A Precarious Perch

Climate injustice at the border


As we slip into a fossil-fueled summer, Washington is held in the grip of fossil-fueled politics.

Yesterday, President Joe Biden issued a draconian executive order severely restricting asylum seekers crossing the border, embracing the lifeboat ethics espoused by white nationalist Garrett Hardin and now embodied by convicted felon Donald Trump.

The National Partnership for New Americans’ climate justice director Ahmed Gaya called on Biden to “reverse course from this harmful, misguided order,” and Friends of the Earth climate justice director Karen Orenstein likewise responded:

Today’s immigration-related executive order is unjust and inhumane. It is especially disturbing coming from President Biden, who knows the world is in the throes of a climate emergency that is driving people from their homes.”

Biden is now traveling to Normandy to celebrate the 80th anniversary of D-Day. During World War II and its aftermath, the United States rejected hundreds of thousands of asylum seekers from Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, as Jews and other victims of totalitarian regimes died by the millions.

In a “scoop” that isn’t really news, the ExxonMobil-sponsored Axios Generate reports that as in 2020, the youth climate organization Sunrise Movement isn’t going to formally endorse Biden for president, because of Biden’s record on immigration, Gaza, and support for fossil-fuel megaprojects. However, as the organization did in 2020, Sunrise is working with Biden-endorsing groups to promote the positive aspects of Biden’s actions and will mobilize youth to vote against Trump.

Senate Budget chair Sheldon Whitehouse’s (D-R.I.) regular series of climate hearings continued today with “Riskier Business,” on the hot topic of how climate pollution has already destabilized American insurance markets. Democratic witnesses include actuary and climate-risk expert Rade Musulin, Harvard Business School professor and climate-risk expert Ishita Sen, and Deborah Wood, a Florida retiree who was dumped by her insurance company. Republican witness E.J. Antoni of the Heritage Foundation went the climate-denial route, claiming there is no empirical evidence that climate change is causing insurance market disruptions, but the real problem is Black Lives Matter and Antifa. The other Republican witnesses, Oklahoma insurance commissioner Glen Mulready, contradicted Antoni, noting that extreme weather is on a rapid rise.

A green heron on a precarious perch.

Congress is voting today on the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs (MilCon-VA) appropriations bill (H.R. 8580). Republicans have attached several poison pill riders, including language blocking implementation of President Biden’s executive orders on climate initiatives from climate migration to environmental justice.1 Appropriations ranking member Rose DeLauro (D-Conn.) castigated:

“This bill disarms our military in the face of the climate crisis by failing to include dedicated funding for resilience projects to help protect our bases and installations from rising sea levels and extreme weather. The bill walks back investments in natural disaster recovery that help our military rebuild after disaster strikes, and it includes harmful policy riders preventing the implementation of executive orders on climate change and clean energy. Impeding our military’s efforts to confront climate change puts servicemembers in harm’s way, and hurts America’s readiness and national security.”

Also today, Politico is hosting its annual Energy Summit, this year sponsored by the fossil-fuel-reliant utility Southern Company. The summit features a cavalcade of top elected officials mixed in with fossil-fuel executives and lobbyists. Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) will speak for climate action, and Sens. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) and Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.) will advocate for climate destruction. The Biden administration is sending White House climate advisor Ali Zaidi, presidential advisor Tom Perez, Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm, ARPA-E scientist Daniel Cunningham and NOAA scientist Sarah Kapnick, FERC chair Willie Phillips, Treasury Deputy Secretary Wally Adeyemo, and Japan ambassador Rahm Emanuel. The panel with Center for Popular Democracy’s Betamia Coronel butting heads with fossil-backed climate denier Thomas Pyle may be entertaining.

What the horse considers play, the monkey considers business. Something to think about.

DANUBE DIRE, DIEDORF DIKES, DAMS DESTROYED: Southern Germany is underwater, inundated by fossil-fueled floods following extreme rains.

NEXUS NIXED: In a tragic loss for the climate movement, the invaluable and influential climate-communications organization Climate Nexus is shutting down after 13 years, after the withdrawal of support from its primary backer, the MacArthur Foundation. Tim McDonnell interviewed Climate Nexus staffers on the closure, reporting on a “reluctance by some donors to fund work promoting environmental justice and pressure by some of them to foreground technocratic, divisive climate solutions like carbon capture.”

SUMMER OF HEAT AGAINST WALL STREET: Alex Connon is one of the many activists who will be leading protests this summer against Citigroup, the world’s largest funder of fossil-fuel expansion.

SHELL GAME: Speaking at the Shell-funded Center for Strategic and International Studies, Shell CEO Wael Sawan endorsed Biden’s climate-and-infrastructure legislation for “creating jobs,” but criticized the administration’s slowdown of new LNG export infrastructure, claiming people have an “almost absolutist perspective” that because natural gas is a “fossil fuel, therefore it cannot be clean.” Don’t listen to those “absolutist” scientists: the laws of physics are optional!

Tomorrow, the U.S. Supreme Court is considering an appeal by Shell and other Big Oil companies to kill the climate lawsuits brought against them by the city of Honolulu, the state of California, and others for their decades of deliberate climate deception. In a big surprise, the Wall Street Journal editorial board supports Big Oil and their GOP lapdogs.

VOTES COUNT: Indian prime minister Narendra Modi’s religious-nationalist cult-of-personality campaign hit its limits with voters in the world’s largest democracy offering a strong rebuke to his Bharatiya Janata Party in this week’s national election. BJP lost its parliamentary majority, though Modi will remain in power through BJP’s coalition partners.

NO SHARE! Jake Bittle reports that beachfront homeowners near Tampa Bay want the government to spend millions rebuilding their beaches as the seas rise, but are refusing to grant the public access required. They’d rather have no beach than risk sharing.

STATE OF THE STATES: The reliably crappy Gov. Kathy Hochul (D-N.Y.) is pushing to stall New York City’s long-overdue congestion pricing plan, slated to go into effect on June 30th. Ohio is getting fracked. The Southwest is getting scorched. North Carolina is stalling on PFAS drinking water standards.

There Are Cathedrals Everywhere For Those With The Eyes To See

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1  Section 420 of MilCon-VA prohibits federal funding for implementing Executive Order No. 13990 (climate crisis in general), Executive Order No. 14408 (foreign policy and security), Section 6 of Executive Order No. 14013 (climate migration), Executive Order No. 14030 (climate-related financial risk), Executive No. 14082 (IRA implementation), and Executive No. 14096 (environmental justice) regarding climate initiatives.

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