You Know You’re In Trouble When . . .

Fred Hiatt criticizes your position on climate change. But Mitch McConnell and the GOP have managed this feat. Blind squirrels and nuts and all that.

A genuine conservative, as Ronald Reagan’s secretary of state George P. Shultz has written, would acknowledge uncertainties in climate science but look for rational, market-based policies to lessen the risk without slowing economic growth. A revenue-neutral carbon tax, as in a bill Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) has introduced, fits the description precisely.

What then explains the know-nothingism of today’s Republicans? Some of them see scientists as part of a left-wing cabal; many of them doubt government’s ability to do anything, let alone something as big as redirecting the economy’s energy use. Almost all of them, along with quite a few Democrats, would rather not tell voters that energy prices need to rise for the sake of the environment.

Hiatt manages in the same breath to both shout out our own Chris Van Hollen and to engage in the journalistic sham of Both Sides Do It. Quite a feat. But give the devil his due – at least Hiatt seems to actually believe in the urgent need for action on climate change.

Obama Kills Keystone Pipeline

A good decision that lingered on for too long. But good environmental decisions are rare enough that the best reaction is better late than never.

President Obama has rejected a presidential permit Friday for the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, according to individuals briefed on the decision, citing concerns about its impact on the climate.

The decision to deny TransCanada Corp. a cross-border permit for a 1,179-mile pipeline between Hardisty, Alberta, and Steele City, Neb. puts an end — at least for now — to a seven-year fight over a project that came to symbolize what Obama could do unilaterally to keep fossil fuels in the ground.

Urge Leggett To Sign Pesticide Bill

The landmark pesticide bill passed the Montgomery County Council on Ocrober 6 with a 6-3 vote. Per County law, County Executive Ike Leggett has ten days after the bill is sent to him by the Council to sign it, veto it or let it become law without his signature.

Leggett hasn’t acted yet, and on the assumption that he got the bill no later than October 9 as called for under county law, tomorrow is the last day for him to veto it.

There were rumblings while the bill was pending that Leggett didn’t like some parts of the bill, and he was still grumbling after it was passed. This is a landmark piece of legislation that will save lives and protect children from the risks associated with pesticide exposure, so if you can, I know there’s more than a few activists that worked really hard on this bill that would appreciate you dropping Leggett an email urging him not to veto the bill. It so happens that I’m going to be in a meeting tonight with Mike Riley, head of the county’s Parks department, so if I can I’ll have an update later if I learn anything interesting about what’s going to happen tomorrow.

Hogan: Energy Administration Shakeup

A few months ago, Larry Hogan fired four top environmental officials on a Friday night. This week, he pulled a similar stunt on a Thursday night. The end result is the same – weakening Maryland’s commitment to energy efficiency. And nobody seems to have noticed. Well played sir.

The Hogan administration is shaking up the Maryland Energy Administration, firing two senior managers, moving the agency from Annapolis to Baltimore and taking a stand against raising utility customers’ electricity bills to expand energy-efficiency programs.

The personnel and policy changes worry environmentalists, who say they fear the Republican administration is weakening or abandoning efforts started by its Democratic predecessor to clean the air and fight climate change with programs that they say would ultimately save ratepayers money.

The MEA has 32 full time employees, there’s seven vacancies (several of the 10 contractual positions are also vacant, but the agency website lists no job openings. Trying to kill the agency?

Karla Raettig, executive director of the Maryland League of Conservation Voters, said environmentalists fear the Hogan administration is “whittling away” at the energy agency and subsuming it in the larger environment department.

“There’s a ton of reasons why having an energy administration is really important in Maryland as we move and transition to a clean-energy economy,” Raettig said.
The website does not list any job openings, but Mayer said anyone who questions whether the agency is being downsized is ‘jumping to conclusions.'”

Nothing to see here. Just a chalk outline of the body of an important agency, not yet cold.
In addition to the personnel massacre, the substantive policy “stand” is being taken right in the middle of PSC hearings on the state’s energy efficiency efforts. Every dollar spent on these efforts has returned $1.82 in benefits, per the PSC. Hogan now wants to stop increasing the commitment to this program because taxes.

“Given the Administration’s concern over authorizing new fees, surcharges and taxes on Maryland residents, we are unable to support the utilities request for new and additional costs above those already approved by the commission,” Williams wrote.

There’s a law calling for these efforts, the law works, but hey, that’s never stopped these guys before.

The state’s EmPOWER law, passed in 2008, called for a 15 percent reduction in per capita electricity usage by 2015. The state’s five utilities are required to offer programs and services intended to curb customers’ demand for electricity and natural gas, including rebates to add insulation, seal drafts in buildings and buy more energy-efficient lighting and appliances.

To help cover costs, utilities are allowed to levy surcharges on customers’ utility bills. The monthly charges for residential customers range between $3 and $5 for every 1,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity consumed, according to Marissa Gillett, senior adviser to the commission chairman.
Since the EmPOWER program began, the commission has determined that the overall benefits of energy-efficiency programs — lowering bills by reducing demand, and avoiding the need to build more power plants — have far outweighed the costs. In July, the commission ordered the effort continued and raised the energy-savings goal.

Spend a dollar, get back almost two in critical environmental benefits. Who wants to turn that down? Larry Hogan does. “Different kind of Republican”? Not even close.

EXCLUSIVE: Environmental Forum Video

Twelve separate videos, around 90 minutes in total. There’s opening statements from all the candidates, questions from the moderators, questions from the candidates to each other (watch for Liz Matory asking Kathleen Matthews questions, then vice versa, then Kumar Barve asking Jamie Raskin a question). It was intense, the crowd was large and loud, and you have a front row seat courtesy of my dueling Apple devices. I’m just gonna run ’em out in order, y’all have fun watching. More commentary tomorrow.

Updated Info On 9/30 Environmental Forum

Valerie Ervin will not be there. See here for (partially) updated candidate information.

Additionally, I am advised that Dave Anderson has been invited to the forum as well, and has accepted. He was not yet a candidate when the invitations went out, so it is only in the past day or two that the logistics were arranged. So presumably there will be a further update to the web page. But now you know all there is to know. Unless someone announces a new candidacy or withdraws in the next 12 days. In which case, I’ll be sure to let y’all know. That’s what I’m here for.

See you on September 30. I will be there to shoot some video of all the candidates.

Environmental Forum In CD8

Maryland LCV, the Sierra Club and other organizations are hosting an environmental forum with CD8 candidates on September 30 at the Silver Spring Civic Center. Information is posted here.

Apparently, nobody at LCV reads my blog – sniff, sob, whine – because they still are listing Valerie Ervin as a candidate expected to attend. And either Dave Anderson doesn’t care about attending the event or they didn’t invite him.