February 22 News: Likely EPA Nominee Vows More Action on Climate Change

Gina McCarthy. (Photo credit: Alex Brandon/Associated Press)

Gina McCarthy, the current Environmental Protection Agency’s Assistant Administrator for the Office of Air and Radiation and the front-runner to fill the top vacancy at the EPA pledged to push ahead with actions to confront climate change during a speech on Thursday. [The Hill]

McCarthy discussed a list of emissions rules rolled out during Obama’s first term, touting them for their public health benefits and effects on tackling climate change.

Among the rules were stronger fuel economy standards for vehicles, proposed rules for new coal-fired power plants and limits on mercury and other toxic air pollutants. […]

Republicans have slammed the emissions standards, calling them economically burdensome.

McCarthy said, however, that tackling climate change “hasn’t hurt the economy,” and that “there are tremendous opportunities to address climate change that build the economy, that grow jobs.”

She challenged those in the audience to “be clear on the cost and benefits on all these programs moving forward.”

An analysis of weather station data shows that the coldest American states are warming the fastest, and across the country winter warming since 1970 has been more than four-and-a-half times faster per decade than over the past 100 years. [Climate Central]

The boom in cheap natural gas is undercutting the development of American nuclear power. Since 2010, the amount of electricity generated from U.S. nuclear reactors has fallen about 3 percent. [WaPo]

According to a paper published Thursday in Science, the melting of northern permafrost and consequent release of carbon dioxide could come sooner, and be more widespread, than experts previously believed. [Climate Central]

Time is running out to avert a third summer of drought in much of the High Plains, West and Southwest, unless significant bouts of heavy snow and rain come in the remaining days of winter. [Climate Central]

Affordable solar power is starting to make its way down the income ladder, and a pair of statewide California solar programs show how that’s good news for utility customers and taxpayers, too. [Clean Technia]

A new report by Bloomberg New Energy Finance uncovers a litany of biases in financial regulation that tilt markets in favor of conventional energy, and could potentially hold back the flow of investment into renewable energy technologies. [BusinessGreen]

54 Responses to February 22 News: Likely EPA Nominee Vows More Action on Climate Change

  1. Will Fox says:

    Obama Golfed With Oil Men As Climate Protesters Descended On White House

  2. Sasparilla says:

    There’s some clarification needed on the permafrost article over at ClimateCentral, where they say melting starts at 1.5c higher than current temperatures.

    But another article on the same Nature paper states measurable melting was happening at 1.5c higher than pre-industrial times (we’re at about .6c):

    “They found the stalactites in one far northern cave on the boundary of continuous permafrost grew during a period 400,000 years ago when temperatures were 1.5C higher than in pre-industrial times. That indicates that permafrost was melting at that time, and therefore that it could thaw again if temperatures rise to similar levels.”

    This could be that serious (measurable) melting starts at 1.5c higher than pre-industrial times and widespread (i.e. total) permafrost melt is happening at 2.0c higher than pre-industrial times (1.5c higher than current temps). Some areas of permafrost have already started to melt in the summer.

  3. Sasparilla says:

    What an image, off having fun in the Denier’s den.

    Makes one wonder, the protest was planned and publicized many weeks (months?) before it took place, was this an intentional message / image to blunt any possible criticism of pandering to the radical enviro’s, ala Axelrod?

    Probably not, Obama is so not the man we need to tackle climate change.

  4. paul magnus magnus says:

    >McCarthy said, however, that tackling climate change “hasn’t hurt the economy,” and that “there are tremendous opportunities to address climate change that build the economy, that grow jobs.”

    Most people don’t buy this. If we are serious about tackling climate change the current cost of enegy goes up. There is no doubt about that.

    Our consumer based society is not compatible with higher energy costs. Most people are not willing to sacrific this.

    At the point that they may seriously consider doing this, mother nature will already be doing it for them.

  5. paul magnus magnus says:

    Groundbreaking study glimpses life in a warmer world

    Climate change models, used by governments to predict how quickly the planet will heat up due to man-made carbon emissions, are underestimating the dangers, says research leader Dr Chris Hollis.

    If greenhouse gas emissions continue to go unchecked, temperatures in New Zealand could soar 13 degrees celsius over the next 200 years – matching the mean annual sea surface temperature of 25 degrees experienced 50 million years ago.

  6. Leif says:

    The GOP do not fund abortion. Fine. A precedent. Why must “We the People” be forced to tax subsidize the ecocide of the planet via gratuities to the Fossil Barons?

  7. “The boom in cheap natural gas is undercutting the development of American nuclear power. ”

    Finally some good news!

    Especially since the WaPo article fails to account for the actual amount of new capacity being installed in wind and solar, substituting instead a misleading sideswipe against solar alone.

    Not so wonky for the “Wonk Blog” to apparently miss the quantitative picture on the article’s main points.

  8. BillD says:

    Gina McCarthy sounds like a great choice for the environment and combating climate change at EPA. I imagine that if Romney or some other Republican has been elected we would have been discussing the fossil fuel lobbiest or former CEOs being considered to head EPA and DOE. Or we can imagine the catastophe if Rupublicans such as Rubio or Ryan were in change.

  9. Dale left coast says:

    Absolute NONSENSE ! ! !

  10. Bill Wilson says:

    The Canadian government is being loaded with carbon industry decision makers where TarSands are all rubber stamped. We can not permit more of this here and links exist to the degree she should clearly say NO to KeystoneXL before put in position. Although not her decision it would give clear indication she is not one of the people in the revolving door

  11. Christopher S. Johnson says:

    I thought we were just passing .8C above pre-industrial times. Why do I read that all of the time?

  12. Christopher S. Johnson says:

    and good catch on the Climate Central mistake. Have you written them?

  13. Christopher S. Johnson says:

    Ah I see your comment over there now.
    By the way, I went over to the journal Science website and see no mention of this cave story or a published paper. I wonder if that’s a typo here at CP?

  14. Paul Magnus says:

    I live in a river delta area and just yesterday I was reflecting on the frequency of recent dyke overtops compared to when I first move here. It is scary. It seems to be happening almost every year now…. where as before 2004 it was hardly mentioned in the news….

    La. coast facing grim reality

    New Orleans — Stunning new data not yet publicly released shows Louisiana losing its battle with rising seas much more quickly than even the most pessimistic studies have predicted to date.

  15. Superman1 says:

    Irrelevant. The Rowlands model published last Spring predicted up to 3 C by 2050 with business as usual, and a paper in Nature published shortly thereafter, in reference to the Rowlands results, interpreted them as allowing up to 4 C by 2050. There is no way temperatures at these levels will not accelerate the positive feedback mechanisms to provide an additional temperature boost; these positive feedback mechanisms were not included in the Rowlands model. Mark Lynas in his book predicts that 5-6 C spells ‘game over’. Temperatures in 2200 will be experienced by bacteria.

  16. Sasparilla says:

    It appears so, the Guardian article states the following:

    “They report on their work in the journal Science Express, published on Thursday.”

    I’m looking forward to Joe’s review and summation of the article.

  17. Sasparilla says:

    .8c could very well be where we are – the Guardian article said the following and is why I put 0.6c in my comment:

    “At present, global average temperatures are about 0.6C-0.7C above pre-industrial levels.”

  18. Sasparilla says:

    I meant the paper, not the article. ;-)

    There’s a direct link to where it is in the Guardian Article:

  19. Paul Magnus says:

    No turning back now.

    Temps around what we experienced in 2010 are here to stay and geting higher.

    This sort of level is already unsustainable for a global society to function, due to the level climate disruption we are already experiencing.

    Not even the US economy can cope with the reoccurrence of the last 3yrs and this level of disruptions is here to stay now.

  20. Christopher S. Johnson says:

    Ah OK and here is the abstract and paper link:

    The abstract states, “”global climates only slightly warmer than today are sufficient to thaw significant regions of permafrost.””

  21. Merrelyn Emery says:

    Beaches on the Gold Coast, SE Queensland, washed away with some stuff falling into the Pacific. The system is now drenching the North and central coast of NSW and damage could be worse, ME

  22. Brian R Smith says:

    A pattern? The President had ample notice of the 1st W.H. tar sands protest last November when 1200 or so showed up at the gates. He slipped off to Camp David for that weekend. (Another similarity to Feb. 17th: just about Zero media coverage.)

  23. Merrelyn Emery says:

    He also played with Tiger Woods recently. What is the ghastly ulterior motive behind that? Lock up your women, quick! ME

  24. Aldous says:

    China acknowledges “Cancer Villages”. I thought inhaling the fumes of progress was a good thing. Who woulda thunk otherwise eh?

  25. Paul Magnus says:

    Anyone have one of those cheap gadgets made in China….

  26. Aldous says:

    New Coal Technology Harnesses Energy Without Burning, Nears Pilot-Scale Development

    “The researchers are about to take their technology to the next level: a larger-scale pilot plant is under construction at the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Carbon Capture Center in Wilsonville, AL. Set to begin operations in late 2013, that plant will produce 250 thermal kilowatts using syngas.”

    We must keep the coal train rollin’ *sarcastic smile*.

  27. prokaryotes says:

    There was a study on permafrost melt and acceleration therin about 2 years ago which concluded that the melt area melts 6 times faster than other regions because of the heat which expands from the melted, decomposing areas. Also there are recent studies on thermokst which conclude on another feedback from thawed areas which “can” become a considerable carbon source (depending on the soil layer composition).

    With “anthromelt” the melt zone (temperature to latitude dependent) it begins to melt deeper soils and since some permafrost layers (continuous layer – frozen for thousand of years) could melt too. It could mean some considerable different outcomes as well, since there might be some considerable pockets/layers with high potent carbon compositions- which might outgas rather abrupt because they were compressed over very long time spans.

  28. prokaryotes says:

    The Snow, Water, Ice and Permafrost in the Arctic (SWIPA) Assessment was formally delivered by AMAP to the 7th Arctic Council Ministerial Meeting in Nuuk on 12 May 2011.

    SWIPA keyfindings are:

    1. The past six years (2005-2010) have been the warmest period ever recorded in the Arctic. Higher surface air temperatures are driving changes in the cryosphere.
    2. There is evidence that two components of the Arctic cryosphere – snow and sea ice – are interacting with the climate system to accelerate warming.
    3. The extent and duration of snow cover and sea ice have decreased across the Arctic. Temperatures in the permafrost have risen by up to 2 degrees Celcius. The Southern limit of permafrost has moved northward in Russia and Canada.
    4. The largest and most permanent bodies of ice in the Arctic – multiyear sea ice, mountain glaciers, ice caps and the Greenland Ice Sheet – have all been declining faster since 2000 than they did in the previous decade.
    5. Model projections reported by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 2007 underestimated the rates of change now observed in sea ice.

  29. prokaryotes says:

    To clarify my statement “There was a study on permafrost melt and acceleration therin about 2 years ago which concluded that the melt area melts 6 times faster than other regions because of the heat which expands from the melted, decomposing areas. ”

    This was i believe a BBC article (not above SWIPA publications, though they might discuss that too) from that time which was on accelerated warming(hence decomposing) of areas affected from the released heat.

  30. prokaryotes says:

    How 3D printing could revolutionise the solar energy industry
    More efficient, less complex and cheaper, 3D solar cells can also capture more sunlight than conventional PV models

  31. Sasparilla says:

    Ugh, Christopher…makes sense on the temperature since we’re melting the Arctic ice cap and that’ll let things warm up and thaw out the permafrost.

    At least we don’t have to wait for the guys with the computer simulations to give us a good idea on the time scale and temperatures (as that data has been rather hard to come by). We know now, at least.

  32. Sasparilla says:

    Quite the captivating picture there and article Paul, good link.

    Seems New Orleans will be the first city and area we are forced to abandon as the seas rise.

  33. Sasparilla says:

    That makes sense prokaryotes as things rot/decompose they get very warm…and this is just the permafrost rotting.

  34. Sasparilla says:

    Nice link prokaryotes, I’ve been missing you and your links to good articles on the board lately, where’ve you been?

  35. Sasparilla says:

    Of course, on a mammoth scale – so that could be a lot of additional heat, unfortunately.

  36. Sasparilla says:

    Obviously he likes golf, it’d just be nice if he wasn’t off commisserating with the oil millionaires lobbying (him and others) to allow the Keystone XL to go through at the very same time our brothers and sisters are protesting and trying to convince the administration to not let the XL go through – that’s just so wrong.

  37. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    They may not all want to be locked up.

  38. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    People in Western dystopias cannot afford energy increases because the kleptocrats have destroyed their incomes and wealth, with thirty years and more of wealth and income redistribution from the many to the very few. Inequality in the USA is greater than ever, and its growth has accelerated since the economic implosion deliberately engineered by the plutocrats. The crisis is rooted in both unsustainable neo-liberal capitalist larceny and unsustainable ecological destruction. Both must be fixed and fixed radically ie from the roots, or we are lost.

  39. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Have you seen what this week’s nasty storm has done to the beaches on the Gold Coast in Queensland? Time to head for the hills, folks. Friends in Bellingen just got the eight or ninth flood in the last five or six years-they’re losing count.

  40. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    ME, the damage WILL be worse, next year, next month, maybe next week.

  41. Merrelyn Emery says:

    Well aware of that. Sold off all my multimillion $ beach front properties years ago, ME

  42. Merrelyn Emery says:

    Given the direction of some of the thinking about who the Prez plays golf with, they’ll get locked up whether they like it or not, ME

  43. Merrelyn Emery says:

    You think the President should play golf only with those you approve of? ME

  44. Will Fox says:

    Press release from the University of Oxford:

    “…the only period when stalactite growth took place occurred about 400,000 years ago, during a period with a global temperature 1.5°C higher than today. Periods when the world was 0.5-1°C warmer than today did not see any stalactite growth in this northernmost cave, suggesting that around 1.5°C is the ‘tipping point’ at which the coldest permafrost regions begin to thaw.”

  45. John McCormick says:

    Paul, is this a consequence of the extended La Nina trapping the rain-giving El Nino?

  46. Joe Romm says:

    They aren’t dystopias — they are anti-utopias.

  47. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    As a famous Austrayan politician once implored, ‘Please explain’.

  48. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    I see that next week in south-east Queensland will, indeed, be well lubricated, as they say. I know that property of yours ME- Gina Rinehart bought it, I believe, and will do her Queen Cnut personification ‘on the beach’ before munching on her black pill. Oops- that was just a dream. Rats!

  49. Merrelyn Emery says:

    She doesn’t need a pill, just her normal ‘diet’, ME