Climate Criminals

Formula One, SEC, and the Justice Department's Environment and Natural Resources Division


“The petrochemical companies, deeply powerful institutions, need journalists to write about all the things they attach themselves to that are not being a petrochemical company.”

So wrote Kate Wagner in a masterful depiction of Formula One racing for Road and Track. Her piece, which describes how petrochemical giant Ineos greenwashes its image by sponsoring junkets for poor scribes like her into the elite world of the 0.01 percenters, was pulled down by Road and Track’s editor in chief, apparently because he didn’t like sentences such as “People clinked glasses of free champagne in outfits worth more than the market price of all the organs in my body.”

This morning at 9:45 am, the Securities and Exchange Commission will vote on corporate climate disclosure rules, significantly watered down from their original proposal in 2022. More champagne will be popped.

Fear not, though, some climate criminals are being held accountable. Well, this one guy has been arrested for smuggling hydrofluorocarbons from Mexico into the United States. “It is illegal to import certain refrigerants into the United States because of their documented and significantly greater contribution to climate change," said Assistant Attorney General Todd Kim, of the Justice Department's Environment and Natural Resources Division, in a statement issued after Michael Hart’s arrest. “This is the first time the Department of Justice is prosecuting someone for illegally importing greenhouse gases, and it will not be the last,” Tara McGrath, a U.S. attorney, said in a statement. “We are using every means possible to protect our planet from the harm caused by toxic pollutants, including bringing criminal charges.”

“Anyone who seeks to profit from illegal actions that worsen climate change must be held accountable,” David Uhlmann, head of enforcement at the Environmental Protection Agency, said.

“There are so many ways to profit from legal actions that worsen climate change,” he did not add.

I’m criminally behind the news that The Intercept has imploded, dropping many of its staff in mid-February, including the amazing editor Nausicaa Renner, who kept trying to get me to write more pieces for them, which, if I were something resembling a real journalist, I certainly would have.

The Arctic Ocean may be ice-free in September before the end of the 2020s, according to projections in new research by Alexandra Jahn, Marika Holland, and Jennifer Kay. Jahn told the Los Angeles TimesHayley Smith that “children born today will see ice-free conditions at least in September, and every couple of years in October and August.”

At 9 am, Axios is hosting White House climate czar John Podesta, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, and climate-hawk Rep. Mike Levin (D-Calif.) for a breakfast discussion of the Inflation Reduction Act’s support for clean-energy investment. There will also be big money in the room, with LinkedIn multimillionaire Allen Blue and Dawn Lippert, the CEO of climate-tech venture capital firm Earthshot Ventures. Investors in Earthshot include Laurene Powell Jobs, John Doerr, Tom Steyer, Microsoft, and the Employees’ Retirement System of Hawaii.

At 10 am, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee discusses global food security with USAID food security official Dina Esposito and Special Envoy for Global Food Security Dr. Cary Fowler, the founder of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault.

There are several hearings of interest in the House as well.

At 10 am, the Science environment subcommittee holds a hearing on U.S. competitiveness in weather forecasting, with a push towards increased privatization of the weather enterprise bolstered by a panel of private weather company CEOs, including former Trump NOAA administrator Neil Jacobs.

Also at 10 am, the Agriculture committee hears from Rostin Behnam, chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

At 10:15 am, the House Natural Resources wildlife subcommittee holds a legislative hearing on the so-called America’s Wildlife Habitat Conservation Act (H.R. 7408), a Republican bill to water down the Endangered Species Act. An all-male panel of witnesses will testify, with Audubon’s Glenn Olson the one environmentalist witness.

At 2 PM, the House Natural Resources energy subcommittee holds a legislative hearing on multiple geothermal and onshore fossil-fuel lease bills. Reps. Ross Fulcher (R-Idaho), John Curtis (R-Utah), and Young Kim (R-Calif.) have bills to cut regulations for geothermal projects, while Reps. Harriet Hagemann (R-Wyo.) and Will Hunt (R-Texas) propose to cut fees for oil and gas leases. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) has proposed a bill authorizing the Department of Interior to charge standard fees for geothermal leases. It’s another all-male panel of witnesses; the environmental-labor leader (and inspiring musician) Joe Uehlein of the Labor Network for Sustainability is testifying on behalf of AOC’s legislation.

Hearings on the Hill:

Climate Action Today:

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