This is the newsletter of OptOut Climate, a program of the OptOut Media Foundation. OptOut maintains a free news aggregation app for exclusively independent media that's available for Apple and Android devices. Find out more about the app at optout.news.
We are sending this second edition of OptOut Climate to the general OptOut newsletter list. To get future climate newsletters in your inbox, sign into your account and click "Manage" to subscribe to OptOut Climate.
The much-heralded climate deal was historic—but it was seemingly created by people who can’t quit the oil-and-gas habit. It continues to enable our extraction addiction and promote unproven carbon capture technology that polluting energy companies love. It’s a win for fossil fuel junkies who want to look good in green.
Make no mistake: the Inflation Reduction Act is a major breakthrough in U.S. climate action. The $369 billion federal investment will stimulate the expansion of renewable energy and should decrease climate pollution significantly by 2030. Yet its reliance on incentives to reach those outcomes and the potential adverse effects on Black and Brown communities from fossil fuel extraction have led some environmentalists to actively oppose it.
THE AMERICAN PROSPECT says the most troubling aspect of the act’s climate compromise may be its provision allowing fossil fuel development on federal land. “The bill requires that a threshold amount of federal land be offered up for oil and gas leases before any land is granted for wind and solar leases,” writes Ramenda Cyrus.
In the end, this means it will be more difficult to develop renewable energy resources on federal lands. It also signals to families living in the shadow of polluting energy infrastructure that they could see more of the same because they live near the very federal land that could be targeted for more oil and gas development.
But it’s not just leasing that has stoked ire among skeptics of the deal and raised questions about the fossil fuel provisions. The law also commits government subsidies to questionable carbon capture and storage, though as IN THESE TIMES points out, promoters of the process have failed to prove that it works in spite of years of investment.
“The result so far has been zero success in cost-effectively capturing and disposing of climate emissions in any significant quantity,” writes Mitch Jones.
Maybe it’s no surprise that one of the big winners of the climate deal is a patron of Sen. Joe Manchin (D), the West Virginia coal baron who blocked the bill until he got what he wanted. THE LEVER reports that Houston-based oil and gas pipeline company Enterprise Products Partners is positioned to flourish thanks to the IRA. Not only is the company a major donor to Manchin, but his son-in-law works there, the investigative site reports (not to be confused with his son, who runs the family waste coal business). The company’s CEO called a credit included in the deal a potential “game changer.”
THE LEVER notes that a side deal to the IRA that Manchin brokered with Democratic Party leaders would accelerate permitting for energy projects, including for a proposed Enterprise pipeline. But many Democrats say they’re opposed to what they described as a backroom deal, JACOBIN reports.
“Now that the IRA has passed, there is absolutely zero reason that Congress should follow through on a backdoor handshake deal that directly undermines the purpose of the IRA,” said Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) on the day the House passed the bill.
We started OptOut Climate because we face an existential threat, and corporate and legacy media are beholden to fossil fuel advertisers. Please join us in our mission to elevate independent media and accurately inform the public about our planet by making a tax-deductible donation today!
California Puts Fossil Fuel Industry on Watch
California isn’t waiting for climate change action on the national level before it acts to counter fossil fuel interests.
In a potentially transformative move, California announced it was banning the sale of gas-powered cars beginning in 2035, a move that will have a significant impact on climate change by cutting emissions and spurring the expansion of the electric vehicle market. The decision caused a ripple effect across the country. Washington state said it planned to follow the Golden State’s lead. And, in Virginia, a law tying the state’s emission standards to California’s was triggered, the VIRGINIA MERCURY reports.
Unfortunately, California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s more expansive climate and environmental legacy “hangs in the balance” as the legislative session ends, CAPITAL & MAIN reports. Newsom’s proposals include protections from toxic chemicals, emissions reductions, and scaling up renewable energy use. The effort faces opposition from the Western States Petroleum Association and the California Chamber of Commerce.
Turns out the warming planet is even dangerous for people, plants, and animals at night because as temperatures rise, it doesn’t cool off enough by evening, disrupting sleep and other natural patterns, HIGH COUNTRY NEWS reports.
In a recent story, The Wall Street Journal makes it clear that pesky things like Indigenous rights and environmental protection are irritants to the all-important effort to extract as many resources as possible from the “Lithium Triangle” in Chile, Bolivia, and Argentina. “True to its name, The Wall Street Journal never fails to lay bare its corporate sympathies,” FAIR writes in a scathing analysis of the story.
Finally, JACOBIN interviews Max Besbris, co-author of Soaking the Middle Class: Suburban Inequality and Recovery from Disaster, about climate change and disasters. “We’re at a moment when households are less able to weather financial hardship than in previous decades while their potential exposure to climate-related disasters is increasing,” Besbris tells JACOBIN.
Three Questions for Emily Atkin, publisher of Heated
Emily Atkin is the journalist and creator of HEATED, a newsletter that she launched back in 2019 that has become a must-read for “people who are pissed off about the climate crisis.” This past week, she published two stories about how fossil fuel industries are creating so-called “news” websites that promote their agendas while actively seeking to avert or even squash criticism. We talked over Zoom. The conversation has been edited for clarity.
What pissed you off the most when you were reporting about the sites that had been created by fossil fuel industries?
The climate crisis is something that we should have political will to act on because it's objectively, it's objectively really fucked up, for lack of a better word. I think that it's up to journalists to create that political will by adequately informing people about climate change. And that includes speaking truth to power, the power being fossil fuel companies. So fossil fuel companies deciding that they want to take on the role, and not only take on the role, but replace the role of journalists, that ensures that nobody can speak truth to power about them.
You’ve spoken a lot about how the legendary reporter Wayne Barrett mentored you. What do you draw from his teachings in the way you approach your work for Heated?
One of the things that sticks out that he said in his writings was that the joy of our profession is discovery, not dissertation. I do a lot of dissertation as well as discovery, really trying to put things into the correct words, to show people how to process information that I'm giving them. It's a very useful thing to do for people. But it's also an extremely draining way to do journalism. I'm going to take Wayne's teaching of discovery over dissertation more seriously. That is energizing. That actually gives me energy.
How do you cut through the noise that surrounds the climate crisis?
It's really tough to cut through the noise because there is so much of it. But I think what I tend to gravitate towards is, honestly, it's to follow my gut. I don't know if that's the best answer in the world. Let's say that that noise is a 10-paragraph article. There's probably one sentence in that article that is yelling at me a little louder than the rest. And then usually the way I make a story out of that is that I try to focus in as much as possible on that one little part.
Read HEATED's latest stories:
Africa Climate Week
August 29-September 2, Libreville, Gabon
September 19-25, New York, NY
National Association of Science Writers Conference - #SciWri22
October 21-25, Memphis, Tennessee
Apply for a grant to attend
Supervising Editor, Climate
National Public Radio
Audience Engagement Associate
Climate Graphics Reporter
The Washington Post
Environmental Justice Research Analyst
WE ACT for Environmental Justice
Also check out BROWN GIRL GREEN's jobs board here.
Thanks for reading OptOut’s climate newsletter! If you have questions, tips, or anything else to say about our climate program, feel free to email me at email@example.com or message me via Instagram at @xtianpublic.
We’ll see you in two weeks.
The OptOut Media Foundation (EIN: 85-2348079) is a nonprofit charity with a mission to educate the public about current events and help sustain a diverse media ecosystem by promoting and assisting independent news outlets and, in doing so, advance democracy and social justice.