“While the world’s scientists warn of the existential threat we face, these misguided political representatives seek to take America into a dark age of climate denial,” Brown said in a news release. “I will do everything in my power to fight this pernicious lawsuit.”
Power plants are the largest emitters of greenhouse gases among stationary sources in the United States, accounting for about a third of all emissions. The Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan sets greenhouse gas emissions guidelines for each state based on current levels of pollution; on average, it would help cut pollution from existing power plants nationwide approximately 32 percent below 2005 levels by 2030.
California already is primed to meet and exceed these new, national reduction targets, having committed to cutting emissions 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030 under an executive order Brown issued in April – the most ambitious target in North America and consistent with California’s existing commitment to reduce emissions 80 percent under 1990 levels by 2050.
Brown has been focused on subnational pacts – collaboration between cities, states and provinces around the world – to fight climate change, even as national governments seek a deal ahead of the United Nations Climate Change Conference next month in Paris.
A San Francisco attorney’s guerrilla campaign to succeed Barbara Boxer in the U.S. Senate rests upon a laser-like focus on combating climate change and a hefty dose of sarcastic humor.
“ISIS. Obamacare. Russia. The NSA. Wealth disparity. Immigration reform. Gun control. What do all of these hot issues for the 2016 election have in common? None of them matter because we’re all going to die,” says the home page at IWillNotDoNothing.com, the campaign website of Mikelis Beitiks, 32.
“Every forecast on climate change predicts severe consequences without dramatic measures. And yet, federal legislators do essentially nothing,” the Democrat wrote. “In light of this, I offer myself as a candidate for U.S. Senate. If elected, I vow to address global warming like a human being with basic reasoning and any sense of proportion.”
Here’s the basic pitch:
Beitiks on Tuesday published an open letter to Boxer (on letterhead emblazoned “From the Dining Room Table That Doubles as the Desk of Mike Beitiks”) thanking her for her service, particularly her work to combat climate change.
“In your 32 years on the Hill, you have undoubtedly formed bulletproof alliances, banked countless favors, and compiled mountains of insider knowledge. Imagine the possibilities if, to save future generations of Americans, you torch all of that in your final year of service,” he wrote. “Hear me out here – You don’t have to worry about re-election, and you never have to work with these people again. This is freedom that could change the world.”
Beitiks then proceeds to urge Boxer to “abandon courtesy, call in favors without mercy, blackmail – stuff like that” to force the Senate to approve the most ambitious climate treaty possible when President Obama goes to Paris in November for the United Nations Climate Conference.
“Then, filibuster all legislation that makes its way up into the Senate until concrete solutions on climate change are created in the house,” he wrote. “Sure, you’ll get roasted in the media for it, but so what? In 15 short months, you’ll be retired and off the grid – daiquiris, Grafton and sandy toes in Aruba, popsicle-blue surf shushing the stateside wonk jibber-jabber.”
“And, you know, I’m just spit-balling now, but the next time a fellow Senator says something untrue or unproductive about climate change, consider slugging him/her,” he continued. “Imagine how you’d change the national conversation with a well-placed right hook! Squaring up would be ideal, but a sucker-punch would work, particularly as a metaphor.”
Beitiks said Wednesday he’s a stay-at-home father of two who realized in January, when Attorney General Kamala Harris declared her candidacy to succeed Boxer, that she’s “a very qualified candidate and I’d be very excited if she got elected” yet she lacks a strong platform position on climate change.
Given that he has “a certain amount of unresolved anxiety” about the climate-change crisis, he said dryly, “It seemed like a reasonable avenue to offer myself as an idiot with a bulletproof premise … an act of political self-immolation.”
“I know a lot of people feel this strongly about it – that’s the response I’ve been getting to the campaign so far,” he added.
California Gov. Jerry Brown threw himself into the presidential debate fray Wednesday morning by pressing the Republican candidates to describe their plans to deal with the threat of climate change.
Brown wrote an open letter to the 17 candidates and also submitted his question using the “Debate Uploader” on the Fox News Facebook page, through which members of the public can send queries for Thursday’s debates in Cleveland.
“Longer fire seasons, extreme weather and severe droughts aren’t on the horizon, they’re all here – and here to stay. This is the new normal. The climate is changing,” Brown wrote in his letter. “Given the challenge and the stakes, my question for you is simple: What are you going to do about it? What is your plan to deal with the threat of climate change?”
“Continuing to question the science and hurl insults at ‘global warming hoaxers’ and ‘apostles of this pseudo-religion’ [ed. note: Rick Santorum’s words] won’t prevent severe damage to our health and economic well-being,” Brown continued. “Americans, their children and generations to come deserve – and demand – better.”
Brown then describes California’s plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and details efforts by Republicans – including former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger; former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg; and current presidential candidate and former New York Gov. George Pataki – who’ve dealt with the issue head-on.
“And lest you think this movement is limited to Democrats and only embraced within our borders, the conservatives in England, the moderates in Germany, and even the communists in China are on board,” he added. “As the fires continue to burn here in California, don’t wait for the smoke to clear. It’s time to act.”
Brown issued an executive order earlier this year to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in California 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030 – the most ambitious target in North America, and part of California’s existing commitment to reduce emissions 80 percent under 1990 levels by 2050. Last month, he attended a Vatican symposium on climate change and the Climate Summit of the Americas in Toronto, both as part of his work to build cooperation between cities, states and provinces on climate-change pacts.
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.”
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.
The debate over fracking is reaching a fever pitch in Sacramento, as activists urge a moratorium in the final weeks of this legislative session.
A coalition of more than 100 environmental, health and liberal groups on Wednesday released an open letter urging Gov. Jerry Brown to impose such a ban and blasting SB 4, a pending bill that would allow some fracking to go forward.
“This is a do-or-die moment in the fight against fracking in California,” CREDO political director Becky Bond said in a conference call with reporters, adding that although state Sen. Fran Pavley – SB 4’s author – has been a reliable ally to environmentalists in the past, “it’s appalling that this bill is the best the Legislature has to offer Californians.”
“We know that there’s no safe way to frack,” she said. “Anything less than a moratorium is reckless and unacceptable.”
But the only moratorium bill that has made it to a floor vote this year – AB 1323 by Assemblywoman Holly Mitchell, D-Culver City – was defeated in a 24-37 Assembly vote in May.
California must act now, Pavley said by email later Wednesday.
“Companies are fracking and acidizing wells in California now, and we can’t afford to wait for another attempt at a moratorium to take action,” she said. “Strict regulations are our best tool right now to protect the public and the environment and hold the industry and regulators accountable.”
Pavley’s bill would establish a regulatory program for hydraulic fracturing and acid-injection methods of extracting oil and gas, including a study, development of regulations, a permitting process, and public notification and disclosure.
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Yet opponents say SB 4 “does nothing to make fracking any less dangerous,” per Adam Scow, California campaigns director for Food & Water Watch.
Victoria Kaplan, a campaign director with MoveOn.org, told reporters that public opinion against fracking is building steadily in California. “The more people learn about fracking, the more they hate it – that’s what we’re seeing this summer.”
Kassie Siegel, director of the Center for Biological Diversity’s Climate Law Institute, said fracking not only “endangers the air we breathe and the water we drink,” but also would set back California’s efforts to roll back climate change. Not only does the fracking process release methane – a potent greenhouse gas – but burning the oil that it produces from the Monterey Shale will generate more than 6.5 billion tons of carbon dioxide, she said.