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Daschle T.A.,Center for American Progress
Academic Medicine

Public policy and technology are having and will continue to have an extraordinary impact on virtually every aspect of academic medicine. The effects of this combination of policy and technology transformations can hardly be overstated. It is critical to recognize these transformative forces and work to accept and even embrace them enthusiastically. The author examines five major transformative forces affecting academic medicine today: big data, greater transparency, new payment models, emphasis on wellness, and scope of practice. He discusses each of these transformative forces within the context of the current U.S. health care environment and offers suggestions for academic medicine to leverage them. It will take resiliency, innovation, collaboration, engagement in public policy debates, and strong leadership for this country to make the U.S. health care system the success it should be. Source

News Article
Site: http://www.sej.org/headlines/list

"Environmentalists say that leasing public land for fossil fuel production is one of the Obama administration's biggest carbon-polluting programs." "With the Keystone XL pipeline rejected and Royal Dutch Shell's Arctic drilling plans abandoned, activists have a new agenda for 2016: bringing climate accountability to the federal fossil fuel program. The Obama administration's sweep of climate policies, from rules curbing power plant emissions to tightening fuel economy standards for cars, has so far bypassed one of the government's biggest carbon-polluting programs: leasing public land to companies for extraction of oil, natural gas and coal. In 2012, federal fossil fuel production released more than 1,340 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent—that's similar to the annual emissions of more than 280 million cars, according to a report by the liberal think-tank Center for American Progress. This must change if the United States is serious about moving to a low-carbon economy and meeting its goal of reducing emissions 32 percent compared to 2005 levels by 2030, climate campaigners say."

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Site: http://www.sej.org/headlines/list

"Ken Salazar and Jennifer Granholm will be helping to pick agency leaders and map out policy goals and could be in line for top administration jobs if Hillary Clinton clinches the White House. The former Interior secretary and former Michigan governor — familiar faces in the energy policy world — will be leading Clinton's Washington, D.C.-based transition, the campaign announced today. Salazar has been picked as chairman of the team, where he'll be flanked by four co-chairs: Granholm, Center for American Progress President Neera Tanden, former Obama national security adviser Tom Donilon and longtime Clinton aide Maggie Williams. They'll be key players in preparing to hire for federal agencies' political positions and set policy agendas should Clinton win in November. Their top roles on the transition team also suggest they could be in line for prime posts in a Clinton administration; transition leaders often go on to become top White House aides or Cabinet secretaries or work in other high-ranking positions. John Podesta, Clinton's campaign chairman and the president of its transition project — and the founder of CAP, where Tanden works — announced the leadership team today. Getting those officials in place in Washington will enable the Brooklyn-based campaign staff to focus exclusively on the election, he said."

News Article
Site: http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment

The Obama administration on Friday ordered a moratorium on new leases for coal mined from federal lands as part of a sweeping review of the government’s management of vast amounts of taxpayer-owned coal throughout the West. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell announced the temporary halt, saying it was time for a re-examination of the decades-old coal-leasing program, from health and environmental impacts to whether U.S. citizens are getting a fair return for the hundreds of millions of tons of government-owned coal that are mined and sold each year. “It is abundantly clear that times are different in the energy sector now than they were 30 years ago, and we must undertake a review and that’s what we need to do as  responsible stewards of the nation’s assets,” Jewell said in a conference call with reporters. “That was a time, 30 years ago, when our nation had very different priorities and needs. The result was a federal coal program designed to get as much coal out of the ground as possible, and in many ways that’s the program that we’ve been operating ever since.” The announcement, initially reported late Thursday, comes three days after President Obama hinted of coming reforms to federal energy policy in his State of the Union address. [How the United States exports its greenhouse gas emissions — as coal.] The decision was cheered by environmentalists but denounced by industry groups and politicians from Western states, where federal coal leases provide thousands of jobs as well as revenue for state and local government coffers. Obama administration officials have been debating such a change for years, saying current practices contribute to a glaring contradiction in U.S. energy policy, which simultaneously promotes the sale of federally owned coal even as it seeks to limit greenhouse-gas pollution from coal burning. Interior Department officials said the review would take the form of a Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement, which allows a broader look at all aspects of federal coal leasing across regions and can incorporate environmental and health impacts as well as financial ones. The last review on this scale occurred in the 1980s. U.S. officials say the moves will not immediately affect production or jobs, as current federal leases produce enough coal to supply the country’s needs for 20 years.  Jewell said exceptions to the new-lease moratorium could be granted to ensure adequate production of metallurgical coal used in steel production, or to allow small modifications to existing leases. “We’ll make accommodations in the event of emergency circumstances to ensure this pause will have no material impact on the nation’s ability to meet its power generation needs,” Jewell said. “We are undertaking this effort with full consideration of the importance of maintaining reliable and affordable energy for American families and businesses, as well other federal programs and policies.” Peabody Energy spokeswoman Kelley Wright said in an email that the decision will not deliver a serious blow to the company, but was still misguided. “Thanks to Peabody’s investments over time, we have more than 20 years of production through our superior Powder River Basin coal reserve position, representing long-term security of supply and a competitive strength,” she said. “Nonetheless, the Administration’s actions represent poor policy and a flawed way to accomplish carbon goals. The way to a lower-carbon future is through technology, not by attempting to deprive Americans of the low cost reliable electricity that coal represents.” Hundreds of millions of tons of federally owned coal are mined by private companies each year under laws requiring the federal government to seek maximum benefit for resources on public lands. Environmental groups and some independent analysts have long argued that taxpayers are under-compensated for coal extracted from vast mines on federally owned land across the West, and that prices do not reflect societal costs from pollution from coal-burning. In his speech on Tuesday, Obama argued for decreasing reliance on fossil fuels as part of the larger effort to fight the causes of climate change. He said the administration would “push to change the way we manage our oil and coal resources, so that they better reflect the costs they impose on taxpayers and our planet.” The administration has supported policies that have led to rapid growth of solar and wind energy, which are now cost-competitive with coal and other fossil fuels in some parts of the country. Nationally, more people now work in the solar industry than in coal mines. But several business associations immediately attacked the move, which the U.S. Chamber of Commerce decried as a “foolish crusade.” “Another day, another front on the war on coal from this administration,” said Karen Harbert, president of the Chamber’s Institute for 21st Century Energy. “At this point, it is obvious that the President and his administration won’t be satisfied until coal is completely eradicated from our energy mix.” [Oil just dropped below $30 a barrel — again.] A number of key Congressional Republicans also criticized the decision, saying it would weaken the economy and harm workers in coal states. “We should be putting our nation on the path of continued energy strength, not undermining our energy security,” said Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah), chairman of the House Committee on Natural Resources. “Unfortunately the president’s bid to solidify his legacy with the extreme left will come at the expense of America’s energy needs and will make the lives of people more expensive and more uncomfortable.” House Speaker Paul Ryan vowed to fight the administration’s plans to keep more of the nation’s coal underground. “Coal on federal land belongs to all Americans, but the president is denying people access to their own abundant, low-cost energy source.” “This is a major shift that helps modernize the federal coal program,” said Jayni Hein, policy director at the Institute for Policy Integrity. “This planning process will disclose the environmental and social impacts of coal leasing, which are extensive.” Sierra Club executive director Michael Brune said in an interview that the decision represented a fundamental shift in how the federal government had begun to operate, by curbing the supply of fossil fuels available for burning rather than just working to reduce overall demand. He noted that when Obama rejected the cross-border permit application to build the Keystone XL pipeline late last year, the president specifically said that part of his reasoning stemmed from the fact that governments have got to keep some of the world’s remaining fossil fuels locked in the ground. “If Keystone was the kickoff, then this was a 50-yard downfield pass that helps us score a touchdown,” Brune said. “For years we’ve been arguing we need to combine action on our tailpipes and smokestacks with a supply-side strategy to keep dirty fuels in the ground, and in the last few months we’ve made tremendous progress.” Mining companies currently pay a 12.5 percent royalty rate for coal taken from surface mines, compared to an 18.75 percent royalty for oil and gas from offshore drilling. Coal companies say the actual rates paid to the government are much higher because of bonuses and other fees paid through lease agreements. Most of the coal mined from federal lands is used in U.S. electricity generation, though some is sold overseas. Government-owned coal harvested in the Powder River basin–the country’s biggest coal-producing region, straddling Wyoming and Montana–accounts for about 10 percent of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, according to a study last year by the Center for American Progress and the Wilderness Society. “The federal coal program is frozen in time in the 1980s,” said David Hayes, a former Interior Department deputy secretary and senior fellow at the Center for American Progress. “The current rules, which were written when you could still smoke on airplanes and dump sewage in the ocean, neither deliver a fair return to taxpayers nor account for the pollution costs that result from coal mining.” Sen. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), who ordered the first Government Accountability Office report on the program in the early 1980s, which led to the resignation of then-Interior Secretary James Watt, said it took multiple factors to finally get the administration to overhaul the leasing system. “It’s been on autopilot for decades, and we’ve finally been able to find the combination of taxpayers getting shortchanged with impacts on climate to finally break through to have a set of solutions be put in place,” he said in an interview. Scientists say human greenhouse gas emissions have canceled the next ice age Why clean energy is now expanding even when fossil fuels are cheap The surprising way that huge icebergs slow down climate change For more, you can sign up for our weekly newsletter here, and follow us on Twitter here.

News Article
Site: http://news.yahoo.com/green/

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration will announce a moratorium Friday on any major new coal leases on federal lands until it completes a comprehensive review of whether the fees charged to mining companies provide a fair return to American taxpayers and reflect coal's impact on the environment. An administration official says companies will continue to be able to mine the coal reserves already under lease. The official spoke on condition of anonymity in advance of the announcement. Roughly 40 percent of the coal produced in the United States comes from federal lands. The vast majority of that mining takes place in Wyoming, Montana, Colorado, Utah and New Mexico. It's unclear what impact the moratorium will have on many coal companies given the declining domestic demand for coal and the closure of numerous coal-fired power plants around the country. Coal companies have already stockpiled billions of tons of coal on existing leases. But the announcement will no doubt please environmental groups that have long said the government's fee rates encouraged production of a product that contributed to global warming. The Obama administration has held a handful of public hearings last year to get feedback on the adequacy of the fees charged companies for coal mined on federal lands. The government collects a 12.5 percent royalty on the sale price of strip-mined coal. The rate was established in 1976. The money is then split between the federal government and the state where the coal was mined. Coal companies also pay a $3 fee annually for each acre of land leased. Government auditors have in the past questioned the adequacy of the royalty rate and whether it provided an appropriate return, though they did not make specific recommendations to raise it. Environmental groups have argued that the federal coal leasing program amounts to a major fossil fuel subsidy that contributes to global warming. Industry groups counter that any increase in royalty rates will hurt consumers and threaten high-paying jobs. President Barack Obama said during the State of the Union address that he would push to change the way the federal government manages its oil and coal resources. The Obama administration will point to concerns raised during the public hearings to launch its review of the federal coal program. The review will look at such issues as how, when and where to lease, how to account for the public health impacts of coal, and how to ensure American taxpayers earn a fair return on their resources. The administration official noted that similar reviews have occurred twice before, one in the 1970s and the other in the 1980s, and pauses on the approval of new mining leases accompanied each review. The administration official said some exceptions to the moratorium will be allowed, most notably for small lease modifications. And while the federal government will proceed with environmental reviews for pending lease applications, no final decision will be made. The administration held hearings in Montana, Wyoming, Colorado and New Mexico last year on the federal coal program. Several people representing tribes, local ranchers and environmental groups spoke in favor of increasing royalty rates, saying it would hasten the transition to cleaner energy sources. Several GOP lawmakers sent staff to relay their concerns about the Interior Department's efforts. For example, Penny Pew, a district director for Republican Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona, said that "President Obama and his agency minions are trying to put the coal industry out of business by imposing a flurry of draconian mandates not based in reality." "Higher royalty rates will result in higher electricity costs, which is in effect a regressive tax on the middle class and the poor communities," said Adam Gimbel, an employee at Cloud Peak Energy who spoke at a hearing held last August in Denver. Meanwhile, David J. Hayes, a senior fellow at the liberal-leaning Center for American Progress, said Thursday the current rules for coal mining on federal lands were written when people could still smoke on planes and dump sewage in the ocean. "President Obama and (Interior) Secretary (Sally) Jewell are absolutely right to launch this comprehensive review and to set the federal coal program in a more fiscally and environmentally responsible direction," Hayes said.

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