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Wet Hot Carbon Summer
Texas Tea kills real tea.
PRESENTED BY A FEW TONS OF ROTTING MENHADEN
Tens of thousands of menhaden, drowned in the overheated, deoxygenated waters of the Gulf of Mexico, washed up on Texas beaches over the weekend. The Lone Star State is bracing for its first blast of carbon summer this week, with several high-humidity days above 100°F expected to strain the fossil-fuel-dependent power grid.
Biden climate and energy officials John Podesta and Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm were in sweltering Texas yesterday for the annual Edison Electric Institute gathering to talk up renewables to fossil-fuel utility executives. “We have so much money we want to give away!” Granholm pleaded. Today’s session focuses on the growth potential for natural gas plants and “mitigating” wildfire risks.
The killer heat from the burning of Texas Tea is destroying actual tea, Mossaber Hossain writes. Northeastern Bangladesh, once no hotter than 86°F in the summer, hit 102°F in May. The vast rainforest tea plantations of Sreemangal are in collapse, with the harvest expected to be halved from the heat, drought, and a plague of red spider mites. “I feel like I’m standing beside the cooker in the kitchen,” harvester Phul Kumari told Hossain. “After working in the heat I feel like my skin is getting burned and I can’t stop it even using water.”
So it’s good that today the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency begins three days of public hearings on its proposed carbon pollution standards for fossil fuel-fired power plants. Nearly all of the 253 scheduled speakers are environmentalists. As Vox’s Rebecca Leber has explained, the EPA plan is too weak, but no worries, Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) and Rep. Carol Miller, (R-W.Va.) have introduced the Save Our Power Plants Act to block it.
Also good: the Senate Budget Committee, led by chair Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), has sent letters to seven insurance companies — State Farm, Liberty Mutual, Berkshire Hathaway, AIG, Travelers Insurance, Chubb and Starr — asking each company how it evaluates “climate-related risks, decides to invest in or underwrite fossil fuel expansion projects that drive such risks, and prices policies insuring such projects.” My guess is that they do it for the money with the plan to bail out when it gets too hot in the kitchen.1
One more good thing: the Biden administration filed an amicus curiae brief to overturn a 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling blocking Berkeley’s ban on new gas hookups. The court claimed the city’s action violated the Energy Policy and Conservation Act, but the lawyers from the Departments of Energy and Justice agree with Berkeley city attorney Farimah Faiz Brown that is a dangerous misreading of federalism. Fracked-gas giant SoCalGas has quietly financed the California Restaurant Association’s suit against the ban.
The markup extravaganza of the $886 billion National Defense Authorization Act begins today, starting with Strategic Forces at 10 am, Cyber at 11, Seapower at noon, Military Personnel at 1 pm, Tactical Air and Land Forces at 2:30 pm, and concluding with Intelligence and Special Ops at 3:30 pm. Unlike their plans for the rest of the budget, the House GOP is looking to spend more on the military than even Biden requested. It’s almost like they’re not actually concerned with out-of-control spending.
Tuesday morning in the House:
House Energy and Commerce energy and climate subcommittee chair Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.) hosts an oversight hearing with the members of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Republicans are complaining that FERC even hints at thinking about considering climate or public health instead of rubber-stamping every fracking project presented to them. Since January, FERC has been short a Democratic commissioner thanks to Sen. Joe Manchin (D-Carbon), leaving it stuck with a 2-2 split.
The Homeland Security Committee receives testimony from Federal Emergency Management Agency administrator Deanne Criswell.
Agriculture subcommittee chair Dusty Johnson (R-S.D.) receives testimony on the Department of Agriculture’s rural development programs, which include subsidies for rural electricity and water services.
Ways and Means considers Rep. Jason Smith’s bill H.R. 3938, which would repeal the petroleum Superfund tax, clean electricity production credit, clean electricity investment credit, credit for previously-owned clean vehicles, and credit for qualified commercial clean vehicles; and reduce and restrict the clean vehicle credit.
And Natural Resources holds a markup of multiple bills. Ones on wildfires, Indian health, and federal forest-worker housing have bipartisan support, but there will be debate over pro-logging bills from Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Calif.) and Rep. Russ Fulcher (R-Idaho).
Today’s 2 pm hearings:
The energy subcommittee of House Science celebrates fusion energy with the Department of Energy’s fusion funding head Dr. Scott Hsu, the nation’s top fusion scientist Dr. Kathy McCarthy, and several corporate fusion advocates.
House Foreign Affairs looks at Biden’s $7.57 billion State Department budget for the Near East, most of which is foreign military funding, so for example, Jordan can buy some F-16s. State official Barbara Leaf and USAID official Jeanne Pryor will testify.
The Senate Foreign Relations will consider the nominees to be the ambassadors to Malaysia, Azerbaijan, Palau, and Djibouti, as well as Nisha Desai Biswal to be deputy CEO of the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC). The DFC was established in 2108 to counter China’s global Belt and Road Initiative by helping the U.S. finance energy and mining projects around the developing world.
Finally: check out a few of the amazing folx queering climate change!
Hearings on the Hill:
10 AM: House Agriculture
Commodity Markets, Digital Assets, and Rural Development
Stakeholder Perspectives on USDA’s Rural Development Programs
10 AM: House Homeland Security
Emergency Management and Technology
Future of FEMA: Agency Perspectives with Administrator Criswell
10 AM: House Appropriations
Full Committee Markup of Fiscal Year 2024 Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Bill
10 AM: House Ways and Means
Bill to Repeal Petroleum Superfund Tax and Clean-Energy Tax Credits and other legislation
10 AM: House Energy and Commerce
Energy, Climate, and Grid Security
Oversight of FERC
10:15 AM: House Natural Resources
Markup of Logging, Wildfire, Indian Health, and Other Legislation
2 PM: House Foreign Affairs
Middle East, North Africa, and Central Asia
Fiscal Year 2024 Budget Request for Near Eastern Affairs
2 PM: House Science, Space, and Technology
Climate Action Today:
9:45 AM: Edison Electric Institute
Annual Conference, Day Three
11 AM: Environmental Protection Agency
Public Hearing on EPA's Proposed Carbon Pollution Standards for Fossil Fuel-Fired Power Plants, Day One
Tomorrow’s League of Conservation Voters annual gala, celebrating Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and President Joe Biden, will be quite the interesting one, as it comes on the heels of the pair working together with Manchin to cripple the National Environmental Policy Act and to fast-track the Mountain Valley Pipeline. “Finish the job!”
The “kitchen” is our planet, btw.