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Capitol Light/Climate Politics
Congress is on its summer recess and won’t be returning until September 11th for the House and the 12th for the Senate. They left Capital City without having made significant progress on the FY24 appropriations, which begins just seconds after midnight on October 1st.
Should Congress fail to pass either a continuing resolution or final legislation, the federal government will be closed for business. Most on Capitol Hill would like to avoid the melodrama and just pass the needed legislation. Members of the House Freedom Caucus have other ideas.
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Still fuming over the debt ceiling/budget agreement between Speaker McCarthy and President Biden—and passed by Congress—the far-right faction of House Republicans is to pass appropriations bills significantly below the sums in the agreement, as well as adding culture war language, e.g., banning abortions in the military. Based on their support of Trump’s having shut down the government over his boarder wall, it’s believed HFC will have few qualms of closing the government to make their points.
To be fair, the Senate appropriations committees have passed all 12 appropriations bills and in a bipartisan manner. At some point, the conflicts between the House Freedom Caucus have to come to a head. Closing down the government may finally be the straw that breaks HFC’s hold on the Republican House.
I’ll be reporting on this often in September.
Another theme to look for in the coming months will be talk of the possibility that there will be at least two third party candidates for president in the 2024 election. One possibility is that Joe Manchin (D-WV) will decide not to seek re-election to the Senate but will run for president under the banner of the No Labels party.
Not just a rumor is the candidacy of Cornel West under the Green Party banner. West is well-respected by Republicans and Democrats. Although having no chance for election, West like Manchin singularly or together could take enough votes to deny Biden the election.
On with today’s ten.
Take it back, why don’t you? Thirty-nine Senate Republicans, including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (KY), today will ask the Environmental Protection Agency to withdraw its proposed limits on planet-warming emissions from power plants.
In the letter to EPA Administrator Michael Regan, the Republicans argue that the agency has overstepped its legal authority to curb greenhouse gas emissions from fossil-fuel-burning power plants, which rank as the nation’s second-biggest contributor to global warming.
“The EPA has again grossly misinterpreted the scope of authority Congress granted under Section 111 of the Clean Air Act by proposing a rule that would … transform our nation’s power sector with neither a clear and explicit congressional authorization nor adequate process. (Washington Post)
Two’s plenty. Progressive lawmakers are voicing concerns over Cornel West’s third-party bid, worried that a figure they respect could cripple President Biden’s prospects in 2024.
West launched a Green Party campaign earlier this year to inject more leftism into the election cycle. He’s challenging both the Democratic and Republican establishments, raging against them in equal measure, and raising the stakes of being a spoiler in the fall. (The Hill)
What’s the cost? Federal agencies would be required to do a full accounting of how their decisions affect ecosystems the public depends on under a draft guidance that the White House will release on August 1, 2023.
The Office of Management and Budget and Office of Science and Technology Policy guidance targets the benefits people derive from forests, wetlands and waterways.
While ecosystems have sometimes appeared in the cost-benefit assessments that agencies must write to support their rules, policies and projects, there has never been a governmentwide directive or guidance for doing that accounting.
First floated in April, the administration’s plans for a regulatory overhaul focus on how agencies tally the costs and benefits of a broad swath of actions — from setting environmental standards and leasing decisions to procurement and construction. (E&E News)
Sue the ba*tards. Liberal senators are calling on Attorney General Merrick Garland to bring lawsuits against the biggest fossil fuel industry for what they say is a coordinated effort to mislead consumers and downplay climate change in pursuit of profits amid record-breaking temperatures.
In a letter the climate hawks called on the Department of Justice to file suits against ExxonMobil, Shell, and possibly other fossil fuel companies, which they allege have violated “federal racketeering laws, truth in advertising laws, consumer protection laws, and potentially other laws.”
“The fossil fuel industry has had scientific evidence about the dangers of climate change and the role that burning fossil fuels play in increasing global temperatures for more than 50 years,” the letter reads. “Despite these companies’ knowledge about climate change and the role their industry was playing in driving carbon emissions, they chose to participate in a decades-long, carefully coordinated campaign of misinformation to obfuscate climate science and convince the public that fossil fuels are not the primary driver of climate change.”
Democratic Senators Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Jeff Merkley(D-OR), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Ed Markey (D-MA) signed the letter.
What they’re asking for: The climate hawks are asking for the Department of Justice to join forces with partners at the Federal Trade Commission, and other law enforcement agencies to file suits against the major players that may have participated in the alleged misinformation campaign and contributed to the fossil fuel industry’s influence on climate change. (Washington Examiner)
Rising seethe levels. Congressional Republicans are seething about the Biden administration’s plans to change how the government reviews major energy infrastructure projects ranging from oil and gas pipelines to solar installations.
The White House released its highly anticipated proposal last week to overhaul how the government reviews projects under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).
The Biden administration billed the changes as a compromise between those pushing to get projects online faster and those concerned about climate and pollution impacts.
But GOP lawmakers slammed the White House approach, calling it a “dishonest” and “sneaky” attempt to favor renewable energy over fossil fuels. (E&E News)
One, two, tree. In an effort to slash carbon emissions and provide relief from extreme heat, governments across the nation and globally have pledged to plant trees. But the US is not equipped with the tree seedlings to furnish its own plans, according to a new study.
US tree nurseries do not grow nearly enough trees to bring ambitious planting schemes to fruition, and they also lack the plant species diversity those plans require, according to research published in the journal Bioscience.
For the study, 13 scientists examined 605 plant nurseries across 20 northern states. Only 56 of them – or less than 10% – grow and sell seedlings in the volumes needed for conservation and reforestation.
Crocodile tears for sure. Former President Donald Trump weighed in on Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's recent health scare—and if his response was any indication, he doesn't seem to be all that concerned.
In an interview with Breitbart published on Sunday, Trump said he had seen the video from last week of McConnell freezing up for several seconds in front of reporters before being led away.
"I thought it was sad," said Trump, before immediately pivoting to attacking McConnell. "At the same time, I think it's a shame he went so far out to give Green New Deal money to [President Joe Biden] and Democrats." Trump hits Mitch McConnell for 'destroying our oceans' with 'windmills' when asked about the GOP leader's health scare (Business Insider)
Not the way the young should act. Something is happening among young voters in America — even if, to paraphrase the old Bob Dylan song, we don’t know what it is.
Consider: Youth turnout exploded during the 2018 midterm elections under President Donald Trump. Then in 2020, energized opposition to Trump among young voters was critical to his defeat. And in the 2022 midterms, surging youth participation helped fend off the widely predicted “red wave.” Even some Republicans fear that expanding youth populations in swing states pose a long-term threat to the GOP.
New data supplied to me by the Harvard Youth Poll sheds light on the powerful undercurrents driving these developments. Young voters have shifted in a markedly progressive direction on multiple issues that are deeply important to them: Climate change, gun violence, economic inequality and LGBTQ+ rights. (Washington Post)
Is it never enough for you? The Department of Transportation proposed a more aggressive fuel economy rule that aims to bring the fleetwide average to around 46 miles per gallon by 2032, in real-world terms. The proposal would require automakers to improve their fuel efficiency by 2 percent annually starting in model year 2027 for passenger cars and 4 percent for light trucks. (Politico)
We think you should stay put. A coalition of environmental groups announced plans Monday to file a lawsuit to try to block Virginia from withdrawing from a multistate compact designed to reduce greenhouse gases.
The Southern Environmental Law Center filed notice with state regulators indicating the coalition’s intention to sue in Fairfax County Circuit Court to keep Virginia in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.
Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin made withdrawal from the compact a priority, citing its impact on the cost of electricity. The State Corporation Commission has estimated the typical monthly bill could increase by $2.00 to $2.50 for the years 2027 to 2030. (AP)
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