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Arnold Schwarzenegger returns to Sacramento

He always said he’ll be back, and soon he will.

Former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger will be back in Sacramento next Monday, Sept. 8 to attend a symposium on global climate negotiations, co-hosted by the USC Schwarzenegger Institute; the California Air Resources Board; and the R20 Regions of Climate Action, a nonprofit that Schwarzenegger and global leaders founded in 2010 in cooperation with the United Nations.

The symposium at the California Environmental Protection Agency’s building will highlight “how California’s policies made the Golden State a global leader in the fight against climate change, the progress of California’s efforts,” according to a news release. CARB chairwoman Mary Nichols, will co-host, and Gov. Jerry Brown will give closing remarks.

After that, Brown and Schwarzenegger will head over the State Capitol’s rotunda, where they’ll celebrate the unveiling of Schwarzenegger’s official gubernatorial portrait.

What’ll that look like? I can’t wait to see. So many movie moments spring to mind, but from his tenure as governor, my favorite image of Schwarzengger remains this, from a speech he delivered in San Francisco in July 2006:

Schwarzenegger in San Francisco July 2006

Posted on Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014
Under: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Global warming | No Comments »

EPA proposal on coal power plants creates hot air

Opinions and rhetoric were breaking largely among the usual party lines Monday after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced its plan to cut carbon dioxide emissions from existing coal plants by nearly a third by 2030, compared with 2005 levels.

From House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio:

John Boehner“The president’s plan is nuts, there’s really no more succinct way to describe it. Americans are still asking ‘where are the jobs?’ and here he is proposing rules to ship jobs overseas for years to come. Americans are already paying more for everything and here he is condemning them to higher bills and lower incomes long after he leaves office.

“In many ways, this national energy tax is actually worse than the scheme Americans rejected four years ago. While the president may have kept his promise to make prices ‘skyrocket,’ it doesn’t have to be inevitable. The House has already passed legislation to prevent these rules from taking effect without the approval of the people’s representatives. The question now is: will Senate Democrats listen to the American people and stop this disaster or will they back the president all the way?”

From House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco:

Nancy Pelosi“Climate change is one of the most pressing dangers facing us today. This accelerating crisis threatens our coasts, our crops and our communities – and its damaging and destabilizing effects are already being felt across our nation and around the world.

“The destructive effect of unrestrained carbon pollution is felt not only in rising temperatures and increased, more powerful natural disasters, but also in higher asthma rates in our children. We already restrict mercury and arsenic pollution – it’s time we did the same for toxic carbon pollution. These new standards will strengthen public health, create new jobs, spur innovation and lower electricity rates.

“Like the Waxman-Markey American Clean Energy and Security Act, these actions by the Administration send a resounding message to the world that the United States is serious about dealing with climate change. The Clean Air Act is an appropriate, bipartisan approach to protect people from pollution, and today’s standards build on a foundation of decades of bipartisan laws, including the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, signed by President Bush.

“We have a moral obligation to act to preserve the beauty of God’s creation for future generations. With these flexible plans to cut carbon pollution, our nation is taking a bold and serious step towards securing a sustainable future for all of us.”

Lots more from familiar California and Bay Area figures, after the jump…
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Monday, June 2nd, 2014
Under: Anna Eshoo, Barbara Boxer, economy, energy, Environment, George Miller, Global warming, John Boehner, Kevin McCarthy, Mike Honda, Nancy Pelosi, Obama presidency, U.S. House, U.S. Senate | 8 Comments »

Steyer urges Brown to convene energy summit

San Francisco billionaire Tom Steyer has written a letter urging Gov. Jerry Brown to convene a “California Energy Summit” with the oil industry, clean energy companies, environmentalists and citizens to discuss things like a halt to fracking and levying an oil extraction tax.

The governor won’t commit.

“We haven’t received the letter yet, but the governor regularly speaks with Tom on climate change issues, as he does with a diverse group of academic, industry and environmental leaders,” Brown spokesman Evan Westrup said Thursday. “We look forward to continuing those discussions.”

Steyer – a former hedge-fund manager who has created NextGen Climate as a vehicle to influence the climate-change debate – wrote to Brown on Wednesday citing the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s 96-percent downgrade in its estimate of how much oil current technology can recover from the Monterey Shale.

“In a single but far-reaching action, the federal government has completely dispelled the economic illusion hanging over the ongoing debate over new oil exploration and extraction in the State of California,” Steyer wrote. “With this new report, the Monterey Shale mirage is gone. Now, it is time to hit the reset button, call Big Oil’s bluff and force them to the table in an effort to finally give Californians a Fair Shake.”

Steyer wrote that he knows Brown has “long acknowledged that climate change is a real threat to California and our world. As recently as this week, you rightfully stated that California is ‘the epicenter of climate change.’”

“California deserves a Fair Shake for our climate, for our economy and for our families,” he wrote. “Our state currently gives Big Oil a unique $2 billion tax subsidy that no other state in the country offers. This must stop.”

Steyer is championing a movement to enact an oil extraction tax; California is the nation’s only oil-producing state that doesn’t charge such a tax.

“And local California communities deserve a guarantee that Big Oil cannot rush to extract oil through fracking or other experimental drilling methods until oil companies have proved, beyond a reasonable doubt, that they have the toughest, safest and most rigorous safeguards in place to ensure that California’s local communities don’t suffer for the sake of Big Oil’s bottom line,” Steyer wrote.

Brown in May 2013 said “the fossil fuel deposits in California are incredible, the potential is extraordinary.” Environmental groups urged Brown to support a fracking moratorium, but the governor resisted. In September, he signed a law creating new fracking regulations, including a permitting process, notification of neighbors, public disclosure of chemicals used and groundwater- and air-quality monitoring.

State Sen. Holly Mitchell, D-Los Angeles, is carrying a moratorium bill now, but the Senate Appropriations Committee voted unanimously Monday to put SB 1132 into the suspense file – essentially putting it on indefinite hold. Mitchell issued a statement Thursday morning saying the new EIA report means “there’s no ocean of black gold that fracking is going to release tomorrow, leaving California awash in profits and jobs. We have the time, the need and, in SB 1132, the mandate to halt fracking while we determine if and how it can be done safely in California. Let’s pass the bill and halt fracking until due diligence can assure us it won’t put workers and residents in danger.”

Steyer concluded his letter to Brown by arguing the new facts “present an opportunity to hold an honest conversation about climate change and oil extraction in California.”

“Now is the time to act, and I urge you to convene stakeholders—from the oil industry and the clean energy, environmental and scientific communities, as well as local citizens — for an historic California Energy Summit to make sure that California gets a Fair Shake,” he wrote.

Posted on Thursday, May 22nd, 2014
Under: Environment, Global warming, Gov. Jerry Brown, Jerry Brown | 2 Comments »

Tom Steyer targets senate, gov races in 7 states

San Francisco billionaire Tom Steyer will focus his anti-climate-change political activism this year on races in Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Maine, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania, he announced Thursday.

Tom SteyerSteyer said his NextGen Climate organization will support candidates who have the courage to tackle climate change as a key issue.

“The debate on climate change is settled: it is here, it is human-caused, and it is already having a devastating impact on our communities, but we need to accelerate the level of political support to address this critical issue before it’s too late,” he said in a news reelase. “This means making politicians feel the heat—in their campaign coffers and at the polls.”

The release said NextGen Climate will “use climate as a wedge issue, both to motivate voter turnout with the rising electorate and to demonstrate that being anti-science will hurt our opponents among persuadable voters.” That will include criticizing policy positions that benefit fossil fuels and candidates who take money from the oil and coal industries.

So NextGen Climate intends to be active in:

  • Colorado, where U.S. Senate candidate Cory Gardner – “a science denier – has taken hundreds of thousands in donations from fossil fuel companies while voting for their interests;”
  • Florida, where incumbent Gov, Rick Scott “is a climate denier and has decimated efforts to ‘preserve environmentally sensitive land;’”
  • Iowa, where U.S. Senate candidate Joni Ernst “has ‘not seen proven proof ‘ that climate change ‘is entirely man-made’ and former energy CEO Mark Jacobs is ‘not convinced that man-made causes are causing’ climate change;”
  • Maine, where incumbent Gov. Paul LePage “denies that climate change is a threat, rather saying it offers Maine ‘a lot of opportunities;’”
  • Michigan, where U.S. Senate candidate Terry Lynn Land “has the support of the Koch Brothers who are spending millions on her race and have threatened the state’s water and air quality with their dirty energy stockpiles;”
  • New Hampshire, where U.S. Senate candidate Scott Brown “looks out for the Koch Brothers and his Big Oil buddies, taking their campaign dollars and voting to protect $24 billion in oil subsidies;” and
  • Pennsylvania, where Governor Tom Corbett “favors powerful corporate energy executives over Pennsylvania families.”
  • “Climate change will not be solved by easy answers or quick fixes, but the path forward is simple,” said Steyer. “Our country must have the courage to solve our climate crisis for the sake of the next generation.”

    Posted on Thursday, May 22nd, 2014
    Under: Environment, Global warming, U.S. Senate | 2 Comments »

    Huffman: Haiyan a climate change ‘wake-up call’

    Rep. Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael, took to the House floor today to say the world should hear Typhoon Haiyan – which devastated part of the Philippines this week – as a “wake-up call on climate change.”

    “Thank you Madam Speaker.

    “I rise today to once again speak about the issue of climate change, which is affecting every country, but as the World Bank has found, the impacts are not distributed equally. It is likely that the poorest nations on earth will be the hardest hit. The UN ranks the Philippines as the country that is third most vulnerable to the effects of climate change because of its geography, its poverty, and the state of its infrastructure.

    “As all of my colleagues know, one of the most powerful storms on record tore through Asia this past week and the Philippines in particular. In the wake of Typhoon Haiyan many thousands are dead and hundreds of thousands more are homeless and desperate for help.

    “As we learn more about the devastation there I ask my colleagues to pay careful attention to the words of Yeb Sano who is the head of the Philippines delegation to the United Nations climate talks.

    “He says, and I quote, ‘What my country is going through, as a result of this extreme climate event is madness. Typhoons such as Haiyan and its impacts represent a sobering reminder to the international community that we cannot afford to procrastinate on climate action.’

    “He’s right. The Philippines tragedy is the latest wake-up call on climate change, so let’s wake up. I yield back.”

    Posted on Thursday, November 14th, 2013
    Under: Global warming, Jared Huffman, U.S. House | 2 Comments »

    Fracking activists to protest Jerry Brown in SF

    Anti-fracking activists intend to protest as Gov. Jerry Brown visits the Bay Area this afternoon to sign a regional agreement to align government policy, combat climate change and promote clean energy.

    Brown is scheduled to be at Cisco-Meraki’s San Francisco headquarters at 4 p.m. to sign the pact with Washington Governor Jay Inslee, Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber and British Columbia environmental officials.

    But the Californians Against Fracking coalition – which includes members of more than 150 groups including MoveOn.org Civic Action, CREDO, Friends of the Earth, Food & Water Watch, Center for Biological Diversity, Center for Race, Poverty, and the Environment, and Environment California – say Brown’s support of fracking could undermine any progress the agreement would make.

    Brown last month signed into law SB 4 by state Sen. Fran Pavley, D-Calabasas, which creates the state’s first rules for hydraulic fracturing or acidation to extract oil and natural gas. Some environmentalists, including this coalition, argue that only a moratorium on these techniques will keep California safe from environmental harms and further the state’s clean-energy goals.

    The activists who’ll protest Brown’s appearance today say using fracking, acidization, and other unconventional extraction techniques to access 15 billion barrels of crude oil beneath California would produce nearly as much global warming pollution as the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, and set back the state’s progress on combating climate change.

    Posted on Monday, October 28th, 2013
    Under: energy, Environment, Global warming, Gov. Jerry Brown, Jerry Brown | 3 Comments »

    Google takes heat for Inhofe fundraiser

    Mountain View-based Google is taking some heat for hosting a fundraiser for a U.S. Senator who is an outspoken disbeliever in man-made climate change, despite the company’s green rhetoric.

    Google’s Washington, D.C., office will host a lunch Thursday, at $250 to $2,500 per plate, to benefit U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., just a month after Google chairman Eric Schmidt said those who deny climate change and global warming are liars.

    Climate-change activists plan to picket outside in order to “remind people of Google’s professed culture of ethics, environmental stewardship, and respect for scientific truth which help make Google products so popular,” according to a news release. “They’ll also remind people of Sen. Jim Inhofe’s long record of unethical environmental destruction and promotion of anti-scientific conspiracy theories on behalf of the likes of Koch Industries, his biggest corporate funder.”

    The protestors say they’ll deliver 10,000 signatures of people from across the nation calling on Google CEO Larry Page to end his company’s support for politicians like Inhofe.

    “We regularly host fundraisers for candidates, on both sides of the aisle, but that doesn’t mean we endorse all of their positions,” a Google spokesperson replied to my email Wednesday. “And while we disagree on climate change policy, we share an interest with Senator Inhofe in the employees and data center we have in Oklahoma.”

    Posted on Wednesday, July 10th, 2013
    Under: Global warming, U.S. Senate | 6 Comments »

    Take the California Carbon Challenge

    The same folks who brought you the California Budget Challenge – an online exercise that lets you try to set priorities and balance the state budget yourself – now want you to try your hand at balancing climate change with economic growth.

    California Carbon ChallengeThe California Carbon Challenge, by nonpartisan nonprofit Next 10, presents users with more than two-dozen strategies – from developing transit-oriented housing plans, to pay-as-you-drive insurance, to boosting energy efficiency in buildings. The simulator keeps track of the choices being made and their impacts via an interactive meter showing tons of carbon reduced and the costs or savings for those choices.

    California has enacted groundbreaking policies that require the state to reduce its carbon emissions to 1990 levels by the year 2020. The policy options included in Next 10’s Carbon Challenge fall into eight categories: vehicle technologies, driving costs, mass transit, alternatives to driving, green buildings, smart growth, government operations, and energy users and producers. Some of the choices – including time-of-day electricity pricing, or the requirement that state and local agencies use only Zero Emission Vehicles or plug-in hybrids – are not among the state policies being implemented at this time. Other options, like implementing a carbon trading market, are already underway in California.

    Site users see pro and con arguments about each policy choice, as well as information about who – individuals, businesses, or government – would bear the possible costs or benefits. Users can leave comments about their choices, find out what percentage of other site visitors chose the same options, and share their decisions on social media and with policymakers.

    “We created the California Carbon Challenge to show what the challenges and opportunities for reducing emissions are, and to also engage and inform people who are trying to better understand what these policies do,” Next 10 founder F. Noel Perry said in a news release. “However, we hope this resource can be a learning tool for people in other states and countries who are considering policies to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.”

    Posted on Thursday, May 30th, 2013
    Under: Global warming | 3 Comments »

    Al Gore to speak on climate change at Stanford

    Former Vice President Al Gore will speak on climate change and take questions from students at Stanford University next Tuesday, April 23.

    Al GoreGore, 65, now chairman of the Climate Reality Project, is giving the first Stephen H. Schneider Memorial Lecture, in honor of the Stanford professor and world-renowned climate scientist who died in 2010. The program at Memorial Auditorium is open to the public and will start at 7 p.m., but I think all of the free tickets already have been snapped up. Stanford students and postdoctoral fellows need only their Stanford identification card to be admitted.

    “Al Gore worked closely with Steve to sound the alarm about climate change, long before the average person understood there was a problem,” Terry Root, a senior fellow at the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment, said in a news release.

    The institute is sponsoring the event along with the Stanford Speakers Bureau and two student groups: Stanford in Government and Students for a Sustainable Stanford.

    Gore’s address will be titled “Peril and Opportunity: Solving the Climate Crisis and Reinvigorating Democracy.”

    Gore was a Tennessee congressman from 1976 through 1984, a U.S. Senator from 1985 to 1991 and vice president from 1993 to 2001. He now chairs the Climate Reality Project, a nonprofit devoted to solving the climate crisis, and is the author of “Earth in the Balance,” “An Inconvenient Truth,” “The Assault on Reason” and “Our Choice: A Plan to Solve the Climate Crisis,” as well as a new book titled “The Future: Six Drivers of Global Change.” He is the co-recipient, with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize for “informing the world of the dangers posed by climate change.”

    And no, he never claimed he “invented the Internet.”

    Schneider at the time of his death was the Melvin and Joan Lane Professor for Interdisciplinary Environmental Studies and a senior fellow at the Stanford Woods Institute. His most recent work centered on communicating the possible risks, vulnerabilities and impacts of climate change to ensure that leaders were sufficiently informed to apply smart risk management strategies in climate-policy decision making. He founded the interdisciplinary journal “Climatic Change” and continued to serve as its editor-in-chief until his death. He consulted with federal agencies and/or White House staff in every U.S. presidential administration since the Nixon era, and was an author of the first four assessment reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

    Posted on Monday, April 15th, 2013
    Under: Al Gore, Global warming | 10 Comments »

    Study: California can kiss its vineyards goodbye

    Awful as some of the climate-change predictions are, this one might hit a lot of Northern California residents where it hurts (assuming their homes aren’t gobbled up by the sea first): Global warming will dramatically impact many of the world’s most famous wine-producing regions, according to a new study.

    The first-ever worldwide analysis of climate change’s impact on wine production and conservation, appearing today in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, suggests wine production will shift to new areas as climate change makes the existing ones less hospitable.

    Researchers found the area suitable for wine production will shrink by as much as 73 percent by 2050 in certain parts of the globe – about 70 percent in Californa – with high potential for stress on rivers and other freshwater ecosystems as vineyards use water to cool grapes or irrigate to compensate for rising temperatures and declining rainfall.

    “Climate change is going to move potential wine-producing regions all over the map,” Lee Hannah, the study’s lead author and senior scientist for climate change biology at Conservation International’s new Betty and Gordon Moore Center for Ecosystem Science and Economics, said in a news release.

    “These global changes put the squeeze on wildlife and nature’s capacity to sustain human life in some surprising places,” Hannah said. “Consumer awareness, industry and conservation actions are all needed to help keep high quality wine flowing without unintended consequences for nature and the flows of goods and services it provides people. This is just the tip of the iceberg – the same will be true for many other crops.”

    The researchers looked at nine major wine producing areas: California, Western North America, Chile, Mediterranean Europe, Northern Europe, Cape Floristic region of South Africa, parts of Australia with Mediterranean climate, parts of Australia with non-Mediterranean climate and New Zealand.

    “Chile and California are areas with traditions of irrigation and high Freshwater Impact Index values, indicating that their freshwater habitats may be most at risk as a result of climate change impacts on vineyard water use,” the study found. “Adaptation strategies involving viticulture, vinification, marketing, land use planning, and water management can all help avoid conflicts with conservation objectives in areas of declining as well as expanding suitability.”

    Another key finding from the study is that new areas will become more productive, including parts of Western North America and Northern Europe. These places at higher latitudes and higher elevations will become increasingly suitable for wine making and sought after by vineyards as they search for the climatic conditions that are ideal for wine grape growing.

    According to the study, the greatest area of increasing wine production suitability is in the Rocky Mountains near the Canadian-U.S. border, putting at risk species such as the grizzly bear, gray wolf and pronghorn.

    “Climate change will set up competition for land between agricultural and wildlife – wine grapes are but one example,” said Rebecca Shaw, the study’s co-author and associate vice president for the Environmental Defense Fund’s Land, Water and Wildlife program. “This could have disastrous results for wildlife. Fortunately, there are pro-active solutions. We are creating incentive-based programs with private landowners to provide wildlife habitat as we expand our capacity to feed a growing planet in the future under a changing climate.”

    Posted on Monday, April 8th, 2013
    Under: economy, Global warming, water | 10 Comments »