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Meeting the minds, breaking the promises

Congress looks at the FY2023 budget, ARPA-E, carbon sequestration


“No more drilling on federal lands, period,” presidential candidate Joe Biden promised in 2020.

President Biden has now broken that promise, re-opening leases for oil and gas on public lands and waters. Friends of the Earth is suing the White House to “disclose how and why climate change was stripped from Interior’s report on the leasing program.”

And Biden may be dooming our climate future with liquefied natural gas. “The U.S. is expected to become the world’s largest exporter of LNG this year” with six export terminals, and two more are on the way.

On Saturday, I attended the anemic “Fight for Our Future” climate-coalition rally in front of the White House, primarily attended by staffers of the many organizations involved. The New York Times’ Lisa Friedman pinpointed the problem: “Organizers of the Washington rally have tightly choreographed the event in concert with the White House, lining up speakers from the administration including Ali Zaidi, the White House deputy national adviser, to try to deflect blame away from Mr. Biden.”

If I had more personal integrity and bravery I would have been shouting about LNG during Zaidi’s speech. Not that anyone else did.

The tenor of this rally was in stark contrast to other climate protests marking Earth Day. Activists with Extinction Rebellion scaled the D.C. mayor’s office and blockaded the New York Times’s College Point printing plant. A Buddhist activist named Wynn Bruce set himself on fire on the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court “to bring attention to climate crisis.” And youth activists in Des Moines protested at the headquarters of the coal utility MidAmerican Energy.

White House climate advisor Gina McCarthy thinks there will be a “meeting of the minds” between the White House and Manchin on climate legislation. Manchin is demanding that Biden expedite the construction of the fracked-gas Mountain Valley Pipeline: “Build the damn line,” he says. So I’m wondering where the meeting will take place.

Congress is back in session this week, with committees poring through President Joe Biden’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2023. Biden’s cabinet is headed to the Hill — including Secretary of State Anthony Blinken before both the House and the Senate, Secretary of Interior Deb Haaland, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, and Secretary of Energy Jennifer Graham. EPA Administrator Michael Regan, Forest Service chief Randy Moore, and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Lt. General Scott Spellman will be defending their budgets as well. And there will be hearings on the Coast Guard budget and the gargantuan Department of Defense budget.

On Wednesday, Dr. Geri Richmond, head of the Department of Energy’s Office of Science, goes before the House Science Committee to discuss the department’s science and energy research infrastructure needs. Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton’s (D-D.C.) highways and transit subcommittee is holding a hearing on surface transportation construction, and Rep. Teresa Leger Fernández (D-N.M.) chairs a tribal legislation hearing.

On Thursday, Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-Mich.) is investigating the prospects for carbon dioxide storage in the Gulf of Mexico, and NOAA climate advisor Ko Barrett testifies about the need for urgent climate action before the House Science Committee.

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) is chairing a vote on the nomination of Dr. Kathryn Huff to be assistant secretary of Energy for nuclear energy, and then holding a hearing for acting director Dr. David Applegate to be director of the United States Geological Survey, Puerto Rican career diplomat Carmen Cantor to be the assistant secretary of the Interior for insular and international affairs; and MIT mechanical engineer Dr. Evelyn Wang to be director of the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy at the Department of Energy.

The heat wave in India is nearing Ministry of the Future territory.

Television meteorologists are now talking global warming.

The EPA plans to exclude small wells from its proposed methane-pollution rule, but a new study finds that these “marginal” wells are responsible for about half of the pollution.

Fossil-fueled wildfires are ripping through New Mexico, Arizona, and Nebraska. Clear-cutting forests isn’t renewable energy.

News for the better: Wind power is booming in deep-red Oklahoma. “California’s grid briefly operated on nearly 100% renewable energy in early April, while wind power was the second-largest energy source nationwide on March 29.”

During the 2021 Texas freeze, “areas with high minority populations were about three times as likely to have experienced a blackout than majority white areas.”

Gov. Gavin Newsom “recently hired a former oil lobbyist as his top legislative staffer” as “California approved more new wells in March and April than in any two-month period since last October.”

Jane Mayer investigates the “slime machine” targeting Biden’s nominees, including climate hawks Saule Omarova and Sarah Bloom Raskin, whose nominations were pulled after Senate Democrats abandoned the candidates.

The EPA has approved the release of billions of genetically engineered mosquitoes in California and Florida.

Scientists are calling on the British Museum to cut ties with BP.

Congratulations are in order: Steven Donziger is finally free, and long-time Sierra Club staffer Ben Beachy has returned from the mountaintop to start as the Vice President of Industrial Policy for the BlueGreen Alliance.

The Week Ahead on the Hill

Tuesday, April 26

Wednesday, April 27

Thursday, April 28

Friday, April 29

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