A couple things happened late last week that feel worth mentioning, to kick off this week on a hopeful note.
First, in a bit of legislative wonkery, the House of Representatives voted against an amendment that would have prevented the Department of Defense from studying how climate impacts threaten national security.
To express that in a way that doesn't double up on negatives, let's unpack it. The National Defense Authorization Act is the annual bill to fund the Department of Defense. This is considered a "must-pass" bill so everyone tries to slip in amendments, hoping that the bill's size and scope means they pass without notice.
One of these amendments, proposed by Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa), would have cut funding for a DoD study of how climate change will impact national security over the next 20 years. The military is already dealing with climate change, so it's prudent that they are able to study what sorts of impacts are coming down the line.
Perry argued that there are plenty of other agencies looking at climate change, so the military shouldn't. But in a relatively impressive display of intelligence, 46 Republicans joined Democrats to vote down Perry's amendment, preserving the funding for the DoD study.
That 46 Republicans were willing to side with science is impressive, and in part a function of the bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus. This group has come under some scrutiny (perhaps rightfully so) for their general inaction and specifically failing to criticize Trump's Paris pull-out.
But now, by voting down Perry's amendment, they've done something—that's good news! In their defense, the fear of getting "Bob Inglis'd" (where a Republican takes a reasonable position on climate change then gets primaried from the right by a Koch-supported candidate), is understandable.
Bob Inglis brings us to the other flicker of light in these dark times. Buzzfeed's Zahra Hirji reported on Friday that Rep. Lamar Smith took a quiet trip to the Arctic to tour science facilities in the melting North. Yes, the same Lamar Smith who spent a year harassing climate scientist Tom Karl went to learn from climate scientists about their work. Oddly, he refused to talk about it with Buzzfeed afterward, canceling a call two minutes before it was supposed to start.
Considering that it was a trip to Antarctica that inspired Inglis's conversion to climate reality, one can hope that seeing the ice melting for himself will have a similar effect on Smith.
Either way, the Defense vote shows that the House may be moving in the right direction, if admittedly at a glacial pace. Whether or not it continues, we'll just have to wait and Larsen C.
Gone are the fevered dreams that Ivanka's moderating influence or Elon's persuasive position as an economic advisor will amount to anything beyond optics for Trump on the Paris agreement. Replacing it is the knowledge that our commander-in-chief will gladly shoot us in the collective foot if it means appeasing Presidents Bannon and Putin.
So we can stop pretending that maybe Trump would be responsive to facts and figures on the economic reality of the energy transition, like the 1.2 million clean energy jobs in states that voted for him (the only ones anyone ever thought he would even remotely value). We can stop imagining a world where Trump's one constant—lies—will work in our favor (he broke so many other campaign promises, why not this one?). We can stop living in denial and entertaining the possibility of a presidential pivot on climate.
Now, the climate community can start the full-throated backlash. First up is a twitter storm today at Noon (ET), where folks will rally digitally to demand we #ActOnClimate. An emergency rally on the north side of the White House is set for 5 p.m. After that, we can expect further statements from New York City and California that despite federal inaction, local governments remain committed to emission reductions.
And, of course, lawsuits. Lots of lawsuits. (An approach already showing some progress on energy efficiency regulations).
Internationally, countries can stop treating Trump like the president of an allied country, and instead consider him one of the petrostate autocrats with whom he got along so well. China and the EU have already started, with a joint summit and statement coming Friday that "will take revenge on Trump," according to a headline from Euractiv.
That attack is well-warranted: If Trump pulls out of Paris, the U.S. will be even worse on climate action than ExxonMobil. Wednesday, while we were all banging our heads against our desks, Exxon shareholders voted to force the company to be more transparent about the risk it faces from climate change and how its business model aligns with the world's efforts to meet the Paris goals.
THIS IS HUGE! Shareholder Uprising: Measure Approved Instructing #Exxon to Report #Climate Impacts https://t.co/39kkdb3O19 @350 @Agent350— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1496257930.0
Paris is a global potluck, where every nation decided what it could bring to the party. But instead of bringing the burgers Obama promised, Trump's decided to show up empty-(small) handed.
Though maybe that's better than if he brought Trump steaks and covfefe...
Portable generators allow you to power your devices and certain appliances, even away from home or when your primary power source is taken offline. These devices are also perfect for camping or outdoor adventures. A portable solar generator can give you the power you need with a smaller ecological footprint by using solar panels. In this article, we'll outline some of the top options available in 2021.
Our Picks for the Best Portable Solar Generators
Each product featured here has been independently selected by the writer. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.
- Best Overall - Goal Zero Yeti 1500X
- Best High-Capacity - MAXOAK Bluetti EB150
- Best Expandable Power - EcoFlow RIVER Pro
- Best Compact Design - Renogy PHOENIX 300
- Best Portability - Suaoki S370
- Best for Camping - Jackery Explorer 300
- Best Price - Westinghouse iGen200s
How We Reviewed Portable Solar Generators
A good portable generator will offer you backup power in a convenient and reliable way. We have reviewed some of the top models on the market today, and arrived at a few that we think stand out from the rest.
To rank the best solar generators, we considered the following criteria:
- Size and weight. Smaller, more lightweight units offer much greater ease of use. We sought portable solar generators that aren't too challenging to lug around your home, or take with you when you go camping.
- Battery storage capacity. While your generator absorbs light through a solar panel, that energy is ultimately stored in a battery. The battery storage capacity, measured in watt-hours (Wh) determines how long you can use the generator before it requires a recharge.
- Inverter rating. Basically, inverter rating refers to the total number of watts that the solar generator can extract at any given time. Inverter rating, along with battery capacity, determine the wattage and power output of your generator.
- Expandability. Some generators come with a predetermined number of solar panels, while some allow you to add more solar panels as needed. This is an important feature to consider when looking for generators.
- Price point. Naturally, when looking for a new solar generator, staying on budget is always going to be a factor. We chose generators that are competitively priced.
The Best Portable Solar Generators
With these ranking factors in mind, here are our picks for the best portable solar generators available in 2021.
Goal Zero's line of Yeti portable power stations are well-suited for a wide range of off-grid uses, including emergency power, camping trips, and more. The Goal Zero Yeti 1500X is their most-popular large power station with enough power for everything from cell phones and laptops to medical devices like CPAP machines and even full-size refrigerators.
Why buy: The Goal Zero Yeti 1500X includes a 2000W AC (3500W Surge) inverter giving you the equivalent of a wall outlet power supply on-the-go. It also has seven different port options and a top-of-the-line app that makes it easy to monitor and manage your solar powered generator, no matter where you are.
For a high-capacity power station, check out the Bluetti EB150 from MAXOAK. Though it's not the most affordable option, you'll get a lot of features and utility for your investment. It includes a lithium ion battery capacity of 1500 Wh. When connected to three 150W solar panels, it can be recharged in about 3.5 to 4 hours.
Why buy: For a portable solar generator designed to power most household appliances under 1000W, the high-powered Bluetti EB150 is a great choice. MAXOAK also backs their product with a 24-month replacement or maintenance warranty.
EcoFlow boasts an impressive catalog of portable power stations, as well as reliable solar panels. We like the EcoFlow RIVER Pro power station because its technology enables incredibly fast recharging; you can connect it to two 110W solar panels to recharge in as little as 4.5 hours.
Why buy: The EcoFlow RIVER Pro includes a wide range of best-in-class technologies. Offering 720 Wh of power with three pure sine wave AC outlets, and weighing only 15.9 pounds, these units are well-suited for camping and hiking, as well as use around the house. You can also add an additional EcoFlow battery pack to upgrade the power of your generator as needed.
Renogy produces several different power stations and chargers, but we especially like the PHOENIX 300, a solar power solution that's extremely lightweight and compact. It comes with an easy-grip handle and only weighs 6.4 pounds, making it one of the most portable solar generators around while still offering up to 200W of AC power for off the grid activities.
Why buy: The PHOENIX 300 can provide 337 watt-hours for up to 8 hours of AC continuous power without the noise or fumes associated with gas generators. It includes a number of the most common charging ports like two AC adaptors, a USB-C, USB-A, USB, and a D-Tap port for photography equipment.
Suaoki is a company that's known for simple, functional, reliable technology. Their S370 portable solar generator isn't necessarily flashy, but it's an extremely lightweight option, perfect for camping, hiking, and other outdoor adventures. It includes 14 outlet ports and a pure sine wave inverter, making it a versatile power option.
Why buy: This is one of our top picks for camping and hiking, though it may also serve your needs as a backup power station for small appliances and electronics. A lithium-ion battery gives this generator an incredible capacity battery life, particularly in relation to its compact size.
Jackery's portable power stations are ideally suited for camping and hiking. The Explorer 300 offers great portability and fast rechargeable power at an affordable price. It includes two AC outputs, a USB-C, USB-A, USB ports, and a 12-volt car port.
Why buy: The Explorer 300 generator is a good option for those who are new to solar power, thanks to its low price and easy-to-use controls. Jackery offers a number of portable solar panel options, and the power station's MPPT technology means that it can be recharged from the sun in just 5.5 hours.
There are plenty of reasons to consider the Westinghouse iGen200s portable generator. This is one of the more affordable options on the market today, which makes it a good entry-level solar power solution. The unit offers four charging options. You can recharge with solar panels, with the power from your vehicle, with a household power outlet, or with a separate generator.
Why buy: For a simple and inexpensive solar power generator, Westinghouse makes an outstanding product. You can charge up to nine devices at a time; and, depending on how you use it, you can potentially get more than 40 hours out of your generator.
What Types of Batteries Do Solar Generators Use?
It's important to note that solar power generators may employ different kinds of batteries. The most common option is the lithium-ion battery. These tend to be more expensive than lead-acid batteries, at least on the front end. With that said, a lithium-ion battery will prove more durable, which usually makes it the smarter investment in the long run. Solar generators include charge controllers, which regulate the volts of energy coming from the solar panels to the battery to make sure the battery isn't overcharged and damaged.
The energy stored in the battery is converted from DC power into AC power using an inverter or adapter.
What Can You Power With a Portable Solar Generator?
There are different types of solar generators. A backup generator is primarily used to power your home, should your electricity go out. In this article, we focused on portable generators, which are mostly used for hiking and camping. With that said, a portable generator can also be really useful during power outages, potentially keeping your lights, electronic devices, and small devices or appliances on for several hours. Depending on the watts of power your solar system generator kit can support, you can use it to power things like phones, tablets, laptops, TVs, coffee makers, a mini-fridge, certain medical devices, and most anything you would plug into a car charger.
Some of the generators we've listed here can be charged by solar energy or via other sources, including vehicles and power outlets. These different charging solutions make a generator more versatile, though of course, solar energy is what you'll want to use if staying away from fossil fuels is your goal.
What are the Benefits of a Portable Solar Generator?
There are a number of reasons why you might consider a portable solar generator:
- These units are ideally suited for camping and hiking. The ones on our list range in weight from under 10 pounds to over 50, but they are all fairly easy to cart around as needed, or to keep in your camper or RV.
- Though they are not primarily intended to be emergency backup generators, they can certainly be used in that capacity. In particular, they can provide emergency power to important medical devices as well as phones and computers.
- Unlike gas generators, portable solar generators offer power without making a lot of noise or creating a lot of fumes. This makes them much more appealing for campsites.
- Portable solar generators are better for the environment, since they don't rely on gas or diesel fuel to run.
- Using a solar generator is ultimately more cost-effective as you will never need to purchase fuel to recharge it.
Solar Power Can Take You Further
Solar power is one of the best options for dependable, renewable energy. Not only can it help power your house, but you can use these portable generators to carry that power with you, wherever you may go.
There are clearly lots of options on the market today. We hope our guide is helpful to you as you assess our own backup power needs, and as you determine which portable solar generator will give you the greatest value. Note that you can find many of these solar power options through third-party retailers like Amazon. Do your due diligence as you seek the perfect, portable solar solution for you and your family.
Josh Hurst is a journalist, critic, and essayist. He lives in Knoxville, TN, with his wife and three sons. He covers natural health, nutrition, supplements, and clean energy. His writing has appeared in Health, Shape, and Remedy Review.
Politico's Morning Energy reported Wednesday that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has assigned 110 staffers to meet a court-ordered July 1 deadline to produce a study of the agency's impact on coal jobs.
This many staff on the job may be overkill, particularly since a recent Columbia Center on Global Energy Policy report already quantified the impact of EPA regulations on coal.
While President Trump and Scott Pruitt have always been eager to blame the EPA for the fall of coal, the folks at Columbia Center found regulations for a scant 3.5 percent of the industry's decline. The biggest winner in the so-called War on Coal has been, as we and others have said, natural gas. Per the Columbia Center report, natural gas is responsible for half of the coal industry's decline, while reduced demand (thanks to energy efficiency) is responsible for a quarter and renewables 18 percent.
We're guessing these findings are not what the Trump administration wants to hear, so it will be interesting to see how the EPA report lines up with Columbia Center's.
Let's take a look at what stats the oil and gas lobby are propping up. A new post and graphic from the Koch-funded American Enterprise Institute (AEI) purports to prove that it takes 79 solar workers to produce the same amount of energy as one coal employee (or two natural gas workers). In other words, AEI is trying to argue that fossil fuels are better because they provide less employment—not quite as silly as it may seem in the context of Trump's incessant "coal jobs" drumbeat.
Before you get too excited about slamming AEI and praising solar's 80x job creation benefit over coal, remember the parable of the broken window. You can break windows and hire people to fix them, but that doesn't really grow the economy since that money could have been spent on anything else without having destroyed the windows. Solar is certainly creating lots of jobs, but that doesn't mean you should buy into AEI's framing. Jobs don't exist just for their own sake, it's the value they create over the long term that really matters to the economy.
That's not to say that AEI is right in its criticism (and no, we don't think solar jobs are a broken window-type issue). What's more, even if you were to accept AEI's premise, it didn't even get the numbers right. Peter O'Connor at the Union of Concerned Scientists checked the math and found AEI's figures to be wrong by roughly half (so only 35-50 solar workers to one coal job, instead of 79).
But there's an even bigger problem with AEI's comparison. A solar worker installs a solar panel that will then produce power for decades, whereas coal labor is measured on an annual basis. Factoring in this crucial distinction cuts the figure down considerably. By O'Connor's rough estimate, it's actually only two solar jobs per coal job.
There's more! O'Connor continues by pointing out that because of the incredibly risky nature of coal jobs and the fact that even unsubsidized solar is now cheaper than coal, solar is making a more efficient use of materials and labor, which is a more economically valid metric.
So while the Trump administration seems to be intent on going back to a time when coal was the undisputed king, the data clearly shows that there's no coming back for the industry.
We'd suggest Republicans update their talking points ASAP to reflect this new reality, but given the stream of highly concerning leaks that have been Russian out of the White House, we'll "let this go." (At least for now…)
In his second column, Stephens takes on ethanol, a worthy topic for inquiry: the benefits of ethanol are questionable when the full life cycle is considered. Which is why the Sierra Club is opposed to it, Natural Resources Defense Council pointed out problems back in 2010 and the New York Times editorial board itself expressed its opposition in 2008. (So much for Stephens bringing diversity…)
But instead of diving into an honest argument, Stephens sets up a strawman to burn down. In the column, he attempts to debunk a 1999 Department of Energy (DOE) pamphlet praising biofuels (which he describes as a "paper," lending it a false degree of authority) with a 2008 report (which is actually a paper, published in Science) showing corn ethanol increases, not decreases, emissions.
The problem is that the DOE document—a glossy five-page brochure of the potential for biofuels—doesn't once mention corn. It does mention specific examples of ethanol derived from waste feedstocks, but the 2008 paper Stephens cites to make his point that biofuels are bad actually praises and "highlights the value of" waste-based biofuels in terms of reducing emissions. Because unlike corn ethanol, biofuels derived from waste byproducts don't cause land use changes, which is the main reason corn ethanol is responsible for such high emissions.
Given that both papers praise waste fuels, one could just as easily argue that the paper Stephens suggests casts doubt on the validity of DOE's biofuels support actually confirms it.
Beyond this basic bait-and-switch of an apples-to-corn-comparison, the argument Stephens makes has a few other issues, like cherrypicked stats. More foundationally, he portrays the ethanol situation as a response to his climate critics, an example of "eco-boosterism" gone wrong. But corn ethanol hasn't had strong support from eco-boosters.
Far from being a darling of the climate-concerned, corn ethanol was always something of a bargaining chip, used to try to gain the support for climate action from farm communities and the Republicans who represent them. (Case in point, otherwise anti-climate-action Republican senators are pushing a pro-ethanol policy in exchange for a Congressional Review Act vote on a regulation to reduce methane emissions from oil and gas drilling.)
One unnamed "interlocutor" quoted in Adam Siegel's debunking of Stephens says it best: "You mean a pork-barrel policy turned out to not be so great after all? STOP THE PRESSES!! No seriously NYT, stop it."
For years now, we've been calling out for the removal of denial from mainstream media. But today we want to talk about free speech.
First and foremost, it bears repeating that the editorial separation between opinion and reporting means hiring a denier on the opinion side of the New York Times has no influence on the Times's top-tier climate journalism. One bad opinion hire among dozens of outstanding reporters does not justify canceling a subscription; that's shooting yourself in the foot.
That said, the outrage caused by the Times's decision to hire Bret Stephens, which we've covered before, is well deserved. Joe Romm is absolutely right in his (many) criticisms of the decision and responses of the public editor to the initial criticism and further comments Stephens made in a Vox interview.
Stephens published his first column on Friday. The piece suggests that if scientists and advocates told the public the science is less certain than it actually is, they would be more likely to believe it. Romm and Dana Nuccitelli at the Guardian have already done a nice job handling the factual failings with the column. We'd also like to point out that Stephens's thesis flies in the face of the social science showing consensus messaging is key to accepting the reality of climate change.
But should he be censored, his views silenced?
For some time now, the right has been building a case that the left wants to shut down free speech it doesn't like (Wall Street Journal columnist Kimberly Strassel even wrote a book on it). This argument is a deliberate distortion of the difference between silencing and ignoring speech. And there's a difference between not wanting to propagate factually inaccurate statements and shutting down opinions.
Just because a columnist is not given an audience to deceive does not mean they have been silenced. A news organization has an obligation to tell the truth. It has no obligation to provide a platform for deception. An institution has a right to exercise its editorial judgement. This is why we have no issue with a denier speaking at an event with actual experts: An informed audience knows better than to believe him and can laugh right in his face.
But for the general public readership of the Times opinion page, should Stephens be allowed to publish factually inaccurate columns, for sake of free speech? No. The Times has no obligation to deceive its own readers. Is there some value to being aware of opposing opinions? Yes, of course. Is there value in reading lies? After years of writing the Denier Roundup, we can tell you: No, we've not had any grand epiphany or uncovered any unexpected avenue for disarming deniers.
Should the Times fire Stephens? Probably not—we should see if he can learn from these mistakes. Should they fact check his columns? Absolutely. If Stephens' editors tell him not to lie about climate change or he'll be fired, is that censorship? Not at all. Should he be mocked and ridiculed for his ridiculousness? Absolutely. (And by his new colleagues no less).
There is a difference between silencing someone and choosing not to hand them a microphone. There is a difference between suppressing speech and not offering a liar a stage. There is a difference between free speech and fake speech. We hope that the Times's readership can use Stephens's upcoming columns as valuable lessons in distinguishing between the two.
No one thought that Lamar "my career has been funded by fossil fuels" Smith was going to put on an unbiased hearing on climate science. After all, the minority Democrats on Smith's House Committee on Science, Space, & Technology published a report this month, Much Ado About Nothing, which details Smith's "crusade to attempt to undermine and invalidate" Tom Karl's pause-buster study. (Yet Smith still can't get NOAA's name right)!
Although little was said about Karl, Wednesday's House Science Committee hearing with Drs. Michael Mann, John Christy, Judith Curry and Roger Pielke Jr. was a quite a circus. Which is exactly why someone who's been through Smith's nonsense, Dr. David Titley, wrote for the Washington Post that scientists should boycott these biased hearings.
That would be nice, if that meant that Smith would stop holding them. But since he shows no sign of slowing his inquisition, someone needs to show up to set the record straight and push back on all the denial packed into the hearing like so many clowns in a tiny car.
And that's exactly what Dr. Mann did, successfully walking the tight-rope between correcting other witnesses and coming off as a jerk. Most notably and most clearly getting under Smith's skin, Mann cited a recent Science Magazine article describing Smith's comments at the Heartland conference. Mann read the killer quote about how Smith "acknowledged that the committee is now a tool to advance his political agenda rather than a forum to examine important issues facing the U.S. research community."
In response, Lamar Smith, the esteemed media critic who cited the Daily Mail's bogus Bates story, who has written for Breitbart and said that people should get their news directly from Trump, claimed that Science Magazine is "not known as an objective magazine." As Emily Atkin of the New Republic aptly put it, "The fact that the chairman of the House Science committee doesn't consider that source 'objective' is ACTUALLY MIND BLOWING."
Smith, with pie on his face, also demonstrated his media savvy by citing the never-correct editorial page of the Wall Street Journal on heat records. This opinion is about as solid as cotton candy and has been contradicted by the paper's own reporting.
GOP to NASA: Forget Climate Science, Focus on Space https://t.co/to11fy7ccS @OneWorld_News @YaleClimateComm— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1487628607.0
Speaking of dumb Wall Street Journal opinions, Mann also did a nice job of calling out Pielke's hypocrisy for whining in the Journal about being harassed, after sending threatening letters to Mann and Kevin Trenberth's bosses when they criticized his awful FiveThirtyEight piece that needed correction.
Also needing correction was John Christy, who trotted out his error-laden graph of models and observations. Again, Mann highlighted the foolishness of his fellow witnesses by pointing out how others have corrected Christy many times on the satellite record vs. the thermometer record. And more importantly, he cited the recent research that totally debunks Christy's false contention that models overestimate warming.
And then there's Judith Curry who, true to form, was there to talk about uncertainty (inappropriately). Again Mann was prepared, pointing out that uncertainty is actually a reason to take stronger action sooner. Uncertainty cuts both ways: while Curry and the GOP would have you believe maybe warming won't be so bad, it could actually be much worse than we fear.
Curry also bristled at being referred to as a "climate science denier" in Mann's written testimony. That's silly: She's teamed up with the Kochs, questioned the validity of the endangerment finding and said in her opening statement that it's time to "make the debate about climate change great again." So it is safe to say that "Judith Curry is absolutely a climate denier."
And she proved it in the hearing, denying the science and claiming we don't know how much is human versus natural. In 2014, NASA's Gavin Schmidt laid out the case for Curry that our best estimate is that humans are causing 110 percent of warming. (It's more than 100 percent because natural forces and particulate pollution cause cooling, which CO2 is overcoming to cause warming).
Other odds and ends that made an appearance include the 1998 documents showing Big Oil's plan to inject uncertainty into the climate debate, the long-debunked 70s cooling myth and Smith's tired denial of the consensus.
So like any good circus, there were plenty of clowns, people lion, tired grr-causing myths and bear-ly believable statements.
Here's the full hearing:
Despite a line-up of three industry voices against a lone voice of reason in Dr. Rush Holt of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the hearing failed to land any substantial blows against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Instead, Holt and the pro-science members of the committee explained the many ways in which Smith's "sound science" fixation sounds stupid to those who know science.
While Smith did his best to use this weekend's fake news about the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to stir up drama, the fact that the "whistleblower" told E&E there was no data manipulation took the wind right out of his sails. Instead of problems with the conclusion of the study, the concern Bates had was that the data wasn't archived properly because the paper was rushed, which isn't true. So when Smith asked if Science would retract the paper, Holt reiterated these points. He added, "This is not the making of a big scandal" and "there is nothing in the Karl paper that, in our current analysis, suggests retraction." Score one for science!
3 Reasons the Mail on Sunday’s #Climate Claims Are Bogus https://t.co/M0yTv54wl2 @WorldResources @MichaelEMann @billmckibben @NaomiAKlein— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1486562215.0
The industry speakers, on the other hand, made relatively drab and inconsequential statements in the form of vague platitudes about the need for "sound science" instead of "secret science." For those who missed it, The Intercept had a great piece the other day on this Orwellian term and its tobacco industry-origins (which the ever-awesome Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson entered into the record to close the hearing). Because while Smith claims it will make science at the EPA better, what it would really do is prevent the EPA from using studies that rely on confidential health records or studies of individual events, which by definition can't be replicated.
Dr. Holt made it clear that, "The Secret Science Act, as it has been previously introduced, has been based on a misunderstanding of how science works." Though, given its design as a vehicle for the tobacco (and now fossil fuel) industry to prevent regulation, one might believe that it is less a misunderstanding of science than a deliberate attempt to cripple it.
The second aspect of "making the EPA great again" was proposed reform to the EPA's Scientific Advisory Boards. This idea was deceptively described by the industry speakers as an effort to increase "diversity" and "balance" and provide more "perspective" to these review boards. What they really do is give industry a seat at the table so they can do what industry wants- fight regulation. That Smith called on Jeffrey Holmstead, who was once disqualified as an expert witness by a judge due to his multiple conflicts of interest, namely lobbying for coal and other energy companies, tells you everything you need to know.
The third witness was Dr. Richard Belzer, an economist and president of "Regulatory Checkbook," who seems to be in the outer orbit of the Koch universe and whose Twitter feed appears to be a bizarre advertisement for a wine website. His main contribution was that cost-benefit analyses should be called benefit-cost Analyses because ... benefits are better? It wasn't really clear.
The last witness on Smith's side was Dr. Kimberly White of the American Chemistry Council. She made a valiant effort to portray the injection of biased industry voices into the federal peer review process as a matter of balance and perspective, which one would expect from someone representing an industry group.
Our favorite part of the hearing, though, came not from any of the witnesses but from Rep. Don Beyer, who donned a red "Keep The EPA Great" hat after saying that, "We will not help anyone by disputing climate science with stories from white nationalist websites like Breitbart.com or tabloids like the Daily Mail."
Given Rep. Smith's history of writing op-eds for Breitbart and reliance on the Mail to attack NOAA, we couldn't have put it better ourselves.
Watch the hearing here:
The other day, an Environmental Defense Fund post called out Trump's EPA Admin nominee Scott Pruitt for possible impropriety and what looks like "pay-to-play" situations, where Pruitt, on multiple occasions, received money from the energy industry and shortly after took efforts to defend them.
And as E&E points out, since Pruitt has a super-PAC, he can still "keep raising money from the corporate interests he is charged with regulating." On top of that, as one of the first Cabinet-level appointees (who are prohibited from soliciting money) to have a super-PAC (which exists to solicit money), the legality and potential for corruption threatens to undermine what little credibility Scott "unprecedented, secretive alliance" Pruitt would have as the EPA administrator.
5 Things You Need to Know About Trump's #EPA Pick #ScottPruitt https://t.co/wGNfmzFlJJ @sierraclub @RobertKennedyJr @Waterkeeper @mzjacobson— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1483803364.0
But not content merely pulling strings behind the scenes, the Koch network continues to pander the public with an offensively ironic effort to improve the reputation of fossil fuels by supposedly "standing up for poor, underserved communities." (Similar efforts have been taken by tobacco and soft drink companies to sell their products.) Hiroko Tabuchi, in a great piece in the New York Times, pulls back the curtain on a Koch effort to convert minorities to its fossil fuel religion—in some cases fairly literally, as the piece opens with a scene from a Koch-sponsored gospel concert.
The front group putting on the show is Fueling U.S. Forward, which has already come up a couple times over the short year of its existence. It puts a contemptible, self-serving effort into painting fossil fuels as "pro-human" and "sustainable," in order to improve the public image of the Koch's oily empire.
Trump's EPA Pick Rouses Suspicions Over Ties to Koch Brothers https://t.co/FwQ68452M7 @Public_Citizen @DeSmogBlog— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1482967207.0
For those wondering if perhaps the Kochs really are sticking up for the poor and not just using them for their own gain, a 2016 literature review makes it clear that "children, and especially poor children, now bear a disproportionate burden of disease from both environmental pollution and climate change due to fossil fuel combustion."
And abroad, even more heartbreaking are the 1.3 million African children who are starving thanks to a drought amplified by climate change. Their families are surviving by making soup out of chalk or ash from the fire, with one man even contemplating selling his 10 year old daughter as a bride so she'd be the husband's responsibility to feed.
Meanwhile, the Koch's Fueling U.S. Forward reportedly planned to spend $10 million a year on its pro-fossil fuel efforts.
Al Gore was the latest participant in the president-elect's parade of pandering, meeting with daughter Ivanka Trump and then Donald Trump himself. Might this mean we might see a change his position on climate change? And will the impeccably cited letter to Ivanka or interview with Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. on the Dakota Access Pipeline, both published in the Observer, which is owned by Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner, make a difference? Does any of this portend a softening of Trump's denial?
Not anymore than his waffling at the New York Times interview, or the uncovering of the fact that his golf course in Scotland lists climate change as a reason to build a seawall, or his own signature on a decade-old open letter calling for climate action.
Because the day after the meeting with Gore, Trump's transition team named five new members of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) landing team: David Kreutzer (Heritage), Austin Lipari (Federalist), David Schnare (EELI), Dave Stevenson (Caesar Rodney Institute) and George Sugiyama. Of the five of them, only two aren't with groups receiving funding from the Koch brothers. Although the link between the Kochs and Stevenson's Caesar Rodney Institute isn't crystal clear, they are a member of the Koch-funded State Policy Network. Stevenson also recently wrote that the American Lung Association and EPA are engaged in some sort of anti-clean-air conspiracy because "if you work for the EPA, the worst possible outcome is to actually have clean air."
The other is George Sugiyama, a lawyer who worked for Sen. "Snowball" James Inhofe as his counsel for the Senate's Environment and Public Works committee. After that, he went to work for a law firm that defends companies from regulations, which was described as a focus of his work.
For the next four years, Trump will undoubtedly say lots of things. Some might give us cause for hope. But none should be trusted.
In a post-truth world, only actions matter. And so far, Trump has appointed fossil fuel funded deniers and those who have worked to protect polluters from EPA's regulations to his EPA landing team and entertained the likes of ExxonMobil's CEO Rex Tillerson for the position of Secretary of State. (At least Tillerson has some relevant experience, like his "close ties to Vladimir Putin"). All this to say it's looking pretty undeniable that the Donald will remain in denial.
Which is an inconvenient truth, but not an unexpected or unbelievable one.
Despite the fact that Donald Trump campaigned against special interests and suggested his primary opponents who begged for Koch cash were puppets, he now seems to be happy to #StaffTheSwamp with Koch operatives.
Beyond Myron Ebell and David Schnare on his environment team, news broke Sunday that Trump picked Steven Groves to lead the Department of State "landing team." Groves is an international policy wonk at the Koch (and Exxon, and Korean gov't) funded Heritage Foundation, and just last week, he wrote an article advocating for a pull-out of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) as a way to exit the Paris agreement. As the negotiating framework for the UN's climate efforts and the underlying basis for the Paris agreement, if the U.S. were to leave the UNFCCC, it would remove us from the negotiating table altogether.
Amy Goodman: What Would It Take for #Trump to Pull Out of Paris #Climate Deal? https://t.co/sk9D34sfi3 @democracynow @ClimateNexus @NRDC— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1479240652.0
Not only would this "lead to political consequences with our allies," as Groves admitted in a House Science hearing last April, but it would also mean that Trump wouldn't be able to negotiate an amazing new treaty on climate, as the U.S. would no longer be part of the negotiating framework.
But contradictory advice is nothing new to the Heritage Foundation, which during the Farm Bill fight in 2013 told the GOP to split the bill into two parts. When Republicans did as they were told, Heritage still wasn't happy. Republican Mick Mulvaney of South Carolina said: "Heritage was now scoring against Republicans for doing exactly what Heritage had been espousing only a month before." Because of this stunt, as well as their push for 2013's government shutdown, former House speaker Boehner said: groups like Heritage had "lost all credibility."
Here's What Happens When You're a Republican and You Defy the Koch Brothers https://t.co/jfiSr3eHlT @DeSmogBlog @KOCHexposed— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1479074428.0
Unfortunately, from the top of the Trump administration down, a distinct lack of credibility seems to be the unifying factor. But it is ironic that despite the Koch network's distinct lack of effort to get Trump elected, they are nonetheless filling Trump's administration with their operatives, from VP Mike Pence to CIA chief Mike Pompeo to Ebell, Schnare and Groves. And on the Energy Department front, it's been reported by E&E that Thomas Pyle of Koch-funded American Energy Alliance is running the transition, while the Interior is being led by Doug Domenech, of Koch-funded Texas Public Policy Foundation. And according to PoliticoPRO, on the Treasury team are Heritage-affiliated Bill Walton and Curtis Dubay.
The question is: Does Trump even know the Kochs are pulling his strings? Or does he really think he's "No puppet?"
For years now, Senate Majority Leader and possible undercover turtle Mitch McConnell has been a stalwart defender of his Kentucky home in the so-called war on coal.
Delegates holding "Trump Digs Coal" signs at the Republican National Convention in July at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio.
With Obama on his way out and energy lobbyists ready to move into the White House, McConnell is surely telling everyone the war is soon over, right? Not exactly.
Which is why McConnell now says it's "hard to tell" if jobs will return because coal mining is "a private sector activity." Turns out that cheap natural gas and renewables are the real enemy of coal, not all those pesky regulations that fight asthma, black lung or climate change. After nearly a decade railing against the war on coal, it seems regulations are secondary to the one force the right loves most: the free market.
Which is why we now see a variety of stories that explain why Donald Trump can't stop the growth of clean energy. So he'll probably have to walk back on this campaign promise. Just like his promise to drain the swamp. Or to release his tax returns. Or to disclose his charitable giving. Or to ban Muslims from entering the U.S. Or to repeal Obamacare. Or to build a wall and make Mexico pay for it.
At this rate, Trump might break a record for broken promises before even starting his term.
Which is actually pretty encouraging.
The UN Economic Commission for Europe and World Coal Association are holding an event today and Thursday to tout the idea that coal is a cure for poverty. Sound off to you? There's a good reason for that.
A group of more than a dozen international organizations lead by the Overseas Development Institute have put out an in-depth report on the bogus claim that coal can cure poverty. It's true that more than a billion people around the world lack access to energy, but the report shows how more coal will make things worse.
The basic facts are very simple: Coal is a primary source of air pollution, which kills millions, and is a major driver of climate change. Climate change is very bad for all of us, but even worse for the world's most vulnerable.
At least 2,400 coal-fired power plants are in the planning or construction phases around the world right now. Building just a third of those would push the world over 2 C of global warming, worsen climate impacts and negatively impact the millions of people that are already struggling with air pollution.
Multiple coal companies, anti-climate action politicians, fossil fuel PR pros and denier groups have perpetuated the myth that getting rid of fossil fuels will deny millions of people access to energy and its economic benefits. Surely it is merely coincidence that as coal use declines in the U.S., they're hoping developing countries pick up the dirty energy addiction.
But they neglect to mention that only about 15 percent of the world's "energy poor" live in urban areas with existing power grids, the rest residing in rural areas where the grid doesn't reach. Building more coal plants to feed into the grid that people cannot connect to is not going to help. It will only eat away at the quickly-dwindling global carbon budget. If they actually wanted these rural populations to get connected, then distributed wind and solar would be the obvious answer, as they don't require a centralized grid.
So coal, as a poverty cure? That's rich.