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"End the global fossil fuel addiction that feeds Putin’s war machine!"

Congress responds: How about a whole lot of guns instead?


House Democrats are up in Philadelphia on their annual retreat, after getting a $1.5 trillion government funding bill through that includes $14 billion in military aid for Ukraine but very little funding for Covid response, even as new variants spread. Military spending is up $42 billion from last year to $782 billion, more than half of all the spending in the package. Much of the remaining is going into financial aid for colleges, food aid for children, infrastructure spending, and earmarked local projects.1 The continued habitability of the planet was not a top priority. Brett Hartl of the Center for Biological Diversity offers this accurate summary:

This budget is an environmental catastrophe and a colossal failure of leadership by the Democratic establishment.”

WAR PROFITEERING: Big Oil CEOs are cashing in on war. “Since President Biden called the Russian invasion of Ukraine inevitable, at least five top Big Oil executives have cashed out nearly $99 million worth of their increasingly valuable stock.” The 18 top Big Oil CEOs are worth over $8 billion more than they were on January 20, 2021, Friends of the Earth research shows. Big Oil companies have been paying negative taxes over the past eight years while shoveling money to their investors. As researcher Sandy Hagar told Kate Aronoff:

“You see quite clearly that the energy crisis has been a windfall for big companies. I always thought they had a favorable domestic tax agreement, but the data floored me.… What makes it jarring is that so many people are suffering from rising energy prices.”

So it’s good to see Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) introduce legislation to impose a windfall profits excise tax on crude oil. It’s very less than ideal that the tax would only apply to oil sold after the passage of the legislation, which, let’s be honest, is not likely to be rapidly taken up by shadow president Joe Manchin, who would prefer Biden use his war powers to build more fracking pipelines.

STAND WITH UKRAINE: A remarkable and impassioned letter to the world has been penned by the Ukrainian climate movement, now joined by hundreds of organizations in dozens of countries around the world, with the call:

A different tomorrow is feasible.

A tomorrow free from Putin and other petro-dictators.

A tomorrow free from climate-hostile and war-feeding fossil fuels.

From the prominent Ukrainian climate activist Svitlana Romanko:

This horrific war in Ukraine that sees people dying every day is the result of governments and oil giants having blindly tolerated Russian acts of violence and oppression for many years to maintain the status quo of the fossil fuel economy. We call upon all governments, companies and financial institutions to divest, end all trade and embargo all fossil fuels from Russia. We call for justice and peace. We call to overcome this. We want no more wars. Nations worldwide must commit to the rapid and just transition away from all fossil fuels and fossil fuels non-proliferation. Fossil fuel companies cannot be allowed to make their 'peace washing' to justify increased extensive fossil fuel exploration.”

BlackRock, the world’s largest shadow bank, talks a good game about climate in public, but does so with fingers crossed behind its back. New emails reveal the company sent its top lobbyist to appease wingnut climate denier Wayne Christian, a top Texas oil and gas official, that they in fact really do love that sweet black crude.

Houses inundated by floodwaters in Woodburn, New South Wales on March 7. Credit: Dan Peled

MEANWHILE: The Securities and Exchange Commission announced it will discuss climate-risk disclosures at a meeting later this month. “A natural gas leak that was detected on Friday at a ConocoPhillips Alaska oilfield on the North Slope is still ongoing, which led the company to evacuate staff at the drill site on Monday.” Foam in the water. EPA administrator Michael Regan put fossil-fuel execs on notice for their ongoing pollution. Lake Powell is going critical. Burning Man is going greener. Who leaves a $2,000 ham on the footpath? Alex Casey investigates the porcine mystery of the Hobsonville Point jamón iberico.

Corrections: I mangled the link yesterday to “Killer truck, dude.” It’s a powerful philippic by Dan Kois:

I’m not saying you’re a murderer if you own a gigantic truck. I’m saying you’re a manslaughterer. If you do kill a person, it won’t be because you carefully planned it. It’ll happen totally by accident, and you’ll be horrified. The person you kill, if it happens, won’t be some jerk who wronged you. They won’t deserve it at all. Heck, there’s a solid chance it’ll be a toddler.

The fundamental problem here is that auto companies are allowed to sell these death machines at all.

Climate Action Today:

Congrats to Melinda St. Louis, the new director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch.

Closing this hard week with some words from Leonard Cohen:

They whisper still, the ancient stones

The blunted mountains weep

As he died to make men holy

Let us die to make things cheap

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1. The consistent theme on these social priorities: more funding than the past, yet still woefully insufficient.

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