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“Drill, baby, drill” but with one of those cute science yard signs

Earth Day rallies, campaign updates, zombie mines, and Timothée Chalamet

Congress is on break until Monday, so Hill Heat is on holiday schedule until then. Here’s a late-night mid-week sampler.

Twelve years ago today, BP’s Deepwater Horizon rig celebrated 4/20 by smoking up and then exploding in the Gulf of Mexico, killing eleven crewmen and pouring five million barrels of oil into the ocean over five months, permanently poisoning the gulf. It had been drilling the Macondo Prospect, named for the cursèd town of mirrors in Gabriel García Márquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude, which was wiped from the face of the earth by a biblical storm.

Eighteen days earlier, President Barack Obama had touted how safe offshore oil rigs were, falsely claiming that Hurricane Katrina didn't cause offshore oil spills. (It did.)

As we near Earth Day 2022, BP has returned to making obscene profits, and the Biden administration has reopened oil and gas drilling leases on public lands. With higher royalty rates than before! So there’s that.

In Washington, D.C., climate activists are marking Earth Day with two days of protests and rallies that I’m hoping to join. On Friday, Extinction Rebellion DC is gathering for a rally at Franklin Park in support of their campaign to stop Washington Gas from building $5 billion on natural-gas infrastructure. Their clear message: End fossil fuels and electrify DC.

On Saturday, a multi-million-dollar coalition of climate and labor organizations led by the Biden-era Green New Deal Network1 is organizing a rally in front of the White House with the not-quite-as-clear demand of “bold action on climate, care, jobs, and justice,” which appears to be code for “whatever Joe Manchin might give us out of the Build Back Better climate components even though we have no leverage and he is literally a coal baron.”

In addition to Rep. Kathy Castor (D-Fla.), the chair of the jurisdictionally powerless House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, White House deputy climate advisor Ali Zaidi and White House Council on Environmental Quality Chair Brenda Mallory will be speaking at the rally.

Mallory, an esteemed environmental justice leader, has come under fire from the independent White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council for establishing an environmental-justice methodology that ignores race.

It will be interesting to find out if any of the organizations involved or the participants coming in on dozens of buses from neighboring states will protest the White House’s moves to rapidly increase fracked gas exports and oil and gas drilling while publicly deferring to corporations and to Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), who, it was reported Monday by Brian Schwartz, was fêted by Trump billionaires last month for his success in blocking labor, climate, health, civil rights, and economic justice legislation as a member of the Democratic Party in high standing.

It will also be interesting to find out this Saturday if Zaidi and Mallory will defy the putative White House omerta against mentioning Manchin in public.

More likely, they’ll try to elide the White House’s climate-destroying policies and emphasize actions like yesterday’s restoration of National Environmental Policy Act provisions that require projects to account for the “direct,” “indirect” and “cumulative” environmental impacts, including climate.2

But half-efforts won’t stop the walls of fire in Flagstaff and Kansas or the floods in Corrientes and Baybay and Durban and Sydney

Good News Monday: Green New Dealer Barbara Buffaloe was sworn in as the next mayor of Columbia, Missouri.

Good News Tuesday: A Pennsylvania state court cleared the way for the state to join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.

The Nation has got some great reads this week: the remarkable climate activist Ted Glick writes that “it’s possible that the days of FERC rubber-stamping every fossil fuel project that private companies propose could be ending,” and Kyle Paoletta argues convincingly that “we need to recognize that the greatest challenge the country faces is not future demographic decline but rather the carbon capitalism that has prevailed for the past two centuries.”

JUSTICE, TEXAS STYLE: “While Texas utility customers burned their furniture for warmth and froze to death, CenterPoint, a major utility in the state, sought to raise rates and its CEO pulled down a major raise. David Lesar’s compensation more than tripled from less than $12 million in 2020 to $37.8 million in 2021.”

Saul Levin, Rep. Cori Bush’s (D-Okla.) legislative aide on climate, and Rajiv Sicora, Rep. Jamaal Bowman’s (D-N.Y.) legislative aide on climate, talk about the fight for the Green New Deal on Capitol Hill in the latest episode of the compelling Generation Green New Deal podcast. As they were both on a Netroots Nation panel I put together last year on this exact subject, I can’t recommend this more highly.

Some quick congressional campaign hits:

Kentucky’s zombie mines. Canada doesn’t want credit for the the Elephant Hill fire. Black Girls Do Bike. For every cleantech dollar, venture capitalists are putting three into crypto. Bitcoin tried to eat Plattsburgh.

JERBS: The Washington Post is hiring an “Instagram editor to develop and oversee our new climate account” (based in DC, no salary given). NPR is hiring a corporations and climate correspondent under the premise that “Of all the forces and actors responding to climate change, corporations seem to be the group whose plans often give people the most hope” ($120K+, maybe more if you get ‘Thanks to our sponsor Koch Industries’ tattooed on your forehead).

Last and very not least, you can now pre-order the book of the inspirational Dany Sigwalt, executive director of the Power Shift Network:

Friday, April 22

Saturday, April 23

1 Green New Deal Network partners in this rally include the unions SEIU, IUPAT, and AFT; the mainline environmental groups EarthDay.org, Sierra Club, League of Conservation Voters, NRDC, and EDF; the youth climate organizations Sunrise Movement, Defend Our Future, Zero Hour, Fridays for Future DC, and the Future Coalition; the progressive federations NAACP, People’s Action, the Center for Popular Democracy, and the National Domestic Workers Alliance; the climate organizations Climate Reality Project, the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, the Hip Hop Caucus, and Climate Power; March On; the Blue Green Alliance; and the Center for American Progress. There are sister rallies in Phoenix and Atlanta and other locally-organized events around the country.

2 The rule change does not update the Bureau of Land Management’s implementation of the 2005 Energy Policy Act’s exemption for oil and gas wells from NEPA.

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