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Stuck beneath an endless waterfall

Wind power, climate alarm, manmade geysers, and Beyoncé


Since this hasn’t felt like the best start for the new year, let me begin with news about the Biden administration doing a good job:

Unfortunately, Biden’s top environmental justice official, Cecilia Martinez, senior director for environmental justice at the Council on Environmental Quality, quietly resigned last week to “rest and be with her family.” Environmental justice champion Brenda Mallory remains chair of CEQ, though.

As the incomparable Jeff Masters reports, 2021 was the “first year to record four weather mega-disasters costing over $20 billion each,” as well as the most extreme heat wave in world history, “an endless waterfall of records being smashed.”

Not surprisingly, one in three Americans are now alarmed about climate change.

Tony Leiserowitz has been tracking American sentiment about global warming since 2008—back then fewer than one in five were alarmed. Mobilized climate denial has remained consistent: in 2008, nearly one in five Americans were “doubtful” or “dismissive” — that has remained unchanged. Thanks, Rupert Murdoch! The biggest change has been a steady decline in the disengaged.

The Daily Poster has a deep dive on Ricardo Lara, California’s Insurance Commissioner, who is up for re-election this year. He had promised aggressive action on climate, but has “done almost nothing.” The Poster notes he received $65,000 of contributions from oil and gas companies in 2018, as well as a gift of “two field-level tickets to a Beyoncé concert from Sempra Energy.”

POSTCARDS FROM THE PERMIAN: In Texas Monthly, Russell Gold has uncovered the absolutely wild story of the Crane County geyser, a torrent of 25,000 barrels of briny water spewing from an oil well capped in 1957.

That’s not snow on the ground.

“There are so many old, plugged, and forgotten wells in the area that the underground rock of West Texas is bit like Swiss cheese,” he writes. From Sarah Stogner, a Republican candidate for the Texas Railroad Commission, the state’s oil and gas regulator:

“We have a lot of pressurized, very salty subsurface water that will continue finding weak points. There is no way to control it. We can only manage it. It is going to be a game of whack-a-mole.”

E&E News’ Thomas Frank digs deep into the Clean Coal Crossword Controversy, interviewing five people, including the crossword constructor and a coal lobbyist. The Times refused comment. Frank did not mention that the Times runs and helps produce fossil-fuel advertisements, an issue actually worth the coverage.

Lael Brainard’s confirmation hearing to be vice chair of the Federal Reserve is this morning. She presented the Fed’s work on climate risk scenarios last October, which Fed chair Jerome Powell discussed in his confirmation hearing this week. Her opening statement mentions inflation and the pandemic but not global warming.

Hearings on the Hill:

I try to build a coherent theme around these stories. Sometimes, though, the best I can do is offer you a good birb in the middle. Thanks for the subscribes and shares, it means a lot. —@climatebrad

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