Scott's Blog


Read Scott's thoughts on important environmental issues in Minnesota, the United States, and worldwide.

Professors debate climate lawsuits

The New York Times features a "room for debate" among law professors in light of the recent pro-plaintiff rulings in climate cases affiliated with Our Children's Trust.  Now you know what an advocacy team meeting at MCEA is like.

Financial assurance for coal mining

LA Times reports on the failure of policymakers to require adequate financial assurance for reclamation of shuttered coal mines. When the companies are already bankrupt and the mines are shut down, it's a little late to ask for the damage deposit. 

MPR series on water quality and agriculture

Another in a series of reports on current agricultural practices and Minnesota's water quality problems. Today's story compares two farms in the Buffalo-Red River watershed district, just a few miles from the farm where yours truly grew up.

Massachusetts high court rejects state climate change plan as inadequate

This morning, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court held that the commonwealth's statutory greenhouse gas emission reduction goals are enforceable, not just "aspirational," and the state's existing climate change action plan was not enough to meet those goals. The Court ordered the state department of environmental protection to adopt new rules setting emission reduction requirements. Kudos to the Court, to our friends at the Conservation Law Foundation for bringing and winning the case, and to the four high school students affiliated with Our Children's Trust who were named plaintiffs in the case.

MPR, agriculture, and water pollution

As part of their month-long series on water, MPR's focus today was on agriculture and water quality problems. Tomorrow will be about the difficulty of arriving at solutions that are up to the scope of the problem.

Ontario climate action plan

Impressive new province-level climate action plan coming from our friends to the north. Nice to see someone leading. Let's hope the Dayton Administration comes forward with something similar before the legislature reconvenes in 2017.

Agriculture that's good for climate is good for water too

New report from USDA on efforts to promote ag practices that reduce carbon emissions. It's striking how some of the same changes, cover crops, reduced nitrogen fertilizer application, manure management, will also help address our chronic water quality problems such as nitrate pollution.

Disruptive existing technology

Excellent Joe Romm piece about the rapid decline in solar, wind, and battery storage prices and how, as a result, the key to getting off fossil fuels will be deployment of existing technologies, not the discovery of new, whiz-bang inventions. Still important to keep, and to increase, investments in clean energy R & D, but getting present-day technologies out there into the market can produce massive results.

Children and Climate Change

Excellent collection of articles in the Spring 2016 issue of The Future of Children (a Princeton/Brookings collaboration) on children and climate change. These are not bland admonitions to do something "for the kids," but a series of hard-headed analyses of costs, benefits, and intergenerational equity. Definitely worth a read.

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