A hazy shade of global warming

The news at a few minutes to midnight


I apologize for not publishing earlier—the sleep deprivation from the time change got to me, and, as you can see from below, there is much grimness to report. Sometimes that slows down the gears.

With the miracle of fossil fuels, anything is possible: the current heat wave in Antarctica—50 to 90 degrees above normal—is literally off the charts.

Sorry, we ran out of colors

The current American megadrought, which is the worst since Charlamagne, is now in its third decade, and “is stoked by human-caused climate change from the burning of coal, oil and natural gas,” AP’s Seth Borenstein writes.

Thus: “Little improvement is expected in drought in western North Dakota over the next few months, a prospect that has lowered even more the perceived risk of serious spring flooding in much of the region.”

Thus: Texas is burning. Hundreds were forced to evacuate the spreading wildfires and sheriff’s deputy died. The town of Carbon, Texas was destroyed.

Houston—the headquarters of the Fortune 500 oil, gas, and petrochemical companies ExxonMobil, ConocoPhilips, Plains All American Pipeline, Baker Hughes, Occidental Petroleum, Halliburton, Kinder Morgan, Quanta Services, EOG Resources, Cheniere Energy, NRG Energy, CenterPoint Resources, Targa Resources, Westlake Chemical, National Oilwell Varco, and Huntsman—turned a hazy shade of winter Friday with dangerous smoke from the fires.

WHEN GOOD NEWS IS BAD NEWS: In February, a Trump-appointed judge ruled to block the Biden administration from measuring the costs of global warming in rulemakings. That injunction was removed Wednesday by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, in what the great Kassie Siegel called a “common-sense decision.”

An ironic consequence, however, will be the resumption of federal oil and gas lease sales, suspended by the Biden administration in response to the now-lifted injunction. But hey, now there will at least be an official, if low-ball, estimate of how much the sales will accelerate global warming.

Congrats to Cheniere: The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) on Wednesday “issued two long-term orders authorizing liquefied natural gas exports from two current operating LNG export projects, Cheniere Energy Inc.’s Sabine Pass in Louisiana and Corpus Christi in Texas.” If you’d like, you can read their justification for how it will be fine for the climate on page 55 of the order. It’s not great.



Jeff Goodell lays out the highly profitable criminality of Big Oil’s love affair with Russia and global conflict in “Putin Is a Fossil-Fuel Gangster. Clean Energy Could Cut Him Off at the Knees

For decades, world leaders and Big Oil CEOs were happy to turn a blind eye to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s autocratic impulses and fantasies of empire building. They were all fossil-fuel junkies, hooked on the easy money of oil and gas, and Putin had plenty of it. They helped finance pipelines and drilling rigs, and then bought as much oil and gas as he would sell them. For Putin, the cash from fossil fuels fired up his darkest ambitions. It not only helped him build the military force that he sent into Ukraine, it also gave him the means to stash billions in offshore banks that he believed would allow him to weather any economic fallout from the war.

Jamie Henn’s organization Fossil Free Media has launched Stop The Oil Profiteering (STOP), a flash campaign in support of the proposed windfall profits tax on oil companies. The campaign includes a petition to Congress “to end Big Oil's stranglehold on our economy and national security and use their profits to help people struggling with high gas prices.”

And Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) has invited Big Oil CEOs to testify on their windfall profits on April 6—here’s the letter to Chevron CEO Michael Wirth as an example.

WHEN BAD NEWS IS BAD NEWS: Celebrity quack Mehmet Oz has a long record of warning about the health risks of fracking. Now that he’s vying in the Republican primary for the U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania, of course, he’s changed his tune.

ConocoPhillips is still spewing methane in Alaska’s North Slope from a gas leak that began two weeks ago.

“ConocoPhillips Alaska has so far not provided a cause for the gas leak, and a situation report released Tuesday by the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission stated that the volume of gas that’s been released so far is unknown.”

Fifty years ago, the Clean Water Act was passed, with the goal of producing “fishable, swimmable” waters across the U.S. by 1983. Today, EPA reviews find, about “half of the river and stream miles and lake acres that have been studied across the U.S. are so polluted they are classified as ‘impaired.’”

Ha ‘Kamwe, a hot spring sacred to the Hualapai Tribe in Northern Arizona, threatened by proposed lithium mining. Credit: Ash Ponders

The push is on for electric vehicles to replace internal-combustion vehicles. For example, spurred in part by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Germany is now backing a full European Union phaseout of new combustion engines by 2035. But that shift is leading to a global rush to mine critical minerals like lithium wherever they lie, regardless of environmental justice. In the United States, “some 97% of nickel, 89% of copper, 79% of lithium and 68% of cobalt – all considered key for energy transition – are within 35 miles of Native American reservations.” One such site is Ha ‘Kamwe, a hot spring sacred to the Hualapai Tribe in Northern Arizona.

JERBS: The Sunrise Movement is seeking an experienced managing director ($80K-$100K). Earthworks is hiring a communications director ($125K-$147K), a coordinator for the Permian Gulf Coast Coalition ($55K-63K), an oil and gas corporate accountability campaigner ($55K-63K), and a policy advocate for clean-energy sustainability ($72K-78K).

Congratulations to Dr. Michael Mann! He’s moving from Penn State to Penn to lead the new Penn Center for Science, Sustainability and the Media.

The next global climate strike organized by the young people of Fridays for the Future is one week from now, on Friday, March 25th.

Thanks for subscribing and spreading the word. DMs are open@climatebrad

Subscribe to Hill Heat

Climate science, policy, politics, and action

Join the conversation

or to participate.