With energy touching everything we do, from brewing our morning coffee to commuting to work and putting food on the table, Gov. John Kasich is calling for a diverse mix of reliable, low-cost energy sources to power Ohio and meet its job-creation needs.
To accomplish this, he is proposing 10 energy “pillars,” with a tilt for fossil fuels. Coal, oil and gas—the three horsemen of climate change—are poised for greatness in Kasich’s energy plan. But true to his word, the Kasich “black and green” plan includes energy efficiency and renewable energy, too. Here’s a summary of five of Kasich’s energy pillars along with my green-tinged commentary.
Shale gas. The plan proposes to update health and environmental regulations “to account for changes in Ohio’s new shale industry” and “to ensure public safety.” Included are promises to modernize construction standards for wells and pipelines, publicly disclose fracking chemicals, encourage wastewater treatment and recycling to conserve water and reduce Ohio’s reliance on underground waste injection wells, and consolidate and streamline agency review of production, processing and fractionation facilities. Green comment: Make no mistake, Kasich is the oil and gas industry’s cheerleader in residence.
Envisioning a cornucopia of jobs, investment and cheap energy, he wants the industry to frack its way across Ohio. But he’s not all tunnel vision. If fracking is to occur, getting the right regulations in place will be critical for the safe and responsible development of shale gas. The plan IDs several urgent needs and its emphasis on strengthened well construction standards and water conservation is well placed. But “streamlining” fracking permits sounds way too industry cozy.
Coal. Kasich wants to mine Ohio’s high-sulfur coal, yet reduce its impact on the environment. He’s proposing $30 million for coal research projects on carbon capture and sequestration, enhanced oil recovery and other new technologies, streamlined coal mining permits, and encouraging disposal of toxic-laced coal ash in solid waste landfills. Green comment: The capture and permanent storage of carbon from coal sounds good. But haven’t we burned enough taxpayer dollars in pursuit of the elusive “clean coal”? Kasich is right to encourage the safe disposal of coal waste. “Streamlined” permits for King Coal sounds suspicious.
Cogeneration. Kasich wants to capture waste energy byproducts that currently go up the smokestack in the form of flared gas or lost heat and steam and, instead, turn it into clean, green energy. To accomplish this, he wants to (1) define cogeneration as a renewable energy source for Ohio, (2) allow electric utilities to use cogeneration to meet Ohio’s energy efficiency standard, (3) revamp the defunct Ohio Energy Loan Fund to place more focus on energy efficiency and alternative fuels, and (4) review the cogeneration potential of newly constructed or renovated state-owned buildings and facilities. Green comment: Right on to Kasich’s objective to help manufacturers capture waste heat and use it to generate low-cost, low-emission electric power. That is a good, green goal—as long as it doesn’t come at the expense of truly green energy, like wind and solar. Studies confirm that Ohio manufacturers have the potential to generate significant amounts of electric power from waste heat. So, every kilowatt of power generated from captured waste energy is one less kilowatt that may be supplied by coal or nuclear. But stuffing cogeneration into Ohio’s fledgling renewable energy standard will reduce investments in wind and other renewable fuels. Tweet to Gov K—Love your goal to capture waste energy. Turning brown waste energy to clean, green energy is cool. But please don’t pull the plug on wind and solar by defining cogen as renewable energy.
Energy efficiency. The plan calls for bulking up the energy efficiency of state-owned buildings, ID’ing new efficiency technologies and programs, setting fuel efficiency standards for state fleet vehicle replacement, reviewing utility green pricing programs and expanding customer choice. Green comment: Saving energy saves taxpayer dollars and grows Ohio jobs. That’s a green initiative that red and blue lawmakers can agree on.
Renewable energy. Kasich wants to pursue “reliable and cost effective renewable energy sources” by developing a loan fund for alternative fuels, revamping the Ohio Energy Loan Fund to finance energy efficiency and renewable energy projects, ID and solve interconnection challenges for renewable energy projects, and expand customer choice through utility green pricing programs. Green comment: Last, but not least, is Kasich’s promise of true, green energy from the wind, sun and elsewhere. These policies will help tap Ohio’s green power potential, but Ohio could enable even more green energy projects by amassing millions of dollars in a public benefits fund from just pennies a month on utility bills. Finally, counting cogen as renewable energy will hurt investments in utility-scale projects.
Regulatory reform. Kasich's plan directs the Ohio EPA to develop “general permits” for business to minimize lengthy permit review and asks the feds to recognize Ohio’s wetland permitting program. Green comment: Getting away from energy, here—unless your talking the energy it takes polluting industries to comply with environmental permits, that is. One-size-fits-all general permits are fine for run-of-the-mill dry cleaners and gas stations. But they give short shrift to public comment. Go slow, here.
Electric generation. Kasich wants to experiment with making the electric grid more efficient by computerizing it with a “smart grid.” He also wants to give customers the choice to be able to order up electricity made from green fuels. Finally, he wants to consider how U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rules will impact future power generation and transmission. Green comment: The governor is right to push “smart grids” which deliver big energy efficiency benefits and help manage peak demand. Giving choosey customers the ability to order up their power of choice is a novel idea, but should not displace a strong renewable energy standard. Reviewing U.S. EPA rules sounds ominous.
CNG+alternative fuels. The governor wants to develop regional Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) refueling stations infrastructure and promote the usage of CNG vehicles in Ohio, assess converting all or part of the state vehicle fleet to CNG and develop a loan fund for alternative fuels (CNG, biodiesel and ethanol). Green comment: These are cleaner fuels, compared to gasoline and standard diesel fuel. Kasich is right to promote them.
Workforce training. Kasich is proposing $6 million to construct new training space at Zane State College and another $10 million to build an indoor drilling training rig at Stark State College to build a skilled workforce for the shale gas industry. Other proposals include a website linking Ohio companies with a trained workforce and linking veterans and minorities with oil and gas jobs. Green comment: This governor ain’t taking his foot off the gas to enable the oil and gas industry.
Electricity transmission + distribution. The plan calls for a review of Ohio’s miles and miles of electric transmission lines and power substations to step up the cheap and efficient delivery of electric power. In particular, it encourages state regulators to review the adequacy of transmission infrastructure to better serve two polar opposite, emerging energy industries: the shale gas industry and the renewable energy industry. Green comment: Classic Kasich—help the shale gas industry (his primary interest) while throwing in a goodie for green energy, too (a secondary interest). We can’t help but note the irony of having to string new electric wires to help get all that gas and oil to market. But don’t sell short the importance of helping get wind and solar energy on the grid, either.
By Karen L. Smith-Janssen
Colette Pichon Battle gave a December 2019 TEDWomen Talk on the stark realities of climate change displacement, and people took notice. The video racked up a million views in about two weeks. The attorney, founder, and executive director of the Gulf Coast Center for Law & Policy (GCCLP) advocates for climate justice in communities of color. Confronted with evidence showing how her own South Louisiana coastal home of Bayou Liberty will be lost to flooding in coming years, the 2019 Obama Fellow dedicates herself to helping others still reeling from the impacts of Katrina face the heavy toll that climate change has taken—and will take—on their lives and homelands. Her work focuses on strengthening multiracial coalitions, advocating for federal, state, and local disaster mitigation measures, and redirecting resources toward Black communities across the Gulf South.
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By Stuart Braun
"These are not just wildfires, they are climate fires," Jay Inslee, Governor of Washington State, said as he stood amid the charred remains of the town of Malden west of Seattle earlier this month. "This is not an act of God," he added. "This has happened because we have changed the climate of the state of Washington in dramatic ways."
'These Aren't Wildfires'<p>Sam Ricketts, who led climate policy and strategy for Governor Jay Inslee's 2020 presidential campaign, tweeted on September 11 that "These aren't wildfires. These are #climatefires, driven by fossil fuel pollution."</p><p>"The rate and the strength and the devastation wrought by these disasters are fueled by climate change," Ricketts told DW of fires that have burnt well over 5 million acres across California, Oregon, Washington State, and into neighboring Idaho. </p><p>In a two-day period in early September, Ricketts notes that more of Washington State burned than in almost any entire fire season until now, apart from 2015. </p><p>California, meanwhile, was a tinderbox after its hottest summer on record, with temperatures in Death Valley reaching nearly 130 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the U.S. National Weather Service. It has been reported as the hottest temperature ever measured on Earth.</p>
<div id="29ad9" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="8346fe7350e1371d400097cd48bf45a2"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1306969603180879872" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Drought-parched wetlands in South America have been burning for weeks. https://t.co/pjAKdFcKPg #Pantanal https://t.co/ImN2C5vwcp</div> — NASA Earth (@NASA Earth)<a href="https://twitter.com/NASAEarth/statuses/1306969603180879872">1600440810.0</a></blockquote></div><p>As evidenced by Australia's apocalyptic Black Summer of 2019-2020, fires are burning bigger and for longer, with new records set year-on-year. Right now, Brazil's vast and highly biodiverse Pantanal wetlands are suffering from catastrophic fires.</p>
#climatefires Started in Australia<p>Governor Inslee this month invoked the phrase climate fires for arguably the first time in the U.S., according to Ricketts.</p><p>But the term was also used as fires burnt out of control in Australia in late 2019. In the face of a 2000km (more than 1,200 miles) fire front, and government officials and media who <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/trump-climate-change-denial-emissions-environment-germany-fake-heartland-seibt/a-52688933" target="_blank">played down the link to climate change</a>, Greens Party Senator Sarah Hanson-Young and a friend decided that reference to bushfires was inadequate. </p><p>"We both just said, we've got to start calling them climate fires, that's what they are," the Australian Senator told DW.</p><p>Hanson-Young says scientists have been warning for decades that these would be the effects of global heating. "We've been told these kinds of extreme weather events and destruction is what climate change would look like, and it's right here on our doorstep," she said from her home state of South Australia — where by early September fire warnings had already been issued.</p><p>"Calling them climate fires was making it absolutely crystal clear. It is essential that there's no ambiguity," she said </p><p>Having deliberately invoked the term, Hanson-Young soon started to push it on social media via a #climatefires hashtag. </p>
How to Talk About the Urgency of Global Heating<p>The need to use more explicit language when talking about extreme weather events linked to climate change is part of a broader push to express the urgency of global heating. In 2019, activist Greta Thunberg tweeted that the term "climate change" did not reflect the seriousness of the situation. </p><p>"Can we all now please stop saying 'climate change' and instead call it what it is: climate breakdown, climate crisis, climate emergency, ecological breakdown, ecological crisis and ecological emergency?" she wrote. </p><p>"Climate change has for a long time been talked about as something that is a danger in the future," said Hansen-Young. "But the consequences are already here. When people hear the word crisis, they understand that something has to happen, that action has to be taken."</p><p><span></span>Some terms are now used in public policy, with state and national governments, and indeed the EU Parliament, declaring an official climate emergency in the last year. </p>
Words That Reflect the Science<p>But while the West Coast governors all fervently link the fires to an unfolding climate crisis, U.S. President Donald Trump continues to avoid any reference to climate. In a briefing about the fires, he responded to overtures by Wade Crowfoot, California's Natural Resources Secretary, to work with the states on the climate crisis by stating: "It'll start getting cooler. You just watch." Crowfoot replied by saying that scientists disagreed. Trump rejoined with "I don't think science knows, actually." </p><p>It was reminiscent of the anti-science approach to the coronavirus pandemic within the Trump administration, <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/donald-trump-admits-playing-down-coronavirus-risks/a-54874350" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">at least publicly</a>. Fossil fuel companies are also benefiting from his disavowal of climate science, with the Trump administration having <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/opinion-trumps-paris-climate-accord-exit-isnt-really-a-problem/a-51124958" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">pulled out of the Paris Agreement</a> and reopened fossil fuel infrastructure like the Keystone XL pipeline. </p><p>But the science community has responded, with Scientific American magazine endorsing Trump's Democratic presidential challenger Joe Biden, the first presidential endorsement in its 175-year history. </p><p>Hanson-Young says the use of explicit language like climate fires has also been important in Australia due to the climate denialism of politicians and the press, especially in publications owned by Rupert Murdoch. As fires burnt out much of Australia's southeast coast, they were commonly blamed on arson — a tactic also recently used in the U.S.</p>
Climate Rhetoric Could Help Decide Election<p>The language of climate has begun to influence the U.S. presidential election campaign, with Democratic nominee Joe Biden labelling President Trump a "climate arsonist."</p><p>Biden is touting a robust climate plan that includes a 2050 zero emissions target and a return to the Paris Agreement. Though lacking the ambition of The New Green Deal, it has been front and center of his policy platform in recent days, at a time when five hurricanes are battering the U.S. Gulf Coast while smoke blanketing the West Coast spreads all the way to the East. </p><p>People are experiencing the climate crisis in a visceral way and almost universally relate to the language of an emergency, says Ricketts. "They know something is wrong."</p>
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World's Richest One Percent Are Producing More Than Double the Carbon Emissions as the Bottom 50 Percent
A new report from Oxfam found that the wealthiest one percent of the world produced a carbon footprint that was more than double that of the bottom 50 percent of the world, The Guardian reported. The study examined 25 years of carbon dioxide emissions and wealth inequality from 1990 to 2015.
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