Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Why Republicans are frozen on climate change

...Trump carried 20 of the 21 states with the largest per capita carbon emissions, losing only New Mexico in that group. (He routed Clinton in all 12 of the states at the very top of the list, including Wyoming, North Dakota, West Virginia, Alaska, Louisiana, Montana, Kentucky, Indiana, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Iowa and Texas.) In all, Trump carried 27 of the 32 states that emit the most carbon per person. In stark contrast, Clinton carried 15 of the 18 states that emit the least carbon per person. (She won the seven states with the absolute lowest per capita emissions, all of them along the coasts: California, New York, Vermont, Massachusetts, Oregon, Connecticut and Rhode Island.) Of the 18 states with the lowest per person emissions, Trump carried only Idaho, Florida and North Carolina. These same lines of demarcation run through Congress. Republicans hold 32 of the 40 Senate seats from the 20 states with the highest per-person carbon emissions; Democrats hold 29 of the 36 in the 18 states with the lowest per-person carbon emissions. The 12 states in between are closely divided with Republicans holding 13 of their Senate seats and Democrats 11. Energy policy alone, of course, doesn't determine these states' loyalties. But the relative level of carbon emissions now largely tracks the broader economic, cultural and demographic forces separating the parties. The high-carbon states -- centered on the Plains, the Mountain West and portions of the South -- tend to be more rural, more culturally traditional, less racially diverse and home to fewer immigrants than the low-carbon states. Most of the high-carbon states are also less urbanized, less affected by the transition to white-collar, post-industrial work, and more reliant on manufacturing employment. Trump's administration clearly reflects these loyalties. His appointments to the key energy and climate-related positions all came from high-carbon states: Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke of Montana (which ranks sixth in per capita carbon emissions); Energy Secretary Rick Perry of Texas (which ranks 12th); and, at the EPA, Pruitt from Oklahoma (which ranks 10th). All have moved systematically to dismantle former President Barack Obama's initiatives to reduce carbon emissions, such as EPA regulations mandating improved fuel efficiency from cars and trucks and reduced carbon emissions from power plants. Trump capped these efforts this spring by withdrawing from the Paris global climate change agreement, putting the US alongside Syria and Nicaragua, the only two other countries not joining the agreement. Environmentalists believe this summer's confluence of catastrophic storms, like hurricanes Katrina and Sandy before them, will continue to consolidate a growing public consensus that the climate is changing with dangerous implications. "Over time, the devastation likely leads to a shift in the debate," says Fred Krupp, president of the Environmental Defense Fund, a group that often builds alliances with business. "I'm not saying it happens this week. But the parade of climate-related extreme weather events we've seen in recent years have moved public opinion, and Harvey and Irma are likely to continue that long-term move toward climate realism. Sooner or later, the denial will collapse on Capitol Hill too."...more

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