Friday Wrap-Up 4/3
This week in the news, we saw some AMAZING coverage on tackling climate change as a collective and the economic power that could come from including climate solutions in the next stimulus package. We also saw some not-so-amazing coverage on the EPA pollution rollbacks…
All of that and more below!
Every line of this story was so incredible, it was tough to pick just one. But we tried:
“Well, what if your power in this fight lies not in what you can do as an individual but in your ability to be part of a collective? What if you broadened your perspective beyond what you can accomplish alone and let yourself see what you could do if you lent your efforts to something bigger? Yes, it’s true that you can’t solve the climate crisis alone, but it’s even more true that we can’t solve it without you. It’s a team sport.”
Wow, where to begin on this one?! This article nicely sums up exactly what we’re doing here at POW. But the takeaway is something like this: Making a commitment to solve the climate crisis is not an individual action, something that can be accomplished in a silo. It’s the commitment to belonging to the collective to change a framework, the system at large. So when asked the question “what can I do?” the answer is truly different for everyone. From the article, the author says, “Do what you’re good at. And do your best” (okay, we sneakily got a second quote in here, but it had to be done). We agree––and POW is here to help you find what you’re best at.
Tired of Hearing the Word Stimulus?
(We can’t help you because it’s everywhere in the news…stimulus…stimulus…stimulus)
“All of that progress was not enough to meaningfully address climate change. But it was at least a powerful illustration of the ability of an economic stimulus to achieve results that move our economy toward environmental sustainability. If nothing else, the 2009 relief bill should have served as a great example or template for this most recent relief bill, demonstrating that jobs can be created and industries can be bailed out, even while taking action on climate change—and that doing so can create economic growth of unprecedented size and duration. Sadly, that lesson has not been learned.”
Stimulus packages can and should work toward solving the climate crisis. Not only because it’s quite frankly the right thing to do, but because the economy seriously benefits from it. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA – not quite as catchy an acronym as the CARES Act but stick with us) in 2009 set in motion the seedlings of a renewable energy future. Like the one million Americans employed full-time in 2016 working for the energy efficiency, solar, wind and alternative-vehicle industries. And that’s nearly FIVE TIMES as many as work in fossil fuels. So why not go ahead and address the COVID-19 crisis and the climate crisis all in one go?
Okay, not the best article for quotes, but:
“Wind and solar developers are asking for more time to get projects in service and still collect the full value of renewable energy tax credits that are set to begin phasing down next year.”
Plain and simple: get clean, renewable energy into the next stimulus package with the same gusto the administration had for the fossil fuel industry in the last package. Another stimulus package isn’t expected until after April 20 (but time is now an illusion and days no longer have definite beginnings and endings, so who’s to say?) and this go-round, clean and renewable energy sectors are coming in strong with demands. Tax credits for renewables, which expire this year, are not effective right now (tax equity markets are drying up) and many renewable companies want payments straight from the Treasury instead (this isn’t unheard of, we did it in the 2009 stimulus package as well). Electric vehicles, power storage companies and renewable electricity developers are already preparing lobbying tactics.
EPA Rollbacks That will make you cringe
If such a thing can exist in this sort of news:
“ Mr. Trump’s critics said the rule showed the president’s disregard for science and could actually harm the economy over time. The administration’s own draft economic analyses of the rule showed that it could hurt consumers by forcing them to buy more gasoline. And a February report by a panel of government-appointed scientists, many of them selected by the Trump administration, concluded that “there are significant weaknesses in the scientific analysis” of the rule.
“This is not just an inopportune moment to finalize a major rule-making,” said Senator Thomas R. Carper of Delaware, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Environment Committee. “In this case, it’s a completely irresponsible one.”
After a long pause to scream off an appropriately socially distanced cliff, our takeaway from this is that it’s plain and simply irresponsible leadership. This new rule, written by the EPA will allow cars on American roads to emit nearly a billion tons more carbon dioxide over the lifetime of the vehicles than they would otherwise and hundreds of millions more tons than will be emitted under standards being implemented in Europe and Asia. The one silver lining? It will likely get held up in courts for years before implementation could take place.
Yeah, it’s another downer unfortunately:
“Gina McCarthy, who led the E.P.A. under the Obama administration and now serves as president of the Natural Resources Defense Council, called it “an open license to pollute.” She said that while individual companies might need flexibility, “this brazen directive is nothing short of an abject abdication of the E.P.A. mission to protect our well being.’’
Cynthia Giles, who headed the E.P.A. enforcement division during the Obama administration, said: “This is essentially a nationwide waiver of environmental rules. It is so far beyond any reasonable response I am just stunned.”
Look, do layoffs and personnel restrictions related to COVID-19 make reacting to business as usual difficult for everyone? Absolutely. Does this relaxation of environmental rules cross the line of being reasonable? Also, yes. Responsible leadership is crucial during this time, and we’re just not seeing it happen.