EPA’s Gina McCarthy Offers 3 Reasons to be Optimistic

EPA Admin  Gina McCarthy at Indiana University

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy came to Bloomington last night. Read her (bio), and follow her on Twitter (@ginaepa).

She offered three reasons to be optimistic despite a Trump Administration’s proposed 31% cut to the EPA budget.

  1. We are living in the midst of a Clean Energy Revolution that doesn’t depend on Washington budgets, but is driven by the markets. This is clearly evident in Monroe County by the growth of solar installations on County and residential structures. She mentioned that this revolution could move faster with government investment, which we are seeing in Monroe County!
  2. A Transportation Revolution is on the horizon. Driverless vehicles and electric cars are rapidly developing. Numerous countries are also looking to ban the internal combustion engine. McCarthy also warned that China will soon lead the way in green technology and US companies will be looking East to catch up. Fortunately here in Monroe County there are already electric car charging stations, as I wrote about in October 2017.
  3. McCarthy urged unity and continued effort which is something Monroe County is very good at doing! To this end two groups brought Administrator McCarthy to Bloomington. Indiana University’s Environmental Resiliency Institute and the newly formed Concerned Scientists at IU.

The EPAs Janet McCabe was also in the audience. The Monroe County Environmental Commission brought her to Bloomington in 2016 for a talk on the Clean Power Plan.

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    2 Big Events to Not Miss this Sunday!

    This Sunday, January 14 there are not 1 but 2 events you can not miss in Monroe County!

    1. Bicentennial Celebration Join county officials and hundreds of everyday citizens at the County Courthouse from 1-4pm. There will be historic conversations starting at 1:30pm. There will also be activities for kids, live music, and lots of history! Need more information? Visit www.visitbloomington.com/bicentennial-2018.

    2. Wild and Scenic Film Festival This film festival is making its debut appearance in Monroe County and it all runs from 5-8pm at the Buskirk-Chumley Theater. Tickets are only $25 and proceeds support the Indiana Forest Alliance. Food trucks and live music round out this must see event!

    Restoring Vegetation is Key

    The effects of global warming are being felt all over the globe. From rising sea levels to increased extreme weather, these effects seem scary and can leave us feeling helpless.

    However in a recent paper published in Nature, researchers analyzed stored carbon in the world’s vegetation. While they document that some human activity prevents this carbon capture from occurring, an alternative can have positive impact as quoted in the Washington Post:

    …restoring vegetation around the world could in principle achieve that,” Duffy continued, noting that if all the potential vegetation were restored it would offset some 50 years of global carbon emissions. While “the full theoretical potential will never be realized in practice … this paper indicates that restoring vegetation could make an extremely important contribution to controlling global climate change.

    Fortunately, Monroe County Indiana is actively preserving vegetation in it various parks, natural areas, and partnerships with organizations such as the Sycamore Land Trust. It’s just one more example of how local government and research are teaming up to provide community-wide and sustainable good.

    Future of Transportation

    The Internal Combustion Engine is facing the beginning of the end, so argued Peter Holley of The Washington Post.

    It’s relevant locally because it is budget time in Monroe County. The Council has its second reading of the budget October 30th. Attend if you can.

    But if you haven’t been paying attention don’t fret! County Councilman Geoff McKim does a great job breaking down the numbers on his blog. This is a must read for Monroe County!

    One of the interesting things about Indiana is the reliance on cars. The proposed county budget allocates $6.8 million to “highways” and another $1.6 million to “roads and streets”. 

    While we all travel on these roads and appreciate their upkeep, the cars travelling on those highways and roads might change. 2017 might mark an economic moment when “electric vehicles went from a promising progressive fad to an industry-wide inevitability.”

    In fact, there are already five electric charging stations in Monroe County and Indiana University has begun adding all electric cars to their motor pool.

    You can read the Peter Holley’s article in its entirety here.

    The Rise of Extreme Rain

    It’s raining in Monroe County.

    While our rain is a blessing, it goes without saying that the deluge in Texas and Florida as a result of hurricanes Harvey and Irma are catastrophic. The vast amount of water dumped on these communities is something that we haven’t seen before.

    David Leonhart wrote an excellent piece in the New York Times on why we are seeing this now, entitled “Irma, and the Rise of Extreme Rain.” He shows why warm air carries more moisture than cool air. Naturally as the water warms with climate change, the hurricanes and tropical storms will continue to drop large amounts of water on these coastal communities.

    The article ends with these words: “Welcome to the era of extreme rain. We can continue to pretend it’s all a coincidence and watch the consequences mount. Or we can start to do something about it — by using less of the dirty energy that’s changing the climate and by preparing for a future that’s guaranteed to be hotter and rainier.”

    The Monroe County Environmental Commission is working locally to do something about it!

    The Age of the Human and Shifts in Thought

    The Anthropocene is here (if you are like me and didnt know that much, click the link to watch some great TED talks). This global phase is felt locally and has garnered action, paricularly from local Monroe County churches, who continue to reflect their concern for the environment.

     St. Thomas Lutheran (ELCA) is one of these, celebrating a month long push. Season of Creation takes place throughout September at St. Thomas. Themes of this month permeate the church’s liturgy, education, advocacy, and community outreach. Many of the tools used comes from church web resources. A book recommended is titled Season of Creation.

    A part of the past week’s service included adult education looking at the creation story in Genesis through the lens of the Anthropocene. In addition, phone calls to the Governor were urged by members who also belong to the Indiana Forest Alliance

    Efforts like these are now common locally. In fact, there are many other houses of worship who are similarly engaged in environmental and sustainability initiatives, making Monroe County a green haven in Indiana.