Climate Capsule: EPA, Climate Protection Under Attack

This will be my last edition of the Capsule! I want to say thanks so much for reading for the past 11 months, and to keep looking to National Wildlife Federation and the Climate Capsule to keep you up-to-date on the most important news and views on climate and energy!  

Thanks for reading!  


This week’s stories:  

  1. Highlight of the Week: House Spending Bill Guts EPA
  2. Quote: NWF’s Joe Mendelson on the Continuing Resolution
  3. Economic Story of the Week: Study: Climate Change Risks Trillions in Investments
  4. Editorial of the Week: The Dirty Energy Party
  5. Climate Change May Cause “Massive Disruptions” to Global Food Supply
  6. Greenforce Initiative Summits in Virginia and Michigan a Success
  7. Happening this Week

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Highlight of the Week

House Spending Bill Guts EPA


The House budget is an unprecendented attack on the environment and public health. (Image courtesy of

The U.S. House of Representatives last week passed its “Continuing Resolution” (CR) to fund the federal government through the end of the fiscal year, by a vote of 235-189. Among its many severe attacks on the environment and public health, the bill slashes the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) budget by billions and hamstrings EPA’s’ ability to regulate carbon pollution under the Clean Air Act.

“In this budget charade, the target became polluter regulators, not polluter subsidies,” said Jeremy Symons, senior vice president of National Wildlife Federation. “This extreme and reckless bill amounts to the largest assault on America’s bi-partisan legacy of environmental and wildlife safeguards in history.”

The House budget, disguised as deficit reduction, was quickly shown to be a comprehensive attempt to reduce EPA’s comprehensive ability to tackle carbon pollution through heavy cuts to specific climate change programs.

National Wildlife Federation’s analysis of the budget has shown it would significantly weaken the Clean Water Act and Clean Air Act; slash investment in public lands, wildlife conservation, and clean energy; and ensure oil companies already raking in billions in annual profit will continue getting billions more in subsidies from taxpayers. 

National Wildlife Federation has compiled a complete breakdown of how corporate polluters are the big winners in the House CR.  

More on this story: Wildlife Promise, Politico, AP, Mother Jones, The Hill

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Joe Mendelson

“Last week, the House of Representatives completed work on a bill known as a H.R. 1, a Continuing Resolution (CR) designed to make sure the U.S. government stays open for business for the rest of the 2011 fiscal year. Instead of focusing on spending, however, the House engaged in a polluter feeding frenzy designed to gut and filet any semblance of action to address climate change and to update our air pollution standards…It is directly seeking to prevent the federal government’s ability to limit the carbon pollution belching unchecked from our nation’s coal fired power plants, oil refineries, and industrial smokestacks.”

Joe Mendelson, director of policy for National Wildlife Federation’s climate and energy program, in a post to Wildlife Promise on the spending bill which was passed by the House with no Democratic support.  

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Economic Story of the Week

Study: Climate Change Risks Trillions in Investments

A new study from global investment consultancy Mercer has found that without international action on climate change, institutional investors are at risk of losing trillions of dollars over the next 20 years.  The study calculated that climate change could make up as much as 10 percent of portfolio risk in the same time-frame.  

“Climate change brings fundamental implications for investment patterns, risks and rewards,” said Andrew Kirton, chief investment officer at Mercer. “Institutional investors should be factoring long-term considerations, such as climate change, into their strategic planning.” 

The report, Climate Change Scenarios – Implications for Strategic Asset Allocation, also found that climate change would open up more than $5 trillion in investment opportunities in low carbon pollution technologies by 2030. 

Meanwhile, the Investor Network on Climate Risk is reporting that a record number of (66) shareholder resolutions relating to climate and other environmental issues have been filed in the 2011 proxy season, credited to the significant impact on shareholder value that climate issues can have. 

More on this story: Reuters, Mercer Press Release, NYT  

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Editorial of the Week

The Dirty Energy Party

(The New York Times)

President Obama has decided that the failure of last year’s comprehensive climate bill does not have to mean the death of climate policy. Instead of imposing a mandatory cap and stiff price on carbon emissions, as the bill would have done, the president is offering a more modest approach involving sharply targeted and well-financed research into breakthrough technologies, cleaner fuels and more efficient cars and trucks. Yet even this retailored approach is sure to whip the Republicans into a fresh frenzy of opposition. They have already made clear their determination to cut off financing and otherwise undermine the Environmental Protection Agency, which plans to regulate carbon emissions from power plants and other industrial sources using its authority under the Clean Air Act. But basic scientific research? Energy efficiency? Cleaner fuels? The House Republican budget resolution gives the back of its hand to even these worthy and unobjectionable strategies, which until now have enjoyed reliable bipartisan support….(More…)  

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Climate Change May Cause “Massive Disruptions” to Global Food Supply

Climate change will create serious disruptions in the global food supply, yet another leading figure in the field has stated. Food prices are expected to jump which in turn translates to a spike in worldwide hunger. 

“The fact is that climate around the world is changing and that will cause massive disruptions,” said Sunny Verghese, chief executive officer at Olam, a leading global supplier of rice and cotton. 

A recent report from the International Food Policy Research Institute found that climate change will greatly exacerbate a steady rise in food prices this century, becoming a “threat multiplier” that could double certain food prices by 2050, lower crop yields, and leave millions more people malnourished around the world 

More on this story: Bloomberg, E&E (sub. req.)   

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Greenforce Initiative Summits in Virginia and Michigan a Success

Last week, National Wildlife Federation and Jobs for the Future’s Greenforce Initiative held summits in Virginia and Michigan. The initiative is a joint effort  to strengthen the capacity of community colleges to develop, enhance or refine green career pathway programs in six regions of the U.S.

In Michigan, 90 participants from more than 15 community colleges gathered to gain a better understanding of the state’s green jobs initiatives and showcase strong partnerships between community colleges and business/industry. In Virginia, economic development leaders, community colleges, and the chancellor of Virginia’s community college system convened to discuss the state’s emerging green economy.

For more on the Greenforce Summit in Virgina, click here.

For more on the Greenforce Summit in Michigan, click here

More on this story: Greenforce InitiativeWildlife Promise, Public News Service

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Happening this Week

Thursday, February 24

 Briefing: “Beyond Green Awards Program”, Two educational briefings featuring winning case studies from the 2010 Beyond Green High-Performance Building Awards, Sustainable Buildings Industry Council, 11:30AM-1:00PM, Rayburn B-369. RSVP: . 

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For more global warming news on Wildlife Promise click here.