Friday, June 06, 2014

June 6

Some will remember June 6 for D-Day, though with the last code talker dying last week, fewer and fewer.  Some will remember a speech Reagan made to commemorate D-Day.  I will always remember the end of a long night and the death of Robert F. Kennedy, shot by an assassin on primary election night in California in 1968, and the death of many dreams.

Monday, June 02, 2014

The Biggest Step for The Biggest Challenge

The first day of the rest of our lives--when the fight to confront the climate crisis is really and truly joined--saw many of the usual suspects saying the usual suspect things: the new EPA coal-fired power plant regulations announced today, with a goal of reducing emissions by 30% (and not the 20-25% predicted last week, the difference between a fifth and a third) got GOPers in a lather about economic costs, federal overreach etc.  Our eloquent House majority leader called them "nuts."

However the LA Times opined "The Obama administration's new effort to reduce carbon emissions from power plants is pragmatic, smart and overdue," and made the case for these specific regulations.

Countering the GOP economic argument, Tom Zeller at Bloomberg wrote that the rules "can boost the economy."  He also wrote in detail about past GOP and fossil fuel industry responding to pollution regs with catastrophic predictions that didn't come true, and noted that a Yale study published last week showed that 64% of respondents were in favor of greenhouse gas regulation on power plants, even if it meant higher bills.

A Washington Post piece notes a recent Pew poll which showed that climate crisis deniers are in the solid minority, isolated as Tea Party GOPers.  Even 61% of non-TP GOPers believe the evidence is strong.  The percentages are especially high among Dem voting groups: 73% of ages 18-29, 76% of nonwhites, 67% of college-educated whites believe the climate crisis is underway.

This could be why, as the Washington Examiner noticed, today's GOPer rhetoric didn't include denial of the climate crisis itself, or why the recent GOPer officeholder mantra has been "I am not a scientist" (as if any of them would be mistaken for one.) And why this Post Morning Plum piece suggests that while the impact on 2014 elections might be minimal one way or the other, the climate crisis will be an issue in 2016, and Dems will be raising it.

The new regs propose to leave many decisions on implementation to the states.  Some states depend less on coal than others, and some states--notably California and New York--have already started reducing emissions in response to the climate crisis (CA is on track to meet the new guidelines now.)

Some environmentalists are disappointed with the details.  But others are on board: "Marcia Bystryn, president of the New York League of Conservation Voters... said the plan would help the nation confront the climate change that many communities are already experiencing. “This is the biggest step we’ve ever taken for the biggest challenge we’ve ever faced,” she said. “The American people support these common-sense safeguards and are sick of the lie that pollution has to be the fuel of our economic engine.”

We actually see this … as the Super Bowl of climate politics,” said Peter Altman, director of the climate and clean air campaign for the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Bill McKibben said of the proposed regs in an email, "To me, most of all, they seem obvious, the kind of thing that should have happened many administrations ago, and that I’m glad are happening now."  He suggested that activists helped make them possible.

  "As we've built a climate movement together with our allies and all of you, politicians have finally begun to sense that they have some space to act, and some pressure to move into that space. If Beyond Coal and Mountain Justice Summer and countless other organizations and campaigns hadn’t made coal an easy target; if the Keystone and fossil fuel divestment campaigns hadn’t turned up the heat on climate change; if hundreds of thousands of you hadn’t marched and written and emailed, then today’s announcement would not have come."

Then there's the international effects. Today's Guardian story:  The regulations could lead to a sweeping transformation of America's energy economy, if they survive an onslaught from business and conservative groups, and Republicans in Congress. The rules could also break open negotiations for a global climate change deal, the United Nations climate chief, Christiana Figueres, said

Yesterday the Guardian quoted President Obama in his foreign policy speech at the West Point commencement last week: “I intend to make sure America is out front in a global framework to preserve our planet,” he said. “American influence is always stronger when we lead by example. We cannot exempt ourselves from the rules that apply to everyone else.”

Now there's action proposed to back up those words.  But it's just the beginning.

The Dreaming Up Daily Weekly Quote

“In a living society every day is a day of judgment; and its recognition as such is not the end of all things but the beginning of a real civilization.”
Bernard Shaw
   photo by Kowinski--click for entire view