Climate Capsule: The Dog Days Are Done?

This week’s stories:

  1. Highlight of the Week: Despite Flawed Review, Tar Sands Pipeline Receives Temporary Rubber Stamp
  2. Quote: Mitt Romney
  3. Economic Story of the Week: Cleantech Taking Off
  4. Editorial of the Week: Irene Strikes a Nation Seemingly Content to Worry Less About Climate Change
  5. CA Green Lights Cap & Trade
  6. Come on Irene
  7. Happening this Week

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Highlight of the Week

Despite Flawed Review, Tar Sands Pipeline Receives Temporary Rubber Stamp

Civil Disobedience protest at the White House via Chesapeakeclimate/flickr

The State Department, which is overseeing the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline permitting process, issued a final environmental impact statement (FEIS). The FEIS wraps up a highly controversial environmental review and starts the next stage of the permitting process referred to as the “national interest determination.” For opponents, the FEIS seems to confirm Secretary Clinton’s prejudgment of the result last year when the review was far from over.

NWF senior vice president Jim Lyon said,

“After two failed rounds of environmental review, this looks like strike three for the State Department. The document still fails to address the key concerns for landowners and wildlife. It is almost certain to be scrutinized in other venues, including a probable legal challenge. This only escalates the controversy in a process that is far from over.”

Protesters from across the country have been gathered daily in front of the White House in a major act of civil disobedience that has resulted in more than 380 arrests, as almost the entire environmental community condemns the FEIS and speaks up against dirty tar sands.

More on this: Washington Post, NWF Media Center

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via Gage Skidmore/Flickr

“I think it’s important for us to reduce our emissions of pollutants and greenhouse gases that may well be significant contributors to the climate change and global warming that you’re seeing.”

– Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

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Economic Story of the Week

Cleantech Taking Off

via Michael O’Leary

According to Climate Progress, despite a spate of rumors in the media to the contrary, clean energy is creating large numbers of high quality American jobs in emerging industries. ‘Cleantech’ has seen “torrid growth” from 2003 to 2010, 8.3% per year which is almost double the growth rate of the overall economy during that period.

The government’s investment in clean energy jobs through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) and programs like the Better Buildings Initiative have helped stimulate the hardest hit sectors of the economy, increase U.S. competitive advantage in new clean energy industries, and increased both the quality and quantity of clean energy jobs even in the recession. For a more detailed analysis, click here.

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Editorial of the Week

Irene Strikes a Nation Seemingly Content to Worry Less About Climate Change

(New York Times)

The last time a hurricane landed on the shores of the United States, Americans’ belief in climate change was at its peak and House Democrats would soon begin their march toward passage of climate legislation. When Irene boils onto the East Coast this weekend, she will find a nation with degraded belief in global warming, a defeated climate bill, and the absence of a federal plan to address an ominously rising number of natural catastrophes.

It’s time to use current weather events, like Irene, as an analogy for future climate effects, says Frank Nutter, president of the Reinsurance Association of America… “You have to start looking at these things as indicative of the very scenarios that the scientific community say are likely to play out — increased precipitation, more severe storms, probably greater storm surge with rising sea level,” Nutter said. (More…)

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CA Green Lights Cap & Trade

Power plant in Morro Bay, CA via kafka4prez/flickr

State air regulators in California have affirmed cap and trade as their policy of choice to reduce greenhouse emissions from industrial sectors under California’s global warming law, A.B. 32.

All of the board members who approved the original plan in 2008 upheld their previous votes, but four members voiced preference yesterday for tax on carbon pollution instead of the cap-and-trade regulations.

The regulations are due to be released in final form in the next week or so, followed by a final commenting period before their approval in October. Agency staff stated they are also considering adding three new ways to reduce emissions outside the cap in order to increase the supply of offsets, including reducing the use of nitrogen-based fertilizers, reducing rice straw decomposition and methane generation from flooded rice fields, and replacing valves on oil and gas pipelines with ones that release less methane, said Edie Chang, head of ARB’s climate planning and management department.

More on this story: LA Times

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Come on Irene

Irene aftermath in the Bronx, via Edwin Martinez1/Flickr

Though here inside the Beltway we got off comparatively easy, Hurricane Irene’s wrath could cause more damage along the Eastern Seaboard than any other storm in decades, begging the question of whether climate change may be increasing the strength of hurricanes (not to mention other extreme weather events.) Coincidentally, Irene’s landing coincided with the 6 year anniversary of Katrina’s touchdown in the Gulf and came just a few days after the 5.9 earthquake that shook the east coast.

While scientists are still wary of attributing any single extreme weather event to climate change, according to Massachusetts Institute of Technology expert Kerry Emanuel, “the evidence for a connection between Atlantic hurricanes and global climate change is fairly compelling.” Given the apparent increase in both frequency and strength of these events and their impacts on people and wildlife, we should at least start taking this evidence seriously.

More on this story: NY Times, Huffington Post, Wildlife Promise

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Happening this Week

Tuesday, August 30

Business and policy leaders gather in Las Vegas, NV to discuss the future of renewable energy, efficiency, transportation, and the intelligent grid. Speakers include: Vice-President Joe Biden; Energy Secretary Steven Chu; Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus; the Governors of California, Nevada and Washington; Federal Energy Regulatory Chairman John Wellinghoff; Nevada Senator Harry Reid; Center for American Progress President John Podesta, and more. Check out the live stream here.

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For more global warming news on Wildlife Promise click here.