America First, Earth Last

america first cover cropped

Considering that the so-called POTUS is himself a climate denier and has filled his cabinet with like-minded, anti-science morons, we shouldn’t be too surprised to hear that Scott Pruitt, his stooge who now runs the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has trashed the Paris Agreement under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

imagePruitt: “Paris is something we need to look at closely. It’s something we need to exit in my opinion. “It’s a bad deal for America”[1]

But even as recently as two weeks ago, the Dumpster’s coal-oil salesman was still expressing support (albeit tepid) for the Paris Climate Accord:

imagePruitt: “Engagement internationally is very important.  To demonstrate the leadership that we have shown on this issue with China and India and other nations is very important. Those discussions should ensue.”

This “new” position is based on the Dumpster’s mantra of America First!

imagePruitt: “It’s a bad deal for America… It’s an ‘America second, third or fourth’ kind of approach. The United States frontloaded all of our costs – China or India had no obligations under the agreement until 2030.”

Not true. The Paris Accord was the first time virtually all nations of the world came together despite our differences to work collectively to save the planet.  All countries that signed on have pledged very significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) beginning in 2020.  Because of huge economic inequities between developing and developed nations, the agreement allows for flexibility in scheduling, but the end goal (i.e., reducing GHG emissions by 2030 to keep global average temperatures well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels) is based on a concept of shared sacrifice. Plus, what is the value for America to be first on an uninhabitable planet?

imagePruitt: “What that means [compliance with Paris Accord] is contracting our economy to serve and really satisfy Europe and China and India. They are polluting far more than we are.”

These statistics are misleading and/or erroneous. Jobs in obsolete, inefficient, and dirty fossil energy fields (especially coal – despite what the Dumpster has promised out of work miners) are on the decline and will continue to decline based on the availability of cheaper and cleaner alternatives.  But these jobs can be (and are being) replaced with manufacturing, installation and service jobs in clean, state-of-the-art, renewable energy.

SolarCity_Buffalo

SolarCity Mega factory in Buffalo NY will  employ over 1400 people beginning this year.

For example, New York State is partnering with SolarCity to build and staff a new solar panel production facility at the site of a defunct steel mill in Buffalo, providing more than 1,400 new jobs that will eventually produce “made in America” rooftop solar panels and new solar roofing tiles.

Kentucky Power’s Big Sandy Unit 2 cooling tower during demolition (left and center) and Unit 1 (right) operating after successful conversion from coal to natural gas.

In the heart of coal country, Kentucky Power, the local utility which both mines and burns coal, wanted to upgrade its aging behemoth coal-fired plant known as Big Sandy to continue burning coal. The upgrades to the plant that burned 90 railcars of coal/day, emitting >5.6 million tons of CO2/yr would have cost $1 billion and resulted in a 30% increase to ratepayers.[2]  Earthjustice and the Sierra Club successfully challenged the upgrade with the state’s utility commission, arguing that replacing the obsolete plant with cleaner technology could be accomplished for just an 8% increase to ratepayers.  Eventually the coal upgrade at Big Sandy was scrapped in favor of conversion to natural gas and a new solar generating facility.  If other states and the Federal government got on board to steer policy in the right direction, we could make compliance with the Paris Accord an economic boom.


Herbert Hoover promised a chicken in every pot.  It’s time we ensured solar panels on every roof.


EW_Brown_SolarArray-1980

At 50 acres and 10MW, the new E.W. Brown Generating Station is Kentucky’s largest solar farm,

It is true that China is now the world leader in total CO2 emissions related to energy production.  In 2015 they emitted 10,641 million metric tons of CO2 while the U.S. was second at 5,172 metric tons.  However, in October of last year they cancelled construction work on thirty large coal-fired power plants with a combined capacity of 17 GW, more than all of the coal plants in the UK.  In addition, they’ve scrapped plans for an additional 100GW of coal plant projects still in the permitting stage.  The European Union, India, and Russia are next with annual GHG production of 3,470, 2,455, and 1,761 metric tons respectively.  However, when you consider per capita CO2 emissions, the U.S. far exceeds these other countries at 16.1 metric tons of CO2 per person compared with 12.3 for Russia, 7.7 for China, and 6.9 for the EU.  India, which is often cited for poor practices, has a per capita emissions of just 1.9 tons/person.[3]  So from that perspective, the U.S. is considerably more privileged and should take the leadership in reducing GHG emissions.

imagePruitt: “We’re at pre-1994 levels with respect to our CO2 emissions.” 

 

Again, this is bullshit: According to statistics from Pruitt’s own EPA web site (Fast Facts 1990 – 2014)[4], comparing CO2 emissions from 1990 to 2014, Total CO2 emissions have increased 8.6% and CO2 emissions from fossil fuel combustion have increased 9.9%.  And without President Obama’s pro-climate policies, those increases would have been considerably worse.  Frankly, I was a bit surprised to even see this document still posted on the EPA.gov site.  Links to several other source documents (e.g., “Climate change Emissions U.S. Inventory Report,” and “Climate Change GHG Emissions Inventory Explorer” have suspiciously disappeared since Pruitt took over.

Climate change is a battle against the clock. It’s a battle for the survival of the planet.  There is no Planet B on which our kids and grandkids can prosper.  We don’t have the luxury to sit back and wait for the next administration to renew our commitment to make it happen.  President Obama’s leadership and support of the Paris Agreement was historic.  We just cannot allow this bunch of immoral money-grubbing crooks to derail our progress.  Let your Senators and Representatives know how you feel and join us in the streets for the upcoming March for Science (on Earth Day, April 22) and March for Climate (April 29).  The future of the world depends on it.


 

marchforscience

climate march


[1] Scott Pruitt, EPA Administrator, Appearance on Fox and Friends, April 13, 2017.

[2] Heather Kathryn Ross, “Sun Rises Over the Bluegrass State, Making way for renewable energy in the heart of coal country,” Earthjustice Quarterly Magazine, Winter 2016, http://earthjustice.org/features/sun-rises-over-the-bluegrass-state?curation=newsletter

[3]https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_carbon_dioxide_emissions

[4] U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, “Fast Facts 1990 – 2014”, https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2016-06/documents/us_ghg_inv_fastfacts2016.pdf

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