So long, Stumpy

‘Children, Dad and I got engaged in that watery area.’


As Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) ushers in new fracking-friendly regulators for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission today, the fossil-fuel apocalypse has come for the famed cherry trees of Washington’s Tidal Basin. Over 300 of the trees are in bloom for the last time, forced into blossom during winter by the superheated air, destined for the chopping block because of the rapidly rising seas. The doomed trees are being removed soon so the Park Service can build a new, much higher sea wall. Sea level at the Tidal Basin has risen by several feet as the land subsides and the oceans rise. The loss to the sea has been startlingly rapid, Jody Axinn told NPR’s Jacob Fenston. She got engaged along the Tidal Basin only twenty years ago:

“The part that we got engaged in is now under water. The whole path, the whole section, it's under water. I come down and tell my kids, ‘Children, Dad and I got engaged in that watery area.’”

The sun set over DC last evening in an eerie haze, thanks to strong winds blowing over numerous brush fires to the west, which sent a plume of toxic smoke over the region.

It’s much worse in the southern hemisphere, however. “After 15 years of a devastating drought, reservoirs in Chile are running dry,” Rodrigo Gutierrez and Alexander Villegas report, “imperiling access to drinking water in the Andean nation.”

“A heatwave stifling Brazil has set new records with Rio de Janeiro’s heat index hitting 62.3 degrees Celsius (144.1 degrees Fahrenheit), the highest in a decade, weather authorities say.”

And authorities in South Sudan have ordered the country’s schools closed “because of a wave of excessive heat that is expected to last at least two weeks. Temperatures are forecast to reach 113 degrees Fahrenheit, far above the 90-degree highs typically experienced in the dry season from December to March.”

A cute red owl in a tree

Biden the Good: Yesterday, the Environmental Protection Agency released its tailpipe pollution rule, meant to drive automakers towards the production of electric vehicles. “Three years ago, I set an ambitious target: that half of all new cars and trucks sold in 2030 would be zero-emission,” President Joe Biden told reporters. “We’ll meet my goal for 2030 and race forward in the years ahead.

After three years of negotiations, “the final E.P.A. rule relaxed the pace at which automakers must comply with the rule in its early years, ramping it up sharply only after 2030.”

This rule falls far short of what is needed to protect public health and our planet,” Chelsea Hodgkins, a senior policy advocate with Public Citizen warns.

In response to the watered-down car pollution rule, regular Axios Generate sponsor American Fuel & Petrochemical Association has announced a seven-figure propaganda campaign across DC and the battleground states of Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, Nevada, Arizona, Ohio and Montana to attack the rule as a “gas car ban.” If only!

Biden the Good II: The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management is proposing a second offshore wind energy auction in the Gulf of Mexico, 410,060 acres offshore Louisiana and Texas.

Biden the Bad: Department of Energy attorney Bettina Mumme, Department of Justice Assistant Attorney General Todd Kim, and DOJ environmental lawyers Justin Heminger and John Smeltzer are defending the Biden administration’s decision to approve the giant Alaska LNG export project against a suit brought by the Sierra Club and Center for Biological Diversity. The Alaska LNG project will send methane around the world past 2050.

David Wallace-Wells writes a cogent essay on the launch of MethaneSAT, a satellite designed by the Environmental Defense Fund, which will provide reliable monitoring of methane pollution for the first time, decades after the global fracking boom began, during which time the EPA has relied on industry self-reporting to claim that pollution somehow kept decreasing even as ever more leaky wells were drilled. “Almost invariably, whenever we get a better look at methane emissions,” Wallace-Wells writes, “the problem appears bigger than we’d thought.” Or, to be more honest, the problem is bigger than the cheerleaders of natural gas as a falsely “clean” fossil fuel—who include both the Republican and Democratic parties, industry-affiliated climate academics, techno-optimist climate pundits, and throughout the 2000s environmental organizations including EDF, NRDC, and the Sierra Club—have wanted to admit.

I can’t wait for Senate Environment chair Tom Carper (D-Del.) or Environment’s clean-air subcommittee chair Ed Markey (D-Mass.) to hold hearings on this topic. Or, to be more honest, I’m still waiting.1

imagine only having three body problems

ON THE HILL: At 10 am, Office of Management and Budget director Shalanda Young reviewed the full $7.3 trillion budget, with $1.9 trillion in discretionary spending, before the House Budget committee, while Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen did the same for the Senate Finance committee. This afternoon, Yellen and Young are joined by White House Council of Economic Advisors chair Jared Bernstein at 2:30 pm before the House Appropriations government subcommittee to discuss the budget and economic outlook.

Also at 10 am, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack presented the FY2025 Department of Agriculture budget request, with $31.6 billion in discretionary spending, with another $10 billion in discretionary spending already authorized. The department considers $11.6 billion of the budget to be climate-related, in addition to $19.5 billion already authorized by the Inflation Reduction Act. The climate spending including $7.5 billion in rural electric programs and $5.1 billion in forest management.

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee interviewed the nominess for the Federal Energy Resources Commission who were recently announced by the White House: one climate hawk, Judy Cheng, and two industry stooges, Sen Joe Manchin (D-W. Va.) staffer David Rosner and Republican zealot Lindsay See. As solicitor general of Manchin’s state West Virginia, See won the Supreme Court West Virginia v. EPA decision rolling back the EPA’s power to regulate climate pollution. Cheng is a real climate hawk who has thought long and hard about decarbonizing every sector of the economy. In contrast, Rosner’s main qualification is being a reliable policy booster for the fossil-fuel industry. Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) made sure to remind everyone he really, really does not want FERC to admit climate change is real.

In addition, the House Natural Resources water and wildlife subcommittee held a legislative hearing on bills for the Delaware River Basin, kelp forests, Great Lakes mapping, and using oil and gas rigs as artificial reefs.

Other hearings which touch on issues of environmental and climate interest include:

Hearings on the Hill:

Finally: “Two in three children under the age of six in Chicago are exposed to dangerous levels of lead in drinking water, according to research published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics.”

Thanks for subscribing and spreading the word. If you’ve got job listings, event listings, or other hot news, I want to hear it. Connect with me—@[email protected], @climatebrad on Threads, and on BlueSky

1 The then Democrat-run House Science Committee held a hearing on the oil and gas industry undercounting methane pollution in 2022.

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