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Westlake Legal Group > Global Warming

AOC Shocked That It Rains in City Built on Swamp

Westlake Legal Group AlexandraOcasioCortez-620x317 AOC Shocked That It Rains in City Built on Swamp washington D.C. storms rain Politics Global Warming Front Page Stories Front Page Flooding Featured Story dumb democrats Climate Change Carbon Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., listens during a House Financial Services Committee hearing with leaders of major banks, Wednesday, April 10, 2019, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

On Monday, Washington D.C. experienced flash flooding leading to over 100 water rescues, mostly of stranded motorists. A normal person would realize that it’s July, that storms and rain are not a new thing, and that the nation’s capital is built on a low-lying swamp that invites flooding.

But Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is not a normal person. Instead, she took the sudden downpour as proof of global warming, because what else could possibly cause it to rain in a swamp?

This is nonsensical for many reasons.

Let’s note that the hysteria over global warming started out with a primary complaint of coming desertification of large swaths of land. This is where we get the left-wing talking points that droughts are driving migrant rushes across the globe. In this case, wouldn’t rain be a good thing?

Did the 3.3 inches of rain in an hour break a record on Monday? Yes, it did. For that single day in recorded history. You can find larger rainfall totals going back into the 1800s and no doubt many, many more before real record keeping started. Were those just flukes while this one was definitely caused by man-made climate change? How is that actually judged? Just AOC’s gut feeling?

What actually happened in D.C. was that a low pressure area producing major convective activity passed through the area. There’s currently more of that building in the mid-west. Even if you believe man is causing the temperature to rise, there was no connection between this specific storm and supposed higher temperatures. Remember, we are constantly told by liberals that weather is not climate. When it’s really cold and snows in the south, that’s not proof of anything. But if it rains in a swamp, that’s global warming according AOC.

Here’s some pictures from prior D.C. floods that were far, far worse.

Also, take her accusation that “places are flooding where they haven’t before.” The shifting of flood plains and rivers is a natural occurrence that has been happening since the beginning of time. The Mississippi River, for example, has changed it’s path throughout its history all along its length. Because rivers are never actually static, this means you can eventually see new places become threatened by floods that weren’t before. There’s also the fact that many, many places in the United States that are inhabited exist because of levies, pumps, and other man made tools keeping the water at bay. That’s never a guarantee to work forever.

If you look at the history of just the United States, what you’ll find going back well before the industrial boom of the early 1900s, is centuries of major disasters, huge death totals from weather events, and massive displacement due to flooding. These are normal weather events that will always be with us. No amount of government spending or taxing carbon is going to change that.

AOC sees this as a opportunity to push her socialist tripe though and far too many people buy into it without any critical thinking whatsoever.

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The post AOC Shocked That It Rains in City Built on Swamp appeared first on RedState.

Westlake Legal Group de9cc146-d52c-4125-9e3f-fec26ee240f1.v1-300x153 AOC Shocked That It Rains in City Built on Swamp washington D.C. storms rain Politics Global Warming Front Page Stories Front Page Flooding Featured Story dumb democrats Climate Change Carbon Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez   Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Trump Saw Opportunity in Speech on Environment. Critics Saw a ‘“1984” Moment.’

WASHINGTON — Reviewing new polling data, consultants working for President Trump’s 2020 campaign discovered an unsurprising obstacle to winning support from two key demographic groups, millennials and suburban women. And that was his record on the environment.

But they also saw an opportunity. While the numbers showed that Mr. Trump was “never going to get” the type of voter who feels passionately about tackling climate change, a senior administration official who reviewed the polling said, there were moderate voters who liked the president’s economic policies and “just want to know that he’s being responsible” on environmental issues.

So for nearly an hour in the East Room on Monday afternoon, Mr. Trump sought to recast his administration’s record by describing what he called “America’s environmental leadership” under his command.

Flanked by several cabinet members and senior environmental officials — one a former lobbyist for the coal industry and the other a former oil lobbyist — Mr. Trump rattled off a grab bag of his administration’s accomplishments, which he said included “being good stewards of our public land,” reducing carbon emissions and promoting the “cleanest air” and “crystal clean” water.

“These are incredible goals that everyone in this country should be able to rally behind,” Mr. Trump said. “I really think that’s something that is bipartisan,” he said, adding that he had disproved critics who said his pro-business policies would harm the environment.

Experts watching the speech said many of the president’s claims were not based in fact. Those achievements that were real, they said, were the result of actions taken by his predecessors. And they noted the one conspicuous omission from the whole discussion: any mention of climate change, the overarching environmental threat that Mr. Trump has mocked in the past.

David G. Victor, the director of the Laboratory on International Law and Regulation at the University of California, San Diego, said the speech was the starkest example to date of the disconnect between Mr. Trump’s rhetoric and reality. “This speech is a true ‘1984’ moment,” he said.

[Read our fact check of the president’s speech.]

Mr. Trump called himself a protector of public land, but he has taken unprecedented steps to open up public lands to drilling, including signing off on the largest rollback of federal land protection in the nation’s history, and lifting an Obama-era moratorium on new coal mining leases on public lands.

He repeatedly cited his desire for clear water, but the Environmental Protection Agency is in the process of rolling back an Obama-era clean-water regulation of pollution in streams and wetlands.

He described himself as a champion of the oceans, while he and Mary Neumayr, the head of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, have promoted policies that the United States has advanced to reduce marine debris, particularly plastic drinking straws. But Mr. Trump did not mention that his administration has proposed opening up the entire United States coastline to offshore oil and gas drilling.

And he boasted that carbon dioxide emissions in the United States have gone down over the past decade, “more than any other country on earth.” But while it is true that carbon emissions have declined by over 10 percent in that time, over a dozen other countries — including most of the European Union — have seen declines of more than twice that.

In a phone call with reporters earlier Monday, Andrew Wheeler, the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, cited data going back to the Nixon administration in describing the Trump administration’s accomplishments.

“There’s this factoid out there that the U.S. is a leader in reducing emissions,” said Richard Newell, the president of Resources for the Future, a nonprofit, nonpartisan environmental research organization in Washington. “That is just not true. It is disingenuous to both celebrate the decline in U.S. CO2 emissions at the same time that one promotes the use of coal power. You can’t have both.”

Westlake Legal Group us-air-pollution-trump-promo-1560953675555-articleLarge Trump Saw Opportunity in Speech on Environment. Critics Saw a ‘“1984” Moment.’ Wheeler, Andrew R United States Politics and Government United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Trump, Donald J Luntz, Frank I Lobbying and Lobbyists Global Warming Environmental Protection Agency Brinkley, Douglas G

America’s Skies Have Gotten Clearer, but Millions Still Breathe Unhealthy Air

Air pollution has improved dramatically over the past four decades, in a large part because of federal regulations. But many areas of the country still have high levels of pollution, and climate change may make them worse.

Last month, in a move that represented the Trump administration’s most direct effort to date to protect the coal industry, the E.P.A. finalized a plan to replace former President Barack Obama’s stringent rule on coal pollution with a new rule that would keep plants that use it to generate electricity open longer and significantly increase the nation’s emissions of planet-warming carbon dioxide.

The E.P.A. is also expected to finalize another plan this summer that would abandon Mr. Obama’s strict regulations on planet-warming tailpipe pollution in automobiles, replacing them with a new rule that experts say is likely to function as a total repeal of the original regulation.

Mr. Trump seemed to place a particular emphasis on environmental problems afflicting Florida, a state vital to his re-election, emphasizing that he backs restoring the Everglades, and that his administration has directed over half a billion dollars to mitigate a toxic tide of red algal blooms that originate in Florida’s Lake Okeechobee. He invited Bruce Hrobak, a bait and tackle shop owner in Port St. Lucie, Fla., who said his shop was devastated by the red tide, to the podium.

“You jumping into this environment brings my heart to warmth,” Mr. Hrobak told Mr. Trump, adding that his own father looked like Mr. Trump “but you’re much handsomer.”

Polls show that Florida is one state where Republican voters rank environmental issues as a top concern. The reason, the polls have found, is that Florida is now on the front lines of climate change, as Miami and other cities experience consistent, damaging flooding as a result of sea level rise and a warming planet.

But Mr. Trump made no mention of climate change, nor did he revisit a tendency to proudly sell himself as a champion of the coal industry and fossil fuels in general — even as they remain one of the chief causes of global warming.

This incongruous message of environmental action was so starkly at odds with Mr. Trump’s own record that some critics found the moment almost surreal.

“It is an utter farce for the president to talk about America’s environmental leadership, when he has been a champion of the polluters,” said Douglas Brinkley, a presidential historian who has written about environmental policy.

Mr. Trump was joined by Mr. Wheeler, a former coal lobbyist who has played a lead role in crafting rollbacks of rules on climate change and clean air, and David Bernhardt, the interior secretary and a former oil lobbyist who has led the way in opening up the nation’s public lands and waters to more drilling.

When asked whether Mr. Trump still believed that global warming was a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese and whether windmills caused cancer, as the president has said, Mr. Wheeler said in a phone call that there were “positives and negatives” to all energy sources, and that administration officials were paying attention to this.

Frank Luntz, a Republican consultant and pollster, said he had presented Republican lawmakers with data in recent weeks that showed that the public — and particularly younger people — wanted to see action to safeguard the environment, but that the issue was seen as owned by Democrats.

“It is still not a top-five priority” among Republicans, Mr. Luntz said. “These guys, they really do care, but they don’t know how to get it done in this polarized environment.”

Among the Democrats who criticized the president’s speech on Monday was Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader.

“Try as he might say otherwise,” Mr. Schumer said in a speech on the Senate floor, “President Trump has proved himself probably the staunchest ally of the worst polluters, of any president we have ever had.”

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

Trump Talks Up ‘America’s Environmental Leadership’ in Speech

WASHINGTON — Reviewing new polling data, consultants working for President Trump’s 2020 campaign discovered an unsurprising obstacle to winning support from two key demographic groups, millennials and suburban women. And that was his record on the environment.

But they also saw an opportunity. While the numbers showed that Mr. Trump was “never going to get” the type of voter who feels passionately about tackling climate change, a senior administration official who reviewed the polling said, there were moderate voters who liked the president’s economic policies and “just want to know that he’s being responsible” on environmental issues.

So for nearly an hour in the East Room on Monday afternoon, Mr. Trump sought to recast his administration’s record by describing what he called “America’s environmental leadership” under his command.

Flanked by several cabinet members and senior environmental officials — one a former lobbyist for the coal industry and the other a former oil lobbyist — Mr. Trump rattled off a grab bag of his administration’s accomplishments, which he said included “being good stewards of our public land,” reducing carbon emissions and promoting the “cleanest air” and “crystal clean” water.

“These are incredible goals that everyone in this country should be able to rally behind,” Mr. Trump said. “I really think that’s something that is bipartisan,” he said, adding that he had disproved critics who said his pro-business policies would harm the environment.

Experts watching the speech said many of the president’s claims were not based in fact. Those achievements that were real, they said, were the result of actions taken by his predecessors. And they noted the one conspicuous omission from the whole discussion: any mention of climate change, the overarching environmental threat that Mr. Trump has mocked in the past.

David G. Victor, the director of the Laboratory on International Law and Regulation at the University of California, San Diego, said the speech was the starkest example to date of the disconnect between Mr. Trump’s rhetoric and reality. “This speech is a true ‘1984’ moment,” he said.

Mr. Trump called himself a protector of public land, but he has taken unprecedented steps to open up public lands to drilling, including signing off on the largest rollback of federal land protection in the nation’s history, and lifting an Obama-era moratorium on new coal mining leases on public lands.

He repeatedly cited his desire for clear water, but the Environmental Protection Agency is in the process of rolling back an Obama-era clean-water regulation of pollution in streams and wetlands.

He described himself as a champion of the oceans, while he and Mary Neumayr, the head of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, have promoted policies that the United States has advanced to reduce marine debris, particularly plastic drinking straws. But Mr. Trump did not mention that his administration has proposed opening up the entire United States coastline to offshore oil and gas drilling.

And he boasted that carbon dioxide emissions in the United States have gone down over the past decade, “more than any other country on earth.” But while it is true that carbon emissions have declined by over 10 percent in that time, over a dozen other countries — including most of the European Union — have seen declines of more than twice that.

In a phone call with reporters earlier Monday, Andrew Wheeler, the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, cited data going back to the Nixon administration in describing the Trump administration’s accomplishments.

“There’s this factoid out there that the U.S. is a leader in reducing emissions,” said Richard Newell, the president of Resources for the Future, a nonprofit, nonpartisan environmental research organization in Washington. “That is just not true. It is disingenuous to both celebrate the decline in U.S. CO2 emissions at the same time that one promotes the use of coal power. You can’t have both.”

Westlake Legal Group us-air-pollution-trump-promo-1560953675555-articleLarge Trump Talks Up ‘America’s Environmental Leadership’ in Speech Wheeler, Andrew R United States Politics and Government United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Trump, Donald J Luntz, Frank I Lobbying and Lobbyists Global Warming Environmental Protection Agency Brinkley, Douglas G

America’s Skies Have Gotten Clearer, but Millions Still Breathe Unhealthy Air

Air pollution has improved dramatically over the past four decades, in a large part because of federal regulations. But many areas of the country still have high levels of pollution, and climate change may make them worse.

Last month, in a move that represented the Trump administration’s most direct effort to date to protect the coal industry, the E.P.A. finalized a plan to replace former President Barack Obama’s stringent rule on coal pollution with a new rule that would keep plants that use it to generate electricity open longer and significantly increase the nation’s emissions of planet-warming carbon dioxide.

The E.P.A. is also expected to finalize another plan this summer that would abandon Mr. Obama’s strict regulations on planet-warming tailpipe pollution in automobiles, replacing them with a new rule that experts say is likely to function as a total repeal of the original regulation.

Mr. Trump seemed to place a particular emphasis on environmental problems afflicting Florida, a state vital to his re-election, emphasizing that he backs restoring the Everglades, and that his administration has directed over half a billion dollars to mitigate a toxic tide of red algal blooms that originate in Florida’s Lake Okeechobee. He invited Bruce Hrobak, a bait and tackle shop owner in Port St. Lucie, Fla., who said his shop was devastated by the red tide, to the podium.

“You jumping into this environment brings my heart to warmth,” Mr. Hrobak told Mr. Trump, adding that his own father looked like Mr. Trump “but you’re much handsomer.”

Polls show that Florida is one state where Republican voters rank environmental issues as a top concern. The reason, the polls have found, is that Florida is now on the front lines of climate change, as Miami and other cities experience consistent, damaging flooding as a result of sea level rise and a warming planet.

But Mr. Trump made no mention of climate change, nor did he revisit a tendency to proudly sell himself as a champion of the coal industry and fossil fuels in general — even as they remain one of the chief causes of global warming.

This incongruous message of environmental action was so starkly at odds with Mr. Trump’s own record that some critics found the moment almost surreal.

“It is an utter farce for the president to talk about America’s environmental leadership, when he has been a champion of the polluters,” said Douglas Brinkley, a presidential historian who has written about environmental policy.

Mr. Trump was joined by Mr. Wheeler, a former coal lobbyist who has played a lead role in crafting rollbacks of rules on climate change and clean air, and David Bernhardt, the interior secretary and a former oil lobbyist who has led the way in opening up the nation’s public lands and waters to more drilling.

When asked whether Mr. Trump still believed that global warming was a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese and whether windmills caused cancer, as the president has said, Mr. Wheeler said in a phone call that there were “positives and negatives” to all energy sources, and that administration officials were paying attention to this.

Frank Luntz, a Republican consultant and pollster, said he had presented Republican lawmakers with data in recent weeks that showed that the public — and particularly younger people — wanted to see action to safeguard the environment, but that the issue was seen as owned by Democrats.

“It is still not a top-five priority” among Republicans, Mr. Luntz said. “These guys, they really do care, but they don’t know how to get it done in this polarized environment.”

Among the Democrats who criticized the president’s speech on Monday was Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader.

“Try as he might say otherwise,” Mr. Schumer said in a speech on the Senate floor, “President Trump has proved himself probably the staunchest ally of the worst polluters, of any president we have ever had.”

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

Trump Talks Up ‘America’s Environmental Leadership’ in Climate Speech

WASHINGTON — President Trump has withdrawn the United States from the international Paris climate change accord, sought to roll back or weaken over 80 environmental regulations and punted on global environmental leadership.

“On the issue of environmental stewardship,” said Douglas Brinkley, a presidential historian, “Trump is seen around the world as a Darth Vader-like figure.”

But Monday afternoon, Mr. Trump delivered a speech billed as “America’s Environmental Leadership.” He was flanked by his two senior environmental officials — one a former lobbyist for the coal industry and the other a former oil lobbyist.

But the idea for the speech did not start with the president. It started with consultants on his re-election campaign who have discovered that his environmental record is a definite turnoff for two key demographics — millennials and suburban women, according to two people familiar with the plans.

In an administration that has often had a muddled approach to policy, both Mr. Trump’s allies and his enemies agree that in initiating the rollback of environmental rules he has clearly delivered on his campaign promises. In his speech, he trumpeted that rollback as part of what administration officials say is an economy-boosting approach to the environment that could appeal to at least some of the voters unhappy with his record.

In a phone call with reporters on Monday, Andrew Wheeler, the Environmental Protection Agency administrator, said that

“Air pollution has continued to decline under President Trump’s leadership. We continue to make progress on the water side.”

When asked whether Mr. Trump still believed that global warming was a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese and whether windmills cause cancer, as the president has said, Mr. Wheeler said that there were “positives and negatives” to all energy sources, and that administration officials were paying attention to this.

In his speech, Mr. Trump also lauded the fact that the United States’ greenhouse gas emissions have dropped about 10 percent in recent years. But that drop is largely due to market shifts leading to an increase in the use of natural gas, which produces about half the greenhouse gas pollution of coal. Under Mr. Trump’s policies, which are intended to promote the use of more polluting coal, those emissions are now expected to rise.

“These steps to support coal-based power in fact run in the opposite direction of the cause of climate change,” said Richard Newell, the president of Resources for the Future, a nonprofit, nonpartisan environmental research organization in Washington.

Westlake Legal Group us-air-pollution-trump-promo-1560953675555-articleLarge Trump Talks Up ‘America’s Environmental Leadership’ in Climate Speech Wheeler, Andrew R United States Politics and Government United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Trump, Donald J Luntz, Frank I Lobbying and Lobbyists Global Warming Environmental Protection Agency Brinkley, Douglas G

America’s Skies Have Gotten Clearer, but Millions Still Breathe Unhealthy Air

Air pollution has improved dramatically over the past four decades, in a large part because of federal regulations. But many areas of the country still have high levels of pollution, and climate change may make them worse.

“It is disingenuous to both celebrate the decline in U.S. CO2 emissions at the same time that one promotes the use of coal power,” he said. “You can’t have both.”

Mr. Trump’s most notable efforts to weaken environmental protections have been on climate change, which many environmental scientists and policy experts call the defining threat to humanity of the 21st century. Mr. Trump has publicly mocked the established science of human-caused climate change.

And he has proudly sold himself as a champion of the coal industry — even as emissions from burning coal remain one of the chief causes of global warming.

A senior White House official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity and had reviewed internal campaign polling, said that the numbers showed Mr. Trump was “never going to get” the type of voter who feels passionately about tackling climate change.

But, the official said, there were moderate voters who like the president’s economic policies who “just want to know that he’s being responsible” on environmental issues. And that is who the speech will be aimed at convincing.

Mr. Trump was joined by Mr. Wheeler, a former coal lobbyist, and David Bernhardt, the interior secretary and a former oil lobbyist, who has led the way in opening up the nation’s public lands and waters to more drilling.

Last month, in a move that represented the Trump administration’s most direct effort to date to protect the coal industry, the E.P.A. finalized its plan to replace former President Barack Obama’s stringent rule on coal pollution with a new rule that would keep plants open longer and significantly increase the nation’s emissions of planet-warming carbon dioxide pollution.

This summer, the E.P.A. is expected to finalize another plan that would replace Mr. Obama’s strict regulations on planet-warming tailpipe pollution, replacing them with a new rule that experts say is likely to function as a total repeal of the original regulation.

The incongruous message of environmental preservation is so starkly at odds with Mr. Trump’s own record, experts say, that the moment already smacks of the surreal.

“It is an utter farce for the president to talk about America’s environmental leadership, when he has been a champion of the polluters,” Mr. Brinkley said.

Frank Luntz, a Republican consultant and pollster, said he had presented Republican lawmakers with data in recent weeks that showed that the public — and particularly younger people — wanted to see action to safeguard the environment, but that the issue was seen as owned by Democrats.

“It is still not a top-five priority” among Republicans, Mr. Luntz said. “These guys, they really do care, but they don’t know how to get it done in this polarized environment.”

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

As Coal Fades in the U.S., Natural Gas Becomes the Climate Battleground

America’s coal-burning power plants are shutting down at a rapid pace, forcing electric utilities to face the next big climate question: Embrace natural gas, or shift aggressively to renewable energy?

Some large utilities, including Xcel Energy in the Upper Midwest, are now planning to sharply cut their coal and gas use in favor of clean and abundant wind and solar power, which have steadily fallen in cost. But in the Southeast and other regions, natural gas continues to dominate, because of its reliability and low prices driven by the fracking boom. Nationwide, energy companies plan to add at least 150 new gas plants and thousands of miles of pipelines in the years ahead.

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A rush to build gas-fired plants, even though they emit only half as much carbon pollution as coal, has the potential to lock in decades of new fossil-fuel use right as scientists say emissions need to fall drastically by midcentury to avert the worst impacts of global warming.

“Gas infrastructure that’s built today is going to be with us for 30 years,” said Daniel Cohan, an associate professor of civil and environmental engineering at Rice University.

“But if you look at scenarios that take climate change seriously, that say we need to get to net zero emissions by 2050,” he said, “that’s not going to be compatible with gas plants that don’t capture their carbon.”

In some states, policymakers are now pushing to leave gas behind to meet ambitious climate goals. Last week, New York lawmakers passed a sweeping energy bill that calls for the state to switch to entirely carbon-free electricity sources by 2040, following states like California and New Mexico that have passed similar laws.

Since 2005, most power companies have lowered their carbon dioxide emissions significantly, in large part by shifting from coal to gas. Coal plants have become uncompetitive with other kinds of energy generation in much of the country, despite the Trump administration’s efforts to save them by rolling back federal pollution regulations.

But in a recent analysis, David Pomerantz, the executive director of the Energy and Policy Institute, a pro-renewables group, looked at the long-term plans of the 22 biggest investor-owned utilities. Some in the Midwest are planning to speed up the rate at which they cut emissions between now and 2030. But other large utilities, like Duke Energy and American Electric Power, expect to reduce their carbon emissions at a slower pace over the next decade than they had over the previous decade.

“I really think gas is at the crux of it,” Mr. Pomerantz said. “You’ve got some utilities looking at gas and saying, ‘No thanks, we think there’s a cleaner and cheaper path.’ But then you’ve got others going all-in on gas.”

Last fall, in North and South Carolina, a pair of utilities owned by Duke Energy filed plans with state regulators to continue retiring coal plants and largely replace them with more than 9,500 megawatts of new natural gas capacity by 2033. The utilities also plan to add a smaller amount of solar capacity, about 3,600 megawatts, over the same time frame.

“Right now, gas is still the most cost-effective option for us,” said Kenneth Jennings, Duke’s director of renewable strategy and policy.

Westlake Legal Group how-electricity-generation-changed-in-your-state-promo-1545597148124-articleLarge As Coal Fades in the U.S., Natural Gas Becomes the Climate Battleground Xcel Energy Inc wind power Solar Energy Sierra Club PJM Interconnection natural gas Greenhouse Gas Emissions Global Warming environment Energy and Power Duke Energy Corporation Coal American Electric Power Co Inc Alternative and Renewable Energy

How Does Your State Make Electricity?

There’s been a major shift in how America makes electricity over the past two decades. Each state has its own story.

One challenge with using more solar power, he noted, is finding a way to supply electricity when the sun isn’t shining. Although Duke is installing some large lithium-ion batteries to store solar energy for less-sunny hours, the company says batteries still haven’t reached the point where they’re as cheap or effective as gas power, which can run at all hours.

Mr. Jennings also said that it can be tough to add wind power in the Carolinas, where the terrain is less favorable than the wide-open Midwest and lawmakers have limited the construction of new turbines on mountain ridges and near military bases along the coast.

Opponents of Duke’s plans, including environmental groups and local renewable energy producers, have urged state regulators to push the utility to reconsider. They have sharply disputed Duke’s analysis, arguing that the utility is downplaying the potential for solar, wind and batteries.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_154785057_5d6d2308-b381-4df2-9c79-c606b4319b1c-articleLarge As Coal Fades in the U.S., Natural Gas Becomes the Climate Battleground Xcel Energy Inc wind power Solar Energy Sierra Club PJM Interconnection natural gas Greenhouse Gas Emissions Global Warming environment Energy and Power Duke Energy Corporation Coal American Electric Power Co Inc Alternative and Renewable Energy

Tampa Electric’s Big Bend Station has four coal-fired units in Apollo Beach, Fla.CreditZack Wittman for The New York Times

A similar fight is unfolding in Florida, where the local Sierra Club is challenging a proposal by Tampa Electric to replace two older coal units with a large new natural gas plant. The Sierra Club’s pitch to the governor, who still has to approve the plan: Florida can’t afford to deepen its reliance on gas at a time when climate change and sea level rise are threatening the state’s coast.

For Tampa Electric, the choice is complex. The utility plans to get 7 percent of its power from solar by 2021, but says that until storage technologies improve, gas will form the backbone of its energy mix as it tries to meet energy needs in a fast-growing part of the state.

These disputes are popping up in states around the country. Over the last decade, groups like the Sierra Club have tried to persuade utilities and regulators that they could save money by retiring coal and shifting to a cleaner mix of gas and renewables. Now they’re running the same playbook against gas, arguing that the costs of wind, solar and batteries have declined so drastically that it’s time to stop building new gas plants, too.

So far, results have been mixed: Regulators in Arizona and Indiana have recently blocked plans for new gas plants, agreeing with opponents that utilities hadn’t fully considered alternatives and that large new gas projects could be a risky bet at a time when clean energy technology is improving fast.

But last year in Michigan, regulators approved DTE Energy’s plan to build a new $1 billion gas plant, rejecting analyses by outside groups that the utility could save ratepayers money by scrapping the plant and making greater use of wind, solar and energy efficiency.

Vast stretches of solar panels at Babcock Ranch’s solar farm in Florida in earlier this year.CreditZack Wittman for The New York Times

At the same time, some utilities are discovering on their own that it can make financial sense to take a more ambitious leap toward renewable energy.

Last year in Indiana, the Northern Indiana Public Service Company, or Nipsco, opened bidding to outside energy developers and found that adding a mix of wind, solar and batteries would be cheaper than building a new gas plant to replace its retiring coal units. (The company will keep its older gas plants online to fill in gaps when wind and solar aren’t available.) Doing so, the utility estimated, would reduce its emissions 90 percent below 2005 levels by 2030.

“We were surprised by that,” said Joe Hamrock, the chief executive of the company that owns the Nipsco. “Renewables in our particular situation were far more competitive than we realized.”

Mr. Hamrock noted that his utility had advantages that others might not have: Its territory sits near land that’s ripe for wind development, making it easier to build new turbines close by without the need for lots of costly new transmission lines. “The answer we got might look very different for someone just 100 miles away,” he said.

Indeed, things look very different nearby in the vast regional grid known as PJM that serves 65 million people from Ohio to New Jersey. There power plants compete in a largely deregulated market and companies are expected to build over 10,000 megawatts of new gas plants by 2024 to take advantage of cheap natural gas from the nearby fracking boom in Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

“The shale gas revolution has, frankly, caused a delay in the growth of renewables here,” said Stu Bresler, senior vice president for operations and markets at PJM Interconnection, which oversees the system. Wind and solar make up less than 6 percent of the region’s generating capacity, well below the national average.

State legislatures are also increasingly weighing in on which energy sources get built. To date, 29 states have enacted laws that require their utilities to get a certain fraction of their power from wind and solar.

Now, some states are going further. Over the past year, California, Colorado, Maine, Nevada, New Mexico, New York and Washington have all passed laws aimed at getting 100 percent of their electricity from carbon-free sources by midcentury, which would eventually mean phasing out conventional gas plants.

Yet even utilities that are already shifting more heavily into renewables say that it will be challenging to get rid of gas altogether.

Last year, Xcel Energy, which serves eight states including Colorado and Minnesota, said it would shut down all its remaining coal plants in the years ahead and push to go completely carbon-free by 2050, saying that renewable energy, helped in part by federal subsidies, had fallen so much in price that this was now the cheapest option.

While the utility thinks it can get 80 percent of the way to its emissions goals by 2030 with a mix of wind, solar, batteries and its existing nuclear plants, it will still rely on natural gas to provide the rest of its power and is building a new gas plant in Minnesota to balance out its supply.

Ben Fowke, the chief executive of Xcel, said that getting to 100 percent carbon-free power will likely require new technology that can supplant natural gas as a cost-effective backup fuel. Some possibilities include burning clean hydrogen instead of gas in power plants, developing techniques that enable carbon produced by gas plants to be captured and stored underground, advanced nuclear power or the invention of new energy storage techniques.

Perfecting that technology would likely require big new investments in research and support from policymakers, he said. “But I’m convinced we can get there.”

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

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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.

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AOC Claims an Explosion Was Cased By Climate Change, Leaves Everyone Confused

Westlake Legal Group alexandria-ocasio-cortez-surprise-SCREENSHOT-620x313 AOC Claims an Explosion Was Cased By Climate Change, Leaves Everyone Confused twitter stupid Refinery Politics Nonsensical Idiotic Global Warming Front Page Stories Front Page fossil fuels Featured Story explosion dumb democrats concentration camps Climate Change AOC Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

She never stops.

Concentration camp Twitter is still an ongoing thing as I write this, as brave media firefighters rush to tell us how she’s actually right despite being completely wrong. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez must always be defended at all costs and liberal orthodoxy routinely changes overnight to accommodate whatever she says.

This latest example is going to be really tough to massage though. But hey, they’ve surprised me before.

Westlake Legal Group 2zr8u6-1-620x416 AOC Claims an Explosion Was Cased By Climate Change, Leaves Everyone Confused twitter stupid Refinery Politics Nonsensical Idiotic Global Warming Front Page Stories Front Page fossil fuels Featured Story explosion dumb democrats concentration camps Climate Change AOC Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

What does an explosion at a refinery have to do with global warming? That’s the million dollar question and the answer is absolutely nothing.

But here’s a preview of the coming defense.

You see, AOC isn’t actually saying that climate change caused this explosion despite saying this proves climate change is an existential threat, which logically means she’s saying it caused explosion. No, she’s just saying that fossil fuels are flammable and can explode. Now connect that dot to fossil fuels releasing carbon. Carbon supposedly causes “climate change.” Thereby, if we didn’t use any fossil fuels, there’d be no explosion and no carbon being released into the air. Also, workers would be treated better by not having high paying jobs in the oil industry.

Boom, checkmate suckers.

That line of thinking is of course idiotic. Even if you live in some fantasy world where we go 100% renewable in regards to energy, fossil fuels are used for all kinds of other products we use in our everyday lives. Windmills and solar panels have no ability to replace them. There would still be drilling of oil, handling of it, and refining of it going on even without it being used as an energy source.

Further, the oil industry is heavily regulated with extremely strict safety standards. While accidents happen, it’s not a free for all leaving “working class people” slaving away in dangerous conditions at the behest of evil oil executives. Quite the opposite. The oil industry provides highly paid jobs to millions of Americans without higher education who might otherwise not have the opportunity to make anywhere near the money they are making.

But AOC wants to tear all that down because an oil refinery had an unrelated explosion. Also, climate change, social justice, yada, yada, yada, something. Sounds reasonable.

This is the new face of the Democratic party and it’s as disturbing as it is funny.

————————————————-

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California Wildfire Fund Would Put Aside $21 Billion for Damage Claims

With the effects of climate change intensifying, California is under ever-greater siege from wildfires, often caused by the equipment that brings power to homes. One of the state’s utilities is already in bankruptcy largely because of the resulting liability claims.

On Friday, Gov. Gavin Newsom laid out a proposal for helping to meet such claims while also helping to shield the utilities’ ratepayers and the companies themselves. The plan follows two years of the worst wildfires in California history, which killed dozens of people and destroyed the town of Paradise.

Mr. Newsom’s proposal calls for the creation of a $21 billion fund paid for by utility investors and ratepayers to help victims of the disasters. A commission would oversee the pool of money and would tie executive compensation at the state’s investor-owned utilities to safety.

“Climate change has created a new reality in the state of California,” Mr. Newsom, a Democrat, said in a statement. “It’s not question of ‘if’ wildfire will strike, but ‘when.’”

Under the governor’s plan, ratepayers would not have to pay for wildfire liability when investigators determined that the utilities were negligent.

The state’s largest utility, Pacific Gas & Electric, which filed for bankruptcy protection in January and faces tens of billions of dollars in liabilities related to the recent wildfires, could not benefit from the new fund until it exits bankruptcy.

Paul Moreno, a PG&E spokesman, said in a statement that the utility was “looking at all options when it comes to working with the governor and legislature” and was “committed to resolving wildfire victims’ claims fairly and expeditiously, mitigating wildfire risks, continuing to deliver safe and reliable energy to our customers, and supporting the state’s bold clean energy goals.”

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_149224425_ddeffa90-84bc-4955-ad68-d906a49fd53c-articleLarge California Wildfire Fund Would Put Aside $21 Billion for Damage Claims Wildfires Regulation and Deregulation of Industry Prices (Fares, Fees and Rates) Pacific Gas and Electric Co Newsom, Gavin Global Warming California Public Utilities Commission California

Pacific Gas & Electric workers in Paradise, Calif., in January. The town was destroyed by the Camp Fire, which state officials found was caused by PG&E’s power lines.CreditTalia Herman for The New York Times

Some critics said that Mr. Newsom’s plan could ultimately leave the financial burden on ratepayers.

The state’s three investor-owned utilities — the focus of the governor’s proposal — have separately asked regulators to increase the profit they are allowed to make on their normal business operations to help cover the cost of wildfires.

Utilities in the United States are typically allowed to earn a 10.5 percent return, but PG&E has asked that its roughly 12 percent return be increased to 16 percent. The state’s two other investor-owned utilities — Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas and Electric — are seeking returns of 14 to 15 percent. The combined requests would cost ratepayers $2.7 billion a year, according to the Utility Reform Network, a consumer-advocacy group that opposes the rate-increase requests.

“They’re going to move the goal posts and pretend that the shareholders are paying for it,” said Loretta Lynch, a former president of the California Public Utilities Commission, which regulates PG&E and the other investor-owned utilities. “It’s just so ugly.”

Mr. Newsom is navigating difficult political waters. While working to develop a plan that helps protect the state, he has also had to find ways to improve confidence among banks and other investors that California is solving the problems related to the kind of wildfire liability that put PG&E into bankruptcy.

All the while, he must show Californians that he is not simply bailing out utilities at the consumers’ expense. He has said he opposes an increase in the utilities profits overall.

Ms. Lynch’s argument is not lost on the administration, although blocking the utilities’ rate request is not currently part of Mr. Newsom’s proposal. His administration has not ruled out preventing an increase in the utilities’ profits.

For now, the governor’s proposal requires the utilities to spend $3 billion on safety improvements every three years. The improvements would include early warning and wildfire-detection systems and upgrades to utility equipment to harden the electric grid against fires. In addition to tying the compensation paid to utility executives to safety performance, the plan calls for the creation of safety committees on the companies’ boards.

The utilities could not earn a profit from the $3 billion in safety spending or on any other money related to Mr. Newsom’s plan. Half of the $21 billion wildfire fund would be covered by the utilities; the other half would be covered by ratepayers, whose portion would come from the state’s Department of Water Resources extending for 15 years bonds that ratepayers related the 2000 energy crisis.

The state would provide $2 billion to start the fund and would make a $7.5 billion upfront payment by the utilities.

Westlake Legal Group merlin_128591912_d9019b08-645c-4598-bfff-fac05b99b9a4-articleLarge California Wildfire Fund Would Put Aside $21 Billion for Damage Claims Wildfires Regulation and Deregulation of Industry Prices (Fares, Fees and Rates) Pacific Gas and Electric Co Newsom, Gavin Global Warming California Public Utilities Commission California

California Wildfires: How PG&E Ignored Risks in Favor of Profits

Pacific Gas & Electric, California’s largest utility, has been responsible for wildfires in recent years that destroyed hundreds of thousands of acres. Several proved fatal.

Wildfire victims and their advocates praised the plan but cautioned against allowing the utilities to collect additional profits through the regulatory process.

“I think this is a reasonable proposal as long as there are no monkey tricks at the P.U.C.,” said Jamie Court, president of Consumer Watchdog, a nonprofit consumer-advocacy organization, referring to the state’s Public Utilities Commission. “The trick is making sure the shareholders do pay.”

Patrick McCallum, co-chairman of the wildfire victims group Up From the Ashes, said the utilities must not only take part in the governor’s plan but must also ensure that those who suffered losses in previous fires received appropriate compensation from PG&E.

“The ball is squarely in PG&E’s court,” Mr. McCallum said. “Will they do the right thing and compensate 2017-18 wildfire victims for the losses we’ve suffered through no fault of our own?”

The governor’s plan would leave intact the contentious state law known as inverse condemnation, which holds utilities liable for wildfires caused by their equipment even if they are not determined to have been negligent.

PG&E announced this week that it had reached a $1 billion agreement to compensate 14 public entities for wildfire losses. The deal still requires court approval as part of the utility’s overall bankruptcy plan. PG&E has yet to reach agreement with homeowners like Mr. McCallum in the bankruptcy case.

The bankruptcy court approved PG&E’s request this month to create a $105 million wildfire victims’ assistance fund to help with housing costs for uninsured victims of the 2017 and 2018 wildfires and to help those whose insurance benefits had been exhausted from those two years.

In the past week, the governor has been consulting consumer advocates, utility representatives and state lawmakers about his plan. A bill with his proposal is expected to be presented to the Assembly next week. Mr. Newsom’s goal is to have a legislative package approved by July 12, before the official start of wildfire season.

Mr. Newsom’s bill follows measures drafted by lawmakers, so the governor and the legislators still must reach agreement.

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Newsom Offers Plan to Help Shield California Utilities From Wildfire Liability

With the effects of climate change intensifying, California is under ever-greater siege from wildfires, often caused by the equipment that brings power to homes. One of the state’s utilities is already in bankruptcy largely because of the resulting liability claims.

On Friday, Gov. Gavin Newsom laid out a proposal for helping to meet such claims while also helping to shield the utilities’ ratepayers and the companies themselves. The plan follows two years of the worst wildfires in California history, which killed dozens of people and destroyed the town of Paradise.

Mr. Newsom’s proposal calls for the creation of a $21 billion fund paid for by utility investors and ratepayers to help victims of the disasters. A commission would oversee the pool of money and would tie executive compensation at the state’s investor-owned utilities to safety.

“Climate change has created a new reality in the state of California,” Mr. Newsom, a Democrat, said in a statement. “It’s not question of ‘if’ wildfire will strike, but ‘when.’”

Under the governor’s plan, ratepayers would not have to pay for wildfire liability when investigators determined that the utilities were negligent.

The state’s largest utility, Pacific Gas & Electric, which filed for bankruptcy protection in January and faces tens of billions of dollars in liabilities related to the recent wildfires, could not benefit from the new fund until it exits bankruptcy.

Paul Moreno, a PG&E spokesman, said in a statement that the utility was “looking at all options when it comes to working with the governor and legislature” and was “committed to resolving wildfire victims’ claims fairly and expeditiously, mitigating wildfire risks, continuing to deliver safe and reliable energy to our customers, and supporting the state’s bold clean energy goals.”

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_149224425_ddeffa90-84bc-4955-ad68-d906a49fd53c-articleLarge Newsom Offers Plan to Help Shield California Utilities From Wildfire Liability Wildfires Regulation and Deregulation of Industry Prices (Fares, Fees and Rates) Pacific Gas and Electric Co Newsom, Gavin Global Warming California Public Utilities Commission California

Pacific Gas & Electric workers in Paradise, Calif., in January. The town was destroyed by the Camp Fire, which state officials found was caused by PG&E’s power lines.CreditTalia Herman for The New York Times

Some critics said that Mr. Newsom’s plan could ultimately leave the financial burden on ratepayers.

The state’s three investor-owned utilities — the focus of the governor’s proposal — have separately asked regulators to increase the profit they are allowed to make on their normal business operations to help cover the cost of wildfires.

Utilities in the United States are typically allowed to earn a 10.5 percent return, but PG&E has asked that its roughly 12 percent return be increased to 16 percent. The state’s two other investor-owned utilities — Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas and Electric — are seeking returns of 14 to 15 percent. The combined requests would cost ratepayers $2.7 billion a year, according to the Utility Reform Network, a consumer-advocacy group that opposes the rate-increase requests.

“They’re going to move the goal posts and pretend that the shareholders are paying for it,” said Loretta Lynch, a former president of the California Public Utilities Commission, which regulates PG&E and the other investor-owned utilities. “It’s just so ugly.”

Mr. Newsom is navigating difficult political waters. While working to develop a plan that helps protect the state, he has also had to find ways to improve confidence among banks and other investors that California is solving the problems related to the kind of wildfire liability that put PG&E into bankruptcy.

All the while, he must show Californians that he is not simply bailing out utilities at the consumers’ expense. He has said he opposes an increase in the utilities profits overall.

Ms. Lynch’s argument is not lost on the administration, although blocking the utilities’ rate request is not currently part of Mr. Newsom’s proposal. His administration has not ruled out preventing an increase in the utilities’ profits.

For now, the governor’s proposal requires the utilities to spend $3 billion on safety improvements every three years. The improvements would include early warning and wildfire-detection systems and upgrades to utility equipment to harden the electric grid against fires. In addition to tying the compensation paid to utility executives to safety performance, the plan calls for the creation of safety committees on the companies’ boards.

The utilities could not earn a profit from the $3 billion in safety spending or on any other money related to Mr. Newsom’s plan. Half of the $21 billion wildfire fund would be covered by the utilities; the other half would be covered by ratepayers, whose portion would come from the state’s Department of Water Resources extending for 15 years bonds that ratepayers related the 2000 energy crisis.

The state would provide $2 billion to start the fund and would make a $7.5 billion upfront payment by the utilities.

Westlake Legal Group merlin_128591912_d9019b08-645c-4598-bfff-fac05b99b9a4-articleLarge Newsom Offers Plan to Help Shield California Utilities From Wildfire Liability Wildfires Regulation and Deregulation of Industry Prices (Fares, Fees and Rates) Pacific Gas and Electric Co Newsom, Gavin Global Warming California Public Utilities Commission California

California Wildfires: How PG&E Ignored Risks in Favor of Profits

Pacific Gas & Electric, California’s largest utility, has been responsible for wildfires in recent years that destroyed hundreds of thousands of acres. Several proved fatal.

Wildfire victims and their advocates praised the plan but cautioned against allowing the utilities to collect additional profits through the regulatory process.

“I think this is a reasonable proposal as long as there are no monkey tricks at the P.U.C.,” said Jamie Court, president of Consumer Watchdog, a nonprofit consumer-advocacy organization, referring to the state’s Public Utilities Commission. “The trick is making sure the shareholders do pay.”

Patrick McCallum, co-chairman of the wildfire victims group Up From the Ashes, said the utilities must not only take part in the governor’s plan but must also ensure that those who suffered losses in previous fires received appropriate compensation from PG&E.

“The ball is squarely in PG&E’s court,” Mr. McCallum said. “Will they do the right thing and compensate 2017-18 wildfire victims for the losses we’ve suffered through no fault of our own?”

The governor’s plan would leave intact the contentious state law known as inverse condemnation, which holds utilities liable for wildfires caused by their equipment even if they are not determined to have been negligent.

PG&E announced this week that it had reached a $1 billion agreement to compensate 14 public entities for wildfire losses. The deal still requires court approval as part of the utility’s overall bankruptcy plan. PG&E has yet to reach agreement with homeowners like Mr. McCallum in the bankruptcy case.

The bankruptcy court approved PG&E’s request this month to create a $105 million wildfire victims’ assistance fund to help with housing costs for uninsured victims of the 2017 and 2018 wildfires and to help those whose insurance benefits had been exhausted from those two years.

In the past week, the governor has been consulting consumer advocates, utility representatives and state lawmakers about his plan. A bill with his proposal is expected to be presented to the Assembly next week. Mr. Newsom’s goal is to have a legislative package approved by July 12, before the official start of wildfire season.

Mr. Newsom’s bill follows measures drafted by lawmakers, so the governor and the legislators still must reach agreement.

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

Justin Trudeau Ramps Up Climate Rhetoric and Hopes We Don’t Notice They’re Not That Serious

Westlake Legal Group climatechange-620x310 Justin Trudeau Ramps Up Climate Rhetoric and Hopes We Don’t Notice They’re Not That Serious Straw ban martial law Justin Trudeau Global Warming Front Page Stories Featured Story fear emergency Climate Change Climate Canada

I am the child of hippies.

Personal marijuana plants, weekend campouts with the grown-ups playing guitars and dancing around the fire. Living off the grid, growing our own food, hitchhiking to town for groceries – I’ve done it all. I’ve got my hippie-kid bonafides and the emotional scars to prove it.

Just kidding on that last part. I actually remember all those people fondly.

However, what typically comes along with the hippie lifestyle is an obsession with the environment. Our whole lives centered around saving the earth from certain pending disaster. We didn’t buy fruit from oil-rich countries because of BIG OIL. We tried not to use brand products from BIG CORPORATE because of their production pollution. We grew our own vegetables (a fun thing) and composted (a not-so fun thing).

Every day was filled with small choices that could mean life and death for humanity. No aerosols came through our house because of the hole in the ozone layer. We didn’t even buy french fries from the local production facility (we lived in potato farming country) because their smokestacks polluted the air and would eventually lead to a sudden and painful obliteration of humanity due to acid rain. I can still see the cover of popular national news magazine on my mother’s dining room table, showing a dark and foreboding seaside storm raining debris and hell down on a quickly disappearing shoreline.

The seas would rise and overtake us all in 30 years if we didn’t do something now!

Ted Danson showed up in special tv ads to tell me that we had a mere 20 years to prevent the next ice age. I spent many a sleepless night staring up at the sky looking for any sign of the damnation that was set to descend at any moment.

Of course, all that destruction depended on whether or not we survived the coming nuclear holocaust. Obviously.

The world has been almost dead for 40 years and more. Why it just keeps not dying seems to be a question no one can – or wants to – discuss. It seems like there are a lot of people who have a lot invested in keeping us terrified. The irony of my mother’s aversion to BIG CORPORATE is that the environmental lobby has become exactly that. Environmentalism is a brand now and the advertising and rebranding campaigns come fast and furious these days.

I was alive when we just called all this ‘air pollution’ and I was still around when we switched that to global cooling and then that changed to global warming and global warming changed to climate change and now climate change has given way to climate instability. When people roll their eyes at the well-intentioned environmentalists out there this is why.

We should be good stewards of our planet and each other. That means being responsible in our consumption and in our commitment to being good neighbors. So much modern climate legislation is based around controlling the economy and access to progress. The rich never struggle to catch up. The legislation always rains down on the poor – like acid rain, eating away at their already meager income.

There is a way to discuss taking care of our earth without turning into authoritarian maniacs. Legislation isn’t the only (or even the right) answer to climate concerns. Neither is fear.

Canada is currently wading through yet another tidal wave of climate hysteria. Prime Minister Trudeau is dealing with a failing government, crushing debt and a hush-hush border crisis (at least on this side of the border) but he’s chosen to use this time in his nation’s history to ban plastic straws. As someone who has lived under the poverty line and still works as an advocate for such people I can say with confidence that no poor people are worried about their damn straws. They want work, a better commute, a nicer home, an education and more time with their family.

How do you get those people to care about your climate legislation that will cost them more of their hard-earned dollars? You make sure they know they might die at the hands of climate warming cooling change instability at any second.

It’s all irresponsible and cruel posturing.

When Trump first took office and the Literally HitlerWestlake Legal Group 2122 Justin Trudeau Ramps Up Climate Rhetoric and Hopes We Don’t Notice They’re Not That Serious Straw ban martial law Justin Trudeau Global Warming Front Page Stories Featured Story fear emergency Climate Change Climate Canada   talk began I heard a talk show host scolding those who were using the rhetoric. He said his father had fled Poland when the Nazis showed up, and that’s how he knew Trump wasn’t really Literally HitlerWestlake Legal Group 2122 Justin Trudeau Ramps Up Climate Rhetoric and Hopes We Don’t Notice They’re Not That Serious Straw ban martial law Justin Trudeau Global Warming Front Page Stories Featured Story fear emergency Climate Change Climate Canada   because when you’re faced with a terrifying evil like Hitler you run. You don’t tweet, and complain and knit vagina hats. You run for your life.

The United States and Canada continue to have people risking their lives to run here.

It’s the same with the climate debate. If we are 12 years from destruction (or 20 or 2 or 40 or whatever the arbitrary number of the day is) then it is incumbent upon our leaders to take drastic action. If we are now collectively Literally HitlerWestlake Legal Group 2122 Justin Trudeau Ramps Up Climate Rhetoric and Hopes We Don’t Notice They’re Not That Serious Straw ban martial law Justin Trudeau Global Warming Front Page Stories Featured Story fear emergency Climate Change Climate Canada   and we’re about to obliterate the planet, then politicians must act. Declare martial law, shut down transportation channels, end oil, lock the populations down.

Of course they don’t and never will, because the climate discussion has gone from an idea of well-intentioned hippies like my parents to a lucrative industry in which people willingly transfer their wealth to the government and to our political enemies abroad out of fear.

Is Canada about to die? Only until campaign season is over. Then it will just keep living until the next time it’s supposed to die and the politicians will just keep telling us how much more control they need to fix the problem. Either climate change catches up to us or we defeat it through all out war on humanity. Funny how neither ever happens. After all, politicians can’t keep lining their pockets if all the taxpayers have been legislated into POW camps until the earth heals.

Canadian politics is every bit as ugly as American politics, and despite their reputation for being the politest people on earth there are plenty of awful, lying creeps in Ottawa. They’re ramping up to election season and thus so is their rhetoric.

Climate change has become a weapon, and the result has been to weaken the earth’s case for care instead of strengthen it.

The Justin Trudeaus of the world will keep using their own plastic straws and flying their private 747s to remote vacation destinations and the rest of us will be left to look up at the sky at night and wait for it to fall…any second now.

 

 

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Westlake Legal Group AP_16220564458740-300x213 Justin Trudeau Ramps Up Climate Rhetoric and Hopes We Don’t Notice They’re Not That Serious Straw ban martial law Justin Trudeau Global Warming Front Page Stories Featured Story fear emergency Climate Change Climate Canada   Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com