SA Climate Action
Over the next week the Climate Action and Adaptation Plan, also known as SA Climate Action, is set to go to the public sphere of San Antonio as a means for the city to combat and address climate change.
The plan is already under scrutiny by environmental activists who say that the plan does not go far enough and by business leaders who say that it goes too far.
SA Climate Ready lays out a road map for the city to prepare for climate change and reach an overall objective of carbon neutrality — meaning the city, its residents and businesses would stop adding more greenhouse gases to the atmosphere — by 2050.
The 84-page plan recommends that the city switch to more renewable energy, reduce energy use in buildings and increasing the use of electric vehicles in order to address the climate of San Antonio becoming hotter and drier.
Many businesses, especially those tied to the fossil fuel industry, believe that the bill is specifically signaling them out and that they are no longer welcome in the city.
Councilman Greg Brockhouse criticized the plan stating, “I’ve heard from multiple business sources that this is a job-killing venture. We can’t be selling short the economic impacts of this plan.”
On Friday, Feb. 15, Sen. Angela Paxton filed Senate Bill 860 in the Texas State Legislature with the purpose of creating within the attorney general’s office an entirely new program — what the bill calls a “regulatory sandbox” — that would allow approved individuals “limited access to the market … without obtaining a license, registration, or other regulatory authorization.” The bill aims to cut red tape for the growing financial tech sector, allowing businesses to market new products for up to two years and to as many as 10,000 customers with scant regulation.
Angela Paxton said the bill is geared toward strengthening consumer protections in the underregulated, ever-changing financial tech industry — a sector that in Texas is largely centered in Richardson, part of her North Texas district.
But skeptics pointed to the bill’s optics problem: Ken Paxton, a statewide official accused of violating state securities law, would be empowered to decide who can skirt state securities law. And he’d get that power from a bill authored by his wife. Currently, Texas law requires investment advisers to register with the state — failing to do so is a third-degree felony punishable by a sentence of two to 10 years.
Regardless of the actions that Attorney General Paxton took, the bill should come under the same scrutiny, skepticism, review and amendment that goes into any other bill that enters the Texas State Legislature.
On Friday, President Donald Trump declared a national emergency regarding the US southern border and will be using funds not given to him by Congress for a border wall or barrier.
“We’re going to confront the national security crisis on our southern border, and we’re going to do it one way or the other,” Trump said in a televised statement in the Rose Garden. “It’s an invasion,” he added. “We have an invasion of drugs and criminals coming into our country.”
The emergency declaration, according to White House officials, enables the president to divert $3.6 billion from military construction projects to the wall. Trump will also use more traditional presidential discretion to tap $2.5 billion from counternarcotics programs and $600 million from a Treasury Department asset forfeiture fund.
Combined with $1.375 billion authorized for fencing in the spending package passed on Thursday night, Trump would have about $8 billion in all for barriers, more than the $5.7 billion he unsuccessfully demanded from Congress.
Although construction for the barriers hasn’t entered the planning phase yet for this declaration, Gov. Gavin Newsom of California stated that the state is planning on suing the president “to reject this foolish proposal in court the moment it touches the ground.”
The national emergency is a way for President Trump to move around Congress to receive the funding he wants for a border wall but as it currently stands, not much may come out of the lawsuits. Trump isn’t the first President to use executive action/national emergencies to move around Congress, but also much of the funding for it won’t come at the taxpayers’ expense as it is a reallocation of funds rather than an increase in spending.
It was a good week for US stocks, with a few gains in the stock market. The Dow Jones increased to 25,883.25 on Friday, increasing by +339.06 points, or +1.33 percent over its Feb. 8 close of 25,106.33. The S&P 500 increased by +67.72 points or +2.50 percent on Friday. In addition, the Nasdaq decreased on Friday by +2.39 percent.
Trade talks between the US and China are still going well according to US and Chinese sources. This has been much of the cause of optimism in investors and the rally seen over the past week as many are hoping to see an end to the trade war.
Green New Deal Vote
Eyeing an opportunity to put Democrats on the spot, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky, announced on Tuesday, Feb12, that he plans on holding a vote on Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s, D-NY, and Sen. Ed Markey’s, D-Mass, Green New Deal.
“I’ve noted with great interest, the Green New Deal,” McConnell told reporters. “And we’re going to be voting on that in the Senate, going to give everyone an opportunity to go on record, and see how they feel about the Green New Deal.”
The 14-page document released Thursday sets a goal of moving to net-zero carbon emissions by 2030 and outlines a series of broad methods to achieve it, like upgrading or replacing existing buildings to be more energy efficient, upgrading electric grids to make better use of renewable energy, and investing in electric vehicles and mass transportation. It also includes a call to guarantee a well-paying job for every American and provide universal health care and housing.
The measure is backed by many 2020 Democratic presidential candidates, including Sens. Kamala Harris of California, Cory Booker of New Jersey, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Bernie Sanders of Vermont.
The move of Sen. McConnell is a smart one as every Republican Senator can unite in opposition to the bill but it may divide Democrats, many of whom are running for reelection or for President in 2020. It is a way to force senators to put their money where their mouth is and not just talk about support or opposition.