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Fast and Furious: Florida Adrift

Hurricane Ian, Jackson water crisis, and other flavors of oppression


Fast & Furious: Florida Adrift

The fossil-fueled Hurricane Ian has tromped out the Gulf of Mexico, pummeled Florida, and continued into the Atlantic Ocean, where, fueled by the hot ocean, it will regain hurricane strength before making a second landfall in South Carolina Friday morning. Ian’s storm surge sent walls of water into Fort Myers and Naples, and its torrential rains threaten the already-dying manatees and dolphins of Indian River Lagoon. The death toll is unknown but may be staggering. Over 2.6 million Florida households have joined the Cubans, Puerto Ricans, and Nova Scotians left without power from Ian and Fiona.

The neo-fascist Gov. Ron “I Stand Against Socialism” DeSantis (R-Fla.), who previously told Floridians to adapt to climate change without doing “any left-wing stuff,” seemed shocked by the devastation. “We’ve never seen a flood event like this,” he said at a news conference today. “You’re looking at a storm that changed the character of our state.”

One of DeSantis’ first acts as a member of Congress in 2013 was to vote against against a $9.7 billion emergency relief package for the New York and New Jersey victims of Hurricane Sandy, accusing Democrats of a “put it on the credit card mentality.”

President Joe Biden has signed an emergency disaster declaration for Florida, offering DeSantis and other Florida officials the federal government’s full support. He also expanded the disaster declaration for Alaska’s recent typhoon and the disaster declaration for Puerto Rico. He announced his plans to visit both Florida and Puerto Rico soon.

Activists have put together a massive resource guide for Hurricane Ian mutual aid and relief, including organizations to support, opportunities for volunteers and workers, and tools for navigating disaster-relief bureacracy.

The Advocate’s John Casey offers an update on how the migrants DeSantis shipped from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard earlier this month are faring.

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MEANWHILE, MISSISSIPPI: On Tuesday, the NAACP “filed a federal complaint with the Environmental Protection Agency alleging that Mississippi’s mishandling of Jackson’s water crisis violated residents’ rights under the Civil Rights Act of 1964.”

Don’t trust the state,” Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba told residents in a city meeting Tuesday night about Republican Governor Tate Reeves’ handling of the water crisis. Although he is encouraged by the national attention, he is concerned little will change. “Once it is no longer in the news that is when I become fearful.”

“The people of Jackson, Mississippi, have lacked access to safe and reliable water for decades. After years of neglect, Jackson’s water system finally reached a breaking point this summer, leaving tens of thousands of people without any running water for weeks," EPA Administrator Michael Regan said Monday. “These conditions are unacceptable in the United States of America.”

The EPA and DOJ’s Environmental Enforcement Section are seeking to resolve the situation without having to resort to litigation.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed housing legislation that, while compromised, should encourage more affordable housing to be constructed.

Nearly $4 billion of Inflation Reduction Act funds will be spent to shore up the disappearing Colorado River system, much of it in payments to farmers for turning off the tap.

Lee Harris writes how Biden’s mega-billion-dollar industrial-policy push, including the green-manufacturing elements of the IRA, lack the union support Biden once promised.

Climate polluters, despite public pledges, simply aren’t tying CEO compensation to pollution cuts. The only exception: electric utility Xcel Energy.

The world’s mountain glaciers are disappearing—and 2022 is on track to be the worst year ever for both the Alps and the Himalayans. “It’s really obvious that this is an extreme season,” Swiss glaciologist Andreas Linsbauer told Reuters reporters Emma Farge and Gloria Dickie, as he gloomily surveyed torrents of meltwater from the Morteratsch Glacier.

Pamela King takes us to the Supreme Court’s upcoming term: the radical majority is likely to severely curtail Clean Water Act for our nation’s wetlands in Sackett v. EPA. She also runs down the list of other key Supreme Court cases.

Environment America has a new report on the EPA’s Toxics Release Inventory, finding that industrial facilities released at least 193.6 million pounds of toxic substances into U.S. waterways in 2020. Texas, Indiana, and Virginia lead the race. The inventory is worrisomely incomplete, as oil and gas drilling are exempt from reporting.

Yesterday, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee punted on confirming Joseph Goffman to be the EPA’s top pollution chief for the third time, saying only the vote will be “rescheduled for a later date.”

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) is licking his wounds from the stunning defeat of his misbegotten EIS Act. Lena Moffitt, chief of staff for Evergreen Action, is optimistic the Democratic caucus will move away from the Manchin fossil-fueled bulldozer approach to permit reform: “There’s a recognition we’ve got to build a lot of clean energy, and we need to do so in a way that centers communities.”

Today, Manchin’s committee is marking up forestry and wildfire legislation including the deceptively named Save Our Sequoias Act, which uses global warming to justify increased logging near sequoia stands. The House Natural Resources Committee is marking up Rep. Jared Huffman’s (D-Calif) sustainable fisheries legislation.

There will also be hearings with witness testimony on the remediation of abandoned mines, Farm Bill implementation, and transportation infrastructure.

Hearings on the Hill:

Climate Action Today:

The last word comes from Rhiana Gunn-Wright, interviewed by the Atlantic’s Matteo Wong:

Wong: Given that a lot of experts, including yourself, have said that we need to drastically reduce our emissions in the next 10 years, what was the realistic alternative to the Inflation Reduction Act? How else could we have “balanced the equation” with a similar or better result, given a split Senate with Joe Manchin, who owns a coal business, as the decisive vote?

Gunn-Wright: I struggle with this question because I often struggle with the question of what’s realistic. I’m a Black woman in America. Asking me what’s “realistic” often feels like asking me, “What is your desired flavor of oppression?”

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