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We can still get something done

If not enough.


This is a catch-up-to-business post. After a week off, Congress is chugging along, and thus, so must Hill Heat.

Old people are in charge. Let’s check in on how they’re doing about that little global warming thing.

Experienced AmericanBill McKibben (age 61) is rightfully chuffed that on Monday President Joe Biden (79) invoked the Defense Production Act to spur the manufacturing of heat pumps, as McKibben quirkily suggested after the Russian invasion of Ukraine:

This single measure obviously doesn’t solve our problems, in Russia or in the atmosphere. But it’s a hopeful sign that we can still get something done.

The White House also acted to resolve the Chinese solar-panel-dumping investigation by the Department of Commerce, which has gotten the solar-installation industry up in arms. Invoking executive authority, Biden has suspended tariffs for two years while using the DPA to subsidize domestic solar-panel manufacturing.

It’s not just heat pumps and solar panels: electric-grid components and batteries got the DPA boost yesterday, a clear sign that the White House has moved on from trying to get the Joe Manchin (74)-run Senate to take meaningful climate action.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen (75) went before Senate Finance this morning to justify the White House budget request, with a lot of the hearing spent on the crisis of fossil-fueled inflation. Yellen noted it is critical that the United States become “more dependent on the wind and the sun that are not subject to geopolitical influences.”

This afternoon, the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe meets for a hearing on European energy security post-Russia. The goal of decoupling Europe from Russian oil and gas is pitting climate hawks like Bill McKibben against fracking boosters like the White House’s Amos Hochstein (a spring chicken at 49), who hope to addict Europe to U.S. oil and gas.

The Colorado is disappearing and the West is burning, just as climate scientists predicted, which The Washington Post’s Karin Bruillard notes is something of a crisis. This morning, the fracking-friendly Sen. Michael Bennet (57) (D-Colo.) held a hearing on Western drought. The even more fracking-friendly Manchin will host another drought hearing next week, and has the timber-friendly Forest Service chief Randy Moore (66) up on Thursday to discuss his budget, which is ballooning with fossil-fueled wildfire costs. On Saturday, President Biden heads to Santa Fe to discuss the ongoing New Mexico fires (there’s more on New Mexico’s primaries below).

The subcommittees of the House Armed Services Committee are marking up the National Defense Authorization Act this week, putting their stamp on the $773 billion military budget request from Biden. The budget request includes a little over $3 billion in climate-related activities, like electrifying tanks and restoring wetlands around naval bases. That’s not quite half the $6.1 billion earmarked to prepare for war with China. By way of comparison, Biden is asking for $5.3 billion for international climate diplomacy, which Congress is likely to whittle down. House Foreign Affairs is holding hearings on U.S. priorities in the Indo-Pacific and international organization budgets on Wednesday.1

The official pretense that the fracking boom has not led to a rise in methane pollution is one of our greatest climate scandals. This undercounting began under Bush but was embraced by the Obama administration in order to justify the claim of climate progress, and continues to this day. The House Science Committee is holding a hearing on tracking oil and gas methane pollution on Wednesday.2

Rep. Raúl Grijalva (74) (D-Ariz.), chair of the House Natural Resources Committee, is doing something that more legislators should—actively soliciting public comment on major legislation. The public is being asked to weigh in on the Puerto Rico Status Act and the Environmental Justice for All Act, both online and in community forums.

This afternoon, Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (58) (D-Nev.) oversees a hearing to get testimony on a passel of bills that range from protecting the Grand Canyon from uranium mining to speeding up fracking permits.

Today is primary day in California—check out our previews of the key Congressional primaries and state and local races. The invaluable Primary School newsletter has a great roundup of the rest of the states today, including young Green New Dealer Austin Frerick’s (32) attempt to win an Iowa State Senate seat, and this New Mexico House primary:

Conservative Democrat Joseph Sanchez vacated this seat in 2020 to mount a failed congressional campaign, and he was succeeded by Roger Montoya. Sanchez is back, and the contrast is stark—Sanchez is a social and fiscal conservative friendly to the oil industry, while Montoya is an openly gay progressive who makes no secret of his opposition to fossil fuels (in a state where the fossil fuel industry is particularly powerful and economically important.) Sanchez’s allies have gone into the gutter, sending mailers highlighting Montoya’s sexuality and the fact that Montoya, as a broke college student, appeared in gay pornography. Sanchez deserves to lose.

Crocodile Magritte

Rebecca Traister (47) opines on the sunnily senile Sen. Dianne Feinstein (88) (D-Calif.):

“Indeed, what may be producing the anger at this generation of Democrats is not just ageism, sexism, or the correct apprehension that America’s governing structures incentivize officials to hold on to power sometimes until they literally die. It is also the smug assuredness with which Democratic leaders, in whatever state of infirmity, can still confidently, in the summer of 2022, tell us to trust them and see themselves as a bulwark against the ruin that is so evidently our present and near future.”

JERBS: The Washington Post’s Climate & Environment Department is seeking a new climate policy editor (“Policy, Politics, and Power”), and an editor to manage their climate disaster coverage (“Science and Impact”). Both roles are based in DC, and no salary is listed. (In March of this year, business editor Zachary Goldfarb (38) replaced experienced environmental journalist Trish Wilson (60) as head of the climate desk. Trish joined the Post for that job in 2018.)

The cleantech news outfit Canary Media is hiring a development officer ($79K-$93K, remote).

Solar United Neighbors, a non-profit that supports solar installation, is hiring a digital director ($60K-$85K, remote), and a Colorado program associate ($40K-$50K, Colorado).

Congratulations to Ken Graham (about 51), head of the National Hurricane Center during Sharpiegate, who has been named the new director of the National Weather Service.

Hearings on the Hill:

Politico Morning Energy, Presented By Climate Pollution, is going behind a paywall at the end of the month, so that’s one fewer competitor for Hill Heat! What allows us to make this newsletter free to all is our generous subscribers, who chip in without the promise of advertorials or even swag. A Politico Pro subscription costs about $10,000 a year—a voluntary Hill Heat subscription is $100 a year or $10 a month. What a deal! If you can afford to do so, please choose to become a paid subscriber.@climatebrad (45)

1 The White House plans to direct another $5.5 billion in international climate funding through agencies that get general funding from Congress, such as the U.S. Development Finance Corporation, the U.S. Export-Import Bank, the Millennium Challenge Corporation and the U.S. Trade and Development Authority.

2 With an all-white-male panel of experts, even though it’s not like this is an issue only white men care about. For example. Dr. Amy Townsend-Small of the University of Cincinnati and Sharon “Methane Hunter” Wilson of Earthworks are two of the nation’s top methane tracking experts, and should have been invited to testify.

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