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If it's bad to say goodbye, is that a badbye?

FERC chair Rich Glick, plastics, forests, cheeseburgers


President Joe Biden offered a fat kiss to Senate Energy chair Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) today, pledging his support, yet again, for Manchin’s dirty pipeline plan, offered as an amendment today to the National Defense Authorization Act. The amendment is still expected to fail.

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission chair Richard Glick bid farewell to his staff and colleagues in today’s monthly open meeting, his five years at FERC coming to an end because Manchin tanked his re-appointment.1 Manchin opposed Glick’s work to have FERC integrate climate risk into its assessment of natural gas infrastructure, and successfully browbeat the commission into walking back its planned policies. Glick was gracious in his undesired retirement, simply insisting that climate change is “something that we have to tackle as a society.”

Last month, for example, FERC approved a liquefied natural gas export terminal from Commonwealth LNG LLC that is expected to release more than 3.5 million tons of carbon dioxide per year — equivalent to the annual emissions of eight natural gas power plants, according to EPA.

“As long as Manchin is chair of that committee,” West Virginia environmental law professor James Van Nostrand told Wilson, “you’re never going to get somebody like Rich Glick who takes their obligation seriously on greenhouse gas emissions.”

Manchin is expected to remain chair of that committee.

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This morning, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) chaired an environmental justice subcommittee hearing on plastic waste, a week after Los Angeles and San Diego banned polysterene, and a few months after microplastics were found in human blood for the first time.

At the hearing, Judith Enck of Beyond Plastics testified: “The U.S. already has sufficient plastic production to meet domestic demand and is a net exporter of plastics.”

A new report from Oceana found that retail giant Amazon increased its output of plastic waste in 2021 by 18% from the prior year to around 709 million pounds.

Matt Seaholm, the plastics lobbyist at the hearing, said we should recycle more. Seaholm is a former Koch Industries operative.

The California Public Utilities Commission has ignored months of widespread protest and is moving forward today with a net-metering plan that will effectively kill the growth of rooftop and community solar in California by slashing solar credits to solar producers by an average of 75%.

Backed by climate groups like Lead Locally, Sylvia Campos won a runoff election on Tuesday to represent District 2 on the Corpus Christi city council, joining climate activist Jim Klein, who won an at-large seat in November.

The winter storm sweeping the nation spun off at least 50 tornadoes across the south, killing three people in Louisiana, with heavy snow knocking out power for tens of thousands in Wisconsin.

The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California has declared a drought emergency for all of Southern California.

Rep. Kathy Castor’s (D-Fla.) House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, which is expected to be dissolved by a Republican House majority next year, said in a report Wednesday that nearly half of its policy recommendations have become law.

A new report from the Jewish climate justice group Dayenu assessed the fossil fuel investments of major Jewish institutions, finding $3.3 billion “in Jewish communal fossil fuel investments” out of a total $34.7 billion.

Cronartium ribicola on a pine tree Pinus strobus (white pine blister rust). Credit: Marek Argent

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced Wednesday that it will protect the whitebark pine under the Endangered Species Act. Long threatened by white pine blister rust (Cronartium ribicola), fossil-fueled global warming has tipped the balance against our nation’s pine forests by extending pine borer damage and increasing wildfires.

Dr. Thomas Campanella writes of the death of the North American ash forests.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service also listed the highly endangered Tiehm’s buckwheat (Eriogonum tiehmii); the 16,000 remaining plants live only on a few hundred acres in the Nevada desert, the site of a proposed lithium mine by Australian company Ioneer.

Tiehm’s buckwheat. Credit: USFWS

If you checked out Environment America’s induction-stove webinar on Wednesday mentioned on Hill Heat, you were the first to hear the news from Consumer Product Safety Commissioner Richard Trumka Jr. that the CPSC will put out a formal request by March for information on hazards associated with gas stoves and possible solutions. 

In yet more Manchin news, Kevin Crowley and Ari Natter report that the carbon-capture tax subsidies in the Inflation Reduction Act will be used by the oil industry to finance new oil and gas drilling through “enhanced oil recovery”:

The Biden administration has reversed course on a carbon capture funding program to allow oil production following an intervention by senators including Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, handing a win to the fossil fuel industry. The Department of Energy on Tuesday announced $3.7 billion of funding to back projects that remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, which have long been considered key technologies needed to reach net-zero goals. But in a policy pivot, the programs now open the door to the use of taxpayer dollars to fund carbon capture projects that produce fossil fuels through a process known as enhanced oil recovery, or EOR.

Wait, did they mention Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (I-Ariz.)? You might think being a pro-billionaire U.S. Senator is a full-time job, but don’t worry, it doesn’t interfere from her side gig of selling designer boots and triathlete gear on Facebook Marketplace.

Michael Grunwald argues for more honesty about meat consumption by the international negotiators at the Montreal biodiversity summit:

“Limiting access to cheeseburgers can turn politicians into ex-politicians, so it’s no coincidence that the Montreal draft mentions changing diets only in passing in its 16th target. But the inconvenient truth is that when we eat cows, chickens and other livestock, we might as well be eating macaws, jaguars and other endangered species.”

Hearings on the Hill:

Climate Action Today:

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1 As Energy chair, Manchin has also stalled the nomination of Laura Daniel-Davis to be assistant secretary for land and minerals management at the Interior Department; more than 100 women in the environment, climate and conservation community wrote an angry letter to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) for failing to bring her nomination to the Senate floor.

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