Candidate Trump had promised the auto industry and his supporters that he would get Detroit working again by deregulating the industry. On the Ides of March 2017, The Donald started to make good on that promise. In an executive order, The Donald directed EPA and the Department of Transportation/National Highway Transportation and Safety Agency to re-open the Midterm Evaluation (MTE) completed just prior to President Obama’s leaving office.
The MTE led to EPA’s finalizing the 2022-2025 CAFE for cars and light trucks at 54.5/mpg**. The Auto Alliance had written both Trump and EPA Administrator Pruitt, early in 2017, asking them to reopen what they thought to be a flawed rulemaking process. It was, in their opinion, a rush to judgement and violative of their 2009 agreement with Obama
CAFE standards were introduced to the nation in 1975 as part of the Energy Policy and Conservation Act (EPCA). Motivating the new standards was the 1973 oil embargo. Congress and President Ford sought to lower reliance on foreign oil to decrease the impact of any future embargos. The environment received little more than a nod from lawmakers at the time.
This is part 4 of the Paris Yearning series examining events occurring in the wake of President Trump’s decision to rescind U.S. participation in the Paris Climate Agreement.
Chancellor Merkel Lowers G20 Expectations
Sean Spicer isn’t all that’s hiding in the bushes these days. Spicey is increasingly seen in the company of warning signs facing the world on the road to the sustainable kingdom(s).
The result of the UK election is also leading to an increase in the number of pundits seeking refuge in the greenery. The surprise outcome was not the only current event casting shade over international aspirations for keeping global warming within the bounds of considered safety.
German Chancellor Merkel recently struck a cautious note concerning the outcome of next month’s G20 meeting in Hamburg. A committed climate defender, Ms. Merkel was on a pre-summit tour to discuss the upcoming meeting with the leaders of member nations.
During a news conference in Argentina the German head of state signaled a narrowing of expectations in key areas. Trump’s announced U.S. exit from the climate agreement and his lukewarm embrace of NATO and the G7 cast shadows over continued cooperation on global warming, trade and migration.
The UK election appears to have thrown yet another spanner into the workings of British government. Having suffered the loss of an outright Parliamentary majority in last week’s vote, Prime Minister May is on the prowl for a governing partner.
Live long enough in Capital City and you can’t help but gain a feel for what Alice must have felt as she tumbled down the rabbit hole. Had Lewis Carroll been born a century and a half later and needed a city to use as the inspiration for his Wonderland Washington, in the Trump era, might just have filled the bill.
I can hear Donald J. Trump wistfully wishing:
If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense. Nothing would be what it is,
because everything would be what it isn't. And contrary wise, what is, it wouldn't be.
And what it wouldn't be, it would. You see?
Yes Donald, I see. I don’t understand, but I see.
As I sat down to write Part 3 of Paris Yearning I had a fairly clear idea of where I would be heading. I made the mistake of checking the evening news stories and, now like Alice, I am a bit disoriented.
Today in Trumpland three events of interest to the clean energy and environmental sectors took place.
“Secretary of State Rex Tillerson visited New Zealand today, where despite torrential rains,
his motorcade was greeted by a flock of birds—not of the fine feathered variety.”
Part 1 of the series looked at the theatre of President Trump’s decision to pull the U.S. out of the Paris Climate Agreement and discussed the growing partisanship of the climate change debate. Readers were cautioned that facts, figures and legal arguments held less import for Trumpeters than they might otherwise hope.
Part 2 focuses on several of the issues most salient to Trump’s announcement and suggests how they might be addressed going forward by clean energy and climate advocates. It begins by pointing to a way around the dilemma of Trumpsters refusing to be swayed by facts.
It would be difficult to get through life without the capacity to consider various options and to decide what to do. The lack of any decision criteria has caused many a donkey caught between two bales of hay to starve to death.
The alternative to weighing facts—at least for a politician--is to weight the importance of an issue to a voter/constituent or to the party’s leadership.
Prioritization is a key alternative decision criteria often employed by elected officials trying to determine whether to support or to oppose a particular initiative. For elected partisan representatives, consideration goes beyond the voters.
As members of an organized and hierarchical party, a balance must be achieved between the demands of party leaders and voters Prioritization works well in both instances.
A lot has been written these last several days about the meaning, motivation and consequence of Trump’s decision to pull the U.S. out of the Paris Climate Accord; much more will be. The decision is unfortunate at many levels--not, however, at all levels.
The near-term notoriety of an issue central to life on earth—whoever you are and wherever you might be living—is a good thing. It and its many subtexts, e.g. environmental justice, federal support of energy and climate research, the reach of federal environmental regulations, etc., are topics needing to be discussed regularly by the global community—not simply after black swan events.
In these few days away from Trump’s decision, I want to address several of the issues I think most salient to Trump’s announcement and to consider how they might be addressed by clean energy and environmental advocates going forward. It is impossible to cover all the issues involved in a single blog column—actually, in a thousand columns. Still, we must start somewhere.
Scratching out notes for this article, it became clear my starting point for a post-pull-out discussion was not going to focus on hard science and statistics—nor even much on legal issues. Laws—whether of Nature or societies—are of course integral to finding workable solutions to global warming.
The disciplines of physics, engineering, materials research, economics, law and others guide us in what to use in our efforts to combat climate change. They do not, however, tell us much about why anyone chooses to combat global warming.
Have you ever played musical chairs? It was pretty much mandatory at any birthday party I ever attended growing up.
Of course, given where I grew up and the friends I grew up with, it was a contact sport--not for the faint of heart. Still, bruises were badges of honor worn proudly and not to have played was unthinkable.
There came THE TIME at every party when someone would start arranging chairs—every other one facing in the opposite direction---while someone else set about finding just the right song to mayhem by.
It was then the rest of us would start limbering up, knowing when the music started flowing elbows would be flying. Let the pushing and shoving begin!
Oh, how we circled those chairs in frantic anticipation of when the music would suddenly stop—then just as suddenly begin again—but with one less chair and one less player.
Boy or girl, it made no difference—all that mattered was who’d be the last one sitting in that last chair standing.
A zero sum game this was. You were either on the chair at the end or you weren’t—no style points, no second-place trophy, no going home with the title Ms. Congeniality. Possession was all that mattered.
We played hard and forgot quickly. It was a game—a few bruises here and there, no grudges, no worries one of the losers—the victory challenged, for you PC’ers among us—looking to get even.
Friendships were as strong after as before—stronger even for the shared experience.
I hadn’t thought of those parties in quite a while. Then there was the other evening, watching our 45th president—the Apostate Donald John—speaking only for himself--and Russia, of course—denying any collusion, conspiracy or culpability.
It’s hard to tell the players, even with a program
Walk into any ball park in the nation and you’ll hear the hawkers refrain: programs, get your programs, you can’t tell the players without a program.
Here in Capital City, as of May 22, 2017, the players’ program is written mostly in blank verse. According to the Washington Post’s tote board: of the 557 key Trump administration positions requiring Senate confirmation, 33 have been filled, while only 56 have been nominated.
This compares to the same date in prior administrations rather poorly:
Nominations Sent to Senate 20 May
The Donald’s accusations, notwithstanding, the sparsity of key agency personnel cannot be blamed on Senate Democrats. The President himself is to blame for languorous pace
Carbon taxes are witnessing a huge uptick in attention. The advent of the Trump era is causing clean energy and climate defenders to pursue alternative policy priorities to those of the Obama era. Emphasis of state primacy is at the core of the collective rethink currently underway. It is far from the only element.
Policies less reliant on regulation and more dependent on market principles are emerging from the shadows to center stage. The unsettling prospects of a Trump-wellian world is having an interestingly galvanizing effect.
Climate defenders on the right and the left are finding common ground and common purpose. One of the principal organizing threads may be seen in the #PUTAPRICEONIT campaign. It is a remarkably diverse grouping of partner organizations, e.g. Our Climate, Environmental Defense Fund, republicEn, Climate Change and Citizens Climate Lobby, serving as a call to rally ‘round tax policy.
Earlier this year the concept of a national carbon tax made headlines when the Climate Leadership Council released The Conservative Case for Carbon Dividends. Council leaders are not the names one might ordinarily associate with climate defense. They include two former secretaries of state, James A. Baker III and George P. Shultz; two former chairmen of the Council of Economic Advisers, Martin S. Feldstein and N. Gregory Mankiw; and former treasury secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr.
The Paris Climate Agreement Should We Stay or Should We Go?
(This is and update of the previously posted article.)
Predictably there’s been a lot written over the last few weeks about the Paris Climate Agreement and whether the Trump administration will continue to sit with other nations.
Driving the coverage is the on-again off-again meeting between Trump and a pace of senior advisors. The ultimate decision will remain for The Donald to make--purportedly after the G-7 summit at the end of May.
Trumpeters are divided. EPA Administrator Pruitt leads the leaver, while Secretary of State Tillerson and the Kushners—Jared and Ivanka--are shepherding those advising to stay.
Pruitt believes remaining a signatory to the Paris agreement will be used as grounds to challenge the administration’s recent roll back of environmental regulations, including the hold put on the Clean Power Plan. Tillerson is wary of increased diplomatic pressures, should Trump decide to renounce the agreement. Interestingly, both are right.
It is important to be clear about what is really being decided. It’s reported that the question is whether the U.S. will continue to honor the obligations made by President Obama.
The hot air coming off Capital Hill is responsible for today’s high winds in the city
ON THE WINDS OF SPRING
THE 2017 ½ OMNIBUS SPENDING BILL
A proud native of Chicago, I know a thing or two about wind. I’m aware, for example, that the essential elements needed to make it blow are pressure and
I’m also a long-time resident of Capital City, who has come to know a thing or two about political winds and what’s required for them to blow. Unsurprisingly, it is the same two elements.
Both have been in abundance in D.C. for quite some time. A most notable wind passed through Congress just the other day and in the nick of time to avoid shutting down the federal government.
The 1,665 page Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2017 (Act) gained bi-partisan and bicameral support much more rapidly than many had predicted. Republicans and Democrats, in sufficient numbers, agreed there would be no winners should the government be forced to hang a “Gone Fishing” sign on the door.
One of the most surprising outcomes of the Act was how well federal clean energy and environmental programs fared by comparison to the proposed slash and burn preferences of the Trump administration and many Republican members of Congress.
Congressional brinksmanship has become quite commonplace over the last forty or so years. I seriously doubt the framers of the Constitution had ever imagined an annual appropriations process of last minute continuing resolutions.
This and floriferous cherry trees have become rites of Spring here in D.C. Although I doubt whether continuing resolutions will ever make it on to the postcards tourists seem to love.
How the Process Is Supposed to Work—more or less
Signatories of the Constitution had envisioned spending bills wending their way through Congress much like any other piece of legislation, with one notable exception.