As long as it’s an actually emergency, might as well.

Legal Planet:

Republicans are apparently worried that if Trump could use emergency powers by declaring border security a national emergency, the next president could do the same thing for climate change. There’s no doubt that this would be far more legitimate than Trump’s wall effort.  Border crossings are much lower than they were ten years ago; he has said in the recent past that his prior efforts have vastly improved border security. In contrast, the Pentagon has classified climate change as a threat to national security, and Congress under Republican control has even endorsed this view. Furthermore, scientists have made it clear that we have a limited time to head-off a disastrous outcome.

With that in mind, I did some quick research to see what powers a President might have to take emergency action against climate change. This doesn’t mean I think it’s a good idea, either for Trump or for future President X. But if the courts uphold Trump’s use of emergency powers, some might well think that turnabout would be fair play.

One immediate possibility would be to use the same power that Trump is considering in order to divert military construction funds to other uses – in this case, perhaps building wind or solar farms or new transmission lines. But what else could President X do?

The Brennan Center has compiled a helpful list of almost 150 statutes giving the President special powers during emergencies. The list doesn’t map the outer perimeter of presidential powers – there are other laws that give Presidents powers to take action on the basis of national security, and the President also has some ill-defined, though not unlimited, powers to take action without explicit congressional authorization. But the list provides a good start.   Since this issue has come up so recently, I can’t claim to have researched the statutes on the list in any depth, but my “prospecting” effort was enough to identify some promising areas for further exploration.

Here are some of the possibilities:

Read the rest of this entry »



John Shimkus in 2009.

Below, John Shimkus today.
Proving that evolution is real, but maybe not “intelligent design”.

Rep. Fred Upton, R-MI, Rep. John Shimkus, R-Ill, Rep. Greg Walden, R-OR, in RealClearPolicy:

Climate change is real, and as Republican Leaders of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, we are focused on solutions. A serious, solutions-oriented discussion about how to address this challenge, while protecting the interests of the American people, our communities, and our country’s economic well-being is fundamental to getting this right.

America’s approach for tackling climate change should be built upon the principles of innovation, conservation, and adaptation. Republicans have long championed realistic, innovative, and free-market strategies to promote a cleaner environment and to reduce emissions. The results are clear: The United States is leading the world in reducing greenhouse gas emissions thanks to vibrant energy sector competition and innovation. In 2017, U.S. carbon emissions were the lowest they’ve been since 1992. Despite a slight increase in emissions in 2018, mostly due to the positive development of increased American manufacturing, analysts project U.S. emissions will remain flat in upcoming years at roughly 13 percent lower than 2005 levels.

We must address climate change in ways that focus on American prosperity and technological capabilities while maintaining America’s leadership in clean and renewable energy innovation.  By doubling down on innovation, we can supply the world with new tools to combat emissions.

We should continue to encourage innovation and renewable energy development. We should promote carbon capture and utilization, renewable hydropower, and safe nuclear power, which is emissions-free. We should also look to remove barriers to energy storage and commercial batteries to help make renewable sources more viable and our electricity grid more resilient. And we must encourage more research and business investments in new clean energy technologies.  These are bipartisan solutions we must seize on to deliver real results for the American people.


In the real world, Walden, Upton, and Shimkus have all repeatedly voted against amendments recognizing that climate change is real and have taken money from the leading funders of climate denial, the petrochemical and fossil fuel billionaire Koch brothers. Read the rest of this entry »



The Green New Deal resolution introduced last week by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) states that fighting climate change requires “a new national, social, industrial, and economic mobilization on a scale not seen since World War II.”

The world’s leading climate scientists agree. In 2015, for instance, they called for a sweeping mobilization — “a radical transition (deep decarbonization now and going forward),” as they described it — to avoid catastrophic impacts of climate change. And last October, the world’s nations unanimously agreed with our top scientists that preserving a livable climate requires “system changes” across the economy that “are unprecedented in terms of scale.”

Judging by their initial reactions to the Green New Deal resolution, President Donald Trump, Republican leaders, and other longtime opponents of climate action seem to have decided that the best way to block such an economy-wide mobilization is to try to paint it as “socialism.” On Friday, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) went so far as to claim the Green New Deal begins with “socialism” but “ends with the Gestapo.” Major media outlets, like Axios, have already begun parroting the GOP line of attack.

But the Green New Deal’s mobilization isn’t socialism any more than America’s remarkable undertaking to win WWII.

Yes, the WWII effort was massive and sustained and impacted every facet of American life — from energy, transportation, and manufacturing to infrastructure and agriculture. But that did not require “socialism.” In fact, under President Franklin D. Roosevelt, “labor, business, government, education, and the military” all worked together “by democratic collaboration” to mobilize America for the war effort, as Lt. Col. Thomas Morgan explained in a 1994 article in the journal Army History.

Climate change action requires a similarly massive and sustained marshaling of resources across every sector of the economy, regardless of the fact that the president doesn’t understand either the science or the urgency. And just like the WWII effort, it will not require socialism.


I posted a clip from my interview with Mike Mann over the weekend, in regard to the “methane bomb” madness – Mike agrees with mainstream science that this particular doomsday scenario is overblown – a lot of folks mad at me on the twitter machine.

But it’s not like this is a new idea.  Gavin Schmidt holds Jim Hansen’s old job at NASA – and it’s Gavin’s objections that gelled the issue for me several years ago.
Nutshell: there have been warm periods in the recent past, long ones – where the methane hydrates did not come out, so it’s a high bar to prove they will be forced out under current conditions.  For example, the last interglacial, known as the Eemian, about 120,000 years ago – got warm enough to raise sea levels 15 or 20 feet above todays (now, that’s a problem..) – but no “methane bomb”.

NBC News (2015):

A scientific controversy has erupted over claims that methane trapped beneath the Arctic Ocean could suddenly escape, releasing huge quantities of methane, a greenhouse gas, in coming decades, with a huge cost to the global economy.

The issue being debated is this: Could the Arctic seafloor really expel 50 billion tons of methane in the next few decades? In a commentary published in the journal Nature on Wednesday, researchers predicted that the rapid shrinking of Arctic sea icewould warm the Arctic Ocean, thawing permafrost beneath the East Siberian Sea and releasing methane gas trapped in the sediments. The big methane belch would come with a $60 trillion price tag, due to intensified global warming from the added methane in the atmosphere, the authors said.

But climate scientists and experts on methane hydrates, the compound that contains the methane, quickly shot down the methane-release scenario.

“The paper says that their scenario is ‘likely.’ I strongly disagree,” said Gavin Schmidt, a climate scientist at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York.

An unlikely scenario
One line of evidence Schmidt cites comes from ice core records, which include two warm Arctic periods that occurred 8,000 and 125,000 years ago, he said. There is strong evidence that summer sea ice was reduced during these periods, and so the methane-release mechanism (reduced sea ice causes sea floor warming and hydrate melting) could have happened then, too. But there’s no methane pulse in ice cores from either warm period, Schmidt said. “It might be a small thing that we can’t detect, but if it was large enough to have a big climate impact, we would see it,” Schmidt told LiveScience.

David Archer, a climate scientist at the University of Chicago, said no one has yet proposed a mechanism to quickly release large quantities of methane gas from seafloor sediments into the atmosphere. “It has to be released within a few years to have much impact on climate, but the mechanisms for release operate on time scales of centuries and longer,” Archer said in an email interview.

Methane has a lifetime of about 10 years in the atmosphere before it starts breaking down into other compounds. [What are Greenhouse Gases?]

Jason Samenow in the Washington Post (2013):

And, here’s the kicker: Nature, the same organization which published Wednesday’s commentary, published a scientific review of methane hydrates and climate change by Carolyn Ruppel in 2011 which suggests the scenario in said commentary is virtually impossible. The review states:

Catastrophic, widespread dissociation of methane gas hydrates will not be triggered by continued climate warming at contemporary rates (0.2ºC per decade; IPCC 2007) over timescales of a few hundred years. Most of Earth’s gas hydrates occur at low saturations and in sediments at such great depths below the seafloor or onshore permafrost that they will barely be affected by warming over even [1,000] yr.

Read the rest of this entry »

Tale of Two Ohio Counties

February 10, 2019

Above, the Weather Channel’s Kait Parker did an investigation of anti-wind activists in Ohio.

Below, update on how anti-winders have succeeded in degrading the credit rating of at least one county.

Checks and Balances Project:

This is a tale of two Ohio counties. While Van Wert County ended all wind energy development last year, Paulding, located to its north, embraced it. The results are that Paulding County taxpayers are benefiting from increased county tax revenue, stronger public schools and a boost in its bond rating to Aa3 from A1 by the international agency Moody’s Investor Service.

What’s the Significance of a Higher Bond Rating?

“It’ll save the county money,” Jerry Zielke, Paulding County’s economic development director told us. “It will help our community to build new projects. Our water and sewage district can refinance its debt. It’s critical to future infrastructure investments.”
The $700 million in wind development since 2013 has been a financial windfall for Paulding, generating $2.47 million in tax revenue last year from three existing wind farms, according to Zielke.


The new Northwest Ohio Wind Farm that came online in 2018 providing electricity to all of General Motor’s Ohio and Indiana manufacturing plants, and two other wind farms that have been approved, are expected to add $2.5 million or more annually in tax income.That totals nearly $5 million per year in wind tax revenue.

“Do you know how much development we’d need to have here to equal that amount of revenue?” Zielke declared. “It doesn’t make us wealthy, but it gets us out of the hole.”

A major beneficiary of the income is Wayne Trace High School in Haviland, Ohio with nearly $1 million of new funding because of the turbines.

Van Wert County Stands Still

It’s not that Van Wert County, stuck with a lower Moody’s rating of A1, has no wind development. The 152-turbine Blue Creek Wind Farm spreads across the border of the two counties with 115 in Van Wert County. Blue Creek generates more than $2 million in tax revenue for Van Wert County — a greater amount than any other development project.

But last year, Van Wert County decided to go no further.

The May 2018 Republican primary election for Van Wert County Supervisor became a referendum of whether or not a candidate was for or against further wind development. The pro-wind candidate lost. The local Times-Bulletin newspaper reported that “when wind originally made its way to Van Wert,” winning candidate, Thad Lichtensteiger, “was totally on board, but as he began talking to his constituents, he developed a different view of the topic.”

An Echo Chamber of “Concerned Citizens”

There is an echo chamber of anti-wind groups in Ohio that are tied together by Save Our Skyline, a repository of anonymous blog posts and disinformation, owned by an anonymous group of supposedly “concerned citizens from Ohio.”

Read the rest of this entry »

“The Dodo” is one of my not-so-guilty twitter habits.

We going to spend the rest of our lives rescuing victims of climate change.
Better get good at it.