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Todd Bentley stands in the hills near Harless Creek that has seen increased flooding as a result of climate change. Rachel Leven / Center for Public Integrity
You read previously that yesterday the Trump Administration began the formal withdrawal of the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement. The administration has also worked hard to replace the Clean Power Plan (CPP-the mechanism by which the US would meet its Paris targets) with a much weaker policy, which ultimately hurts the most vulnerable Americans the most. As Mother Jones explained,
9 of the 10 states that emit the most heat-trapping CO2 pollution per person helped block the Obama-era Clean Power Plan, which would have been the largest effort by the U.S. government to limit climate change.
Four of those states, including Kentucky, were among those most often hit by disasters in the past 10 years—generally powerful storms, which science shows are worsening as the planet warms.
FEMA said it sent nearly $2 billion in taxpayer aid to those four states over the same period to clean up and prepare for future hits.
What’s the Deal, KY?: Kentucky’s average temperature hardly changed over the 20th century but most of the state has had significant warming in the past 20 years. This has brought extreme rainstorms and catastrophic flooding. As Mother Jones noted in their piece, “For Kentucky’s poorest residents, the people living in flood-prone hollows with surface mines nearby, that means an ever-present threat to both life and hard-won possessions.” For reference, Kentucky’s Gov. Matt Bevin is a climate doubter, called Greta Thunberg “ill-informed,” and wants environmentalists to leave fossil fuels alone.
Additionally, as flooding becomes more prevalent during the fall and spring, droughts may be longer in the summer, limiting crop yields and increasing the difficulty of meeting the competing demands for water in the Ohio, Tennessee, and Cumberland rivers.
The Poor Are Hit the Hardest: More than half the counties hit by federally declared major disasters from 2009 to 2018 had larger shares of households receiving federal food aid than the state overall.
Why This Matters:While Gov. Bevin is up for re-election today his opponent, Democrat Andy Beshear, acknowledges climate change is happening but also pushed for the demise of the CPP.
Beshear’s been tepid about an aggressive response to climate change and a push for renewables saying that “we’ve got to do it in a responsible way, so that we don’t price the poorest of the poor out of their electricity.”
If KY lawmakers are concerned with helping their poorest constituents then they should want to do everything in their power to slow climate change and build resiliency for its worst effects.
President Trump trumpeted his trade deal with China, but so far it has been a bust, according to The Wall Street Journal — the Chinese have not purchased nearly the amount of energy (in terms of total dollars) as they promised — only $2B in oil and gas purchases against a commitment of $25B for this year.
A federal judge in Washington, DC ruled yesterday that the Dakota Access Pipeline must shut down and empty all its oil until the government completes an environmental review of the pipeline’s impacts, giving the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, whose reservation lies downstream, a huge victory. Similarly, late in the day, the Supreme Court refused to overturn the order of a district judge that shut down construction of parts of the Keystone XL pipeline so it is also blocked for now.
Why It Matters: The Dakota and Keystone XL news is greatly tempered by the fact that numerous other pipeline projects can go ahead despite their inadequate permit unless they are individually challenged in court and blocked.
Yesterday, Dominion Energy and its partner, Duke Energy, announced they were ending a 600-mile natural gas project that would have cost at least $8 billion to complete. As the Richmond Times-Dispatch wrote, Dominion and Duke canceled the construction of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline in the face of mounting regulatory uncertainty caused by a federal court […]
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