Poll Shows Majority Of Americans Want Government To Act On Climate Change, But There’s A Catch


Clearing the PR Pollution that Clouds Climate Science


Poll Shows Majority Of Americans Want Government To Act On Climate Change, But There’s A Catch

By Farron Cousins            October 4, 2017

https://www.desmogblog.com/sites/beta.desmogblog.com/files/styles/full_width_blog_image/public/blogimages/flood%20houston.JPG?itok=w9N0i8msImage: Texas Army National Guardsmen assist residents affected by flooding caused by Hurricane Harvey in Houston, Aug. 27, 2017. Army National Guard photo by Lt. Zachary West.

New polling data provides some inspiring news about the prospects for climate change action in the United States. According to public policy polling conducted by AP-NORC and the Energy Policy Institute at The University of Chicago, 61% of American citizens believe that climate change is a threat that the federal government should actively work to prevent. The poll also reveals that majorities in both major political parties – Democrats and Republicans – accept the fact that climate change is actually happening and that human activity is making it worse.

This data reinforces previous polling data indicating that a majority of American citizens, regardless of party affiliation, believe that climate change is a serious issue demanding urgent political action.

What sets the new set of data apart from the rest is also the part that makes it slightly less uplifting.

The poll found that 51% of Americans are willing to pay $1 per month to combat the growing threat of climate change, but when you start look at numbers higher than a dollar per month, the willingness of American citizens to foot the bill begins to decline sharply.

Additionally, the poll found a majority of citizens are against fracking, especially when they learn about the negative health effects from the oil and gas drilling process. However, support for fracking rises to nearly 41% when citizens are told that it could save them a few hundred dollars each year on their electric bills.

The new data helps to provide a clearer picture of how American citizens tend to view most non-social issues, and that is through the lens of finance.

When presented with data showing that dirty energy is harmful — but might save them money (in the short term) — they gravitate towards the “saving money” rather “saving lives” side of the climate equation.

But the fact that most people are willing to shell out even one dollar per month is actually a giant leap forward in terms of Americans’ willingness to address the growing threat of climate change, even if they may have to foot part of the bill.

Another interesting point about these polls is that the data was actually collected prior to the devastating string of hurricanes that hit the US — Harvey, Irma, and Maria — that captured the attention of the public and brought the issue of climate change to the forefront, albeit for a brief period of time.

There’s no doubt that the federal government could and should devote a lot more taxpayer money to fight climate change. Instead, Washington is currently choosing to subsidize an industry that is struggling to survive, and is significantly responsible for the climate change that’s hurting us now.

Why Not Fund Climate Action With Polluter Profits?

Ultimately, when it comes to paying for action to combat climate change, American citizens might consider asking their representatives in Washington to hold polluting industry responsible for funding the US response to climate change. After all, the fossil fuel industry bears significant responsibility for our current and future global warming predicament.

A recent report found that subsidies to the fossil fuel industry top $5 trillion a year – money that could instead be spent on infrastructure to protect low-lying cities from flooding in the event of rising waters, for instance. That money could also be used to provide more subsidies to the renewable energy sector which is already growing at a pace that far exceeds that of the fossil fuel sector.

Perhaps if we end the federal life support going to fossil fuel companies — a form of corporate welfare that is far from necessary — we could finally start addressing climate change without having to ask taxpayers to cough up a few extra dollars every month.

Republicans Are Kicking People Off Food Stamps



Under Trump’s New Budget, If You Don’t Work, You Don’t Eat: Republicans Are Kicking People Off Food Stamps

By Christianna Silva      October 7, 2017

UPDATE: The budget resolution passed by the House on Thursday will push millions of already struggling people off food stamps, leaving the neediest Americans—children and the elderly among them—without food.

The $4.1-trillion budget will take over $150 billion away from several poverty programs, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which helps low-income people keep food on the table, by giving them small amounts of supplemental money to spend on groceries—anywhere from $100 a month to $700 a month for a family of five, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

This budget isn’t the newest problem SNAP has had to face. The number of people on SNAP ebbs and flows with the economy, but only 75 percent of people who are eligible for SNAP actually participate in the program, the website Snap to Health says. And it’s because applying can get really complicated.

Evan Teske, a 26-year-old medical student, needed assistance while he was working for Americorps. After graduating from college in 2014, Americorps assigned him to Focuspoint Family Research Center, which focuses on education from childhood to adulthood. His stipend just wasn’t enough.

“So I had to apply for food stamps,” Teske told Newsweek.

The application process was pretty confusing, he said, but Americorps helped him apply. Then, after about a year and a half, he was taken off.

“I got taken off by the government against my will because every six months I had to update my paperwork so they could see how much they were giving me,” Teske said. “And at one point, when food stamps and a stipend still wasn’t quite enough, I had help from my parents and family members to help me out in a pinch. When I put that down in the updated documents, they didn’t call it an income, but they said it was extra. So they cut me off.”

Teske worked for Americorps for the next six months and then moved to New Mexico for medical school. He said SNAP and food stamps made his life more livable.

Teske was taken off food stamps because his family helped him when he was needing a bit more. If Trump’s budget proposal passes the Senate, as it has already passed the House, many more people will be bumped off SNAP—and a lot of them won’t have the familial safety net that Teske did.

“SNAP is the first line of defense against hunger in the U.S.,”  Ellen Vollinger, the legal director who directs SNAP work at the Food Research and Action Center, told Newsweek. “It’s the one program that’s available all over the country to serve people who need food. It’s the most accessible and available to people.”

But lately, for two big reasons, fewer people have been taking advantage of SNAP. First of all, the economy is doing better, which means fewer people are struggling with poverty and fewer people need the program.

In 2009, about 32 million people received SNAP benefits. The number increased during the great recession to an annual high of 47.6 million in 2013. Then, as the economy began to improve, it was down to 43 million in April 2010. And it’s continue to show. From April 2015 to April 2016, it was all the way down by 1.9 million participants.

“The unemployment rate has often been a pretty good indicator for the need for SNAP. As it comes down, there might be a bit of a lag, but we see SNAP come down,” Vollinger said.

The second reason, however, is that some states are cutting corners by making it more difficult to apply for SNAP so they make more room in their budget.

“A lot of people don’t know that they’re eligible,” Ginger Zielinskie, president and CEO of Benefits Data Trust, a company that connects people with the services they need, told Newsweek. “The first barrier is awareness. … It can be a really complicated application process.”

Moreover, some state laws don’t allow people to stay on SNAP for longer than a few months unless they have jobs, are training for jobs or are doing community service. But in times of economic stress, there aren’t always jobs available for them.

Take, for example, Devon Bracher, who graduated from Vanderbilt with an engineering degree and was living with her two sisters in Portland, Oregon, when she applied to get on SNAP after not being able to find a job.

“Technically, my residency was in Virginia, but all my work experience was in Tennessee,” Bracher told Newsweek. “I didn’t have a job, I was looking for jobs. This was my first year after graduating. That was part of what’s complicated. I wasn’t an Oregon resident, but I didn’t have an official job in Virginia. Virginia told me to apply to Tennessee.”

So Bracher went through the online application for SNAP. But the system had her call a SNAP representative because she wasn’t a Tennessee resident.

“I probably called maybe like five different times and the line was always busy,” Bracher said. Eventually, she just gave up.

“I benefitted a lot from being able to live with family,” Bracher said. “My sisters helped a lot.”

Not everyone has a family like Bracher’s, and if the proposed cuts to SNAP make its way through, the states will be responsible to keep families from starving.

In Alabama, for instance, the number of able-bodied people on SNAP has dropped from around 5,000 to 800. Most of it is because of the regulations states are forced to place on the benefits so that they can make their budget, a trend that’s seen all over the U.S.

Californians have concerns people who need programs like SNAP won’t be able to access them under Trump’s new budget, according to Jared Call from California Food Policy Advocates.

“We try to think of people first, but this particular [budget proposal] … would really seek to shift a substantial share to the states or propose penalties to put states on the hook and that’s just not something that state budgets are prepared to absorb,” he told Newsweek.

“California would go down $1.8 billion to just keep even. So you’re faced with cutting other important services or education or other programs or cutting benefit amounts or cutting eligibility,” Call said. “We want SNAP to go to the people who need it, but this proposal does not work that way. There is no way to cut SNAP without impacting benefit levels or eligibility. Ninety-four percent of these funds go directly to benefits, there’s no fat to cut.”

One in six people in America faces hunger, more than almost any other country in the developed world. If this budget goes through, and important programs like SNAP are axed, that number will be on the rise.

Story was updated to clarify the number of SNAP participants between 2015 and 2016 and the number of able-bodied people on SNAP in Alabama.

The U.S. Could Learn From Australia’s Gun Control

Fusion is with Splinter

Two decades ago, Australia took action on gun control after a mass shooting.

Now, gun violence has drastically declined in the wake of some of the strictest gun laws in the world:

The U.S. Could Learn From Australia's Gun Control

Two decades ago, Australia took action on gun control after a mass shooting.Now, gun violence has drastically declined in the wake of some of the strictest gun laws in the world:

Posted by Fusion on Friday, October 6, 2017

Game-Changing Lamp Powered by Gravity Could Provide Light to Billions

EcoWatch    via ZINC

Gravitylight is changing lives in Africa

Read more: http://bit.ly/2gev0uW

Gravity Light

Gravitylight is changing lives in AfricaRead more: http://bit.ly/2gev0uWvia Zinc

Posted by EcoWatch on Friday, October 6, 2017

Game-Changing Lamp Powered by Gravity Could Provide Light to Billions

 by Elaine Chow

Solar-powered electricity systems have often been touted as a solution for those living without reliable access to electricity, but another Earthly force is also readily available (and doesn’t surrender to inclement weather or nightfall): Gravity.

That’s the idea behind the GravityLight—a lamp that only requires the weight of a bag of sand or rocks to provide light. And for the 1.3 billion people in the world who live in “energy poverty,” this simple yet genius idea could be a game changer.

For the majority of people without reliable access to electricity, dangerous and polluting kerosene is the primary source for light. But as designers Martin Riddiford and Jim Reeves said in their Indiegogo campaign, the GravityLight is “a low-cost [less than $10], safe and reliable alternative to the kerosene lamp, one that costs nothing to run, doesn’t need batteries and pays for itself within weeks switching from kerosene.”

It doesn’t take much to provide a lot of power. Photo Credit: GravityLight

It basically works like a hand-cranked lantern. To activate the GravityLight’s bright LED, the user attaches a weighted bag that’s at least a 12 kg (about 26 lbs) to a beaded chain. The user then lifts the bag up by pulling on the chain.

When user releases the bag, the bag’s slow descent to the floor (at about 1mm a second) helps power an internal DC generator that runs at thousands of rotations per minute. With these easy steps, the lamp can provide enough light for up to 30 minutes and can be repeated over and over as needed.

https://assets.rbl.ms/6467244/980x.jpgThis simple pulley system allows the process to repeat indefinitely. Photo Credit: GravityLight

The project, which reached half of its $199,000 crowdsourcing goal in only 10 days and is nearing complete funding, is actually version 2.0 of the lamp. After the first version of the lamp, called GL01, was fully funded by a 2014 Indiegogo campaign, the makers tested it on more than 1,300 off-grid families around the globe. According to the designers, more than 90 percent of those who tried the lamp preferred it over a kerosene lamp.

This current version allegedly hammered out GL01’s kinks and is also brighter, simpler, lasts longer and stays lit even while it’s being charged, Gizmodo Australia reported.

Makers of the lamp are hoping to “empower those without electricity” and enable people to “break free from the economic, health and environmental hazards of kerosene lamps.”

The goal of the crowdsourcing campaign is to set up an assembly line in Kenya as well as provide local jobs and skills.

Now that’s a bright idea.


Tom Steyer: I’m a billionaire. Please raise my taxes

Los Angeles Times  Op ED

Tom Steyer: I’m a billionaire. Please raise my taxes

http://www.trbimg.com/img-59d40e18/turbine/la-1507069459-wg4n8t5ik7-snap-image/1150/1150x647Tom Steyer, the author of this article, speaks at the California Democratic Convention, in Los Angeles on March 8, 2014. (Los Angeles Times)

Tom Steyer    October 5, 2017

As a billionaire, I would profit substantially from the tax cuts proposed last week by President Trump and the Republican Party. But I am strongly opposed to even one more penny in cuts for rich people and corporations.

My reason is simple: Tax cuts for the rich defund the critical public programs on which American families depend.

Three decades of data prove that tax cuts for the wealthy do not “trickle down” to working people or grow the overall economy. Since the Reagan era, Republicans have prescribed cuts for rich people and corporations as a cure-all. But every time they put their theory into practice, the rich just get richer and everyone else gets left behind. When such cuts drain the government of the revenue it needs to pay for essential services like public education, Medicare and Social Security, Republicans then seize the opportunity to shrink those programs.

Consider Kansas, where Republicans recently had the chance to pursue their tax-cut fantasy with an extreme anti-tax experiment. In 2012, they slashed taxes and promised fantastic growth. Instead, their scheme blew a hole in the state budget. The resulting shortfall in revenue forced severe cuts to public education and other essential programs, hurt working families and drove businesses out of the state.

Let’s raise taxes on the rich and use the money to invest directly in the American people.

Similar experiments at the national level have left the U.S. teetering on the edge of dangerous economic inequality. Today, the top 1% of the population takes more than 20% of the income generated here in a year. That’s more than double the share that rich people took in the 1970s. Meanwhile, the earnings of America’s working families have stagnated.

This degree of inequality is a major crisis, yet Republicans are proposing to exacerbate it by stripping trillions more in government revenue. Indeed, the GOP plan would put the country on a path to permanent economic inequality — and maybe that’s the point.

Some members of the ruling class are making a concerted effort to expand the wealth gap. A gang of powerful interests, led by the Koch brothers, launched a campaign to build support for the tax overhaul before it even existed. The coalition of wealthy conservatives spent tens of millions to mislead Americans about tax cuts. They had to: As the president of the Koch-backed group Americans for Prosperity, Tim Phillips, recently said of the “average Americans” whose support would be needed: “If they think it’s just a group of wealthy corporations or powerful special interests battling it out to see who gets the best carve-outs, then it will fail.” If the coalition succeeded in obscuring the truth, in other words, its investments would pay off.

This campaign illustrates why economic inequality poses a grave threat to democracy. In our political system, money is power. The more we allow Republicans to concentrate the lion’s share of wealth in the hands of a few, the more power these wealthy few will have. And they will use this power to continue rewriting the rules of both our economy and our political system in their favor.

As a presidential candidate, Donald Trump promised to “fix the rigged system.” By “fix,” he apparently meant rigging it to permanently benefit billionaires like himself.

Unrigging the system will require us to acknowledge that the American middle class enjoyed its strongest period of growth from 1950 to 1970 — a time when the effective tax rates for the wealthy were above 40% and the U.S. took unrivaled leadership in the global economy. It will require that we think of investment not as something done solely by the private sector, but as a category that encompasses public spending.

Bullish investment in the American people has arguably been the most important factor in our national success. But out of greed and selfishness, Republicans are intent on fighting such investment at every turn. After accumulating nearly all of the economy’s gains over the last 10 years, billionaires like Trump, and me, can more than afford to pay our fair share.

Let’s raise taxes on the rich and use the money to invest directly in the American people — by improving infrastructure, promoting clean energy, strengthening public education and expanding healthcare. Let’s boost wages to stimulate economic growth and job creation. It’s the only way we will create broad prosperity, rebuild the middle class and give working families a fair shake.

At a time like this, there’s only one reasonable position to take: I’m a billionaire. Please raise my taxes.

Tom Steyer is president of the progressive advocacy organization NextGen America.

Notes from closed meeting show how Interior aims to weaken environmental laws

Washington Post

Energy and Environment

Notes from closed meeting show how Interior aims to weaken environmental laws

By Darryl Fears        October 5, 2017

https://img.washingtonpost.com/wp-apps/imrs.php?src=https://arc-anglerfish-washpost-prod-washpost.s3.amazonaws.com/public/2DRMRJ4CLIZQBFQMBPNZ62SGYY.jpg&w=600Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke talks with rancher Heidi Redd at the Bears Ears National Monument in Utah in May. (Scott G. Winterton/Salt Lake City Deseret News via AP)

Near the end of September, officials at the Interior Department bureau that oversees hundreds of millions of acres of public land hosted a conference with state, county and local government representatives to discuss ways to loosen environmental rules.

Bureau of Land Management hosts told attendees and those joining the invitation-only meeting remotely that they wanted to streamline a powerful law that protects wildlife and public land, the National Environmental Policy Act. They asked how its rules could be smoothed out to limit delays that slow public and corporate development so that the federal government, as President Trump and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke have said, can be a better partner rather than a hindrance. The meeting covered ways to fulfill the president’s executive order to remove impediments to new infrastructure, mining and other development on federal land.

At least two groups not on the invitation list obtained the call-in information for the meeting and secretly sat in and took notes, which one group provided to The Washington Post.

https://img.washingtonpost.com/wp-apps/imrs.php?src=https://arc-anglerfish-washpost-prod-washpost.s3.amazonaws.com/public/2S44AOLZQU2DDPVBDBZTTYGWOI.jpg&w=600Surrounded by miners from Rosebud Mining, President Trump signs his executive order on energy independence at the Environmental Protection Agency’s headquarters in Washington in March. (Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images)

During the Sept. 21 webinar, the BLM and its guests discussed ways to water down NEPA and more. They talked about working around environmental analyses that determine whether infrastructure projects harm ecosystems, about stripping conservation groups of the power to sue the BLM if it wrongly approves a project and about limiting the number of federal Freedom of Information Act requests that allow the public to scrutinize how decisions were made.

“We’re seeking a better decision-making process that’s more productive and getting decisions faster,” Leah Baker, the BLM division chief for planning and NEPA, said in an interview Tuesday. “We heard through this process that we should try and streamline regulations … and that the agency leaves a little to be desired in how effectively we coordinate” with states and local governments.

When a participant in the meeting noticed that the event was being recorded, BLM officials assured the group that it would not be distributed. A second webinar attended by native tribes took place Sept. 25, BLM officials said in an interview this week.

A few days after the webinars, Zinke called employees who disagreed with Trump’s vision for change disloyal and vowed to move policymaking positions at Interior’s Washington headquarters to offices out West, possibly to Denver. Zinke has already reassigned dozens of senior Interior employees to positions they did not want. Interior’s inspector general is probing the legality of Zinke’s rapid reassignments.

Related: [Interior Department whistleblower resigns, calling Ryan Zinke’s leadership a failure]

NEPA is one of the oldest and most progressive environmental laws on the books. Established in 1970, it has been called an environmental Magna Carta that dozens of governments across the globe have used to craft their own environmental policies. But corporations and some state and local government officials have long criticized it as an impediment to development and revenue.

The webinar’s participants, which included the Western Governors’ Association and the National Association of Counties, also took aim at the Equal Access to Justice Act, which allows groups to seek reimbursement of attorneys’ fees when they win cases against the government. BLM officials and their guests said the reimbursements fuel more lawsuits from people who disagree with their land management practices.

The participants complained that the BLM is being overwhelmed with Freedom of Information Act requests from groups and individuals, more than 1,000 so far this year and growing. They discussed submitting recommendations to Zinke to limit those requests in addition to altering NEPA and EAJA.

Kelly Fuller, energy campaign coordinator for the Western Watersheds Project, said some state and local governments want to align the BLM’s environmental priorities with weaker or, in some cases, nonexistent rules of municipalities.

“They want BLM planning outcomes to match local and state plans … but there are different obligations,” Fuller said. “State and local plans are about development and extraction and making more money, creating more revenue.”

Since legislation is required to make those changes, they hoped Zinke would encourage Republicans in Congress, some of whom are working to weaken environmental rules such as the Endangered Species Act and Migratory Bird Act, to include the September meeting’s recommendations as part of overall reform.

“They may say they want to streamline, but what they mean is cut the public out of the process, do less environmental review and have more secrecy so they can give oil, gas and coal companies unfettered access to our treasured public lands,” said Tiernan Sittenfeld, a vice president for government affairs at the League of Conservation Voters, who called the meeting an attempt to weaken NEPA.

“Let’s be perfectly clear,” said Bethany Cotton, a spokeswoman for WildEarth Guardians, based in Santa Fe, N.M. “The Trump administration’s efforts to roll back environmental protections are meant to strip the public of the opportunity to be informed and weigh in on proposals that will negatively impact our public lands, air, water, and most imperiled animals and plants. Each of these attacks is meant to cede power to resource extractive industries and anti-conservation localities.”

Cynthia Moses-Nedd, the BLM’s liaison to local and state governments who participated on the webinar with Baker and at least two other federal officials, said the issue isn’t so black and white. She recalled that a local government official suggested introducing legislation that would change the Equal Access to Justice Act.

“EAJA … is used to fund lawsuits against the BLM,” Nedd said, and can “paralyze the BLM when it’s doing its work. There needs to be something that deals with that … so BLM can do the work and not be hampered and paralyzed.”

Nedd said BLM isn’t necessarily trying to give its allies a greater role in environmental assessments. “I think our goal is to make sure we’re coordinating better … that’s where we saw the greatest input from our state and local partners.”

https://img.washingtonpost.com/wp-apps/imrs.php?src=https://arc-anglerfish-washpost-prod-washpost.s3.amazonaws.com/public/ITTVFKXJ7I22JIZXDDW4Y7226M.JPG&w=600A gas flare burns as a driver monitors a water tank near Sidney, Mont., in February 2015. (Daniel Acker/Bloomberg News)

Baker called the NEPA statute “a cool law” but said complying with its rules is “a heavy lift. We’re trying to figure out how we do it quicker. … There are things routine in nature that can make [the process] speed up.” She said she recalled an experience where a single misstep caused a decision that could have been completed in months to take years. Officials worried that the misstep would trigger a lawsuit that would doom an entire project.

The National Association of Counties agrees with local officials who say they’re cut out of NEPA’s processes to determine environmental harm and want to help decide how its analysis should be done. Association spokesman David Jackson said counties suffer when a NEPA analysis drags on for months and sometimes years. “NACo supports the revision of NEPA to strengthen the involvement of local government in the federal decision-making process. We also support more public involvement.”

Jackson said the association’s position is that EAJA also should be reformed to ease lawsuits. “You can’t do effective forest management, for example, because you get sued at every turn.”

Fuller, of the Western Watersheds Project, said: “We’re waiting to see the BLM’s recommendations report to Secretary Zinke to give local governments and the states greater control. … How far is he going to go?”

Energy efficiency: The hidden hand in the fight against climate change

The Hill

Energy efficiency: The hidden hand in the fight against climate change

By Ted Trabue, opinion contributor            October 5, 2017

The views expressed by contributors are their own and not the view of The Hill

http://thehill.com/sites/default/files/styles/thumb_small_article/public/blogs/powerlines.jpg?itok=QRTOiQq-© Getty Images

The danger and destruction of three high-category hurricanes within a week of each other on one side of the country, while wildfires and heatwaves racked the west coast should have woken up the United States — Climate change is real and the risks are growing.

Seeing the devastation of those affected by extreme weather amplified by climate change leaves many of us angry and helpless. It also makes the recent regressive steps taken to continue our nation’s climate-changing fossil fuel addiction all the more frustrating. At the same time, it inspires my work as a leader of an organization that is helping D.C. stay focused on energy solutions.

On October 5, we celebrate the second annual Energy Efficiency Day. Energy efficiency is not the most exciting way to reduce fossil fuel pollution, but it is the easiest. Energy not used reduces carbon emissions, while saving residents money. It also lets us redirect public resources to other causes like health care and public housing and local jobs. Less pollution, more savings — what’s not to like?

We at the DC Sustainable Energy Utility (DCSEU) are supporting Energy Efficiency Day as a collaborative effort of scores of organizations, companies and government agencies to spotlight the best ways to manage the District’s energy demand. Our message is simple: Save energy, save money, reduce emissions. Lightbulb for lightbulb.

In partnership with the District Department of Energy and Environment (DOEE), the DCSEU was born in 2011 with a mission to reduce the city’s energy use — and with it, pollution. That’s what we’ve done. Over the past six years, the DCSEU has prevented lifetime emissions of more than 3 million tons of CO2. This is equivalent to the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from 3 billion pounds of coal burned or more than 670,000 passenger vehicles driven for one year. Fewer greenhouse gasses means less warming, which reduces the risks from extreme weather events worsened by warming.

D.C. faces a particular energy struggle: About 900 people move to the city every month — with population growth surging, energy demand is soaring. But we don’t have our own power plants. Nearby states generate most of D.C.’s electricity, and fossil fuels like coal, oil, and natural gas account for 60 percent of that mix.

At the DCSEU we focus on energy efficiency because we know that it’s helping the District become more energy self-sufficient while creating new economic opportunities for District residents. Our rebate program makes energy efficient lighting and appliances more affordable and is part of our support for a more equitable energy future.

Our Workforce Development Program is one way we are building this future, by training underemployed, unemployed and other job-seeking D.C. residents so they have the skills for the ever-growing green jobs market. Since 2011, we have helped the District, its residents, and businesses save half-a-billion dollars on their energy bills. And we are not done yet.

But how can energy efficiency help you combat climate change by reducing your own carbon footprint? The answer is easy. You can start by switching your old incandescent or CFL lightbulbs to LED’s, which use 75 percent less energy. Buying a new washing machine? Consider picking one that’s ENERGY STAR-certified, which means it will deliver the same results as a standard washer — clean clothes — but will require 45 percent less water and 25 percent less energy. And it will show on your utility bills. Thanks to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Appliance and Equipment Standards Program. By 2020, a typical family with new appliances will be able to save an average of $500 per year. The total savings are estimated to accumulate to $64 billion annually as appliances become more efficient.

While cities have become the main drivers in the transformation of the energy economy, everyone can take action. Today, I am asking you to reconsider your environment in a new light — whether home or business — and think about their energy choices. Small steps will translate into a larger transformation, lightbulb for lightbulb.

Ted Trabue is the managing director of the District of Columbia Sustainable Energy Utility.

The Price of Freedom?????

Define “good guy” with a gun…


Define "good guy" with a gun…

Posted by Rogue Kite Productions on Wednesday, June 21, 2017

U.S. interior secretary raised political funds on government trip: report


U.S. interior secretary raised political funds on government trip: report

Reuters      October 5, 2017

https://s.yimg.com/ny/api/res/1.2/zdjJCh0b3yVyC110OgBuSA--/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjtzbT0xO3c9ODAwO2g9NjAwO2lsPXBsYW5l/http://media.zenfs.com/en_us/News/Reuters/2017-03-08T211104Z_768446426_RC1E9DC90960_RTRMADP_3_USA-CONGRESS-NATIVE-AMERICANS.JPG.cf.jpgInterior Secretary Ryan Zinke testifies before the Senate Indian Affairs Committee on “Identifying Indian Affairs priorities for the Trump Administration” at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S., March 8, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

https://s.yimg.com/ny/api/res/1.2/sTM2nEPEFoUJbeUOEP1KFA--/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjtzbT0xO3c9ODAwO2g9NjAwO2lsPXBsYW5l/http://media.zenfs.com/en_us/News/Reuters/2017-04-03T190958Z_1713906086_RC110E2FED30_RTRMADP_3_USA-TRUMP.JPG.cf.jpgSecretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke speaks during a daily press briefing at the White House in Washington, U.S.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The head of the U.S. Department of the Interior came under further scrutiny on Thursday amid a media report that he had attended a Republican fundraiser in March during a government trip to the Caribbean.

Politico, citing department travel records and other documents, said Ryan Zinke attended a Virgin Islands Republican Party fundraiser where donors paid up to $5,000 per couple for a photograph with the secretary.

The report comes as multiple investigations into the former one-term congressman’s travel while serving in the Trump administration were announced this week following various media reports on the subject.

On Monday, the Interior Department’s watchdog agency said it was probing Zinke’s travels after recent reports that he had used a private plane owned by an oil executive.

On Tuesday, the U.S. Office of Special Counsel said it was investigating whether he broke the law in June when he gave a speech to a professional hockey team owned by a political donor.

Other Cabinet members have also been scrutinized over their use of taxpayer money for more expensive private travel rather than less expensive commercial trips.

Former U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price resigned on Friday following an uproar over his use of costly private charter planes.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry, and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt have also come under question over their private plane use.

Questions have also been raised about the cost of security for U.S. Education Secretary Betsy Devos.

Democratic House lawmakers earlier this week called on Zinke to disclose the full details of all of his privately chartered airplane trips.

In a letter to the secretary, lawmakers pointed to one reported $12,000 private flight from Nevada to Montana, a route they said commercial airlines charge as little as $300 for.

“Abuse of taxpayer money has so far been a problem for the Trump administration,” the group of 26 lawmakers wrote on Tuesday.

Representatives for Zinke did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the Politico report Thursday.

Separately, the top Democrat on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee has said he is seeking information on any private, non-commercial or military flights taken by White House counselor Kellyanne Conway.

U.S. Representative Elijah Cummings, in a statement released on Wednesday, also said he was seeking evidence that Price had repaid U.S. taxpayers for his private flights.

Representatives for the White House said on Thursday that U.S. agencies were responsible for arranging their own transportation, and that Cabinet members “occasionally invite relevant White House staff for official travel” that is then “planned and secured by the inviting agency.”

(Writing by Susan Heavey; Editing by Bernadette Baum)

The threat of ‘superbugs’ and infections that can’t be treated

Yahoo News

The threat of ‘superbugs’ and infections that can’t be treated

Mikaela Conley, Yahoo News       October 5, 2017

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“Every time we think we’ve gotten ahead of the bugs, they come back stronger and fitter,” said Ramanan Laxminarayan, director of the Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics & Policy (CDDEP). It is the ability to mutate that has given rise to “superbugs” that resist some — or, increasingly, all — of the antibiotics that were hailed as miracle drugs in the last century, creating one of the biggest threats to global health, food security and development today, according to the World Health Organization.

For years, experts have warned against the overuse of antibiotics in livestock and fish farming, which stave off infections in animals in crowded living conditions and also help animals gain weight faster, making them ready for slaughter sooner. The phenomenon, along with over- and unnecessary prescription of antibiotics and a lack of a new class of antibiotic drugs, have promoted the growth of resistant bacteria. As susceptible microbes are killed off, the resistant survivors thrive and multiply. Today, a growing number of bacterial infections, including pneumonia, tuberculosis and gonorrhea, are more difficult to treat because of such resistance — at least 2 million people become infected with bacteria resistant to antibiotics and at least 23,000 people die each year in the U.S. as a direct result of such infections, according to the CDC.

“This scale-up in antibiotics, primarily as a substitute for good nutrition and hygiene in livestock production, is simply unsustainable and will be devastating to efforts to conserve the effectiveness of our current antibiotics,” said Laxminarayan, the senior author of a new study focusing on antibiotic use in livestock. “We already face a crisis, but continuing to use medically important antibiotics for growth promotion in animals is like pouring oil on a fire.”

“Over the last 10 to 15 years, resistance has grown from under 2 to 3 percent to between 30 to 80 percent [encountered in humans globally],” Laxminarayan told Yahoo News. “That’s a big deal. We now have patients who have completely untreatable infections in every part of the world.”

The new research from the CDDEP analyzed and described a comprehensive strategy for preserving antibiotic effectiveness by reducing antibiotic use in farm animals up to 80 percent globally by 2030.

To reduce antibiotic use in livestock, the authors of the study, which was published in Science, suggested three interventions: regulations on the use of antibiotics in farm animals; limiting meat intake; and the imposition of taxes on veterinary antibiotics.

“One can safely predict that the bugs will outsmart us every time,” said Laxminarayan.

At last year’s U.N. General Assembly, antimicrobial resistance (AMR) was of top importance. Dr. Margaret Chan, director general of the World Health Organization, called it a “major global threat.” At this year’s summit, the WHO reinforced its intention to combat superbugs.

“This is only the fourth time a health issue has been taken up by the U.N. General Assembly — the others were HIV, noncommunicable diseases and Ebola — so the serious nature of AMR’s effects should not be taken lightly,” said Dr. Dean Hart, a professor at the Columbia University School of Medicine.

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As the largest consumer of veterinary antimicrobials in the world, China needs to take a leading role in combating AMR, the researchers said. The country recently promulgated new nutritional guidelines recommending 40 to 70 grams — less than 2.5 ounces — of meat per day, which is about half the current consumption level in the country. China is also phasing out certain drugs in livestock that are still used in Europe. If followed, the measure could have a substantial impact on reducing antimicrobial consumption and, in turn, resistance. The U.S. has introduced a voluntary ban on the use of antibiotics for growth purposes. McDonald’s announced in August a 10-year plan to phase out antibiotics in its poultry production chain beginning in 2018.

The U.S. also has seen a large shift to organic consumption based on consumers’ greater awareness of the potential dangers of antimicrobial resistance. Still, demand for organic products is a luxury — “most of the world’s population simply can’t afford the benefits of eating strictly organic products, especially in Third World countries,” said Hart.

When compared with other developed nations, Denmark and Germany are quite conservative when it comes to using antibiotics — and results show that those populations have lower levels of AMR, said Hart. Interestingly, the U.S. shows relatively moderate levels of resistance even though the population uses antibiotics heavily.

Of note, the quality of a country’s health care system also seems to have a direct relation to antibiotic resistance levels, said Hart. EU countries have very high standards, but antibiotic use is too high. Venezuela’s health care system is far less robust; this means antibiotics are far scarcer, and AMR is relatively lower.

Hart also pointed to pharmaceutical manufacturers as obstacles in the fight against AMR. “We are a country that buys drugs, and a lot of them, at much higher prices than the rest of the world,” he said. “The antibiotic market is huge business for these companies, and the push to develop the new ‘superdrugs’ is something that affects their bottom line. While treatment with older forms of antibiotics can often be effective and serve the greater good of humanity, the inclination of doctors is almost always going to be to use the latest and greatest new medicine available.”

Hart argued that awareness is the most important factor: Doctors should be advised to first treat bacterial infections with older forms of antibiotics that have a proven track record of being effective. Patients should understand that antibiotics have zero effect on viral infections such as the flu or the common cold. “The next super-infection can be just around the corner, and we must be prepared.”