Cities and states aim to take up Paris Accord after Trump’s withdrawal

ABC Good Morning America

Cities and states aim to take up Paris Accord after Trump’s withdrawal

Meghan Keneally and Julia Jacobo, Good Morning America   June 2, 2017

Cities and states throughout the United States are vowing to uphold the obligations of the Paris Climate Agreement despite President Trump’s decision to withdraw.

The governors of New York, California and Washington announced in a joint statement Thursday the formation of the U.S. Climate Alliance, a coalition that will convene U.S. states committed to upholding the Paris Climate Agreement and taking “aggressive action on climate change. ” The governors urged other states to join the alliance as well.

Alongside the state actions, the mayors of 68 cities across the nation who had previously joined the Mayors National Climate Action Agenda also pledged Thursday to adopt the Paris deal themselves. Also known as Climate Mayors, the group “commits U.S. mayors to working together to strengthen local efforts for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and to supporting efforts for binding federal and global-level policymaking,” according to its website.

One of those mayors, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, said that New Yorkers are already experiencing the extreme effects of climate change, such as hotter summers, more powerful storms and rising seas.

“President Trump can turn his back on the world but the world cannot ignore the very real threat of climate change,” De Blasio said. “This decision is an immoral assault on the public health, safety and security of everyone on this planet.”

De Blasio said he is committing to honor the goals of the Paris Accord “alongside mayors across the country” and “on behalf of the people of New York City. “Several more mayors took to Twitter to vow to uphold the obligations from the Paris Accord.

Former President Obama Thursday urged climate action to be taken up below the national level as well.

“I’m confident that our states, cities and businesses will step up and do even more to lead the way, and help protect for future generations the one planet we’ve got,” he said in a statement after Trump’s decision. Although it will be “difficult,” progress can be made at the city and state level, said Jamie Henn, co-founder and strategic communications director for, an international climate campaign nonprofit.

Even before Trump came into power and announced his decision at the White House’s Rose Garden Thursday, that process was well underway.

29 states take action

Twenty-nine U.S. states have adopted renewable portfolio standards, which requires them to sell a specified amount of renewable electricity, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

There is “political will” and “preference stated by voters for more states to adopt those standards,” said Rob Godby, the director of the Center for Energy, Economics and Public Policy at the University of Wyoming.

Godby noted that the withdrawal from the agreement shouldn’t come as a surprise in light of Trump’s previous promises of putting “America first.”

“I think our energy policy was pretty much set on election night — with the election of the Trump administration. That set in motion an expected policy changes.”

He added that while cities and states can clearly implement their own policy standards, the ultimate decision comes down to the people. “Really, it depends on what users of energy choose to do — not producers — because it’s the users of energy that potentially generate CO2 [carbon dioxide] and natural gasses if they choose to,” he said.

“Wyoming won’t continue to produce as much coal as it did in the past if demand goes down from the states that consume it,” Godby said of the largest coal-producing state in the United States.

Addictive fossil fuel

A national poll conducted by the Yale Program on Climate Communication found that by more than 5 to 1, voters said the United States should participate in the Paris Agreement. The poll, which surveyed participants from a national sample, also found that about 47 percent of Trump voters said the United States should participate in the Paris Accord, compared with about 28 percent who said it should not.

“This is an all-hands-on-deck moment, and without the hands of the federal government, it takes the rest of us to spring into action,”’s Henn said.

To meet the emissions reductions commitments agreed to in the Paris Accord, local and state governments will have to wean themselves off fossil fuel use and rapidly adopt clean energy.

The Obama administration sought to create a federally driven plan to push that effort, but now the process will be led bottom up as long as the Trump administration continues on its existing course.

The makeup of the energy business “isn’t determined by the White House,” Henn said. “It is determined by the cities and states who are the largest purchasers of electric power.”

Local governments and institutions can play a “large role” in driving forward renewable energy, including by focusing on solar power.

But ultimately, Henn said, it comes down to electing officials who prioritize climate action.

“Elections matter, to state the obvious,” he said, “so our movements needs to do a better job at electing climate champions at all levels for government.”

Let’s understand why Illinois has the highest property taxes


Let’s understand why Illinois has the highest property taxes

Phil Kadner, Columnists       June 1, 2017 

Chris Kennedy, a Democratic candidate for governor of Illinois, ripped this state’s property tax system as “corrupt” and “extortion,” joining a chorus that now includes just about every politician in Illinois.

Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner was elected, in part, because he denounced this state’s property taxes as the highest in the nation.

Rauner has called for a property tax freeze and Democrats in the state Senate voted to do just that in the most recent session of the state Legislature, although the two-year cap they wanted wasn’t sufficient to gain Republican backing.

None of this posturing is new. Governors and state legislators have been screaming about high property taxes in this state for 30 years, and except for Dawn Clark Netsch, who ran for governor back in 1994, few have been willing to point out the real problem.

Property taxes are high because the state has failed to fulfill its constitutional mandate to fund public education.

This mandate was once considered so important that Article X of the Illinois Constitution is devoted to it. Netsch understood its importance because she was a member of the 1970 Constitutional Convention that wrote it.

“A fundamental goal of the People of the State is the educational development of all persons to the limits of their capacities,” the Article states.

“The State shall provide for an efficient system of high quality public educational institutions and services. Education in public schools through the secondary level shall be free. There may be such other free education as the General Assembly provides by law.

“The State has the primary responsibility for financing the system of public education.”

That’s a clear language. The goal is to educate every child in this state to their fullest potential and it is the state’s primary responsibility to fund that system of education.

Yet of all the money actually spent on public education in Illinois, this state contributes only 26 percent. Since state lawmakers have deliberately failed to adequately fund education, as directed by the Constitution, property taxpayers must pick up 67 percent of the cost.

At one point, under Gov. Jim Thompson, the state paid about 40 percent of the tab, but that was a long time ago.

Due to that reliance on property taxes, this state has the largest spending gap between poor and wealthy school districts in the nation.

Because property taxes are high, people who own homes and businesses in this state are pretty angry. Many of them don’t understand why property taxes have increased so much or how their property tax bills are calculated.

In the meantime, governors and state legislators continue to use property taxes as a campaign gimmick, while actually forcing them to skyrocket.

Democrats in the state Legislature pushed through a long-sought and needed school funding formula reform this spring, but failed to address the real issue: The lack of money for education.

The school funding mess in Illinois is a result of bi-partisan mendacity, which is another way of saying elected officials lie whenever they talk about education funding.

While they talk about freezing property taxes, they say nothing about adequately funding the state’s public schools. Relying on property taxes to finance education means the poorest communities in Illinois have less money to spend on their schools and suffer under the highest property tax rates.

It’s a system rigged to benefit wealthy homeowners and wealthy communities, while punishing the working class and small businessman. And it allows elected leaders to escape their constitutional obligation while spending your tax money on other things.

People whine that Illinois has no budget, but this state has shirked its responsibility for decades and few cared because only disadvantaged children suffered. The property tax system is corrupt.


Green energy has a bright future — even without Trump

Yahoo Finance

Green energy has a bright future — even without Trump

Rick Newman June 2, 2017

President Donald Trump is trying to revive the coal industry and extend the lifespan of the oil business. But renewables like solar and wind power are still likely to thrive.

By withdrawing the United States from the 2015 Paris climate accord, Trump has made the United States the only advanced economy that lacks a commitment to curb carbon emissions caused by the burning of fossil fuels. But many energy analysts think coal is doomed anyway, because businesses and governments are shifting rapidly toward cleaner-burning fuels that are coming down in price. Oil has a longer shelf life, due to its use as a transportation fuel, but will still most likely decline as alternatives like battery-powered electric vehicles become cheaper and more efficient.

While most of the press attention focuses on energy policies formed in Washington and other capitals, an arguably more important shift has been going on among investors who think renewable energy sources—especially solar and wind—are now viable investments likely to pay respectable returns.

“The consensus among asset managers is that prices are coming down and this is a technology play,” says Matthew Weatherley-White, managing director of investing firm the Caprock Group. “There’s a lot of smart money here.”

That distinction as a technology play is important, especially with regard to solar. That means cost is likely to decline indefinitely as usage increases, the same pattern consumers have gotten used to from microprocessors that get smaller, faster and better, even as the price drops. The famed “Moore’s Law”—the doubling of processing power roughly every 18 months—doesn’t necessarily apply to energy technology, but the general principle does. As the technology catches on, scale ratchets up, prices come down and capability improves.

Battery technology, which is essential for electric vehicles, is also improving, though perhaps at a slower pace than solar panels. Wind power follows a different paradigm, with larger blades being more efficient, but also more expensive. Yet all of these technologies have scaling advantages over commodities such as oil and coal, which by definition become more scarce, and more expensive, as consumption reduces supply. Fracking has changed the equation for oil, to some extent, because it has increased supply. But there’s still a cost to pulling it out of the ground.

The development of renewable energy has been subsidized by governments in the United States and other countries, and even by state and local policies, such as tax credits for electric vehicles and access to high-occupancy lanes for anybody with a car that meets stringent emission standards. And there are two important tax breaks Congress passed in 2015 that Trump doesn’t seem so bothered by—one for solar, and one for wind and other renewables. Before 2015, Congress had traditionally extended those incentives for just one year at a time, leaving investors unsure of their long-term benefit. But the 2015 law put them in place for 5 years, giving investors a stronger incentive to bet on renewables.

“The big spook was that Trump would rescind those credits,” says Weatherley-White. “But he hasn’t even talked about that.”

Government subsidies have undoubtedly helped establish a market for renewables, but costs have now dropped enough that in some instances they’re competitive with the cost of coal or natural gas. And if cost isn’t a factor, government officials and business leaders are much more keen to invest in energy facilities likely to pollute less, since that aligns with public opinion and provides better options if the need to curb emissions grows more acute in the future.

Trump loves to stick up for coal miners, even though solar workers in the United States now outnumber them by more than 2-to-1. In fact, there are now slightly more Americans employed in renewable-energy jobs (about 750,000) than in coal and oil (about 675,000). Natural gas, a cleaner-burning fossil fuel viewed as a bridge between carbon and renewables, accounts for about 400,000 US jobs.

Since 2010, the number of solar-panel installations in the United States has surged by more than 1,600%, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association. At the same time, the average cost of solar energy to consumers has fallen by more than 70%. Wind-power capacity in the United States has doubled since 2010, according to the American Wind Energy Association, with prices falling by nearly the same proportion as solar. Natural gas and coal prices have dropped during the same time frame, though not as dramatically.

By some measures, renewables are now cost-competitive with fossil fuels, a trend that should intensify as renewables become more popular. It’s difficult to directly compare the cost of different types of energy, since there can be big regional variations and costs pop up all along the supply chain, from drilling well to power plant to residential outlet. Solar panels are more effective in some climates than others, for instance, and fossil fuels are usually cheaper when they’re closer to where they’re burned. But the World Economic Forum said recently that most nations will reach “grid parity” within a few years, with renewables matching or undercutting fossil fuels on price. Since that is likely to happen with or without government help, Trump’s fondness for the fuels of the last century won’t hold back the fuels of the next.

Confidential tip line: 

Who really pays if Trump quits the Paris accord

Vox on CNBC Politics

Who really pays if Trump quits the Paris accord

Vox, Jim Tankersley  June 1, 2017 

No laid-off coal miners will get their jobs back if President Trump pulls the United States from the Paris accord on climate change. No extra oil rigs will sprout in the Gulf. There is no employment upside to an “America First” retreat from global leadership on one of the few issues that can accurately be described as a potentially existential threat to humankind.

There is only the profound immorality of abdication — of gleefully passing a mounting problem on to our children, and on to the poor.

Reports suggest Trump is set to fulfill a campaign promise and withdraw the US from the agreement, which aims to put the world on a path to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius. Trump tweeted on Wednesday that he will announce a decision soon; when he makes it, he will almost certainly cast the departure in terms of job growth, particularly for the coal industry.

There is no evidence, though, to suggest the Paris deal is holding back coal or any other industry in America today. Trump’s position amounts to nothing more than a dollop of false hope for downtrodden coal communities, in exchange for a ton of additional risk heaped on everyone, particularly the poorest people in the world.

As more carbon accumulates in the atmosphere, and global average temperatures continue to rise, the odds of calamitous future environmental outcomes increase. Swamped cities, scorched crops, pandemics — nothing you would wish upon your children, or anyone else’s

“It is a decision made for domestic political purposes that puts the livelihood and lives of millions of people in developing countries at risk,” says Trevor Houser, a former climate negotiator for President Barack Obama who is now a partner with the Rhodium Group. “This is a craven, symbolic political move without any direct benefits for the constituents he’s targeting.”

The Paris agreement is only a step toward the reduction in global greenhouse gas emissions that scientists roundly agree is necessary in order to reduce the most catastrophic risks of climate change. But it is a crucial step, won through years of diplomatic grunt work, including a sustained effort to rebuild American climate credibility that had been torched by the Bush administration.

“It’s morally reprehensible to walk away from climate action.  It’s an act everyone will recall as kids gasp for air during heat waves, as homes are wiped out by larger storms, as larger fires displace homes, and as droughts lead to crop failure.” -Keya Chatterjee, US Climate Action Network executive director

The agreement will persist even if Trump pulls America from it, as he is reportedly set to do. But the accord will be weakened, and, much more importantly, so will the fragile international coalition to fight what Jason Bordoff, a Columbia professor and former climate adviser to Obama, calls “one of the most global problems.”

Ideally, the current administration would be pushing partner countries to strengthen their commitments under the agreement; instead, it is giving them an excuse to slack off.

The decision will punish the poor

For the global poor, the reduced ambition could prove disastrous. The World Bank estimates climate effects could push 100 million people worldwide into poverty over the next 15 years. A recent report from the Climate Impact Lab projects that the most damaging effects of climate change will be concentrated in “hot, poor countries” in regions such as Latin America and Southeast Asia, and in sub-Saharan Africa, where climate change is already associated with falling crop production due to record-setting drought.

“In our benchmark estimate,” the authors write, “average income in the poorest 40% of countries declines 75% by 2100 relative to a world without climate change.” Richer, cooler countries in Europe tend to fare better, but, notably, not the United States. It would suffer economically — and on the international stage.

“It’s morally reprehensible to walk away from climate action,” says Keya Chatterjee, the executive director of the US Climate Action Network. “It’s an act everyone will recall as kids gasp for air during heat waves, as homes are wiped out by larger storms, as larger fires displace homes, and as droughts lead to crop failure.”

It won’t create jobs

Trump has said the agreement gives “foreign bureaucrats” control of America’s energy reserves. (It doesn’t.) He’s cast it as a job killer. (It’s not.) Many US corporations support the agreement, including some large oil and gas companies, like Exxon Mobil. Clean energy advocates worry that stepping away from the deal would hamstring renewables here, which are growing so fast that there are now twice as many solar jobs as coal jobs in the US.

“It’s the equivalent of a president saying, ‘There’s no future for the US in medical research,'” says Josh Freed, the clean energy vice president at the centrist think tank Third Way. “The president is purposely giving up on an entire sector that could drive global economic growth.”

The most notable corporate support for exiting the deal comes from the coal industry, which is hoping against hope — and the economics of low-cost natural gas — that a complete abandonment of emissions-reduction efforts will lead to an industry renaissance. It’s a last gasp, and unlikely to work, as Houser and Bordoff wrote in a detailed recent analysis.

And it will hurt American leadership

Once Trump quits the deal, he will inflict lasting damage on American foreign policy efforts, well beyond collaboration on environmental issues.

The agreement is in many ways emblematic of how leaders in Washington — on both sides of the aisle — have long viewed America’s role in the world. It does not commit the US to a go-it-alone effort. To the contrary: It leverages promised US emissions cuts to win pledges from the world’s fastest-growing carbon polluters, China and India, as well as other Western and developing countries.

By exiting, Trump would forfeit that leverage. He would return the US to its days of being distrusted by the international community on the issue, and further the belief, particularly in Europe, that America is an unreliable partner.

A future administration could take steps to rejoin the agreement — or to reengage in global climate talks, if Trump walks away from them entirely. But the damage would linger. In Copenhagen in 2009, efforts to forge an international climate deal were hampered, in part, by the deep-rooted suspicion Obama’s team (including Houser) faced from European, Chinese, and other negotiators in the wake of the Bush administration’s foot-dragging on emissions reductions.

It took years, and a batch of controversial regulations issued by the Environmental Protection Agency, to rebuild that credibility and pave the way for Paris. To now quit that agreement would, Houser says, “be the second time Lucy has pulled the football.” The world might not give us a chance for a third.

Commentary by Jim Tankersley, policy and politics editor at Vox.

Single-payer healthcare plan advances in California Senate — without a way to pay its $400-billion tab

Los Angeles Times Essential Politics

This is Essential Politics, our daily look at California political and government news. Ballot measures California Legislature. Reporting from Sacramento.

Single-payer healthcare plan advances in California Senate — without a way to pay its $400-billion tab

Patrick McGreevy June 1, 2017

A proposal to adopt a single-payer healthcare system for California took an initial step forward Thursday when the state Senate approved a bare-bones bill that lacks a method for paying the $400-billion cost of the plan.

The proposal was made by legislators led by Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) at the same time President Trump and Republican members of Congress are working to repeal and replace the federal Affordable Care Act.

“Despite the incredible progress California has made, millions still do not have access to health insurance and millions more cannot afford the high deductibles and co-pays, and they often forgo care,” Lara said during a floor debate on the bill.

The bill, which now goes to the state Assembly for consideration, will have to be further developed, Lara conceded, adding he hopes to reach a consensus on a way to pay for it.

Republican senators opposed the bill as a threat to the state’s finances.

“We don’t have the money to pay for it,” Sen. Tom Berryhill (R-Modesto) said. “If we cut every single program and expense from the state budget and redirected that money to this bill, SB 562, we wouldn’t even cover half of the $400-billion price tag.”

Berryhill also said the private sector is better suited to provide healthcare.

“I absolutely don’t trust the government to run our health system,” he said. “What has the government ever done right?”

Lara’s bill would provide a Medicare-for-all-type system that he believed would guarantee health coverage for all Californians without the out-of-pocket costs. Under a single-payer plan, the government replaces private insurance companies, paying doctors and hospitals for healthcare.

The California Nurses Assn., which sponsored the bill, released a fiscal analysis this week that proposed raising the state sales and business receipts taxes by 2.3% to raise $106 billion of the annual cost, with the rest proposed to come from state and federal funding already going to Medicare and Medicaid services.

Sen. Ted Gaines (R-El Dorado Hills) called the plan “reckless” and said the taxes would hurt businesses and families while financially crippling the state government.

“It’s offensive to the people who have to pay for it,” he said.

Some Democrats felt the bill was rushed and undeveloped. Sen. Ben Hueso (D-San Diego) withheld his vote on the bill on grounds it does not provide enough detail of what a single-payer system would look like.

“This is the Senate kicking the can down the road to the Assembly and asking the Assembly to fill in all of the blanks,” Hueso said. “That’s not going to happen this year.”

Lara said action is required because of what is happening in Washington.

“With President Trump’s promise to abandon the Affordable Care Act as we know it — for one that leaves millions without access to care — California is once again tasked to lead,” he told his colleagues.

He said his father recently had heart bypass surgery but went through the emergency room for help after his insurance company initially turned him down.

Even if the bill is approved, it has to go to Gov. Jerry Brown, who has been skeptical, and then voters would have to exempt it from spending limits and budget formulas in the state Constitution. In addition, the state would have to get federal approval to repurpose existing funds for Medicare and Medicaid

How Fox News dealt with CBO saying 23 million would lose coverage under the AHCA


How Fox News dealt with CBO saying 23 million would lose coverage under the AHCA

We watched every instance in which Fox News had to confront the number.

Updated by Alvin Chang    May 31, 2017

The morning after a nonpartisan analysts reported that the Republican replacement for Obamacare would cause 23 million people to lose their health insurance — many of them in the reddest states — Fox & Friends invited President Trump’s budget director, Mick Mulvaney, onto the show.

The exchange went like this:

BRIAN KILMEADE (host): 23 million will lose insurance. True or false?

MULVANEY: False. If you look at the methodology, they assume that folks who were on Medicaid, which is free, will choose to get off Medicaid when the mandate goes away. Now you tell me if this sounds like the real world.

STEVE DOOCY (host): Sure. And I know the [Congressional Budget Office] looked at it. Millions of Americans are not going to buy insurance if they don’t have to because they don’t want to.

It was one of the rare instances Fox & Friends mentioned the “23 million” number, but a quintessential example of how the Fox News Channel has often covered the devastating CBO analysis — by obscuring details and blaming the source, which is similar to how right-wing news sites cover this administration.

Mulvaney does both, saying CBO erred in saying people would voluntarily leave Medicaid. He (and the hosts) fails to mention that the bill kicks low-income adults without children off Medicaid and makes it easier for states to kick people off the program.

It’s part of a pattern on Fox News, which often framed the CBO score in two ways. The first was that the CBO analysis is wrong, or that CBO has been unreliable in the past. The second is that Obamacare is failing and this bill gives people the freedom to escape that failure.

Not thinking too hard about the human cost

As my colleague Jeff Stein writes, this bill is a bigger liability for Republicans than Trump’s scandals. It’s what Democrats are campaigning on and what seems to have the most resonance, perhaps because people don’t want to be in the traumatic situation of having to choose between financial ruin and medical treatment.

Many of those who stand to lose insurance live in states that voted heavily for Trump. The bill hurts a host of demographic groups that support Trump — including older Americans, those who live in more rural areas, and areas suffering most from the opioid crisis.

The CBO scores get at the heart of these fears.

So the injection of these numbers into the AHCA debate caused a dissonance on several Fox News shows. When Fox & Friends had to confront these numbers, the reaction was to minimize the CBO analysis. For example, in March, after the first CBO report, Kilmeade acknowledged that Trump voters would be hurt but assured them this was part of a larger plan:

They say the people that are going to be hurt most under the current plan, the way the calculus is done by the CBO, are Americans between the age of 50 and 64. Right before Medicare, the older part and last leg of their career. That translates into mostly Trump voters.

But then you factor in the fact that this is a three-phase plan. The second phase is when [Health and Human Services Secretary] Tom Price is supposed to theoretically sit there and put in regulations that’ll make this more of a conservative project.

Host Ainsley Earhardt questioned the CBO, saying:

Here’s the thing. Donald Trump says the Democrats are the ones that put us in this mess. They are complaining about this.

Can you really trust the CBO? Can you trust the report?

Jonathan Gruber, the architect of Obamacare, he said blatantly — we played the sound bites for you yesterday — he said we can trick the CBO, call them mandates and not taxes, and they will pass this thing through.

Then on May 4, the House prepared to vote on the second version of the AHCA without a CBO score showing the policy’s impact. That morning, Doocy confronted the “24 million” number by saying it’s better because it “reduces taxes and stuff like that”:

When you saw that figure a month or two ago, where something like 24 million would wind up losing their health care: That is a great political ad for the Democrats, whoever is going to run against any of the Republicans coming up in 2018.

But here’s the thing: What if it’s — the hope for everybody is this is actually better. Reduces taxes and stuff like that.

And ultimately, when it comes to politics, this is going to redeem Speaker Paul Ryan. Plus, it’s going to give President Trump his first big — and it is big — legislative win.

I’m largely focusing on Fox & Friends because it has one very important viewer — President Trump — who has praised the show multiple times, and even thanked them for helping him win the presidency. It is the inner monologue of a president who has aggressively criticized most other media outlets for their reporting of his presidency.

Some shows on the network were slightly more nuanced, saying that people will choose to be uninsured because Obamacare will no longer mandate people to have insurance.

The bottom third also suggests the new version of the bill protects people with preexisting conditions. It does not.

There was little talk of why the mandate existed in the first place, and the mechanism the AHCA uses in its place: a penalty for people who want to buy insurance on the marketplace after a lapse in coverage.

Painting the CBO — and subsequently the media — as biased

Occasionally a guest would be on a Fox News show to represent the opposing viewpoint, and they would defend the 24 million number, though almost immediately a conservative guest or the host would reframe the discussion around CBO’s credibility or Obamacare’s failure. But it was this inherent conflict — between left and right, between “them” and “us” — that framed the coverage around the CBO report.

After watching the nearly 100 times people on Fox News confronted these numbers, the CBO report stopped feeling like a number describing humans. Rather, it felt like a political concoction — a number whipped up to make Obamacare repeal harder.

In fact, media outlets and experts who cited the CBO score were also treated with contempt. Below is a screenshot of a segment on how unfairly the mainstream media is treating the AHCA after the CBO score:

It’s cruel to disorient people like this

American health care is complicated. This AHCA debate is complicated. Yet it’s these complicated details that determine the cost and quality of care for our bodies.

So when nonpartisan analysts say that a bill will cause 23 million to lose insurance in 10 years and make costs skyrocket for older and poorer Americans, it should clarify our political opinions.

But Fox News has taken advantage of television as a medium to try to convince its viewers that “23 million” is a partisan tool, not an evidence-based projection. It’s basing its rhetoric on personality, on partisanship, on tribalism, and insisting that people trust them, not the mainstream media or the nonpartisan analysts who are desperate to take down Donald Trump.

Let’s put it this way: When our satellites tell us a powerful hurricane is headed toward us, it’s irresponsible not to tell everyone to get out of the way. But convincing the people that the tools are malfunctioning, that the hurricane isn’t coming their way, that the rest of the news reports are wrong? That’s cruel.

Was a Georgia Congressional Candidate Responsible for Purging Korean American, Latino and African American Voters?

Was a Georgia Congressional Candidate Responsible for Purging Korean American, Latino and African American Voters?

Greg Palast, on the Thom Hartmann Program with Thom Hartmann  May 30, 2017

Was a Georgia Congressional Candidate Responsible for Purging Voters? Greg Palast Reports From Georgia’s 6th Congressional District for the Thom Hartmann Program

As Secretary of State, Karen Handel was the one who signed Georgia up to Crosscheck and started implementing the racially-biased-by-design Kris Kobach / Donald Trump program. They were really going after the Asian-American voters in the 6th, who statistically are far more likely to vote blue. She removed thousands of voters from the rolls to whitewash her own district. She actually never arrested anyone for voting twice, she just made the accusation to get the non-white voters off the rolls…

They began a criminal investigation of the Asian-American voter registration group AALAC. They grabbed all their files, their computers, they intimidated them, and so the Korean-American registration drive came to a dead halt. Then all charges and allegations were dropped.

Then they made similar allegations against another major group, The New Georgia Project, who were registering African-Americans and Latinos in the district. That investigation is still going on. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation kicked in the door of the group, and again took computers and files and threatened criminal charges for illegally registering voters — whatever the heck that is. Again, no charges, just intimidation in an attempt to shut down the African-American group as they did the Asian-American group…

You had thousands of Asian-Americans who were not allowed to register in the Sixth, and you have to understand, Jon Ossoff only lost by 3,700 votes in April.

Support our investigation into Crosscheck and the theft of the 2016 election by making a tax-deductible donation here:

To find out how the GOP is whitewashing the voter rolls ahead of the 2018 and 2020 elections visit:

Greg Palast (Rolling Stone, Guardian, BBC) is the author of The New York Times bestsellers, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy and Billionaires & Ballot Bandits, now out as major motion non-fiction movie — available to view worldwide from just $2.99: the

Renewable Energy Growth, 40 Years Ahead of EIA’ s Forecast


Renewable Energy Growth, 40 Years Ahead of EIA’ s Forecast

By Sun Day Campaign     May 30, 2017

The latest issue of the U.S. Energy Information’s (EIA) Electric Power Monthly (with data through March 31) reveals that renewable energy sources (i.e., biomass, geothermal, hydropower, solar—inc. small-scale PV, wind) accounted for 19.35 percent of net U.S. electrical generation during the first quarter of 2017. Of this, conventional hydropower accounted for 8.67 percent, followed by wind (7.10 percent), biomass (1.64 percent), solar (1.47 percent) and geothermal (0.47 percent). Combined, non-hydro renewables accounted for 10.68 percent of total generation.

Yet, just five years ago, in its 2012 Annual Energy Outlook, EIA forecast: “Generation from renewable sources grows by 77 percent in the reference case, raising its share of total generation from 10 percent in 2010 to 15 percent in 2035 … The share of the total electricity generation accounted for by non-hydropower renewable generation increases from about 4 percent in 2010 to 9 percent in 2035.”

If one assumes growth continuing at about the same annual rate as during the 25-year EIA forecast period (2010-2035), renewables would not be expected to reach 19.35 percent until roughly the year 2057—40 years from now.

EIA’s 2012 report further forecast: “Wind [electrical generating] capacity increasing from 39 gigawatts (GW) in 2010 to 70 GW in 2035.” A corresponding chart illustrates that projection and also shows solar reaching 24 GW of capacity in 2035.

In reality, according to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s latest Energy Infrastructure Update, with data for the first three months of 2017, wind generating capacity already totals 84.59 GW while utility-scale solar has reached 25.84 GW (and this does not include distributed small-scale systems such as rooftop solar). *

“Thus, not only has renewable energy’s share of total domestic electrical generation nearly doubled in the past seven years, it has reached a level of output that EIA—just five years ago—did not anticipate happening for another four decades,” Ken Bossong, executive director of the SUN DAY Campaign, noted.

“While one might conclude that EIA’s methodology is seriously flawed, it is also safe to say that renewables—especially solar and wind—are vastly exceeding expectations and breaking records at an astonishing pace.”‘

This is clearly evidenced by comparing 2017 to 2016 year-to-date. During the first quarter of 2016, renewables provided 17.23 percent of total generation versus 19.35 percent in 2017. Actual generation by renewables is 9.70 percent greater than just a year ago. In particular, solar (i.e., solar thermal, utility-scale PV and distributed PV) has ballooned by 34.1 percent, wind has expanded by 11.4 percent, conventional hydropower has grown by 7.7 percent and geothermal has increased by 3.2 percent. Only biomass has declined year-on-year—by 1.6 percent.

* Note that generating capacity is not the same as actual generation. Electrical production per MW of available capacity (i.e., capacity factor) for renewables is often, but not always, lower than that for fossil fuels and nuclear power. The total installed operating generating capacity provided by utility-scale renewables in 2017 is now 19.5% of the nation’s total for the first three months of 2017 (according to the latest U.S. FERC figures) whereas actual electrical generation from renewables for the same period is roughly 19.4 percent. However, both of these figures understate renewables’ actual contribution because neither EIA nor FERC fully accounts for all electricity generated by smaller-scale, distributed renewable energy sources. FERC’s data, for example, is limited to plants with nameplate capacity of 1 MW or greater and thereby fail to include distributed sources such as rooftop solar.

Trump’s climate conundrum nears a verdict

Politico Energy and Environment

Trump’s climate conundrum nears a verdict

U.S. allies say they’re mystified about the president’s intentions for the 2015 Paris agreement — though some aides believe he’ll withdraw.

By Andrew Restuccia   05/30/2017

Donald Trump’s advisers have sent wildly different messages to U.S. allies about the president’s willingness to remain in the Paris climate agreement — adding to the confusion as he appears set to render a verdict this week.

Shortly before the G-7 summit in Italy last week, U.S. officials had private conversations with foreign diplomats that seemed to suggest Trump was open to staying in the landmark 2015 pact, two people briefed on the discussions told POLITICO. But then, to their frustration, the U.S. backed away, instead becoming the lone holdout from a declaration expressing “strong commitment” to the agreement.

The administration’s public statements have been no less mixed. National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn, who supports staying in the agreement, told reporters last week that Trump’s “views are evolving.” But allies of Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt, who wants the U.S. to leave, made it known that Trump privately agrees with them. Administration officials on both sides of the issue are increasingly convinced that he will withdraw, though they stressed late Tuesday that the decision is not yet final.

For all the mystery, though, Trump has only a few main options for dealing with the nonbinding climate deal, one of former President Barack Obama’s proudest diplomatic achievements.

He can stick with the deal, while unwinding most of Obama’s climate policies and pledges for reducing greenhouse gas pollution. He can use the threat of leaving to push other countries for concessions that benefit U.S. fossil fuels. He can even try to renegotiate the agreement — highly implausible, given that nearly 200 governments took part in crafting it.

Or he can do nothing.

This is POLITICO’s breakdown of the possibilities:


Trump vowed during the presidential campaign to “cancel” the Paris agreement, portraying it as a threat to U.S. jobs and energy production, and conservatives are convinced he’ll make good on that promise.

Pruitt and White House chief strategist Steve Bannon have emerged in recent months as the administration’s biggest opponents of the Paris agreement, and both men have made their case for withdrawal directly to Trump.

Pruitt and Trump discussed the issue again on Tuesday, a possible indication that he’s preparing to withdraw. Sources confirmed that Trump indicated in recent conversations with Pruitt that he was leaning toward pulling out of the agreement, as Axios reported last weekend.

But the climate discussions at the G-7, paired with a lobbying campaign from Pope Francis and other leaders, could have changed Trump’s mind. Other U.S. officials were convinced as recently as last week that Trump would remain in Paris.

Others are just uncertain. “I’ve stopped trying to figure it out,” said one longtime climate negotiator.

A withdrawal would strain U.S. relations with countries in Europe and elsewhere, and it could destabilize the foundation of the Paris deal. Such considerations have helped persuade even Trump’s secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, to support staying — as well as GOP lawmakers like North Dakota Rep. Kevin Cramer, an energy adviser to the president.

If Trump decides to pull out, though, the text of the deal would prevent a U.S. exit from formally taking effect until at least Nov. 4, 2020 — a little over two months before the end of his first term. But Trump’s public disavowal of the pact would certainly have an immediate impact on the global effort to tackle climate change.

In addition, Trump would have one speedier option for pulling out: He could withdraw the U.S. from the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the treaty that undergirds the entire regime of international climate negotiations. According to the Paris text: “Any party that withdraws from the convention shall be considered as also having withdrawn from this agreement.”

Remain, but win concessions

Administration officials who support remaining in the agreement have been working for months to try to flesh out a middle ground.

One option that has won support from some White House aides: weakening Obama’s pledges for cutting U.S. carbon emissions, and persuading world leaders to offer greater support for technologies to reduce pollution from fossil fuels like coal.

The first part is entirely within Trump’s power: Obama’s pledges were nonbinding, and the current administration would be free to substitute its own, less-ambitious promises if it chooses to — even as Trump seeks to undo Obama’s domestic climate regulations and slash EPA’s budget. Winning concessions from other countries would require some high-stakes dealmaking, however.

Before the summit in Italy, U.S. officials discussed those options with representatives from other G-7 countries, in conversations that gave diplomats hope that Trump was open to staying in the agreement if he could be reassured the U.S. has flexibility, according to two people briefed on the issue. But the U.S. ultimately backed away from pro-Paris language in the G-7’s closing joint communique, breaking with the six other countries that participated in the meeting.

Energy Secretary Rick Perry attempted a similar gambit during an April meeting of G-7 energy ministers in April. But the other countries rebuffed his attempt to place stronger pro-coal, pro-nuclear language into a proposed joint statement on energy policy, which wound up being scuttled.

If Trump decides to remain in the agreement, he’d probably cast the decision as a sign of his dealmaking prowess, and a wholesale repudiation of Obama’s climate pledge.

But it comes with political risks: Conservative groups would probably bash Trump if he decides to stay in the Paris deal, even if many people who voted for him probably don’t view the issue as a top priority.

Renegotiate the agreement — but that’s unlikely

Some in Trump’s orbit have urged the president to renegotiate the agreement, an option that is seen as all but impossible among international climate negotiators.

The 2015 Paris talks were the culmination of years of preparations, and it’s unlikely that Trump could persuade negotiators from nearly 200 nations to reopen the underlying text.

Some closely tracking the issue suspect that “renegotiate” is just shorthand for ensuring that the U.S. gets a better deal in future discussions arising from Paris. That could be accomplished through bilateral and multilateral negotiations with individual countries, or by influencing the discussions at subsequent climate conferences over how to implement the agreement.

Do nothing

Trump could also delay a decision for months or even years, avoiding the political fallout of withdrawing or remaining.

Instead of issuing a firm verdict this week, the president could announce he’ll tentatively remain in the agreement, but continue to review his options and reserve the right to withdraw at a future date.

Some who follow the issue think that could be his most politically savvy option.

“What good does it do to announce your intention to leave 2 ½ years early?” asked one longtime climate negotiator. “You’ve given up all your leverage.”

Trump’s tantrum over leaks comes with a surprise ending

The Rachel Maddow Show / The Maddow Blog

Trump’s tantrum over leaks comes with a surprise ending

By Steve Benen May 30, 2017

During his trip abroad, the volume of Donald Trump’s tweets slowed down considerably – he was almost certainly watching a lot less television – and some wondered whether the president might be turning over a new leaf, adopting a more disciplined communications posture.

Indeed, some of this may have been involuntary. The Wall Street Journal reported that “a team of lawyers” may soon review the president’s social-media missives as Trump World grapples with the Russia scandal.

But we were quickly reminded that Trump is not easily changed. Over the weekend, in a series of tweets, the president renewed his interest in leaks emanating from his administration:

“It is my opinion that many of the leaks coming out of the White House are fabricated lies made up by the #FakeNews media. Whenever you see the words ‘sources say’ in the fake news media, and they don’t mention names, it is very possible that those sources don’t exist but are made up by fake news writers. #FakeNews is the enemy!”

It’s always entertaining when one example of presidential whining can be wrong in so many ways simultaneously.

  1. The news is either leaked from the White House or it’s made up by the media, but it can’t be both. Words still have meaning and if Trump is confused about what a “leak” is, I’m sure someone on his staff can explain it to him (and then run to reporters to share the anecdote).
  2. Team Trump routinely holds briefings with reporters in which officials are, at the White House’s insistence, not to be identified by name. In this sense, the president is condemning his own team’s communications strategy.
  3. Given the fact that Trump recently leaked highly sensitive, classified information to Russian officials, perhaps he should steer clear of complaining about leaks for a while.

But as it turns out, this is a story with a twist ending.

This morning, Trump used Twitter to promote a Fox News piece that said Jared Kushner did not recommend a secret Russian communications channel during the presidential transition process, contradicting the Washington Post’s reporting. Fox’s report is based on an unnamed White House source, and the piece itself didn’t even include a byline – suggesting no one at the controversial network wanted to be directly associated with the piece.

We’re left with a disjointed picture: Trump hates leaks, except the ones that say what he likes to hear. Trump wants Americans to discount news reports based on unnamed sources, except when those reports are published by his allies and reinforce his preferred narrative.

Presidential whining is unbecoming on its face, but incoherent and contradictory whining is that much more difficult to take seriously.