Dan Kammen made headlines this week in resigning his post as as science envoy for the US State Department, in protest of administration anti-science policies that “threatens life on this planet”.

Dr. Kammen is one of the experts I interviewed in San Francisco last December, and I’ll be including more of his remarks in my upcoming video “The Path Post Paris”.

Scientific American:

An energy researcher at the University of California, Berkeley, resigned his post as a science envoy for the US Department of State on 21 August, citing US President Donald Trump’s “attacks on the core values of the United States”.

In a resignation letter addressed to Trump, scientist Daniel Kammen joined political leaders from both major parties who have criticized Trump’s equivocal response to violent demonstrations by white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia, on 12 August. Kammen also criticized the Trump administration’s “destructive” policies on energy and the environment, which he said have affected his work as a science envoy. Such policies include the president’s decision to pull the United States out of the 2015 Paris climate pact.

“Your presence in the White House harms the United States domestically and abroad and threatens life on this planet,” wrote Kammen, whose term as an envoy was set to end next month. The first letter of each paragraph in his letter appears to be an acrostic that spells out the word “impeach”.

Former president Barack Obama created the science envoy programme in 2010 to boost outreach and partnerships with predominantly Muslim countries. The effort, which is run by the state department, has since expanded to cover more countries. Kammen is one of 18 scientists who have participated in the envoy programme; his work in Africa and the Middle East has focused on national security, jobs and sustainable energy.

The White House did not immediately respond to requests for comment. A state department official confirmed that Kammen was one of three active science envoys and said the department is in the process of appointing more. The department declined to comment on Kammen’s resignation letter.

 

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Ignorant, anti-science, homophobe, early, loyal Trump supporter – what’s not to like?

Those republican Senators, including Senator Flake and Corker, who have expressed doubts about Trump’s leadership, have a perfect opportunity here to show they aren’t bullshitters. Turn this nominee down.

Politico:

But other than the fact Clovis is not a scientist, nothing about his background and work on the campaign and transition has gotten as much attention as his skepticism about climate change, in part because the division he would oversee conducts all manner of climate science research — from studying how to reduce the carbon footprint of food production to coming up with ways for farmers to adapt to more severe weather patterns.

When he was running for Senate in 2014, Clovis did an interview with Iowa Public Radio, during which the hosts pointed out that 97 percent of climate scientists agree that rising temperatures are “very likely due to human activities.”

“Do you believe the science?” the hosts asked.

“I am extremely skeptical,” he said without skipping a beat. “I have looked at the science and I have enough of a science background to know when I’m being boofed.

And a lot of the science is junk science.“It’s not proven,” he continued. “I don’t think there’s any substantive information available to me that doesn’t raise as many questions as it does answers. So I’m a skeptic.”

The Hill:

President Trump’s pick to be chief scientist for the Department of Agriculture (USDA) previously suggested former President Obama wanted to “enslave” his opponents and seemed “happy” after the 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya. Read the rest of this entry »

People like Donald Trump, and Vladimir Putin, for that matter,  have a tough time getting it that in a nation of laws – it is not enough for a potentate to simply declare that an illegal, unnecessary, expensive thing be done.
You have to work your way thru a legal and administrative framework that has, in the case of environmental law, been built up over, now, many decades, with generations of legal precedent undergirding it.

Unwinding that is going to take time. Time, that the current administration, it is increasingly clear, may not have.

Keith Schneider, above, is a long time New York Times correspondent, now a writer for the NGO Circle of Blue on the nexus of water and energy. He is one of the most well informed and well spoken observers in the field, and a key resource for my upcoming vid on the way forward Post-Paris.

The Hill:

An appeals court on Tuesday rejected the federal government’s approval of a natural gas pipeline project in the southeastern U.S., citing concerns about its impact on climate change.

In a 2-1 ruling, the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit found that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) did not properly analyze the climate impact from burning the natural gas that the project would deliver to power plants.

The ruling is significant because it adds to environmentalists’ arguments that analyses under the National Environmental Policy Act — the law governing all environmental reviews of federal decisions — must consider climate change and greenhouse gas emissions.

The case concerns the Southeast Market Pipelines Project, which is meant to bring gas to Florida to fuel existing and planned power plants.

The Sierra Club sued FERC following its 2016 approval of the project. The environmental group brought a series of objections to the project and its environmental review, but the court denied all of the objections except the one focused on greenhouse gas.

The environmental impact statement for the project “should have either given a quantitative estimate of the downstream greenhouse emissions that will result from burning the natural gas that the pipelines will transport or explained more specifically why it could not have done so,” Judge Thomas Griffith, who was nominated to the court by President George W. Bush, wrote in the opinion. He was joined by Judge Judith Ann Wilson Rogers, one of President Bill Clinton‘s nominees.

“As we have noted, greenhouse-gas emissions are an indirect effect of authorizing this project, which FERC could reasonably foresee, and which the agency has legal authority to mitigate,” Griffith said.

 

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I was not aware this existed. Rivals the original.

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Charleston Gazzette-Mail (West Virginia):

Trump administration officials have told the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine to halt a review of the increased public health risks faced by Appalachian residents who live near mountaintop removal coal-mining sites, the academies revealed in a statement issued Monday.

Word of the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement order was disclosed by the academies just hours before the scientific panel conducting the study was scheduled to hear from coalfield residents at a public meeting Monday evening in Hazard, Kentucky, and then hold two days of business meetings in Lexington.

Academies spokesman William Kearney said in a statement that the OSM told the academies in a letter Friday to “cease all work” on the mountaintop removal study. The letter indicated that Interior had begun “an agency-wide review” of grants and cooperative agreements in excess of $100,000, “largely as a result of the Department’s changing budget situation,” the academies said.
“The National Academies believes this is an important study and we stand ready to resume it as soon as the Department of the Interior review is completed,” the statement from Kearney said.

Last year, the OSM committed to providing more than $1 million for the study, in response to growing pressure from citizen groups and requests from the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection and the state Bureau for Public Health in understanding studies by experts at West Virginia University and other institutions that found increased risks of birth defects, cancer, other illnesses and premature death among residents living near mountaintop removal sites in Southern West Virginia and Eastern Kentucky.

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solar_eclipse

San Diego Union-Tribune:

The sun may have gone into eclipse mode Monday but the California electric grid did not.

Power system officials across the state reported no major reliability issues, even though solar power took a dramatic dip as the moon obscured a large portion of the sun Monday morning.

That provided a real challenge for California grid operators, given that Monday marked the first eclipse seen throughout the contiguous United States since 1979, when solar power represented just a blip on the nation’s energy landscape.

The California Independent System Operator oversees the operation of about 80 percent of the state’s electric power system, transmission lines and electricity market and the CAISO control room was ground zero Monday to see how the power system would react.

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Adjustment will be a pretty simple matter that most people will not notice.

Reuters:

HOUSTON (Reuters) – As Monday’s total solar eclipse sweeps from Oregon to South Carolina, U.S. electric power and grid operators will be glued to their monitoring systems in what for them represents the biggest test of the renewable energy era.

Utilities and grid operators have been planning for the event for years, calculating the timing and drop in output from solar, running simulations of the potential impact on demand, and lining up standby power sources. It promises a critical test of their ability to manage a sizeable swing in renewable power.

Solar energy now accounts for more than 42,600 megawatts (MW), about 5 percent of the U.S.’s peak demand, up from 5 MW in 2000, according to the North American Electric Reliability Council (NERC), a group formed to improve the nation’s power system in the wake of a 1964 blackout. When the next eclipse comes to the United States in 2024, solar will account for 14 percent of the nation’s power, estimates NERC.

For utilities and solar farms, the eclipse represents an opportunity to see how well prepared their systems are to respond to rapid swings in an era where variable energy sources such as solar and wind are climbing in scale and importance.

Power companies view Monday’s event as a “test bed” on how power systems can manage a major change in supply, said John Moura, director of reliability assessment and system analysis at the North American Electric Reliability Corp.

    “It has been tested before, just not at this magnitude,” adds Steven Greenlee, a spokesman for the California Independent System Operator (CISO), which controls routing power in the nation’s most populous state.

CISO estimates that at the peak of the eclipse, the state’s normal solar output of about 8,800 MW will be reduced to 3,100 MW and then surge to more than 9,000 MW when the sun returns.

    CISO’s preparation includes studying how German utilities dealt with a 2015 eclipse in that country. Its review prompted the grid overseer to add an additional 200 MW to its normal 250 MW power reserves.

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