PROGRESS AND MORE COMING WITH YOUR HELP
The Inflation Reduction Act is starting to have a major positive effect on how companies and families prepare to invest for lowering carbon emissions.
"Outside groups estimate the Inflation Reduction Act’s clean energy and climate provisions have created more than 170,000 clean energy jobs already, companies have announced over $110 billion in clean energy manufacturing investments in the last year alone, the law is delivering billions of dollars to protect communities from the impacts of climate change, and millions of seniors are saving money because their insulin is capped at $35 per month." Link
The Growing Climate Solutions Act supported by CCL was also passed in late 2022 to improve establishment and standardization of carbon credits for farmers and forest managers.
The next major efforts where we need breakthroughs are in permitting reform, a carbon border adjustment, and carbon sequestration research:
For the Inflation Reduction Act to have its full impact, we desperately need new interstate electric transmission lines so that carbon free electricity can be sent where it is needed at any given time. For us in California that means getting access to wind energy from Wyoming and other states. NEPA and other federal approval procedures have been stalling vital projects of all kinds. Fortunately there is bipartisan support in Congress for permitting reform. CCL is working behind the scenes with members of Congress on this right now. Watch for action notices in our Yolo CCL communications when we need your support in calling and emailing Congress.
Carbon border adjustments are also vital to equalize carbon pricing and other climate measures in international trade. We need to strongly incentivize large rapidly increasing emitters like China and India to replace coal fired power plants with clean energy. The EU is leading on this, but the US is in a good position to join the effort. The Prove-It Act is a good start in this area.
One more area of interest was highlighted by our Yolo CCL April 2023 event featuring Dr. Peter Fiekowsky's presentation on ocean carbon sequestration enhancement. Some of the technology featured could be very effective at pulling large amounts of carbon out of the atmosphere. Check out the OIF Alliance here. We need to pass legislation to support more substantial research on this as soon as possible.
Your help in reaching out to Congress is needed and appreciated.
"Pure, Unadulterated, Hogwash"
September 2023 Update from Bipartisan Climate Action, whose mission is to provide campaign support for candidates of both parties who work together across the aisle to reduce greenhouse gas emissions
"Pure unadulterated hogwash" To quote my favorite climate blogger James Hansen passing a rare unscientific opinion on leaders at the United Nations COP meetings who leave the impression that progress is being made that we can still limit global warming to as little as 1.5°C.
Amongst many the advantages and challenges faced by the energy transition is the possibility of low carbon energy security and an eye watering export opportunity ranging from renewables to nuclear energy. Those that recognize the imperative and inevitability of this transition will reap a significant economic reward, a story repeatedly played in our country's history and a fact worth keeping in mind as we watch the forthcoming fight over the IRA. Regardless of what is said and reported there are very few Members of Congress who will not use the investment offered by the IRA.
To date, the political contribution to reducing GHG emissions can be characterized by a prolonged period of inaction followed by a giant single package of incentives that ducks the hard work of actually steering our country through this transition with an incremental and thoughtful strategy. Ultimately we have ended up borrowing vast sums of money from future tax revenues to stimulate a shift in our industrial policy. The potential repeal of all or some of the IRA was baked into its creation as it lacked bipartisan support but the terrible irony is that many of those that can best leverage the investment could not vote for it nor can they be seen to use the funds to help their constituents.
Renewable energy projects are attracted to states with cheap land and un-unionized workforces which is why nearly ¾ of the investment to date has been in the rural GOP heartland. As lawmakers return, we are faced with the spectacle of both fighting the last war over the IRA while preparing for the next challenge on permitting and transmission reform at the same time. As if climate change were not complex enough, we seem determined to make it as difficult as possible by pulling our politicians in two directions at once.
As the show begins next week and punditry abounds you can expect a lot of noise and deliberate confusion as many of our politicians dance on the head of pin attempting to use the IRA money, claiming credit for whatever investment it brings to their district, and at the same time distancing themselves from the source of that investment. This was totally avoidable and we could and should now be arguing about the next challenge like permit reform and having a serious discussion about transmission but that's the nature of representative government, its expense and slow and occasionally prone to bouts of utter hogwash.
On the Slate
It's summer recess so no activity inside the beltway. What I can tell you is that of those I keep track of on our slate most have been working on fact finding trips, constituent work, committee work, intelligence briefings, science visits and some well earned sleep. The members we support work hard, contrary to the prevailing narrative about politicians.
Working on climate change requires self generated optimism but it also helps to look for small things that will have a major impact. That the USDA’s Commodity Credit Corporation received over a thousand applications to test green agriculture production methods demonstrates that individual farmers both understand what is happening and how to play a role in addressing it. The seismic change here is not more money from the Federal coffers going to farmers but the trust and recognition that they may actually know best what works and want to test it out and prove it. This change in approach has been long in the making, decades, and if it works has the potential to fundamentally change the relationship between those who produce our food and our politicians, for the better.
As always, I encourage you to forward this email to anyone who may be interested in supporting our work or our members, and of course feel free to reach out to me anytime.
All the best,
Ian Harrison I President
Bipartisan Climate Action
WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE? - What a difference a month makes!
Revised September 2022
I had just written about the challenges in getting action on climate given the other issues in the news space and seemingly out of the blue - Joe Manchin reappears on the scene. While the Inflation Reduction Act is not the optimal bipartisan revenue-neutral carbon price that has been our preferred solution, the Inflation Reduction Act is a strong step forward. CCL actively supported the Inflation Reduction Act because of its projected effectiveness and reasonably balanced fiscal approach.
Problem solved, right? Wrong. It's only a good first step. Most important now is the passage of broad border carbon adjustment legislation so that huge emitters like China and rapidly increasing emitters such as India either enact policies equally as effective as those in the EU and US or face tough new trade tariffs. Developing countries must not be given a pass for three reasons -
There is no precedent in environmental or natural resource law for allowing an overburdened resource to be further degraded by new users while existing users are being cut back.
The carbon border adjustment must apply to ALL nations to be effective.
3. Encouraging countries to continue to develop with fossil fuels will only leave them stuck with technology that will soon be obsolete and put them further behind developed nations.
A properly structured broad border carbon adjustment will also likely favor a carbon price over other measures because of the straightforwardness of calculations and comparisons. This leaves the door open for a carbon price in the U.S. to address carbon emissions from the parts of the economy that are not incentivized by the Inflation Reduction Act.
CCL is working behind the scenes to help bring effective border carbon adjustment legislation forward, hopefully in early 2023. CCL also intends to keep working on a revenue-neutral carbon price.
Other legislation can also be passed in the near term that will provide building blocks for comprehensive legislation like revenue neutral carbon pricing. Legislation with some bipartisan support includes:
The Growing Climate Solutions Act to greatly improve establishment and standardization of carbon credits for farmers and forest managers.
The Forest Act to discourage illegal logging and deforestation worldwide
The RISEE Act to protect coastal infrastructure and ecosystems from climate change and rising seas
Legislation to streamline the Federal environmental permitting process for infrastructure projects to support carbon emissions reduction.
See additional discussion of supporting legislation at CCL National's web site here.
We will be discussing these and other legislation in upcoming meetings and working on approaches for generating additional support for these measures.
CCL Yolo County also has the challenge of congressional redistricting. Congressman John Garamendi, who has been a great ally for CCL, will be seeking election in a new district that does not include Yolo County. Instead, the incumbent for new District 4 is Mike Thompson. We will need a new strategy to work with Congressman Thompson or whoever is elected to represent the new District 4.
Membership is also a new challenge for us. Several of our key members have moved to other areas, and without in-person meetings for a long time it has been difficult to recruit new volunteers who can provide the same level of action.
Things are closer to getting back to normal. We plan to have an IN-PERSON celebration/moving forward event at the Friends Meeting House in Davis in October. Along with our core fee and dividend legislation, we have several other very important legislative actions to lobby for. We are looking forward to getting together with our current members and new interested people from Yolo County who would like to help move effective climate legislation forward.
New study: CFD much better for economy, households than regulations
Time for Truth-telling
“We have been thinking that there is no such thing as an objective truth, that we create our own truths, or the culture or those in power create truth for us. We have been putting quotation marks around “reality,” assuming that it is infinitely pliable to our will, whether through technology or through our self-identifications and mental constructions. But the coronavirus is an objective reality breaking in on us that is not a social or personal “construction.”
We have been used to feeling in control. We have felt secure. We have felt free to do whatever we want. Not any more.”
----“The Postmodern Epidemic,” by blogger Gene Veith https://www.patheos.com/blogs/geneveith/2020/03/the-postmodern-epidemic/?utm_source=Newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Best+of+Patheos&utm_content=57
Covid-19 has disrupted daily life, across the nation and across the globe. Events move so quickly we can hardly keep up. The media, covering almost no other news, sends us a constant, usually negative, barrage.
But, as many have said, sheltering in place puts the brakes on our usually rushed lives and can allow us time to read and think about things we might otherwise not have time for. We realize what we value, our health, the safety of our loved ones, our future together.
Amid the seriousness of our current predicament we must remember that the height of the danger will pass. Outside predictions are for a year or two. This may seem like an eternity now when we are feeling cabin fever after being homebound for a week, but in the scheme of things it is a droplet in time.
We will develop treatments and vaccines and our economy will recover. We will mourn our dead, but life will go on. This is not true for climate change. Its disruption will last for centuries if not forever.
Now is the time to put the pandemic into perspective by looking at how we can prevent this even greater catastrophe.
Clearly there are major differences between corona virus and climate change:
· Covid -19 was upon us in weeks. Climate change is appearing slowly, over decades, making it easier to ignore, procrastinate and deny.
· Given enough time, the danger from the virus will decrease. Climate change will get more severe the longer we avoid responding to it.
· In a worst case scenario, deaths from covid-19 might number in the millions. Death from climate change might be in the hundred millions as earth’s living areas and food-producing capacity diminishes.
If “nothing focuses the mind like a hanging in the morning,” maybe we can use this health crisis to focus our minds on this greater, upcoming crisis.
The corona virus has already taught us lessons we can apply to our fight against climate change. We can no longer deny that:
· We need to pay attention to science rather than distraction, denial, or wishful thinking.
· Catastrophic change in the natural world can and does occur. Nature does not always nurture. When it turns its power against us, we can be overwhelmed.
· Such change can wreck havoc on our economy and drastically change daily life in ways we never imagined possible.
· Nature’s power is beyond any individual’s ability to withstand. To protect ourselves and those we love, must act as a community.
· When some are risk, all are in danger. Nature may first show its power in hot spots in foreign lands, but unless we respond in timely ways, all will be affected.
· Some problems are so big that federal action is essential. Cities and states cannot handle it by themselves, and international cooperation is necessary.
· If some sectors are slow to act, everyone must do what they can with the choices they have the power to make. We must be pro-active rather than reactive.
· Everyone needs the basics: health, housing, food, clean water, and clothing. Access to these essentials is necessary in times of distress if we are not only to have a viable economy but to prevent chaos and violence.
· In extreme times, we must guard our food supply. That means protecting our agricultural land, growers, farm workers, transport people, and grocery store employees
And very importantly, we have learned that time is crucial. We need to prepare for climate change before the need is obvious. We need to initiate prevention activities before they seem necessary. It is better to over-react than to under prepare.
Covid-19 proves the government can act quickly when our elected leaders and the general public recognize a crisis. Suddenly we have bipartisanship. This shows we can act quickly on climate legislation as well. Fortunately, a bill is ready.
Several climate-related bills have been introduced in Congress attacking specific aspects of the problem. The one with the most support is House bill HR731, the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act (EICDA).
Choosing one specific plan is not to suggest this is the only thing we can do, or the only thing we need to do, or the only thing that will work. But it is a plan ready for implementation . It is focused, transparent, fair—small enough to actually implement; large enough to make a noticeable difference.
The EICDA puts a price on the carbon dioxide content of fossil fuel starting at $15 per ton and rising $10 per ton each year. Coal, which releases the most CO2 on combustion would pay the heaviest fee while cleaner natural gas would pay less. Although clean fossil fuel would have an advantage initially, its cost too would rise over time and discourage its use.
It exempts fuels used by agriculture and the armed forces.
Revenue from the carbon fee is returned to US citizens in equal amounts. Payments to low income households, which typically use less energy, would represent a larger change in income compared to high income households.
Eighty percent of families would receive monthly checks equal to or larger than the increased amount they would spend because of increased energy prices. For most middle income homes it would be a wash. Those with large incomes who choose a high-energy lifestyle with jet travel, large homes and low-mileage vehicles would pay a small percentage more for energy than they receive in dividends.
The biggest impact would be on business and industry. They can pass part of their increased expenses on to their customers. But to remain competitive, they will need to reduce energy costs. This will push the entire economy away from CO2-producing fuels.
The change will be predictable, allowing both households and companies to plan ahead. It will promote substantial change but not a jolt to the market. As the conversion is implemented, dividends will gradually decrease as cheaper clean energy becomes standardized.
The mechanism for sending checks to households is already in place through the IRS and could be quickly implemented. As treasury secretary Steve Mnuchin said recently, the government could get checks to people “in a couple of weeks.” If the dividend were wrapped into other government payments such as Social Security, veterans’ benefits and SNAP cards, costs of distribution would be very low.
In reality, placing a fee on fossil fuel as it enters the economic stream is simply asking oil, coal, and gas producers to pay the full cost of production.
Burning fossil fuel is not only bringing on climate change, refineries foul the air we breathe leading to respiratory disease and increased cancer. Fracking pollutes our drinking and irrigation water. Risks posed by oil trains and pipelines endanger the land and cities they pass through, including nearby Davis.
Would you allow us to spew our sewage and garbage into the street and expect you to clean up after us? Such is the power of Big Oil that not only have we been putting up with their waste, we pay them billions each year to continue the practice. This bill ends subsidies to fossil fuel.
Liberals might object that low income households should get a higher proportion of the income. There are two counter arguments.
First, if everyone gets a regular check, everyone feels a personal benefit from the program and supports its continuation. Because of the lobbying strength of the fossil fuel industry, it will need a broad base of support similar to that of Social Security.
Second, basing the dividend on income levels would give rise to arguments that the dividend is a welfare program making it vulnerable to future cuts and diversion of funds into other government programs. The goal here is to impact business and consumer behavior by putting a price on carbon; not to influence tax policy. That's for others to debate.
This change is not without cost. The carbon fee would be passed on to consumers, so prices would rise. Everything made using fossil fuel would become more expensive. Energy to heat and light our homes and businesses, energy to run our cars, and the factories that make and transport everything we buy. Every advanced economy runs on energy.
Economists agree that the best way to reduce the use of something is to raise its price. As the carbon fee raises the price of fossil fuel, alternative clean fuels become more attractive. Their development and price reductions through scaling up reduce their prices . Models suggest that in only 12 years, CO2 emissions from fossil fuel would be reduced by 40%.
Rep. John Garamendi, who has a strong history of support for environmental legislation, has not yet signed on as a co-sponsor of this bill. He needs to do so. Perhaps messages from constituents idled by the corona virus would encourage him to act.
Governor Newsom predicts we could have a 56% infection rate in eight weeks from the corona virus. If we had implemented massive national testing when it first appeared, we could more likely have managed it until we develop a vaccine. Schools might be open, jobs saved.
CO2 measures the invisible presence of the climate change virus. At 415 ppm, we have a dangerous fever. Wildfires, Arctic warming and rising seas are the diagnosed cases. Species extinction and human death from air pollution, drought and flood are our current climate change mortality rate.
We already have “vaccines” against the climate change we know is coming. Will we use them?
Let’s let the corona virus teach us a lesson .
Yolo Citizens Climate Lobby
Carbon Pricing + Border Adjustment = Solution
Some of the argument against the carbon fee and dividend approach is that the money can't be spent by the government on favored programs. This argument whiffs two ways. First, returning money directly to households (actually front-loading the dividend) makes the program politically feasible. But the most important aspect is that a carbon price is simple to use for setting up border adjustments to effectively force all major trading partner countries to adopt the same level of pricing. Whatever we do in California or even the entire U.S. will not solve the problem if other countries continue to increase their CO2 emissions. Getting an internationally enforceable program is critical to actually solving the global warming problem.
Yolo Citizens Climate Lobby