Governors Announce Bipartisan Accord for a New Energy Future

On February 16, a bipartisan group of 17 governors signed the Governors’ Accord for a New Energy Future

The accord represents a joint commitment among both Democratic and Republican-led states to take action promoting clean energy, better and cleaner transportation choices, a modern electrical grid and a plan for a new energy economy.

You can read the full accord here, which states, in part:

 “American prosperity has always depended on embracing new ideas and technologies,” states the Governors’ Accord for a New Energy Future. “Embracing new energy solutions allows us to expand our economy while protecting the health of our communities and natural resources. These improvements will help secure a safe and prosperous future for our country.

“We recognize that now is the time to embrace a bold vision of the nation’s energy future, and to do so, states are once again poised to lead.”

The coalition of participating states represents 127 million Americans, providing a platform for collaboration, sharing ideas and leveraging partnerships in energy planning and policymaking.

The bipartisan partnership represents states with a diverse energy mix and policy portfolio – from Delaware, with low overall energy consumption powered primarily with natural gas, but with an unexpectedly high per-capita energy usage due its energy-intensive oil refining and chemical manufacturing industry, to Nevada, a state that imports more than 90 percent of the energy it consumes from out-of-state relying on long-distance energy transmission and working to expand its own energy grid – and all are committed to work together to “make transformational policy changes to secure a stronger energy future for their states and the nation.”

With the Accord now officially executed by state leaders, senior advisors from each state will convene to hash out initial steps to put plans into action for energy diversification, expanded sources of clean energy, a modern, resilient energy grid and cleaner transportation options.

State partnerships such as this are key to building on the momentum toward a new, resilient and clean energy future.

Image credit: Michale Kappel, courtesy flickr

What the SCOTUS Stay Mean for the Clean Power Plan

Though legal challenges to full implementation of the Clean Power Plan (CPP) were expected, the Supreme Court ruling on Tuesday to stay progress on the CPP was a surprising and unexpected setback. The EPA regulation is president Obama’s signature action to curb U.S. greenhouse gas emissions from power plants.

A coalition of 27 mostly Republican-led states and fossil energy interests,claiming the CPP was a “power grab,” prevailed upon the court in a 5-to-4 vote that fell along idealogical leanings. All four of the liberal justices noted they did not favor the decision.

It is reportedly unprecedented to stay any regulation before its legal standing has been considered. A similar request for a stay was rejected by the DC Circuit US Court of Appeals in December.

The stay does not overturn the CPP nor does it comment on the legal merits of the plan, which will be considered by the Court of Appeals in oral arguments on June 2.  Once the Court of Appeals makes its decision, it is assumed the Supreme Court will then hear the case and issue its final decision by June of 2017 and likely “no later than June of 2018,” said Joanne Spalding, Chief Climate Counsel for the Sierra Club at a press conference on Thursday.

The Clean Power Plan calls for states to come up wth their own individual plans for cutting emissions by September, though a 2-year extension is allowed. The CPP calls for a 32 percent overall reduction in emissions against 2005 levels by 2030. Implementation of the state plans does not begin until 2022.

Since the court’s ruling this week, at least four states – California, Virginia, Colorado and Washington – have pledged they will continue implementing their plans. A New York-led coalition of 14 states have also issued a statement stressing their support of the CPP.

Experts from the Sierra Club, World Resources Institute and the Union of Concerned Scientists participated in Thursday’s press conference. Our post on GlobalWarmingisReal details their comments and outlook for continued climate action despite the temporary setback handed down by the Supreme Court.

Image credit: MPCA Photos, courtesy flickr

Arctic Sea Ice at Record Low for January

An unusually warm January over the Arctic ocean combined with a strong negative phase of the Arctic Oscillation shrunk sea ice extent to its lowest point for any January in the satellite record going back to 1979.

With air temperatures as much as 13 degrees Fahrenheit above average over much of the Arctic ocean, sea ice extent was 405,000 square miles below the 1979-2010 average. At 5.2 million square miles, sea ice extent was 42,500 square miles below the previous record low set in 2011. The amount of sea ice extent below average is equal to the size of Texas, New Mexico, Maryland and New Hampshire combined.

Arctic Anomaly

The Arctic region “is behaving very oddly this winter,”  said Mark Serreze director of the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colorado:

“For the Arctic this is definitely the strangest winter I’ve ever seen” 

For Alaska, it is very much the year without winter. In Fairbanks only 1.8 inches of snow fell between December 1 and January 31, 20 inches below average and the lowest snow fall on record for period. By contrast, New York City saw 2.5 inches of snowfall just last Friday morning.

Downward trend for Arctic sea ice extent

Arctic Sea ice declining average

Since 2005 January sea ice extent has been less the 5.5 million square miles, contrasting the January extent prior to 2005 (1979-2004) with sea ice extent greater than 5.5 million sq. miles. The trend continues, with January sea ice extent declining at a rate of -3.2 percent per decade.

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