A Coal Baron’s Dirty Pipeline Bill • Geoengineering As A Potential Climate Solution • Puerto Rico’s Plight
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If it is ever completed, the Mountain Valley Pipeline is expected to deliver fracked natural gas daily from West Virginia across a 303-mile system for global markets. It has been the subject of intense litigation, racked up fines for water quality violations, and is over budget.
The pipeline would have been fast-tracked under a legislative measure that was removed from a stopgap spending bill on Tuesday after fears that robust opposition to it would lead to a government shutdown.
The permitting reform deal that Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) unveiled last week had been promoted by lawmakers and some advocates as a mechanism for making it easier to build renewable energy infrastructure. But according to a story co-published by THE AMERICAN PROSPECT and THE LEVER, a close reading of the legislative text found that it would have empowered the president to speed up a handful of energy projects that would support fossil fuels, including the Mountain Valley Pipeline buildout.
Manchin’s Energy Independence and Security Act would have reformed the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), which mandates environmental or public health assessments for energy projects, by speeding up the review process. In another article, THE LEVER also found that a so-called “clean power” lobbying group linked to the fossil fuel industry had been selling the Manchin deal to news outlets by asserting that the legislation would “unlock clean energy, American investment, and jobs while protecting the environment.”
The legislation sparked “polarized reactions” from environmentalists and backers of clean energy, but it was unclear “how big of an effect the bill will have on construction timelines, or how it will benefit fossil fuel projects compared to renewables,” GRIST reported.
The permitting reform deal was an outcome of an agreement between the coal millionaire Manchin, who has long supported the Mountain Valley Pipeline, and Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) during negotiations over the Inflation Reduction Act.
STATES NEWSROOM via COLORADO NEWSLINE reported that Congressional Democrats were “deeply divided” over the bill, with some vehemently opposed to it. Virginia Democratic Sen Tim Kaine, who had not been part of the negotiations over the bill, said he objected to the provision about the Mountain Valley Pipeline. “I will do everything I can to oppose it,” he said.
Environmentalists, Republicans and some Democrats celebrated the demise of the deal after Manchin agreed to pull it from the stopgap spending bill, though the Senator said he would continue to work on permitting reform through a different vehicle. The White House also said it would back Manchin’s efforts and support efforts to reintroduce the bill in the coming months.
Climate tech has become a dirty word among some progressive circles. JACOBIN looks at the evidence surrounding geoengineering—“large-scale technologies for cooling the planet”—and asks whether it should be embraced by the left as a potential solution to the climate crisis.
In South Africa, local communities are employing a different strategy to fight oil and gas extraction by taking fossil fuel companies to court. AFRICA IS A COUNTRY reports on how communities on the east and west coasts of the country “are leading the struggle against climate change, capitalist extraction and corporate impunity.”
GRIST published a new series on the experiences of three U.S. communities that have been repeatedly flooded and agreed to buyouts as part of a strategy of managed retreat.
DRILLED reports on how the U.S. House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations is examining the role of PR firms in “warping the public discourse on climate.”
HEATED interviewed Congressman Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) from the oversight committee on its investigation into Big Oil.
U.S. climate czar John Kerry is “working behind the scenes” to remove World Bank President David Malpass, THE NATION reports. The Trump appointee was called a “climate denier” after he refused to accept the scientific evidence for global warming.
Puerto Rico After Hurricane Fiona: Three Questions for Federico Cintrón Moscoso
Federico Cintrón Moscoso is president of El Puente-Latino Climate Action Network, based in Puerto Rico. We spoke Tuesday by Zoom shortly after his power came back on following an outage. El Puente advocates for climate policies and to expand solar power on the island.
As a climate justice activist in Puerto Rico, what is your view of the response to Hurricane Fiona?
What we're seeing a week after Fiona is very similar to the pattern that we saw after Maria in the sense that there are two parallel efforts. One is led by the government, and one led by the social justice organizations and the communities. What we learned after Hurricane Maria is that the response from the government is slow, inadequate, and criminal.
Why do you say that the response by the government has been criminal?
The government has the responsibility to take care of the people. Every agency that deals with safety in Puerto Rico has that responsibility by law. So not fulfilling that responsibility would constitute in fact a crime. They have the mandate to protect the infrastructure that is going to provide safety to the people of Puerto Rico. And they're not doing that. I'll give you one example. By law, Puerto Rico was supposed to have a mitigation and adaptation plan written and approved by October of last year. And they haven't done that. We had to take the Department of Natural Resources to court to force them to produce that plan.
How has the U.S. federal government response been in Puerto Rico?
In the case of Fiona, something very weird happened. There was an emergency declaration by FEMA, and suddenly the first map that came out of the municipalities that were included in the declaration covered half of the island, as if only half of the island was impacted by the hurricane. In the last three, four days, the community organizations and the social justice organizations have been launching a campaign for FEMA to include the other municipalities. To make things worse, some of the municipalities that got left out were actually in the most affected areas. It was completely bizarre.
Check out some recent coverage of the impact of Hurricane Fiona from OptOut members:
Covering Climate Now: Talking Shop: Making Climate Part of Our Midterms Reporting
TODAY, September 28, 12pm EDT, Online
Sustainable Innovation Forum
November 9-10, Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt
November 7-18, Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt
Climate Action Calendar
National Association of Science Writers Conference - #SciWri22
October 21-25, Memphis, Tennessee
Apply for a grant to attend
Convention on Biological Diversity
December 7-19, Montreal, Canada
Deputy Editor, UK
Climate Data Reporter
The Washington Post
Climate Communications Coordinator
Various Litigation Positions
Director of Programs and Climate Initiatives
Waterfront Alliance (New York)
Also check out BROWNGIRL GREEN’s jobs board here.
Thanks for reading OptOut’s climate newsletter! If you have questions, tips, or anything else about our climate program, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or message me via Instagram at @xtianpublic.
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