Summary: A biweekly and bipartisan podcast on energy and environmental politics in America. Political Climate goes beyond the echo chambers and brings you civil conversations, fierce debates and insider perspectives, with hosts and guests from across the political spectrum. Join Democrat and Republican energy experts Brandon Hurlbut and Shane Skelton, along with Greentech Media Senior Editor Julia Pyper, as we explore how energy and environment policies get made.
The Sunrise Movement over a blue wave. It sounds like a tropical scene, but it was actually the state of affairs last week on Capitol Hill. As Democrats prepare to take control of the House in 2019, a group of young activists — backed by Representative-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez — have put climate change front and center on the post-election agenda. And on protest signs right in front of Nancy Pelosi’s office door, as she seeks to become the next House speaker. In this episode of Political Climate, we discuss how established Democrats are responding to pressure from left to act on climate. And we speak with a co-founder of the Sunrise Movement about the group’s quest to establish a Select Committee on a Green New Deal. Plus, how did the 2018 midterms ultimately shake out? Things have changed quite a bit since our previous episode. We end, as always, with our “Say Something Nice” segment. Recommended reading:Green New DealNew Yorker: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Nancy Pelosi, and the Democratic Battles to Come in 2019NYT: ‘Message of Change’: 16 Rebel Democrats Vow to Oppose PelosiWashington Examiner: Defiant in defeat, Carlos Curbelo says climate change activism will help GOP Subscribe to the Political Climate podcast via ApplePodcasts, GooglePlay, TuneIn, Overcast, Stitcher and Spotify. Follow Political Climate on Twitter @Poli_Climate.
Democrats have claimed the House of Representatives in the 2018 midterm elections. It gives the party powerful new oversight authority. But will it translate to meaningful action on climate and clean energy? Several moderate Republicans were voted out of Congress this week, casting doubt on any hope of bipartisan legislation. At the same time, Democrats now have chance to block the GOP's deregulatory activity and put climate and clean energy back the national agenda. Then there are the states, where several Democrats campaigned and won on a platform endorsing 100 percent renewable energy. Several high-profile climate related ballot initiatives did not advance on Tuesday, but the outcome may not be as bad for clean energy as it may seem. In this episode of Political Climate, we debate the outcome of the 2018 midterms. Finally, we discuss the outcome of Brandon and Shane’s friendly O’Rourke vs. Cruz bet — and where to go for dinner. Recommended reading:GTM: Midterms 2018: Mixed Results for the Renewable Energy AgendaE&E: Dems prepare 'flood' of energy, climate investigationsInside Climate: Clean Energy’s Future Could Rise or Fall with These Governor’s Races Subscribe to the Political Climate podcast via ApplePodcasts, GooglePlay, TuneIn, Overcast, Stitcher and Spotify. Follow Political Climate on Twitter @Poli_Climate.
We’ve heard a lot about the potential for a "blue wave" in this year’s midterms — but what about a green one? We’re talking about all things climate and clean energy in the 2018 midterm election in this special episode of Political Climate, recorded live at Yale University. It’s less than a week until voting day. So how are climate and clean energy playing into this year’s election, for both Democrats and Republicans? In this show we’ll dissect campaign ads, talk about some tight races, track fundraising and discuss key ballot initiatives. Plus, we take a listener question on what to expect if Republicans hold onto Congress, and get Brandon and Shane’s midterm predictions. The final word: "Vote." Recommended reading:NYT: Three Campaign Ads That Are Putting Climate Change on the AgendaVox: A Green New Deal is on the ballot in Washington state this year Subscribe to the Political Climate podcast via ApplePodcasts, GooglePlay, TuneIn, Overcast, Stitcher and Spotify. Follow Political Climate on Twitter @Poli_Climate.
A battle over the future of U.S. clean car standards just stepped up a gear. We sit down with the woman leading the charge against Trump to keep more stringent fuel economy rules in place. Mary Nichols is currently on her second tour as chair of the California Air Resources Board. Arguably no single individual has done more to advance the Golden State’s pioneering — and bipartisan — effort to clean up its air and combat climate change. In this episode, we get the backstory on California’s effort to block the Trump administration’s proposal to freeze federal fuel economy standards and rescind the state's ability to set its own rules (17:10). We also hear about the “dark forces” attempting to stall electric vehicle growth, and how California overcame political polarization to enact some of the nation’s most progressive climate policies. Recommended reading: GTM: California Girds for Battle as EPA Rules to Weaken Vehicle Emissions StandardsGTM: Exclusive: Top EPA Official Lays Out Post-Pruitt Policy Priorities GTM: Cities, States and Businesses Within Striking Distance of Paris Climate Goals—Without TrumpAEE: Where Do Candidates for Governor Stand on Advanced Energy Growth?The Hill: Dem senator calls for ban on Saudi Arabian oil imports Subscribe to the Political Climate podcast via ApplePodcasts, GooglePlay, TuneIn, Overcast, Stitcher and Spotify. Follow Political Climate on Twitter @Poli_Climate.
Time is running out to combat climate change. The United Nations has released an alarming new climate science report — but will it even matter? We discuss how the report is being received by leaders in the U.S. and abroad. Plus, we look at the politics of ditching coal power. The new UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report calls for a global coal phase out by 2050. How feasible is that? Finally, Judge Brett Kavanaugh has been confirmed. We wrap up the show by wading into what that could mean for the midterms. Recommended reading:Vox: Report: we have just 12 years to limit devastating global warmingWashington Examiner: Republican climate hawks hope dire UN report will sway skeptics HBR: The Scale of the Climate Catastrophe Will Depend on What Businesses Do Over the Next DecadeGTM: The Death of Global Coal GrowthGuardian: Australian government backs coal in defiance of IPCC climate warning GTM: Key Backer of Trump’s Coal and Nuclear Bailout Effort is Nominated to FERCGTM: Scrutinizing Judge Kavanaugh’s Past (Energy and Environmental Record) WaPo: Another sign that the Kavanaugh fight is energizing Republican voters Subscribe to the Political Climate podcast via ApplePodcasts, GooglePlay, TuneIn, Overcast, Stitcher and Spotify. Follow Political Climate on Twitter @Poli_Climate.
Cutting fossil fuel subsidies, updating building codes, offering electric vehicle ridesharing programs for farm workers, and more. In this show, we talk climate solutions. A new landmark United Nations climate report concluded that world leaders have just 12 years to fundamentally restructure society, including dramatic changes to the energy system, if we are to avoid the most disastrous impacts of climate change. That’s not a very sunny outlook. Particularly in today’s partisan political landscape. And yet, stakeholders continue to push for climate policy action. In this episode, we speak to experts at the clean economy group Green For All, the conservative think tank R Street Institute, and the policy firm Energy Innovation about the policies believe are necessary — and politically feasible — to implement. Recommended reading:Vox: A Green New Deal is on the ballot in Washington state this yearPortland Business Journal: Oregon cap-and-trade backers eye 2019 after failed short-session bidWashington Examiner: Confessions of a Former Carbon Tax SkepticBook: Designing Climate Solutions Subscribe to the Political Climate podcast via ApplePodcasts, GooglePlay, TuneIn, Overcast, Stitcher and Spotify. Follow Political Climate on Twitter @Poli_Climate.
Is an federal carbon price worth pursuing in a politically divided United States? We hear the case for why it is. Advocates say an economy-wide carbon tax would send a clear market signal to emitters, while accounting for the externalities and risks that fossil fuels pose to the U.S. economy. The concept aligns with classic conservative principles on small government and rooting solutions in the free-market. But for all the talk of markets and economics, most Republican lawmakers find a carbon price toxic. And yet, in recent months several conservative carbon tax proposals have emerged at the national level, including legislation introduced by Republican Representative Carlos Curbelo, and they're shaking up the usual partisan dynamics around climate action. As the Trump administration continues to roll back Obama-era climate policies, climate activists from across the U.S. are moving forward with a national carbon pricing proposal that they believe can gain bipartisan support. In this episode, we speak to leaders of the Citizens' Climate Lobby, a nonpartisan, grassroots advocacy group focused drumming up political momentum to pass a carbon fee and dividend proposal. They make the business case for carbon pricing, and explain why they believe a bipartisan federal carbon bill can — and eventually will — get passed. Recommended reading:CCL: Carbon Fee and Dividend PolicyGTM: Why Only 5,000 Voters Could Help Pass a New Republican Carbon TaxGuardian: Republican lawmaker pitches carbon tax in defiance of party stanceE&E: How much is Big Oil working to pass a carbon tax? We checkedDaily Chronicle: Shell, BP Go Separate Ways as Washington Voters Weigh New Fee on Greenhouse-Gas Polluters Subscribe to the Political Climate podcast via Apple Podcasts, GooglePlay, TuneIn, Overcast, Stitcher and Spotify. Follow Political Climate on Twitter @Poli_Climate.
“Decarbonization” was the catchword of last week’s Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco. Stakeholders from all over the world made new commitments to combatting climate change. But the spotlight was really on California, where Governor Jerry Brown signed an historic bill into law — requiring the state to power its electric grid with 100 percent carbon-free resources by 2045. That’s not all. Brown kicked off the week with a bang by also signing an executive order committing the California to complete carbon neutrality by 2045. So the Political Climate team sat down with a man who knows a thing or two about decarbonization in the Golden State: Michael Picker, president of the California Public Utilities Commission. The CPUC is responsible for regulating the state’s electricity sector, and will oversee many aspects of California’s transition to a low-carbon economy. Managing that transition will be the state’s greatest challenge, according to Picker. Recommended reading:GTM: On to Governor Brown’s Desk: What 100% Clean Energy Means for CaliforniaVox: California Gov. Jerry Brown casually unveils history’s most ambitious climate targetNYT: Jerry Brown Made Climate Change His Issue. Now, He’s Not Sure How Much Politicians Can Do.GTM: How Community Choice Aggregation Fits Into California’s Clean Energy Future Subscribe to the Political Climate podcast via Apple Podcasts, GooglePlay, TuneIn, Overcast, Stitcher and Spotify. Follow Political Climate on Twitter @Poli_Climate.
California lawmakers just passed an historic 100 percent clean electricity mandate. A few years ago, advocating for 100 percent clean energy was considered radical. Even some political allies of the cause argued that the concept was so far-fetched it was damaging to the climate movement. Democratic podcast co-host Brandon Hurlbut recalls the early days of championing 100 percent renewables as a member of the Solutions Project — and the lessons learned. Next, we hear from Georgia Public Service Commissioner Tim Echols, to learn how his red Southern state became a top 10 U.S. solar market without any incentives. And we explore how other states can follow in California’s clean energy wake. Recommended reading:GTM: On to Governor Brown’s Desk: What 100% Clean Energy Means for CaliforniaVox: A beginner’s guide to the debate over 100% renewable energyInside Climate: How Georgia Became a Top 10 Solar State, With Lawmakers Barely Lifting a FingerNYT: In Trump Country, Renewable Energy Is ThrivingGTM: Senator Heinrich: A 100% Clean Energy Grid Is ‘Completely Doable’ Subscribe to the Political Climate podcast via Apple Podcasts, GooglePlay, TuneIn, Overcast, Stitcher and Spotify. Follow Political Climate on Twitter @Poli_Climate.
Senator Martin Heinrich believes a 100 percent clean energy electric grid is within reach during his lifetime. There will be technical challenges to overcome, but it’s “completely doable,” he said, in an exclusive interview with Political Climate. This week marks the launch of Senator Heinrich’s “Clean Energy Vision,” a part of his re-election campaign for this fall. The ad and supporting document outline a multi-pronged approach for strengthening New Mexico's clean energy economy — including investments in energy storage, wind and solar, transmission lines and workforce development. The plan doesn’t explicitly call for a 100 percent clean energy grid, but “clearly stating that the grid should be 100 percent clean energy is so important, because people need an idea to rally around,” said Heinrich. In this special episode, the senator describes his Clean Energy Vision, and how he intends to make that vision a reality in these highly partisan times. Recommended reading:Martin's Clean Energy VisionGTM: Senator Heinrich: A 100% Clean Energy Grid Is ‘Completely Doable’Albuquerque Business First: See where NM's headed on oil and renewablesHeller, Heinrich Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Establish Investment Tax Credit For Energy StorageAlaska Public Media: Energy bill fails; Murkowski blames HouseGTM: Your Guide to the Bitter Debate Over 100% Renewable Energy Subscribe to the Political Climate podcast via Apple Podcasts, Google Play, TuneIn, Overcast, Stitcher and Spotify. Follow Political Climate on Twitter @Poli_Climate.
Are people who care about climate change downplaying the issue under social and political pressure? Has their alarmism been too muted? Or has the outcry become so loud that it's drowning out the possibility of collective action? The jury is out. In this episode of Political Climate, we tackle a difficult question posed by a listener on the severity of the climate threat and the appropriate policy response. Amy Harder, energy and climate reporter for Axios, joins us to discuss. But first we revisit the Democratic National Committee. The DNC has decided to once again accept donations from fossil fuel interests. The move comes just two months after the committee adopted a separate resolution banning donations from political action committees tied to coal, oil and gas companies. The reversal has spurred a debate among Democrats on matching up policies and values. We also discuss the Kigali Amendment — a global climate agreement that key U.S. industry players, and many Republicans, are urging President Trump to ratify. Recommended reading:GTM: Fossil Fuel Dollars and DemocratsHuffington Post: Democratic National Committee Backtracks On Its Ban Of Fossil Fuel DonationsAxios: Trump clashes with business on Obama-era climate treatyNYT: Losing Earth: The Decade We Almost Stopped Climate ChangeNYT: Science Alone Won’t Save the Earth. People Have to Do That.Subscribe to the Political Climate podcast via Apple Podcasts, Google Play, TuneIn, Overcast, Stitcher and Spotify. Follow Political Climate on Twitter @Poli_Climate.
Political tribalism has created gridlock on climate policy — even more so than the polarization on climate science — according to a new peer-reviewed study. If that’s the case, is there any hope of action any time soon? Tensions are running high. It’s officially less than 100 days until the 2018 midterm election. Democrats are angry and hell-bent on taking back Congress. Republicans are fighting to keep it. Will climate change even be on the election agenda? We discuss in this episode, recorded live at the Sun Valley Forum in Ketchum, Idaho. For this show, the Political Climate co-hosts were joined David Crane, the former CEO of NRG Energy, who argued that too many corporations are still “sitting on the sidelines” when it comes to ditching fossil fuels. We also addressed the Trump administration’s proposed freeze on fuel economy standards for cars and trucks, and threat to revoke California’s clean-air waiver. Recommended reading:NYT: Actually, Republicans Do Believe in Climate ChangeGreenBiz: My three wishes for AmericaE&E: Meet the other Republican who wants a carbon taxPolitico: Kochs blow up their détente with TrumpWAPO: Trump administration to freeze fuel-efficiency standards and fight statesSubscribe to the Political Climate podcast via Apple Podcasts, Google Play, TuneIn, Overcast, Stitcher and Spotify. Follow Political Climate on Twitter @Poli_Climate.
What does the rise of millennials mean for climate action? Will this plugged-in generation make climate change a priority? Can they find common ground between liberals and conservatives to solve this issue collectively? Millennials are on the brink of becoming the largest generation in America. That means they will have an enormous impact on U.S. politics in the years ahead. In fact, they’re having an impact on politics already. In this episode of Political Climate we talk to millennials who are channeling their concerns about climate change into action — inclusive and bipartisan action. We speak to Benji Backer, president and founder of the American Conservation Coalition, a nonprofit focused on rallying young conservatives around environmental policy reform; and to Lydia Avila, executive director of the Power Shift Network, an organization working to mobilize the collective power of young people to mitigate climate change and create a just, clean energy future. But first, we address the latest climate news from Capitol Hill: Congressman Carlos Curbelo’s new carbon tax bill, and a House resolution denouncing the idea of a carbon tax altogether. Just how hopeful for climate action can Americans be? Recommended reading:Guardian: Republican lawmaker pitches carbon tax in defiance of party stanceInside Climate: House Votes to Denounce Carbon Taxes. Where Was the Climate Solutions Caucus?GTM: Reading Republicans on Climate a Decade After America’s Cap-and-Trade CollapseTeen Vogue: Pennsylvania Gubernatorial Candidate Scott Wagner Called Me “Young and Naive”Pew: Millennials projected to overtake Baby Boomers as America’s largest generationAmerican Conservation CoalitionPower Shift NetworkSubscribe to the Political Climate podcast via Apple Podcasts, Google Play, TuneIn, Overcast, Stitcher and Spotify. Follow Political Climate on Twitter @Poli_Climate.
Scott Pruitt is officially out at the Environmental Protection Agency. Former coal lobbyist Andrew Wheeler has stepped in as acting administrator. What does this mean for U.S. climate policy? We asked a top EPA official. In this episode, Mandy Gunasekara, principal deputy assistant administrator at the EPA Office of Air and Radiation, joins us in-studio to discuss the agency's priorities in the wake of the leadership shake-up. Gunasekara weighs in on replacing the Clean Power Plan and vehicle fuel economy standards -- two of President Obama's signature policies to combat climate change. We ask how the current EPA squares its deregulatory agenda with the mandate to protect public health and the environment. We also tackle ongoing controversies, unrelated to Pruitt's personal scandals. Democratic co-host Brandon Hurlbut challenges Gunasekara on the EPA's treatment of climate science, while Republican co-host Shane Skelton raises issues with the Renewable Fuel Standard. As always, we end on a bipartisan note in our "Say Something Nice" segment. Recommended Reading:GTM: Scott Pruitt Resigns; EPA Deregulation Poised to ContinueBNA: Senate Aide Named a Top Adviser to EPA Head on Climate, Clean AirInside Climate: In Rebuke to Pruitt, EPA Science Board Votes to Review Climate Policy ChangesBloomberg: Trump to Hit Refiners With Biofuels BoostDes Moines Register: Iowa political leaders cheer EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt's resignationWash Post: Rollback of auto mileage standards advances to White House, bringing conflict with California closerNYT: How Trump’s Policy Decisions Undermine the Industries He Pledged to HelpCNN: Woman confronts Scott Pruitt at a restaurant, urges him to resignSubscribe to the Political Climate podcast via Apple Podcasts, Google Play, TuneIn, Overcast and Stitcher. Follow Political Climate on Twitter @Poli_Climate.
The Democratic National Committee recently decided to no longer accept campaign donations from fossil fuel companies. The move signals the party’s commitment to addressing climate change. But could blocking contributions from oil, gas and coal companies end up hurting Democrats in the midterm election? We discuss the new DNC policy with RL Miller, political director at Climate Hawks Vote, chair of the California Democratic Party’s environmental caucus, and a co-author of the resolution. Before that, we answer a listener’s question about the influence of billionaire conservative activists Charles and David Koch. Did Republicans start to resist climate action because of the Koch brothers' involvement? We also check in on the non-partisan, non-profit Citizens' Climate Lobby, which met with members of Congress last week to advocate for a price on carbon. One participant admits progress is slow, but insists the dialogue is valuable. To kick off the show, we briefly circle back on the Climate Solutions Caucus, bipartisan group of lawmakers seeking to advance climate change policies. Several Republican members recently voted against valuing carbon in environmental regulations. Is the Caucus a sham? Recommended reading:HuffPost: DNC Quietly Adopts Ban On Fossil Fuel Company DonationsNYT: How G.O.P. Leaders Came to View Climate Change as Fake ScienceGTM: Conservative Groups Come Out Against the Suniva, SolarWorld Trade CaseE&E News: Here’s how one group pitches a carbon tax to the GOPWashington Examiner: House GOP blocks Obama-era rules on cost of climate change Subscribe to the Political Climate podcast via Apple Podcasts, Google Play, TuneIn, Overcast and Stitcher. Look out for us soon on Spotify! Follow Political Climate on Twitter @Poli_Climate.