I have good news and bad news.


As utilities halted service to more than 2 million people this week, lines formed at hardware stores selling portable generators, while many hospitals and businesses fired up their own. The prospect of emissions belching from untold numbers of the machines, some powered by diesel and gasoline as well as propane and natural gas, was troubling in a state already burdened with some of the nation’s worst air quality.

“It is a major concern,” said Dr. Laki Tisopulos, executive officer of the Ventura County Air Pollution Control District. “Imagine if you are in a large metropolitan area like Los Angeles or the (San Francisco) Bay Area and you have hundreds or thousands of these engines kicking in. All of a sudden you have many localized sources of pollution that are spewing carcinogens right where we breathe. It can be next door to a school, a hospital.”

On the other hand, the situation is jumpstarting efforts to create “island able” micrograms, an important development for adoption of renewable energy and creating a more sustainable grid.

Microgrid Knowledge:

Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) may speed development of 40 microgrids to help customers maintain electricity when wildfire threats force it to deenergize portions of its grid.

The utility described its plans Friday in a four-hour emergency meeting called by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) in response to the October 9-12 shutoffs to 2 million customers (738,000 accounts).

“There is a definite need to move toward some form of microgrid sectionalization,” PG&E CEO William Johnson told the commission.

On windy days California utilities have been undertaking public safety power shutoffs (PSPS) — intentional electricity shutoffs — because several wildfires in the state have been linked to their equipment.

Customers have expressed anger in the press and at the commission meeting over the shutoff. San Jose is considering exiting from PG&E’s service to run its own utility that would focus on microgrids.

During Friday’s hearing, Sumeet Singh, vice president of PG&E’s Community Wildfire Safety Program, described plans to accelerate development of what the utility calls “resilience zones,” areas of the grid configured to act as microgrids with temporary, mobile generation. Eventually the utility may develop them into permanent microgrids, according to PG&E’s 2018 wildfire mitigation plan.

One zone is already operating in Angwin, a town in Napa County. The project taps into cogeneration at Pacific Union College and provides power for a fire station, gas station, apartment building and a plaza.

The utility had planned to develop 40 or more of the microgrid configurations over three years. “But we know we need to do better and we are in the process of re-evaluating our plans to identify what we can get done and how quickly we can get some of these things done in a safe manner.”

Singh said that the utility is prioritizing microgrids for sites that are susceptible to ignition and wildfire, experience high winds, and offer limited egress for the population.

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RUMSON, N.J. (Reuters) – On a rainy night in the basement lounge of a church, five people sat in a circle and nibbled on snacks as they talked about their personal struggles.

They had not come to discuss alcoholism, drug addiction or gambling. This was the first meeting of a 10-week peer support program designed to help people suffering from anxiety or depression about climate change.

“Part of what causes me the anxiety is that so few people recognize the problem,” said David Frette, a 52-year-old dog groomer and stay-at-home dad who came to the meeting in this seaside town after seeing a flyer. “When you have scientists saying we have 10 years to enact political measures, how do you think about saving for your daughter’s college fund?”

Dr. Kate Marvel on Twitter:

Nobody deserves climate change. It’s not happening because humans are fundamentally bad, or because someone, somewhere, is having fun. It’s happening because atmospheric CO2 levels have increased over 45% since the industrial revolution.

We did that. We can stop doing it. The atmosphere cares about chemistry, not guilt.

Reuters again:

A growing number of people in the United States, Australia, Canada and Britain are seeking out climate anxiety support groups as they come to terms with ominous scientific reports of global warming, according to support group leaders. Some psychologists say the trend indicates a growing need for mental healthcare specific to climate change.

In a 2018 report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, scientists estimated it may take as few as 11 years for Earth’s temperature to rise to an irreversible tipping point if global carbon emissions are not substantially cut.

“People feel isolated. Business as usual keeps going almost without any worry about what happens on the climate change front,” said LaUra Schmidt, co-founder of the climate anxiety support group network to which the New Jersey group belongs.

Schmidt and Aimee Lewis-Reau started the Good Grief Network in 2016 for people suffering from anxiety over climate change. Neither one is a psychologist, and they do not claim to provide counseling. The first peer support group met in a participant’s living room in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Since then, Schmidt and Lewis-Reau have honed their 10-step program in the model of Alcoholics Anonymous and are now focused on expanding the organization by training new facilitators.

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Here, Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) opines that sea level rise is being caused by rocks.

Rep. Brooks was one of the group of lawmakers that yesterday, invaded a top security SCIF chamber, turned on their cell phone, and ordered pizza.

CNN coverage below – you can skip to 2:00 minutes to see Rep. Brooks calm, reasoned demeanor.

Fast Company:

A band of Republicans with a theatrical bent have stormed the room where the House Intelligence Committee is holding its impeachment hearings. Questioning of Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Laura Cooper was halted and remains halted as Republicans, led by Florida representative Matt Gaetz, remain in the room eating pizza, according to CNN.

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House Democrats on Wednesday laid out evidence that the oil behemoth ExxonMobil had known since the 1970s about the potential for a climate crisis and intentionally sowed doubt about it. One of those testifying was Martin Hoffert, a scientist consultant for Exxon Research and Engineering in the 1980s. Responding to the New York congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Hoffert testified that in 1982, Exxon scientists predicted how carbon dioxide levels would rise and heat the planet as humans burned more fossil fuels  Exxon sowed doubt about climate crisis, House Democrats hear in testimony.



Climate Liability News:

In its opening arguments in the People of New York v. ExxonMobil, the New York attorney general’s office emphasized that the lawsuit hinges not on whether the oil giant properly calculated the risk that climate change poses to its business, but whether it was honest with the public and investors about those calculations.

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Houston Chronicle:

A new study from the University of Texas at Austin blames hydraulic fracturing for causing some earthquakes in the Permian Basin of West Texas, dispelling the widely held view that oilfield wastewater disposals wells were solely responsible for the man-made tremors.

In a study released Tuesday afternoon, scientists with the TexNet Seismic Monitoring Program at UT Austin reported that some earthquakes in Reeves, Pecos and Culberson counties may have been caused by fracking, the process of pumping water, sand and chemicals at high pressures deep underground to crack shale rock and unlock and oil natural gas.

Previous studies had blamed the earthquakes in oil-producing regions on disposal wells, into which wastewater from drilling, hydraulic fracturing and production activities is injected.

“The research done through this new study in West Texas, using a statistical approach to associate (earthquakes) with oil and gas operations, suggests that some (earthquakes are) more likely related to hydraulic fracturing than saltwater disposal,” Alexandros Savvaidis, a research scientist and manager of the TexNet Seismic Monitoring Program, said in a statement.

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Above, Attorney Lindene Patton discusses increasing vulnerability of major carbon polluters to liability lawsuits.

“The improvements in attribution science,.. have now created a level of certainty that is important in a court of law.”

The Agenda:

By 2013, roughly a decade after Heede began his search, he had his answer: Just 90 companies had contributed nearly two-thirds of the world’s industrial emissions. He could even pinpoint the share of those emissions for which companies existing today are responsible.

In effect, Heede had established a pillar of a new field of research, now known as attribution science. But it wasn’t just an academic exercise: It’s a weapon that climate campaigners are starting to wield to put fossil fuel companies on the hook for billions of dollars in damages. It’s a kind of end run around a political system they see as forced into gridlock by fossil fuel industry influence.

Heede and his collaborators are part of a paradigm shift in how to assign blame for climate change. For decades, as signs have grown that the planet is warming, the public and defenders of industry have laid the blame on end users, the ordinary people who drove their cars too much or blasted air conditioning in their homes. Those add up. But attribution science has the effect of moving the blame back one step, away from consumers and onto the companies that extracted the oil, coal and gas that have powered our planet for decades.

If blame can be attributed to corporations or governments, they believe, it can have two powerful effects: create a strong incentive for those companies to once and for all move away from fossil fuels, and unleash — through lawsuits — financial resources that could be used to seed new technologies and better prepare communities for the calamities climate change is expected to bring.

Attribution science is now about to receive a very real test in the courts, as cities, states and ordinary citizens across the world are using it to try to send fossil fuel companies the bill for climate change damage.

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The accident is still ongoing.

Media takeaway is generally about the “Should they release the water with minor Tritium contamination” story.

Real story is the economics of continued need to isolate and process water that keeps the still hot fuel from melting.  This is a long term commitment – remains t be seen if existing corporations or institutions are up to the task of such a long haul.

Cleanup will take decades, if not centuries.