with Paulina Firozi


Over the course of his career in politics, Roy Moore, the Republican candidate for Senate in today's special election in Alabama, has staked out positions extreme even for his own party.

Moore has said homosexuality should be illegal. He has said Muslim Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) shouldn't be allowed to serve in Congress. He still thinks that former president Barack Obama was not born in the United States — unlike Donald Trump, who touted such conspiracy theories as a candidate until renouncing them in the heat of the campaign.

But on the issue of climate change, Moore may fit right in with his possible Republican colleagues in Congress.

Preferring to stump on cultural issues, such as his opposition to abortion and same-sex marriage, Moore has been uncharacteristically quiet about energy and environmental issues. His campaign website contains a rather anodyne position under the “Energy” heading: “To gain independence from foreign oil, we need to foster development of our own natural resources involving nuclear, solar, wind, and fossil fuels. Coal mining and oil drilling should be encouraged, subject only to reasonable regulations.”

At only 36 words, Moore's energy stance is the shortest of any of the policy descriptions on his campaign website. (“Constitution” and “Family” are each nearly three times as long.) Ignoring the absence of any mention of climate change, that stance is nearly indiscernible from that of some Democrats. His campaign declined to answer questions about climate change in July, according to the Montgomery Advertiser. Moore ruled on few if any environmental cases as a judge, according to HuffPost.

This doesn't mean he has never expressed an opinion on climate science. Like many Senate Republicans he may soon join, should he win today's special election against Democrat Doug Jones for now-Attorney General Sen. Jeff Sessions's seat, Moore thinks climate science is a bunch of bunk.

In 2009, between the two times he was removed from his position as chief justice of Alabama's Supreme Court, Moore wrote an op-ed on the conservative website WorldNetDaily opposing Obama's proposal for a nationwide cap-and-trade system for carbon dioxide.

“Not only do scientists disagree on 'global warming,' but there is little hard evidence that carbon emissions cause changes to the global climate,” Moore wrote. 

As evidence of that claim, Moore cited the work of Alan Carlin, an Environmental Protection Agency economist who expressed contrarian views within the agency as it developed its “endangerment finding” concluding that the climate-warming effects of rising carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere posed a health risk to the nation.

He wrote:

In fact, in March 2009 Dr. Alan Carlin, employed by [EPA], issued a 98-page report that was quite skeptical of “global warming.” Carlin’s report stated: “My personal view is that there is not currently any reason to regulate [carbon dioxide]. There may be in the future. But global temperatures are roughly where they were in the mid 20th century. They’re not going up, and if anything they’re going down.”

Carlin’s report was suppressed by EPA director Al McGartland, who explained to Carlin, “the administration has decided to move forward . . . and your comments do not help the legal or policy case for this decision.”

If the story of Alan Cardin feels familiar, that may be because the public heard it last week.

During a hearing of the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Thursday, Rep. Joe Barton (R-Tex.) repeatedly brought up Carlin when pressing EPA chief Scott Pruiit on whether his agency would try to undo the 2009 endangerment finding, which underpinned the Clean Power Plan the Obama administration put in place after failing to pass that cap-and-trade bill in Congress.

“This finding document was rushed through very quickly,” Barton told Pruitt. “There was a career analyst at EPA that took exception to that and wrote a scathing report that ripped it apart. That analyst was discouraged from bringing his report forward and ultimately forced to retire.”

When asked about the endangerment finding, Pruitt said, “You are correct, Congressman, that the work done in 2009 was accelerated.” Barton offered to give Pruitt a copy of Carlin's report if he did not have it.

Barton's position isn't very different from the rest of the House Republican conference. According to an analysis done by the news site Motherboard, 232 out of the 435 members of the House object in varying degrees to the scientific consensus that humans are warming the planet.

On climate change, the ideological makeup of Senate Republicans is pretty similar to that of their House counterparts. In the chamber Moore is trying to join, 53 of the 100 senators doubt the science, too.


-- Fracas at FERC: Federal Energy Regulatory Commissioner Neil Chatterjee, who until last week served as the interim chairman of the panel, said Monday he isn't worried about FERC's 30-day delay in considering Energy Secretary Rick Perry’s coal and nuclear rule proposal.

“I think it’s prudent that my colleagues want a little bit more time to carefully evaluate the docket,” Chatterjee said at an event hosted by Axios. “And they intend to do that, and I presume that they will thoughtfully and carefully evaluate the fact-based, data-driven process that we have … at the commission, and we’ll look to see what potential actions can taken.”

One of the first orders of businesses for FERC's new chairman, Kevin McIntyre, was to ask for more time to complete the review.

Utility Dive’s Gavin Bade reported Chatterjee also appeared to tone down previous calls to prioritize a short-term plan for providing payments for coal and nuclear plants until FERC could do a longer-term assessment of energy grid resilience, now saying a long-term plan is critical.

“In doing that long-term analysis, if you have plants that prematurely shut down that we find out after the fact we needed, that would be problematic to me and I believe we could potentially regret that,” Chatterjee said. “But that said, the more important focus is answering the long-term question.”

But crucially, Chatterjee later said he didn't yet have the votes to approve an interim plan on the Energy Department’s proposal. Other FERC commissioners have voiced skepticism about Perry's proposal.

-- France lures 13 U.S. climate scientists: Two years after the Paris climate agreement was adopted, the French government has announced research grants for 18 “laureates” who won a “Make Our Planet Great Again” competition. And 13 of those recipients, The Post’s Steven Mufson reports, are based in the United States, including professors and researchers working at Cornell, Columbia and Stanford universities to name a few. The competition netted 1,822 applications, with about two-thirds of applicants coming from the United States.

The program initially appeared to be mainly a response to President Trump’s decision to pull the United States from the Paris climate accord. After Trump announced his intent, Macron offered in a social media plea to greet American scientists with open arms and research dollars, Mufson writes, calling on them to see France as a “second homeland” and to travel to work in the country because “we all share the same responsibility: make our planet great again.” 

-- More on Zinke’s travels: A last-minute decision by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to alter travel plans for a fact-finding trip to Channel Islands National Park in California increased the cost of his trip by nearly $2,000, reports The Post’s Juliet Eilperin. Details from emails obtained by advocacy group Western Values Project via a Freedom of Information Act request show that a change was made to start the trip in Santa Barbara, Calif. which included Zinke's wife, Lolita and her aunt, Beatrice Walder. Zinke was initially set to depart out of Ventura Harbor on a Park Service vessel. 

-- More ire over Uranium One: On Monday, Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) called for an expanded investigation into a uranium mining company operating in his home state, Uranium One. The Obama administration approved the sale of uranium mines in Wyoming to a state-owned firm in Russia.

But Barrasso says the previous administration misled him about whether it approved the export of the ore. Calling for documents in a letter to the Energy Department and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Barrasso wants to know if the "Obama administration intentionally misled Congress on uranium exports," according to a news release.

-- New EPA regional administrator: The EPA announced Monday Anne Idsal was tapped ase the administrator for Region 6. Idsal, who comes from the Texas General Land Office, will lead the EPA office oveseeing Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas and 66 tribes, per the agency’s website.

Here’s some context on Idsal from the Texas Observer’s Naveena Sadasivam, who notes her political connections:

And from The Hill’s Timothy Cama:


-- ExxonMobil gives in to climate-concerned shareholders: On Monday, the oil giant said it would make further disclosures on the impact climate change will have on its business. "These enhancements will include energy demand sensitivities, implications of two degree Celsius scenarios, and positioning for a lower-carbon future," the company wrote in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing. That decision follows a shareholder rebellion in May in which 62.3 percent of shares voted to instruct the oil and gas company to report on the impact of global measures designed to keep climate change to 2 degrees centigrade. 

Firefighters in Carpinteria, Calif., sprayed water on burning vegetation on Dec. 10, in an attempt to save homes. (San Bernardino County Fire Department)

-- California is still burning: Thousands of firefighters continued to battle the Thomas Fire a week after it first erupted in Southern California. The blaze has grown to more than 231,00 acres, according to the Los Angeles Times and has been 20 percent contained. As of Monday evening, at least 869 structures have been destroyed.

The Los Angeles Times reports on how the Thomas fire, now one of the five largest in the state’s modern history, reemerged over the weekend even after firefighters believed it may have died down. Winds and thick brush are partly to blame, the newspaper reported. Smoke from the blaze has also created unhealthy air conditions from Santa Barbara to Bakersfield, per the report.

Elsewhere in the state, the Lilac fire in San Diego County has been 90 percent contained, the Skirball fire 85 percent contained, the Creek fire 98 percent contained and the Rye fire 96 percent contained.

Trump was briefed on the wildfires on Monday. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue also briefed Vice President Pence during a wildfire prevention roundtable, according to the Associated Press.

A visualization of the fires' movements from NASA Earth's Joshua Stevens:

The wildfires have sparked questions about the regulations the state puts in place to try to prevent the blazes, as the New York Times reports. Fire officials have said that rules like requiring homeowners to remove flammable bush outside their homes have had mixed success.

The regulations were established after the 1961 Bel-Air Fire, which destroyed about 500 homes.

But officials said the rules only do so much to help curb destruction.

“It helps in that it gives us defensible space,” said Ralph M. Terrazas, the chief of the Los Angeles Fire Department said about the regulations. “However, once the winds become high speed, the downwind embers can easily jump to the house and clear that defensible gap.”

A map of what is now one of the state's five biggest modern fires, from the Los Angeles Times: 

From the "Today" show:

A look at the fire as of this morning, from CNN's Omar Jimenez:

-- If climate change changes the wind, how would it affect wind as a renewable energy source? Two recent studies have started to answer that question, reports The Post’s Chris Mooney. In the first study, researchers found that in China there is a lowered rate of wind energy potential. “China, the world’s largest emitter of carbon dioxide by a considerable margin, has already installed well more than 100 gigawatts of wind energy, considerably more than any other nation. So the new research plainly shows how climate change can render itself harder to fight,” Mooney explains. In the second study, researchers found that climate change will decrease wind energy resources in the Northern Hemisphere, where most people reside.

The bottom line, via Mooney: “[T]he new research underscores that, if we are going to rely on the natural processes of the Earth to counter the ways in which we’re changing the Earth, we should be ready for the occasional curve ball."

-- How do you prepare for a climate disaster? By blowing things up: Insurance company FM Global is working to understand hazards that arise in extreme weather by simulating them — setting things on fire, breaking chunks of ice and hurling debris at hurricane speeds, reports the New York Times’s Hiroko Tabuchi. This year’s record number of natural disasters is expected to tally another record for economic losses. Last year, total losses from natural disasters reached $175 billion worldwide, per the Times, and this year is expected to top it. So to prepare, the company is testing a projectile missile launcher, firing ice spheres against roofs and literally building objects to burn and blow them up. “This job is an engineer’s dream,” Scott Holmes, an assistant vice president on the technical team, told the newspaper. 

-- Climate change: Bad for the meat industry... Investors are banking on governments around the world targeting a tax on meat as a way to improve public health and lower emissions, Bloomberg reports. Greenhouse gas emissions from livestock account for 14.5 percent of total emissions worldwide, according to data from the Food & Agriculture Organization. According to a new report from London-based FAIRR, Bloomberg adds, meat consumption could spike 73 percent by 2050, which would result in up to $1.6 trillion in global health and environmental costs. 

-- ...but good for cycling: A warming globe could boost economic gains for the outdoor recreation industry, a new study has found, specifically focusing on cycling gains. The new search, from Resources For the Future fellow Casey Wichman and University of Massachusetts resource economics expert Nathan Chan analyzed data on millions of bike-sharing trips and found that cycling alone could see a boost of $900 million each year by 2060, Axios reported. And outdoor recreation overall could see $20.7 billion annual gains in the same time period.        


-- Will electric vehicles doom your neighborhood auto mechanic? The Post’s Peter Holley breaks down why the wave of electric vehicles could upend a large portion of auto mechanics’ workforce. Electric engines don’t require oil changes. They have fewer moving parts and break down far less frequently, eliminating the common reasons customers rely on regular maintenance. As the U.S. auto repair industry employs about 750,000 workers, that leaves a significant portion of the workforce at risk if there is a shift toward electric vehicles, Holley writes. 



  • The U.S. Energy Storage Summit begins.
  • House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Digital Commerce Consumer Protection holds a hearing on the “Corporate Average Fuel Economy Program and Greenhouse Gas Emissions Standards for Motor Vehicles.”
  • The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee holds a hearing on “permitting processes at DOI and FERC for energy and resource infrastructure projects."
  • The Senate Energy and Commerce holds a business meeting on various nominations.
  • The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee holds a business meeting on various nominations.
  • The House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources will hold an oversight hearing on “Examining Consequences of America’s Growing Dependence on Foreign Minerals.”
  • Sens. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Benjamin L. Cardin (D-Md.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) hold a news conference to call for the removal of a number of renewable energy provisions in the GOP tax plan conference report.

Coming Up

  • The House Science, Space and Technology Subcommittee on Energy holds a hearing on advancing solar energy technology on Wednesday.
  • Resources for the Future holds a seminar on “What does repeal of the Clean Power Plan Mean for Future Climate and Energy Policies” on Wednesday.
  • The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy holds a hearing on the “Impacts and Future of North American Energy Trade” on Wednesday.
  • The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee holds a hearing on the “Oversight of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission” on Wednesday.
  • The House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Federal Lands holds a legislative hearing on Grand Staircase-Escalante Bill on Thursday.
  • National Journal holds a webinar on Trump and NAFTA on Thursday.
  • The Dialogue holds an event on the Trump administration, Latin America and Energy on Friday. 

Listen to President Trump's robo-call for Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore:

President Trump recorded a phone call supporting Republican U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore. (Reuters)

On the eve of the election, Democratic candidate Doug Jones urges Alabama voters to put "decency" before political party:

Democratic senatorial candidate Doug Jones spoke at a rally on Dec. 11 in Birmingham, Ala. on the eve of the Alabama U.S. Senate election. (Alice Li, Melissa Macaya/The Washington Post)

Three of Trump's accusers speak out, again: "This time, the environment's different:"

Three of the women accusing President Trump of sexual misconduct speak out again, in hopes a new "environment" will yield change. (Joyce Koh/The Washington Post)