcated market is their nightmare scenario. In the letter to Mr. Trump, a copy of which was reviewed by The New York Times, they warned of “an extended period of litigation and instability” should his plans be implemented.

The letter was delivered to the White House on Thursday morning, along with a similar letter to Gov. Gavin Newsom of California, according to a senior auto industry lobbyist who was not authorized to speak about the matter because the letters had not yet been made public.

“We strongly believe the best path to preserve good auto jobs and keep new vehicles affordable for more Americans is a final rule supported by all parties — including California,” the letter says. To Mr. Newsom, the companies wrote, “We are writing with a desire to resurrect discussions” on the plans.

A White House spokesman, Judd Deere, said Thursday afternoon that he was unaware of the letter and therefore unable to respond to questions about it. Stanley Young, a spokesman for the California Air Resources Board, the agency that runs the state’s tailpipe pollution program, did not respond to an email seeking comment.

The automakers’ letter is the latest unusual turn in Mr. Trump’s quest to roll back regulations on auto manufacturing, an industry he has vowed to support, only to be told by that same industry that his efforts may do more harm than good. Some industry chief executives and lobbyists have been privately telling the White House the same thing for months, but Thursday’s letter represents the most public pushback by the industry in their efforts to temper the president’s plan.

“Our thinking is, the rule is still being finalized, there is still time to develop a final rule that is good for consumers, policymakers and automakers,” said Gloria Bergquist, a vice president at the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers.

But criticizing the president’s plan comes with risk for the automakers. The White House has courted their support for his moves, and, in particular, officials at auto companies have said they expect to be asked to stand with Mr. Trump in the Rose Garden when he announces the rollback — just as they once stood with Mr. Obama in 2009 when he first announced the creation of the pollution rules.

Privately, some officials have said that they fear auto industry criticism of Mr. Trump’s rollback could lead the president to retaliate by imposing tariffs on auto imports. That, too, could be painful for the industry, because many cars and components are now made or partly assembled across the border in Mexico or Canada.

In asking Mr. Trump to rewrite his planned rollback of the pollution rule in such a way that it could be supported by the environmentally progressive state of California, the automakers effectively withdrew their support for Mr. Trump’s current plan and asked the president to make a deal with a state that he appears to relish antagonizing. Mr. Trump has variously described California as “ridiculous,” “out of control and “the state that has wasted billions of dollars.”

Xavier Becerra, the California attorney general, has said repeatedly that the state intends to sue Mr. Trump over the weakening of the auto pollution rules. In one such remark earlier this year, he said he is “prepared to defend our national clean car standards even if the Trump administration intends to go AWOL.”

While two of the nation’s Big Three companies signed the letter, the third, Fiat Chrysler, which has been more supportive of the administration’s plan, did not. Other automakers who signed the letter include BMW, Honda, Mazda, Nissan, Subaru and Volkswagen.

ImageWestlake Legal Group 06CLI-AUTOS2-articleLarge Automakers Tell Trump His Pollution Rules Could Mean ‘Untenable’ Instability and Lower Profits United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Toyota Motor Corp Regulation and Deregulation of Industry Newsom, Gavin Greenhouse Gas Emissions Global Warming General Motors Ford Motor Co environment Carbon Dioxide Automobiles Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers Air Pollution

The president during a March 2017 meeting in Michigan with auto industry executives.CreditNicholas Kamm/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The automakers conceded in their letter that they were seeking to solve a crisis of their own making. Soon after Mr. Trump took office, CEOs from Detroit’s top automakers personally asked him to loosen the some elements of the Obama-era regulations.

However, the Trump administration went further than the industry expected, using the rollback to attack California’s legal authority to set its own rules. Since the 1970 Clean Air Act, California has had special privileges to write its own pollution regulations.

The Trump administration last year unveiled a draft plan that would have rolled back the Obama rule and stripped California of the right to set tougher state standards. In subsequent months, both sides said they hoped to negotiate their way to a final plan that would lead to one national standard, avoiding potential courtroom showdowns.

But in February, the White House announced that it had ended talks with California, essentially ensuring that the final outcome would lead to litigation.

The Car Industry Is Under Siege

June 6, 2019

Westlake Legal Group 00auto-1-threeByTwoSmallAt2X Automakers Tell Trump His Pollution Rules Could Mean ‘Untenable’ Instability and Lower Profits United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Toyota Motor Corp Regulation and Deregulation of Industry Newsom, Gavin Greenhouse Gas Emissions Global Warming General Motors Ford Motor Co environment Carbon Dioxide Automobiles Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers Air Pollution

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Start-Ups Hoping to Fight Climate Change Struggle as Other Tech Firms Cash In

SAN FRANCISCO — With the money he made selling his last start-up to Google, Matt Rogers has been investing in companies that are trying to fight climate change.

Mr. Rogers, one of the founders of the digital thermostat company Nest, has put millions of dollars into start-ups whose goal is to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Carbon-removal technology, as it is known, is something that scientists have said will probably be necessary to avert an extreme increase in global temperatures.

But Mr. Rogers has made a disappointing discovery: Despite all the money sloshing around Silicon Valley, few venture capitalists have been willing to join him in backing companies trying to address climate change.

“We don’t need another photo-sharing app or another blockchain start-up,” said Mr. Rogers, who is investing his money through Incite Ventures, a fund he created with his wife, Swati Mylavarapu. “We need to solve the carbon crisis. But a lot of folks are chasing the easy money rather than taking responsibility for what needs to be done.”

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_154257714_28a02f1b-8e47-4393-840d-22e2506c58af-articleLarge Start-Ups Hoping to Fight Climate Change Struggle as Other Tech Firms Cash In Venture Capital Start-ups Rogers, Matt Global Warming Carbon Engineering Carbon Dioxide Carbon Capture and Sequestration

After Matt Rogers sold his company to Google, he started investing in start-ups trying to make a business of removing carbon from the atmosphere.CreditGabriela Hasbun/Forbes Collection, via Getty Images

Mr. Rogers knows the arguments: The last time venture capitalists invested heavily in environmentally focused technology during the so-called clean-tech boom of the 2000s, they lost a lot of money. Getting one of these companies off the ground can be expensive, as investors learned a decade ago. But he is not swayed by their caution.

“Sitting on your pile of money while the oceans are rising may not help you stay dry,” he said.

It is common wisdom in the tech industry that it is much easier to raise money for a software company than it is for a start-up that wants to work in biotechnology or energy. The current wave of internet-focused start-ups going public, and reaping billions of dollars for investors, has hardened the bias against so-called hard technology.

Total funding for clean-tech start-ups fell during most of the past decade, according to data from the research firm Pitchbook. In 2018, $6.6 billion was invested in clean tech, about 15 percent of what went to software start-ups. Carbon-removal start-ups got a tiny sliver of that.

The lack of investment in carbon-focused start-ups poses a particularly existential problem. Two major scientific organizations said last fall that even if greenhouse-gas emissions were reduced significantly, stopping drastic global warming would require technological breakthroughs that allowed for the removal of billions of tons of carbon dioxide already in the atmosphere.

Some promising methods for accomplishing that involve old-fashioned technologies, like planting trees and changing the ways farmers till their fields. But there are dozens, if not hundreds, of start-ups developing new technologies that address the issue.

At an event in San Francisco last month, several of these start-ups made presentations to a room full of investors. One company, Charm Industrial, burns plant biomass to create hydrogen, capturing the greenhouse gases that are produced in the process.

Another, Ocean-Based Climate Solutions, has created a device that stirs up water in the ocean to promote the growth of phytoplankton, which are algae that can take carbon dioxide out of the air and deliver it to the bottom of the sea in solid form.

Noah Deich, the founder of Carbon180, a nonprofit that sponsored the event, said it was encouraging to see investors there. But he said he had not seen the commitment to investing that he believed was necessary to get the technologies working.

A prototype of Charm Industrial’s biomass gasifier. The company’s founders are trying to overcome skepticism from investors who lost money on clean-tech investments about a decade ago.CreditJames Tamplin

“For an internet company, even if you don’t have a real product, you can get money to develop one,” he said. “Here, it’s the opposite.”

The start-ups face a fundamental challenge: Carbon dioxide is plentiful but lacks the chemical energy that makes fossil fuels and other materials useful for generating power. So far, no one has found an obvious way to turn capturing carbon dioxide into a profitable business.

Many of the start-ups at the San Francisco event are trying to use greenhouse gases to produce valuable chemicals like fertilizers and biofuels. But it is significantly cheaper to produce those chemicals with processes that emit rather than eliminate greenhouse gases.

“It is tackling big markets and big challenges, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that those are going to be big businesses,” said Daniel Oros, a partner at G2VP, a venture capital fund focused on emerging technology.

Technology from Ocean-Based Climate Solutions promotes growth of a type of algae that can take carbon dioxide out of the air and deliver it to the bottom of the sea.CreditVia Ocean-Based Climate Solutions

Mr. Oros said that his fund had not made an investment in the sector and that he did not see a way for the industry to take off without government policy encouraging it.

Klaus Lackner, the director of the Center for Negative Carbon Emissions at Arizona State University, said that for these businesses to succeed it would probably be necessary for governments to create a carbon tax or other subsidies as incentives for new businesses.

A few governments have taken tentative steps in that direction, but nothing close to the scale needed to support real businesses.

Mr. Lackner said investors should assume that governments would be willing at some point to pay for what these companies were doing.

Deepak Dugar, a scientist at the start-up Visolis, running a fermenter for production of carbon-negative products.CreditLawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the Regents of the University of California

“In the end, there is no way for the market to not exist,” he said. “This will be a brand-new industry at a huge scale.”

A small number of companies have had success making this argument to investors. Carbon Engineering, a Canadian company founded in 2009 that pulls carbon dioxide out of the air by running it through specially formulated chemicals, announced last month that it had raised $68 million to build its first commercial facility.

But the investment demonstrated just how difficult it has been for companies in the industry. In the time it took Carbon Engineering to raise one round of $68 million, Slack, a messaging company founded the same year, has raised more than 10 times as much and is now preparing for an initial public offering that could value it at nearly $20 billion.

Carbon Engineering relied on investments from big oil companies, in part because Silicon Valley investors were generally uninterested in Carbon Engineering’s pitch (although a few did get involved).

Steve Oldham, the chief executive of Carbon Engineering, in Squamish, British Columbia. The company pulls carbon dioxide out of the air by running it through specially formulated chemicals.CreditAlana Paterson for The New York Times

“We don’t have the build-one-and-a-million-people-buy-it model that they have focused on,” Steve Oldham, Carbon Engineering’s chief executive, said.

Everyone who discusses the difficulties these start-ups face points back to the clean-tech boom, when several venture capital firms put billions of dollars into solar energy and other technologies. While solar power has gained traction, most of the clean-tech funds were viewed as failures.

Deepak Dugar, the founder of a start-up that creates carbon-eating microbes, said venture capitalists needed their investments to show returns within a few years. He knew that his company, Visolis, would take longer to develop, so he avoided taking traditional venture capital money, he said.

“There is a fundamental mismatch in time lines,” Mr. Dugar said.

Mr. Dugar has built Visolis with the help of government grants, a program at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and philanthropic investors who are less focused on turning a quick profit.

One of the biggest investors in climate-focused start-ups is Breakthrough Energy Ventures, a $1 billion fund that seeks to support the development of world-saving technology that might not have a quick turnaround. The fund has received money from Bill Gates and several other billionaires.

But Mr. Rogers, the Nest co-founder, said that money from major philanthropists would not be enough to get even one start-up up to speed, much less the dozens needed to meet the carbon-reduction goals set by international bodies like the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

For that, Mr. Rogers said, a broad array of investors, including venture capitalists, will need to get involved. And they will need to wait more than three or four years to cash out.

“It’s become very easy to create a software company that creates a lot of wealth,” he said. “A lot of the Valley has gotten wrapped up in that. They’ve forgotten their roots. They used to make really hard things that took time.”

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Humans Are Speeding Extinction and Altering the Natural World at an ‘Unprecedented’ Pace

Westlake Legal Group humans-are-speeding-extinction-and-altering-the-natural-world-at-an-unprecedented-pace Humans Are Speeding Extinction and Altering the Natural World at an ‘Unprecedented’ Pace Land Use Policies Greenhouse Gas Emissions Global Warming environment Endangered and Extinct Species Carbon Dioxide Biodiversity

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WASHINGTON — Humans are transforming Earth’s natural landscapes so dramatically that as many as one million plant and animal species are now at risk of extinction, posing a dire threat to ecosystems that people all over the world depend on for their survival, a sweeping new United Nations assessment has concluded.

The 1,500-page report, compiled by hundreds of international experts and based on thousands of scientific studies, is the most exhaustive look yet at the decline in biodiversity across the globe and the dangers that creates for human civilization. A summary of its findings, which was approved by representatives from the United States and 131 other countries, was released Monday in Paris. The full report is set to be published this year.

Its conclusions are stark. In most major land habitats, from the savannas of Africa to the rain forests of South America, the average abundance of native plant and animal life has fallen by 20 percent or more, mainly over the past century. With the human population passing 7 billion, activities like farming, logging, poaching, fishing and mining are altering the natural world at a rate “unprecedented in human history.”

At the same time, a new threat has emerged: Global warming has become a major driver of wildlife decline, the assessment found, by shifting or shrinking the local climates that many mammals, birds, insects, fish and plants evolved to survive in.

As a result, biodiversity loss is projected to accelerate through 2050, particularly in the tropics, unless countries drastically step up their conservation efforts.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_87896002_43d24469-4121-46f3-9948-c73adfbe19e9-articleLarge Humans Are Speeding Extinction and Altering the Natural World at an ‘Unprecedented’ Pace Land Use Policies Greenhouse Gas Emissions Global Warming environment Endangered and Extinct Species Carbon Dioxide Biodiversity

Cattle grazing on a tract of illegally cleared Amazon forest in Pará State, Brazil. In most major land habitats, the average abundance of native plant and animal life has fallen by 20 percent or more, mainly over the past century.CreditLalo de Almeida for The New York Times

The report is not the first to paint a grim portrait of Earth’s ecosystems. But it goes further by detailing how closely human well-being is intertwined with the fate of other species.

“For a long time, people just thought of biodiversity as saving nature for its own sake,” said Robert Watson, chair of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, which conducted the assessment at the request of national governments. “But this report makes clear the links between biodiversity and nature and things like food security and clean water in both rich and poor countries.“

A previous report by the group had estimated that, in the Americas, nature provides some $24 trillion of non-monetized benefits to humans each year. The Amazon rain forest absorbs immense quantities of carbon dioxide and helps slow the pace of global warming. Wetlands purify drinking water. Coral reefs sustain tourism and fisheries in the Caribbean. Exotic tropical plants form the basis of a variety of medicines.

But as these natural landscapes wither and become less biologically rich, the services they can provide to humans have been dwindling.

Humans are producing more food than ever, but land degradation is already harming agricultural productivity on 23 percent of the planet’s land area, the new report said. The decline of wild bees and other insects that help pollinate fruits and vegetables is putting up to $577 billion in annual crop production at risk. The loss of mangrove forests and coral reefs along coasts could expose up to 300 million people to increased risk of flooding.

The authors note that the devastation of nature has become so severe that piecemeal efforts to protect individual species or to set up wildlife refuges will no longer be sufficient. Instead, they call for “transformative changes” that include curbing wasteful consumption, slimming down agriculture’s environmental footprint and cracking down on illegal logging and fishing.

“It’s no longer enough to focus just on environmental policy,” said Sandra M. Díaz, a lead author of the study and an ecologist at the National University of Córdoba in Argentina. “We need to build biodiversity considerations into trade and infrastructure decisions, the way that health or human rights are built into every aspect of social and economic decision-making.”

Scientists have cataloged only a fraction of living creatures, some 1.3 million; the report estimates there may be as many as 8 million plant and animal species on the planet, most of them insects. Since 1500, at least 680 species have blinked out of existence, including the Pinta giant tortoise of the Galápagos Islands and the Guam flying fox.

Though outside experts cautioned it could be difficult to make precise forecasts, the report warns of a looming extinction crisis, with extinction rates currently tens to hundreds of times higher than they have been in the past 10 million years.

“Human actions threaten more species with global extinction now than ever before,” the report concludes, estimating that “around 1 million species already face extinction, many within decades, unless action is taken.”

Unless nations step up their efforts to protect what natural habitats are left, they could witness the disappearance of 40 percent of amphibian species, one-third of marine mammals and one-third of reef-forming corals. More than 500,000 land species, the report said, do not have enough natural habitat left to ensure their long-term survival.

Over the past 50 years, global biodiversity loss has primarily been driven by activities like the clearing of forests for farmland, the expansion of roads and cities, logging, hunting, overfishing, water pollution and the transport of invasive species around the globe.

In Indonesia, the replacement of rain forest with palm oil plantations has ravaged the habitat of critically endangered orangutans and Sumatran tigers. In Mozambique, ivory poachers helped kill off nearly 7,000 elephants between 2009 and 2011 alone. In Argentina and Chile, the introduction of the North American beaver in the 1940s has devastated native trees (though it has also helped other species thrive, including the Magellanic woodpecker).

All told, three-quarters of the world’s land area has been significantly altered by people, the report found, and 85 percent of the world’s wetlands have vanished since the 18th century.

And with humans continuing to burn fossil fuels for energy, global warming is expected to compound the damage. Roughly 5 percent of species worldwide are threatened with climate-related extinction if global average temperatures rise 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels, the report concluded. (The world has already warmed 1 degree.)

“If climate change were the only problem we were facing, a lot of species could probably move and adapt,” Richard Pearson, an ecologist at the University College of London, said. “But when populations are already small and losing genetic diversity, when natural landscapes are already fragmented, when plants and animals can’t move to find newly suitable habitats, then we have a real threat on our hands.”

The dwindling number of species will not just make the world a less colorful or wondrous place, the report noted. It also poses risks to people.

Volunteers collected trash in March in a mangrove forest in Brazil. The loss of mangrove forests and coral reefs along coasts could expose up to 300 million people to increased risk of flooding.CreditAmanda Perobelli/Reuters

Today, humans are relying on significantly fewer varieties of plants and animals to produce food. Of the 6,190 domesticated mammal breeds used in agriculture, more than 559 have gone extinct and 1,000 more are threatened. That means the food system is becoming less resilient against pests and diseases. And it could become harder in the future to breed new, hardier crops and livestock to cope with the extreme heat and drought that climate change will bring.

“Most of nature’s contributions are not fully replaceable,” the report said. Biodiversity loss “can permanently reduce future options, such as wild species that might be domesticated as new crops and be used for genetic improvement.”

The report does contain glimmers of hope. When governments have acted forcefully to protect threatened species, such as the Arabian oryx or the Seychelles magpie robin, they have managed to fend off extinction in many cases. And nations have protected more than 15 percent of the world’s land and 7 percent of its oceans by setting up nature reserves and wilderness areas.

Still, only a fraction of the most important areas for biodiversity have been protected, and many nature reserves poorly enforce prohibitions against poaching, logging or illegal fishing. Climate change could also undermine existing wildlife refuges by shifting the geographic ranges of species that currently live within them.

So, in addition to advocating the expansion of protected areas, the authors outline a vast array of changes aimed at limiting the drivers of biodiversity loss.

Farmers and ranchers would have to adopt new techniques to grow more food on less land. Consumers in wealthy countries would have to waste less food and become more efficient in their use of natural resources. Governments around the world would have to strengthen and enforce environmental laws, cracking down on illegal logging and fishing and reducing the flow of heavy metals and untreated wastewater into the environment.

The authors also note that efforts to limit global warming will be critical, although they caution that the development of biofuels to reduce emissions could end up harming biodiversity by further destroying forests.

An elephant in the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy at the foot of Mount Kenya, outside Nairobi. More than 500,000 land species do not have enough natural habitat left to ensure their long-term survival.CreditTony Karumba/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

None of this will be easy, especially since many developing countries face pressure to exploit their natural resources as they try to lift themselves out of poverty.

But, by detailing the benefits that nature can provide to people, and by trying to quantify what is lost when biodiversity plummets, the scientists behind the assessment are hoping to help governments strike a more careful balance between economic development and conservation.

“You can’t just tell leaders in Africa that there can’t be any development and that we should turn the whole continent into a national park,” said Emma Archer, who led the group’s earlier assessment of biodiversity in Africa. “But we can show that there are trade-offs, that if you don’t take into account the value that nature provides, then ultimately human well-being will be compromised.”

In the next two years, diplomats from around the world will gather for several meetings under the Convention on Biological Diversity, a global treaty, to discuss how they can step up their efforts at conservation. Yet even in the new report’s most optimistic scenario, through 2050 the world’s nations would only slow the decline of biodiversity — not stop it.

“At this point,” said Jake Rice, a fisheries scientist who led an earlier report on biodiversity in the Americas, “our options are all about damage control.”

For more news on climate and the environment, follow @NYTClimate on Twitter.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Civilization Is Accelerating Extinction and Altering the Natural World at a Pace ‘Unprecedented in Human History’

Westlake Legal Group civilization-is-accelerating-extinction-and-altering-the-natural-world-at-a-pace-unprecedented-in-human-history Civilization Is Accelerating Extinction and Altering the Natural World at a Pace ‘Unprecedented in Human History’ Land Use Policies Greenhouse Gas Emissions Global Warming environment Endangered and Extinct Species Carbon Dioxide Biodiversity

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WASHINGTON — Humans are transforming Earth’s natural landscapes so dramatically that as many as one million plant and animal species are now at risk of extinction, posing a dire threat to ecosystems that people all over the world depend on for their survival, a sweeping new United Nations assessment has concluded.

The 1,500-page report, compiled by hundreds of international experts and based on thousands of scientific studies, is the most exhaustive look yet at the decline in biodiversity across the globe and the dangers that creates for human civilization. A summary of its findings, which was approved by representatives from the United States and 131 other countries, was released Monday in Paris. The full report is set to be published this year.

Its conclusions are stark. In most major land habitats, from the savannas of Africa to the rain forests of South America, the average abundance of native plant and animal life has fallen by 20 percent or more, mainly over the past century. With the human population passing 7 billion, activities like farming, logging, poaching, fishing and mining are altering the natural world at a rate “unprecedented in human history.”

At the same time, a new threat has emerged: Global warming has become a major driver of wildlife decline, the assessment found, by shifting or shrinking the local climates that many mammals, birds, insects, fish and plants evolved to survive in.

As a result, biodiversity loss is projected to accelerate through 2050, particularly in the tropics, unless countries drastically step up their conservation efforts.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_87896002_43d24469-4121-46f3-9948-c73adfbe19e9-articleLarge Civilization Is Accelerating Extinction and Altering the Natural World at a Pace ‘Unprecedented in Human History’ Land Use Policies Greenhouse Gas Emissions Global Warming environment Endangered and Extinct Species Carbon Dioxide Biodiversity

Cattle grazing on a tract of illegally cleared Amazon forest in Pará state, Brazil. In most major land habitats, the average abundance of native plant and animal life has fallen by 20 percent or more, mainly over the past century.CreditLalo de Almeida for The New York Times

The report is not the first to paint a grim portrait of Earth’s ecosystems. But it goes further by detailing how closely human well-being is intertwined with the fate of other species.

“For a long time, people just thought of biodiversity as saving nature for its own sake,” said Robert Watson, chair of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, which conducted the assessment at the request of national governments. “But this report makes clear the links between biodiversity and nature and things like food security and clean water in both rich and poor countries.“

A previous report by the group had estimated that, in the Americas, nature provides some $24 trillion of non-monetized benefits to humans each year. The Amazon rain forest absorbs immense quantities of carbon dioxide and helps slow the pace of global warming. Wetlands purify drinking water. Coral reefs sustain tourism and fisheries in the Caribbean. Exotic tropical plants form the basis of a variety of medicines.

But as these natural landscapes wither and become less biologically rich, the services they can provide to humans have been dwindling.

Humans are producing more food than ever, but land degradation is already harming agricultural productivity on 23 percent of the planet’s land area, the new report said. The decline of wild bees and other insects that help pollinate fruits and vegetables is putting up to $577 billion in annual crop production at risk. The loss of mangrove forests and coral reefs along coasts could expose up to 300 million people to increased risk of flooding.

The authors note that the devastation of nature has become so severe that piecemeal efforts to protect individual species or to set up wildlife refuges will no longer be sufficient. Instead, they call for “transformative changes” that include curbing wasteful consumption, slimming down agriculture’s environmental footprint and cracking down on illegal logging and fishing.

“It’s no longer enough to focus just on environmental policy,” said Sandra M. Díaz, a lead author of the study and an ecologist at the National University of Córdoba in Argentina. “We need to build biodiversity considerations into trade and infrastructure decisions, the way that health or human rights are built into every aspect of social and economic decision-making.”

Scientists have cataloged only a fraction of living creatures, some 1.3 million; the report estimates there may be as many as 8 million plant and animal species on the planet, most of them insects. Since 1500, at least 680 species have blinked out of existence, including the Pinta giant tortoise of the Galápagos Islands and the Guam flying fox.

Though outside experts cautioned it could be difficult to make precise forecasts, the report warns of a looming extinction crisis, with extinction rates currently tens to hundreds of times higher than they have been in the past 10 million years.

“Human actions threaten more species with global extinction now than ever before,” the report concludes, estimating that “around 1 million species already face extinction, many within decades, unless action is taken.”

Unless nations step up their efforts to protect what natural habitats are left, they could witness the disappearance of 40 percent of amphibian species, one-third of marine mammals and one-third of reef-forming corals. More than 500,000 land species, the report said, do not have enough natural habitat left to ensure their long-term survival.

Over the past 50 years, global biodiversity loss has primarily been driven by activities like the clearing of forests for farmland, the expansion of roads and cities, logging, hunting, overfishing, water pollution and the transport of invasive species around the globe.

In Indonesia, the replacement of rain forest with palm oil plantations has ravaged the habitat of critically endangered orangutans and Sumatran tigers. In Mozambique, ivory poachers helped kill off nearly 7,000 elephants between 2009 and 2011 alone. In Argentina and Chile, the introduction of the North American beaver in the 1940s has devastated native trees (though it has also helped other species thrive, including the Magellanic woodpecker).

All told, three-quarters of the world’s land area has been significantly altered by people, the report found, and 85 percent of the world’s wetlands have vanished since the 18th century.

And with humans continuing to burn fossil fuels for energy, global warming is expected to compound the damage. Roughly 5 percent of species worldwide are threatened with climate-related extinction if global average temperatures rise 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels, the report concluded. (The world has already warmed 1 degree.)

“If climate change were the only problem we were facing, a lot of species could probably move and adapt,” Richard Pearson, an ecologist at the University College of London, said. “But when populations are already small and losing genetic diversity, when natural landscapes are already fragmented, when plants and animals can’t move to find newly suitable habitats, then we have a real threat on our hands.”

The dwindling number of species will not just make the world a less colorful or wondrous place, the report noted. It also poses risks to people.

Volunteers collected trash in March in a mangrove forest in Brazil. The loss of mangrove forests and coral reefs along coasts could expose up to 300 million people to increased risk of flooding.CreditAmanda Perobelli/Reuters

Today, humans are relying on significantly fewer varieties of plants and animals to produce food. Of the 6,190 domesticated mammal breeds used in agriculture, more than 559 have gone extinct and 1,000 more are threatened. That means the food system is becoming less resilient against pests and diseases. And it could become harder in the future to breed new, hardier crops and livestock to cope with the extreme heat and drought that climate change will bring.

“Most of nature’s contributions are not fully replaceable,” the report said. Biodiversity loss “can permanently reduce future options, such as wild species that might be domesticated as new crops and be used for genetic improvement.”

The report does contain glimmers of hope. When governments have acted forcefully to protect threatened species, such as the Arabian oryx or the Seychelles magpie robin, they have managed to fend off extinction in many cases. And nations have protected more than 15 percent of the world’s land and 7 percent of its oceans by setting up nature reserves and wilderness areas.

Still, only a fraction of the most important areas for biodiversity have been protected, and many nature reserves poorly enforce prohibitions against poaching, logging or illegal fishing. Climate change could also undermine existing wildlife refuges by shifting the geographic ranges of species that currently live within them.

So, in addition to advocating the expansion of protected areas, the authors outline a vast array of changes aimed at limiting the drivers of biodiversity loss.

Farmers and ranchers would have to adopt new techniques to grow more food on less land. Consumers in wealthy countries would have to waste less food and become more efficient in their use of natural resources. Governments around the world would have to strengthen and enforce environmental laws, cracking down on illegal logging and fishing and reducing the flow of heavy metals and untreated wastewater into the environment.

The authors also note that efforts to limit global warming will be critical, although they caution that the development of biofuels to reduce emissions could end up harming biodiversity by further destroying forests.

An elephant in the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy at the foot of Mount Kenya, outside Nairobi. More than 500,000 land species do not have enough natural habitat left to ensure their long-term survival.CreditTony Karumba/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

None of this will be easy, especially since many developing countries face pressure to exploit their natural resources as they try to lift themselves out of poverty.

But, by detailing the benefits that nature can provide to people, and by trying to quantify what is lost when biodiversity plummets, the scientists behind the assessment are hoping to help governments strike a more careful balance between economic development and conservation.

“You can’t just tell leaders in Africa that there can’t be any development and that we should turn the whole continent into a national park,” said Emma Archer, who led the group’s earlier assessment of biodiversity in Africa. “But we can show that there are trade-offs, that if you don’t take into account the value that nature provides, then ultimately human well-being will be compromised.”

In the next two years, diplomats from around the world will gather for several meetings under the Convention on Biological Diversity, a global treaty, to discuss how they can step up their efforts at conservation. Yet even in the new report’s most optimistic scenario, through 2050 the world’s nations would only slow the decline of biodiversity — not stop it.

“At this point,” said Jake Rice, a fisheries scientist who led an earlier report on biodiversity in the Americas, “our options are all about damage control.”

For more news on climate and the environment, follow @NYTClimate on Twitter.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

`: Climate-Change Funds Try to Profit From a Warming World

For investors, the risks of climate change are already raging, with intense storms and wildfires leading to property damage and business disruption.

California’s deadly fires last year resulted in losses of tens of billions of dollars — and may have contributed to the January bankruptcy of Pacific Gas and Electric, the electric utility. “The risk of catastrophic fire has increased in California, and the reason is climate change,” said Julie K. Gorte, senior vice president for sustainable investing at Pax World Funds.

But the investment opportunities, beyond renewable energy, have received less attention. Nonetheless, a few mutual funds have made it their mission to invest in companies that can help mitigate greenhouse gas emissions or aid adaptation to a warmer world.

They’re stepping beyond what have been the main investment responses to climate change — betting narrowly on green energy, like wind and solar power, or avoiding the worst polluters, like oil and coal companies, in low-carbon mutual funds and exchange-traded funds.

“More and more clients, individuals and institutions, are asking for funds that address climate change and climate risk,” said Leslie Samuelrich, president of Green Century Capital Management in Boston. “Because of that, asset managers are starting to develop portfolios to meet that demand.”

The Hartford Environmental Opportunities Fund is one such fund. It’s not just “about the weather,” said Alan T. Hsu, portfolio manager. “It’s about technology and assets being created today to address climate-related risks that are visible already.” The fund, with a net expense ratio of 0.89 percent, returned an annual average of 6.51 percent over the three years through March.

More than half the fund’s assets are invested in companies involved in low-carbon electricity and energy efficiency, such as Iberdrola, a Spanish utility that relies on wind power. But holdings also include water and agriculture stocks, such as Deere & Company, the farm-equipment maker.

“In a world with a more adverse climate, a lot of arable land will become much less productive at the same time as population increases the demand on that land,” Mr. Hsu said. Outfits that can help farmers increase fertility stand to benefit.

Mr. Hsu works for Wellington Management in Boston. Hartford Funds hired Wellington to run the fund, which opened in 2016. Mr. Hsu said Wellington created the strategy a decade ago for its institutional investor clients, like pension funds, because it expected the federal government to begin regulating carbon emissions in the United States. That didn’t happen, but regulation has surged in states, cities and other countries.

“Since 1997, the year of the Kyoto climate protocol, the number of climate laws and policies in the world has basically doubled every five years. There were more than 1,200 by early 2017,” Mr. Hsu said. Those rules present legal-liability risk and the possibility of higher costs for companies, he said. The Kyoto Protocol is an international agreement to limit greenhouse-gas emissions.

In stewarding the Hartford fund, Mr. Hsu can draw on insights from a research partnership that Wellington created last year with the Woods Hole Research Center, a nonprofit climate specialist in Falmouth, Mass. The two are merging market know-how and climate science to identify metrics that matter for investing. Wellington, which manages funds for other companies, including Vanguard, says the partnership’s findings will inform all the portfolios it runs, not just the Hartford fund.

Jon F. Hale, global head of sustainability research for Morningstar, said he wasn’t aware of another pairing like that between Wellington and Woods Hole — plenty of money managers have begun to talk about climate change, but none have so publicly allied themselves with an independent scientific expert. Mr. Hale predicted that other big investment companies would find themselves at a disadvantage if they didn’t seek comparable means of assessing the investment implications of a warmer world.

“They have to figure out the extent to which climate change poses a direct and immediate risk to their portfolios,” he said.

An early line of inquiry in the Wellington-Woods Hole partnership is how higher temperatures may induce population migration, said Philip B. Duffy, Woods Hole’s president and executive director. “Of all of the different hazards, drought seems to be one that’s particularly powerful in inducing migration,” he said. “If there’s not water, you can’t live somewhere.”

The financial implications of that could play out in surprising ways, said Christopher J. Goolgasian, Wellington’s director of climate research. Movable assets might become more valuable than stationary ones. “You might think about cruise ships over theme parks and farm equipment over farms,” he said.

Or you might consider investing in nontraditional sorts of farms — which is why aquaculture is one of the themes of the GMO Climate Change Fund. Its manager, Lucas White, includes in the fund less obvious industries, like fish farming and copper mining, alongside obvious ones, like clean energy and energy efficiency. Mr. White’s fund caters to institutional investors like pension funds and has returned an annual average of 8.54 percent since its April 2017 inception through February 2018, the latest information available from the fund.

“If you think agricultural productivity will be challenged, people will need to get their protein from somewhere,” he said. “Cattle is a disaster for climate change, but salmon is very carbon efficient.” Cows produce methane, a potent greenhouse gas, and tropical forests, which absorb carbon dioxide, are often razed for ranching.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_153186000_070bef9b-184a-4b3a-b654-7d878e75c3cc-articleLarge `: Climate-Change Funds Try to Profit From a Warming World Woods Hole Research Center wind power Vanguard Group Inc United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Stocks and Bonds Pacific Gas and Electric Co Kyoto Protocol JB Hunt Transport Services Inc Greenhouse Gas Emissions Global Warming Fish Farming Evacuations and Evacuees Dimensional Fund Advisors Deere&Company Carbon Dioxide Alternative and Renewable Energy

Philip B. Duffy, president and executive director of the Woods Hole Research Center, which is in a research partnership with Wellington Management.CreditCody O’Loughlin for The New York Times

Mr. White’s allocation to copper stocks is a sideways play on renewable energy. Some environmentally minded investors avoid miners, because of the pollution and political controversies that can accompany their operations. Mr. White, in contrast, bets big, allocating about 10 percent of his fund to copper diggers, including Freeport-McMoRan.

“We need an immense amount of copper to respond to climate change,” he said. The metal is required for wind and solar projects, as well as electric-vehicle-charging networks.

Not every manager in this niche views renewable energy as a crucial play. The Pax Global Environmental Markets Fund mostly avoids the sector. Instead, it holds big slugs of agriculture and water stocks; together, those total more than 40 percent of its assets.

That’s partly because the fund’s mandate is broader than just responding to global warming, said co-manager Hubert T. Aarts. “Some of what we hold is purely climate related, but the portfolio is not only that,” he said. The fund also buys companies that help deliver cleaner water and air and dispose of waste.

“You want to breathe fresh air even without climate change,” he said. The fund, with a net expense ratio of 0.98 percent, returned an annual average of 10.36 percent over the three years through March.

Few mutual funds explicitly make climate change the core of their mandate, Mr. Hale of Morningstar said. But investors can find offerings with an ecological bent among those that more broadly incorporate environmental, social and governance factors into their stock picking, he said.

An example is Brown Advisory’s Sustainable Growth Fund. As the name suggests, the fund invests in companies its managers judge as having sustainable business practices and good long-term growth prospects. That makes climate change part of the calculus, said co-manager Karina Funk. “If you want your company to thrive over the next 20 years, you absolutely need to be thinking about climate change,” she said.

Ms. Funk said she and her co-manager, David B. Powell, investigate companies’ sustainability records because the best-run companies have forward-looking environmental practices, in addition to solid fundamentals.

As an example, she offered up one of her fund’s largest holdings, J. B. Hunt Transport Services, the freight company. “They have a high carbon footprint, and yet they’re way less carbon intensive than their peers,” she said. “They use trains for a lot of the shipping journey, and that can be up to 50 percent more fuel efficient than over-the-road trucking.” Ms. Funk’s fund, with an expense ratio of 0.88 percent, returned an annual average of 18.84 percent over the three years through March.

A map of shipping routes in the North Pole area in the last 10 years. Woods Hole scientists are studying the routes as sea ice changes.CreditCody O’Loughlin for The New York Times

Active fund managers may have an advantage in this niche, compared with index funds and E.T.F.s. They may be able to identify and exploit the new risks and opportunities presented by a warming world and wilder weather, said Matthew C. Brancato, a principal at Vanguard. Assessing environmental performance from an investment perspective is a relatively new endeavor, so there aren’t standard approaches or measures, he said. That can create an opening for research to yield valuable insights.

On top of that, active managers are more likely to ask companies to improve their environmental practices, he said. (There is at least one index offering with a climate focus, the ETHO Climate Leadership U.S. E.T.F.)

Whether one chooses an active or passively managed fund, costs matter in this niche, as in any other, Mr. Brancato said. Even if an actively managed fund outperforms competitors, high costs can erase its advantage.

Another consideration is how much of a portfolio to dedicate to a specialized fund. Michelle E. Brownstein, vice president of private client services at Personal Capital in San Francisco, said she wouldn’t recommend that someone put more than 10 percent of their total investments into such a fund. Her recommendation assumes that person has a well-diversified portfolio and that the fund chosen is low cost, she said. “Socially responsible funds tend to be a little more expensive than other strategies, and they shouldn’t be.”

For some investors, climate change isn’t just a money problem but also a moral one; these folks want their money to help the transition to a greener economy. Investment companies are aware of that and increasingly offer funds and E.T.F.s that let shareholders express their values in this way.

Dimensional Fund Advisors offered its first two sustainable funds more than a decade ago. They aim to buy the best environmental performers in each economic sector, said Gerard K. O’Reilly, the company’s co-chief executive and chief investment officer.

Mr. O’Reilly said he’s not convinced a sustainable strategy can outperform the broader market. “Investors can account for firms’ social and sustainable practices without meaningfully changing the expected return of their portfolios,” he said. Dimensional’s funds have kept pace with their benchmark indexes. Its U.S. Sustainability Core 1 Portfolio, with an expense ratio of 0.25 percent, returned an annual average of 13.18 percent for the three years through March, compared with 13.48 percent for the Russell 3000 index.

He added that he saw nothing wrong with investing with the hope of achieving good returns while helping along the climate transition.

“Customers have the right to express their preferences around what kind of investments they want to make. Will that action help get companies to pay more attention to sustainability? Well, every little bit helps.”

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`: Climate-Change Funds Try to Profit From a Warming World

For investors, the risks of climate change are already raging, with intense storms and wildfires leading to property damage and business disruption.

California’s deadly fires last year resulted in losses of tens of billions of dollars — and may have contributed to the January bankruptcy of Pacific Gas and Electric, the electric utility. “The risk of catastrophic fire has increased in California, and the reason is climate change,” said Julie K. Gorte, senior vice president for sustainable investing at Pax World Funds.

But the investment opportunities, beyond renewable energy, have received less attention. Nonetheless, a few mutual funds have made it their mission to invest in companies that can help mitigate greenhouse gas emissions or aid adaptation to a warmer world.

They’re stepping beyond what have been the main investment responses to climate change — betting narrowly on green energy, like wind and solar power, or avoiding the worst polluters, like oil and coal companies, in low-carbon mutual funds and exchange-traded funds.

“More and more clients, individuals and institutions, are asking for funds that address climate change and climate risk,” said Leslie Samuelrich, president of Green Century Capital Management in Boston. “Because of that, asset managers are starting to develop portfolios to meet that demand.”

The Hartford Environmental Opportunities Fund is one such fund. It’s not just “about the weather,” said Alan T. Hsu, portfolio manager. “It’s about technology and assets being created today to address climate-related risks that are visible already.” The fund, with a net expense ratio of 0.89 percent, returned an annual average of 6.51 percent over the three years through March.

More than half the fund’s assets are invested in companies involved in low-carbon electricity and energy efficiency, such as Iberdrola, a Spanish utility that relies on wind power. But holdings also include water and agriculture stocks, such as Deere & Company, the farm-equipment maker.

“In a world with a more adverse climate, a lot of arable land will become much less productive at the same time as population increases the demand on that land,” Mr. Hsu said. Outfits that can help farmers increase fertility stand to benefit.

Mr. Hsu works for Wellington Management in Boston. Hartford Funds hired Wellington to run the fund, which opened in 2016. Mr. Hsu said Wellington created the strategy a decade ago for its institutional investor clients, like pension funds, because it expected the federal government to begin regulating carbon emissions in the United States. That didn’t happen, but regulation has surged in states, cities and other countries.

“Since 1997, the year of the Kyoto climate protocol, the number of climate laws and policies in the world has basically doubled every five years. There were more than 1,200 by early 2017,” Mr. Hsu said. Those rules present legal-liability risk and the possibility of higher costs for companies, he said. The Kyoto Protocol is an international agreement to limit greenhouse-gas emissions.

In stewarding the Hartford fund, Mr. Hsu can draw on insights from a research partnership that Wellington created last year with the Woods Hole Research Center, a nonprofit climate specialist in Falmouth, Mass. The two are merging market know-how and climate science to identify metrics that matter for investing. Wellington, which manages funds for other companies, including Vanguard, says the partnership’s findings will inform all the portfolios it runs, not just the Hartford fund.

Jon F. Hale, global head of sustainability research for Morningstar, said he wasn’t aware of another pairing like that between Wellington and Woods Hole — plenty of money managers have begun to talk about climate change, but none have so publicly allied themselves with an independent scientific expert. Mr. Hale predicted that other big investment companies would find themselves at a disadvantage if they didn’t seek comparable means of assessing the investment implications of a warmer world.

“They have to figure out the extent to which climate change poses a direct and immediate risk to their portfolios,” he said.

An early line of inquiry in the Wellington-Woods Hole partnership is how higher temperatures may induce population migration, said Philip B. Duffy, Woods Hole’s president and executive director. “Of all of the different hazards, drought seems to be one that’s particularly powerful in inducing migration,” he said. “If there’s not water, you can’t live somewhere.”

The financial implications of that could play out in surprising ways, said Christopher J. Goolgasian, Wellington’s director of climate research. Movable assets might become more valuable than stationary ones. “You might think about cruise ships over theme parks and farm equipment over farms,” he said.

Or you might consider investing in nontraditional sorts of farms — which is why aquaculture is one of the themes of the GMO Climate Change Fund. Its manager, Lucas White, includes in the fund less obvious industries, like fish farming and copper mining, alongside obvious ones, like clean energy and energy efficiency. Mr. White’s fund caters to institutional investors like pension funds and has returned an annual average of 8.54 percent since its April 2017 inception through February 2018, the latest information available from the fund.

“If you think agricultural productivity will be challenged, people will need to get their protein from somewhere,” he said. “Cattle is a disaster for climate change, but salmon is very carbon efficient.” Cows produce methane, a potent greenhouse gas, and tropical forests, which absorb carbon dioxide, are often razed for ranching.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_153186000_070bef9b-184a-4b3a-b654-7d878e75c3cc-articleLarge `: Climate-Change Funds Try to Profit From a Warming World Woods Hole Research Center wind power Vanguard Group Inc United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Stocks and Bonds Pacific Gas and Electric Co Kyoto Protocol JB Hunt Transport Services Inc Greenhouse Gas Emissions Global Warming Fish Farming Evacuations and Evacuees Dimensional Fund Advisors Deere&Company Carbon Dioxide Alternative and Renewable Energy

Philip B. Duffy, president and executive director of the Woods Hole Research Center, which is in a research partnership with Wellington Management.CreditCody O’Loughlin for The New York Times

Mr. White’s allocation to copper stocks is a sideways play on renewable energy. Some environmentally minded investors avoid miners, because of the pollution and political controversies that can accompany their operations. Mr. White, in contrast, bets big, allocating about 10 percent of his fund to copper diggers, including Freeport-McMoRan.

“We need an immense amount of copper to respond to climate change,” he said. The metal is required for wind and solar projects, as well as electric-vehicle-charging networks.

Not every manager in this niche views renewable energy as a crucial play. The Pax Global Environmental Markets Fund mostly avoids the sector. Instead, it holds big slugs of agriculture and water stocks; together, those total more than 40 percent of its assets.

That’s partly because the fund’s mandate is broader than just responding to global warming, said co-manager Hubert T. Aarts. “Some of what we hold is purely climate related, but the portfolio is not only that,” he said. The fund also buys companies that help deliver cleaner water and air and dispose of waste.

“You want to breathe fresh air even without climate change,” he said. The fund, with a net expense ratio of 0.98 percent, returned an annual average of 10.36 percent over the three years through March.

Few mutual funds explicitly make climate change the core of their mandate, Mr. Hale of Morningstar said. But investors can find offerings with an ecological bent among those that more broadly incorporate environmental, social and governance factors into their stock picking, he said.

An example is Brown Advisory’s Sustainable Growth Fund. As the name suggests, the fund invests in companies its managers judge as having sustainable business practices and good long-term growth prospects. That makes climate change part of the calculus, said co-manager Karina Funk. “If you want your company to thrive over the next 20 years, you absolutely need to be thinking about climate change,” she said.

Ms. Funk said she and her co-manager, David B. Powell, investigate companies’ sustainability records because the best-run companies have forward-looking environmental practices, in addition to solid fundamentals.

As an example, she offered up one of her fund’s largest holdings, J. B. Hunt Transport Services, the freight company. “They have a high carbon footprint, and yet they’re way less carbon intensive than their peers,” she said. “They use trains for a lot of the shipping journey, and that can be up to 50 percent more fuel efficient than over-the-road trucking.” Ms. Funk’s fund, with an expense ratio of 0.88 percent, returned an annual average of 18.84 percent over the three years through March.

A map of shipping routes in the North Pole area in the last 10 years. Woods Hole scientists are studying the routes as sea ice changes.CreditCody O’Loughlin for The New York Times

Active fund managers may have an advantage in this niche, compared with index funds and E.T.F.s. They may be able to identify and exploit the new risks and opportunities presented by a warming world and wilder weather, said Matthew C. Brancato, a principal at Vanguard. Assessing environmental performance from an investment perspective is a relatively new endeavor, so there aren’t standard approaches or measures, he said. That can create an opening for research to yield valuable insights.

On top of that, active managers are more likely to ask companies to improve their environmental practices, he said. (There is at least one index offering with a climate focus, the ETHO Climate Leadership U.S. E.T.F.)

Whether one chooses an active or passively managed fund, costs matter in this niche, as in any other, Mr. Brancato said. Even if an actively managed fund outperforms competitors, high costs can erase its advantage.

Another consideration is how much of a portfolio to dedicate to a specialized fund. Michelle E. Brownstein, vice president of private client services at Personal Capital in San Francisco, said she wouldn’t recommend that someone put more than 10 percent of their total investments into such a fund. Her recommendation assumes that person has a well-diversified portfolio and that the fund chosen is low cost, she said. “Socially responsible funds tend to be a little more expensive than other strategies, and they shouldn’t be.”

For some investors, climate change isn’t just a money problem but also a moral one; these folks want their money to help the transition to a greener economy. Investment companies are aware of that and increasingly offer funds and E.T.F.s that let shareholders express their values in this way.

Dimensional Fund Advisors offered its first two sustainable funds more than a decade ago. They aim to buy the best environmental performers in each economic sector, said Gerard K. O’Reilly, the company’s co-chief executive and chief investment officer.

Mr. O’Reilly said he’s not convinced a sustainable strategy can outperform the broader market. “Investors can account for firms’ social and sustainable practices without meaningfully changing the expected return of their portfolios,” he said. Dimensional’s funds have kept pace with their benchmark indexes. Its U.S. Sustainability Core 1 Portfolio, with an expense ratio of 0.25 percent, returned an annual average of 13.18 percent for the three years through March, compared with 13.48 percent for the Russell 3000 index.

He added that he saw nothing wrong with investing with the hope of achieving good returns while helping along the climate transition.

“Customers have the right to express their preferences around what kind of investments they want to make. Will that action help get companies to pay more attention to sustainability? Well, every little bit helps.”

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Automakers Plan for Their Worst Nightmare: Regulatory Chaos After Trump’s Emissions Rollback

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WASHINGTON — As the Trump administration prepares to drastically weaken Obama-era rules restricting vehicle pollution, nervous automakers are devising a strategy to handle their worst-case scenario: a divided American auto market, with some states following President Trump’s weakened rules while others stick with the tougher ones.

The effort is increasingly urgent because the Trump administration has now settled on the key details of its rollback plan, according to two people familiar with the matter. The new rules would all but eliminate the Obama-era restrictions, essentially freezing standards at about 37 miles per gallon, compared to 54.5 miles per gallon required by the current rules. The policy makes it a near-certainty that California and 13 other states, collectively representing roughly one-third of the United States auto market, will keep enforcing the stricter rules, splitting the national auto market in two.

Although Mr. Trump has billed his rollback as a boon to the auto industry, automakers say the split-market outcome would be a logistical and financial nightmare for them. Their current strategy centers on selling completely different kinds of cars in different parts of the country — chiefly hybrids or electric vehicles in states like California, and less efficient SUVs (which American car buyers love) in other states.

But automakers recognize it would be easy for some buyers to simply cross state lines to buy what they want.

“We could see a scenario where there are limited choices for consumers in the high-fuel-economy states, or a stampede at the border to buy cars in the states that follow the federal standards,” said Gloria Bergquist, a vice president at the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers.

In that case, Ms. Bergquist said, states with stricter standards might have to create new rules against buying cars from other states. “Because this is all such new territory, no one’s quite sure how this is going to work,” she said. “We’re trying to figure it out. But it’s going to be a headache.”

Automakers have told White House officials that they dread this split-market outcome, but it appears increasingly likely because California and the 13 other states that follow its strict state pollution rules have said they plan to sue the White House in order to keep the current standards in place.

The industry had initially asked Mr. Trump to loosen the auto pollution rules, which were among Mr. Obama’s signature policies aimed at fighting climate change. However, the companies also asked that Mr. Trump strike a deal with California and the other states to maintain a single national standard. But the White House has stopped negotiating with California.

The administration has settled on the key details of its rollback, according to two people familiar with the terms.

The plan, which is being jointly written by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Transportation Department, would require automakers to raise the fuel economy of their fleets by about 1 percent annually between 2021 and 2026, according to these people. That would be a sharp reduction from the 5 percent annual increase now required.

In addition, the Trump plan would also give automakers credits for using cleaner technologies, like more modern refrigerants in air-conditioners, something that most already do. The Trump plan would also revoke the legal right of California and other states to set their own, stronger standards, setting up the legal clash between the federal government and the states.

The plan is expected to be published in the next few months, at which point it formally goes into effect.

The president has made it clear he wants automakers to publicly support the rollback when it is announced. “Every administration wants the industry to stand with them in the Rose Garden,” Ms. Bergquist said. “But regulatory certainty is really important for automakers.”

If the nation’s auto market does get split in two, the challenge for automakers will come specifically in figuring out how to sell a radically different mix of cars in different states. For example, in states like California, automakers would have to demonstrate that the average mileage of all the cars they sell is much higher (about 54 miles per gallon by 2025) than in states like Utah, where the new Trump standard of about 38 miles per gallon would be in effect.

But because Americans have shown a growing preference for SUVs over thriftier vehicles like electrics, manufacturers might have to significantly cut prices on electric vehicles in the high-mileage states, a potentially money-losing proposition for them, while raising the prices of gas-guzzlers. Meanwhile, auto lots in low-mileage states might hold a completely different mix of cars at different prices.

If car buyers simply cross state lines to buy gas-guzzlers and bring them into the cleaner-standard states, it could create more regulatory headaches for the companies, which could also be subject to fines from high-mileage states if they fail to comply.

Representatives of Ford and General Motors, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the administration’s final plans have not been made public, said their companies felt torn between backing the Trump plan, which could hurt their bottom line, or opposing it and siding with California, which could bring retaliation from Mr. Trump.

In particular, automakers fear that the administration would retaliate against them by imposing trade sanctions like tariffs on auto imports. That could raise the cost of American vehicles, many of which are manufactured overseas.

A recent a draft report from the Commerce Department concluded that auto imports threaten national security, according to one person who viewed it. A final version of that report has been sent to the White House, and while it has not been made public, the conclusion that auto imports are a national security threat would pave the way for Mr. Trump to impose tariffs on auto imports.

“They will have to choose between Trump and California,” said Margo T. Oge, a former senior E.P.A. official who works on auto pollution policy issues.

“If you go with Trump, it solves the short-term temper tantrum and the threat of trade wars on the horizon,” she said. “But that is also taking a big legal risk. Because in the long term, California could win the legal fight to keep its state standards. Trump is right now, but California is forever.”

Mr. Trump has frequently turned to tariffs on foreign products as a wide-ranging source of leverage to try to exact concessions from both foreign governments and multinational companies.

A senior White House official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak on the record, said the White House still hoped to have the auto industry’s backing and was unaware of plans to use trade sanctions as leverage or punishment.

“The auto industry is important to the White House,” the official said. “The agencies are still working through the rule-making process and no final decisions have been made.”

In interviews, California officials who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak on the record, noted that California already has in place border laws requiring vehicles brought into the state to meet certain pollution standards.

“California is prepared to strike at any blow dealt our way and regardless of what comes next, we have laws in place to keep our state moving forward,” the state’s attorney general, Xavier Becerra, said.

Although officials at the E.P.A. and the Transportation Department have largely settled on the top-line numbers of the plan, they are months from completing the accompanying legal and technical documents required to justify such a major rule change, according to three people familiar with the plan. Those people noted that the process of creating the documents was stalled by the 35-day government shutdown earlier this year.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_149274069_ddcd9c87-46ea-4fed-affa-2e56fde3c777-articleLarge Automakers Plan for Their Worst Nightmare: Regulatory Chaos After Trump’s Emissions Rollback United States Politics and Government Transportation Department (US) Regulation and Deregulation of Industry Greenhouse Gas Emissions Global Warming Fuel Emissions (Transportation) Fuel Efficiency Environmental Protection Agency environment Carbon Dioxide Automobiles

Andrew R. Wheeler, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency.CreditSarah Silbiger/The New York Times

Those document delays mean the final plan is unlikely to be made public until at least late spring or early summer, these people said.

The release date is significant because it would prompt the expected legal battle, which is likely to end up before the Supreme Court. But if the plan isn’t released until this summer, it means the legal challenges aren’t likely to reach the Supreme Court during Mr. Trump’s first term in office.

The risk is that, should a Democrat defeat Mr. Trump in his re-election bid, the new administration could simply decline to defend the plan in court.

“The longer they wait on this, the easier it will be for the next administration to undo it,” said Jody Freeman, a professor of environmental law at Harvard University who served as legal counsel in the Obama administration.

Ana Swanson contributed reporting from Washington, and Hiroko Tabuchi from New York.

For more news on climate and the environment, follow @NYTClimate on Twitter.

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Blamed for Climate Change, Oil Companies Invest in Carbon Removal

SQUAMISH, British Columbia — Everyone knows an electric fan can make people feel cooler on a steamy day. But could fans moderate the planet’s rising temperatures?

Some of the world’s biggest fossil fuel companies would like to find out.

Chevron, Occidental Petroleum and the Australian mining giant BHP this year have invested in Carbon Engineering, a small Canadian company that claims to be on the verge of a breakthrough in solving a critical climate change puzzle: removing carbon already in the atmosphere.

At its pilot project in Squamish, an old lumber town about 30 miles north of Vancouver, the company is using an enormous fan to suck large amounts of air into a scrubbing vessel designed to extract carbon dioxide. The gas can then be buried or converted into a clean-burning — though expensive — synthetic fuel.

Investing in Carbon Engineering and other carbon-reduction initiatives is part of an emerging effort by fossil-fuel industries to remain relevant and profitable in a warming world. With electric cars and solar and wind power becoming increasingly affordable, executives acknowledge that business as usual could put their companies at risk.

Already, fossil-fuel companies face a barrage of lawsuits, investor resolutions and regulations prompting them to invest more in clean energy. Advocacy groups are also pressing companies and lawmakers to keep oil and natural gas in the ground by challenging hydraulic fracturing, especially in Europe, and fighting pipelines meant to transport production from Canada’s oil sands.

“This is about recognizing that climate change poses significant risks to all economic sectors,” Fiona Wild, BHP’s vice president for sustainability and climate change, said about the company’s $6 million investment in Carbon Engineering. “Climate change is no longer seen as a fringe issue. It’s a business risk that requires a business response.”

Of course, big energy companies continue to drill for oil and gas and are pushing the Trump administration and other governments to open more territory to exploration.

But some businesses have signaled that they are changing. A few companies, including Royal Dutch Shell and BP, are linking compensation to emissions reductions. Equinor, the Norwegian oil company, plans to increase spending on clean energy to 15 to 20 percent of its capital investment by 2030, up from 5 percent now.

Carbon Engineering’s pilot on the rocky shores of Howe Sound is one of several carbon “direct-air-capture” ventures being attempted around the world. It is still a small effort, but its backers say it could play an important role in arresting climate change.

Much of the work is done in an old industrial warehouse of corrugated metal adorned with faded graffiti, a structure once used by a company that made chemicals for the pulp industry. The temporary offices are decidedly makeshift, with the bathrooms entered from outside. No carbon is actually being pulled out of the atmosphere permanently because the company is still in testing mode.

Chevron and Occidental, which have each taken seats on Carbon Engineering’s board, refused to disclose their investments. The company says it raised a total of $68 million in its most recent funding round to expand the pilot and develop its first commercial plant.

Critics of fossil-fuel companies say such investments are so modest as to amount to little more than a public-relations stunt.

“That’s chump change for these guys,” said Dan Becker, director of the Safe Climate Campaign, an environmental organization in Washington. “I don’t see any epiphanies.”

But other experts disagree. “It could be greenwashing, but so what?” said Dieter Helm, a professor of energy policy at Oxford and the author of “Burn Out: The Endgame for Fossil Fuels.” “If money is being spent on research and development to develop ways to sequester carbon, that is a good thing.”

Executives at Carbon Engineering said they welcomed investments by fossil-fuel companies not only for the money but also for their engineering and lobbying skills.

“I have great big brothers now who are looking after me,” said Steve Oldham, Carbon Engineering’s chief executive. “Initially companies wanted to show that they were thinking of being green. Now you are seeing action.”

The company said its commercial plants would have banks of large fans, 33 feet in diameter, to collect air and run it through a complex chemical process.

Removing Carbon Dioxide From the Air

Carbon Engineering, a small Canadian company, has developed methods to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere using “direct-air-capture” technology. It is one of several companies around the world working on the technique. The carbon dioxide may be reprocessed into fuel, or buried for disposal.

Westlake Legal Group 0408-biz-web-CARBON-Artboard_2 Blamed for Climate Change, Oil Companies Invest in Carbon Removal Oil (Petroleum) and Gasoline Occidental Petroleum Corporation Greenhouse Gas Emissions Fuel Emissions (Transportation) Chevron Corporation Carbon Engineering Carbon Dioxide Carbon Capture and Sequestration BHP Billiton Ltd

Direct-air-capture technology

PURE CO2 GAS

TYPICAL

ATMOSPHERIC

AIR

May be injected into the earth for disposal, or made into fuel.

HYDROXIDE

SOLUTION

CO2-RICH

CARBONATE

SOLUTION

CALCIUM

CARBONATE

PELLETS

CALCIUM

OXIDE

CALCIUM

OXIDE SLURRY

AIR WITH MOST OF

THE CO2 REMOVED

1. Air intake

2. Pellet reactor

3. Calciner

Large fans draw in air, which is run through a mesh coated with a hydroxide solution. The hydroxide binds with the carbon dioxide to convert it into a carbonate solution.

The carbonate solution is converted into small, dry pellets of calcium carbonate.

The calcium carbonate pellets are heated until they break into their component parts — pure carbon dioxide gas and solid lime, or calcium oxide.

Water is added to the calcium oxide, and the resulting slurry is returned to the pellet reactor, to regenerate the hydroxide solution used in the process.

Westlake Legal Group 0408-biz-web-CARBON-Artboard_3 Blamed for Climate Change, Oil Companies Invest in Carbon Removal Oil (Petroleum) and Gasoline Occidental Petroleum Corporation Greenhouse Gas Emissions Fuel Emissions (Transportation) Chevron Corporation Carbon Engineering Carbon Dioxide Carbon Capture and Sequestration BHP Billiton Ltd

Direct-air-capture technology

PURE CO2 GAS

TYPICAL

ATMOSPHERIC

AIR

May be injected into the earth for disposal, or made into fuel.

HYDROXIDE

SOLUTION

CO2-RICH

CARBONATE

SOLUTION

CALCIUM

CARBONATE

PELLETS

CALCIUM

OXIDE

CALCIUM

OXIDE SLURRY

AIR WITH MOST OF

THE CO2 REMOVED

1. Air intake

2. Pellet reactor

3. Calciner

The carbonate solution is converted into small, dry pellets of calcium carbonate.

The calcium carbonate pellets are heated until they break into their component parts — pure carbon dioxide gas and solid lime, or calcium oxide.

Water is added to the calcium oxide, and the resulting slurry is returned to the pellet reactor, to regenerate the hydroxide solution used in the process.

Large fans draw in air, which is run through a mesh coated with a hydroxide solution. The hydroxide binds with the carbon dioxide to convert it into a carbonate solution.

Westlake Legal Group 0408-biz-web-CARBON-Artboard_4 Blamed for Climate Change, Oil Companies Invest in Carbon Removal Oil (Petroleum) and Gasoline Occidental Petroleum Corporation Greenhouse Gas Emissions Fuel Emissions (Transportation) Chevron Corporation Carbon Engineering Carbon Dioxide Carbon Capture and Sequestration BHP Billiton Ltd

Direct-air-capture technology

1. Air intake

TYPICAL

ATMOSPHERIC

AIR

HYDROXIDE

SOLUTION

Large fans draw in air, which is run through a mesh coated with a hydroxide solution. The hydroxide binds with the carbon dioxide to convert it into a carbonate solution.

CO2-RICH

CARBONATE

SOLUTION

AIR WITH

MOST OF

THE CO2

REMOVED

2. Pellet reactor

The carbonate solution is converted into small, dry pellets of calcium carbonate.

CALCIUM

CARBONATE

PELLETS

3. Calciner

The calcium carbonate pellets are heated until they break into their component parts — pure carbon dioxide gas and solid lime, or calcium oxide.

CALCIUM

OXIDE

SLURRY

PURE CO2 GAS

May be injected into the earth for disposal, or made into fuel.

CALCIUM

OXIDE

Water is added to the calcium oxide, and the resulting slurry is returned to the pellet reactor, to regenerate the hydroxide solution used in the process.

By The New York Times | Source: Carbon Engineering

The air will be pushed through honeycombed plastic channels coated with potassium hydroxide that attaches itself to carbon dioxide. More chemicals will be added to produce tiny white pellets containing carbon. The pellets will then be heated to more than 1,600 degrees to form carbon dioxide gas.

In one kind of plant the company hopes to build, the captured carbon dioxide could be injected underground, where it would be harmless unless some of it leaked back into the atmosphere. Mr. Oldham asserts that each such installation could eventually take as much carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere annually as 40 million trees.

In another kind of facility, captured carbon dioxide would be combined with hydrogen extracted from water to make synthetic fuel that can be processed into gasoline, diesel or jet fuel. The energy needed to produce hydrogen would come from wind turbines and solar panels to limit emissions.

The company’s synthetic fuel would be more expensive than conventional gasoline. Production costs could be about $4 a gallon, according to Carbon Engineering, compared with more than $2.70-a-gallon average retail price in the United States. But it could still be attractive to countries that spend tens of billions of dollars on crude imports, like India and Japan. Regulations taxing carbon could also make the fuel more attractive.

The company says its synthetic fuels could be used in standard car, truck and plane engines, and would cause less air pollution than traditional fuels.

Burning Carbon Engineering’s fuel would release carbon dioxide, but it would not increase greenhouse gases in the atmosphere by much or at all because the process would be recycling carbon that was already in the air, executives said.

Early investors in Carbon Engineering include the Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and N. Murray Edwards, executive chairman of Canadian Natural Resources, a big producer of oil sands, a heavy oil that has a large carbon footprint.

“Oil and gas companies have to wonder about their future,” said Michael Webber, an energy professor at the University of Texas at Austin. “They know that someday the energy mix will be different. So there are a lot of motivations for this investment.”

Occidental wants to use the technology to find a sustainable supply of carbon dioxide that it can use to inject in its oil fields to increase pressure and extract more oil while also sequestering the carbon. The company is already the largest injector in the industry, but it now re-injects carbon that was found in natural underground deposits — providing little or no environmental benefit. By recycling carbon taken from the air, it hopes to bury as much carbon as its fuels emit, or even more. As an added benefit, there is a federal tax credit for sequestering carbon.

“Every oil company should be striving to become carbon neutral,” said Vicki Hollub, Occidental’s chief executive. “Ultimately, we think we can be carbon negative. Addressing climate change is a turning point for the industry.”

Chevron is seeking to meet a different immediate need. California requires refiners and other distributors to meet progressively declining targets of carbon in their fuels through 2030. Chevron, which is based in San Ramon, Calif., has two big refineries in the state that could use the synthetic fuel.

“We have a need for low-carbon fuels,” said Barbara Burger, president of Chevron Technology Ventures. “The world needs transportation fuels and the public desires them, but they have an expectation that we lower the carbon content. And this is one of the options to do that.”

But ramping up the ambitious ideas put forward by Carbon Engineering and other companies into projects large enough to have an important environmental impact will take considerable investment.

Mr. Oldham said one of his carbon capture and sequestration plants would remove one million tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere annually, a small fraction of the more than 33 billion tons humanity emits in a year. The sequestration process would cost roughly $100 per ton, which in Occidental’s model could be offset in part by the increased oil production it would enable. The carbon could also be used to make cement and other building materials.

But in case of an acute global climate emergency, governments would probably have to step in to hasten removal of carbon from the atmosphere. Mr. Oldham said the cost of capturing and sequestering all the carbon needed to stop climate change would require trillions of dollars.

The company’s synthetic fuel could also struggle to find markets because of its cost.

David Keith, an applied physicist at Harvard who founded Carbon Engineering and sits on its board, said the synthetic fuel would be most useful for trucks, ships and planes, while cars and other smaller vehicles would more likely be powered by batteries in the future.

“There is no way we are beating oil from the ground in a head-to-head competition without regulation,” Mr. Keith said, referring to carbon taxes and other environmental policies. If there is sufficient political will to deeply cut emissions, he added, “I think you will see a large amount of this technology in the next decade or two.”

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