“California’s Cap-and-Trade Revolt” – Wall Street Journal, 30 June 2014

While West Virginia and Kentucky Democrats are bucking Obama’s climate policy, California Democrats are also fighting similar policy in California, the state’s cap-and-trade program, which is directly effecting the poorest Californians.

Recently, 16 of members of California’s Democratic Assembly wrote a letter to the California Air Resources Board, encouraging the board to revise or postpone California’s cap-and-trade program. The program calls for big manufacturers and power plants to adhere to a state-ordered carbon cap by buying carbon permits or limiting emissions. Transportation fuel suppliers will also have to acquiesce to permits in 2015.

via SF Public Press

via SF Public Press

Assembly Democrats’ minds are on gas prices, which could surge anywhere from 15 to 40 cents per gallon. California has the highest gas prices in the country, in large part due to fuel blending obligations and taxes. In 2012, the Boston Consulting Group anticipated that gas prices would rise anywhere between $0.49 and $1.83 per gallon by 2020. While the program’s objectives are pure—boosting gas prices is supposed to persuade people to drive less, carpool, or purchase electric cars—California’s cap-and-trade is invariably hurting those who cannot afford it. A majority of the 16 Democratic Assembly Members represent minorities and low-income populations.

The Air Resources Board maintains that the objective of the program isn’t to finance new state governmental programs, though California’s 2014 budget does allocate $250 million from carbon permit auctions, as well as 25 percent of future yields, to fund a high-speed rail. The auctions will bring in anywhere between $12 billion to $45 billion by 2020.

Assembly Democrats are in agreement with the California Chamber of Commerce, which is suing the Air Resources Board to invalidate California’s program.

Developed and Written by Dr. Subodh Das and Tara Mahadevan

June 30, 2014

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“Climate change is here, action needed now, says new White House report” – CNN, 6 May 2014

The White House released a new climate change report in early May, as part of President Obama’s attempt to ready the US for the effects of climate change. Obama has made climate change awareness a cornerstone of his second-term, primarily by taking it upon himself by using executive action to implement his Climate Action Plan. The White House report details reasons why Obama wants the US to take precautionary measures against our growing sea levels and progressively unpredictable weather.

However, Obama has been butting heads with conservatives, the fossil fuel industry, and their allies over the debate of whether or not climate change is indeed real, and if carbon emissions from power plants, factories, and cars—or human activity—are the biggest culprits. Conservatives view the report as a means for Obama to push his own agenda, which they believe would damage the economy, and place the burden on middle-income families.

While polling shows that Americans believe that climate change is a result of human activities, they are less concerned about environmental issues than they are about the economy, for instance.

A Gallup poll from March produced interesting results: 34% of those surveyed believe climate change is a “serious threat” to the earth, while 64% didn’t believe that. Over 60% believed climate change is currently happening or going to happen.

The report clarifies the approach of counteracting climate change into two strategies: mitigation and adaptation. Mitigation calls for curbing the effects of climate change by reducing the cause; adaptation calls for preparing for the consequences that are currently or likely to occur. The report also analyzes the US by region, pinpointing specific impacts to each region.

The report identifies three major concerns: rising sea levels, increased droughts, and a longer fire season. The report foresees sea levels growing by one to four feet by the end of the century. Those living on tropical islands and on the coast will be the hardest hit. Miami, for example, is spending hundred of millions of dollars to prevent massive flooding. The Great Plains, too, will suffer from prolonged droughts and heat waves, which is likely to cause more wildfires and endanger agricultural and residential areas.

The report upholds regulations that limit carbon emissions, and encourages investing in programs that stop climate change in its tracks.

Developed and Written by Dr. Subodh Das and Tara Mahadevan

May 24, 2014

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“5 things you can do about climate change” – CNN, 6 May 2014

We here at Phinix are huge proponents of doing what you can at home to prevent any further impacts of climate change. The disastrous effects of global warming are stacking up, leading to higher temperatures and rising sea levels. More flooding, wildfires, and droughts are to be expected. Here are five things you can do to lend a helping hand to the environment.

Become Informed

Staying informed about what policy makers are doing and saying is paramount. If you stay educated on climate change, then you can make knowledgeable decisions when voting and electing politicians into office. It also wouldn’t hurt to know what the policy makers are discussing:

  • Lowering carbon dioxide levels—for example, establishing carbon taxes and carbon caps;
  • Changing the Earth’s response to the effects of climate change—for example, building seawalls to combat the rising sea levels; and
  • Adapting the Earth to counteract climate change—for example, changing our oceans to absorb more CO2.

Make Changes at Home

The EPA suggests you do the following to curb your greenhouse gas emissions, which will also save you money:

  • Change your five most-used light bulbs to products that have the EPA’s Energy Star label;
  • Heat and cool more efficiently, such as by using a programmable thermostat, changing air filters, and replacing old equipment with Energy Star products;
  • Seal and insulate your home;
  • Make use of recycling programs, and compost food and yard waste;
  • Reduce water waste;
  • Use green power, such as solar panels; and
  • Estimate how much greenhouse gas you emit with the EPA’s calculator.

Be Greener at the Office

You can also help out at the office. Here’s how:

  • Set computers and other office equipment to power down during periods when you’re not using them;
  • Use Energy Star equipment; and
  • Recycle and reuse whenever possible.

Reduce Emissions in Transit

You can reduce your emissions both in your daily and cross-country commutes:

  • Rely on public transportation, biking, walking, carpooling, or telecommuting instead of driving;
  • Use the EPA’s Green Vehicle Guide to help you make an informed choice about buying a car;
  • While driving, try to avoid hard accelerations, don’t spend more than 30 seconds idling, and go easy on the gas pedal and brakes; and
  • Make sure to regularly check your tire pressure.

When you’re traveling by plane, try these tricks:

  • Consider packing lighter because less fuel is consumed with less weight on the plane;
  • Fly during the day because night flights have a bigger impact on the climate; and
  • Buy carbon credits to compensate for the emissions on your flight.

Get Involved and Educate Others About the Bigger Picture

Though one person’s efforts might only have a small influence, involving and educating others will allow our impact to grow. Together, we can help to prevent any further damaging effects of climate change.

Developed and Written by Dr. Subodh Das and Tara Mahadevan

May 13, 2014

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“Obama Sets Deadline for Trucks’ Fuel-Economy Standards” – Wall Street Journal, 18 February 2014

As another element to his new climate policy, President Obama has developed new fuel-efficiency regulations for medium and heavy-duty commercial trucks that are set to be enforced by March 2016. This is a move that Obama hopes will lower the US’s reliance on foreign oil and bolster the economy.

Obama has made climate policy a cornerstone of his second term. While environmental groups, and a trucking industry alliance that encompasses the FedEx and Con-way fleets, were happy about the new regulation, small-time truck operators aren’t so ecstatic, as the regulation could affect truck purchases.

The US has 1.3 million trucking companies, and almost 97% have less than 20 trucks in their fleet. New fuel-efficiency regulations are being compounded with new federal laws that restrict truck driving hours, which help to lower chronic fatigue and any connected crashes.

While heavy-duty trucks only make up 4% of highway vehicles, they consume 20% of on-road fuel. Obama has been trying to pass his climate policy through an executive action, since Congress hasn’t been entirely agreeable. The EPA and the Transportation Department would work together to draw up the new regulations.

Developed and Written by Dr. Subodh Das and Tara Mahadevan

April 1, 2014

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