Here in Massachusetts we consider ourselves leaders in the climate change movement. Notable among our many efforts on clean energy is the Global Warming Solutions Act (GWSA), started in 2008. One of the items in the GWSA is a mandate to get to a certain amount of clean energy by the year 2020. As part of that effort to get to the mandated amount of clean energy that we use in MA, an idea has come up to burn biomass—essentially wood—and put it into the “clean energy” category. According to an article in the Boston Globe, the Baker Administration is considering designating biomass for renewable energy and making biomass eligible for clean energy incentives, which is very controversial as you might imagine. The Baker Administration is saying that biomass is part of the so-called “combo platter” of energy that the state needs to rely on and that over time it should not increase carbon emissions. Climate hawks protest because burning biomass will create more pollution in the form of soot and also reduce the trees that are needed to absorb carbon dioxide. As D.R. says, looking at it from a 35,000 foot perspective, branding biomass to be renewable energy as though it is the equivalent of wind and solar reminds him of the famous Reagan initiative to brand ketchup as a vegetable. This is an opportunity to play semantics with what is considered “renewable” and “clean energy.”Read more
Amidst the environmental turmoil of the current administration, the Washington Post tells us we have three years left to act on climate before it is too late; in the meantime, the Supreme Judicial Court prepares to hear Exxon/Mobil’s appeal against Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey and Massachusetts utilities try to move us backward while Vermont moves forward on renewables. Tune in for more.Read more
Congressman Lamar Smith on the- wait for it- "often ignored and under-researched" benefits of climate change: The Climate Minute Podcast
Lamar Smith (R-Texas) and Exxon/Mobil receive the brunt of our climate ire this week, while Al Gore’s indefatigable optimism and his new movie An Inconvenient Sequel bring us hope.Read more
Our focus today is the HONEST act (a.k.a the disHONEST act) and Scott Pruitt – the invisible leader of the EPA. Guest host Regina McIntyre guided us through the climate news this week. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) introduced a bill called the Honest and Open New EPA Science Treatment (HONEST) Act. This is a misleading piece of legislation that has made its way through the House of Representatives and is now being considered in the Senate.Read more
This week we have three main topics: the CDP Worldwide (formerly the Carbon Disclosure Project) report that twenty-five fossil fuel companies are responsible for over half of the carbon pollution in the air since 1988; the actions that utilities are taking against renewable energy; and the 200th anniversary of the birth of Henry David Thoreau.Read more
This week we focus on a story in New York Magazine about the extremes of climate change and the media backlash to the article. Ironically, the story came out the same week as an ice sheet the size of Delaware calved off of Antarctica—a topic for another week!Read more
The G20 meeting this past week held discussions of the Paris Accord. The rapid arrival of attractive electric vehicles shows that markets are committed to clean energy, even if our orange furor is not. Listen in.
The courts have forced the EPA to follow the law. It said that a delay in enforcement of rules governing methane leaks was the same as a new rule. This means EPA must present real scientific data in order to change the Obama era rules. (Note to Scott- that may be harder than you think.) The court ruling has a lot of implications for other EPA plans.
The EPA also is considering holding public evaluations of climate science (“red team/blue team” in the current language.) Sunlight and public discussion is good, but the approach here seems to be to attempt to legitimize the tiny fraction of opinion that holds climate science as suspect. Beware the smoke and confusion!Read more