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Colorado Governor-Elect Has Most Ambitious Renewables Goal in U.S.
Jared Polis, who won Colorado's gubernatorial race to become the nation's first openly gay governor-elect, is charting the state's bold path towards clean energy.
The Democrat, who has served in the House of Representatives since 2009, ran on a platform of transitioning Colorado to 100 percent renewable energy by 2040—the most ambitious renewable goal in the entire country, Climate Home News reported. That's even faster than California and Hawaii, which both aim to phase out of fossil fuel generation by 2045.
On his campaign website, Polis said the green energy transition would create tens of thousands of jobs and save consumers 10 percent on energy costs. Pointing to a government study, he said that utility-scale wind is now cheaper than natural gas and that new energy storage technology would further improve these cost benefits. That's not to mention the public health benefits of cleaner air and water.
Aside from a strong environmental platform, Polis campaigned on other progressive issues such as Medicare-for-all, paid family medical leave and stronger gun laws.
"At the end of the day we all believe in our children's future, we all believe in protecting our amazing parks and open space, we all believe in saving people money in health care," Polis said in his victory speech Tuesday night. "And together we are going to get back to work because we have work to do to turn a bold vision into reality here in our amazing state of Colorado."
Jared Polis speaks after defeating Walker Stapleton in Colorado's gubernatorial race www.youtube.com
The fossil fuel industry has a major presence in the Centennial State—the sixth largest and one of the fastest-growing U.S. oil producing states. Oil and gas companies and their supporters poured about $40 million into a campaign to help successfully defeat Proposition 112, according to the Colorado Sun.
The ballot initiative, which Polis did not support, would have banned oil and gas drilling on 85 percent of the state's land, but was voted down 57 percent to 43 percent on Tuesday.
But with a Democrat in the governor's seat, a Democratic-controlled legislature and the 825,000 Coloradan voters who supported 112, the fight against polluting energy companies is not over yet.
Polis had the endorsement of the Colorado Sierra Club, which praised his plans to make Colorado energy independent and his efforts to protect the state's outdoor spaces.
"The Colorado Sierra Club—with 100,000 members and supports across the state—threw our wholehearted support behind Jared Polis from the early days of his candidacy because of his leadership on climate and protection of public lands," club director Jim Alexee said in a press release. "As the Trump Administration rolls back critical pollution protections and tries to stifle our nation's clean energy leadership, the state of Colorado is moving forward with our clean energy future with Jared Polis as our Governor."
The club also praised Polis for being a leader on environmental issues during his time in Congress. The press release noted that Polis is a founding member of the Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition, that he introduced legislation to designate 90,000 acres of wilderness in Colorado's high country, led the effort to cut fossil fuel subsidies, defended President Obama's rules on methane and partnered with environmentalists and ranchers to protect the sage grouse's habitat.
"The Sierra Club was proud to support Jared Polis throughout this race and we are thrilled to congratulate him on this victory," National Sierra Club executive director Michael Brune said in the press release. "Coloradans made a clear choice in this election to support Jared Polis because he will defend Colorado values from the Eastern Plains to the Western Slope. Jared will lead Colorado to 100 percent clean, renewable energy by 2040, and work to build an economy that works for everyone, not just those at the top."
Correction: A previous version of this post said Polis was in favor of Proposition 112. He supported 2,000-foot drilling setbacks four years ago but did not support the measure itself because the measure did not include surface use agreements.
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Global Banks, Led by JPMorgan Chase, Invested $1.9 Trillion in Fossil Fuels Since Paris Climate Pact
By Sharon Kelly
A report published Wednesday names the banks that have played the biggest recent role in funding fossil fuel projects, finding that since 2016, immediately following the Paris agreement's adoption, 33 global banks have poured $1.9 trillion into financing climate-changing projects worldwide.
By Patti Lynn
2018 was a groundbreaking year in the public conversation about climate change. Last February, The New York Times reported that a record percentage of Americans now believe that climate change is caused by humans, and there was a 20 percentage point rise in "the number of Americans who say they worry 'a great deal' about climate change."
England faces an "existential threat" if it does not change how it manages its water, the head of the country's Environment Agency warned Tuesday.
By Jessica Corbett
A new analysis revealed Tuesday that over the past two decades heat records across the U.S. have been broken twice as often as cold ones—underscoring experts' warnings about the increasingly dangerous consequences of failing to dramatically curb planet-warming emissions.
By Madison Dapcevich
Ask any resident of San Francisco about the waterfront parrots, and they will surely tell you a story of red-faced conures squawking or dive-bombing between building peaks. Ask a team of researchers from the University of Georgia, however, and they will tell you of a mysterious string of neurological poisonings impacting the naturalized flock for decades.
The initial cause of the fire was not yet known, but it has been driven by the strong wind and jumped the North Santiam River, The Salem Statesman Journal reported. As of Tuesday night, it threatened around 35 homes and 30 buildings, and was 20 percent contained.
The unanimous verdict was announced Tuesday in San Francisco in the first federal case to be brought against Monsanto, now owned by Bayer, alleging that repeated use of the company's glyphosate-containing weedkiller caused the plaintiff's cancer. Seventy-year-old Edwin Hardeman of Santa Rosa, California said he used Roundup for almost 30 years on his properties before developing non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
"Today's verdict reinforces what another jury found last year, and what scientists with the state of California and the World Health Organization have concluded: Glyphosate causes cancer in people," Environmental Working Group President Ken Cook said in a statement. "As similar lawsuits mount, the evidence will grow that Roundup is not safe, and that the company has tried to cover it up."
Judge Vince Chhabria has split Hardeman's trial into two phases. The first, decided Tuesday, focused exclusively on whether or not Roundup use caused the plaintiff's cancer. The second, to begin Wednesday, will assess if Bayer is liable for damages.
"We are disappointed with the jury's initial decision, but we continue to believe firmly that the science confirms glyphosate-based herbicides do not cause cancer," Bayer spokesman Dan Childs said in a statement reported by The Guardian. "We are confident the evidence in phase two will show that Monsanto's conduct has been appropriate and the company should not be liable for Mr. Hardeman's cancer."
Some legal experts said that Chhabria's decision to split the trial was beneficial to Bayer, Reuters reported. The company had complained that the jury in Johnson's case had been distracted by the lawyers' claims that Monsanto had sought to mislead scientists and the public about Roundup's safety.
However, a remark made by Chhabria during the trial and reported by The Guardian was blatantly critical of the company.
"Although the evidence that Roundup causes cancer is quite equivocal, there is strong evidence from which a jury could conclude that Monsanto does not particularly care whether its product is in fact giving people cancer, focusing instead on manipulating public opinion and undermining anyone who raises genuine and legitimate concerns about the issue," he said.
Many regulatory bodies, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, have ruled that glyphosate is safe for humans, but the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer found it was "probably carcinogenic to humans" in 2015. A university study earlier this year found that glyphosate use increased cancer risk by as much as 41 percent.
Hardeman's lawyers Jennifer Moore and Aimee Wagstaff said they would now reveal Monsanto's efforts to mislead the public about the safety of its product.
"Now we can focus on the evidence that Monsanto has not taken a responsible, objective approach to the safety of Roundup," they wrote in a statement reported by The Guardian.
Hardeman's case is considered a "bellwether" trial for the more than 760 glyphosate cases Chhabria is hearing. In total, there are around 11,200 such lawsuits pending in the U.S., according to Reuters.
University of Richmond law professor Carl Tobias told Reuters that Tuesday's decision showed that the verdict in Johnson's case was not "an aberration," and could possibly predict how future juries in the thousands of pending cases would respond.