I’m going to do all this reading and research anyway… might as well share what I learn!
NEWS
+
VIEWS
July 31 2022

climate policy on a “Manchin-go-round”, EV sales rising quickly, California’s last nuke may operate longer, Alaska burning, old coal plants go solar

In mid-July, Senator Joe Manchin (D-WVA), who the New York Times notes has taken more campaign donations from the fossil-fuel industry than any other Senator, decided to vote against action on climate change. Manchin has made his fortune by selling the dirtiest type of coal to a power plant in West Virginia, and then taking a slice of the revenue from that plant’s electricity sales. After previously rejecting two larger climate-action bills, he decided that he could not support even the pared-down version he requested (an article in the New Yorker chronicles this bad faith negotiating, and Bill McKibben notes this is but another American political failure on climate).

Manchin’s decision signaled that the U.S. will not take meaningful climate action, essentially ensuring the planet will blow past the temperature thresholds identified as dangerous by the world’s scientific community. John Podesta, a former senior counselor to President Barack Obama, remarked: “It seems odd that Manchin would choose as his legacy to be the one man who single-handedly doomed humanity.” In a New York Times op-ed, climate scientist Leah Stokes wonders how Manchin “looks his own grandchildren in the eye.” Also in the Times, Paul Krugman notes that Manchin only has this power because Republicans are unified in their opposition to clean energy, which he sees as the real problem.

But wait! In a last-minute reversal, Senator Manchin changed his position and agreed to a bill that, according to the New York Times, represents “the largest investment in renewable energy in the history of the United States.” Maybe the Senator had a moment with his grandchildren after all. At the time of this writing, it is still unclear what will be contained in the agreement, which Manchin has called the Inflation Reduction Act. Of course, the “Manchin-go-round” could just keep on spinning (and don’t forget the “Sinema-go-round”). I’ll have more on this bill in the next In Brief

read more
July 15 2022

Supreme Court limits the EPA’s ability to act on climate, extreme weather collapsing insurance markets, the value of natural infrastructure, record-breaking floods hit Bangladesh and Australia, indoor agriculture’s use of fossil fuels

The U.S. Supreme Court, in the case West Virginia v. EPA, limited the ability of the federal government to require reductions in greenhouse-gas emissions from power plants. While not preventing the EPA from regulating these emissions, the court constrained how the EPA could approach the problem, specifically preventing the agency from issuing a rule that would transform the entire electricity sector. Instead, the EPA must take a plant-by-plant approach and restrict emissions with devices such as scrubbers on smokestacks. Of course, the science dictates that such a sector-wide transformation is necessary to protect public health and safety. The New York Times describes how the court’s decision makes it almost mathematically impossible to meet the emissions-reduction goals the Biden Administration has announced.

The plaintiffs in the case, a group of Republican Attorneys General, were originally led by Scott Pruitt when he was AG of Oklahoma before becoming Trump’s first EPA Administrator (I know you hoped that we were done with him… at least he did get crushed in the Republican primary for Senate in Oklahoma). This group argued that Congress did not give the EPA explicit authority to take a sector-wide action, and therefore it should not be able to do so. The majority of the court agreed, embracing the “major questions” doctrine for the first time. Historian Heather Cox Richardson notes that this “reversed almost 100 years of jurisprudence by arguing that Congress cannot delegate authority on ‘major questions’ to agencies in the executive branch,” and in a broader context signals “the end of the federal government as we know it.” The major-questions doctrine could be invoked to prevent federal government agencies from taking technically-nuanced action on any number of issues, all depending upon what the Supreme Court might decide is a “major question.” For a deep dive into the complexities of the decision, you can listen to the Volts podcast that interviews one of the attorneys supporting the EPA’s position (spoiler: even the attorney is not sure what the decision actually requires)…

read more

IN BRIEF: PAST
CLIMATE NEWS

MORE MY TAKES
 

NEWS
+
VIEWS
I’m going to do all this reading and research anyway… might as well share what I learn!
July 31 2022

climate policy on a “Manchin-go-round”, EV sales rising quickly, California’s last nuke may operate longer, Alaska burning, old coal plants go solar

In mid-July, Senator Joe Manchin (D-WVA), who the New York Times notes has taken more campaign donations from the fossil-fuel industry than any other Senator, decided to vote against action on climate change. Manchin has made his fortune by selling the dirtiest type of coal to a power plant in West Virginia, and then taking a slice of the revenue from that plant’s electricity sales. After previously rejecting two larger climate-action bills, he decided that he could not support even the pared-down version he requested (an article in the New Yorker chronicles this bad faith negotiating, and Bill McKibben notes this is but another American political failure on climate).

Manchin’s decision signaled that the U.S. will not take meaningful climate action, essentially ensuring the planet will blow past the temperature thresholds identified as dangerous by the world’s scientific community. John Podesta, a former senior counselor to President Barack Obama, remarked: “It seems odd that Manchin would choose as his legacy to be the one man who single-handedly doomed humanity.” In a New York Times op-ed, climate scientist Leah Stokes wonders how Manchin “looks his own grandchildren in the eye.” Also in the Times, Paul Krugman notes that Manchin only has this power because Republicans are unified in their opposition to clean energy, which he sees as the real problem.

But wait! In a last-minute reversal, Senator Manchin changed his position and agreed to a bill that, according to the New York Times, represents “the largest investment in renewable energy in the history of the United States.” Maybe the Senator had a moment with his grandchildren after all. At the time of this writing, it is still unclear what will be contained in the agreement, which Manchin has called the Inflation Reduction Act. Of course, the “Manchin-go-round” could just keep on spinning (and don’t forget the “Sinema-go-round”). I’ll have more on this bill in the next In Brief

read more
July 15 2022

Supreme Court limits the EPA’s ability to act on climate, extreme weather collapsing insurance markets, the value of natural infrastructure, record-breaking floods hit Bangladesh and Australia, indoor agriculture’s use of fossil fuels

The U.S. Supreme Court, in the case West Virginia v. EPA, limited the ability of the federal government to require reductions in greenhouse-gas emissions from power plants. While not preventing the EPA from regulating these emissions, the court constrained how the EPA could approach the problem, specifically preventing the agency from issuing a rule that would transform the entire electricity sector. Instead, the EPA must take a plant-by-plant approach and restrict emissions with devices such as scrubbers on smokestacks. Of course, the science dictates that such a sector-wide transformation is necessary to protect public health and safety. The New York Times describes how the court’s decision makes it almost mathematically impossible to meet the emissions-reduction goals the Biden Administration has announced.

The plaintiffs in the case, a group of Republican Attorneys General, were originally led by Scott Pruitt when he was AG of Oklahoma before becoming Trump’s first EPA Administrator (I know you hoped that we were done with him… at least he did get crushed in the Republican primary for Senate in Oklahoma). This group argued that Congress did not give the EPA explicit authority to take a sector-wide action, and therefore it should not be able to do so. The majority of the court agreed, embracing the “major questions” doctrine for the first time. Historian Heather Cox Richardson notes that this “reversed almost 100 years of jurisprudence by arguing that Congress cannot delegate authority on ‘major questions’ to agencies in the executive branch,” and in a broader context signals “the end of the federal government as we know it.” The major-questions doctrine could be invoked to prevent federal government agencies from taking technically-nuanced action on any number of issues, all depending upon what the Supreme Court might decide is a “major question.” For a deep dive into the complexities of the decision, you can listen to the Volts podcast that interviews one of the attorneys supporting the EPA’s position (spoiler: even the attorney is not sure what the decision actually requires)…

read more

IN BRIEF: PAST
CLIMATE NEWS

MORE MY TAKES