Welcome to the real climate war: Big Oil versus the Terminator
The big news is the upset victory of Tea Partier and Republican Party reject Christine O’Donnell in Delaware’s GOP Senate primary. It means that now all the Republican candidates for the Senate are climate change deniers. It also means Republicans have a much slimmer chance of winning back the Senate. (We hope.)
But the real war over climate change is being waged in the states where Big Oil and Tea Partiers are so fanatical they’re taking on the Terminator.
Like an oiled snake: All around the country right-wing groups, such as the insidiously-named Americans for Prosperity — financed by fossil fuel billionaires Charles and David Koch — have swung into high gear to tear down any climate laws or programs. At the top of the list is California where oil companies are spending millions to push Proposition 23, which would suspend the state’s landmark law capping greenhouse gas emissions. Says Steven Maviglio, a spokesman for the group fighting the Big Oil proposition: “They fully intend to make California strike three after Copenhagen and Capitol Hill.”
Terminate this!: It’s one thing for the Prop 23 boosters to go after 89-year-old former Secretary of State George Shultz. Now they’re taking shots at Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, describing him as a leader of “environmental zealots.” In a fund-raising email sent out yesterday, Charles Drevna, president of the National Petrochemical Refiners Association, whined:
Unfortunately, Proposition 23 is not just a California issue. A defeat for Proposition 23 in California could energize environmental fanatics around the country and in Washington to match California’s destructive policies with their own versions of AB32 (the greenhouse gases law). At that point, our industry might find itself in the position of the Titanic facing the iceberg — headed for disaster without time to alter course.
One trick party: Another battleground is New Jersey where Tea Partiers and other right wingers are pressuring Republican Gov. Chris Christie to drop out of a 10-state regional cap-and-trade compact and to take a public stance against “cap-and-trade.” That’s become the core climate change strategy of Tea Partiers around the country, as Darren Samuelsohn reports in Politico.
Not so fast: So the EPA won’t be reined in after all — at least not for now. With the threat of a Senate amendment that would have limited the agency’s authority in regulating greenhouse gas emissions, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) postponed action by the Senate Appropriations Committee on the EPA’s 2011 spending bill. And that shut the door on the EPA-emasculating amendment. Republicans cried “chicken.” Dems savored a quiet victory. But perhaps only a temporary one. A proposal by Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) to freeze EPA regulation of greenhouse gases for two years is likely to come up for a vote in the coming weeks.
Doom with a view: Before the EPA dodged the latest bullet, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the American Petroleum Institute, and business groups weighed in with a letter to senators on the Appropriations Committee. The letter warned of dire economic consequences if the EPA starts enforcing greenhouse gas rules next year. And for EPA chief Lisa Jackson, enough was enough. During a speech marking the 40th anniversary of the Clean Air Act, she fired back at business groups for using “doomsday predictions” to scare people about the EPA.
Case closed: Okay, here’s a little ammunition for your next “women are smarter” argument. A new study suggests that they’re more likely to believe in climate change than men. After studying Gallup Poll data from the past eight years, Aaron McCright, an associate professor at Michigan State, says he found that women not only showed more concern about climate change than men, but also knew more about it. Here’s one of McCright’s observations:
Men still claim they have a better understanding of global warming than women, even though women’s beliefs align much more closely with the scientific consensus. Here is yet another study finding that women underestimate their scientific knowledge–a troubling pattern that inhibits many young women from pursuing scientific careers.
Value judgments: And while we’re on the subject of science, another study concludes that you tend to believe scientists when they take positions that you and others who share your values support. The point of the research, according to Yale law professor Dan Kahan was to see why the public is so sharply divided on issues on which scientists largely agree, such as climate change. What they found is that people with “individualistic” values were much less likely to respect scientists who saw climate change as a real risk than subjects with “egalitarian” values. In other words, as Kahan explains on the National Science Foundation website:
… people tend to keep a biased score of what experts believe, counting a scientist as an ‘expert’ only when that scientist agrees with the position they find culturally congenial.
The cost of spewing business: Not that “individualistic” people will believe it, but a study in Europe makes the case that cutting greenhouse gases could significantly cut health care costs. The research, funded by two non-profits, Health Care Without Harm Europe and Health and Environment Alliance, found that as greenhouse gas levels fall, so do other pollutants that cause respiratory illnesses. When you consider the additional health care costs associated with heat waves, floods, reduced food production, and other consequences of climate change, the savings from curtailing greenhouse gases could, according to the researchers, reach almost $39 billion a year in the European Union alone. James Kanter has more on The New York Times Green blog.
Not our jobs: Opponents of the drilling moratorium in the Gulf are still moaning that it will cripple the local economy. But there’s more evidence that it hasn’t played out that way. As David Hammer
reports in the New Orleans Times-Picayune, only 160 of the 8,000 people who worked on the 33 deepwater oil rigs shut down have applied for aid from the $100 million fund set up for them by BP. Economists had predicted that about 11,000 Louisiana residents would lose their jobs if the shutdown lasted six months. But at almost four months, only 347 people now getting unemployment compensation in the state — counting those not working on rigs — have listed the moratorium as the reason they’re out of work.
Braking win: The squeal of subway brakes is never a happy sound. But now at least, it’s not all bad. The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, is starting a program in Philadelphia where a subway train produces energy every time it hits the brakes in a station. A massive battery will capture and store the electricity generated by the braking system — as the train slows down, the wheels drive generators — and feed it back into the power grid. The pilot program, involving only one of the system’s 38 substations for now, is expected to bring in $500,000 a year.
Now that’s stopping power.