"The urgency it requires"

aggressively and ambitiously brewing very weak tea


Our home planet may be having trouble freezing, but not Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.)

One year ago, President Joe Biden’s deal with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) for the Inflation Reduction Act—the massive energy package that boosts both climate and anti-climate policies—was announced.

According to White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, “from day one, President Biden has treated climate change with the urgency it requires,” which is, apparently, the “urgency” of not declaring a climate emergency, prosecuting climate activists but not anti-climate polluter conspirators, holding massive oil and gas lease sales, greenlighting the ConocoPhilips Willow Project and the Alaska LNG Project, and successfully convincing the U.S. Supreme Court to fast-track the Mountain Valley Pipeline.

But, what if we grade Biden on a curve, Karine suggests? Well then, he’s got “the most aggressive and ambitious climate agenda since day one” as “he’s taken more action, has been more aggressive on dealing with climate change than any other president.”

Yesterday, Biden urgently addressed the rapidly spiking methane pollution from the fracking industry by convening—but not personally attending—a White House Methane Summit and establishing a Methane Task Force, which will work on detecting leaks, but you know, not actually stopping fracking.1

“So far, White House policies have bolstered the interests of corporate polluters by dramatically increasing fossil fuel permits and aggressively promoting the growth of fracked gas exports,” Food & Water Watch executive director Wenonah Hauter responded, “a catastrophic move that will increase methane pollution and keep countries hooked on fossil fuels for decades.”

She was not invited to the summit.

This morning, Biden urgently addressed the catastrophic fossil-fueled heat dome cooking the nation by announcing a Occupational Safety and Health Administration advisory for workers exposed to hight heat and a few million dollars for better weather forecasting. He did not mention the Wyoming, Utah, and Gulf of Mexico federal oil lease sales scheduled for September.

This afternoon, Biden is urgently meeting with far-right Italian Prime Minister Georgia Meloni, whose nation is on fire. They’re expected to chat mostly about fighting China. It’s a safe bet they won’t dwell on Meloni’s overtly racist anti-climate-migrant agenda.

They probably also won’t talk about the latest failure to get meaningful international agreement to urgently fight climate pollution. “A four-day summit held in India last week by some of the world’s wealthiest nations,” Kristoffer Teague reports, “ended without a commitment to phase down fossil fuels or to increase the development of renewable energy, largely because of opposition from Saudi Arabia, China and Russia.”

“With temperature records being set daily around the world and the impacts of climate change spiraling out of control, the world needed to hear a clarion call to action,” longtime climate leader Alden Meyer responded. “Instead, what we got was very weak tea.” Tastes like lapsang souchong to me!

All this said, as a speaker, Biden is sincerely a great advocate for the American citizens suffering from the destruction of the climate. When he talks about floods and fires, an elderly woman falling on the sidewalk in Phoenix and suffering third-degree burns, or the farm workers and firefighters and construction workers risking their lives to work in the heat, it’s deeply moving. You can hear the sense of urgency in his voice.

Too bad he’s got so little actual power to do more.

OUTLOOK NOT SO GOOD: The Energy Information Agency is tanking on publishing its Annual Energy Outlook next year. This will be the first time the EIA has failed to publish the report since 1988.

HERE’S SOME HIRES: Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen announced that Ethan Zindler, who is still not Sarah Bloom Raskin, will be Treasury’s new climate advisor. Zindler comes over from Michael Bloomberg’s energy policy consulting operation. Scottish climate policy expert Jim Skea has been elected the new president of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

BEEP BEEP: Fueled by federal subsidies, seven automakers are teaming up to build a high-powered EV charging network across the United States. Elon Musk rigged his Teslas to lie about their battery range and then built a boiler room to prevent drivers from getting service.

HOUSES OF SAND: Leah Aronowsky has read Jake Bittle’s The Great Displacement, an important contribution to the literature of climate politics:

He shows that for most Americans-cum-homeowners, climate change will materialize not as something utterly new but as more of the same: more people left behind by federal disaster-aid programs; more people priced out of the local housing market after a disaster (especially in places like California, where affordable housing is already in obscenely short supply); more people hit with flood-insurance premiums of over $10,000 a year after FEMA reclassifies their homes as “Severe Repetitive Loss properties”; more people who are shut out of the real estate market entirely as the vulture-capital Blackstones of the world scoop up flooded homes for pennies on the dollar and turn them into rentals. No need for prognostications—in Bittle’s telling, the future dystopia is already here.

Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) chaired his latest in his ongoing series of plastics pollution hearings at 9:45 am, looking at solutions for single-use waste with circular economy advocate Dacie Meng of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, packaging and recycling expert Clemence Schmid, and reusable packaging lobbyist Tim Debus.

At 10 am, Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) chairs a Foreign Relations subcommittee hearing on Haiti, wracked by “unprecedented hunger and malnutrition, grinding poverty and crippled economy, resurgence of cholera,” and floods in June that killed dozens.

Also at 10 am, Senate Commerce chair Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) chaired a markup of bills to monitor space debris, back American manufacturing, and other issues under the committee’s jurisdiction. Sen. Ed Markey’s (D-Mass.) bill to support sea turtle rescue programs was pulled from the agenda.

At 10:30 am, Senate Appropriations chair Patty Murray (D-Wash.) chaired a successful mega-markup of appropriations bills, including defense, interior and environment, labor, education, health, and homeland security. This is the first time since 2018 the appropriators’ markup was completed before the August recess.

There are three House Natural Resources subcommittee hearings attacking the environment on Thursday:

  • Rep. Pete Stauber (R-Minn.) chaired a hearing for offshore drilling advocates to complain that the Biden administration is prioritizing offshore wind leases instead. The Democratic witness was Louisiana environmental activist Justin Solet. In her remarks, ranking member Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) noted the extreme fossil-fueled heat waves around the nation but emphasized how little the offshore oil industry cares about its workers.

  • Rep. Cliff Bentz (R-Ore.) chaired a legislative hearing on Rep. John Rose’s (R-Tenn.) bill to allow ranchers to kill black vultures (H.R. 1437); Rep. Jared Huffman’s (D-Calif.) coastal habitat protection bill (H.R. 2950); and several bills backed by the fishing industry, including Rep. Rob Wittman’s (R-Va.) bill on shark predation of sport fish (H.R. 4051) and Rep. John Rutherford’s (R-Fla.) bill to block protections of red snapper (H.R. 4587); and others. Witnesses include NOAA fisheries official Kelly Kryc, FWS official Stephen Guertin, and several fisheries lobbyists.

  • In the afternoon, Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) investigates visitor experience issues at the national parks; while there are legitimate concerns with the repair and maintenance backlog, Republicans plan to use the hearing with director Chuck Sams to claim that fossil-fueled wildfires in the parks’ forests mean there needs to be more industrial logging in our parks.

Hearings on the Hill:

Thanks for subscribing and spreading the word, and if you’re in Maine, watch out for tornadoes.

Connect with me@[email protected] and @climatebrad.hillheat.com on BlueSky and, now, @climatebrad on Instagram!

1 Admittedly, this is better than what the United States has been doing for the past several decades of the fracking boom, which is to simply trust the industry’s self-reported figures.

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