Thursday, October 8, 2015

Election 2016: Koch Brothers Officially Back Carly Fiorina, Opening Door To Big Donations


It’s official: The influential Koch brothers have thrown their weight behind Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina, CNN reported Wednesday. Fiorina will gain access to a large pool of funding from conservative groups with the endorsement.

The Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce, an umbrella organization that funds many conservative groups backed by the industrialist brothers Charles and David Koch, announced that Fiorina will be one of five candidates it backs. The group had previously backed Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker before he dropped out of the race in September.

"Governor Jeb Bush, Carly Fiorina and Senators Ted Cruz, Rand Paul and Marco Rubio are leading a thoughtful and substantive discussion on the issues and we look forward to hearing more about their vision for the country," said James Davis, a Freedom Partners spokesman, according to CNN.

Despite backing Fiorina in her unsuccessful 2010 California Senate race against incumbent Barbara Boxer, the Koch brothers waited with their endorsement in this race. Fiorina’s own campaign manager has previously worked for the Koch group.

Election 2016: Koch Brothers Officially Back Carly Fiorina, Opening Door To Big Donations

Exxon's Own Research Confirmed Fossil Fuels' Role in Global Warming Decades Ago


Exxon's Own Research Confirmed Fossil Fuels' Role in Global Warming Decades Ago

Top executives were warned of possible catastrophe from greenhouse effect, then led efforts to block solutions.

By Neela Banerjee, Lisa Song and David Hasemyer

Sep 21, 2015

Exxon Experiment

Exxon's Richard Werthamer (right) and Edward Garvey (left) are aboard the company's Esso Atlantic tanker working on a project to measure the carbon dioxide levels in the ocean and atmosphere. The project ran from 1979 to 1982. (Credit: Richard Werthamer)


At a meeting in Exxon Corporation's headquarters, a senior company scientist named James F. Black addressed an audience of powerful oilmen. Speaking without a text as he flipped through detailed slides, Black delivered a sobering message: carbon dioxide from the world's use of fossil fuels would warm the planet and could eventually endanger humanity.

"In the first place, there is general scientific agreement that the most likely manner in which mankind is influencing the global climate is through carbon dioxide release from the burning of fossil fuels," Black [2] told Exxon's Management Committee, according to a written version he recorded later.

It was July 1977 when Exxon's leaders received this blunt assessment, well before most of the world had heard of the looming climate crisis.

A year later, Black, a top technical expert in Exxon's Research & Engineering division, took an updated version of his presentation to a broader audience. He warned Exxon scientists and managers that independent researchers estimated a doubling of the carbon dioxide (CO2) concentration in the atmosphere would increase average global temperatures by 2 to 3 degrees Celsius (4 to 5 degrees Fahrenheit), and as much as 10 degrees Celsius (18 degrees Fahrenheit) at the poles.  Rainfall might get heavier in some regions, and other places might turn to desert.

"Some countries would benefit but others would have their agricultural output reduced or destroyed," Black said, in the written summary of his 1978 talk.

His presentations reflected uncertainty running through scientific circles about the details of climate change, such as the role the oceans played in absorbing emissions. Still, Black estimated quick action was needed. "Present thinking," he wrote in the 1978 summary, "holds that man has a time window of five to ten years before the need for hard decisions regarding changes in energy strategies might become critical."

Exxon responded swiftly. Within months the company launched its own extraordinary research into carbon dioxide from fossil fuels and its impact on the earth. Exxon's ambitious program included both empirical CO2 sampling and rigorous climate modeling. It assembled a brain trust that would spend more than a decade deepening the company's understanding of an environmental problem that posed an existential threat to the oil business.

Then, toward the end of the 1980s, Exxon curtailed its carbon dioxide research. In the decades that followed, Exxon worked instead at the forefront of climate denial. It put its muscle behind efforts to manufacture doubt about the reality of global warming its own scientists had once confirmed. It lobbied to block federal and international action to control greenhouse gas emissions. It helped to erect a vast edifice of misinformation that stands to this day.

This untold chapter in Exxon's history, when one of the world's largest energy companies worked to understand the damage caused by fossil fuels, stems from an eight-month investigation by InsideClimate News. ICN's reporters interviewed former Exxon employees, scientists, and federal officials, and consulted hundreds of pages of internal Exxon documents, many of them written between 1977 and 1986, during the heyday of Exxon's innovative climate research program. ICN combed through thousands of documents from archives including those held at the University of Texas-Austin, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

The documents record budget requests, research priorities, and debates over findings, and reveal the arc of Exxon's internal attitudes and work on climate and how much attention the results received.

Of particular significance was a project launched in August 1979, when the company outfitted a supertanker with custom-made instruments. The project's mission was to sample carbon dioxide in the air and ocean along a route from the Gulf of Mexico to the Persian Gulf.

In 1980, Exxon assembled a team of climate modelers who investigated fundamental questions about the climate's sensitivity to the buildup  of carbon dioxide in the air. Working with university scientists and the U.S. Department of Energy, Exxon strove to be on the cutting edge of inquiry into what was then called the greenhouse effect.

Exxon's early determination to understand rising carbon dioxide levels grew out of a corporate culture of farsightedness, former employees said. They described a company that continuously examined risks to its bottom line, including environmental factors. In the 1970s, Exxon modeled its research division after Bell Labs, staffing it with highly accomplished scientists and engineers.

In written responses to questions about the history of its research, ExxonMobil spokesman Richard D. Keil said that "from the time that climate change first emerged as a topic for scientific study and analysis in the late 1970s, ExxonMobil has committed itself to scientific, fact-based analysis of this important issue."

"At all times," he said, "the opinions and conclusions of our scientists and researchers on this topic have been solidly within the mainstream of the consensus scientific opinion of the day and our work has been guided by an overarching principle to follow where the science leads. The risk of climate change is real and warrants action."

At the outset of its climate investigations almost four decades ago, many Exxon executives, middle managers and scientists armed themselves with a sense of urgency and mission.

One manager at Exxon Research, Harold N. Weinberg [3], shared his "grandiose thoughts" about Exxon's potential role in climate research in a March 1978 internal company memorandum that read: "This may be the kind of opportunity that we are looking for to have Exxon technology, management and leadership resources put into the context of a project aimed at benefitting mankind."

His sentiment was echoed by Henry Shaw [4], the scientist leading the company's nascent carbon dioxide research effort.

"Exxon must develop a credible scientific team that can critically evaluate the information generated on the subject and be able to carry bad news [5], if any, to the corporation," Shaw wrote to his boss Edward E. David [6], the president of Exxon Research and Engineering in 1978. "This team must be recognized for its excellence in the scientific community, the government, and internally by Exxon management."

Irreversible and Catastrophic

Exxon budgeted more than $1 million over three years for the tanker project to measure how quickly the oceans were taking in CO2. It was a small fraction of Exxon Research's annual $300 million budget, but the question the scientists tackled was one of the biggest uncertainties in climate science: how quickly could the deep oceans absorb atmospheric CO2? If Exxon could pinpoint the answer, it would know how long it had before CO2 accumulation in the atmosphere could force a transition away from fossil fuels.

Exxon also hired scientists and mathematicians to develop better climate models and publish research results in peer-reviewed journals. By 1982, the company's own scientists, collaborating with outside researchers, created rigorous climate models – computer programs that simulate the workings of the climate to assess the impact of emissions on global temperatures. They confirmed an emerging scientific consensus that warming could be even worse than Black had warned five years earlier.

Esso Atlantic

Between 1979 and 1982, Exxon researchers sampled carbon dioxide levels aboard the company's Esso Atlantic tanker (shown here).

Exxon's research laid the groundwork for a 1982 corporate primer [7] on carbon dioxide and climate change prepared by its environmental affairs office. Marked "not to be distributed externally," it contained information that "has been given wide circulation to Exxon management." In it, the company recognized, despite the many lingering unknowns, that heading off global warming "would require major reductions in fossil fuel combustion."

Unless that happened, "there are some potentially catastrophic events that must be considered," the primer said, citing independent experts. "Once the effects are measurable, they might not be reversible."

The Certainty of Uncertainty

Like others in the scientific community, Exxon researchers acknowledged the uncertainties surrounding many aspects of climate science, especially in the area of forecasting models. But they saw those uncertainties as questions they wanted to address, not an excuse to dismiss what was increasingly understood.

"Models are controversial," Roger Cohen [8], head of theoretical sciences at Exxon Corporate Research Laboratories, and his colleague, Richard Werthamer, senior technology advisor at Exxon Corporation, wrote in a May 1980 status report on Exxon's climate modeling program. "Therefore, there are research opportunities for us."

When Exxon's researchers confirmed information the company might find troubling, they did not sweep it under the rug.

"Over the past several years a clear scientific consensus has emerged," Cohen wrote in September 1982, reporting on Exxon's own analysis of climate models. It was that a doubling of the carbon dioxide blanket in the atmosphere would produce average global warming of 3 degrees Celsius, plus or minus 1.5 degrees C (equal to 5 degrees Fahrenheit plus or minus 1.7 degrees F).

"There is unanimous agreement in the scientific community that a temperature increase of this magnitude would bring about significant changes in the earth's climate," he wrote, "including rainfall distribution and alterations in the biosphere."

He warned that publication of the company's conclusions might attract media attention because of the "connection between Exxon's major business and the role of fossil fuel combustion in contributing to the increase of atmospheric CO2."

Nevertheless, he recommended publication.

Our "ethical responsibility is to permit the publication of our research in the scientific literature," Cohen wrote. "Indeed, to do otherwise would be a breach of Exxon's public position and ethical credo on honesty and integrity."

Exxon followed his advice. Between 1983 and 1984, its researchers published their results in at least three peer-reviewed papers in Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences and an American Geophysical Union monograph.

David, the head of Exxon Research, told a global warming conference [9] financed by Exxon in October 1982 that "few people doubt that the world has entered an energy transition away from dependence upon fossil fuels and toward some mix of renewable resources that will not pose problems of CO2 accumulation." The only question, he said, was how fast this would happen.

But the challenge did not daunt him. "I'm generally upbeat about the chances of coming through this most adventurous of all human experiments with the ecosystem," David said.

Exxon considered itself unique among corporations for its carbon dioxide and climate research.  The company boasted in a January 1981 report, "Scoping Study on CO2," that no other company appeared to be conducting similar in-house research into carbon dioxide, and it swiftly gained a reputation among outsiders for genuine expertise.

"We are very pleased with Exxon's research intentions related to the CO2 question. This represents very responsible action, which we hope will serve as a model for research contributions from the corporate sector," said David Slade, manager of the federal government's carbon dioxide research program at the Energy Department, in a May 1979 letter to Shaw. "This is truly a national and international service."

Business Imperatives

In the early 1980s Exxon researchers often repeated that unbiased science would give it legitimacy in helping shape climate-related laws that would affect its profitability.

Still, corporate executives remained cautious about what they told Exxon's shareholders about global warming and the role petroleum played in causing it, a review of federal filings shows. The company did not elaborate on the carbon problem in annual reports filed with securities regulators during the height of its CO2 research.

Nor did it mention in those filings that concern over CO2 was beginning to influence business decisions it was facing.

Throughout the 1980s, the company was worried about developing an enormous gas field off the coast of Indonesia because of the vast amount of CO2 the unusual reservoir would release.

Exxon was also concerned about reports that synthetic oil made from coal, tar sands and oil shales could significantly boost CO2 emissions. The company was banking on synfuels to meet growing demand for energy in the future, in a world it believed was running out of conventional oil. 

In the mid-1980s, after an unexpected oil glut caused prices to collapse, Exxon cut its staff deeply to save money, including many working on climate. But the climate change problem remained, and it was becoming a more prominent part of the political landscape.

"Global Warming Has Begun, Expert Tells Senate," declared the headline of a June 1988 New York Times article describing the Congressional testimony of NASA's James Hansen, a leading climate expert. Hansen's statements compelled Sen. Tim Wirth (D-Colo.) to declare during the hearing that "Congress must begin to consider how we are going to slow or halt that warming trend."

With alarm bells suddenly ringing, Exxon started financing efforts to amplify doubt about the state of climate science.

Exxon helped to found and lead the Global Climate Coalition, an alliance of some of the world's largest companies seeking to halt government efforts to curb fossil fuel emissions. Exxon used the American Petroleum Institute, right-wing think tanks, campaign contributions and its own lobbying to push a narrative that climate science was too uncertain to necessitate cuts in fossil fuel emissions.

As the international community moved in 1997 to take a first step in curbing emissions with the Kyoto Protocol, Exxon's chairman and CEO Lee Raymond [10] argued to stop it.

"Let's agree there's a lot we really don't know about how climate will change in the 21st century and beyond," Raymond said in his speech before the World Petroleum Congress in Beijing in October 1997.

"We need to understand the issue better, and fortunately, we have time," he said. "It is highly unlikely that the temperature in the middle of the next century will be significantly affected whether policies are enacted now or 20 years from now."

Over the years, several Exxon scientists who had confirmed the climate consensus during its early research, including Cohen and David, took Raymond's side, publishing views that ran contrary to the scientific mainstream.

Paying the Price

Exxon's about-face on climate change earned the scorn of the scientific establishment it had once courted.

In 2006, the Royal Society, the United Kingdom's science academy, sent a harsh letter to Exxon accusing it of being "inaccurate and misleading" on the question of climate uncertainty. Bob Ward, the Academy's senior manager for policy communication, demanded that Exxon stop giving money to dozens of organizations he said were actively distorting the science.

In 2008, under mounting pressure from activist shareholders, the company announced it would end support for some prominent groups such as those Ward had identified.

Still, the millions of dollars Exxon had spent since the 1990s on climate change deniers had long surpassed what it had once invested in its path-breaking climate science aboard the Esso Atlantic.

"They spent so much money and they were the only company that did this kind of research as far as I know," Edward Garvey [11], who was a key researcher on Exxon's oil tanker project, said in a recent interview with InsideClimate News and Frontline. "That was an opportunity not just to get a place at the table, but to lead, in many respects, some of the discussion. And the fact that they chose not to do that into the future is a sad point."

Michael Mann, director of the Earth System Science Center at Pennsylvania State University, who has been a frequent target of climate deniers, said that inaction, just like actions, have consequences. When he recently spoke to InsideClimate News, he was unaware of this chapter in Exxon's history.

"All it would've taken is for one prominent fossil fuel CEO to know this was about more than just shareholder profits, and a question about our legacy," he said. "But now because of the cost of inaction—what I call the 'procrastination penalty'—we face a far more uphill battle."

Click here for Part II [12], an accounting of Exxon's early climate research; Part III [13], a review of Exxon's climate modeling efforts; Part IV [14], a dive into Exxon's Natuna gas field project; Part V [15], a look at Exxon's push for synfuels.

ICN staff members Zahra Hirji, Paul Horn, Naveena Sadasivam, Sabrina Shankman and Alexander Wood also contributed to this report.

Exxon's Own Research Confirmed Fossil Fuels' Role in Global Warming Decades Ago

OPINION: How Big Oil hijacked the climate-change debate with its lies - MarketWatch


Just as Big Tobacco did about smoking, ExxonMobil lied about what it knew about global warming



Getty Images

ExxonMobil has known since the 1970s that burning fossil fuels contributed to climate change, but lied about what it knew and helped create a whole industry of global-warming denial.

BOSTON (Project Syndicate) — Over the last few years, a growing number of people have been taking a hard look at what is happening to our planet — historic droughts, rising sea levels, massive floods — and acknowledging, finally, that human activity is propelling rapid climate change. But guess what? Exxon (now ExxonMobil) XOM, +0.16%  had an inkling of this as early as 1978.

By the early 1980s, Exxon scientists had much more than an inkling. They not only understood the science behind climate change, but also recognized the company’s own outsize role in driving the phenomenon. Recognizing the potential effects as “catastrophic” for a significant portion of the population, they urged Exxon’s top executives to take action. Instead, the executives buried the truth.

Beyond suppressing its own findings, ExxonMobil (and its peers) funded and promoted junk science and attacked scientists who warned of the impending climate disaster.

There may be a silver lining to this infuriating story: the recent investigation that exposed Exxon’s deceit could end up catalyzing the action needed to address the looming climate crisis. After all, similar revelations about the tobacco industry — what the major cigarette companies knew and when they knew it — transformed the public-health landscape.

In 1996, a series of lawsuits forced tobacco companies to release millions of internal documents, which confirmed what public-health advocates and policy makers had long suspected: as early as the 1950s, the industry knew that nicotine was addictive and that cigarettes caused cancer.

But, to protect its own interests, Big Tobacco deliberately misled the public, doing everything possible to cast doubt on scientific findings that it knew to be accurate. Such tactics enabled the industry to delay, for more than 50 years, regulation that could have saved millions of lives annually.

After the revelations, however, it was clear that the tobacco industry was a malevolent force that did not belong in the policy-making process. With Big Tobacco out of the picture, and armed with evidence of the real effects of tobacco consumption, health advocates were finally able to compel their governments to act.

In 2003, world leaders agreed to the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, negotiated under the auspices of the World Health Organization. Today, the treaty covers 90% of the world’s populationand has contributed to a significant decline in sales for global tobacco corporations. Over time, it will save hundreds of millions of lives (and save governments’ health-care budgets huge sums).

Big Oil, it is now clear, has been following Big Tobacco’s playbook. In 1997, almost two decades after it began studying climate change, it quashed its research, claiming that climate science was “far from clear” and thus that it did not “support mandated cuts in energy use.”

Beyond suppressing its own findings, ExxonMobil (and its peers) funded and promoted junk science and attacked scientists who warned of the impending climate disaster. The fossil-fuel companies’ approach was so effective that the media are only now beginning to recognize the leading role the industry played in creating — almost out of whole cloth — the so-called “climate debate.”

But perhaps Big Oil’s biggest success was diminishing the political will to implement appropriate regulation. Even after the international community adopted the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in 1992, the fossil-fuel industry managed to block meaningful progress — to the point that, if serious action is not taken soon, the entire process could unravel.

In Europe, Royal Dutch Shell’s  lobbying so diluted the European Union’s effortsthat there are now no binding targets for renewables or energy efficiency for individual countries. The company RDSA, +1.12% RDSB, +0.91% even sent a letter to the European Commission’s president claiming that “gas is good for Europe.” Shell and other oil companies are now promising to work as “advisers” to national governments on how to deal with climate change.

Just as the tobacco files drove the tobacco industry out of policy-making processes, the Exxon investigation should compel world leaders to eliminate the fossil-fuel industry from efforts to solve the climate crisis. After all, no policy can succeed if those who shape it are betting on its failure.

The turning point for tobacco-related public-health policy came when the industry’s depravity became indisputable. Now, that moment has come for the climate movement. We cannot simply hope that the fossil-fuel industry will change its ways.

As an alliance of human-rights groups, environmental activists, and corporate-accountability advocates already is demanding, we must kick the industry out of the policy-making process altogether.

Exxon’s scientists were right: the effects of climate change on many communities are catastrophic. With so many lives at stake — and such clear evidence of the threat — Big Oil, like Big Tobacco before it, should be treated for what it is: Big Trouble.

This article has been published with the permission of Project Syndicate Big Oil, Big Tobacco, Big Lies.

Kelle Louaillier is president of Corporate Accountability International. Bill McKibben, a scholar in environmental sciences at Middlebury College and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, is a co­founder of

Above is from:  How Big Oil hijacked the climate-change debate with its lies - MarketWatch

Rauner says 'big things' possible with compromise - Daily Southtown


Playing the role of appeaser in one breath and admonisher with the next, Gov. Bruce Rauner, speaking in Oak Lawn on Wednesday, said Republicans and Democrats have the opportunity of "transforming the state," yet Democratic leaders are content to "just double down on the status quo."

But even as the Republican governor said it was "simply inexcusable and unacceptable" for Illinois to be more than three months into the fiscal year and still lacking a budget, there were signs that a quick resolution to the gridlock won't be coming any time soon.

Addressing the annual meeting of the Chicago Southland Convention & Visitors Bureau, Rauner said "we're at a turning point in Illinois' history."

"Will we stay on the failed path of the status quo" or chart a course toward "fiscal responsibility and stronger economic growth?" he asked.

He said that legislators and his office are "capable of doing big things together, we're capable of transforming the state."

"We owe it to the people of Illinois to do that," Rauner said.

The governor said that "legislators who like the status quo are holding up the budget," and that failure to come to a quick consensus on a spending plan will only "cause more people in our state to be harmed." House Speaker Michael Madigan, however, laid the blame for that harm at the governor's feet, accusing him of pushing an agenda that will "devastate Illinois' middle class."

Rauner says 'big things' possible with compromise - Daily Southtown

Fiat Chrysler strikes deal with UAW that averts strike


DETROIT — Averting a possible midnight strike, the UAW and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles reached a new tentative agreement late Wednesday, with the union saying it won "significant gains" compared with an earlier deal members rejected last week.

The union told workers that it reached the new deal at 11:41 p.m. Eastern, according to a union message delivered to members. The union announced the deal to the outside world in a Facebook post at 12:03 am. Thursday.

"I'm relieved to know that I'll be able to return to work tomorrow and keep supporting my family," said Stephen Sowl, a worker at the company's casting plant in Kokomo, Ind. "But I'm also prepared to turn the contract down if it's not up to expectations."


The agreement will be discussed by the UAW National Chrysler Council which will meet in Detroit on Friday at 11 a.m., and they will vote on whether to recommend it as the first step to getting it to the members for a ratification vote.

"We heard from our members, and went back to FCA to strengthen their contract,” said UAW President Dennis Williams in a written statement. “We’ve reached a proposed tentative agreement that I believe addresses our members’ principal concerns about their jobs and their futures. We have made real gains and I look forward to a full discussion of the terms with our membership."

The union said it plans to make the details available after the Friday meeting, which would go a long way to preventing misinformation among members as to the terms, which was a factor in scuttling the first tentative agreement the union reached Sept. 15 which workers rejected.


"FCA US confirms that it has reached a new tentative agreement with the UAW," the company said in a statement. "Because the agreement is subject to UAW member ratification, the company cannot discuss the specifics of the agreement pending a vote by UAW members."

In the final minutes leading up to the Wednesday night deadline, 40,000 Fiat Chrysler workers had not received marching orders or news that their union leadership had reached the deal. But there were no reports of workers leaving the job as they awaited news.

The agreement comes a week after it decided to go back to the bargaining table after 65% of workers voted to reject an earlier proposal.

The UAW could have moved on to complete contract talks with either General Motors or Ford but decided instead to attempt to restructure the agreement.

Fiat Chrysler strikes deal with UAW that averts strike

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

High Quality Child Care Is Out of Reach for Working Families | Economic Policy Institute


Introduction and key findings

In recent decades most Americans have endured stagnant hourly pay, despite significant economy-wide income growth (Bivens and Mishel 2015). In essence, only a fraction of overall economic growth is trickling down to typical households. There is no silver bullet for ensuring ordinary Americans share in the country’s prosperity; instead, it will take a range of policies. Some should give workers more leverage in the labor market, and some should expand social insurance and public investments to boost incomes. An obvious example of the latter is helping American families cope with the high cost of child care.

The high cost of child care has received attention from an array of policymakers. For example, in his 2015 State of the Union address, President Obama cited child care affordability as a key to helping middle-class families feel more secure in a world of constant change (White House 2015). New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio recognized similar concerns and released an interagency implementation plan for free, high-quality, full-day universal prekindergarten (NYC 2014). High quality, dependable, and affordable child care for children of all ages is more important than ever, especially since having both parents in the workforce is an economic necessity for many families.

This paper uses a number of benchmarks to gauge the affordability of child care across the country. It begins by explaining how child care costs fit into EPI’s basic family budget thresholds, which measure the income families need in order to attain a modest yet adequate standard of living in 618 communities. The report then compares child care costs to state minimum wages and public college tuition. Finally, to determine how child care costs differ by location and family composition, the paper reconstructs budgets for two-parent, two-child families in 10 locations to include the higher cost of infant care, compares these families’ child care costs to those of families without infants, and compares costs for both family types with metro area median incomes.

Key findings include:

  • Child care costs account for a significant portion of family budgets.
    • EPI’s basic family budget threshold for a two-parent, two-child family ranges from $49,114 (Morristown, Tennessee) to $106,493 (Washington, D.C.). In the median family budget area for this family type (Des Moines, Iowa), a two-parent, two-child family needs $63,741 to attain a modest yet adequate standard of living.
    • Across regions and family types, child care costs account for the greatest variability in family budgets. Monthly child care costs for a household with one child (a 4-year-old) range from $344 in rural South Carolina to $1,472 in Washington, D.C.
    • As a share of total family budgets, center-based child care for single-parent families with two children (ages 4 and 8) ranges from 11.7 percent in New Orleans to 33.7 percent in Buffalo, New York.
    • Among families with two children (a 4-year-old and an 8-year-old), child care costs exceed rent in 500 out of 618 family budget areas. For two-child families, child care costs range from about half as much as rent in San Francisco to nearly three times rent in Binghamton, New York.
  • Child care is particularly unaffordable for minimum-wage workers.
    • The high cost of child care means that a full-time, full-year minimum-wage worker with one child falls far below the family budget threshold in all 618 family budget areas—even after adjusting for higher state and city minimum wages.
    • Among families with young children, child care costs constitute a large share of annual earnings for families living off one full-time, full-year minimum-wage income. For example, to meet the demands of infant care costs for a year, a minimum-wage worker in Hawaii—the state with the median state minimum wage ($7.75)—would have to devote his or her entire earnings from working full time (40 hours a week) from January until September.
  • Other salient benchmarks highlight the extremely high costs of child care.
    • In 33 states and the District of Columbia, infant care costs exceed the average cost of in-state college tuition at public 4-year institutions.
    • In terms of child care costs’ share of total family budgets, only in a handful of EPI’s 618 family budget areas are child care costs close to the 10 percent affordability threshold established by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
    • Child care costs are particularly high for younger children. When 10 family budgets in various areas are reconstructed to include two-parent, two-child families with an infant and a 4-year-old (instead of a 4-year-old and an 8-year-old), child care ranges from 19.3 percent to 28.7 percent of total family budgets. This compares with a range of 11.8 percent to 21.6 percent for families with a 4-year-old and an 8-year-old.
    • In these 10 areas, child care costs for an infant and a 4-year-old constitute between approximately 20 percent and 31 percent of median family income—far above the HHS’s 10 percent affordability standard.

Child care costs and EPI’s basic family budgets

Perhaps the best way to evaluate the affordability of child care is to determine the share of a family’s budget accounted for by child care costs. Toward this end, this paper relies upon EPI’s Family Budget Calculator (Gould, Cooke, and Kimball 2015), which measures the income families need in order to attain a modest yet adequate living standard where they live by estimating community-specific costs of housing, food, child care, transportation, health care, other necessities, and taxes, for 10 family types living in 618 U.S. communities.

Background on EPI’s basic family budgets

EPI’s basic family budgets differ by location, since certain costs, such as housing, vary significantly depending on where one resides. Geographical cost-of-living differences are built into the budget calculations by incorporating regional, state, or local variations in prices (depending on item). Basic family budget measurements are also adjustable by family type because expenses vary considerably depending on the number of children in a family (if any), and whether a family is headed by a single parent or two parents. The 10 family types include one or two adults with zero to four children. To estimate family costs, we assume one-child families have a 4-year-old, and that a second child is 8 years old, a third 12 years old, and a fourth 16 years old. (For more on the methodology used to construct the budgets, see Gould et al. 2015.)

The shares of expenses going to various categories vary substantially across areas and family types. Unsurprisingly, the lowest family budgets are for a single person. Except for child care (in which case families composed of two adults with no children also spend nothing), one-person families have the lowest expenses in every category. For example, they require only efficiency housing and only need to purchase other items, such as food and health care, for one. Budgets rise significantly with family size, since more children require more housing, food, health care, and child care.

What it takes to get by varies greatly across the country, as displayed in Figure A. For a two-parent, two-child family, the family budget threshold ranges from $49,114 (in Morristown, Tennessee) to $106,493 (in Washington, D.C.). In the median family budget area for this family type—Des Moines, Iowa—a two-parent, two-child family needs $63,741 to attain a modest yet adequate standard of living.

Read more by clicking on the following:  High Quality Child Care Is Out of Reach for Working Families | Economic Policy Institute

Gov. Brown signs climate change bill to spur renewable energy, efficiency standards - LA Times


Jerry Brown on Wednesday signed a pared-down climate change measure that will increase renewable energy generation and make buildings more energy efficient.

The legislation, SB 350 by Senate leader Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles), was amended to remove a third component that would have required reduced gasoline use on California roads. The battle over the controversial proposal dominated the closing weeks of the legislative session last month.

Despite ceding some ground in a tug-of-war with oil companies, Brown and De León have touted the remaining parts of the legislation as significant steps in California’s fight against climate change.

Brown said the law would help the state lead a worldwide effort and improve the health of Californians.

"This is big," he said. "It’s big because it’s global in scope. It’s also big because it’s local in application."

A quick guide to California's climate change battle

A quick guide to California's climate change battle

Chris Megerianneed to invest in storage technology and other initiatives

California's battle against climate change involves an alphabet soup of agencies responsible for different programs and several key laws that guide state actions. Here's a glossary:

SB 350: This bill is now law, signed by Gov. Jerry Brown in Los Angeles on Wednesday. It sets two targets for 2030...

California's battle against climate change involves an alphabet soup of agencies responsible for different programs and several key laws that guide state actions. Here's a glossary:

SB 350: This bill is now law, signed by Gov. Jerry Brown in Los Angeles on Wednesday. It sets two targets for 2030...

(Chris Megerian)

The bill will require California to generate 50% of its electricity from renewable sources such as solar and wind by 2030, up from the current target of 33% by 2020.

“We’re mainstreaming clean power," De León said. No matter where Californians live, “you will have the same access to clean electricity and clean air.”

The state’s target is expected to stimulate the development of more solar and wind power plants, but it will also raise new challenges. Renewable energy can be unreliable because it's impossible to predict when the sun shines or the wind blows, and experts say California will to ensure the right amount of electricity is available when it's needed.

The inside story of how power struggles doomed Jerry Brown's top priority

The state will also need to become twice as energy efficient by 2030 under the new law. For existing buildings, that could include installing newer appliances or improving heating and air conditioning systems.

“What we’re trying to do is facilitate, where necessary, the marketplace for energy efficiency, for building upgrades, for remodels," said Andrew McAllister, a commissioner at the California Energy Commission.

Above is from:  Gov. Brown signs climate change bill to spur renewable energy, efficiency standards - LA Times