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Here’s how Biden’s infrastructure package will likely tackle climate change

PUBLISHED MON, MAR 29 20217:00 AM EDT
Emma Newburger@EMMA_NEWBURGER
Source: CNBC

  • President Biden is set to unveil details of a major infrastructure package that’s expected to include record spending on climate change.
  • The recovery plan, to be unveiled this week, will likely involve installing thousands of electric vehicle charging stations and building millions of new energy-efficient homes.
  • The package is expected to incorporate Biden’s Build Back Better agenda and supports his broader goal to achieve carbon-free power generation by 2035 and net-zero emissions by 2050.
President Joe Biden delivers remarks on tackling climate change prior to signing executive actions as White House climate envoy John Kerry and Vice President Kamala Harris listen in the State Dining Room at the White House in Washington, U.S., January 27,
Source: CNBC
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

President Joe Biden delivers remarks on tackling climate change prior to signing executive actions as White House climate envoy John Kerry and Vice President Kamala Harris listen in the State Dining Room at the White House in Washington, U.S., January 27, 2021.Kevin Lemarque | Reuters

President Joe Biden this week is set to unveil details of a major infrastructure package that’s expected to include record spending on mitigating climate change and accelerating a nationwide transition to clean energy.

The president is expected to introduce up to $3 trillion in spending on efforts to boost the economy, including rebuilding aging infrastructure like highways, bridges and rail lines, and investing in technologies to reduce planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions.

Some of the policies on the table include:

  • Installing thousands of new electric vehicle charging stations
  • Funds to build energy-efficient homes
  • Constructing new electric power lines

The package may be split between two bills, starting with legislation that incorporates Biden’s Build Back Better agenda and supports his goal to achieve carbon-free power generation by 2035 and net-zero emissions by 2050.

The recovery plan will potentially involve installing thousands of electric vehicle charging stations and providing incentives to encourage Americans to purchase electric vehicles.

As a candidate, Biden vowed to establish ambitious fuel economy standards for gasoline cars to encourage a shift to electric vehicles. The transportation sector accounts for the largest share of U.S. emissions, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, and could be the most difficult to decarbonize.

The package also is primed to include funding to build millions of new energy-efficient homes and retrofit existing buildings to increase efficiency. There’s money to construct electric power lines that provide renewable energy and expand electricity storage.

Paul Bledsoe, a former Clinton White House climate advisor now with the Progressive Policy Institute, said Biden’s goal is to jumpstart the economy and create new jobs during the transition away from fossil fuels.

“Electrifying America’s cars and trucks, creating a nationwide smart grid, expanding electricity storage to allow more renewable energy, establishing universal high speed internet — all of these are intended to boost the productivity and competitiveness of the economy, while also cutting emissions,” Bledsoe said.

Loading low-carbon energy initiatives into an infrastructure bill will likely be more divisive in Congress than previous Covid stimulus legislation. The last major push to pass climate legislation through the Senate was in 2009, when congressional Democrats failed to pass a carbon-pricing system.

Some Democrats and climate activists fear that another failure to pass meaningful climate legislation amid concerns that a clean energy transition will cost jobs.

Some Republicans who opposed Biden’s pandemic relief package have also condemned the president’s goal to incorporate climate policy into infrastructure legislation.

Rep. Sam Graves, R-Mo., the top Republican on the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, said he’ll work with Democrats on infrastructure but that prioritizing climate issues would not receive GOP support.

“A transportation bill needs to be a transportation bill, not a Green New Deal,” Graves said during a hearing Thursday. “It needs to be about roads and bridges.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday she’ll support a bipartisan bill but will not eliminate components addressing climate change due to Republican objections.

“We cannot just settle for what we can agree on without recognizing that this has to be a bill for the future, that we have to recognize the climate crisis,” Pelosi told reporters.

Biden has argued that his actions on climate will create millions of jobs. The president has already issued a series of climate executive orders, including suspending new oil and gas leasing on federal lands and rejoining the U.S. into the Paris climate accord.

The administration is leaning toward pursuing the bipartisan infrastructure legislation and passing other components through budget reconciliation, which would require only Senate Democrats to vote.

“To gain the broadest support in Congress, Biden must emphasize the economic and jobs benefits of these investments first and foremost, not simply the climate benefits,” Bledsoe said.

Stephanie Gidigbi Jenkins, director for policy and partnerships at the Natural Resources Defense Council, said the administration’s infrastructure proposal so far is “clearly focused on the right problems.”

“Making these investments will create millions of good, American jobs and help us address the legacy of racial injustice,” Jenkins said.

“Given the ambitions from the Biden administration and the commitment from key congressional leaders, we now have a historic opportunity to rebuild our economy for a cleaner, brighter future,” Jenkins added. “We are confident that Congress can achieve these goals.”

How can driving electric improve your health? How does improving the environment improve your health? What other ways can you improve your environment and consequently your health?

Improving the Environment
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

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Biden’s over-under for Paris climate goal: 50 percent

A vigorous influence campaign is underway over the president’s forthcoming commitment to the Paris Agreement.
Source: NBC News
Photos Source: NBC News

March 19, 202101:28

U.S. President Joe Biden speaks about climate change issues in the State Dining Room of the White House on January 27, 2021 in Washington, DC. President Biden signed several executive orders related to the climate change crisis on Wednesday, including one directing a pause on new oil and natural gas leases on public lands.
Source: NBC News
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

U.S. President Joe Biden speaks about climate change issues in the State Dining Room of the White House on January 27, 2021.Pool / Getty ImagesMarch 19, 2021, 7:54 PM UTC / Updated March 22, 2021, 4:53 PM UTCBy Josh Lederman

WASHINGTON — How low can U.S. emissions go? Under President Joe Biden, the number to watch for may be 50 percent.

As he prepares for a global climate summit next month, a vigorous influence campaign is underway over the president’s forthcoming commitment to the Paris Agreement, with all eyes on whether he will pledge to cut greenhouse gas emissions by more or less than 50 percent by decade’s end.

To keep global temperatures in check, the United Nations says the world must nearly halve emissions by 2030 compared to a decade ago. This year, as Biden returns the U.S. to the Paris deal, an array of environmental groups, elected officials and scientists are backing a U.S. target of no less than 50 percent, a goal the nation is nowhere near on track to meet.

Behind the scenes, some Democrats and European officials are pushing for an ever more aggressive pledge. Yet the administration is getting pushback on the other end from business groups who say 50 percent is unrealistic, especially before Biden can even explain how he’ll get there, according to interviews with nearly a dozen industry officials, lobbyists and congressional aides. 

Source: NBC News
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

And many Republican lawmakers want him to skip the pledge altogether, arguing he’ll hand Beijing a massive economic advantage by committing to painful cuts while China lets its emissions continue rising. 

Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee’s top Republican, warned Biden would “set punishing targets for the United States, while our adversaries keep the status quo.”

That reasoning is roundly rejected by scientists and climate activists.

“This is not a moment to hide behind the inaction of other countries,” said Rachel Cleetus of the Union of Concerned Scientists, one of many groups calling for a cut of at least 50 percent.

In his first days in office, Biden committed the U.S. to zeroing out emissions of heat-trapping gases by 2050. But that’s a far-off goal the U.S. will either make or miss long after he’s left office. The more urgent question is how drastically the U.S. will cut emissions short-term.

Under the Paris Agreement, all countries were supposed to declare updated pledges, known as “nationally determined contributions,” for 2030. As of February, 75 parties to the deal had done so. 

The White House declined to comment on Biden’s decision. But administration officials said an announcement was expected on or before the global summit of presidents and prime ministers to tackle climate change that Biden announced just after taking office and will host on April 22, which coincides with Earth Day.

Biden and his special envoy for climate, John Kerry, hope to use that virtual summit to increase pressure on other polluters to announce their own ambitious pledges. Not all are invited. Kerry has said the 17 biggest-emitting countries will be, along with vulnerable nations bearing dramatic climate change impacts like Bangladesh and Palau.

Biden’s decision comes as new data shows the pledges to date are “nowhere close to the level of ambition needed” to achieve global goals of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, according to U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres. The combined pledges would produce a cut of less than 1 percent by 2030, the U.N. said. Other recent data show emissions are again climbing after a temporary pandemic dip.

Even at 50 percent, the U.S. would be far from setting the pace. The European Union has pledged at least a 55 percent cut compared to 1990 levels, while the U.K. promised 68 percent.

Climate Action Tracker, an independent scientific group, said this month the U.S. needs to cut 57 percent to 63 percent by 2030 to meet Biden’s goal of zero net emissions by mid-century.

In the U.S., a pledge of 50 percent or more has been embraced by the Environmental Defense Fund, Natural Resources Defense Council and World Resources Institute, along with the “America Is All In” coalition led by U.N. Special Envoy Mike Bloomberg and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee.

Another looming question: Whether Biden can back up his number with specifics about how he’ll force the needed cuts from the biggest-emitting sectors: transportation, electricity and heavy industry.

White House climate czar Gina McCarthy has been drafting plans, but what’s achievable depends heavily on what Biden can get through Congress, perhaps through infrastructure legislation, a question unlikely to be resolved before the summit.

“There are so many things that have to be put into place from technology to policy to market mechanisms,” said Marty Durbin, senior vice president of policy of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “In order to be durable, we’re going to need legislation passed by Congress.”

The American Petroleum Institute, the powerful oil and gas trade association that has tried as of late to rebrand the industry as a positive player on climate change, has endorsed “the ambitions of the Paris Agreement” but declined to say how much the U.S. should cut by 2030.

“The trajectory needs to be one that balances energy security and environmental goals in terms of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, continuing to promote economic growth and maintaining the competitiveness of the United States,” Aaron Padilla, who manages API’s climate policy, said in an interview. “That’s a very delicate balancing act.”Image: Josh LedermanJosh Lederman

Josh Lederman is an NBC News correspondent.

How has climate change or sever weather impacted you and yours where you live? How would rejoining the Paris Agreement improve the environment and weather where you live? Why?

Share your comments with the community by posting them below. Share the wealth of health with your friends and family by sharing this article with 3 people today. As always you are the best part of what we do. Keep sharing!

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Texas blackouts show the power grid isn’t ready for climate change

Source: LA Times
Photo(s) Source: LA Times

A woman wrapped in a blanket crosses the street near downtown Dallas
Source: LA Times
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

By SAMMY ROTH, STAFF WRITER
FEB. 16, 2021 8:34 PM PT

When a few hundred thousand California homes and businesses lost power for several hours last summer, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz wrote that the Golden State “is now unable to perform even basic functions of civilization, like having reliable electricity.”

What Texans have experienced over the last few days was far worse.

More than 4 million homes and businesses saw their electricity shut off as a powerful cold snap sent temperatures into the single digits, driving up demand for heating while simultaneously freezing much of the energy infrastructure that would normally keep people warm. Rolling blackouts began in the wee hours of Monday morning and continued into Tuesday evening.

At least 20 people were reported dead in storm-related incidents in the eastern half of the country, including several in Texas — and experts said it was all but certain that the death toll would rise. Harris County, home to Houston, reported hundreds of cases of carbon monoxide poisoning as people tried to stay warm by using portable generators or running their cars indoors.

But for all the differences between the events in Texas and California’s more limited rolling blackouts last year, there’s a common lesson: Extreme weather events are becoming more frequent and more severe as the climate crisis worsens. And the U.S. power grid is not prepared to handle the hotter heat storms, more frigid cold snaps and stronger hurricanes of a changing planet.

“It’s gonna be bad,” said Ed Hirs, an energy economist at the University of Houston.

Adding to the challenge, efforts to harden existing infrastructure against extreme weather won’t be enough.

Most of the country’s power comes from coal, oil and natural gas — the very fuels driving climate change. The grid of the future will need to be powered primarily by zero-carbon electricity sources, such as solar and wind — and rebuilding the grid from top to bottom, without further disrupting energy supplies, will be a delicate balancing act.

Inside and out, the 2020 Mazda CX-30 is built to make you feel alive. Read more on Edmunds.

California and Texas offer a preview of the risks, and potential solutions.

In the Lone Star State, some skeptics of climate change blamed the rolling blackouts on frozen wind turbines. The Wall Street Journal editorial board used the emergency to argue that the nation’s power grid “is becoming less reliable due to growing reliance on wind and solar, which can’t provide power 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”

Cattle graze among wind turbines near Stanton, Texas.
Source: LA Times
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which operates the power grid for most of the state, told a different story.

ERCOT data showed that wind farms generated less electricity overall than the grid operator would have expected during a cold snap, although at times they exceeded expectations. But the power sources that underperformed on the largest scale were coal and gas plants that had equipment freeze over or couldn’t get sufficient fuel on site as drilling operations and pipelines struggled to work properly. At one point, 34 gigawatts of power were offline — more than a third of the state’s generating capacity.

Wholesale electricity prices jumped by more than 10,000% Monday as power supplies grew scarce.

“If we believe climate change is fueling these events, we can’t just keep doing more of the same, or we’ll be in the same boat in the not-too-distant future,” said Joshua Rhodes, an energy researcher at the University of Texas at Austin.

It’s a boat Texans who lost power over the last 48 hours have no desire to be in again.Newsletter

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In Austin, Lezli Regis, 42, was trapped by the storm in her one-bedroom apartment with her 9-year-old son Theo and their three cats, all surrounding roads impassable. She tried to go to work Saturday at the veterinary clinic she manages but had to turn around. She lost power and hot water at the start of the storm, and most of the contents of her refrigerator spoiled.

By Tuesday, she was running out of food.

“We might start eating cat food, because there’s literally nothing else,” she said.

Texas wasn’t the only state to find itself short on power amid the storm. The Southwest Power Pool, which oversees the electric grid across parts of 14 states from Louisiana to Montana, also ordered rotating outages Monday and Tuesday.

But Texas has suffered the worst blackouts, and residents have vented their frustration on social media, with many pleading for help from ERCOT, Gov. Greg Abbott and Sens. Cruz and John Cornyn. Some Texans wrote that they were struggling to care for newborns and infants without power or heat. Others worried about nursing homes that had been without power overnight.

Vanessa Daniel, a U.S. Army veteran, was sheltering with her 11-year-old son at their home in Killeen, where they lost power and a refrigerator full of food due to the storm. Daniel, 32, said she was worried about elderly neighbors and those with babies, and about a nearby warming center where the coronavirus might spread.

“This is incredibly careless on the part of our leaders to leave people without power for days at a time,” she said.

Austin, Texas, is blanketed in snow on Feb. 15, 2021, after a storm dropped several inches of snow across the city.
Source: LA Times
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

While rising global temperatures are the best-known consequence of burning fossil fuels, there’s also a growing body of scientific evidence linking this kind of cold spell across the middle of the country to rapidly warming conditions in the Arctic.

While the exact mechanisms underlying those links aren’t clear yet, the simple reality is that heat, cold and hurricanes are “all in the same bucket,” said Jennifer Francis, a senior scientist at Woodwell Climate Research Center in Massachusetts.

“As we continue to basically dump our waste products from fossil fuel burning into the atmosphere and increase the thickness of the greenhouse blanket around the Earth, we’re changing the climate system in many ways,” Francis said. “Extreme events of many sorts are going to become more frequent, more intense and longer-lasting.”

The nonprofit research group Climate Central analyzed federal data last year and found that hurricanes, wildfires, heat storms and other extreme weather events caused 67% more power outages in the United States during the decade ending in 2019 than they did during the previous decade.

Climate change was a factor in California’s blackouts last August; officials said the state experienced four of its five hottest August days in the last 35 years. Temperature records were shattered across the West, limiting California’s ability to make up for its energy deficit by importing electrons from other states. The power was needed elsewhere.

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At the same time, global warming alone didn’t force the lights to go out. State officials laid some of the blame on their own poor planning, including a failure to compel utilities to build enough clean energy infrastructure that can power the grid when solar panels stop generating each evening, such as lithium-ion batteries or geothermal power plants.

Unlike California, which is targeting 100% climate-friendly electricity by 2045, Texas has no requirements to phase out fossil fuels.

But for all the political and economic power that oil and gas companies still wield in Texas — and for all the time Cruz and some other conservatives spend decrying renewable energy — Texas got 23% of its electricity from wind turbines last year.

Nearly two-thirds of Texas’ power comes from fossil fuels, compared with just one-third in California. But there’s still plenty of room for Texas to grow its wind and solar industries, and experts say it can do so while better preparing for extreme weather.

For one thing, the state operates most of its power grid as an island separate from the rest of the country, with few connections to the two major electric systems that tie together most of the lower 48 states. Originally devised as a means of avoiding federal regulation of Texas energy markets, the isolation today means ERCOT is relatively limited in its ability to import supply from other states.

“There’s a lot of excess power in this country, but we just don’t have the extension cords to bring it here,” Rhodes said.

Electric transmission lines along a power corridor near Southern California Edison's Vincent substation north of Los Angeles.
Source: LA Times
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

There could be climate benefits, too, from building more power lines to connect Texas with other parts of the country — mainly from making it easier to access far-flung solar and wind energy. Researchers say it’s easier and cheaper to reduce planet-warming emissions on larger power grids, because even if it’s cloudy and still in some places, it’s usually sunny and windy elsewhere.

Building better-insulated homes could be another important change.

In the Northeast and Great Lakes regions, homes are typically built to retain heat during near-zero temperatures. Not so in Texas, where hot spells, rather than cold snaps, are typically the greatest worry.

Upgrading buildings with thicker walls, strategically placed windows and other energy-efficiency measures would save lives, protect people who can’t afford higher power bills and reduce the need to spend large sums of money expanding the power grid, said Emily Grubert, a social scientist and engineer at Georgia Tech. But “weatherization” programs that help people with the upfront costs of those fixes must be improved, she added, because they often exclude the people who need them most.

“Maybe the building is condemned, or there are holes in the roof or the walls that end up making these buildings ineligible for the support programs, because the building is considered to be in such bad shape that it isn’t worth investing in,” Grubert said. “The programs don’t allow you to spend money on repairs, just upgrades.”

GRANADA HILLS, CA - JANUARY 04, 2020: Tim McKibben, left, a senior installer for the solar company, Sunrun, and installer Aaron Newsom install solar panels on the roof of a home in Granada Hills. In foreground carrying another solar panel to be installed is lead installer Luis Jimenez. (Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)
Source: LA Times
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

Jan. 5, 2021

Rooftop solar power paired with batteries is another possible answer for Texans, and Californians, looking to keep the lights on.

In the Houston suburb of Sugar Land on Tuesday, Mark LeClair, 43, was trying to stem storm damage to his kitchen, where a pipe burst even after he wrapped it in insulation. He works remotely for a California-based construction company, managing software, and recalls having to work through the Golden State’s brownouts in August. A native Texan and lifelong Republican, he credits oil and gas with fueling the state’s economy. But he said this week’s outages have him planning to install solar panels at his house.

“We need to move toward sustainable energy,” he said.

Cruz disagrees. During California’s grid emergency last summer, he wrote that Joe Biden, Kamala Harris and U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), a leading supporter of the Green New Deal, “want to make CA’s failed energy policy the standard nationwide.”

With President Biden pledging to achieve 100% clean energy by 2035 — and solar and wind now the cheapest sources of electricity in most of the world — that’s the way the country is going. The key question is whether policymakers like Cruz are willing to get creative to make it work, or whether they’ll double down on a power grid that’s already beginning to fail.

Times staff writer Molly Hennessy-Fiske contributed to this report from Houston.

What does climate change look like in your area? What extreme weather is in your area? How common is it? How does it impact the health of those in the area?

Share your comments with the community by posting them below. Share the wealth of health with your friends and family by sharing this article with 3 people today. As always you are the best part of what we do. Keep sharing!

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Opinion: How Biden’s climate-change directives could wind up cooling real estate markets on the coasts

Paul Brandus

Published: March 16, 2021 at 10:52 a.m. ETB
Source: Market Watch

Under the new president, it could get more expensive to live in Florida and other areas besieged by rising temperatures and tides.

Sunny Isles Beach, Fla. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Source: Market Watch
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

An executive order signed by President Biden could wind up cooling the real estate market in places where it’s been hot. Or at least appears to be. Why “appears”? I’ll get to that in a second. 

The Jan. 27 order on “Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad” warns of “catastrophic impacts” if nothing is done to stop rising temperatures and sea levels.

The president ordered federal agencies to post scientific data and analysis on websites like those of the Environmental Protection Agency, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and others. This and more, he argues, “will help to catalyze private sector investment into, and accelerate the advancement of America’s industrial capacity to supply, domestic clean energy, buildings, vehicles, and other necessary products and materials.”

What does this have to do with the real estate market? 

You hear about so many people moving to Florida these days that you’d think the sheer weight of everyone would tilt the state, which barely sits above sea level, into the water. It’s a huge boom, two paragons of the truth — politicians and real estate developers — tell us. 

Yes, Florida grew last year, but at the slowest pace in nearly a decade, according to the state’s own “Demographic Estimating Conference.” The data are backed up by Atlas Van Lines, which says the number of people it moved into the Sunshine State in 2020 was the lowest in nine years — about 50% both inbound and outbound.

It takes a hardy soul to put up with Florida. The stifling heat and drenching humidity. Hurricanes are a worry for months each year. And Miami traffic is “a horrible hellscape of misery,” says the Miami Herald.    

But, hey, there’s no income tax. 

And the sea level I mentioned earlier? It’s unstoppable.

“The sea at the southern end of the Florida Peninsula has risen a foot since the 1900s, and almost 5 inches since 1993,” notes Mario Alejandro Ariza of Yale University, while other scientists say they could rise another six inches by 2030.  

If you think this sounds like one giant infrastructure play, you’re right. Miami is spending big to hold off the inevitable — floodgates, raising structures above ground and more. The Herald says rising groundwater has already caused “dangerous (and gross) septic failures across Miami-Dade County, a problem that cost $3 billion to solve in Miami-Dade alone.” In the meantime, building codes aren’t keeping up. 

It’s hardly just Florida. Threatened cities everywhere are raising taxes, issuing bonds, hiking water bills and more to cope. That’s if states and municipalities can even acknowledge there’s a problem. It hasn’t helped, for example, that lawmakers — and it’s objective to note that they all seem to be Republicans — have downplayed these sorts of problems in recent years.

When Rick Scott was governor of Florida (he’s now a U.S. Senator), he was accused of banning phrases like “climate change” and “global warming.” Former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett was accused of the same thing, and in 2012 North Carolina’s GOP-controlled state legislature passed a law banning the state from considering climate science in any projection of future sea levels. (That has since been changed.)

This denialism peaked during the presidency of Donald Trump, when federal departments like the EPA scrubbed websites of data and analysis that didn’t mesh with the president’s views that climate change is “mythical,” “nonexistent” or “an expensive hoax” — though in fairness he later claimed it was a “serious subject” that is “very important to me”.

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Even so, data that vanished from federal websites in the early stages of his presidency generally was never replaced.

There was one federal agency Trump couldn’t control as well, however, the biggest one of all:  the Department of Defense. Ask the generals and admirals in the Pentagon what the biggest threats to U.S. national security are and they’ll reel off the usual things. China. Russia. North Korea. Cyber hacking, to name but four. But right up there, near the very top they add another: Global warming. 

The brass has been warning of this for at least 30 years; here’s a list of reports spanning both Republican and Democratic presidents and both Republican and Democratic Congresses. 

A typical line, from 2003, says climate change “should be elevated beyond a scientific debate to a U.S. national security concern.” Rising temperatures and sea levels, the studies forecast, translate into everything from famine and mass migration (e.g., Syria’s decade-long civil war) to “potential impacts to Department of Defense missions, operational plans, and installations.”

There were similar reports during Trump’s presidency. Here’s one that notes regular and increasing flooding at Hampton Roads, Va., home to America’s biggest U.S. Navy base, and problems at other critical installations around the country.

“It is important that climate change impacts not be treated as just an environmental challenge,” the report says, but as something that can affect national security strategy itself.   

Trump was skeptical. “I don’t believe it,” he once said of such Pentagon analysis. 

But Biden does. So here’s a prediction: One reason coastal development has continued to boom is because business risk is often mispriced and transferred to other taxpayers, who fork over billions for things like FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program.

You might live in the Rocky Mountains but subsidize insurance for someone to live on North Carolina’s rapidly eroding Outer Banks, for example. This won’t go on much longer.

On Sunday, a North Carolina newspaper said that “[b]ig flood insurance rate changes are coming,” and that it’ll be a blow to the climate change denier crowd. On Monday, a report in an insurance industry publication, “Claims Journal,” said: “Floridians are underpaying for flood insurance.” 

As risk is repriced in coastal markets — pricing is also becoming far more granular because the data are better — developers and buyers will begin to modify their thinking. Banks may charge more for loans. Insurance premiums will rise. 

Let’s go back to southern Florida. For every hedge fund big shot, pro athlete and movie star we read about moving in, there are thousands of people living in less affluent areas who have most of their savings tied up in modest homes.

They face, says Yale’s Ariza, “the prospect of generations of wealth being wiped out when the property market inevitably craters in the face of rising seas.”

There won’t be anybody to sell to and they’ll be left not high and dry, but under water, in more ways than one. 

Where do you live? We are based in Hampton Roads, Virginia and experience flooding frequently. Is there flooding in your area? What type of extreme weather do you see in your area?

Share your comments with the community by posting them below. Share the wealth of health with your friends and family by sharing this article with 3 people today. As always you are the best part of what we do. Keep sharing!

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Biden administration wants the financial sector to face up to climate risk

Shidonna Garden and Cook

Commodity Futures Trading Commission to create a new ‘climate risk unit,’ joining initiatives at Treasury, Securities and Exchange Commission, Federal Reserve

By Steven Mufson and Juliet Eilperin
March 17, 2021 at 10:50 a.m. EDT
Source: The Washington Post
Featured Source Photo: Unsplash, John O’Nolan

A growing number of federal regulators are pushing corporate America to reckon with the cost of climate change, arguing that global warming poses significant peril not only to the environment but to the U.S. economy.

On Wednesday, Rostin Behnam, the acting chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, will announce that he is establishing a Climate Risk Unit to focus on the role of complex financial derivatives in understanding and pricing climate-related hazards. That follows a request on Monday by the Securities and Exchange Commission for public input on how to require companies to disclose “consistent, comparable, and reliable information on climate change” risks to investors.

The moves come as President Biden’s administration is pledging to slash greenhouse gas emissions and after 2020 set a U.S. record for billion-dollar weather and climate disasters. There were 22 extreme weather events last year, ranging from tropical cyclones to drought, that cost taxpayers, businesses, investors and homeowners a combined $95 billion, according to the federal government.

In recent weeks, the Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve have highlighted the ballooning costs of extreme weather linked to climate change and also flagged the potential danger to businesses, banking and investments that could come from a rocky transition away from an economy rooted in fossil fuels.

“Climate change poses a major threat to U.S. financial stability, and I believe we must move urgently and assertively in utilizing our wide-ranging and flexible authorities to address emerging risks,” Behnam said in a statement to The Washington Post. He added that the agency’s “unique mission” and its attention to risk and prices “puts us on the front lines of this effort.”

The CFTC action — one of several taken across the Biden administration in less than two months — could shift investment decisions across the nation by signaling to markets that it is costlier to invest in fossil fuels and other projects that could exacerbate global warming. At the same time, these policies could make it easier to finance clean energy and other efforts aimed at addressing climate change.

Last fall, Behnam helped oversee a report issued unanimously by one of the commission’s advisory panels calling on all federal financial regulators to develop strategies for addressing climate risk with their existing authorities. Behnam and others think that if financial institutions don’t assess, monitor and manage climate risks, they could face debilitating losses or be unable to shift to a greener economy.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen — who in her confirmation hearings called climate change “an existential threat to not only our environment, but also our economy” — has established a new senior position for climate. And the Securities and Exchange Commission on Monday requested public input on how to revise disclosure rules to include “consistent, comparable, and reliable information on climate change.” The Federal Reserve is also examining climate risks.

“No single issue has been more pressing for me than ensuring that the SEC is fully engaged in confronting the risks and opportunities that climate and [environment, social and governance issues] pose for investors, our financial system, and our economy,” SEC commissioner Allison Herren Lee said at the Center for American Progress on Monday.

Among the steps the agencies could take are altering the way oil companies calculate their carbon-rich reserves; changing how farmers count the carbon storage increased by improved tilling techniques; making sure cap-and-trade credits in California and the northeast’s Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative are properly measured; and ensuring that bond or derivative funds don’t include funds from “green bonds” that aren’t green.

The moves are designed to make people comfortable enough to invest private capital at levels that could rival or exceed federal climate spending. Deputy White House national climate adviser Ali Zaidi, who helped write a 2016 report outlining the climate change risks faced by the federal government, said in an interview that the government can use its leverage to make climate risks more obvious.

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‘’The market is ready to differentiate based on exposures to climate risk,” Zaidi said. “And so that’s another place where the president ran on it, and has a conviction that by getting more of that data out there in a consistent and comparable way, you get the market what it needs to be able to differentiate based on exposure to climate-related risks.”

There has been so much discussion about climate by financial regulators since Biden took office that it has “frankly been difficult to keep up with the steady stream of policy developments in this area,” said Jack Lienke, regulatory policy director at the NYU School of Law’s Institute for Policy Integrity.

“Requiring disclosure of potential climate harms is, to be sure, no substitute for seeking to prevent those harms through greenhouse gas reductions, or for taking steps to protect vulnerable communities from climate effects,” Lienke said. “But it can inform those necessary efforts.”

Some sectors, however, are likely to push against efforts by the agencies. The fossil fuel industry has often challenged federal efforts to evaluate companies based on sustainability criteria often known as Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance (ESG).

“Our industry is ready to engage with the Biden administration in continuing our private-sector efforts to drive progress on ESG issues,” said Aaron Padilla, manger of climate and ESG policy at the American Petroleum Institute. But he said that “any future regulatory actions must be workable for different industries, support access to capital for all sectors, and allow for companies’ reporting to demonstrate the multiple pathways toward managing climate opportunities and risks, rather than a one-size-fits-all approach.”

Donald Trump’s administration issued two regulations aimed at blocking retirement plan advisers from weighing corporate environmental, social and governance factors when investing funds. On March 10, the Labor Department announced that it would not enforce the rules. Although it is not rescinding the rules at this point, the department said, it will “revisit” them.

Republicans have also voiced concerns about requiring private companies to evaluate their operations’ climate effects and vulnerabilities. At a confirmation hearing this month for Gary Gensler, a former Goldman Sachs executive whom Biden has chosen to head the Securities and Exchange Commission, Sen. Patrick J. Toomey (R-Pa.) said that “the securities laws are not the appropriate vehicle to regulate climate change nor to correct racial injustice or intimidate companies regarding political spending.”

But Gensler, a former CFTC chairman, made it clear that he plans to make climate change a priority. “Increasingly, investors really want to see — tens of trillion of dollars in assets behind it — climate risk disclosure,” he said at the March 2 hearing.

Gensler told the senators that “issuers would benefit from such guidance. So I think through good economic analysis, working with the staff, putting out to the public to get public feedback, that is something the commission, if I’m confirmed, would work on.”

Nell Minow, vice chair of ValueEdge Advisors, an activist shareholder advisory firm, said “the SEC’s number one job” is to force companies to divulge to investors any information that is “material” or big enough to alter the course of the firms. “Every company really needs to up its game on this,” she said.

The Federal Reserve has also shown an increased willingness to take on the issue. In November, it asked to join the Network for Greening the Financial System, a coalition of central banks and bank supervisors from around the world working to manage climate risks. Just days before, Chair Jerome H. Powell told reporters that when it comes to long-term climate risks, “we take it as our obligation to, you know, to understand these risks and incorporate them into the way we supervise and think about the overall financial system and the economy.”

And a month ago, Lael Brainard, a member of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, announced support for applying a climate scenario analysis and mandatory disclosures to financial firms.

But Daniel Waldman, a senior counsel at Arnold and Porter and a former general counsel at the CFTC, saidBiden officials have yet to outline exactly how they will translate their concerns about climate into action. “There is a tremendous amount of activity, but other than people talking about it and insisting on increased sensitivity, it is not entirely clear to me what’s actually happening,” he said.58 Comments

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Steven Mufson covers the business of climate change for The Washington Post. Since joining The Post in 1989, he has covered economic policy, China, diplomacy, energy and the White House. Earlier, he worked for The Wall Street Journal. In 2020, he shared the Pulitzer Prize for a climate change series “2C: Beyond the Limit.” Follow

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Juliet Eilperin is a Pulitzer Prize-winning senior national affairs correspondent for The Washington Post, covering environmental and energy policy. She has written two books, “Demon Fish: Travels Through the Hidden World of Sharks” and “Fight Club Politics: How Partisanship is Poisoning the House of Representatives.” Follow

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‘Run The Oil Industry In Reverse’: Fighting Climate Change By Farming Kelp

March 1, 20215:00 AM ET
FRED BEVER
Source: NPR

Source: NPR
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Adam Baske (left) and Capt. Rob Odlin of Running Tide Technologies in the Gulf of Maine. They release rope that’s entwined with early-stage kelp, a fast growing seaweed that will soak up carbon dioxide. Fred Bever/Maine Public

In the race to stall or even reverse global warming, new efforts are in the works to pull carbon dioxide out of the air and put it somewhere safe.

One startup in Maine has a vision that is drawing attention from scientists and venture capitalists alike: to bury massive amounts of seaweed at the bottom of the ocean, where it will lock away carbon for thousands of years.

The company is called Running Tide Technologies, and it’s prototyping the concept this winter. On a recent day in the Gulf of Maine, boat captain Rob Odlin says the task itself isn’t much different from any other in his seafaring career, whether chasing tuna or harvesting lobster.

“We’re just fishing for carbon now, and kelp’s the net,” he says.

Running Tide CEO Marty Odlin — the boat captain’s nephew — comes from a long line of Maine fishermen, and once imagined he would continue the tradition. But he watched as the warming climate drove major shifts in fish populations, while regulators put a lid on how much could be taken from the sea.

“It just got really hard for me to go into crazy debt to buy a boat to catch fish that were swimming away,” Odlin says.

The Dartmouth-trained engineer did start an oyster farm. But he also started thinking about how to stop the damage in the Gulf of Maine, one of the fastest warming bodies of water on the planet.

“Essentially what we have to do is run the oil industry in reverse,” he concluded.

As Odlin notes, the fossil fuels we burn for energy started out as plants millions of years ago. Much of it was ocean algae that sank to the bottom of ancient seas, where chemistry and water pressure transformed it into oil, over geologic timescales.

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Olivia Mercier runs the kelp hatchery at Portland’s Running Tide Technologies. She raises sporophytes, or early-stage kelp, on a pipe wrapped with biodegradable string; the string will be placed in the ocean.Fred Bever/Maine Public

Odlin wants to mimic those natural processes, and do it in a hurry. He envisions an armada heading hundreds of miles offshore each fall, to deploy millions of free-floating cellulose buoys, each tethered to a kelp-bearing rope.

The kelp will soak up carbon — gigatons of it — via photosynthesis. Months later the mature plant blades will grow too heavy for their biodegradable buoys.

“So the kelp will sink to the ocean bottom in the sediment, and become, essentially, part of the ocean floor,” Odlin says. The ultimate goal is that it will stay there, sequestrated for millions of years, turning back into oil.

This year’s goal is more modest: an on-the-water experiment, floating about 1600 single-buoy “micro-farms” to gather data and prove the concept.

Low-tech elegance

The company is part of a new wave of big-thinking about removing carbon from the atmosphere at a planetary-scale.

Microsoft last year committed a billion dollars to kick-start research and development in the emerging field of carbon-removal tech. It also promised to find ways to remove all the CO2 its operations have put in the air since it was founded.

High-tech carbon-removal innovations are emerging around the world. Towering banks of fans that can pull CO2 from the sky. Pumps injecting plant-based biofuels into the earth. But Running Tide seems to be capturing attention — and investment — because of its low-tech elegance.

“When we started learning about Running Tide’s approach, I was blown away by the simplicity,” says Stacy Kauk, who directs sustainability efforts at Shopify, a $150-billion e-commerce company which will be Running Tide’s first customer for carbon-capture credits.

She says Shopify is willing to pay a premium for the credits now, in hopes the technology can ultimately be brought to a price-point that would attract broad buy-in from other businesses and governments.

“They’re not relying on expensive equipment, or energy-intensive processes,” she says. “It’s very simple, and the economies of scale associated with that make Running Tide’s solution have huge potential.”

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Marty Odlin, CEO of Running Tide Technologies, in its workshop on Portland’s waterfront. The Dartmouth-trained engineer comes from a fishing family and once wanted to be a fisherman. But after seeing global warming’s effects on the Gulf of Maine fisheries he decided to try and reverse the damage.Fred Bever/Maine Public

At a large scale, though, Running Tide is mindful there could be unwanted consequences. It’s modeling whether, for instance, a multitude of free-floating micro-farms could entangle whales, hinder shipping, or foul beaches.

Outside experts are pitching in: A consortium of oceanographers from MIT, Stanford and other top research outfits will review the project and its environmental risks. But executive director Brad Ack says all that will be weighed in the context of the urgency of combating climate change.

“We have to compare them against the no-action alternative,” he says. “And in this case, the no-action alternative is very grim.”

Running Tide’s Marty Odlin says it will take a World-War II level mobilization to remove a major chunk of some 200 years’ worth of humanity’s CO2 pollution, whether via his model or any others that show real-world promise.

“We’re kind of in a cage-match with it right now,” he says. “I’m not in this to give Godzilla a paper-cut.”

For now, from his uncle’s re-purposed lobster boat off Maine’s coast, the Running Tide team is tending the buoys, making sure they survive the winter storms. They’ll return in the spring to sink this test-crop of carbon-removing kelp a thousand meters deep, hopefully to stay there for millennia.

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FACT SHEET: President Biden Takes Executive Actions to Tackle the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad, Create Jobs, and Restore Scientific Integrity Across Federal Government

JANUARY 27, 2021 • STATEMENTS AND RELEASES
Source: The White House

Biden-Harris Administration Commits on Climate Change – Creating Jobs, Building Infrastructure, and Delivering Environmental Justice

Today, President Biden will take executive action to tackle the climate crisis at home and abroad while creating good-paying union jobs and equitable clean energy future, building modern and sustainable infrastructure, restoring scientific integrity and evidence-based policymaking across the federal government, and re-establishing the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology.

These Executive Orders follow through on President Biden’s promise to take aggressive action to tackle climate change and build on the executive actions that the President took on his first day in office, including rejoining the Paris Agreement and immediate review of harmful rollbacks of standards that protect our air, water, and communities.

President Biden set ambitious goals that will ensure America and the world can meet the urgent demands of the climate crisis, while empowering American workers and businesses to lead a clean energy revolution that achieves a carbon pollution-free power sector by 2035 and puts the United States on an irreversible path to a net-zero economy by 2050. Today’s actions advance those goals and ensure that we are tapping into the talent, grit, and innovation of American workers, revitalizing the U.S. energy sector, conserving our natural resources and leveraging them to help drive our nation toward a clean energy future, creating well-paying jobs with the opportunity to join a union, and delivering justice for communities who have been subjected to environmental harm.

President Biden will also sign an important Presidential Memorandum on scientific integrity to send a clear message that the Biden-Harris Administration will protect scientists from political interference and ensure they can think, research, and speak freely to provide valuable information and insights to the American people. Additionally, and in line with the scientific-integrity memorandum’s charge to reestablish scientific advisory committees, President Biden will sign an Executive Order re-establishing the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology.

TACKLING THE CLIMATE CRISIS AT HOME AND ABROAD EXECUTIVE ORDER

Today’s Executive Order takes bold steps to combat the climate crisis both at home and throughout the world. In signing this Executive Order, President Biden has directed his Administration to:

Center the Climate Crisis in U.S. Foreign Policy and National Security Considerations

  • The order clearly establishes climate considerations as an essential element of U.S. foreign policy and national security. 
  • The order affirms that, in implementing – and building on – the Paris Agreement’s objectives, the United States will exercise its leadership to promote a significant increase in global ambition. It makes clear that both significant short-term global emission reductions and net zero global emissions by mid-century – or before – are required to avoid setting the world on a dangerous, potentially catastrophic, climate trajectory. 
  • The order reaffirms that the President will host a Leaders’ Climate Summit on Earth Day, April 22, 2021; that the United States will reconvene the Major Economies Forum; that, to underscore the administration’s commitment to elevating climate in U.S. foreign policy, the President has created a new position, the Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, which will have a seat on the National Security Council, and that it will be a U.S. priority to press for enhanced climate ambition and integration of climate considerations across a wide range of international fora.
  • The order also kicks off the process of developing the United States’ “nationally determined contribution” – our emission reduction target – under the Paris Agreement, as well as a climate finance plan.
  • Among numerous other steps aimed at prioritizing climate in U.S. foreign policy and national security, the order directs the Director of National Intelligence to prepare a National Intelligence Estimate on the security implications of climate change, the State Department to prepare a transmittal package to the Senate for the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol, and all agencies to develop strategies for integrating climate considerations into their international work.

Take a Whole-of-Government Approach to the Climate Crisis

  • The order formally establishes the White House Office of Domestic Climate Policy – led by the first-ever National Climate Advisor and Deputy National Climate Advisor – creating a central office in the White House that is charged with coordinating and implementing the President’s domestic climate agenda.
  • The order establishes the National Climate Task Force, assembling leaders from across 21 federal agencies and departments to enable a whole-of-government approach to combatting the climate crisis.

Leverage the Federal Government’s Footprint and Buying Power to Lead by Example

  • Consistent with the goals of the President’s Build Back Better jobs and economic recovery plan, of which his clean energy jobs plan is a central pillar, the order directs the federal agencies to procure carbon pollution-free electricity and clean, zero-emission vehicles to create good-paying, union jobs and stimulate clean energy industries.
  • In addition, the order requires those purchases be Made in America, following President Biden’s Buy American executive order. The order also directs agencies to apply and strictly enforce the prevailing wage and benefit guidelines of the Davis Bacon and other acts and encourage Project Labor Agreements. These actions reaffirm that agencies should work to ensure that any jobs created with funds to address the climate crisis are good jobs with a choice to join a union.
  • The order directs each federal agency to develop a plan to increase the resilience of its facilities and operations to the impacts of climate change and directs relevant agencies to report on ways to expand and improve climate forecast capabilities – helping facilitate public access to climate related information and assisting governments, communities, and businesses in preparing for and adapting to the impacts of climate change.
  • The order directs the Secretary of the Interior to pause on entering into new oil and natural gas leases on public lands or offshore waters to the extent possible, launch a rigorous review of all existing leasing and permitting practices related to fossil fuel development on public lands and waters, and identify steps that can be taken to double renewable energy production from offshore wind by 2030. The order does not restrict energy activities on lands that the United States holds in trust for Tribes. The Secretary of the Interior will continue to consult with Tribes regarding the development and management of renewable and conventional energy resources, in conformance with the U.S. government’s trust responsibilities.
  • The order directs federal agencies to eliminate fossil fuel subsidies as consistent with applicable law and identify new opportunities to spur innovation, commercialization, and deployment of clean energy technologies and infrastructure. 

Rebuild Our Infrastructure for a Sustainable Economy

  • The order catalyzes the creation of jobs in construction, manufacturing, engineering and the skilled-trades by directing steps to ensure that every federal infrastructure investment reduces climate pollution and that steps are taken to accelerate clean energy and transmission projects under federal siting and permitting processes in an environmentally sustainable manner.

Advance Conservation, Agriculture, and Reforestation

  • The order commits to the goal of conserving at least 30 percent of our lands and oceans by 2030 and launches a process for stakeholder engagement from agricultural and forest landowners, fishermen, Tribes, States, Territories, local officials, and others to identify strategies that will result in broad participation. 
  • The order also calls for the establishment of a Civilian Climate Corps Initiative to put a new generation of Americans to work conserving and restoring public lands and waters, increasing reforestation, increasing carbon sequestration in the agricultural sector, protecting biodiversity, improving access to recreation, and addressing the changing climate.
  • The order directs the Secretary of Agriculture to collect input from farmers, ranchers, and other stakeholders on how to use federal programs to encourage adoption of climate-smart agricultural practices that produce verifiable carbon reductions and sequestrations and create new sources of income and jobs for rural Americans.

Revitalize Energy Communities

  • The order establishes an Interagency Working Group on Coal and Power Plant Communities and Economic Revitalization, to be co-chaired by the National Climate Advisor and the Director of the National Economic Council, and directs federal agencies to coordinate investments and other efforts to assist coal, oil and natural gas, and power plant communities. 
  • The order tasks the new Interagency Working Group to advance projects that reduce emissions of toxic substances and greenhouse gases from existing and abandoned infrastructure and that prevent environmental damage that harms communities and poses a risk to public health and safety – such as projects to reduce methane emissions, oil and brine leaks, and other environmental harms from tens of thousands of former mining and well sites.
  • In addition, the new Interagency Working Group is also directed to explore efforts to turn properties idled in these communities, like brownfields, into new hubs for the growth of our economy.

Secure Environmental Justice and Spur Economic Opportunity

  • The order formalizes President Biden’s commitment to make environmental justice a part of the mission of every agency by directing federal agencies to develop programs, policies, and activities to address the disproportionate health, environmental, economic, and climate impacts on disadvantaged communities.
  • The order establishes a White House Environmental Justice Interagency Council and a White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council to prioritize environmental justice and ensure a whole-of-government approach to addressing current and historical environmental injustices, including strengthening environmental justice monitoring and enforcement through new or strengthened offices at the Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Justice, and Department of Health and Human Services.  The new bodies are also tasked with advising on ways to update Executive Order 12898 of February 11, 1994.
  • The order creates a government-wide Justice40 Initiative with the goal of delivering 40 percent of the overall benefits of relevant federal investments to disadvantaged communities and tracks performance toward that goal through the establishment of an Environmental Justice Scorecard.
  • The order initiates the development of a Climate and Environmental Justice Screening Tool, building off EPA’s EJSCREEN, to identify disadvantaged communities, support the Justice40 Initiative, and inform equitable decision making across the federal government

SCIENTIFIC INTEGRITY PRESIDENTIAL MEMORANDUM
The Presidential Memorandum on Scientific Integrity and Evidence-Based Policymaking directs agencies to make evidence-based decisions guided by the best available science and data. Scientific and technological information, data, and evidence are central to the development and iterative improvement of sound policies, and to the delivery of effective and equitable programs. Improper political interference in the scientific process, with the work of scientists, and in the communication of scientific facts undermines the welfare of the nation, contributes to systemic inequities and injustices, and violates the public trust.

The memorandum charges the Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) with the responsibility for ensuring scientific integrity across federal agencies. The OSTP Director is directed to review the effectiveness of agency scientific-integrity policies and assess agency scientific-integrity policies and practices going forward.

In addition, agencies that oversee, direct, or fund research are tasked with designating a senior agency employee as Chief Science Officer to ensure agency research programs are scientifically and technologically well founded and conducted with integrity. Because science, facts, and evidence are vital to addressing policy and programmatic issues across the Federal Government, all agencies – not just those that fund, conduct, or oversee scientific research –must designate a senior career employee as the agency’s Scientific Integrity Official to oversee implementation and iterative improvement of scientific-integrity policies and processes.

EXECUTIVE ORDER ESTABLISHING THE PRESIDENT’S COUNCIL OF ADVISORS ON SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

Leaders across the Biden-Harris Administration, including the President himself and his senior advisors in the Executive Office of the President, will seek input, advice, and the best-available science, data, and scientific and technological information from scientists, engineers, and other experts in science, technology, and innovation.

To that end, and in alignment with the scientific-integrity memorandum’s charge to reestablish scientific and technological advisory committees, this order re-establishes the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST). The PCAST– co-chaired by the President’s Science Advisor – will advise the President on policy that affects science, technology, and innovation. The Council will also advise the President on scientific and technical information that is needed to inform public policy relating to the economy, worker empowerment, education, energy, environment, public health, national and homeland security, racial equity, and other topics.

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Flood risk is growing for US homeowners due to climate change. Current insurance rates greatly underestimate the threat, a new report finds

Flooded homes are shown near Lake Houston following Hurricane Harvey on August 30, 2017, in Houston. A new report finds that current flood insurance coverage rates greatly underestimate the actual financial risk flooding poses to millions of homeowners. Flooded homes are shown near Lake Houston following Hurricane Harvey on August 30, 2017, in Houston. A new report finds that current flood insurance coverage rates greatly underestimate the actual financial risk flooding poses to millions of homeowners.
Source: CNN
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Story by Drew Kann. Graphics by Renée Rigdon, CNN
Updated 9:32 AM ET, Mon February 22, 2021
Source: CNN
Photos Source: CNN

(CNN)Wildfires and hurricane-force winds produce stunning videos and headlines, but flooding is the most common and costly natural disaster in the United States.And almost no place in the country is immune as 98% of all counties in the US have experienced at least one flooding event. In the last decade alone, floods have caused more than $155 billion worth of damage, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).As the climate changes, the risk of financial loss from flooding for millions of homeowners is increasing.

After the snow melts, the flooding will begin. Here's how to prepare
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After the snow melts, the flooding will begin. Here’s how to preparenew report finds that there is a growing gap between the financial threat homeowners face from flooding and the insurance rates some pay to cover that risk.Currently, there are nearly 4.3 million residential properties around the country with a substantial risk of financial loss due to flooding. The report defines “substantial risk” as carrying a 1% chance of flooding in any year.Some, but not all, of those homeowners have insurance through the federal government’s National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), which provides more than 90% of the flood insurance policies in the US.close dialog

But the report finds that those homes face losses each year which dwarf the costs of their NFIP premiums. The average NFIP premium cost today for those properties is around $981, but their expected annual loses are $4,694 per property.If all of those property owners were to purchase flood insurance to protect against potential damage, premiums would need to increase by 4.5 times to cover the risk. The analysis was conducted by the First Street Foundation, a non-profit research and technology group that aims to shed light on the growing risk of flooding around the country due to climate change.The study only considered residential properties with between one and four units, but the authors say the actual financial risk from flooding around the country is likely far greater than the report captures.

Millions more US homes are at risk of flooding than previously known, new analysis shows
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Millions more US homes are at risk of flooding than previously known, new analysis shows“Our numbers are large … but it’s not encompassing all properties that are inside the Special Flood Hazard Area, or many other residential properties like condos, apartment buildings and other larger buildings,” said Matthew Eby, founder and executive director of the First Street Foundation. “So if you take that and you extrapolate, there are actually a lot more buildings that have financial risk as well.”A separate report from the foundation last year estimated that there are a total of 14.6 million properties around the country with substantial flood risk. The owners of around 5.9 million of those properties may be unaware of their flood risk because they are located outside of FEMA’s Special Flood Hazard Areas (SFHA), and therefore aren’t required to buy flood insurance even if they hold a government-backed mortgage loan, the report found.Scientists are confident that climate change is fueling hurricanes capable of whipping up more dangerous storm surges, as well as increasing the odds of extreme rainfall events that can trigger inland flooding.Today, the 4.3 million homes with a 1% chance of flooding carry an expected annual loss of $20.8 billion due to flood damage, the foundation’s analysis found.However, within the life of a 30-year mortgage signed today, those losses are projected to balloon by 61% to nearly $32.2 billion per year by 2050 due to the effects of climate change.As massive storms like Hurricanes Katrina, Harvey and Sandy have hammered some of the country’s biggest coastal cities, the NFIP’s bottom line has already taken a beating. Today, the program is saddled with more than $20.5 billion in debt, according to a recent Congressional Review Service Report. That’s after Congress canceled $16 billion of the NFIP’s debt in 2017 to allow the program to pay claims to victims of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria.”With climate change and more development and more properties at risk, it just keeps going further in the hole,” said Sandra Knight, a senior research engineer at the University of Maryland’s Center for Disaster Resilience and a former FEMA administrator. “That tells you you’re not collecting enough premiums, but the long-term game is to have zoning and building codes that minimize risk. You can’t just depend on insurance.”Experts and even FEMA officials have acknowledged for years that there are shortcomings with the NFIP as it is currently structured.Chief among those is the process of drawing FEMA’s flood maps, which provide the basis for setting insurance rates for many policies under the NFIP.FEMA still has not completed flood maps for huge swaths of the US, said Michael Grimm, the acting deputy associate administrator of the Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administratio, while testifying before a House committee in February 2020And though FEMA maps are required by Congress to be reassessed every five years, Grimm says it takes seven years on average to complete a new flood map, meaning that some maps may technically be out of date by the time they’re finished.An emergency worker helps evacuate people stranded by flooding during Hurricane Sandy in 2012. A new report finds that the risk of financial loss for homeowners due to flooding is expected to grow as the climate changesAn emergency worker helps evacuate people stranded by flooding during Hurricane Sandy in 2012. A new report finds that the risk of financial loss for homeowners due to flooding is expected to grow as the climate changesInsurance rate setting under the NFIP has seen little change since the 1970s.The rates are set depending on which of three broad types of flood zones a property sits in: low to moderate risk, high risk or high risk coastal area. The type of property, the elevation of the building, the number of floors and whether it has a basement are also factored in.But experts say the use of these flood zones is an unsophisticated way to gauge risk that doesn’t take into account key considerations, like the topography of the land where a property sits. FEMA’s flood models only factor in the risk of storm surge and river flooding, not the threat posed by heavy rainfall.”It’s actually sort of a crude way to price flood risk because it doesn’t account for changing flood risk across a landscape,” said Carolyn Kousky, the executive director of the Wharton Risk Center at the University of Pennsylvania and a member of the advisory board for the First Street Foundation.To address these problems, FEMA is expected to roll out a new system for setting flood insurance rates later this year called Risk Rating 2.0, which the agency says will utilize the latest technology to better capture the risk for each individual property.David Maurstad, the senior executive of the National Flood Insurance Program, said that the First Street Foundation’s findings should not be taken as a preview of the rate changes flood insurance policy holders can expect when Risk Rating 2.0 goes into effect.”Any attempt to compare an outside entity’s premium estimates or premium recommendations to the Risk Rating 2.0 initiative is premature,” Maurstad said in an emailed statement. “FEMA is constantly working to leverage new technologies and provide national-scale flood risk information more efficiently, accurately and consistently to the public.”Still, Kousky says that the new findings are an important indicator of just how much the cost of flood damage could grow around the country as the climate changes, which the cost of insurance in any single year does not capture.”It certainly has shown how much flood losses are going to start increasing as a result of climate change,” she said. “That should be a red flag for the NFIP and communities everywhere that the cost of this risk are going up. And that means to stay solvent, insurance costs have to go up as well.”

Biden has introduced an aggressive environmental plan including mitigating climate change, such as rejoining the Paris Agreement. How can such policies improve our environment? How can you mitigate climate change (click the button below)? How can flood insurance be reduced and how can you prepare for flooding in your area or other extreme weather conditions as a result of climate change?

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Texas freeze shows a chilling truth – how the rich use climate change to divide us

Robert Reich
Source: The Guardian
Photos Source: The Guardian

Robert Reich
Source: The Guardian
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

The Lone Star State is aptly named. If you’re not part of the Republican oil elite with Cruz and Abbott, you’re on your own

Ted Cruz sports a Texas flag face mask – at Cancun airport in Mexico.
Ted Cruz sports a Texas flag face mask – at Cancún airport in Mexico. Photograph: Dan Christian Rojas/AP
Source: The Guardian
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

Sun 21 Feb 2021 01.00 EST

Texas has long represented a wild west individualism that elevates personal freedom – this week, the freedom to freeze – above all else.

The state’s prevailing social Darwinism was expressed most succinctly by the mayor of Colorado City, who accused his constituents – trapped in near sub-zero temperatures and complaining about lack of heat, electricity and drinkable water – of being the “lazy” products of a “socialist government”, adding “I’m sick and tired of people looking for a damn handout!” and predicting “only the strong will survive and the weak will perish”.

Texas has the third-highest number of billionaires in America, most of them oil tycoons. Last week, the laissez-faire state energy market delivered a bonanza to oil and gas producers that managed to keep production going during the freeze. It was “like hitting the jackpot”, boasted the president of Comstock Resources on an earnings call. Jerry Jones, billionaire owner of the Dallas Cowboys, holds a majority of Comstock’s shares.

But most other Texans were marooned. Some did perish.

The white working class has been seduced by conservative Republicans and Trump cultists, of which Texas has an abundance

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which manages the flow of electric power, exempted affluent downtowns from outages, leaving thriving parts of Austin, Dallas and Houston brightly lit while pushing less affluent precincts into the dark and cold.

Like the poor across America and much of the world, poor Texans are getting hammered by climate change. Many inhabit substandard homes, lacking proper insulation. The very poor occupy trailers or tents, or camp out in their cars. Lower-income communities are located close to refineries and other industrial sites that release added pollutants when they shut or restart.

In Texas, for-profit energy companies have no incentive to prepare for extreme weather or maintain spare capacity. Even if they’re able to handle surges in demand, prices go through the roof and poorer households are hit hard. If they can’t pay, they’re cut off.

Rich Texans take spikes in energy prices in their stride. If the electric grid goes down, private generators kick in. In a pinch – as last week – they check into hotels or leave town. On Wednesday night, as millions of his constituents remained without power and heat, Senator Ted Cruz flew to Cancún, Mexico for a family vacation. Their Houston home was “FREEZING” – as his wife put it.

Climate change, Covid-19 and jobs are together splitting Americans by class more profoundly than Americans are split by politics. The white working class is taking as much of a beating as most Black and Latino people.

Yet the white working class has been seduced by conservative Republicans and Trump cultists, of which Texas has an abundance, into believing that what’s good for Black and Latino people is bad for them, and that whites are, or should be, on the winning side of the social Darwinian contest.

White grievance helps keep Republicans in power, protecting their rich patrons from a majority that might otherwise join to demand what they need – such as heat, electricity, water and reliable sources of power.

Lower-income Texans, white as well as Black and Latino, are taking it on the chin in many other ways. Texas is one of the few states that hasn’t expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, leaving the share of Texans without health insurance twice the national average, the largest uninsured population of any state. Texas has double the national average of children in poverty and a higher rate of unemployment than the nation’s average.

And although Texans have suffered multiple natural disasters stemming from climate change, Texas Republicans are dead set against a Green New Deal that would help reduce the horrific impacts.

Last Wednesday, Texas’s governor, Greg Abbott, went on Fox News to proclaim, absurdly, that what happened to his state “shows how the Green New Deal would be a deadly deal for the United States”. Abbott blamed the power failure on the fact that “wind and solar got shut down”.

Rubbish. The loss of power from frozen coal-fired and natural gas plants was six times larger than the dent caused by frozen wind turbines. Texans froze because deregulation and a profit-driven free market created an electric grid utterly unprepared for climate change.

In Texas, oil tycoons are the only winners from climate change. Everyone else is losing badly. Adapting to extreme weather is necessary but it’s no substitute for cutting emissions, which Texas is loath to do. Not even the Lone Star state should protect the freedom to freeze.

How has the weather changed in your area? What types of extreme weather have you seen in your area? How is extreme weather addressed in your area?

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If these articles have been helpful to you and yours, give a donation to Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook Ezine today. All Rights Reserved – Shidonna Raven (c) 2025 – Garden & Cook.

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Biden’s climate change strategy looks to pay farmers to curb carbon footprint

PUBLISHED FRI, FEB 12 202111:47 AM EST
UPDATED FRI, FEB 12 20214:07 PM EST
Emma Newburger@EMMA_NEWBURGER
Source: CNBC

  • The Biden administration is looking to steer farm aid from the USDA’s Commodity Credit Corporation to encourage carbon emissions reductions on farms.
  • By adapting more “regenerative practices,” experts estimate that American farmers can sequester a large enough portion of emissions to avert a climate catastrophe.
  •  “If the government supports the farmers who are getting good results, everyone else will follow,” said a fourth generation cattle rancher.
Fourth generation cattle rancher Loren Poncia has made Stemple Creek Ranch carbon positive. He's implemented rotational cattle grazing systems that allow soil and grass to recover, applied compost on pastures and planted chicory that aerate the soil.
Source: CNBC
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

Fourth generation cattle rancher Loren Poncia has made Stemple Creek Ranch carbon positive. He’s implemented rotational cattle grazing systems that allow soil and grass to recover, applied compost on pastures and planted chicory that aerate the soil.Courtesy of Paige Green

President Joe Biden has called on U.S. farmers to lead the way in offsetting greenhouse gas emissions to battle climate change — a goal fourth generation cattle rancher Loren Poncia set out to achieve over a decade ago.

Despite working in the beef sector, a big contributor to global warming, Poncia has transformed his Northern California ranch into one of the few carbon-positive livestock operations in the country.

“It’s a win-win — for the environment and for our pocketbook,” said Poncia, who adopted carbon farming practices through a partnership with the Marin Carbon Project.

Experts estimate that farmers across the world can sequester a large enough portion of carbon through regenerative agriculture practices to avert the worst impacts of climate change. Research suggests removing carbon already in the atmosphere and replenishing soil worldwide could result in a 10% carbon drawdown. The United Nations has warned that efforts to curb global emissions will fall short without drastic changes in global land use and agriculture.

Poncia’s ranch sequesters more carbon than it emits through practices like rotational cattle grazing systems that allow soil and grass to recover, applying compost instead of chemical fertilizers to pastures to avoid tilling, building worm farms and planting chicory to aerate the soil. Such climate-friendly projects have allowed Poncia to grow more grass and produce more beef.

“If we as a world are going to reverse the damage that’s been done, it’ll be through agriculture and food sustainability,” Poncia said. “We’re excited and positive about the future.”

While some farmers, ranchers and foresters have already embraced sustainable practices that capture existing carbon and store it in soil, others are wary of upfront costs and uncertain returns that could vary across states and farming operations.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently said it would incentivize farmers to implement such sustainable practices. And more researchers and companies have started to better quantify and manage carbon that’s stored in the soil.

USDA push towards carbon farming

Battling climate change has become a matter of survival for American farmers, who have endured major losses from floods and droughts that have grown more frequent and destructive across the country.

In 2019, farmers lost tens of thousands of acres during historic flooding. And NASA scientists report that rising temperatures have driven the U.S. West into the worst decades-long drought ever seen in the past millennium.

In the U.S. alone, agriculture accounts for more than 10.5% of planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions, according to the estimates from the Environmental Protection Agency.

As a result, the Biden administration now wants to steer $30 billion in farm aid money from the USDA’s Commodity Credit Corporation to pay farmers to implement sustainable practices and capture carbon in their soil.

This Monday, March 18, 2019 file photo shows flooding and storage bins under water on a farm along the Missouri River in rural Iowa north of Omaha, Neb.
Source: CNBC
Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

This Monday, March 18, 2019 file photo shows flooding and storage bins under water on a farm along the Missouri River in rural Iowa north of Omaha, Neb.AP Photo | Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management

Biden’s USDA Secretary of Agriculture nominee, Tom Vilsack, who has vowed to help meet Biden’s broader plan to reach a net-zero economy by 2050, said the money could go toward creating new markets that incentivize producers to sequester carbon in the soil.

Former President Donald Trump previously tapped those funds to bail out farmers harmed by his trade wars with China, Mexico and Canada that sent down commodity prices.

Using the CCC money to create a carbon bank might not require congressional approval, and agriculture lobbying groups are expected to persuade Congress to expand the fund.

“It is a great tool for us to create the kind of structure that will inform future farm bills about what will encourage carbon sequestration, what will encourage precision agriculture, what will encourage soil health and regenerative agricultural practices,” Vilsack said at his Senate confirmation hearing this month.

Vilsack, who spent eight years as President Barack Obama’s Agriculture secretary, has also asked Congress to have an advisory group of farmers to help build a carbon market and ensure that farmers receive the benefits.

The administration’s push to encourage carbon capture on farms could bolster an emerging market of on-farm emissions reductions and the technological advances that are helping growers improve soil health and participate in carbon trading markets.

An emerging market

Some farmers have started partnerships with nonprofit environmental and policy groups to work on environmental sustainability. The movement has seen increasing support from private companies, too.

Indigo Ag, a start-up that advocates for regenerative farming practices, said corporations like Barclays, JPMorgan Chase and Shopify have committed to purchasing agricultural carbon credits that help growers with transition costs.

Chris Harbourt, global head of carbon at Indigo Ag, said the company is working with growers to address financial barriers during the transition and provide education on implementing regenerative agriculture practices, like planting off-season cover crops or switching to no-till farming.

“Growers who adopt regenerative practices see benefits well beyond financial,” Harbourt said. “The soil is healthier and more resilient, which creates more opportunities for profitable years even when weather conditions are challenging.”

Erik Fyrwald, CEO of Syngenta, a Switzerland-based seed and crop protection company, said government policies need to provide proper incentives to farmers to accelerate the transition to regenerative agriculture.

“The incentives must be sufficient and reliable enough to give farmers the confidence to make the necessary investments to implement these practices on their farm,” Fyrwald said.

Poncia, who has received state funding twice from California’s Healthy Soils Program to implement sustainable practices on his ranch, said he hopes the administration can provide enough support for agricultural so other people can achieve similar results.

“The agriculture community wants to support this movement, but they need help, education and an ability to decrease risk,” Poncia said. “If the government supports the farmers who are getting good results, everyone else will follow.”

How can you support farmers? What information would you like to see on your food labels? How do you identify food from sustainable and nutritious sources? Foods purpose is to support the body and its functions: the give nutrition to the body.

Share your comments with the community by posting them below. Share the wealth of health with your friends and family by sharing this article with 3 people today. As always you are the best part of what we do. Keep sharing!

If these articles have been helpful to you and yours, give a donation to Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook Ezine today. All Rights Reserved – Shidonna Raven (c) 2025 – Garden & Cook.