Our guest this episode is Erandi Trevino of Public Citizen, Houston. Erandi grew up in Houston and has been concerned about the pollution in her neighborhood since she was a young child.
Before joining Public Citizen in Houston as a Climate Policy and Outreach Specialist, she was an Advocacy Fellow with the Fulbright Association in Washington, DC, where she worked on education policy, nutrition, and financial regulations. During her time in DC, Erandi also volunteered for the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute.
Earlier in her career, Erandi assisted the Permanent Representative of Mexico to the United Nations in New York. She has a law degree from Fordham University and degrees in International Relations and Latin American studies from Seton Hall University. Following her graduation there, she received a Fulbright Grant to teach English in Belo Horizonte, Brazil where she became fluent in Portuguese.
In this episode we discuss the following topics:
Center for Houston's Future
Houston Healthy Port Communities Coalition
Environmental Defense Fund - Better Hubs - Expring Decarbonizing Industry
Greater Houston Port Bureau's Project 11
On Breath Partnership's "What is Port Houston's Project 11?"
Erandi's Contact Information
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Our guest, Dr. David Konisky is a Lynton K. Caldwell Professor with the Paul H. O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University, whose research focuses on U.S. environmental policy and politics, with particular emphasis on environmental and energy justice, regulation, federalism, and public opinion.
David came to our attention through a PBS interview in which he described Indiana industries reducing their greenhouse gas emissions by an impressive 27% over the last decade, largely without a state organized campaign or incentives.
He has authored or edited six books on environmental politics and policy, including Fifty Years at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency: Progress, Retrenchment and Opportunities (Rowman & Littlefield, 2020, with Jim Barnes and John D. Graham), Failed Promises: Evaluating the Federal Government's Response to Environmental Justice (MIT Press, 2015), and Cheap and Clean: How Americans Think about Energy in the Age of Global Warming (MIT Press, 2014, with Steve Ansolabehere). He has been the co-editor of the journal Environmental Politics since the beginning of 2021.
Konisky’s research has been funded by the National Science Foundation, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the U.S. Department of Energy, and the Russell Sage Foundation.
Konisky earned his Ph.D. in political science from MIT. He also holds two master’s degrees from Yale University: one in environmental management and one in international relations. At the undergraduate level, he studied history and environmental studies at Washington University in St. Louis.
Topics we discuss include:
We’re excited to welcome back Mark Z. Jacobson, who joined us last year to talk about a study he co-authored called “Low-Cost Solutions to Global Warming, Air Pollution, and Energy Insecurity for 145 Countries”. He is a professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Director of the Atmosphere/Energy program at Stanford University, as well as a Senior Fellow at the Woods Institute for the Environment and Precourt Institute for energy, and also the Co-Founder of The Solutions Project, 100.org and the 100% Clean, Renewable Energy movement.
We've asked Mark back to see what progress the country has made with his prediction that the US and the world can change to clean energy and meet CO2 goals by only using WWS (wind, water and solar) i.e. clean non burning energy without using coal, gas, nuclear, and carbon capture. Mark released a book in February of this year, entitled No Miracles Needed: How Today’s Technology Can Save Our Climate and Clean Our Air. His book brings up more questions about the government and the some climate experts are promoting, such as carbon capture, instead of considering the potential of just using WWS.
Topics covered include:
In this episode we welcome Peter McKillop, the founder and CEO of our new partner, Climate & Capital Media.
Peter is the founder of Climate & Capital Media. Climate & Capital Media is a mission-driven information platform exploring the business and finance of climate change.
Climate & Capital delivers original reporting, intelligence and insight from our global network of journalists, researchers, and investors with a focus on climate-related businesses, technology, and public policy, particularly for the emerging generation of economic leaders who will shape tomorrow’s global agenda.
Prior to Climate & Capital, Peter McKillop was a Managing Director at BlackRock, where he was responsible for leading the firm’s strategic communications and messaging for its iShares ETF and Indexing business. He has also held senior communication leadership positions at J.P. Morgan, KKR, UBS, and Bank of America. Before entering the financial communications field, Peter was a senior correspondent and bureau chief for Newsweek in New York, Tokyo, and Hong Kong.
Our discussion ranges across the following topics, among others:
Climate Money Watchdog is working with climate business journalism organization Climate & Capital Media to broaden our reach. We recently re-published our popular episode Every Dollar Spent on CCS is a Waste with Dr. Charles Harvey and Dr. Kurt House, which is currently available on their main page and via direct link.
Climate & Capital Media is the first non-profit news organization solely focused on the business of climate change — the intersection of investment and sustainability.
Look forward to more collaboration between our two organizations, including an upcoming episode in which we speak with Climate & Capital founder and publisher Peter McKillop.
Of course Every Dollar Spent on CCS is a Waste remains available on our web site and all our podcast distribution platforms.
Energy Innovations, a San Francisco energy think tank, has published recent reports that show that clean and renewable energy such as wind and solar is surprisingly cheaper than over 90 percent of the coal power plants that are operating today. Wind and solar have been dropping in price and the cost of producing this energy has also dropped but this report shows that these renewable energy sources make keeping most of the remaining coal power plants open not economically or environmentally sound.
Michelle Solomon is a Senior Policy Analyst in the Electricity program at Energy Innovation, working to accelerate the transition to a clean, affordable, and equitable electricity sector in the United States. We’ve invited her to talk about their recent publication of the third edition of their report - Coal Cost Crossover – which argues that over 90% of coal-fired power plants in the U.S. could be replaced by renewable energy generation at a net cost savings.
Prior to joining Energy Innovation, Michelle earned her Ph.D. in materials science and engineering at Stanford University, where she studied nanoparticles with applications in purifying chemicals for use in medicine and the environment. During graduate school, she also pursued an interest in energy policy and spent a summer working on electric vehicle policy at the California Energy Commission. After graduating, she transitioned full-time into policy as a Congressional Science and Engineering Fellow. As a fellow, she had the chance to work on energy and environment policy for Senator Ed Markey, focusing on a wide range of issues spanning environmental justice to electric vehicle charging.
Michelle holds a Ph.D. and an M.S. from Stanford University in materials science and engineering. She also completed her B.S. in physics at Boston College.
In this climate fight will Big Fossil Fuel, it is hard and rare to have a clear-cut victory. The last time we did a podcast episode with Mike on 7/12/22, his group was fighting to prevent a closing coal-based power plant in Farmington, New Mexico from reinventing itself to keep open using the questionable technology of Carbon Capture and Sequestration (CCS). This was described a June 29, 2022 High Country News article. A company named Enchant led this effort with the backing of financial groups to force this unproven technology through to keep the highly polluting plant open. Once they could not raise enough money privately, they were trying to get federal money to keep the plant going. However, this did not work out and the activists like Mike kept pushing to stop it. Last month, Enchant abandoned its efforts. We wanted to have Mike back on the program to explain what led to the closing of this plant for good and to explore and celebrate the loss of one less coal power plant.
Mike points out that this project was billed as a “demonstration project”, intended to show the potential of carbon capture and sequestration as an approach to combatting climate change. Back in December of 2021, the General Accountability Office (GAO) issued a report titled, “Carbon Capture and Storage: Actions Needed to Improve DOE Management of Demonstration Projects” which showed essentially no success among demonstration projects. Of eight projects, for which we, as taxpayers, paid $684 million, only one achieved operational status. That one plant operated for only three years, closing due to economic infeasibility.
Eisenfeld questioned when DOE and companies promoting these projects will be held accountable for this poor track record. Within the aforementioned report, DOE was described as addressing this by creating a dedicated Office of Clean Energy Demonstrations. After waiting nearly a year, the Biden administration appointed David Crane, the CEO of NRG, the company in charge of Petra Nova, one of the failed carbon capture projects described in the GAO report.
Climate Money Watchdog will be following up on this and other appointments relevant to environmental spending.
Kayley Shoup is an activist with the Citizens Caring for the Future, an environmental group that is affiliated with New Mexico Interfaith Power & Light in Carlsbad, New Mexico. When she moved back to her hometown, she became alarmed at the increase of pollution from the nearby expanded oil and gas fields of the Permian Basin, and is determined to do something about it. Recently, a NASA satellite from its EMIT program, which is designed to measure and characterize mineral dust sources to find new minerals, found a massive methane leak near the Carlsbad gas and oil fields. Kayley describes how her organization works to inform their community using data from a wide range of sources, including NASA and other non-profits such as Earthworks.
Dr. Steve McDaniel and Beth McDaniel, JD founded and run Reactive Surfaces, and intellectual property firm that develops and patents paints that do more than turn buildings attractive colors and protect them from the elements: They react to the atmosphere in intentional and desirable ways. They are currently in the running to win the most valuable X-Prize contest ever by creating a paint that captures CO2 from the atmosphere more simply, cheaply and scaleably than any direct air carbon technology before it.
The McDaniels founded Reactive Surfaces in 2001 in response to the events of 911. They wanted to know if they could stabilize an enzyme in a coating to protect surfaces against a chemical weapons attack. This original technology is called WMDtox, and it works to decontaminate organophosphorous nerve gases virtually on contact. From there, they have developed other various functional platform technologies using non-toxic bio-based organisms, such as self-cleaning coatings and coatings that are antimicrobial and antiviral.
Carbon Capture Coatings have the power to significantly reduce carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, thereby lessening the impact of global warming. Carbon Capture Coatings are bio-engineered such that, when exposed to sunlight, they capture and fix atmospheric carbon dioxide. These coatings support living cells capable of carrying out photosynthesis, the process by which Nature captures and fixes atmospheric CO2.
· Carbon Capture Coatings: Next Generation Biomimetic Coatings for Carbon Capture & Removal
· Carbon Capture Coatings: Can Paints and Coatings Save Humanity?
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Hurricane Ian rocked southwest Florida with all the damage and years of rebuilding in plain sight on our television screens. It is becoming obvious that this is not the last of huge killer hurricanes as the waters of the Gulf of Mexico and other large bodies of water heat up. Southwest Florida is planning to rebuild with scientists and city planners exploring ways to make towns more resilient for the next hurricane. They should start by looking at a planned community right in their backyard called Babcock Ranch who survived a direct hit yet roofs stayed on, there was minimal flooding, and the electricity never failed.
Ryan Foelske a Carbon Free Electricity Program manager at RMI (previously the Rocky Mountain Institute) decided to put his money where his mouth is by buying a home in Babcock Ranch, a community designed to both reduce human contribution to climate change and to be more resilient to the effects of climate change, especially hurricanes. He tells us about his experience weathering hurricane Ian.
Prior to joining RMI, Ryan worked at Deutsche Bank and Brookfield Asset Management as a buy-side equity analyst specializing in global regulated utilities and other publicly listed infrastructure companies. He built financial models, understood and quantified risks, and sought benchmark-beating returns for investors. In addition to his company coverage duties, Ryan helped develop the modeling framework, standardized and aggregated data outputs, and worked on index construction and inclusion.
As we discuss in the episode, resilience is an area of extensive funding under the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and the Inflation Reduction Act. Babcock Ranch has not received any funding under these pieces of federal legislation. Nevertheless we think its resilience measures are worth considering as background for other projects that may receive such funding in the future.
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