Tuesday, March 28, 2017

The Writing on the Wall - A Response to the White Hourse Energy Executive Order


Today's "Presidential Executive Order on Promoting Energy Independence and Economic Growth" issued by the White House, is a fascinating and troubling read. While presumably rolling back policies of the previous administration, it also guts the US capability to make progress in meeting its commitments to the Paris Climate Agreement or responding at a policy level to climate change. 

Even if the U.S. does not officially withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord, it is clear from this Executive Order that there is no intention in seriously meeting our commitments in emissions reductions.

For the Executive Order, see: https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2017/03/28/presidential-executive-order-promoting-energy-independence-and-economi-1

Three actions are most troubling. 

First is the removal of the final guidance to Federal entities and bodies in considering climate change impacts in their activities. See Section 3, c. 

The 34 page document being revoked is the ""Final Guidance for Federal Departments and Agencies on Consideration of Greenhouse Gas Emissions and the Effects of Climate Change in National Environmental Policy Act Reviews," and found at https://www.energy.gov/sites/prod/files/2016/08/f33/nepa_final_ghg_guidance.pdf

The second concern is the obliteration of rules relating to Oil and Natural Gas production including waste disposal as detailed in Section 7, Here it is in its entirety:

Sec. 7.  Review of Regulations Related to United States Oil and Gas Development.  (a)  The Administrator shall review the final rule entitled "Oil and Natural Gas Sector:  Emission Standards for New, Reconstructed, and Modified Sources," 81 Fed. Reg. 35824 (June 3, 2016), and any rules and guidance issued pursuant to it, for consistency with the policy set forth in section 1 of this order and, if appropriate, shall, as soon as practicable, suspend, revise, or rescind the guidance, or publish for notice and comment proposed rules suspending, revising, or rescinding those rules. 
(b)  The Secretary of the Interior shall review the following final rules, and any rules and guidance issued pursuant to them, for consistency with the policy set forth in section 1 of this order and, if appropriate, shall, as soon as practicable, suspend, revise, or rescind the guidance, or publish for notice and comment proposed rules suspending, revising, or rescinding those rules: 
(i)    The final rule entitled "Oil and Gas; Hydraulic Fracturing on Federal and Indian Lands," 80 Fed. Reg. 16128 (March 26, 2015);
(ii)   The final rule entitled "General Provisions and Non-Federal Oil and Gas Rights," 81 Fed. Reg. 77972 (November 4, 2016);
(iii)  The final rule entitled "Management of Non Federal Oil and Gas Rights," 81 Fed. Reg. 79948 (November 14, 2016); and
(iv)   The final rule entitled "Waste Prevention, Production Subject to Royalties, and Resource Conservation," 81 Fed. Reg. 83008 (November 18, 2016).

The third, and greatest concern is the utter disregard for climate change impacts on U.S. national security. 

In the Executive Order, it states, in Section. 3.  "Rescission of Certain Energy and Climate-Related Presidential and Regulatory Actions." 

(a)  The following Presidential actions are hereby revoked: 

(iv)   The Presidential Memorandum of September 21, 2016 (Climate Change and National Security)." This previous memorandum can be found at: https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/the-press-office/2016/09/21/presidential-memorandum-climate-change-and-national-security

I find it ironic that a new administration that presumably has made national security a priority would revoke a previous Presidential Action that helped to specifically accomplish that goal. 

The previous action, now revoked, states that part of its policy implementation purpose was to partially implement, "the 2015 National Security Strategy, which identified climate change as an urgent and growing threat to our national security, contributing to increased natural disasters, refugee flows, and conflicts over basic resources like food and water. It added that increased sea levels and storm surges threaten coastal regions, infrastructure, and property, which in turn threatens the global economy, and compounds the growing costs of preparing and restoring infrastructure"

The body created to coordinate US national security efforts in response to climate change was the Climate and National Security Working Group. Its key functions were

(i) identify the U.S. national security priorities that are within the scope of the Working Group's mission;
(ii) develop recommendations for requirements for climate and social science data and intelligence analyses, as appropriate, that support national security interests;
(iii) catalog climate science data, intelligence analyses, and other products and programs that support or should be considered in the development of national security doctrine, policy, and plans. This catalogue shall include climate and social science data repositories and analytical platforms; climate modeling, simulation, and projection capabilities; and information-sharing tools and resources supporting climate risk analyses and assessments, such as the Climate Data Initiative, the Climate Resilience Toolkit, the Global Change Information System, and the National Climate Assessment;
(iv) identify information and program gaps that limit consideration of climate change-related impacts in developing national security doctrine, policies, and plans. Descriptions of these gaps will be provided to Federal science agencies and the United States Intelligence Community to inform future research requirements and priorities, including collection priorities, on climate data, models, simulations, and projections;
(v) facilitate the production and exchange of climate data and information with relevant stakeholders, including the United States Intelligence Community, and private sector partners, as appropriate;
(vi) produce, as appropriate, and make available science-informed intelligence assessments to agencies having responsibilities in the development of national security doctrine, policies, and plans in order to identify climate change-related impacts and prioritize actions related thereto;
(vii) establish, by consensus, guidance for Working Group members on coordinating, sharing, and exchanging climate science data among the members, and with the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC);
(viii) provide a venue for enhancing the understanding of the links between climate change-related impacts and national security interests and discussing the opportunities for climate mitigation and adaptation activities to address national security issues;
(ix) work to improve the Federal Government's capability and capacity to characterize greenhouse gas sources and sinks accurately at sub-continental scales;
(x) in coordination with the NSTC, recommend research guidelines concerning the Federal Government's ability to detect climate intervention activities;
(xi) develop, by consensus, guidance for Working Group members on building climate resilience in countries vulnerable to climate change-related impacts;
(xii) provide information and Working Group-related progress updates to the Council on Climate Preparedness and Resilience, established by Executive Order 13653, Preparing the United States for the Impacts of Climate Change, on a quarterly basis;
(xiii) take into account defined requirements and current capabilities described in subsection (4)(c)(ii) and (iii) of this memorandum to facilitate the consideration of climate change-related impacts into national security doctrine, policies, and plans. The Working Group shall develop recommended climate data requirements and consider the cost of the production and exchange of this information, and making this information available;
(xiv) have classified and unclassified capabilities, as required and appropriate, to consolidate and make available climate change-related impact information, intelligence analyses, and assessments for access and use by Working Group member agencies;
(xv) identify the most current information on regional, country, and geographic areas most vulnerable to current and projected impacts of climate variability in the near- (current to 10 years), mid- (10 to 30 years), and long- (more than 30 years) term, in order to support assessments of national security implications of climate change, and identify areas most vulnerable to these impacts during these timeframes;
(xvi) develop recommendations for the Secretary of State to help ensure that the work of U.S. embassies, including their planning processes, are better informed by relevant climate change-related analyses; and
(xvii) coordinate on the development of quantitative models, predictive mapping products, and forecasts to anticipate the various pathways through which climate change may affect public health as an issue of national security.

It is items iv, vi, xii, xv and xvi that bring the most concern. The new executive order is seemingly taking a Cromwellian approach to key information that would support the administration's efforts of making "America Great Again," and protect American interests and citizens for the long term future.

We are left being blinded, bound in ignorance, and tossed adrift at the governmental level at a time that climate change is accelerating, destabilizing larger segments of global society, and decimating capabilities crucial to our current and future national security interests.

By this Executive Order, our president is setting us up for - and participating in - the writing on the wall. 


"The Writing On The Wall"
Alter Bridge: The Last hero

Don't tell us this is normal
Don't tell us there's no change
So selfish and immoral, you're to blame
'Cause you're the great disrupter
So crass and out of line
Now tell me who will suffer for all your crimes?
We are running out of time
Out of time

And the writing's on the wall
That the end will begin
Still you do nothing at all
And keep denying the greatest sin

Ignore the truth and follow
Reap all that you sow
Spawn the future sorrow, we will know
Refusing every warning
Deny the rate of change
The ignorance is swarming, what a shame
And you know that you're to blame
You're to blame

And the writing's on the wall
That the end will begin
Still you do nothing at all
Throwing lies to the wind

And the writing's on the wall
So I say it again
Still you do nothing at all
And keep denying the greatest sin

You're the one to blame
For this rate of change
No tomorrow
When will you see?

And the writing's on the wall
That the end will begin
Still you do nothing at all
Throwing lies to the wind

And the writing's on the wall
So I say it again
Still you do nothing at all
And keep denying the greatest sin

The greatest sin
Deny it again

When will it end?

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