Speaking on the Lean to the Left podcast with host journalist Bob Gatty, Kerfoot and van Rossum agreed that replacing reliance on fossil fuels, like coal and natural gas, with solar and wind energy sources is the key to reducing the environmental dangers that already are affecting many regions of the world.
“The sword of Damocles over all of us is the environment, and if we don't take action collectively together, then we will severely face devastation of biblical proportion,” warns Kerfoot, who noted that in June temperatures in the Pacific Northwest, commonly in the 60s and 70s, reached 120F.
“People, are experiencing the climate crisis and the science really is bearing out whether you're talking about heat waves, floods, drought, wildfires,” says van Rossum. “All of these different manifestations of the climate crisis can be tracked back to greenhouse gas emissions, and the transformation of what is happening within the Earth's atmosphere as the result of methane emissions carbon dioxide and more.”
During the interview, van Rossum and Kerfoot discuss actions that are taking place in specific states in the U.S. aimed at increasing the use of renewable sources for the generation of electricity, and stress additional actions that are needed.
Jack Kerfoot is a scientist, energy expert, and author of the book FUELING AMERICA, An Insider’s Journey, and articles for The Hill, one of the largest independent political news sites in the United States.
Kerfoot began his career in the energy industry in 1976, when America was paralyzed by an oil embargo. He spent over 45 years traveling the world, working with scientists, bureaucrats, ministers, tycoons, sheiks, and heads of state on a diverse range of energy issues. He is the principal of JL Kerfoot Energy Services and blogs on his website, Our Energy Conundrum, at www.jackkerfoot.com.
Lean to the Left is now in the midst of presenting analysis by Jack Kerfoot of how various regions around the country are doing in terms of moving away from reliance on fossil fuels for energy production. Two of those episodes covering four Northeastern and five Midwestern states are now streaming.
With the new episode focused on the Southwest scheduled for August 28th and then the Northwest on September 18.
Maya K. van Rossum is the Delaware Riverkeeper and leader for the Delaware Riverkeeper Network, which works throughout the four states of the Delaware River watershed (NY, NJ, PA & DE) and at the national level using advocacy, science and litigation.
During van Rossum's 30 years leading the Network, she and her organization were the lead plaintiffs in a successful case that had the PA Supreme Court breathe legal life into PA's long ignored environmental rights amendment.
Now, van Rossum is advancing The Green Amendment movement, seeking to inspire and secure constitutional protection for environmental rights across the nation.
van Rossum is author of a book titled “The Green Amendment, The People's Fight For a Clean, Safe & Healthy Environment”.
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Meeting the Challenge of Climate Change
[00:00:00] Bob Gatty: Hey, we have a special episode for you guys today. Two of the most knowledgeable people I know to talk about the environment, energy, and the need to ditch fossil fuels and move on to renewable energy sources like solar and wind. It's going to be a fascinating and highly informative discussion, so stay with us.
[00:00:20] With us today, are environmental activists. Maya Van Rossum and Jack Kerfoot who will discuss climate change and fossil fuels. Maya is the Delaware River Keeper with responsibility for preserving the environmental integrity of the Delaware River. She's founder of the nonprofit Green Amendment for the Generations, and author of the book, The Green Amendment, Securing Our Right to a Healthy Environment.
[00:00:47] Jack Kerfoot is a scientist, energy expert and author of the book Fueling America, an Insider's Journey, and has been interviewed on over a hundred radio podcasts and TV stations on a diverse range of energy issues. Both have previously appeared individually as guests on the Lean to the Left Podcast, and now I'm so pleased to bring them together for this discussion.
[00:01:12] In fact, Lean to the Left is now in the midst of presenting analysis by Jack Kerfoot of how various regions around the country are doing in terms of moving away from reliance on fossil fuels for energy production. Two of those episodes covering four Northeastern and five Midwestern states are now streaming.
[00:01:33] With the new episode focused on the Southwest scheduled for August 28th and then the Northwest on September 18.
[00:01:41] Our interview with Maya, which focused on her work to win adoption of her Green Amendment by individual states, as well as her work on behalf of the Delaware River streamed Monday, July 17 and is now available on most major podcast channels and YouTube. So welcome Maya. Welcome Jack. Looking forward to today's discussion.
[00:02:04] Jack Kerfoot: Pleasure to be here, Bob and Maya. I look forward to this discussion as well.
[00:02:09] Maya van Rossum: Oh, I'm really so proud to be here and pleased to be here with both of you. And I have to tell you that analysis of northeast states that you did with Bob, Jack, that was really fascinating and very insightful.
[00:02:20] It was really helpful information. I'm looking forward to hearing how some of the other regions of the nation are doing.
[00:02:27] Jack Kerfoot: Thank you very much. I think the key thing is to look at the states that are really making progress and for the other states that look at themselves and say, what can we do better as we move forward in the future?
[00:02:39] Bob Gatty: I'll tell you one thing. Jack has got his facts cold of these things. He comes up with more data than I can imagine. It's just great. This man is brilliant.
[00:02:50] Maya van Rossum: So will you mind, Bob, not, maybe not yet, but at some point I have a question for Jack that I'm really interested in hearing his thoughts on.
[00:02:59] Bob Gatty: Why don't you throw it out. Go ahead.
[00:03:01] Maya van Rossum: So Jack, it was really fascinating when you were talking about, I think it was New Jersey and Rhode Island, you were talking about their progress on the clean and renewable energy front. But then of course on the energy, coin some of these states, and I'm just gonna reference New Jersey because as the Delaware Riverkeeper, I do a lot of work in New Jersey while Governor Murphy is doing some good things on clean energy. He's also doing some bad things on fossil fuels. Very proactively advancing a dirty fossil fuel LNG export facility. And I was just wondering, like when you think about how you're analyzing the progress of states in terms of clean and renewable energy, how do you factor into or process, or perhaps you don't, 'cause it's a different conversation what they're doing on the fossil fuel front.
[00:03:54] Just generically, you don't have to talk about New Jersey. I was just interested in that.
[00:03:57] Jack Kerfoot: Let's start with President Biden. He's really targeted the three primary sources of greenhouse gas emissions. Number one is transportation. Number two is the power generation, and number three is major manufacturing.
[00:04:11] That accounts for about 75, 76% of the nation's greenhouse gas emissions. So if we look at that, the power generation sector, the electricity that runs everything basically to me is the key component from that standpoint. As we move to, and I think we'll be moving there much faster than most people realize to electric vehicles.
[00:04:35] It is imperative that we have a green grid as quickly as possible. Alright. From that standpoint. And we're also seeing in the private sector, major companies from Walmart to Macy's, to Ford to General Motors. Google. Intel moving to more and more renewable energy, and that's both from an environmental standpoint and also economic.
[00:04:59] So we have to realize that the move to the top three areas of greenhouse gas emissions are occurring right now. And some of the biggest concerns I have are the barriers that states have in place, whether it's land access laws. In the case of offshore wind, what Governor Murphy has done is fast track permitting processes to allow them to bring the cables from the offshore wind turbines wind farms in through the beach and into the power grid, bringing the power grid companies, the utilities together, and also the local communities as they bring in the power grid lines into the grid. So from that standpoint, Wind farm developers that said these step-by-step not cutting environmental actions whatsoever. 'cause we still have to go through a federal screening process as well, but has cut off three to five years in a first time delivery of wind energy in their projects off the coast of New Jersey.
[00:06:02] That hasn't happened in states like Massachusetts. Connecticut or even Rhode Island from that standpoint. He's also developed a wind energy hub for the development of these wind turbines that have to be assembled before they're towed offshore. And they have also done steps about looking at ways to get long, major high power transmission lines located in key parts of the state, so it allows solar and new solar and wind projects to be tied in an expeditious manner. So from that standpoint, In my mind, he's done a major job and he's kept the greenhouse gas emissions continue to follow. And so right now they're about 35, 38% of their electricity is from fossil fuels, but he believes they'll be able to achieve zero carbon electricity or zero fossil fuel electricity by 2030.
[00:06:57] Now, that to me is spectacular. Compared to the other states in the region up there. And the reason I look at it regionally is we have to realize renewable energy resources vary just like our climate does from Maine to California. And so in the Northeast you may have offshore wind, you may have access some hydro, you may not have as much solar, but if you go to someplace like the south and the southeast, you may have solar, but very limited wind, onshore wind from that standpoint. So we have to recognize that as we transform our grid from coal and natural gas, fossil fuels to green energy, we have to make a major investment into our power grid to enable that to actually happen. So for my standpoint, that's the way I'm looking at how do we reproduce greenhouse gas emissions?
[00:07:49] That's goal number one, and I think we all need to come together and say, Yes, it may not be perfect in New Jersey, but they are making progress. And if my number one goal is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 to keep us below 1.5 degrees Celsius increase, then we've achieved, we've made major successes.
[00:08:10] So let's celebrate the success, not throw too many hand grenades over the fence, and look for ways to work together in a collaborative way to make real progress for the United States and for the world.
[00:08:24] Maya van Rossum: I really appreciate that perspective and I agree with you wholeheartedly on, on so much of it.
[00:08:30] I think the really unfortunate thing is what we see in New Jersey, for example, with this L N G export, while Governor Murphy may be doing good things on clean energy, by advancing the export of dirty fossil fuels, he's perpetuating and increasing fracking for dirty fossil fuels in Pennsylvania by creating an outlet for those fossil fuels that will not actually get utilized in New Jersey, but will be shipped overseas and be utilized other places.
[00:09:01] And so the release isn't in New Jersey, but it is in the world, and that release is being increased and perpetuated by Governor Murphy's administration allowing this. So it's just really unfortunate that he's not taking responsibility 'cause really all he has to do on, on the L N G export facility, and he has lots of reasons and ways to do it, is simply say no.
[00:09:28] So I think it's just unfortunate to have a good track record on one front and then to be undermining it and undercutting it by perpetuating fossil fuels on another, which seems such a shame.
[00:09:39] Jack Kerfoot: The comment on export, I think is a very important comment that is never talked about, especially in Congress.
[00:09:46] From that standpoint, no fossil fuel is renewable, and so there's a finite amount of hydrocarbons in the subsurface that will be economic Now. That is why countries like Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Indonesia, and Malaysia are going into massive renewable energy programs for their domestic power.
[00:10:07] Because they want to preserve their resources for their economy, which is oil and gas export as long as they can. But they recognize Saudi's production and oil has been on the decline for the last 15, 20 years. They have ups and downs from that standpoint, but they recognize the end of the fossil fuel economy for their economy is in the very foreseeable future.
[00:10:32] So from my standpoint, we need to focus on. Use what we've got and mitigate the export from that standpoint. So we do have common ground but at the same time, I don't wanna throw brick back at governor Murphy. I think he's made some significant steps forward and I think New Jersey has done a lot, especially since a lot of the solar projects that are being built are on contaminated landfills that have now basically been roped off, and now they're trying to convert that into solar projects as well as a way to revitalize the land.
[00:11:07] Bob Gatty: Okay. All right. Does that give you what you wanted, Maya.
[00:11:11] Maya van Rossum: Yeah, I just really wanted it was, wanted to have that interesting conversation and I think that was helpful.
[00:11:16] Sorry, sorry Bob to co-op. No, it was fascinating.
[00:11:21] Bob Gatty: No, no reason to apologize. Now I have a more general question for you guys. This past June the Southwest experienced excessive heat resulting in multiple deaths, is this heatwave an example of climate change and what will the global impact be of climate change. Who wants to answer?
[00:11:43] Jack Kerfoot: Okay, I can take that off. If sometimes illustrations are a very powerful tool and for your audience, I would encourage you to go to the YouTube and Google California wildfires and there's a government podcast that's been put out or a film that's been put out that tracks the frequency and intensity of wildfires in California going back to 19, I believe it's 10. And what you start to see is the number, the frequency, and the intensity of those. Increase as it goes from 1910 up to 2020, I think is the end of it, and it continues to march forward and March north and north.
[00:12:23] An increase in intensity and increase in frequency. That's a compelling evidence, not just for California, but the world itself. We saw in Texas in 2021, where in February, where in Texas, the temperatures typically are in the. Fifties, the sixties, usually in the mid 60 Fahrenheit temperatures, the temperature is dropped down to 10 degrees Fahrenheit, and as a result, the grid almost completely collapsed.
[00:12:55] And so it was an extreme surge of cold weather, not just for a portion of Texas, but all of Texas, Western Louisiana and Northern Mexico. So this is a huge blizzard area where temperature drop, and that was a huge surge and actually resulted in over 215 deaths. Then we had in June of 2021 in Pacific Northwest, a very large area, Alberta, Canada, British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, and Idaho.
[00:13:27] Typically where the temperatures where I live in Portland in June are in the high sixties, low seventies. We might have an occasional day that hit in the eighties. The temperatures went over a hundred. In Portland, we hit 120, which is a record degree, and there were over 500 deaths for that region. So what we're going to see, quite candidly is a dramatic increase in the frequency, not only heat waves, not only blizzards, but droughts, which will create famine, also, floods and deforestation. We're also seeing as a result of climate change, an increase in temperatures in the oceans that impacts our food chain from that standpoint as well. So the sword of Damocles over all of us is the environment, and if we don't take action collectively together, then we will severely face devastation of biblical proportion.
[00:14:26] Maya van Rossum: So I think that was such a powerful overview of the different ways that people, are experiencing the climate crisis and the science really is bearing out whether you're talking about heat waves, floods, drought, wildfires, right? All of these different manifestations of the climate crisis can be tracked back to greenhouse gas emissions, and the transformation of what is happening within the Earth's atmosphere as the result of methane emissions carbon dioxide and more. To me, I think what is so striking about the various examples that Jack talked about and that you raised Bob, is that at this point, this is no longer for the everyday person. This is no longer a conversation about what the scientific data is showing us or what did the, what did that international or national report talk about in terms of the climate crisis and what it means?
[00:15:24] People are experiencing it real time right now, and I think for many people this is starting to drive home that the climate crisis is real and that it is advancing exponentially right within our lifetime. Just literally just this past weekend in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, there was a massive flash flood on a little creek called Huffs Creek, which is a tributary to the Delaware River.
[00:15:56] The rain fell so fast and so hard that the flood waters rose within minutes, flooding people's cars as they were driving down the road next to it. People who tried to turn around to avoid, where the water was collecting, the force of the water literally turned their cars over. There was the people who were trying to escape the floods later were found, sadly, Dead.
[00:16:27] Including right now, I believe still missing are two children, an infant and a toddler. And you can just imagine, and their mother was missing for a while. I believe she has already been found dead. And you can just imagine, you're driving down the road with your two children. You're a mother, and suddenly there is such a massive onslaught of rain and how am I gonna save my children?
[00:16:50] And you make a split second decision. And maybe there was no right decision from the sounds of it, and you and your children, lose their lives. How devastating is that? It's devastating for the children, for the families, for the community, and everybody who is reading those news reports, right?
[00:17:08] It's heart wrenching. And so I think that all of these catastrophic events and how. How, again, how quickly they are manifesting one after the other, in different parts of the country are really bringing home for people that the climate crisis is real. It's devastating and we have to do something and people wanna know what do we have to do about it?
[00:17:30] And and I agree 100% with Jack, of course, people always say what can the individual person do? Yes, there are individual choices we can make getting rooftop solar on our homes if it's economically viable for us, next time we need to buy a new car, buying an electric car if that's economically viable.
[00:17:46] Turning away from plastic bottles which are manufactured in the first instance from dirty fossil fuels. But really we need major dramatic change. And that major dramatic speedy change really has to come from government and government decision making. And so that really means that people need to step up and press and pressure their government officials to take swift and meaningful action to turn away from fossil fuels, to turn to clean and renewable energy.
[00:18:18] And if your elected official. Is unwilling to do that and simply wants to use the climate crisis as something to be denied or a good political talking point, don't elect them back to office because they're not looking out for you.
[00:18:34] Jack Kerfoot: I think to help, People understand, we look at individual cases and the catastrophes associated with that, but the UN collected data of major severe weather from 1981 to 2000. So this is around the world. So it's a long period of time, a 20 year period of time. And then they compare that to the same time, a different 20 year timeframe of 2001 to 2020. And what they saw was an 83% increase in severe weather. So you want to ask how is it bad is it going to get?
[00:19:09] If it increases by 83% from the previous 20 years to where we are today, then the impact that we're gonna be faced with is truly devastation in multiple areas around the world, and it will impact everyone on this planet.
[00:19:26] Bob Gatty: That brings up the question what are the most significant actions that can be taken in this decade to address climate change in the United States?
[00:19:36] Maya van Rossum: I'm gonna say I, I think that, Jack has talked about. Has talked about it. We really need to do this transformation into clean and renewable energy sources. And the international community and scientists have been very clear when it comes to dirty fossil fuels, which is a major, the major source of continuing and growing climate changing emissions, we have got to keep those fossil fuels in the ground. We have got to start that transition to clean and renewable energy. Right now. Today. We can't, here in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and New Jersey and the Delaware River Watershed, particularly in Pennsylvania, where drilling and fracking operations are happening.
[00:20:20] We at the Delaware River Keeper Network have been advocating to Pennsylvania government officials stop issuing new permits. For new wells to be drilled, number one, right? Put a, put an end to that. And number two, and then as the current sites, are drilled dry. Let them go, drill dry and go fallow and properly plug those wells.
[00:20:42] Because in Pennsylvania, abandoned wells is a major source of climate changing emissions. Right? Those industries ended their fracking and walked away. And, the rest of us, the world is left with the ravages of the ongoing climate changing emissions. But the other thing is they have to start doing in Pennsylvania what Jack has been talking about from these other states, is meaningfully advance clean and renewable energy, put in place those incentives, those economic incentives and policies that will lift up the clean and renewable energy pathway and make it more viable for companies to follow, create those economic incentives so people can put rooftop solar for many people, right?
[00:21:30] Doing that upfront investment while you get, might get your money back from rooftop solar over a period of, 10, 20 years. It's that upfront cost that's a problem, but government can incentivize and support the creation and perpetuation of rooftop solar by literally handing out the money to let people do that.
[00:21:50] There are so many ways through policies, through modifications to regulations, through economic assistance and incentives that states like Pennsylvania can do this transformation to clean and renewable energy, but, They are choosing not to, they are choosing to remain all in on fossil fuels for the short-term profit and political gain it is giving to the government officials in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, whether they're Republican or Democrat, we are not seeing a big difference, and that's part of the problem. So to me those are the changes.
[00:22:29] Jack Kerfoot: I think the thing I would start off by saying is this is my catchphrase, investigate for states to investigate before you legislate.
[00:22:37] We've got a state like Massachusetts, which is one of the senators advocate for the Green New Deal, but they shut down the nuclear power plan in 1997, 1998. And how did they fill that goal or power? Natural gas. They're running about now over 80% or as of February, over 80% of their electricity from fossil fuels.
[00:23:02] So although they have good intentions and the legislation says we're going to be 50% renewable by 2050, the end of the day, where we are today with this decade, which is where we need to focus on targeting 2030. That legislation has not achieved the desired results from my perspective. We've got a state where I'm in, in Oregon, we have a lot of people with passion, and the state 30 years ago was a hundred percent renewable, primarily hydro.
[00:23:34] And what's happened as the state population has increased, they have slowly increased the use of natural gas. And now we have groups that are opposed to hydro, which have some negative components, but what they're doing is tearing 'em down and how they're gonna backfill that power is with natural gas.
[00:23:55] So at the end of the day now, Oregon is around 80% of their fuel by natural gas or renew fossil fuels. And yes, they passed legislation that says we'll be zero carbon by 2050. My comment is good intentions. But not as effective as I think the state could do. I've looked at the actual state and estimate that there's easily 2000% of renewable energy resource power in the state of Oregon that could generate electricity.
[00:24:26] So we can meet our electricity goal 2000 fold. For the actual needs that we have with solar in the east, wind in the east, offshore wind. But the west coast has been very slow to develop or even look at offshore wind compared to the east coast. And ironically in the Gulf of Mexico, which doesn't have the strong winds of the west coast and has a long history of fossil fuels, they're looking now at developing offshore wind farms off of Louisiana and potentially Texas.
[00:24:59] So at the end of the day, let's investigate before we legislate and understand what we're really doing and how impactful it is, and we need legislators that just don't stamp their name on a bill and say, look at me, I support the environment. But they have to continue to champion renewable energy and reduction of greenhouse gas emissions as long as they are sitting as an elected official for the state or the federal government.
[00:25:28] Maya van Rossum: And can I also add Bob, because I love Jack's thing about investigate before you legislate. And don't just roll over and accept the next assertion of what's the next good idea that's put before you. And what we are seeing in many places and spaces and states right now is a proactive effort by industry, supported by politicians, their friends in the political seats of power to characterize energy sources that are dependent on dirty fossil fuels as clean and renewable energy. Hydrogen hubs are a big example of that. Right now. We are hearing all over the place hydrogen hubs, hydrogen. We're gonna have, hydrogen's gonna create clean energy.
[00:26:14] The fact of the matter is the reason why industry is so behind most of these hydrogen hubs, which have not been demonstrated, frankly, worldwide as a successful way to make the kind of power that we need, but that the operations, those hydrogen hub operations, for the most part, are fueled by fracked gas, by dirty fossil fuels.
[00:26:37] So they're just like fracked gas was characterized as a bridge fuel and as being better than coal. And when that option was actually investigated, it was demonstrated that natural gas fracked from the geology using, that fracking technology was as bad as, if not worse than coal and other energy sources.
[00:27:02] We're seeing, but people heard bridge fuel, it's better where at the little blue flame where you burn it, but not when you look at the lifecycle, people are remaking that same mistake. Politicians are hearing hydrogen's good. They're not looking deeper into what is the source of the energy for the majority of the hydrogen projects that are being advanced.
[00:27:22] What is the demonstration of success? So we need to not let politicians characterize things fueled by dirty fossil fuels as being clean and renewable energy so they can get behind them. And I do just wanna say I have been really impressed with President Biden and so much of what he has done on the climate front.
[00:27:46] But I am so disappointed that on this idea of hydrogen hubs and throwing gobs and gobs of money at this other alternative industry, that in significant part is just about perpetuating more dirty fossil fuels. I've been so disappointed that he has not listened to the experts in the field, looked at the science, looked at the reality, and said, this is not a true climate changing investment, we should take those dollars and put 'em in wind, solar, and other pathways.
[00:28:18] Jack Kerfoot: I think we have to realize that there's two types of hydrogen. There's the purple hydrogen, which is from thermal heating from coal oil or natural gas, and then there is from solar, primarily solar, but also wind.
[00:28:32] You're hearing that discourse around the world primarily and countries that have, are major exporters of hydrocarbons, but also in countries that are very arid desert climates that have a lot of sun, and they do see that as a way to actually shift from fossil fuel economy to a renewable energy economy generating hydrogen from that standpoint.
[00:28:57] Now, one state I would like to highlight is actually a state of New Mexico, which has over a hundred year history of mining and oil and gas production, mining of coal and oil and gas production, they're actually identified the first question that the governor asked about a decade ago, can we transform our electricity needs from oil and gas into renewable energy?
[00:29:21] And the answer came back, yes, but we've gotta invest in the grid. What they're actually doing is investing heavily in the grid right now and actively developing wind and solar for two things, not only for consumption in New Mexico, but for export. They see it as a way to transform the fossil fuel economy into a green energy export economy, and you're seeing other states with what I call intelligent, insightful leaders that really understand what the issues are facing them, looking at this and putting people in place not to check a box, but to solve a very complex problem and bringing people together that will try and work together to collaborate, to achieve the results that we all want, which is a better environment and to mitigate climate change.
[00:30:11] Maya van Rossum: Now, I do wanna offer some in-person experience. So New Mexico is one of my Green Amendment. States, right? There's a proposal for a constitutional right added to the Bill of Rights section of the New Mexico Constitution to a clean, safe, and healthy environment, including water, air, soils, climate, and healthy environments at large.
[00:30:29] So I have had the good fortune of spending a lot of time in New Mexico over the last several years as I've worked with frontline communities to advance this Green Amendment movement in the state of New Mexico. And I think people have been really disappointed on the grounds in seeing the Governor, governor Lujan Grisham, perpetuating this hydrogen hub approach, and she's not seeking to advance green hydrogen, which is that hydrogen fueled by wind and solar, but gray hydrogen, which is the most of what we see when people are talking about hydrogen hubs . The majority of it is being fueled by advancing dirty fossil fuels in some significant form or another. And so it has been a disappointment for people in New Mexico who really have been living on the front lines and experiencing the devastating consequences of the dirty fossil fuels there, the environmental racism where the indigenous communities and low-income communities are the ones on the front lines of this extractive process.
[00:31:34] And themselves knowing how what a vibrant opportunity for wind and solar exists in New Mexico. And to see the governor have as a major cornerstone of her, quote unquote, clean energy proposal, be dirty hydrogen hubs has been a real disappointment to people. And more than that, the governor proposed the hydrogen hub. This was about two years ago. She first proposed the hydrogen hub concept and it was rejected by the people and through the legislative process. She then re-proposed it instantaneously, multiple more times. Every time it got defeated and the ramification of her pressing and pressing to advance the hydrogen hub concept that was gonna have such significant consequences was that other good opportunities, whether it was about clean and renewable energy for real, or whether it was about other critical environmental protections that the people of New Mexico had been seeking.
[00:32:38] Those opportunities all got sidelined because the legislative process New Mexico,
[00:32:44] Jack Kerfoot: I appreciate your perspective the legislate your perspective.
[00:32:47] Maya van Rossum: Wait one second. Jack. Jack, lemme finish my point, please. I did listen to you, I've listened to you so please that the legislative process in New Mexico is so short.
[00:32:56] It's either 30 days or 60 days. That by eating up the time for the hydrogen hub concept and having it repeatedly rejected by the people and by the legislators, prevented the opportunity for other good things to progress. And so being on the ground working with the people, that has been a severe disappointment.
[00:33:19] And the governor, and that is where I am really speaking to this idea. You may have somebody do something good with their right hand, but if with their left hand they are doing something that is counterproductive and having devastating consequences that in no small part tamp out the good that you're doing with the right hand, that's a real problem.
[00:33:40] Jack Kerfoot: Let's take a look at where new Mexico was in 2005. They were basically 98% of their power was from fossil fuels. Now what we see is over 40, 45% of their power is from renewable energy. And that took a collaboration working with the indigenous people and the reservations to give up on the coal plants that were in the actual reservations that created jobs to make that progress to go forward.
[00:34:09] And I think you have to take a step back and to ask yourself the question. Where are there hydrogen manufacturing plants or hubs today that are operating? And the answer is right now is an idea that people are talking and we need to continue the discourse about the disadvantages of what I call the purple hydrogen, which is gas or coal even, or even combinations with refined petroleum generating hydrogen 'cause the first question is they're assuming that there's a market. Is there going to be a market for hydrogen? Most of the companies that I talk to question the ability for the hydrogen market, except perhaps in major, in perhaps in the marine shipping, potentially could be a market.
[00:35:01] You're talking decades away if it develops at all. There are a lot of things that have been started that have never gotten farther. So before we start throwing brick backs at the state of New Mexico, let's look at the achievements that they've made so far, and also recognize that there are concerns that we both share relative to purple hydrogen.
[00:35:22] Maya van Rossum: I think it's perfectly appropriate that when you have a government that is perpetuating devastating proposals that are going to have significant consequences if advanced that are utilizing public resources, whether it be the time of the legislators or the financial resources. It is very appropriate to hold those government leaders accountable for that bad decision making. It's okay to recognize that Governor Lujan Grisham has done some good things. It is okay to recognize that Governor Murphy has done some good things, but it is very important to hold them accountable. For the things that they are doing that are wrong because the climate changing emissions that are coming from these other sources that they are perpetuating or seeking will in no small part discount the good that is advancing on the other front.
[00:36:24] So we can applaud them for the good things, but we must not let them off the hook for the bad things because with the climate crisis, the experts are very clear. We have to stop the emissions now and creating new sources. Creating new sources is going to grow and perpetuate the problem and make it harder to achieve our goals of addressing the climate crisis at a time that will really make a difference.
[00:36:56] And our children and the children yet to be born don't have the luxury of sitting back and letting legislators do a good thing with the right hand and a bad thing with the left hand, I feel it's appropriate to hold those government officials accountable for their bad actions and their bad decisions, while at the same time recognizing when they do something good just like we do with our children.
[00:37:20] Bob Gatty: Hey, Maya you I'd like to give you a chance here to talk a little bit more about the Green Amendment. You mentioned it in context within, in the New Mexico discussion, but explain to our listeners who perhaps didn't get a chance to listen to our previous discussion about the Green Amendment.
[00:37:39] Just explain what that's all about and what's going on with it. And then Jack, I'd like your thoughts about that, about the initiative that she's got underway.
[00:37:48] Maya van Rossum: Somebody didn't listen to an episode of your podcast, Bob, my goodness. Get on that people.
[00:37:56] Bob Gatty: No, it's unbelievable.
[00:37:58] Maya van Rossum: It's unbelievable. So thanks for that opportunity. So what a Green Amendment is, and what it does is it's language that gets added to the Bill of Rights section of our state constitutions, and recognizes as a fundamental right, the right of the people to clean water and clean air, a safe climate, healthy environments, for example.
[00:38:20] And by placing this language in the Bill of Rights or the Declaration of Rights section of a constitution, where we place all of those other fundamental rights we hold dear and by using carefully crafted language. We literally lift up environmental rights, so they are given the same constitutional standing recognition and protection as those other fundamental rights things like the right to free speech and freedom of religion, private property rights.
[00:38:47] We all know how powerfully they're protected because they are given that highest constitutional standing. That same protection now comes to bear for the environment, and ultimately we wanna get this kind of constitutional entitlement in the federal constitution because the states have a lot of power when it comes to environmental protection.
[00:39:05] And we just talked about that in the climate context, but so too does the federal government, and we've also talked about that when we've re referenced President Biden. So we need green amendments, this kind of environmental entitlement at both levels of government in order to ensure that all government officials are properly prioritizing a clean, safe, and healthy environment, including a safe climate in all the decisions they make and the actions they take, and when they fundamentally get it wrong because they write a law that is too lenient in terms of pollution or degradation, or they fail to enforce a law, or they fail to write a law at all to deal with some critical issue of concern like an emerging contaminant.
[00:39:48] Such as P F A S, which people are hearing a lot about those forever chemicals or creating a loophole for an industry like fracking, which has happened in the past and lets those emerging contaminants or industries off the hook and not be addressed at all. By critical legislation and protection, then we, the people can turn to our constitutional entitlement to clean water, clean air, a safe climate, healthy environments to hold those government officials accountable and get change and get protection. So that's, there's, as Bob, there's a lot more to it and I hope people will listen to the podcast, where we're talking about Green amendments and get the full breadth of understanding. But in summary, that's what a Green Amendment is.
[00:40:31] Bob Gatty: Alright, Jack, your thoughts about that?
[00:40:35] Jack Kerfoot: The concerns I have is when we talk about this if we talk about individual states, we can go to the state of Ohio that have incentives for utilities to generate, to use renewable energy, but they also define clean coal as a green energy, and the other side as well we have groups up in Maine that are opposing floating solar because they believe that potentially it might negatively impact the lobster population, although there's no evidence to support that. They would argue that is their inevitable for a clean environment, that they don't want the offshore wind turbine.
[00:41:18] We also have groups that are off the East coast, off of New York, off of Massachusetts, that are arguing that offshore wind farms could potentially, they would argue, will harm the migratory paths of the whales, even though marine scientists have come in and given testimony to that and there is no evidence for that whatsoever.
[00:41:42] So again, we get into the question is, what is green? What is not green? What is right? What isn't right? There are groups that believe that only green energy, which is wind and solar, would really qualify for renewable energy and also oppose large hydro projects. There are also those that oppose geothermal from that standpoint as well.
[00:42:08] So the question is how do we work together in a way to achieve a common good in a timely manner if we focus on trying to make. Dramatic changes and reduce greenhouse gas emissions for this decade, six and a half years left as the clock is ticking and we're trying to reduce the impact and get our temperatures below that 1.5 degrees Celsius, then we need to look for ways to work together with all the different groups that are there and recognize that we need to focus on this. I would say the priority shouldn't necessarily be states, let's say like Iowa or South Dakota, that already 80% renewable energy. Our focus should be on states that have 60, 70% or more from, or 80% more that are fossil fuels, whether it be Missouri, whether it be Massachusetts, whatever those states are.
[00:43:03] The question is how do we dramatically drop greenhouse gas emissions? Part of that is how we use them. Part of that is also what we do to replace greenhouse gas emitting power plants and manufacturing capabilities, and also to accelerate the transportation move from fossil fuel, gasoline and diesel to green energy to an electric vehicle.
[00:43:28] We have to realize that companies like B M W. Porsche ,Volvo, General Motors, Ford have all said they are going to stop making combustion engine vehicles somewhere between 2030 and 2040. C E O for GM came out two years ago and said the costs for an EV will be the same as a combustion engine vehicle by 2025, and that each of these vehicles will be able to drive at least 500 miles.
[00:43:58] If we want to put a government focus with incentives, I would say on the battery technology, because right now the biggest impediment to EVs, the move to EVs is the availability of the charging station and the charging time. There are prototypes out there right now that can get a full charge on a electric vehicle battery in less than 10 minutes, in fact, closer to five minutes. And when that happens, that's when you're going to start seeing the gas stations of the US become like fueling stations in Europe with charging stations. You have to realize these fueling stations do not make their money from the sale of hydrocarbons.
[00:44:35] 85 to 90% of their revenue is actually from the sale of soft drinks and munchies and cigarettes and lottery tickets. So they want you in there to plug it in, whether it's a gas pump or a charger into your ev. They just want you inside to really purchase stuff that gives them the money from that standpoint.
[00:44:54] So I think that we're in two to three years from the beginning of a major wave of moves to electric vehicles. The operating cost for an electric vehicle is significantly cheaper, three or $400 cheaper per year than a combustion engine vehicle. As far as costs are concerned, I get 3.3 miles per one kilowatt hour.
[00:45:16] So think of it this way. I can drive 33 miles or more on about a dollar and 10 cents. So you can see the actual fuel cost is significantly less. So from that standpoint, the reason the automobile engine is anticipating the end of a combustion engine vehicle is quite candidly, think no one would want to spend more money on a vehicle if they can get an electric as opposed to a combustion engine vehicle.
[00:45:43] We need to stop the false fake news out there about exploding electric vehicles and we need to recognize that there are more, far more percentage wise car fires than there are incidents with electric vehicle. And to accelerate the move that best we can as a nation to move to electric transportation.
[00:46:03] So if we can green the grid, if we can become an electric vehicle dominated country and also green our manufacturing, then we'll be able to easily meet our Paris commitment of greenhouse gas reductions and hopefully exceed that.
[00:46:19] Maya van Rossum: So that's one of the beauties, Bob of the Green Amendment, is all these different facets of advancing, clean, truly clean and renewable energy, right?
[00:46:27] And all these good things. They all get benefited by having a green amendment and this constitutional right of the people to a clean, safe, and healthy environment, including climate. The accusation by industrial wind that green amendments are problematic for advancing wind projects is just a false narrative.
[00:46:48] We have green amendments in three states, New York, Pennsylvania, and Montana. They have not been utilized to stop good clean renewable energy projects. To the extent that you see them get used in the energy context, it has to do with dirty fossil fuels. Actually the Green Amendment does exactly the opposite.
[00:47:07] All of these good government initiatives to advance good, clean, renewable energy projects, whether we're talking about wind, solar, electrification, all those good things, they all get supported by the Green Amendment. They ensure that the government is looking at the full wealth of ramifications of a project 'cause not all projects are created equal. A solar array that wants to cut down hundreds of acres of forests is not the same as a solar array that could be planted on a brownfields like Jack talked about earlier. And we wanna make sure that our government officials are being mindful of those differences.
[00:47:43] If there is a legal challenge against the good clean renewable energy project based on a false or flawed claim of environmental harm, then actually the government can rely upon the Green Amendment and their obligation to protect natural resources and environmental rights to fend off those inappropriate legal challenges by simply showing that they did the analysis to demonstrate that these projects were in fact environmentally beneficial, and in the final analysis, if the facts and the science do demonstrate that a significant clean and renewable energy project might have serious and significant environmental ramifications and concerns, that does not mean that a Green Amendment puts a stop to that project. If the government can show that they looked at the environmental impacts, they considered the environmental rights and their constitutional obligations, and they made a rational determination that even in the face of those impacts and harms, because addressing the climate crisis is a compelling state interest, and that is legal, constitutional terminology is a compelling state interest that warrants those impacts, then that project still goes forward, and again, the government decision makers can use the constitutional entitlement and obligation to defend that decision and fend off legal challenges. So it's actually very good at ensuring we are properly guiding government decision making sure that it is informed by real facts and real science, and it can be used to advance good projects.
[00:49:21] Again, if there're gonna be impacts because the climate crisis is such a compelling state interest, government will be able to utilize the green Amendment to say even the harms that we recognize will happen can be and should be constitutionally justified in the face of our goal to address the climate crisis.
[00:49:41] So it's good all the way around for every single thing that Jack talked about, as long as it's a good project.
[00:49:47] Bob Gatty: All right. I have one final question. We're really running short on time here, but house majority leader Kevin McCarthy has been quoted in the press as saying that to fight climate change, we should just plant a trillion trees.
[00:50:01] Now that's coming from the leader of a party that supports the clearcutting of forests for building of homes and apartments and shopping centers and gas stations in areas where they're not even needed. It's just all about greed, and that's my opinion. Now how about you guys? What do you think about that idea that all we need to do is plant a trillion trees and we'll be good to go?
[00:50:25] Jack Kerfoot: Let me start if I can. What he also said is, this way we can sell American gas and Europe won't be buying Russian gas to support the Ukrainian war. What he doesn't recognize is the fact that once the Ukrainian war stopped or started that effectively, and also the explosion on the Nordstrom one pipeline.
[00:50:48] You can export gas or transport gas by pipeline or liquefy natural gas. And Russia has virtually no liquified natural gas capabilities, Salin Island, but their inability to operate that basically and shut that down. So when the gas pipelines from Nord Stream, from Russia going to EU were curtailed or destroyed by the fire. There was no Russian gas or very little Russian gas going into the eu. What he is really pitching is the idea of what I call a carbon capture type of system. But the reality is that type of approach, recognizing that where you would place a trillion trees, Would be in itself problematic.
[00:51:32] And the question of effectiveness would be, I think, would be my first concern that would come up because quite candidly, by the time that the trees would grow and be fully mature, we would be probably talking about 5, 6, 7 years to really have any significant impact at all. We can do far more by encouraging the development of renewable energy. What I find interesting is that if you look at state, by state, every state, even the big coal producers like West Virginia and Kentucky and Indiana, more people are employed in wind farms and solar projects and hydro projects in those states that are employed in coal mining and in coal manufacturing power plants. So in these states that they say we wanna preserve employment for the fossil fuel sector , the reality is the employment, the dominant employer is renewable energy and that scale of magnitude of growth is expected to go at least double and potentially triple by 2030.
[00:52:36] So the question really to Mr. McCarthy is, do you oppose lower cost of electricity for the consumer? Because it's two to three times cheaper than coal and at least twice as cheaper than natural gas. Do you oppose job growth through the development of renewable energy projects in the us? You oppose energy security because by using and shifting more and more to renewable energy, we will be energy independent and we still do import fossil fuels into this country.
[00:53:09] So from that standpoint, if we look at from a climate standpoint, an economic standpoint, a job standpoint, an energy security job standpoint, please explain why you oppose it. Put it from that standpoint and certainly appreciate your idea of carbon capture system, but help us understand why these other areas are not better for your constituents.
[00:53:35] Bob Gatty: Great answer seems to me that if you plant a trillion little tiny trees, which is what they would do, that by the time those trees got to be big enough to do any good, the fricking earth would be burned up.
[00:53:49] Maya van Rossum: So The one of the things you have to recognize, healthy nature has an important role when it comes to addressing the climate crisis.
[00:53:56] It does. And whether we're talking about mature trees, right? Soaking up carbon, whether we're talking about soils and the way we preserve healthy soils. Healthy soils can be a carbon thing. There's so many aspects of nature that help us with the climate crisis, and we want to protect and preserve that healthy nature and to the extent that we can undertake restoration projects, that is also an important part of the solution.
[00:54:21] So I welcome the trillion trees, but it can't be alone. Just as you say, you began it with just just plant A. It can't be just that. Yes, I want those trillion trees. I want 'em now. Yeah. But at the same time, I want, you can't big one to stop but I want you to stop the cutting of the forests, right?
[00:54:43] I want you to stop the perpetuation of industrial agriculture that's destroying healthy soils that can be carbon sink. I want you to stop the Sacket Supreme Court decision that's gonna result in the destruction of wetlands that are critical carbon sinks and. I want you to robustly advance clean and renewable energy and stop perpetuating bad ideas like gray hydrogen.
[00:55:11] So I'll take the trillion trees, but that can't be the only part of the solution. There are all these other elements that have to be added, but I did just do wanna recognize, we need to put in a plug for nature too. Her protection, her restoration are a critical part of the solution, but she can't do it alone because humans are overwhelming nature's ability to address the climate crisis by us pouring out these emissions from dirty fossil fuels, manufacturing and other sources.
[00:55:43] So gimme the trillion trees, but gimme all these other things that we need as well.
[00:55:48] Bob Gatty: Okay guys, I thank you both Jack and Maya for being with us today on the Lean to the Left Podcast to talk about this really important, probably one of the most important topics that we could possibly discuss for the future of our world really. So thank you both. Appreciate it.
[00:56:07] Jack Kerfoot: Thank you very much.
Maya van Rossum:
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