The U.S. Congress is beset by one party that totally rejects climate (and maybe all) science and resists any sane action to protect the livability of the planet for future generations – including their children and grandchildren, and a ruling party that includes two Senators who are equally as culpable as the entire other party.  But, despite the QAnonsense insanity of too many Senators, the President is trying to do something….

Five Climate Moves by the Biden Administration You May Have Missed

Although the Build Back Better package is in limbo, the president is incorporating climate action and environmental justice into government decision-making. Critics say he should be doing more.

President Joe Biden’s first year in office, which began with the launch of the most ambitious climate action plan of any administration, ended with its derailment due to harsh political reality.

Up against a Senate that gives outsized power to members from sparsely populated states who are allied with the fossil fuel industry, Biden wasn’t able to get his $1.7 trillion Build Back Better legislation through Congress in 2021.

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) argued that the energy transition that the bill sought to spur was “at a rate that is faster than technology or the markets allow.” Despite ample evidence to refute Manchin’s claims—including that the Texas power crisis was caused by renewable energy—the bottom line is that Biden and other supporters of Build Back Better will need to dramatically alter the legislation to win the votes of all 50 Senate Democrats. And the clock will be ticking, as the Democrats may lose their slim hold on Congress in the 2022 election.

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To reduce the threat of severe wildfires, we need to act on climate change, protect and restore our forests, and learn to live with “good” fire.

Kristen Shive Save the Redwoods, Autumn/Winter 2020

The record-breaking 2020 wildfire season shocked Californians as smoke blocked out the sun and severely degraded air quality. By mid-October, 4.25 million acres of California had burned, and fire season was still far from over. Our hearts are with the many who lost homes and livelihoods, and we are saddened by the near-complete infrastructure losses at Big Basin Redwoods State Park, and the miles of park trails that have been impacted. For this article, we focus our attention on the forest itself. Of the acres burned by mid-October, coast redwoods comprised more than 81,000 acres, including more than 11,000 acres of old growth (roughly 9 percent of all old growth left). In the giant sequoia range, roughly 16,000 acres (or 34 percent of the range) had burned, most of which is old growth. We have yet to assess the fire effects on the ground, but as with most modern wildfires, there will likely be a mix of beneficial and detrimental ecological effects.

Brian Stewart, Electrify Now

As 2021 comes to a close, it is a great time to reflect on all that has been accomplished this past year in our efforts to create a clean energy future. Along the way, we may be have been disappointed that not enough was achieved or frustrated at how long it takes to make progress, but this past year has been momentous in many ways.

I invite you to remember how you were feeling a year ago at this time, after what seemed like 4 years of drama and environmental rollbacks. Then check out our highlights below of major wins that have piled up this year and ask yourself how you are feeling today.

I hope you feel encouraged that it is possible to make headway against these huge challenges, and that all our individual efforts can add up to something bigger, and that momentum is building around clean energy solutions.

Happy Holidays!

Check out the recording of our webinar – 2021: A Tipping Point Year? to hear our roundup of major clean energy accomplishments for the year with Nora Apter from Oregon Environmental Council, and Meredith Connolly from Climate Solutions.

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While federal policy fell short of expectations, many states had high ambitions and delivered results.

Dan Gearino, Inside Climate News, December 23rd 2021

It’s understandable if people are feeling dour during this unseasonably warm December when, once again, the U.S. Congress has failed to pass major climate legislation.

But while the federal government might have failed in pushing through the Build Back Better bill, with its many climate provisions, 2021 has seen some long-awaited successes in the states.

Five states (Illinois, Massachusetts, Oregon, North Carolina and Rhode Island) passed laws requiring a shift to 100 percent carbon-free electricity or net-zero emissions. And Washington State passed a law that takes steps to implement its 2019 and 2020 climate and clean energy laws.

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Submitted to OTC by Alan Journet December 20th 2021

Colleagues:

I write as cofacilitator of Southern Oregon Climate Action Now, an organization of over 1600 rural Southern Oregonians who are concerned about global warming and its climate change consequences, and who seek meaningful state action to address the problem. Probably more directly than is the case with urban inhabitants, rural and coastal Oregonians live with the consequences of climate change – the warming and heat waves, the reducing summer rainfall, the reducing winter snowpack, the drought, the increasing wildfire risk and the threat to our agriculture, forests, oceans and rivers. Since the transportation sector is recorded as responsible for the largest percentage of regulated greenhouse gas emissions in the state, it is incumbent upon ODOT and the OTC to take whatever steps it can to reduce emissions from this sector. Both Governor Brown’s Executive Order 20-04 and current climate science dictate this need.

It is in this context that I write to urge upon OTC a forward-thinking approach to the use of state and federal funds. Historically, the agency has focused attention on the very projects that contribute to the problem. That means projects that further facilitate the use of private internal combustion engine vehicles. The climate crisis, largely driven by the combustion of fossil fuels, comprises a wake-up call to many of us just as it should comprise a wake-up call to the OTC and ODOT staff. It is no longer adequate to continue business as usual; we must take bold steps to promote a change in public behavior away from the private automobile as the means for travel.

My background in biology, specifically teaching ecology for many years, has alerted me to an alarming reality. If we continue the business-as-usual-behavior of accelerating fossil fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, we will compromise if not devastate the natural systems across the planet and the biodiversity they support. Possibly more troubling, since our agriculture, forestry and fisheries depend on the same two variables of temperature and precipitation that determine natural ecosystem distribution across the planet, these critical human requirements will also be devastated. For a more detailed discussion of this problem, visit my discussion here: Biological Consequences of Climate Change: A Southern Oregon Perspective.

Coming from the U.K., I am well aware that it is possible to have a much more extensive public transit system of buses and rail than is the case in the U.S. On face value, it might seem reasonable to argue that the population density in the U.S. is much lower than that in Europe, so public transportation systems are much less likely to be successful and economic. The persuasive counter-argument is that a prime driver of the U.S. dependence on the private auto has been the nation’s history of support and subsidy for that mode of transport. We now recognize that the private auto is a prime contributor to the problem. This means that it’s time for us to reverse the investment of taxpayer dollars in promoting the problem by encouraging private auto use but and, instead, use these funds to promote a multi-model transit system that encourages the forms of transportation that reduce rather than exacerbate the problem.

It is pretty obvious that this means we should maximize our investment in, as in our funding for, projects that promote bus and rail transit, as well as promote livable communities wherein it’s not necessary to hop in the car to undertake simple errands such as grocery shopping:

  • We encourage the OTC to reconsider the historic pattern of funding and take the state in a new direction: To reduce statewide greenhouse gas emissions, Oregonians must drive their internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles less.
  • The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act 2021 should add substantially to the State’s transportation funding with some $4.5 billion over the next five years. The primary focus for the use of these funds should be to promote modifications to our infrastructure to reduce the devastating impact of global warming and its climate change consequences.
  • We should reduce or eliminate the allocation of funds to gasoline-powered automobiles since this is the very pattern of investment that has caused the problems that confront us.
  • For generations we have invested public funds in making personal auto travel the cheapest, moat convenient, and most attractive method of traveling. To promote a transition away from the private auto, we must offer public transport alternatives that are equally or more attractive. Their attraction and convenience then have the potential to encourage less Single Occupancy Vehicle (SOV) usage more dense housing.
  • If we wish to reduce the state’s contribution into the global climate crisis, the evidence suggests that we should consider a major investment in rail for local and inter-city travel.
  • Regulations governing land use in Oregon encourage more dense residential development and reduce sprawl – an enemy of public transportation. The forthcoming Climate Friendly and Equitable Communities proposal will similarly emphasize such development. Since we are moving to a development stage where we encourage multi-modal transit, it is time to encourage all forms of public transportation but the personal automobile
  • The only form of personal vehicle that ODOT and the OTC should consider encouraging is the Battery Electric Vehicle (BEW).

For these reasons, we (SOCAN) encourage the Oregon Transportation Commission to reconsider its focus on the business-as-usual approach to planning and allocate as large a percentage of the available funds as possible to rail and public transit.

Respectfully submitted

Ted Sickinger, The Oregonian, Dec 15 2021

Policymakers for the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality on Thursday voted 3-1 to adopt a controversial Climate Protection Plan that would eventually have far-reaching impacts on every resident of the state.

Depending on who’s describing it, the plan is either an unachievable economic debacle in the making or a long overdue and measured response to climate change that may not go far enough. If that sounds familiar, it’s because Oregon’s debate over climate policy has featured the same polarized rhetoric for the last five years and more.

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Susanne Rust, Dec 17th 2021 Los Angeles Times

Forces profound and alarming are reshaping the upper reaches of the North Pacific and Arctic oceans, breaking the food chain that supports billions of creatures and one of the world’s most important fisheries.

In the last five years, scientists have observed animal die-offs of unprecedented size, scope and duration in the waters of the Beaufort, Chukchi and northern Bering seas, while recording the displacement and disappearance of entire species of fish and ocean-dwelling invertebrates. The ecosystem is critical for resident seals, walruses and bears, as well as migratory gray whales, birds, sea lions and numerous other animals.

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Press Release Distributed December 16th 2021 following approval by the state Environmental Quality Commission of the Climate Protection Program rules developed by the Department of Environmental Quality.

Southern Oregon Climate Action Now (SOCAN) offers appreciation and kudos to the state’s Department of Environmental Quality and Environmental Quality Commission. Today EQC approved the Climate Protection Program rules proposed by the DEQ to meet the charge contained in Governor Browns 2020 Executive Order 20-04. That EO required state agencies to develop programs that reduce the state’s contribution to the global climate crisis.

Oregonians paying attention to climate trends and recent weather know that we are facing increasing problems. We are experiencing increasing temperatures, reduced snowpack, heat waves, drought, severe weather, increasing risk of wildfires and compromised natural ecosystems, agriculture, forestry, and fisheries. To address the climate crisis we confront, every city, state, and nation must contribute to addressing the root cause of the problem. This includes Oregon! What we need to do, very simply, is change our behavior to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. We know how to do this, and we know it will not undermine our economy. All we need is to ignore the naysayers, and exhibit the will to do it. Our children and grandchildren demand no less of us.

In 2020, the Oregon legislature failed to pass a comprehensive greenhouse gas emissions reduction bill that would have placed our state on a path towards meaningful emissions reductions. Almost immediately, a well-informed and prepared Governor Kate Brown issued Executive Order 20-04 charging state agencies to develop programs that would establish a downward trajectory in state emissions, promote carbon sequestration in our natural and working lands, and do all this acknowledging that social justice issues must be addressed.

The most recent outcome of this state agency effort is approval on December 16th by the Environmental Quality Commission of a Climate Protection Plan developed by the state’s Department of Environmental Quality. The economic sector producing the largest slice of our statewide regulated emissions is transportation, it makes sense that this sector would be a prime target for emissions reductions.

The Climate Protection Program is exciting in that it puts the state’s fuel suppliers on an emissions reduction trajectory that will achieve a statewide reduction from the 2017-2019 average emissions of 90% by 2050, with a 2035 interim target of a 50% reduction. Stationary sources (industries) responsible for the largest industrial emissions are also required to install Best Available Emissions Reduction protocols and reduce emissions by 50%  from that same 2017-2019 average in 2035. Meanwhile, fossil fuel suppliers unable to reduce their emissions are able to invest in Community Climate Investment credits. Funds from these investments will be used to promote social justice goals while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

This program immediately places Oregon among the top five states in the nation in terms of addressing the existential climate crisis that is causing severe weather events across the country.

Southern Oregon Climate Action Now congratulates our state DEQ for developing such a program and the Environmental Quality Commission for endorsing it. The program thus becomes state law. We would have liked a program that targets net zero emissions by 2050, but recognize the constraints imposed on DEQ by community forces that seek to generate profits at the expense of the future of life as we know it. We are also concerned about the focus on promoting biofuels and so-called Renewable Natural Gas as solutions to the problem since any benefit they provide relies on the mistake of assessing only combustion emissions rather than including upstream (production and distribution) emissions. In response to concerns expressed about the Community Climate Investment options not including sequestration, DEQ agreed to consult with the Oregon Departments of Forestry and Agriculture and the Watershed Enhancement Board to consider ways sequestration can be incentivized.

The critical message is that we need to promote electrification of our lives and economy wherever possible and the generation of that electricity from genuine renewable energy sources. Overall, however, we offer kudos to DEQ and EQC for achieving a meaningful greenhouse gas emissions reduction program for Oregon.

 

 

Tim Miller, Portland Tribune, December 9, 2021
Tim Miller is director of Oregon Business for Climate, a league of Oregon businesses advocating for ambitious, equitable, effective climate policies and programs.

Savvy Oregon businesses plan for their operating and regulatory environment, and want clarity wherever possible. They see that climate change is a huge piece of that context.

Along with visible impacts here in Oregon, the global financial sector’s announcements make the business context clear — with $130 trillion (40% of the world’s capital) aligned in addressing climate change. The recent COP26 global summit, referred to as “the business COP” by many, demonstrated both the mounting urgency of the challenge, and the difficulty of moving resistant players toward real action.

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Alan Journet,  The Applegater, December 2021

Most Applegate Valley residents involved in agriculture and forestry know their future success depends on the climate.
All plants require the climate in which they have succeeded historically. Substantial deviations from these conditions result in depressed growth and yield.
Comparing historic patterns with projected trends in regional temperature and precipitation reveals potential problems. This discussion focuses on one of my favorite attributes of our region: wine varietals.

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