Florence has made Wilmington, N.C., an island cut off from the rest of the world
WILMINGTON, N.C. — This city has always embraced the water, with a lively riverfront on one side and the ocean on the other. But in the wake of Hurricane Florence, water has rendered Wilmington an island, shut off from the rest of the world.
It is impossible to get in and out of the city now. Flooding closed interstates and secondary roads, choking it off by land. The airport has been shuttered since Wednesday. It is not accessible by sea, with the Port of Wilmington on Cape Fear River closed.
Wilmington likely will stay marooned for at least another day. It is still raining. It has been raining nearly constantly for days. The rivers are still rising, widespread flooding is expected, and Gov. Roy Cooper (D) said the storm has “never been more dangerous.”
Officials said at least 450 people were rescued from floodwaters in the Wilmington area.
One official issued a blunt warning to anyone looking to travel to Wilmington, including those who evacuated ahead of the storm and are anxiously waiting to return and see the condition of their home. 09-16-18
Read more at The Washington Post
In Hurricane Florence’s Path: Giant Toxic Coal Ash Piles
The toxic waste from coal-burning power plants contains arsenic and heavy metals. Days of torrential rain and flooding could weaken and collapse the impoundments.
Dozens of toxic coal ash piles across the Southeast are in the path of what is forecast to be days of torrential rains and flash flooding from Hurricane Florence.
Environmental advocates are warning that the giant impoundments, often built beside waterways, are at risk of spills or collapsing.
They’ve seen what extreme rainfall can do: When Hurricane Matthew crossed North Carolina two years ago, it caused a breach in a cooling pond, and coal ash leaked from a nearby coal ash basin at a power plant on the Neuse River.
That was a Category 1 hurricane. Florence was headed toward the coastal Carolinas as a much more powerful storm, and it carried another threat: Meteorologists warned that Florence was looking a lot like Harvey, a slow-moving storm that parked itself over Houston last year and inundated parts of that city with 60 inches of rain.
The National Weather Service on Wednesday warned of “life-threatening, catastrophic flash flooding and significant river flooding” over portions of the Carolinas and Mid-Atlantic states from late this week into early next week as Florence arrives and moves inland. 09-12-18
Read more at Inside Climate News
As 1.5 Million Flee Hurricane Florence, Worries Grow Over Half Dozen Nuclear Power Plants in Storm’s Path
Nuclear power plant directly in the path of Florence, at the southern coast near Wilmington
With 1.5 million residents now under orders to evacuate their homes in preparation for Hurricane Florence’s landfall in Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina, the region faces the possibility of catastrophe should the storm damage one or more of the nuclear power plants which lie in its potential path.
As the Associated Press reported on Monday, “The storm’s potential path also includes half a dozen nuclear power plants, pits holding coal-ash and other industrial waste, and numerous eastern hog farms that store animal waste in massive open-air lagoons.”
The plants thought to lie in the path of the hurricane, which is expected to make landfall on the Southeastern U.S. coast on Thursday, include North Carolina’s Brunswick Nuclear Power Plant in Southport, Duke Energy Sutton Steam Plant in Wilmington, and South Carolina’s V.C. Summer Nuclear Station in Jenkinsville.
“Florence will approach the Carolina coast Thursday night into Friday with winds in excess of 100mph along with flooding rains. This system will approach the Brunswick Nuclear Plant as well as the Duke-Sutton Steam Plant,” Ed Vallee, a North Carolina-based meteorologist, told Zero Hedge. “Dangerous wind gusts and flooding will be the largest threats to these operations with inland plants being susceptible to inland flooding.” 09-12-18
Read more at EcoWatch
Old and in the way: Hurricane Florence could barrel over landfills, waste lagoons, hazardous waste sites and more toxics
Thousands of animal waste lagoons, hazardous waste sites and other repositories of toxic material lie in and near the projected path of Hurricane Florence, increasing the risk of breaches or leaks of dangerous chemicals into the environment. (This is one important reason you should avoid wading through or touching flood waters.)
The NC Department of Environmental Quality has a new mapping and data feature, which shows the locations of these sites, both in map form and spreadsheet. All of the maps below are from the DEQ site and can be clicked on to enlarge them. We’ve linked to each map; once you get to that DEQ page, click on the “data” tab to view the addresses and facility names in spreadsheet form.
The first map shows all of the animal feeding operations for permitted swine, cattle and poultry farms that use wet litter. (Dry litter poultry farms are “deemed permitted” and are largely unregulated.) With more than a foot of rain forecast, there is a higher risk of lagoon breaches, which can send millions of gallons of animal waste to rivers, wetlands and nearby property. 09-11-18
Read more at NC Policy Watch
Trump Administration Wants to Make It Easier to Release Methane Into Air
A flaring pit near a well in the Bakken oil field, which straddles the United States and Canada.CreditCreditOrjan F. Ellingvag/Corbis, via Getty Images
WASHINGTON — The Trump administration, taking its third major step this year to roll back federal efforts to fight climate change, is preparing to make it significantly easier for energy companies to release methane into the atmosphere.
Methane, which is among the most powerful greenhouse gases, routinely leaks from oil and gas wells, and energy companies have long said that the rules requiring them to test for emissions were costly and burdensome.
The Environmental Protection Agency, perhaps as soon as this week, plans to make public a proposal to weaken an Obama-era requirement that companies monitor and repair methane leaks, according to documents reviewed by The New York Times. In a related move, the Interior Department is also expected in coming days to release its final version of a draft rule, proposed in February, that essentially repeals a restriction on the intentional venting and “flaring,” or burning, of methane from drilling operations.
The new rules follow two regulatory rollbacks this year that, taken together, represent the foundation of the United States’ effort to rein in global warming. In July, the E.P.A. proposed weakening a rule on carbon dioxide pollution from vehicle tailpipes. And in August, the agency proposed replacing the rule on carbon dioxide pollution from coal-fired power plants with a weaker one that would allow far more global-warming emissions to flow unchecked from the nation’s smokestacks. 09-10-18
Read more at The New York Times
Pennsylvania Oil And Gas Well Drilling Increased In 2017 After Two Years Of Decline
The Department of Environmental Protection has released its 2017 Oil and Gas Annual Report, which revealed 2,231 oil and gas well drilling permits were issued last year; it’s the first increase in activity since 2014.
Scott Perry, deputy secretary of the DEP’s Office of Oil and Gas Management, said this jump is directly related to the price of oil and gas.
“Natural gas prices have rebounded slightly, as have oil prices,” Perry said. “The industry responds to those prices by drilling more wells to capture the profits.”
But drilling activity is still far below the boom years of 2010 and 2011, when more than 5,000 wells were drilled each year.
The report also revealed there was a steep climb in violations reported by the DEP at oil and gas well sites — over 4,000 violations in 2017 compared to 2,290 in 2016. However, Perry said that’s because the department now counts every day of an ongoing violation as a new transgression, wheras before a violation would be counted just once.
“It looks as if there was a significant increase in the total number of violations, when in fact the violations in 2017 were quite comparable to 2016,” Perry said. He added this change in reporting is meant to improve transparency. 09-10-18
Read more at NPR Pittsburgh
Radioactive fracking chemicals dumped in the Allegheny River a decade ago are still showing up in mussels: Study
Chemicals from fracking wastewater dumped into Pennsylvania’s Allegheny River before 2011 are still accumulating in the bodies of freshwater mussels downstream, according to a new study.
Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania found elevated concentrations of radioactive Strontium in the shells of freshwater mussels downstream from a former fracking wastewater disposal site in Warren, Pennsylvania, about 143 miles northeast (and upstream) of Pittsburgh.
While the potential health impacts on humans from this contamination are unclear, high levels of exposure to radioactive Strontium can cause cancer and birth defects.
“Mussels record the changes in water quality that they see over their lifetimes in the layers of their hard shells,” Nathaniel Warner, a professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Pennsylvania State University who co-authored the study, told EHN. “We can go back about 10 years and see the spikes that indicate when wastewater from Marcellus shale was being treated and discharged into the Allegheny River.” 09-06-18
Read more at The Daily Climate
Farm Bill: House proposal could wipe out communities’ power to prohibit pesticides
As lawmakers convene on Capitol Hill to finalize the latest federal Farm Bill, environmental advocates warn that a House proposal could put public health at risk by rolling back restrictions on pesticides in 155 communities nationwide.
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) today released its analysis of data from the nonprofit group Beyond Pesticides, including an interactive map of local policies that it says could be scuttled if the House measure passes. Those regulations vary widely—some communities restrict neonicotinoid use to protect pollinators, while others map out pesticide-free buffer zones or require that public notice be posted when pesticides are applied on public or private property.
According to EWG’s analysis, 58 of those communities have adopted more comprehensive policies that prohibit the use of glyphosate, the widely used weed killer under increasing scrutiny for its human health impacts. Last month a California jury ordered chemical maker Monsanto to pay $289 million in damages to a school groundskeeper who blamed the company’s glyphosate-based Roundup and Ranger Pro herbicides for his terminal cancer. Monsanto, which Bayer recently acquired, now faces some 8,000 glyphosate-related lawsuits in the U.S.
The analysis arrives as work begins for the conference committee charged with sorting out differences between House and Senate versions of the new Farm Bill—the informal name for a vast legislative package renewed about every five years—before September 30, when the current bill expires. 09-05-18
Read more at Environmental Health News
Corporate Food Brands Drive the Massive Dead Zone in the Gulf of Mexico
Community members and environmental activists demonstrate outside Whole Foods headquarters in Austin, Texas, on August 2, 2018. Mighty Earth
Whole Foods bills itself as “America’s healthiest grocery store,” but what it’s doing to the environment is anything but healthy. According to a new report, the chain is helping to drive one of the nation’s worst human-made environmental disasters: the dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico.
By not requiring environmental safeguards from its meat suppliers, the world’s largest natural and organic foods supermarket—and most of its big-brand counterparts in the retail food industry, like McDonald’s, Subway and Target—are sourcing and selling meat from some of the worst polluters in agribusiness, including Tyson Foods and Cargill. The animal waste and fertilizer runoff from their industrial farms end up in the Gulf of Mexico, where each summer, a growing marine wasteland spreads for thousands of miles, leaving countless dead wildlife in its oxygen-depleted wake.
“The major meat producers like Tyson and Cargill that have consolidated control over the market have the leverage to dramatically improve the supply chain,” according to the report, which was released by Mighty Earth, an environmental action group based in Washington, DC. “Yet to date they have done little,” the report’s authors note, “ignoring public concerns and allowing the environmentally damaging practices for feeding and raising meat to expand largely unchecked.” 08-01-18
Read more at EcoWatch
Toxic: Life in the shadows of major pollution sources
Tammie Smith has been back in North Birmingham’s Acipco-Finley neighborhood for just a year but has lived in that community nearly all of her life. She recalls growing up it seemed like everyone was always sick. (Solomon Crenshaw Jr. Photos, For The Birmingham Times)
Tammie Smith has been back in North Birmingham’s Acipco-Finley neighborhood for just a year, but the 54-year-old has lived in that community nearly all of her life, except for 13 years when she lived in Louisville, Ky.
“My mom stays next door, my grandmother stays next door, and my sister lives across the street,” she said during a recent interview in the community.
During her time living there, Smith said everybody always seemed to be dealing with upper-respiratory problems.
“The kids always kept colds,” she said. “It was something you never could explain. Now that everything is coming out, it seems to make sense.”
What has “come out” are reports showing that contamination in the soil in the North Birmingham community, potentially from the exhaust emitted from nearby industrial plants, could be the cause of some of the health issues.
Attorney David Ludder, who has advocated on behalf of residents for years, said he has been disturbed by “the failure of government at all levels—local, state and, federal—to control polluting industries sufficiently to protect the health and welfare of residents.”
In filings with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Office of Civil Rights, Ludder wrote that “frequent emissions” from one plant in the area could be the cause of “adverse impacts suffered by residents” and produce “irritation of the upper respiratory tract or cause symptoms of nausea” … or lead to “respiratory irritations, sinus headaches and infections, and exacerbation of symptoms of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and asthma.” 08-30-18
Read more at Birmingham Times
Top interior staffer who backed shrinking national monuments to join BP
The sun sets June 11, 2017, over Bears Ears National Monument, as seen from the Moki Dugway, north of Mexican Hat, Utah. (Katherine Frey/The Washington Post)
For much of last year, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s deputy chief of staff pursued his agenda with vigor.
Downey Magallanes led an effort to cut the size of two vast protected areas in southern Utah, opening public lands to possible development and energy exploration. She participated in deliberations over how to scale back safety monitoring rules for offshore oil and gas operations. And she helped develop a leasing plan that would permit drilling in most U.S. continental shelf waters.
As of next week, Magallanes will have a new job: working for the energy giant BP, on its government affairs team.
“I am grateful to Secretary Zinke and President Trump for giving me the chance to serve in the Department of the Interior,” she said in an email. “I look forward to this incredible new opportunity with BP.”
Magallanes met with BP representatives five times between January 2017 and March 2018, according to official calendars released under the Freedom of Information Act. Those sessions included a March 16, 2017, meeting with top officials from BP’s government and regulatory affairs division; an April 25, 2017, meeting with BP Exploration (Alaska); and an Oct. 23, 2017, session with BP senior director of regulatory affairs James Nolan.
BP spokesman Jason Ryan confirmed Magallanes’s hiring, but he declined to elaborate on what she would do in her new job. 08-28-18
Read more at The Washington Post
When Trump tries to bring back coal, these communities pay the price
This spring, groundwater near the R.M. Schahfer Generating Station plant was found to be contaminated with toxic substances.
Christina Zacny has a rare immunological condition, mast cell activation syndrome. “I’m literally allergic to almost everything,” she says. Her symptoms became more severe four years ago when she began going into anaphylactic shock, at one point going into shock thirty times within 3 months.
Zacny grew up down the street from a coal-fired power plant in Wheatfield, Indiana and still lives nearby. She says her doctor suspects that the polluted air and water that has surrounded Zacny for most of her life has exacerbated her disorder. She wears a mask when when the air quality is bad and worries about groundwater contamination from the R.M. Schahfer Generating Station’s coal ash.
So when the Trump administration unveiled its plan to deregulate coal emissions earlier this week, Zacny was stunned. She works evenings at the nearby Blue Chip Casino, and was woken up one morning by an urgent phone call from a friend. “They said you have to go look at the news rights now, you’re not going to believe what just happened,” she recalls. “I was just sitting there thinking, ‘Oh my gosh, this is awful.’” 08-23-18
Read more at Grist
How the environment has become a key factor in Florida’s elections
Several fish are seen washed ashore after dying in a red tide in Captiva, Fla., on Aug. 3, 2018.
It was less than a month ago, in early August, that Southwest Florida fishing guide Nick Fischer told Good Morning America that a putrid combination of blue-green algae and a red tide in the region had him feeling anxious about the impacts the ecological disaster would have on his business.
“It’s economically affecting all of us, you can’t fish here and they [tourists] just want to get their families out of here and leave the area,” Fischer said. “This is what I do every day for a living, that’s how I, we provide for our families and I don’t know what to do.”
For Fischer, and a state that touts tourism as being the number one economic industry — making up to 23 percent of the state’s sales tax revenue, supporting more than 1.4 million jobs and creating a local value up to $45 billion — losing those vital customers has Floridians wondering if it’s time to approach environmental policy differently.
It’s all happening as the midterm elections are heating up in the Sunshine State and Floridians say they have one thing on their mind: how to protect their environment and their economy.
As Florida reckons with two algae phenomena, one being the blue-green nutrient-rich algae in Lake Okeechobee, and the other being the naturally occurring red tide in the Gulf Coast shores, experts say Florida has never seen anything like what’s being experienced this summer. With a number of policy and funding rollbacks from current elected officials running for office, they don’t know when it will get better. 08-26-18
Read more at ABC News
A Leader in the War on Poverty Opens a New Front: Pollution
A pastor is resurrecting the Poor People’s Campaign, a movement started by Martin Luther King Jr. He sees the climate and environment as issues on par with poverty and racism.
Joyce Buffaloe sang at the meeting at Shiloh Baptist.CreditTravis Dove for The New York Times
GREENSBORO, N.C. — The air in the Shiloh Baptist Church was thick with the heat of human bodies. The crowd, a mix of black and white faces, filled the pews in what was ostensibly the black side of town, straining the capacity of this good-sized church.
On the dais stood the Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, draped in a black robe, a black vest and a cream stole emblazoned with the credo “Jesus was a poor man.” Al Gore, the former vice president, sat behind him.
Dr. Barber’s message to the community members in the church last week would have been largely recognizable to civil rights leaders of generations past, addressing issues of poverty and racism. But he and Mr. Gore were here in Greensboro to focus on another concern that many in the audience believed was just as insidious: pollution from North Carolina’s coal-powered electrical plants.
“Jesus said love your neighbor,” Dr. Barber told the crowd. “I don’t care how many times you tell me you love me, if you put coal ash in my water you don’t love me. Because if there was nothing wrong with the coal ash, then put it in the wealthy communities.”
Fifty years after the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. started a movement known as the Poor People’s Campaign, Dr. Barber has been working to revive it. He is perhaps best known as the architect of the Forward Together Moral Movement protests in North Carolina that opposed voting-rights restrictions and helped defeat the Republican governor in 2016. Now he is making environmental justice, and climate change, a pillar of a modern-day war on poverty. 08-24-18
Read more at The New York Times
How Energy Companies and Allies Are Turning the Law Against Protesters
In at least 31 states, lawmakers and governors have introduced bills and orders since Standing Rock that target protests, particularly opposition to pipelines.
The activists were ready for a fight. An oil pipeline was slated to cross tribal lands in eastern Oklahoma, and Native American leaders would resist. The Sierra Club and Black Lives Matter pledged support.
The groups announced their plans at a press conference in January 2017 at the State Capitol. Ashley McCray, a member of a local Shawnee tribe, stood in front of a blue “Water is Life” banner, her hair tied back with an ornate clip, and told reporters that organizers were forming a coalition to protect native lands.
They would establish a rural encampment, like the one that had drawn thousands of people to Standing Rock in North Dakota the previous year to resist the Dakota Access Pipeline.
The following week, an Oklahoma state lawmaker introduced a bill to stiffen penalties for interfering with pipelines and other “critical infrastructure.” It would impose punishments of up to 10 years in prison and $100,000 in fines—and up to $1 million in penalties for any organization “found to be a conspirator” in violating the new law. Republican Rep. Scott Biggs, the bill’s sponsor, said he was responding to those same Dakota Access Pipeline protests.
The activists established the camp in March, and within weeks the federal Department of Homeland Security and state law enforcement wrote a field analysis identifying “environmental rights extremists” as the top domestic terrorist threat to the Diamond Pipeline, planned to run from Oklahoma to Tennessee. The analysis said protesters could spark “criminal trespassing events resulting in violence.” It told authorities to watch for people dressed in black.
An FBI team arrived to train local police on how to handle the protest camp. 08-22-18
Read more at Inside Climate News
Cost of New E.P.A. Coal Rules: Up to 1,400 More Deaths a Year
A power plant in Cheshire, Ohio. Credit Maddie McGarvey for The New York Times
WASHINGTON — The Trump administration has hailed its overhaul of federal pollution restrictions on coal-burning power plants as creating new jobs, eliminating burdensome government regulations and ending what President Trump has long described as a “war on coal.”
The administration’s own analysis, however, revealed on Tuesday that the new rules could also lead to as many as 1,400 premature deaths annually by 2030 from an increase in the extremely fine particulate matter that is linked to heart and lung disease, up to 15,000 new cases of upper respiratory problems, a rise in bronchitis, and tens of thousands of missed school days.
Officials at the Environmental Protection Agency, which crafted the regulation, said that other rules governing pollution could be used to reduce those numbers.
“We love clean, beautiful West Virginia coal,” Mr. Trump said at a political rally Tuesday evening in West Virginia, the heart of American coal country. “And you know, that’s indestructible stuff. In times of war, in times of conflict, you can blow up those windmills, they fall down real quick. You can blow up pipelines, they go like this,” he said, making a hand gesture. “You can do a lot of things to those solar panels, but you know what you can’t hurt? Coal.”
Nevertheless, Tuesday’s release of the rule along with hundreds of pages of technical analysis for the first time acknowledged that the rollback of the pollution controls would also reverse the expected health gains from the tougher regulations. 08-21-18
Read more at The New York Times
New York City Just Took Historic Step Toward Cutting Its Top Source Of Climate Pollution
Legislation announced Monday focuses on big buildings, and it could set a new standard for cities around the world.
A child cools off from the hot weather at Domino Park in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, New York, U.S., July 16, 2018. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton
A top New York City lawmaker announced a bill Monday to mandate dramatic energy use cuts in big buildings, by far the biggest source of carbon dioxide, in a historic move that could set a new standard for cities around the world.
The legislation plans to require the city’s largest buildings to reduce energy use by 20 percent by 2030, as well as to set a framework for increasing the cuts by 40 percent to 60 percent by 2050. Combined with projected increases for renewable energy capacity on the power grid, the city could reduce its climate-warming emissions by 80 percent. Electricity and heating in buildings make up nearly 70 percent of the city’s climate pollution, with luxury towers producing the lion’s share.
“The low-hanging fruit is gone,” City Councilman Costa Constantinides, a Queens legislator who leads the council’s Committee on Environmental Protection, said Monday morning on the steps of City Hall. “If we are going to make a real impact on climate change, it’s going to be on buildings.”
The legislation, which is not yet complete, would make the nation’s largest and most economically influential metropolis among the first major cities in the world to mandate strict retrofits on existing buildings to reduce planet-warming emissions. The proposals outlined in the bill came from an unprecedented first agreement, released last week, between environmental groups, affordable housing advocates, unions and the city’s real estate lobby on a set of policies to slash buildings’ carbon pollution 80 percent by 2050. 08-20-18
Read more at HuffPost
The Trump administration next week plans to formally propose a vast overhaul of climate change regulations that would allow individual states to decide how, or even whether, to curb carbon dioxide emissions from coal plants, according to a summary of the plan and details provided by three people who have seen the full proposal.
The plan would also relax pollution rules for power plants that need upgrades. That, combined with allowing states to set their own rules, creates a serious risk that emissions, which had been falling, could start to rise again, according to environmentalists.
The proposal, which President Trump is expected to highlight Tuesday at a rally in West Virginia, amounts to the administration’s strongest and broadest effort yet to address what the president has long described as a regulatory “war on coal.” It would considerably weaken what is known as the Clean Power Plan, former President Barack Obama’s signature regulation for cutting planet-warming emissions at coal-fired plants.
That rule, crafted as the United States prepared to enter into the 2015 Paris Agreement on global warming, was the first federal carbon-pollution restriction for power plants. In 2016, the Supreme Court temporarily blocked the regulation from taking effect while a federal court heard arguments from a coalition of coal states that sued to block the rule. It remains suspended. 08-17-18
Chuck Jay worked as a coal miner for nearly three decades before he decided to start his own solar panel installation company just outside Tuscaloosa, Alabama, in 2012. He had put panels on his own home a few years before and got hooked by the technology — not to mention the money he saved on his electric bill.
But just as his business was getting off the ground, Jay and a new customer were blindsided by a new charge from Alabama Power, the state utility company. To stay connected to the power grid — allowing households to sell back excess electricity on sunny days or draw power on rainy dark days — the customer would have to pay an extra $25 to $30 a month in fees.
Jay finished the installation, but the new fees have cramped his business. The extra charge eats up nearly all the money his customers would save by going solar. “It changed the dynamic totally of what I was doing,” he says.
The Trump administration is preparing to unveil its plan for undoing Barack Obama’s most ambitious climate regulation — offering a replacement that would do far less to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that are warming the planet, according to POLITICO’s review of a portion of the unpublished draft.
The new climate proposal for coal-burning power plants, expected to be released in the coming days, would give states wide latitude to write their own modest regulations for coal plants or even seek permission to opt out, according to the document and a source who has read other sections of the draft.
That’s a sharp contrast from the aims of Obama’s Clean Power Plan, a 2015 regulation that would have sped a shift away from coal use and toward less-polluting sources such as natural gas, wind and solar. That plan was the centerpiece of Obama’s pledge for the U.S. to cut carbon dioxide emissions as part of the Paris climate agreement, which President Donald Trump has said he plans to exit.
The Environmental Protection Agency acknowledges that both carbon emissions and pollutants such as soot and smog would be higher under its new proposal than under the Clean Power Plan. And Trump’s critics call it a recipe for abandoning the effort to take on one of the world’s most urgent problems.
The proposal would be “another, more official, sign that the government of the United States is not committed to climate policy,” said Janet McCabe, EPA’s air chief under Obama. 08-14-18
Alaska isn’t exactly the first state you’d expect to embrace a price on carbon. Yet the state legislature will likely be weighing one after the November elections. When carbon taxes keep getting scrapped by blue states like Washington and Oregon, why would such a plan succeed in Alaska: a red state where oil companies are a major economic lifeline?
Necessity is one explanation. Alaskans have been at the forefront of climate change for decades now, facing melting permafrost, coastal erosion, and rising seas. And dealing with these problems — building new infrastructure and relocating communities, for instance — is expensive. By 2030, climate change could add another $3 to $6 billion in costs to public infrastructure alone. A carbon tax could help pay for the state’s ballooning climate costs.
Last year, Governor Bill Walker, an Independent, established a group to figure out how to address the state’s climate issues. The Climate Change Strategy and Climate Action for Alaska Leadership Team — a group of 20 scientists, policy wonks, indigenous representatives, and oil executives — recently released a draft proposal. Lo and behold, it includes a carbon tax.
The plan is expected to reach Walker’s desk in mid-September, marking the first time the state has seriously considered a price on carbon. The details of the proposal are vague at this point, and it’ll be some time before discussion about the tax really ramps up. The governor isn’t expected to throw his support behind a controversial tax during election season. 08-11-18
Climate change is a massive, complex, globe-spanning issue that affects every facet of our lives. And like most problems at its scale, it’s bound to affect the poor and people of color most significantly.
How can we address that in South Florida? That’s a question posed by a reader to the Florida Influencer Series, which taps the collective wisdom of 50 influential Floridians on topics important to the state in the run-up to the November election. This week, the issues are the environment and climate change, vital topics for residents who live at “ground zero” for sea-rise threats.
But singling out impacts to communities of color in particular can be difficult in Miami because, as Zelalem Adefris, resilience director of Catalyst Miami, put it, “Most of Miami is a community of color.”
“In Miami, it’s more of an economic issue,” she said.
The most at-risk population are poor people. They have the least amount of resources to escape the effects of climate change, by buying products or services to make weathering the changes easier. There is also increasing concern about the concept of “climate gentrification” — low-income residents being pushed out of higher elevation zones in South Florida. But in a region booming with redevelopment and market demand that have rapidly turned once struggling neighborhoods into trendy areas, many factors could be at work, including climate concerns. 08-13-18