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Historic climate victory: new offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico
Also: Environmental justice with Kinder Morgan, beating plows into paraquat
PRESENTED BY THE CHOCOLATE OF COCKROACH FOOD
This morning, as mandated by the historic climate legislation Inflation Reduction Act, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management sold off new oil and gas leases on an Italy-sized swath of the Gulf of Mexico. Many of the blocks sold are just miles off the coast of Galveston, Texas.
Meanwhile, in Washington, D.C., the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which oversees permits for power plants, pipelines, and liquefied natural gas terminals, is hosting its first-ever Roundtable on Environmental Justice and Equity in Infrastructure Permitting.
Roundtable participants include environmental-justice leaders such as WEACT’s Dana Johnson, Port Arthur’s John Beard, the Center for Oil and Gas Organizing’s Kari Fulton, Hip Hop Caucus’s Russell Armstrong, and Vessel Project of Louisiana founder Roishetta Ozane, alongside representatives of polluting industry, such as Cheniere, the American Petroleum Institute, and Kinder Morgan.
One fun rule: no talking about proposed projects. Sierra Club executive director Ben Jealous was cut off by FERC officials from discussing the planned LNG megaprojects in Brownsville Texas.
After the FERC roundtable at 5 pm, environmental justice advocates are holding The Peoples’ EJ Roundtable, with food, music, and a panel discussion.
Climate Envoy John Kerry was in Mexico last week meeting with President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, discussing construction of a series of solar plants in northern Sonora state. Trade tensions between the two countries is on the rise, as Obrador doesn’t want to give U.S. renewable companies or private oil companies such as Chevron and Marathon Petroleum access to Mexico. Trade Representative Katherine Tai told a Senate panel the Biden administration is willing to go to trade court to force Mexico to open its borders, but to be clear, only in an energy sense, not a people sense.
This spring, Grey Moran writes in CivilEats, U.S. farmers will be spraying over 10 million pounds of paraquat, the most toxic chemical in U.S. agriculture, on crops such as soybeans, corn, cotton, and grapes. The pesticide, which is banned in Europe, China, and Brazil, is on trial this summer in multiple class-action lawsuits from thousands of farmers who have developed Parkinson’s after prolonged exposure. And the U.S. EPA, which reapproved paraquat in 2021, is now reconsidering that decision after a lawsuit from Earthjustice.
And stop me if you’ve heard this one before: a recently revealed trove of documents show that companies like Chevron and Syngenta involved in paraquat’s manufacturing and marketing knew as early as the 1960s about its potential risks and decided to launch a propaganda campaign extolling its safety and virtues instead. Wait—that Chevron? Yup!
A report published by the International Renewable Energy Agency on Tuesday said an additional $35 trillion of investments in transitional technologies would be needed by 2030 to curb global heating to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
America will probably get more killer tornado- and hail-spawning supercells as the world warms.
Yesterday, California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law a bill that regulates windfall-profit-taking by oil companies in his state. Well, very much sorta kinda. The watered-down legislation calls for the establishment of a “new watchdog division of the California Energy Commission will investigate alleged price gouging by the industry.” It will “take nine to 12 months to establish the new division.”
An elementary school in Florida has banned a documentary about the challenges a six-year-old Ruby Bridges faced in desegregating a white school in New Orleans in 1960, after a parent objected that her eight-year-old child shouldn’t be exposed to “the use of racial slurs and scenes of white people threatening Ruby as she entered a school.”
Congress is hopping! In the House, Republicans are celebrating the fossil-fuel industry in committee hearings promoting small businesses that happen to be fracking businesses (except for the Democratic invitee, West Virginia solar developer Dan Conant), and blaming Biden’s energy policy for inflation, the latter of which features climate economist Mark Paul as the Democratic witness.
In the Senate, Democrats are discussing the a few of the harms of fossil-fuel pollution.
At 10 am, Budget chair Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) chairs “Left Holding the Bag: The Cost of Oil Dependence in a Low-Carbon World.” Witnesses in the all-white-male panel include energy-industry analyst Claudio Galimberti, a former Shell analyst who has run the numbers on the “energy transition” away from fossil fuels; Dr. Gregor Semieniuk, the lead author of the journal article “Stranded Fossil-Fuel Assets Translate to Major Losses for Investors in Advanced Economies;” Daniel Raimi, an energy sociologist at the fossil-industry-funded think tank Resources for the Future who has mapped fossil-industry dependence; and the Republican witnesses, climate-denier-cum-industry-lobbyists Benjamin Zycher and Lou Pugliaresi.
Also at 10 am, Environment chair Tom Carper (D-Del.) hosts a hearing on the Environmental Protection Agency’s updated Good Neighbor Rule, which places new on limits ground-level ozone—that is, smog pollution—based on what happens to downwind states. Testifying are Dr. David Hill, the chair of the American Lung Association; the environmental chiefs of Maryland, Arizona, and Mississippi; and Paul Noe, the top lawyer for the polluters in the American Forest and Paper Association.
There are also a lot of budget hearings today:
Secretary of Interior Deb Haaland goes before Senate appropriators to discuss her department’s $18.9 billion budget request. Though most of the department’s budget can be reasonably considered climate-friendly, about $500 million of the budget is in support of oil and gas leasing and $15 million is intended for supporting carbon capture and sequestration.
Secretary of Treasury Janet Yellen presents the department’s international programs budget, including $1.42 billion for international climate change and environmental funds, to House appropriators.
The heads of the Army Corps of Engineers ($7.4 billion) and Bureau of Reclamation ($1.4 billion) present the administration plan to deal with rapidly growing drought and floods to House appropriators.
National Park Service director Charles Sams ($3.8 billion), Bureau of Land Management director Tracy Stone-Manning ($1.7 billion), and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service director Martha Williams ($4.1 billion) defend the conservation agencies’ budgets before House appropriators.
Hearings on the Hill:
9:30 AM: Senate Appropriations
Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies
A Review of the President’s Fiscal Year 2024 Budget Request for the Department of Interior
10 AM: Senate Appropriations
Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies
A Review of the President’s Fiscal Year 2024 Budget Request for the U.S. Department of Agriculture
10 AM: House Appropriations
State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs
Budget Hearing – Fiscal Year 2024 Request for the Department of the Treasury International Programs
10 AM: House Armed Services
Fiscal Year 2024 Defense Budget Request
10 AM: House Small Business
Rural Development, Energy, and Supply Chains
Highlighting the Role of Small Businesses in Domestic Energy Production
10 AM: Senate Environment and Public Works
The EPA Good Neighbor Rule: Healthier Air for Downwind States
10 AM: Senate Budget
Left Holding the Bag: The Cost of Oil Dependence in a Low-Carbon World
10 AM: House Budget
Fiscal State of the Union
10:30 AM: House Appropriations
Energy and Water Development, and Related Agencies
Budget Hearing – Fiscal Year 2024 Request For The Army Corps Of Engineers And Bureau Of Reclamation
1 PM: House Appropriations
Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies
Budget Hearing – Fiscal Year 2024 Budget Requests for the Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and National Park Service
2 PM: House Oversight and Government Reform
Economic Growth, Energy Policy, and Regulatory Affairs
Biden Administration Energy Policy
2:30 PM: Financial Services and General Government
Budget Hearing - Fiscal Year 2024 Request for the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission
Climate Action Today:
9:30 AM: Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
Roundtable on Environmental Justice and Equity in Infrastructure Permitting
10 AM: Bureau of Ocean Energy Management
Gulf of Mexico Oil and Gas Lease Sale 259
5 PM: Center for Oil and Gas Organizing
The Peoples' EJ Roundtable
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But were afraid to ask.