10 min read

Fossil Fuel Giveaways in the Climate Deal • California Takes on the Auto Industry • Speaking with Emily Atkin

The best independent coverage of the climate crisis.
Fossil Fuel Giveaways in the Climate Deal • California Takes on the Auto Industry • Speaking with Emily Atkin

Written by:

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.

Climate Law Could Clarify Uncertain Fossil Fuel Leasing Picture
The Inflation Reduction Act mandates that millions of acres of public lands be made available to oil and gas companies before the government can offer land for renewables.

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.

Now That the IRA Is Law, the Climate Movement’s Fight Has Just Begun
After President Biden’s signing of a “historic” climate bill, environmental organizers have plenty of work ahead to undo the IRA’s worst provisions while keeping fossil fuels in the ground.

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.”

Manchin Delivered “Game Changer” To His Oil Donor
The coal baron senator included a controversial carbon capture provision in the IRA that could benefit his biggest sponsor, a fossil fuel company betting big on unproven technologies.

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.

Progressives Should Absolutely Tank Joe Manchin’s Fossil Fuel Giveaway
Last week, Democrats finally agreed on a major package of climate legislation. But in order for it to actually work, its worst parts will have to be killed or repealed. There are signs progressives in Congress are gearing up to do just that.

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.

California’s 2035 ban on new gas-powered cars set to apply to Virginia - Virginia Mercury
A 2021 state law linked Virginia vehicle emissions standards to California’s as part of efforts to combat climate change.

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.

California Democrats Race to Pass Gov. Newsom’s Emergency Climate Change Package
With Newsom’s environmental legacy in the balance, legislators are intensely pushing bills that advance the governor’s priorities.

Dangerous Nights

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.

Hotter summer nights affect everything from death rates to crop yields to firefighting
What happens when the Earth can’t cool off overnight?

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.

WSJ Sells Lithium Neocolonialism as Climate Necessity - FAIR
The Journal warps resistance to ecological destruction and resource plundering into pesky obstacles to green capitalist innovation.

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.

Climate-Related Disasters Are Growing. We’re Not Ready for Them.
Climate change is making “natural” disasters like floods far more disastrous for Americans across classes — and our public protections for the victims of those disasters are nowhere near adequate to help them recover.

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:

A crude replacement for local news
As local newsrooms rapidly shut down across the country, Chevron steps in to fill the gap with propaganda.
The fossil fuel industry’s fake news sites
By exploiting Americans’ trust in local media, polluters hope to squash their political opponents.


Africa Climate Week
August 29-September 2, Libreville, Gabon

NYC ClimateWeek
September 19-25, New York, NY

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


Supervising Editor, Climate
National Public Radio
Apply Here

Audience Engagement Associate
Uproot Project/Grist
Apply Here

Climate Graphics Reporter
The Washington Post
Apply Here

Environmental Justice Research Analyst
WE ACT for Environmental Justice
Apply Here

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 cristian@optout.news 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.

Download the app for Apple and Android
Sign up for OptOut's free newsletters.
Learn more about OptOut.

Events calendar

Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok.