The New York Times Editorial Board detailed in yesterday’s paper exactly why and how executive action is needed to rein in carbon emissions. Worth a full read. [New York Times]
America cannot solve a global problem by itself. But as Mr. Obama rightly observed in his inaugural address, the United States, as both major polluter and world leader, has a deep obligation to help shield the international community from rising sea levels, floods, droughts and other devastating consequences of a warming planet.
The prospects for broad-based Congressional action putting a price on carbon emissions are nil. The House is run by people who care little for environmental issues generally, and Senate Republicans who once favored a pricing strategy, like John McCain and Lindsey Graham, have long since slunk away. Meanwhile, Republicans on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee have spent the last two weeks trying to derail Mr. Obama’s nominee to run the Environmental Protection Agency — a moderate named Gina McCarthy. Ms. McCarthy has served two Republican governors (Mitt Romney was one) but is considered suspect by the right wing because she wants to control carbon pollution, which is driving global temperatures upward.
Hence the need for executive action. Yet we are now four months into Mr. Obama’s second term, and there is no visible sign of a coherent strategy. … As this page has noted, it is possible to adopt a robust climate strategy based largely on executive actions. The most important of these is to invoke the E.P.A.’s authority under the Clean Air Act to limit pollution from stationary industrial sources, chiefly the power plants that account for almost 40 percent of the country’s carbon emissions. …
He can hasten the development of less-polluting alternatives to older-generation refrigerants and other chemicals. He can order the Energy Department to embark on a major program to improve the efficiency of appliances and commercial and residential buildings, which consume a huge chunk of the country’s energy supply. And he can ramp up investment in basic research.
All of this will take time, which is why it is important to get started.
Heatwave deaths in New York City could spike 22 percent in the next decade. [Guardian]
Elizabeth Kolbert on Keystone: “The pipeline isn’t inevitable, and it shouldn’t be treated as such. It’s just another step on the march to disaster.” [New Yorker]
Extreme drought stretching from Texas to Kansas and beyond could be here for longer than expected as aquifers dry up and groundwater disappears. [New York Times]
Deforestation continues to sweep across Southeast Asia. [Yale Environment 360]
On Friday, Rep. Lois Capps introduced legislation to create a national plan to assist medical professionals with health issues linked with climate change, allowing additional research and tracking of diseased and environmental health indicators. [The Hill]
Gas prices rose 11 cents over the last two weeks. [Time]
The Coast Guard is taking a look at why Shell’s Arctic drilling barge ran aground off an island in Alaska. [Washington Post]
One solution to “range anxiety” for electric cars could be a battery swapping system, which is something Tesla Motors appears to be examining. [Gas 2]
Iceland recently became the 100th nation to deploy wind power. [Renewable Energy Focus]