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Hurricane politics in Robert E. Lee County

Biden visits Puerto Rico and Florida; SCOTUS v. WOTUS; lethality per gallon


Sperm whale says hi. Photo: Gaelin Rosenwaks

This week, President Joe Biden visited Puerto Rico to see Hurricane Fiona recovery and Florida for Hurricane Ian recovery. Two weeks after Fiona struck, the number of households without power has only now fallen below 100,000.

“I’m heading to Puerto Rico because they haven’t been taken very good care of,” Biden said before his trip on Monday. As he met with Governor Pedro Pierluisi (D), Biden announced:

“We are not leaving here, as long as I’m president, until everything, I mean this sincerely, until every single thing that we can do is done.”

Hurricane Ian is now officially Florida’s deadliest hurricane since 1935; 53 of the 119 deaths took place in Lee County, one of eight in the nation named for Confederate general Robert E. Lee. Faced with harsh criticism for failing to call for an evacuation in time, Lee County commissioners blamed meteorologists. The residents of Dunbar, the majority Black neighborhood of Fort Myers, have seen little official notice or help, as have the residents of River Park, the majority Black neighborhood of Naples.

In a far-ranging conversation with Priyanka Chopra Jonas at the Democratic National Committee’s Women’s Leadership Forum on September 30th, Vice President Kamala Harris discussed the need for global climate policy to involve equity and environmental justice, because “it is our lowest income communities and our communities of color that are most impacted by these extreme conditions and by issues that are not of their own making.”

Having traded in their dog whistles for white hoods, the Republican Party has gone hog-wild in response, saying Harris wants Black people to get more disaster relief after Hurricane Ian than white people. Fascistic climate denier Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) told Fox News’ Sean Hannity, “I think she’s trying to play identity politics with a storm and a natural disaster.” On CBS’ Face the Nation, Sen. Rick Scott (R-Nosferatu) flat-out lied, claiming that Harris said “if you have a different skin color, you’re going to get relief.”

See, it must be true because Kamala Harris has a different skin color!

In Florida, Biden was largely cordial and serious with DeSantis, despite “very different political philosophies.” “The biggest thing the governor has done,” he told reporters, “is recognize there’s a thing called global warming. The world is changing.”

The danker corners of the internet enjoyed this Chad vs Virgin moment:

On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court asked Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar to file briefs “expressing the views of the United States” on climate liability lawsuits filed against ExxonMobil and Suncor Energy by Boulder, and other Colorado municipalities. Democratic state attorneys general, U.S. Senators, and Delaware state lawmakers have asked the Justice Department to fulfill President Biden’s campaign pledge to “strategically support” such climate lawsuits. The American Petroleum Institute is supporting the oil companies’ request to kick these suits into federal courts.

The Supreme Court declined to review sociopathic coal baron Don Blankenship’s misdemeanor conviction for the Upper Big Branch mine disaster.

The Alaskan permafrost is melting because of fossil-fueled global warming, which is causing Alaskan fossil-fuel projects to spring massive leaks, but the Biden administration continues to back ConocoPhillips’s Willow Project to drill for 629 million barrels of oil out of the Alaskan permafrost.

The future of the Amazon rainforest hinges upon the October 30th runoff in Brazil between the current president, eco-fascist Juan Bolsonaro, and the former president, eco-socialist Lula da Silva. Scientist David Salisbury reports on the perilous politics of Indigenous environmentalism in both the Brazilian and Peruvian Amazon.

As grasslands from Nebraska to New Mexico desertify under fossil-fueled megadrought, ranchers try to hold on to a generations-old way of life, and lawmakers keep trying to help:

In the 2014 farm bill, a legislative package passed on average every five years to fund food and agricultural programs, Congress made the livestock disaster relief program permanent – a previously temporary measure to compensate livestock producers who had suffered grazing losses due to drought. In 2021, as drought returned, the USDA announced further measures to support ranchers to help cover the costs of hauling water and transporting feed for livestocknot. Earlier this year, the USDA introduced yet another program to compensate ranchers for the impacts of severe drought and wildfire over the last two years.

The Biden administration has committed more than $22 billion to climate-friendly farming practices in the Inflation Reduction Act and other measures, on top of more than $4 billion in disaster relief.

But no amount of relief checks can stop the Great Drying.

ConEd has sold its renewable energy arm to the German company RWE (originally Rheinisch-Westfälisches Elektrizitätswerk) for $6.8 billion.

Benjamin Storrow writes a helpful history on federal efforts to fast-track the construction of multi-state high-voltage transmission lines, a highly thorny endeavor.

Sandra Laville reports on the youth activists from the global south who met in Tunisia to prepare for the upcoming COP27 climate talks in Egypt, PRESENTED BY COCA-COLA, the world’s biggest plastics polluter.

The Department of Energy is seeking comment on how it should be using the Defense Production Act to speed the manufacture and deployment of “transformers and electric grid components; solar photovoltaics; insulation materials; and electrolyzers, platinum group metals, and fuel cells for clean hydrogen.” And Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service are seeking comment on implementation of the Inflation Reduction Act’s many clean energy tax credits.

The U.S. Air Force is tackling climate change! The most-polluting branch of the military is hoping to significantly improve its “lethality per gallon.”

Coming up: U.S. Climate Politics Almanac entries on climate ballot initiatives and the Arizona state treasurers’ debate. Thanks for subscribing and spreading the word.

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