•   
  •   
  •   

Politics The Energy 202: Biden creates new climate adviser role at NASA

16:41  03 february  2021
16:41  03 february  2021 Source:   washingtonpost.com

The Energy 202: Biden's climate push will require support from this coal state senator

  The Energy 202: Biden's climate push will require support from this coal state senator Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.) will be a crucial 50th vote and chair of the energy committee. The fate of President Biden's ambitious climate agenda rests in the hands of the last Democrat left standing in West Virginia.

By Dino Grandoni and Andrew Freedman

with Alexandra Ellerbeck

NASA is elevating one of its top climate scientists to a new role, a move meant to put greater focus at the space agency on studying the causes and consequences of global warming under President Biden.

Gavin Schmidt, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York, will serve in the newly created position of senior climate adviser. He is being brought on in an acting capacity until NASA’s incoming administrator, who has yet to be named, makes a permanent appointment.

In an interview Tuesday, Schmidt said his vision for the position is to have just one person that’s kind of really focused on the climate issues” at the agency. Right now, the agency has high-ranking officials who oversee Earth science research, but their purview encompasses more than just climate change.

Biden’s climate change plan is all about jobs and justice

  Biden’s climate change plan is all about jobs and justice States have been using this message for the past 20 years. Although today’s agenda emphasizes a return to science-based climate change policy, the larger Biden climate plan represents an important trend in climate change politics: going beyond science to focus on questions of economic and social justice. Here’s what you need to know.

a close up of a sign: The Vehicle Assembly Building at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla. (Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post) © Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post The Vehicle Assembly Building at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla. (Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post)

The creation of the new high-level climate position is in line with the Biden administration’s plan to marshal all federal agencies into action on climate change.

And the choice of Schmidt, one of the nation’s most well-respected and outspoken modelers of how Earth’s atmosphere traps heat, is another sign the Biden administration will argue for aggressive cuts in emissions.

Steve Jurczyk,  NASA's acting chief, said in a statement the move “will enable the agency to more effectively align our efforts to help meet the administration’s goals for addressing climate change.”

Politics live updates: Biden to unveil executive orders on climate change; Fauci to speak on COVID

  Politics live updates: Biden to unveil executive orders on climate change; Fauci to speak on COVID Biden on Wednesday is set to issue another raft of executive actions tied to combatting climate change, while the White House COVID-19 team hosts its first of what will be regular news conferences.President Joe Biden on Wednesday is set to issue another raft of executive actions tied to combatting climate change, prioritizing science and evidence-based policy across federal agencies and pausing oil drilling on public lands. It's the latest move to unwind the environmental policies of Trump, who challenged the basis of climate change and had former energy industry lobbyists running key environmental agencies.

Though more famous for space exploration, NASA has a dual mission that includes studying our home planet.

The new adviser will guide NASA's administrator and other top leaders, as well as serve as a resource to other federal officials, according to senior administration officials.

Central to the agency's climate work is its fleet of satellites that enables policymakers and activists to monitor carbon emissions, deforestation, land use change, snow cover, ice sheets and other shifts in the landscape, with many data sets offered freely to the public and dating back to the 1970s. NASA has a slew of climate-focused space missions coming up in the next few years.

a plane flying over a snow covered mountain: Glacial ice is seen from the window during a NASA flight in 2018. (Reuters/Lucas Jackson) © Lucas Jackson/Reuters Glacial ice is seen from the window during a NASA flight in 2018. (Reuters/Lucas Jackson)

The agency, however, has not had a single point person on climate change issues, despite the role it plays in gathering critical data on the Earth.

Undoing Trump's policies and other things Biden did his first week as president

  Undoing Trump's policies and other things Biden did his first week as president President Joe Biden has signed over 30 executive orders ranging from reversing Trump-era policy to adjusting the nation’s response to the pandemic.The orders ranged in topic from dealing with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic to beginning the process for what he hopes will be immigration reform. Many take direct aim at the decisions of former President Donald Trump.

NASA’s climate adviser role is among a number of new positions focused on climate change under Biden. The two most prominent appointees are former secretary of state John F. Kerry, now serving as the president’s special envoy on climate, and former Environmental Protection Agency chief Gina McCarthy, now Biden’s domestic climate czar.

The move at NASA represents a sharp shift from the Trump administration’s management of the agency.

Trump's White House sought to shift NASA’s focus away from studying Earth and toward exploring space with its funding requests.

Lori Garver, a former deputy NASA administrator under Barack Obama, said the role is “a fantastic and timely addition to NASA and Gavin is the right person to take on the task."

“Most of what we know about earth systems science comes from satellites and the agency has a major role to play in driving solutions and assisting society with adaptation measures that can lessen human suffering,” she added.

Bidisha Bhattacharyya, deputy director for climate and energy policy at the Center for American Progress, a left-leaning think tank, agrees the new position is “an encouraging sign” but would like to see the Biden administration should double the amount spent on NASA's Earth science program.

The Energy 202: Republicans prepare to fight Biden's climate actions they call 'divisive and illegal'

  The Energy 202: Republicans prepare to fight Biden's climate actions they call 'divisive and illegal' But Biden says "we've already waited too long to deal with this climate crisis." We are only one week into Joe Biden's presidency, and Republican lawmakers are raring for a fight as his administration begins an ambitious effort to address global warming.

“NASA has been grossly underappreciated as a climate agency,” she said.

NASA's Earth science portfolio is funded at a level of $2 billion for the current fiscal year and includes money for satellites, supercomputers and more beyond just climate change. This compares to a human space exploration budget of $6.6 billion out of a total agency budget of $23.3 billion.

Schmidt is outspoken about the need to cut emissions and has not shied away from policy discussions.

But he sees his role as distinct from any policy opinions. “I’m not being tapped for this role because they particularly want my views on policy,” he said, adding NASA is a policy-neutral organization. “I’m looking forward to seeing where science falls on the table but I’m not going to suddenly start designing cap-and-trade systems based on NASA science.”

The Oxford-trained climatologist has appeared as a guest on “The Daily Show” and co-founded one of the first climate science blogs. In 2011, he received an award from the American Geophysical Union, the largest society of Earth scientists, for his work informing the public about rising temperatures.

Schmidt has published numerous scientific papers and oversees NASA’s surface temperature data set. His research areas include improving the accuracy of climate models and understanding climate variability, both from natural fluctuations and human-driven changes. He worked under renowned climate scientist James Hansen, who stepped down from running the institute in 2013.

A chasm opens in COVID-19 relief talks. Can Biden and Republicans close the trillion-dollar gap?

  A chasm opens in COVID-19 relief talks. Can Biden and Republicans close the trillion-dollar gap? President Joe Biden and group of Senate Republicans huddle at the White House in an effort to reach consensus on a COVID-19 relief plan.Senate Republicans, no longer in power but still a formidable force in a chamber split 50-50 between parties, have balked at the proposal's price tag. A group of 10 senators offered a competing proposal – with about two-thirds less funding than Biden called for.

a close up of a bridge: A rocket launches in Cape Canaveral, Fla. (Joel Kowsky/NASA via AP) © Joel Kowsky/AP A rocket launches in Cape Canaveral, Fla. (Joel Kowsky/NASA via AP)

Schmidt will remain in New York for the next few months as he figures out how he can best serve the new administration, he said. His lab, situated in Manhattan above the restaurant used as the exterior of the diner on “Seinfeld,” is largely disconnected from the political scene in Washington.

He added the position does not upend the organizational chart or make him the gatekeeper of NASA climate science, but rather is intended to help add more specific expertise for decision-making and intergovernmental efforts, including bringing climate science considerations into decisions on NASA’s operations.

For example, the agency’s launchpads and other facilities in Cape Canaveral, Fla., are vulnerable to damage from hurricanes as well as long-term sea level rise, as are installations in Virginia and other parts of the country.

“Right now there is not going to be a formal change to who I work for and what I do. In a couple of months it will be clearer what role this really is, whether I am the right person to do that, and whether we want to make things more permanent.”

Power plays

The Senate will hold two environmental hearings today.

  • The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee will hear from Michael S. Regan, Biden’s pick for head of the Environmental Protection Agency. Regan has served as North Carolina’s top environmental regulator since 2017. If confirmed, he will make history as the first Black man to lead the agency at a time when Biden has promised to make environmental justice issues center to his administration’s agenda.
a man wearing a suit and tie: Michael Regan, Biden's nominee for head of the Environmental Protection Agency. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters) © Kevin Lamarque/Reuters Michael Regan, Biden's nominee for head of the Environmental Protection Agency. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)
  • And the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing on climate change — the first under Sen. Joe Manchin III's (D-W.Va.) leadership. Manchin is a coal country native who often has taken a conservative tack on environmental issues.

Everyone take their seats: Senate Majority Leader Charles E/. Schumer (D-N.Y.) announced new Democratic committee assignments.

The Energy 202: GOP directs ire for Biden's climate agenda at John Kerry

  The Energy 202: GOP directs ire for Biden's climate agenda at John Kerry For Republicans, the 2004 Democratic nominee is a familiar target. John F. Kerry has quickly become a punching bag for Republicans who object to President Biden's agenda for addressing climate change.

  • Sens. Debbie Stabenow (Mich.), Mark Kelly (Ariz.) and Alex Padilla (Calif.) will join the Environmental and Public Works Committee, replacing Cory Booker (N.J.), Chris Van Hollen (Md.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.)
  • Kelly and Sen. John Hickenlooper (Colo.) will join the Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Stabenow will leave the committee.
  • And Booker, Sens. Ben Ray Luján (N.M.) and Raphael G. Warnock (Ga.) will join the Agriculture Committee. Sen. Robert P. Casey Jr. (Pa.) will leave the committee.

Finally, the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee voted unanimously to advance Tom Vilsack’s nomination as agriculture secretary, setting him up for a quick confirmation in by the full Senate, our colleague Laura Reiley reports.

Vilsack told lawmakers farmers would be crucial in combating climate change and said that he will focus on incentivizing farmers to adopt agricultural practices that reduce emissions or increase the amount of carbon stored in the soil.

Automakers drop out of the legal battle against California’s emission standards.

Toyota, Hyundai, Kia and Stellantis, the company formed from the merger of Fiat Chrysler and Peugeot S.A., are no longer trying to stop California from setting its own greenhouse gas emissions standards for cars. The group of automakers said they made the decision as “a gesture of good faith and to find a constructive path forward."

a car parked in a parking lot: SUVs at a Toyota dealership in Englewood, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski) © David Zalubowski/AP SUVs at a Toyota dealership in Englewood, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Under Trump, the federal government had sought to strip the nation's most populous state of its ability to set its own tailpipe rules. The Biden's team is now expected to tighten those fuel-efficiency standards as part of its agenda fighting climate change.

U.S. cities are underestimating their carbon emissions, researchers say.

A study published in the journal Nature Communications found that cities underreport their greenhouse gas emissions by an average of 18 percent, Reuters reports. The report comes as cities pledge huge cuts to their carbon emissions in an effort to combat climate change.

The study compared self-reported emissions from 48 U.S. cities with estimates from an emissions data tool developed by study lead Kevin Gurney of Northern Arizona University. The data tool tracks emissions using an array of national public data sets and produces estimates consistent with atmospheric measurements, according to the paper.

Extra mileage

Test your knowledge of climate change.

“Time to see if you’ve been paying attention to Washington Post coverage of the people, organizations and governments trying to mitigate climate change,” our colleague Lyndsey Layton writes.

You can take The Post’s climate quiz to test your climate literacy.

Climate-friendly farming and Science Moms (Lyndsey Layton)

Biden says Trump should no longer get intelligence briefings because of 'erratic behavior' .
Joe Biden says Donald Trump should no longer get intelligence briefings, citing his “erratic behavior" unrelated to the Capitol insurrection.“There is no need for him to have the intelligence briefings,” Biden said on the CBS Evening News With Norah O’Donnell.

usr: 0
This is interesting!