scharrison's blog

Trump set to pull out of Paris Climate Accord

Taking irresponsibility to a whole new level:

President Donald Trump is expected to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement, two senior US officials familiar with his plans told CNN Wednesday. The decision would be a significant foreign policy break with nearly every other nation on earth and a major reversal of the Obama administration's efforts on climate change.

Trump met Tuesday with a key voice advocating for withdrawal, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt. He meets Wednesday with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who supported remaining in the deal.

Understand, the Paris Agreement was derived from numerous concerns voiced over the Kyoto Protocols, and is the result of tens of thousands of hours of research and negotiations. It's doubtful Trump has even the slightest idea how it's constructed or what it entails, including the fact it is mostly a self-regulation vehicle that allows individual signatories to choose their own path to carbon reduction. Here are a few snippets from the Agreement itself:

Mark Walker gets schooled at his Town Hall in Alamance County

When your audience is ready for your bullshit:

A top House lawmaker and his constituents argued over who is to blame for rising Obamacare premiums in North Carolina. Rep. Mark Walker, R-N.C., said at a town hall in Alamance County Tuesday the state's lone Obamacare insurer request for a rate hike of nearly 23 percent next year is evidence the law is failing.

"Their rates and premiums are going up 22, 23 percent," he said. However, some of his constituents quickly shouted that premiums would only go up about 9 percent if President Trump guaranteed Obamacare's insurer subsidies next year. "Don't lie to us," one person shouted at the lawmaker.

Boom. That's exactly what he (and everybody else) needed to hear. And he'll probably hear it again in just a few hours in Randolph County (6;30 p.m., 413 Industrial Park Ave, Asheboro). For more info on making your voice heard at town halls, go to the Town Hall Project and check it out.

Tuesday Twitter roundup

Since the NC House Budget is about to hit the floor:

Just because they served the citizens yesterday, it doesn't mean we should forget them today.

Democratic Party pushes for candidates who are veterans

Finally doing something that might just work:

Looking ahead to next year's elections, Democrats are trying to recruit at least two dozen military veterans to challenge Republican incumbents, arguing that candidates with military on their resumes appeals to independent voters and can help the party break the GOP grip on Washington.

"Veterans have had the experience of putting the country first, before personal politics" and party dictates, said Rep. Seth Moulton, D-Mass, who did four tours of duty in Iraq, left the Marines as a captain and was elected to Congress in 2014. That tends "to attract the kind of independent voters who are looking for a good leader," Moulton added.

While I may be a little prejudiced in favor of veterans, I have always believed it would be wise for the Democratic Party to field them as candidates. A lot of Democrats are veterans, but we've allowed the GOP to (falsely, in many cases) claim the high ground on veterans' issues, even those who never served. Richard Burr is a prime example, but there are many others. And it's not just Independent voters who may be swayed by a Dem in uniform. North Carolina has the third largest population of active and reserve military voters, with some 129,000 troops, not counting spouses. I've been there, done that, and the first question on my mind before casting my vote was, "Which ones have served in the military?" And as each day brings new embarrassments over Trump, that veteran angle will be even more effective:

Republican meddling with ACA causes spike in premiums

And GOP Congressmen should be hearing about this at town halls:

Blue Cross cited several reasons for its request. One is an increase in medical costs, including for doctors fees, hospital services and medicines, which the insurer cites every year it seeks rate increases. The company also blamed the increase on a higher tax on insurers next year.

But the biggest cause is the looming elimination of “cost sharing reductions” in the Republican alternative to the ACA. These reductions offer additional subsidies on deductibles and other out-of-pocket costs to lower-income people whose household incomes are between 100 percent and 250 percent of the federal poverty level.

At the core of the Affordable Care Act was a mutual understanding between government and citizens: You pay, we'll pay. While it's far from perfect, that cooperative effort has provided millions of families with the coverage they desperately needed, while greatly reducing the amount of unpaid medical bills. Until now. Republicans claimed they were trying to make health care more affordable to citizens, but that is not even on their radar. What they're really trying to do is get rid of one side of that agreement, the government's half. And they're doing it so they can force even bigger tax cuts for the wealthy. Whether you lose your insurance, or end up paying 3 times as much for lesser coverage, that doesn't really matter to them. YOYO, as my dad used to say. You're on your own.

Duke Energy hampering investments in NC Solar farms

solarfarm.jpg

It's all about the duration of contracts:

One of the nation’s biggest solar developers is challenging Duke Energy’s purchases of solar energy in a case before the North Carolina Utilities Commission. The complaint by California-based Cypress Creek Renewables focuses on an arcane topic – the term of power-purchase contracts by Duke. But its outcome could affect the way the solar industry continues to grow in the nation’s second-largest solar state.

Cypress Creek approached Duke about power purchase agreements for six large solar farms, totaling 400 megawatts, before Duke had filed its competitive-bids proposal. But Duke offered only five-year contracts instead of the longer terms usual for big projects.

This article is dated (February), but a very recent piece in the paywall-protected Charlotte Business Journal reported that Solar farm connections are down some 75% due to this new approach by Duke Energy to manipulate Solar growth in NC. Cypress Creek is a Santa Monica-based company, and has been very successful in rounding up investment dollars for NC Solar farm projects. But that measly five year contract is a killer, seriously undermining the return on investment (ROI) formula that has been so successful here. Like always, being in control is at the top of Duke Energy's list of priorities:

Disabily Rights NC files lawsuit to push for home care

Breaking free from institutional roadblocks:

Advocates for people with disabilities are suing to force North Carolina officials to do more to keep thousands of people out of institutions. The lawsuit filed Wednesday by Disability Rights North Carolina says 10,000 people are waiting for services needed to let them live outside institutions.

The group says taxpayers now house disabled people in state-operated or privately run centers costing about $150,000 a year per resident, while providing needed services outside the institutions would be less than $60,000 per year.

Even if those cost numbers were around the break-even mark, "quality of life" issues alone should propel leaders to pursue the home care model. But to save the state $90,000 per-year per-person? That seems like a no-brainer, to me. Unless somebody's profiting from the institutional model and doesn't want that gravy train derailed. Wouldn't be the first time that factor was in play, especially when you take a step back and look at the for-profit prison formula plaguing our nation.

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