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Goldman Prize, Supreme Court surprise, back-SLAPPs
PRESENTED BY HOW TO BLOW UP A HELI-SKIING SUPERYACHT
Let’s talk winners, shall we?
This year’s six winners of Goldman Environmental Prize, established in 1989 by Robert and Rhoda Goldman with some of the Levi Strauss fortune, are, from Alessandra to Zafer:
Brazil’s Alessandra Korap Munduruku, who protected the Amazon rainforest from British company Anglo American’s planned copper mine;
Zambia’s Chilekwa Mumba, who successfully sued British-Indian Vedanta Resources for its subsidiary’s toxic copper mine, a precedent for Shell Global being held responsible for its subsidiary’s pollution of the Niger Delta;
Indonesia’s Delima Silalahi, for taking back Sumatran rainforest from eucalyptus-harvester Toba Pulp Lestari;
San Antonio’s Diane Wilson, who forced Formosa Plastics to stop dumping nurdles and toxic chemicals into the Gulf of Mexico;
Finland’s Tero Mustonen, for restoring Finland’s forests and wetlands;
Turkey’s Zafer Kizilkaya, for his work to protect the Turkish Mediterranean from overfishing.
Defying expectations, our cartoonishly corrupt Supreme Court surprisingly rejected ExxonMobil and Chevron’s joint attempt to move their climate-liability lawsuits to federal courts. Oil investor Samuel Alito recused himself, but Amy Coney Barrett, whose father is a long-time oil-industry lawyer, did not. Brett Kavanaugh indicated he wanted to hear the case.1
Also in the winner’s circle: Greenpeace. Last week, “the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California dismissed a seven-year lawsuit against Greenpeace USA and Greenpeace International brought by Resolute Forest Products. After Greenpeace exposed Resolute’s unsustainable forestry practices, the Canadian logging company sued Greenpeace offices for $100 million in an attempt to silence and bankrupt their critics.” SLAPP-ed back!
And President Joe Biden’s Earth Day executive order formally established the Office of Environmental Justice within the White House Council on Environmental Quality. Enough for Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) to endorse Joe for re-election and the Sierra Club and the League of Conservation Voters to use Biden’s campaign slogan to “finish the job.”
FROM FLOOD… Significant flooding is happening along the Mississippi River this week, from Minneapolis to Davenport, Iowa. Yosemite Valley will close this weekend because of the potential for flooding along the Merced River. California Gov. Gavin Newsom visited the flooded fields of the San Joaquin Valley yesterday, “where the long-dry Tulare Lake has stunningly re-emerged, pledging support for the rural towns taking in floodwater.”
In the meantime, fossil-fuel money continues to flood into our political system. Frackers are planning to spend at least $4 million on a campaign to overturn Eugene’s ban on gas hookups in new homes, Anna Phillips reports. Republican Louisiana state Rep. Markham Scott “Scott” McKnight is running to be the sinking petro-state’s treasurer; his campaign is unsurprisingly oil-soaked, with donations from ExxonMobil and the Louisiana Oil & Gas Association.
…TO FAMINE: Virtually the entire D.C. and Baltimore region is in drought, which has “helped fuel outdoor fires, contributed to a punishing pollen season, decreased river flow rates and started to impact crops.”
The nation’s winter wheat crop was mostly seeded in drought, heightening the risk of above-average flour prices into 2024.
The biggest wildfire in the continental United States in 2022 and the biggest in New Mexico history was lit by an ill-prepared and understaffed U.S. Forest Service crew who “didn’t properly account for dry conditions and high winds when it ignited prescribed burns meant to limit the fuel for a potential wildfire.” Hundreds of local residents burned out of their homes are still struggling for housing, with little to no support from the federal government.
“If you can get your head around the fact that you’re skiing on completely untouched descents in the last true frontier on Earth, then skiing in Antarctica offers an unforgettable experience full of pleasant surprises. Skiers are able to carve all the way down to the waterline and be greeted by the local wildlife. Antarctic seals and penguins are unused to human contact and are surprisingly placid.”
I think I know what the sequel to How To Blow Up a Pipeline is going to be now.
Climate hawk Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) continues his regular series of climate hearings as chair of the Budget Committee, with this morning’s hearing Under the Weather: Diagnosing the Health Costs of Climate Change.
Also at 10 am, Environment and Public Works chair Tom Carper (D-Del.) hosts Opportunities to Improve Project Reviews for a Cleaner and Stronger Economy, looking for a version of permitting reform that’s an improvement on Sen. Joe Manchin’s (D-W.Va.) “shit sandwich.”
On the House side, Republicans are also focusing on climate policy, with House Energy and Commerce’s Critical Materials Subcommittee Chair Bill Johnson (R-Ohio)’s entertainingly-titled “Exposing the Environmental, Human Rights, and National Security Risks of the Biden Administration’s Rush to Green Policies.” Because, you see, climate inaction is the only safe path.
Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) chairs a hearing on Tunisia, whose severe fossil-fueled drought is devastating the populace. Two hearings continue the development of Mexico as a carceral state for climate migrants seeking to reach the United States; in the morning the House Foreign Affairs committee marks up legislation to give the Secretary of State wide latitude in coordinating immigration control with Mexico, and in the afternoon Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) chairs “The effects of increased migration on communities along the southern border.” No need to mention the causes, of course.
Hearings on the FY2024 budget are ongoing, though at a more reasonable pace than in previous weeks.
In the morning, House Natural Resources looks at the U.S. Forest Service budget and its plans for wildfire management (see above), old-growth forest protection, and logging; and
Senate Foreign Relations has Samantha Power to discuss the United States Agency for International Development budget.
In the afternoon, Senate appropriators hold their hearing on the public-works plans of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Bureau of Reclamation; and
on the U.S. Department of Commerce, most of whose budget goes to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Iron Range Rep. Pete Stauber (R-Minn.) chairs a Natural Resources subcommittee hearing on the budget for energy and climate-related agencies of the Department of Interior: the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, and the U.S. Geological Survey.
Other hearings of interest on Wednesday include the committee vote on the impressive Julie Su as Secretary of Labor and a full-day House Agriculture hearing for producer perspectives on the 2023 Farm Bill.
Hearings on the Hill:
10 AM: Senate Foreign Relations
Review of the FY2024 United States Agency for International Development Budget
10 AM: Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions
Nomination of Julie Su to serve as Secretary of Labor
10 AM: Senate Environment and Public Works
Opportunities to Improve Project Reviews for a Cleaner and Stronger Economy
10 AM: House Agriculture
General Farm Commodities, Risk Management, and Credit
Producer Perspectives on the 2023 Farm Bill
10:15 AM: House Natural Resources
Examining the President's FY 2024 Budget Request for the U.S. Forest Service
10:15 AM: Senate Budget
Under the Weather: Diagnosing the Health Costs of Climate Change
10:30 AM: House Foreign Affairs
Full Committee Markup of Immigration, Iran, Ukraine, Mexico Legislation
10:30 AM: House Energy and Commerce
Environment, Manufacturing, and Critical Materials
Environmental, Human Rights, and National Security Implications of the Biden Administration’s Green Policies
2 PM: House Natural Resources
Energy and Mineral Resources
Examining the President’s FY 2024 Budget Request for the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, and the U.S. Geological Survey
2 PM: Senate Foreign Relations
Near East, South Asia, Central Asia and Counterterrorism
U.S. Policy on Tunisia
2 PM: Senate Appropriations
Energy and Water Development
A Review of the Fiscal Year 2024 Budget Request for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Bureau of Reclamation
2:30 PM: Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs
Government Operations and Border Management
The effects of increased migration on communities along the southern border
2:30 PM: Senate Appropriations
Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies
A Review of the President’s Fiscal Year 2024 Funding Request for the Department of Commerce
Oil lawyer and Democratic megadonor Theodore J. Boutrous Jr.’s argument against these lawsuits is that the damage caused by the oil industry’s climate pollution is too apocalyptic to be handled by the justice system: “Climate change is an issue of national and global magnitude that requires a coordinated federal policy response, not a disjointed patchwork of lawsuits in state courts across multiple states. These wasteful lawsuits in state courts will do nothing to advance global climate solutions, nothing to reduce emissions, and nothing to address climate-related impacts.”