by Kate Gordon, via Huffington Post
A new statewide poll in California has mixed results for those of us dedicated to fighting climate change. While the good news is actually great news, the bad news is a call to action.
Let me start on the upbeat side, which recognizes the magnitude of the issue.
The Public Policy Institute of California’s 12th annual poll on “Californians and the Environment” found that a strong majority of Californians, 78 percent, thinks that the world’s temperature has probably increased over the last 100 years, versus 17 percent who said it probably hasn’t. Most respondents, 60 percent, said the effects of global warming have already begun, and even more, 71 percent, support the state law requiring emissions reductions. Their feelings are borne out by hard science, as we know from NASA scientist James Hansen’s recent op-ed, in which he definitively links the extreme weather of the past few years with climate change.
More of the encouraging results:
? Majorities favor policies requiring increased energy efficiency for residential buildings, commercial buildings and appliances (77 percent);
? requiring industrial plants, oil refineries, and commercial facilities to reduce emissions (82);
? encouraging local governments to change land use and transportation planning so people could drive less (77);
? requiring all automakers to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases even further in new cars (78);
? and requiring fuel providers to reduce the carbon intensity of transportation fuels at least 10 percent by the end of the decade (79).
But now for the head-scratcher.
California actually already has a law in place to lower emissions: AB32, which aims to reduce carbon levels to their 1990 levels by 2020. But a major mechanism to achieve those goals, a cap and trade program, remains somewhat of a mystery to a majority of state residents. The poll found that 57 percent had never heard of it — despite the hundreds of news stories on the topic in 2012 alone.
As Californians learn more about AB32, it’s critically important that they get the right information.
Well-financed opposition groups are revving up a noisy campaign to block cap and trade from taking effect. Using untruths, half-truths and scare tactics, they’re charging that it amounts to a tax, that it would drive businesses out of California, that it would drive up energy costs for consumers.
Let me be clear: Not true. Not true. Not true.
A tax? No. Current state law allows the state to raise revenues from companies engaged in harmful activities. Polluting the air is harmful to public health, causing illness, deaths and higher health-care costs, a huge drain on the family budget and peace of mind. Putting a price on this harmful activity — much as we put a price on, say, tobacco — will more accurately account for the true costs of pollution on the state’s budget, and will raise an estimated $1 billion in new revenue for California.
Drive businesses away? No. In California’s program, a significant portion of the allowances — 90 percent in the first year — will be distributed free to utilities and the biggest carbon producers. This will ease the transition toward cleaner operations and give these industries plenty of incentive to remain in the state. If anything, the cap and trade program will bring more business and jobs to California. Look at the success of cap and trade in the northeast states under the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI): through that program, they’ve added about 16,000 new jobs in energy efficiency and renewable energy and seen billions of dollars in net economic benefits for the region overall.
Other revenues from carbon allowance auctions will be re-invested in California in the form of support for research and development, commercialization, manufacture and installation of renewable and efficient energy technologies.
Raise energy costs? No. Giving free allowances to utilities in the early years of the program means they won’t have to increase electricity rates. If we spend the revenue from the cap and trade program wisely, we might actually see a drop in energy costs.
The RGGI states are saving consumers $1.1 billion on electric bills and $174 million on natural gas and heating bills over the next decade because they invested cap and trade revenue in energy efficiency retrofits. Since the inception of RGGI, Massachusetts has generated $3 to $4 of savings for each $1 invested in energy efficiency.
Those dollars translate into more money in household budgets, which in turn allows those consumers to spend more on other goods and services, helping the overall economy of the region. And energy savings for industrial consumers leads to more efficient and competitive manufacturing and commercial operations — also a boon for the region.
Despite the clear benefits of policies to address climate change, the federal government and most states have continued to ignore the issue. Not California. AB 32 is the most ambitious program in the United States to combat the pernicious effects of global warming. But the program will only be successful if it is embraced by the California citizens who say they want action on climate change.
I see the PPIC poll as a call to action — especially for those of us with the luxury of working every day on policy issues we care about. We need to do a better job communicating with our allies communicate about those issues to our allies, policymakers, and the public, to change California’s perception of AB32.
California has always been an innovator when it comes to national problem solving, and the poll results suggest it’s time to take an aggressive stand against further damage to the atmosphere. The state’s approach to the solution, through AB 32, is based on science and economic realities that hold benefits for the environment and for the state economy.
The more that people understand that, and the more we can spread the word, the less anyone will be scared off by half-truths and fear.
Kate Gordon is Director of Advanced Energy and Sustainability at the Center for the Next Generation. She is also a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress. This piece was originally published at the Huffington Post and was reprinted with permission from the author.
When political historians chronicle the moment when American conservatives finally succeeded in draining the word “freedom” of any of its natural meaning, they will cite anti-gay activist Bob Vander Plaats’ speech on Saturday announcing a multi-group effort to remove Iowa Supreme Court Justice David Wiggins from office:
?This is about freedom, not just about marriage,? Vander Plaats said in unveiling Iowans for Freedom?s campaign to oust Wiggins during the sold-out Family Leader?s Family Leadership Summit that drew 1,000 activists to the Point of Grace church.
?We see this as a freedom and constitutional issue important to all Iowans. If courts are allowed to redefine the institution of marriage, every one of the liberties we hold dear is in jeopardy.?
Brian Brown of the National Organization for Marriage pledged his group would provide a match of up to $100,000 to contributions that are made during the next two weeks in the campaign against Wiggins.
Iowans for Freedom and NOM are unlikely to be the only anti-gay groups willing to drop big money in an effort to buy a vacancy on the Iowa Supreme Court. In 2010, a similar effort to remove three justices who, like Wiggins, joined an opinion holding that the Iowa Constitution provides gay couples with the same marriage rights as everyone else, spent nearly $800,000. Much of that money came from the American Family Association, a Mississippi-based hate group which has claimed that Adolf Hitler and ?virtually all of the Stormtroopers, the Brownshirts, were male homosexuals? and that marriage equality causes crop failure.
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This is the best part of the most entertaining primary season I remember. The Republicans were so nasty to each other, trying to find ways to climb on top of one another to stand above the muck. Newt Gingrich (before I suspect realized he had to out-crazy the others to win) has a surprisingly intellectual honest response to Paul Ryan's budget back in 2011.
"I don't think right-wing social engineering is any more desirable than left-wing social engineering," Gingrich said. "I don't think imposing radical change from the right or the left is a very good way for free society to operate. I think we need a national conversation to get to a better Medicare system with more choices for seniors, but there are specific things you can do."
"But not what Paul Ryan is suggesting, completely change Medicare?" Gregory wondered.
"I think that is too big a jump. I think you want to have a system where people voluntarily migrate to better outcomes, better solutions, better options, not one where you suddenly impose upon the -- I'm against Obamacare, which is imposing radical change, and I would be against a conservative imposing radical change," Gingrich replied.
I would quibble with the Newtster that 'Obamacare' is radical, but other than that detail, he has a point.
Then Gingrich learned that being reality-based doesn't play well with the base. And now that the presumptive nominee of his party has full-on embraced the man who wants to dismantle the social safety nets that have protected Americans for generations, Gingrich has to backtrack from any kind of rational thought to defend the indefensible:
"The one thing I objected to back in May 2011," Gingrich told CBS News correspondent Nancy Cordes, "was that he eliminated Medicare for everybody. He came back with Ron Wyden. He listened, and one of the things I give Paul a lot of credit for is, he really listens. And he came back with an improved Medicare plan that Ron Wyden [the Democratic senator from Oregon] has co-sponsored and is the only bipartisan reform, by the way... It basically allows people to stay in the current system. He met my only objection."
Gingrich said the only fallout from the plan in senior-heavy states like Pennsylvania and Florida, would come as a result of "plain lies" from President Obama's campaign alleging the proposal would risk their Social Security and Medicare: "The Romney team doesn't touch anybody who's over 55, so it's a non-event," he said. "It's just plain, a lie, to run a campaign trying to scare people who are over 55 about his plan... if you want to keep the current system, you can."
Well, not to put too fine a point on it, Newt, but I'm under 55 and I'm scared out of my mind at the thought of Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan getting their greedy little paws on Social Security. I'm in my mid-forties. That's not a lot of time to put together a supplemental retirement plan, is it? Experts say most of us are ill-equipped to invest for our golden years and here are the Randian golden boys looking to remove what little safety nets the 1% haven't already taken from us.
So Newt stuck singing the praises of someone he knows as well as we do has no idea how to govern for the majority of America.
The Wall Street Journal is helping Republicans pivot from job creation to deficit reduction, writing that the 2012 election will be defined primarily as a debate over how to reduce the federal deficit. Not once did the Journal mention jobs or unemployment.
Here's the Journal's take on Mitt Romney's decision Saturday to name Paul Ryan his vice presidential candidate:
In an election defined by competing visions for taming the deficit, Republicans are buoyed by Mr. Ryan's choice because few in the party can talk about fiscal issues with more comfort and depth than the author of the most prominent budget-reform proposals.
Never mind that economists say that shifting focus from creating jobs to deficit reduction is wrong-headed. Paul Ryan! Squirrel!
The Journal spent more than 1,100 words explaining the impact Ryan would have on the presidential race, but not one of those words was "job."
That's unfortunate. The people who will actually be voting in the November election say that the economy and jobs remain the top priority, not debt and deficits.
Well! That didn't take long. On Saturday Mitt Romney announced his running mate would be the zombie-eyed granny starver (h/t Charles Pierce) Paul Ryan as his running mate, and on Sunday the headlines in every Florida paper screamed the error of that move in 72-point font...and this morning what is the first thing I see when I check The Hill's Blog Briefing Room? That Romney has canceled a campaign stop in Orlando.
Mitt Romney is cancelling a planned campaign stop Monday in Orlando after a whirlwind weekend in which the presumptive Republican nominee introduced Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) as his running mate.
According to the Orlando Sentinel, the campaign said late Sunday that the presidential hopeful was "too exhausted to make the trip" after criss-crossing Virginia, North Carolina, and Wisconsin over the weekend.
"We've been planning this bus tour for awhile and had to adjust for stuff going on," Jeff Bechdel, Florida communications director for the campaign, told the paper.
Exhaustion? Please. Scared spitless is more like it. He is going ahead with a morning stop in St. Augustine and an evening fundraiser in Miami but most telling of all, his new running mate is not accompanying him to the Sunshine State. He is being dispatched to Iowa, far away from Florida, where he might get whacked by a cane or three.
But it also begs another question...if he is "exhausted" after just 48 intense hours of campaigning, what does that say about his ability to handle the constant stress of the presidency? Nothing positive, that's for sure.
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If the Romney campaign thought that their Vice-Presidential selection would take the heat off their candidate's refusal to release more than two years of tax returns, that was laid to rest when Bob Schieffer asked Paul Ryan last night on 60 Minutes how[...]
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Fox did its best to cover up the fact that Mitt Romney has endorsed the radical Medicare plan put forward by his running mate Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI).
Fox & Friends co-host Steve Doocy claimed that "Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan are not running on the Ryan plan. They're running on the Mitt Romney plan." Fox hosts Stuart Varney and Eric Bolling both stated that Romney did not even have a Medicare plan:
Fox's attempt to distance Romney from Ryan's plan echoes the Romney campaign's own talking points. Romney's campaign has said that "Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan have different views on some policy areas -- like Medicare."
It's not surprising that Fox and Romney would distance themselves from Ryan's plan. Ryan's plan would end Medicare as we know it by transforming it into a voucher system, a move that would hurt the program's elderly recipients.
The fact of the matter is that Romney has embraced Ryan's plan. According to Romney's own campaign website, his Medicare plan "almost precisely mirrors" Ryan's. Furthermore, Romney has repeatedly praised Ryan's plan, which ends Medicare and hurts the program's elderly recipients.
Rushing to claim Mitt Romney's vice presidential pick of Rep. Paul Ryan had immediately "altered" the White House race by making it seem "more consequential," as the New York Times framed it, reporters and pundits quickly coalesced around the claim that Ryan's presence would usher in a more "substantive" phase of the campaign.
Pointing to Ryan's work as the chairman of the House Budget Committee and his authorship of the Republicans' budget blueprint, which has become a rallying point for movement conservatives, the press generously insisted that not only is Ryan a serious player and important public policy wonk, but that his inclusion in the campaign would quickly elevate the level of the debate, as well as how the press covers the campaign.
The new narrative, which must have pleased Romney aides, was born nearly the moment word of the VP announcement was leaked Saturday morning. CNN's Wolf Blitzer quickly reported the race was about to get "much more substantive," while colleague Gloria Borger agreed, suggesting, "the debate is going to shift onto a very substantive ground."
Over at Fox News, Carl Cameron assured viewers the arrival of Ryan meant the debate "will be a more substantive one than a lot of back-biting and name calling that we've seen in the last few weeks."
And Fox's Ed Henry echoed the same point, stressing that the press would soon be able to shift gears in terms of its coverage:
HENRY: We've spent a lot over the last few days talking about some of these attack ads and who's been going after who on personal, negative attacks. This Ryan addition to the ticket might focus it in a bit more on some of those substantive policy issues that Mitt Romney's been saying he wants to focus on.
See, thanks to Ryan the press will finally be able to cover substance! This, from the same process-obsessed press corps that spent weeks treating as news the trumped-up claim that Obama had dissed business owners on the campaign trail?
Excuse me, but was anyone stopping the press from covering substantive issues prior to the Ryan pick? The whole premise that up until Saturday the 2012 presidential campaign had been void of substance and it's only the arrival of Ryan n that will rescue the race from triviality is absurd.
Market pundits talk about how the stock market climbs a "wall of worry," a euphemism for the ability of stocks to go up even in the face of chronic problems in the economy. . . . → Read More: The Market Goes Up, the Market Goes Down?Either Way You Win With this Stock
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