Thursday, May 29, 2014

Global Warming As A National Security Threat. Obama's New Carbon Rules

Opponents find success attacking renewable-energy mandates. "As renewable energy production has surged in recent years, opponents of government policies that have helped spur its growth have pushed to roll back those incentives and mandates in state after state. On Wednesday, they claimed their first victory, when Ohio lawmakers voted to freeze the phasing-in of power that utilities must buy from renewable energy sources." Diane Cardwell in The New York Times.

Can the EPA rules survive a court challenge? "The EPA will set guidelines on greenhouse gas emissions and let the states use a variety of tools to reach them, including cap-and-trade regimes....All those arrangements will be grist for litigation, however, depending upon how the administration structures them....Section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act also gives the EPA authority to customize the rules for existing power plants, such as grandfathering older plants under the theory they will come to the end of their useful lives in too short a period to amortize the cost of expensive pollution controls. Each interpretation, however, could be grist for a lawsuit." Daniel Fisher in Forbes.

Cap-and-trade lives on in the states. "Many people in Washington think of cap and trade as a carbon-cutting strategy that died in the Senate four years ago. But in fact, it's alive and well in much of the country. Advocates say it's working. And it's poised to gain new life from the proposed greenhouse gas rule....Nine Northeastern states already take part in a regional trading network that puts an economic price on their power plants' carbon output, while California has a carbon trading system that is linked with Quebec....Those ranks could grow because of EPA's upcoming climate regulation, which is expected to give states wide latitude." Erica Martinson in Politico.

Chart: The global extent and growth of climate cap-and-trade. World Bank.

Maybe climate action should get even more local, Bloomberg says. "Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, in his new U.N. job, said Tuesday that cities hold the key to confronting climate change because they account for 75 percent of the heat-trapping gases and their mayors have executive powers to reduce emissions." Edith M. Lederer in the Associated Press.

These emissions cuts won't reverse our new CO2 milestone, though. "A new carbon dioxide milestone has been reached according to the World Meteorological Agency. Average carbon dioxide measurements at all monitoring stations in the northern hemisphere were above 400 parts per million for the month of April, the first time that's been recorded in human history." Brian Kahn in Climate Central.

Maybe that's not the point, though. "President Obama's foreign policy speech to West Point graduates Wednesday leveled a serious charge against Republicans who deny human-induced climate change: You're threatening national security. Check out the progression of the few climate sentences in Obama's wide-ranging remarks. He starts by telling the grads that battling global warming requires global cooperation. Then he says climate change is "a creeping national security crisis that will help shape your time in uniform.'...That security message sets up Obama's pitch for trying to reach a United Nations-brokered climate accord at a make-or-break 2015 meeting in Paris." Ben Geman in National Journal.

Background reading: Why society is failing to stop global warming, in one 90-second video. Puneet Kollipara in The Washington Post.

COHN: Why conservatives are missing the point. "You've probably heard conservatives say that limiting carbon emissions is pointless...or that it's going to be painful....But next're going to hear one more argument. You'll hear conservatives say that the effort is futile, because we produce only a portion of the world's greenhouse gases -- and the other big polluters aren't about to do anything about their share....Of course, President Obama and his supporters know this....Obama will have more credibility and leverage in future talks--making possible the kind of broad, long-term global treaty that will be necessary to avert the most severe consequences of climate change." Jonathan Cohn in The New Republic.

KRUGMAN: Cheap climate protection. "What the Chamber wanted to do was show that the economic impact of the regulations would be devastating....But a funny thing happened on the way to the diatribe. The Chamber evidently made a decision that it wanted to preserve credibility, so it outsourced the analysis. And while it tries to spin the results, what it actually found was that dramatic action on greenhouse gases would have surprisingly small economic costs." Paul Krugman in The New York Times.

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