So many rules to follow!

Your noses might be running, but Cardin and Inslee aren't


There are so many rules to follow—don’t kill all the fish, don’t blow up ocelots, don’t poison the weather, don’t poison firefighters, don’t gas-gouge, don’t monetize climate denial—it’s probably too much to ask anyone to even try. And yet, whiny watchdogs keep expecting our poor plutocrats to do so!

RULE: DON’T KILL ALL THE FISH: It’s the same old story: herring fishing lawyers are trying to ruin it for everyone. Our cartoonishly corrupt Supreme Court has accepted Loper Bright Enterprises v. Raimondo, in which the Atlantic herring fishing industry is challenging the National Marine Fisheries Service’s monitoring. This case is the next opportunity for our nine-pack of crooks to further dismantle the Chevron doctrine, which professes the constitutionality of executive-branch rulemaking. Matt Ford does a great job getting into all the details and whether the court “will be wielding a sledgehammer or a scalpel against the ‘administrative state.’”

RULE: DON’T BLOW UP OCELOTS: When will the greeniacs stop harassing poor Elon and the officials who let him blow up a wildlife refuge in Texas?

Environmental groups and the Carrizo/Comecrudo Nation of Texas have filed suit against the Federal Aviation Administration after SpaceX’s Starship blew up during a launch at its Starbase in Boca Chica, Texas, last month.

The explosion obliterated the launch pad, sending dust and debris flying for miles. Ash scatted over areas where endangered species live, according to the complaint filed in federal district court in Washington, DC, today. The explosion also sparked a 3.5-acre blaze, according to the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

The suit alleges that the FAA failed to “take a hard look” at the environmental risks posed by SpaceX’s operations in Boca Chica, as it was required to do under the National Environmental Policy Act.

RULE: DON’T POISON THE WEATHER: Okay, this is still an almost-proposed rule. The Biden administration is getting closer to issuing a rule to limit greenhouse pollution from power plants, nearly 25 years after the Environmental Protection Agency was petitioned to take action.1 Benjamin J. Hulac and David Jordan have the latest:

The Biden administration will propose a rule this month to cut greenhouse gas emissions from power plants, a central plank to meet its climate targets, and if enacted, a first in U.S. history.

The proposal is expected to include provisions to require the installation of emissions-trapping equipment known broadly as "carbon capture" technology on utilities' smokestacks. 

A regulation that matches the description of the EPA rule is pending at the White House's budget office after being discharged from the agency in March, according to federal meeting logs. One more meeting on the regulation, set for Tuesday with the National Mining Association, is scheduled, an online dashboard shows.

An EPA spokeswoman, Khanya Brann, said last week the agency would propose its rule in May.

RULE: DON’T POISON FIREFIGHTERS: Researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology have investigated the “specific types, quantities and location of PFAS in firefighter equipment,” which is great, though the big PFAS threat to firefighters is in the fire-retardant foam.

RULE: DON’T GAS-GOUGE: Two years ago, Oklahomans were struck with a staggering $1.4 billion in gas bills in the wake of a winter storm. The private companies which failed to keep the heat on got their money, and in 2022 the Republican Oklahoma attorney general threatened to sue them for price-gouging. No surprise, he backed down. Now, “Oklahoma Republican lawmakers on Wednesday pressed forward with a bill that would exempt natural gas from the state’s price gouging laws.”

Oops, I forgot that in the Oklahoma the rule is: Don’t fuck with the frackers.

RULE: DON’T MONETIZE CLIMATE DENIAL: So, the erstwhile-don’t-be-evil-company Google promised in 2021 it would stop running ads next to climate-denial videos on YouTube and would reject search advertisements from climate-denial organizations. The Climate Action Against Disinformation coalition and the Center for Countering Digital Hate have checked the results, and this self-imposed rule was just too hard for the $1.25 trillion megacorporation to follow:

  • The researchers identified ad-running climate-denial videos amassing a total of 18.8 million views

  • 63% of popular climate denial articles still carry Google ads

  • Google allowed the climate-denial site Daily Wire to run ads on searches for “climate change is a hoax”

On Thursday night, the Sierra Club’s board agreed to a major restructuring, including significant staff layoffs, to rein in a $40 million deficit. The organization’s new president, Ben Jealous, announced they are “retooling for this climate moment,” with the intention of having directors in all fifty states, as opposed to the current 38. The layoffs, KKR’s Axel Springer’s Politico’s E&E NewsRobin Bravender reports from a Twitter thread by the Progressive Workers Union, include “a major part of Sierra Club’s Human Resources Investigations Team and the entire Equity Department.”

“It’s not too late for Ben Jealous and Sierra Club leadership to stop this process and engage in the type of internal ‘democratic organizing’ the organization supposedly supports,” said CJ Garcia-Linz, president of the Progressive Workers Union, which continues to wrangle with the Club over the implementation of recommendations from a 2021 external review.

This is sincerely my favorite kind of scientific research, when scientists work really, really hard to confirm the obvious, but with lots of footnotes and fiddly details that matter if you’re interested in doing things right in the real world. In this case, a global coalition of scientists have confirmed that healthy ecosystems need both plants and animals!

A new paper, co-authored by 15 scientists from eight countries, illustrates how rewilding can help keep the global average temperature increase below 1.5C. It also makes the case for a more holistic approach to the biodiversity and climate crises, which are currently treated separately by intergovernmental bodies. Co-author Oswald J. Schmitz, a professor of ecology at Yale University, said trees might not be able to do their carbon-uptake job efficiently without the right animals in their ecosystem. That’s because animals “animate the carbon cycle” — in the words of the paper — through their behavior and roles in the ecosystem.

At 9 AM, Sen. Tina Smith (D-Minn.) chaired the first of two Agriculture subcommittee hearings this week accepting testimony from agricultural lobbyists on the “farm safety net,” including crop insurance. Tuesday’s hearing has dry bean, sorghum, wheat, dairy, rice, cotton, soybean, sugarbeet, peanut, and corn lobbyists.

At 9:30 AM, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland faced off against the hostile Energy and Natural Resources Committee, led by Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), to discuss her department’s $18.9 billion budget request. Though most of the department’s budget can be reasonably considered climate-friendly, about $500 million of the budget is in support of oil and gas leasing and $15 million is intended for supporting carbon capture and sequestration. “I firmly believe that we and our allies are going to need fossil fuels for the foreseeable future,” Manchin said, surprising no one.

At 10 AM, Banking chair Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) chaired a hearing on the National Flood Insurance Program, with testimony from the Environmental Defense Fund’s Dr. Carolyn Kousky, Roy Wright, president of the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety, and Patty Hernandez, executive director of Montana’s Headwaters Economics in Montana.

Meanwhile, Appropriations Foreign Operations chair Chris Coons (D-Del.) reviewed the Biden administration’s international conservation budget with Gillian Caldwell, Chief Climate Officer and Deputy Assistant Administrator, United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Kaddu Sebunya, President and Chief Executive Officer, African Wildlife Foundation, and Dr. Andrew Steer, President and Chief Executive Officer, Bezos Earth Fund. The entire USAID budget is $2.3 billion, which is almost two percent of Jeff Bezos’s personal wealth.

At the same time, Defense chair Jon Tester (D-Mont.) reviewed the $185.5 billion Army budget.

In the afternoon, Foreign Relations East Asia chair Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) discusses the State and USAID budget for the region, including: $632 million for developmental assistance in the region, $291 million for health programs, $228 million for economic support, $195 million for diplomatic efforts, $176 million for migration and refugee assistance, $129 million for foreign military financing, $75 million for nonproliferation and demining efforts, $27 million for drug control, and $16 million for military training.

And Rep. Pete Stauber (R-Minn.) is hosting a field hearing on mining the Iron Range in the town of Mountain Iron.

NOT RUNNING: Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R-Va.) is not running for president. Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) is not running for reëlection. Nor is Gov. Jay Inslee (D-Wash.), whose 2020 climate-focused presidential campaign seeded the group Evergreen Action.

Hearings on the Hill:

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1 In 1999, a coalition of environmental groups petitioned the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate greenhouse pollution. The George W. Bush administration rejected their petition, leading to the 2006 Supreme Court Massachusetts v. EPA decision mandating regulation. Since then, greenhouse pollution limits have been incorporated into fuel-economy standards for vehicles, but there has not been a successful system put in place for power plants. In 2014, the Barack Obama administration proposed the Clean Power Plan to grant states flexibility in designing power-plant pollution limits; Donald Trump struck down the plan in 2017, and the DC Circuit Court of Appeals rejected Trump’s plan in 2020. In 2022, the Supreme Court rejected the defunct Clean Power Plan, so here we are.

2 “To restore and protect animal functional roles in ecosystems is known as trophic rewilding,” the authors claim. A bit more helpfully, this 2018 paper defines “trophic rewilding” as “an ecological restoration strategy that uses species introductions to restore top-down trophic interactions and associated trophic cascades to promote self-regulating biodiverse ecosystems.” One more search… “Trophic interactions occur when one organism feeds on another.” Ah, they’re talking about the food chain! Got it.

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