Atlas of Disaster

Entering Year 77 of the Calamity and Year Two of Hill Heat

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A year ago today, the Hill Heat newsletter launched with a look at the death of Build Back Better, the petulant power of Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), and the hidden power of the Congressional Budget Office. Since then, we’ve documented the disasters and vaunted the victories in hundreds of posts for our growing community of subscribers. To mark the anniversary and to thank you, I’m offering a 20% discount on paid subscriptions this week - $8 a month or $80 a year. Your subscription allows this newsletter to continue.

The fossil-fuel trade show COP27 chugs along in Sharm El-Sheikh, with the United States negotiators led by John Kerry playing their typical obstructive role. You can check out the sexy sexy draft text for “Matters relating to funding arrangements responding to loss and damage associated with the adverse effects of climate change, including a focus on addressing loss and damage,” or better yet, read Kate Aronoff’s thoughtful exegesis.1

Thirteen progressive members of Congress sent a letter pushing Kerry to establish a Loss & Damage Finance Facility in these talks, instead of punting for later as he plans. Meanwhile, Republicans are one election call away from officially winning control of the House.

Even as the U.S. delegation talks a good game about ending international deforestation, a new report shows the Biden administration is backing at least a dozen major old-growth logging projects in federal forests. “Please start at home, at the very least,” the Center for Biological Diversity’s Jean Su tells reporter Bob Berwyn, “and stop the logging that’s occurring, breaking up ecosystems and killing carbon sequestration.” 

Environmental organizations protested the White House Office of Management and Budget missing its 90-day deadline to review the EPA’s new soot pollution standards, part of a worrisome pattern of pollution inaction:

We are deeply concerned to see that polluters secured additional meetings–sometimes more than once–further delaying the process at the expense of improved health and environmental justice outcomes for communities that have borne the brunt of this pollution. OMB has already exceeded the mandated 90-day deadline on several appliance efficiency standards and for pollutants like hydrofluorocarbons, giving us cause for concern. Knowing that the mercury and air toxics standards are also languishing adds to the frustration. We hoped this soot standard would come open for public comment by the end of summer, consistent with EPA’s public statements, but it is now November without a proposal in sight.

The Miami Herald, The Nation, and Rolling Stone have joined dozens of international media organizations in publishing a global joint editorial calling for aggressive climate action, including windfall taxes on oil and gas companies. It’s so weird how the fossil-propaganda-funded New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Axios, Politico, Semafor, and Punchbowl News did not participate. But you can subscribe to any of their fossil-propaganda-sponsored newsletters!

Right-wing media networks have spread climate denial around the globe, a new report from the Climate Action Against Disinformation coalition finds. But not to worry—their survey shows that the United States is Still Number One in Climate Denial!

ATLAS OF DISASTER: Rebuild by Design has compiled a map of the past ten years of FEMA climate disaster declarations, finding that 90 percent of counties have had at least one. Some counties have suffered 12 different climate disasters between 2011 and 2021. The combined cost of the disasters reviewed in this report reached $740 billion in damages.

“It shows unequivocally that climate change is here and that all taxpayers are paying for it,” said Amy Chester, the managing director of Rebuild by Design, in an interview with Grist’s Jake Bittle.

The report authors note that heat waves and drought are underweighted in their data, because heat waves don’t trigger disaster declarations and drought emergencies are primarily handled by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

PIPELINE POISON PILL: Republican senators, recognizing that Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) will not be the swing vote in the Senate if Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) wins his December runoff, are hinting greater openness to cutting a deal to pass Manchin’s pipeline-permitting poison pill by attaching it to the lame-duck Congress’s spending bills. Environmental justice groups and allied organizations sent a letter to President Biden on Monday calling for him to nix Manchin’s poison pill and support the Environmental Justice for All Act (H.R. 2021/S.872) instead.

Fracking shill Ernie Moniz is among the witnesses at a House Foreign Affairs hearing on Russia; Senate Indian Affairs marks up several bills on Indian water rights in the desertifying Southwest; and Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) will chair a markup of extremist Rep. Paul Gosar’s (R-Ariz.) bill to compel the Biden administration to turn over documents related to the proposed Resolution Copper mining project on sacred native lands.

Senate committees will also vote on the nominations of Moshe Marvit to the Mine Safety and Health Review Commission, and of Richard Revesz to be Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, Office of Management and Budget—a position that has been used in both Democratic and Republican administrations to nix climate policy. As head of Institute for Policy Integrity at New York University, Revesz tracked Trump’s inept attempts to roll back environmental regulations.

David Ferris has a fun beat sweetener with Gabe Klein, the executive director of the new Joint Office of Energy and Transportation, established “to oversee the $7.5 billion that the infrastructure law allocated to support the construction of EV charging stations over five years.”

Hearings on the Hill:

Climate Action Today:

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1 I let her do the work of understanding climate politics and writing about it with clarity and wit, you should too!

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