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Climate hawks face the Senate gauntlet
Sarah Bloom Raskin, the pipeline trap, and floofing.
PRESENTED BY SPINAL IMPLANTS
Activists with Arm in Arm, ShutDownDC, Sunrise and others were out in the D.C. streets this morning to tell “Biden to get a backbone!” and welcome Congress back at the Capitol this morning. They then marched over to the No Labels headquarters, the intensely pallid corporate-billionaire front group backing the Sinemanchinite “Problem Solvers.”
In case you’ve been wondering why Biden’s climate and social infrastructure agenda is flaming out, these billionaire-backed Democrats, wedded to austerity-through-obstruction, deserve a lot of the credit. Let’s keep giving them bad days.
You can bet that No Labels folks are very happy with the coalition of fossil-fuel companies and ostensibly environmentalist organizations like the National Wildlife Federation who are now pushing for the 45Q carbon-capture and clean-energy tax breaks in Build Back Better to be passed as a stand-alone bill.
ON THE HILL THIS WEEK: Fossil-fueled fireworks are expected at Senate Banking Committee this Thursday morning, with the nomination hearing of Sarah Bloom Raskin for the Federal Reserve. As discussed in depth in the Climate Politics Almanac, Raskin is one of the strongest thinkers on how fossil-fueled climate change threatens the global financial system. So she’s become a bête noire for climate polluters and thus the Republican Party. Ranking member Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) has spent recent hearings on other Fed nominees ranting about Raskin, getting ready for the show.
In a genuinely unhinged letter released Friday, nearly all of U.S. oil and gas lobbying groups (there are many) claimed her recent New York Times op-ed on the teetering fossil-fuel industry showed “poor judgement and a crisis mentality ill-suited for sober, balanced regulation of the banking sector.”
The financial-reform group Better Markets posted a smart rejoinder today, noting that “it is a political directive to the Fed to not consider the risks associated with climate even though the Fed is mandated by statute to address risks regardless of origin.”
Unfortunately for Big Oil, bankers are cool with Raskin—if you like reading lobbyist letters, we’ve got them, from the Institute of International Bankers, Financial Services Forum, and the American Bankers Association.1
At the same time, Joe Manchin’s Energy and Natural Resources Committee will be considering the nominations of three important climate appointees.
• The nominee to be the Administrator for the Energy Information Administration, Joseph DeCarolis, is a professor at NC State with an impressive body of research, from the impacts of global warming on Puerto Rico’s energy grid to how strong renewable standards could buffer the U.S. from fossil-fuel price swings. It would be great for EIA to have strong climate leadership; it’s a crucial agency that for years has completely failed to correctly forecast the renewable revolution.2
• Maria Duaime Robinson, a clean-energy policy expert and local elected official in Framingham, Mass. (and former Jay Inslee congressional staffer), is nominated to be Assistant Secretary of Energy for Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability.
• Laura Daniel-Davis, currently an Interior deputy assistant secretary and of late the National Wildlife Federation’s top policy person, is trying again to be the Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Land and Minerals Management. Her nomination has been held up for months by Republicans like Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) who are concerned she won’t let mining companies do whatever they want.
Also: on Tuesday, acting director of the Office of Management and Budget Shalanda Young is nominated for the permanent position; on Wednesday hearings on recycling, agricultural conservation, and decarbonizing heavy industry; on Thursday hearings on livestock sustainability and national parks and trails legislation.
VERY WORTH THE READ: CNBC’s Katie Brigham dives into the plastics boom: “fossil fuel giants are looking towards petrochemicals, and plastics in particular, as their next major growth market. . . much of the developed world is already awash in plastics. So fossil fuel and petrochemical companies are relying on emerging economies in Asia and Africa to drive growth.”
Julia Rock describes the Pipeline Trap: for decades FERC has allowed fracking companies which own both utilities and pipelines engage in double-dealing. The Spire Pipeline in Missouri “is a two-hundred-million-dollar effort to enrich Spire’s corporate parent rather than a needed piece of energy infrastructure.”
Climate economist Gernot Wagner looks into the numbers of a McKinsey report that seemingly found a “staggering” cost to decarbonize the global economy and finds that even if you don’t “include the minor detail of saving the planet by reducing climate risks,” “the difference between current policies and net zero by 2050 is only $25 trillion in total spending over the next 30 years, or less than an extra $1 trillion per year on average.”
The Boston Globe connected the climate dots on this weekend’s flooding bomb-cyclone nor’easter blizzard that knocked out power for hundreds of thousands of people. Crooked Media has acquired Amy Westervelt and Mary Heglar’s climate podcast empire. Nathaniel Stinnett’s Environmental Voters Project keeps chugging along and punching above its weight. Pity the sad rich man. The federal National Coal Committee is coming back as the National Advisory Committee on Coal, with a new just-transition mission. A Colorado coal mine has been on fire since 1883.
JERBS: GreenLatinos is looking for a Director of Communications ($65K-$90K). Oakland-based Justice Outside, an organization which advocates for racial justice and equity in the outdoor and environmental movement, is hiring a Director of Communications ($85K-$90K) and Director of Donor Engagement ($85K). They also maintain a list of job openings in the field.
OPPORTUNITIES: And Yale’s Public Voices Fellowship on the Climate Crisis is accepting applications for its 2022 cohort of “thought leaders working at the intersection of climate change, environmental communication, and social justice.” The American Meteorological Society is looking for participants for its Summer Policy Colloquium, which I’m sure is a great opportunity, but requiring them to read Roger Pielke Jr.’s Honest Broker is serious violence.
We suspect they would have been less happy if she had been nominated to be Fed Chair.