Bills in blue states target the fossil fuel industry for climate damage

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Good morning and welcome to The Climate 202! We hope you had a great Memorial Day weekend. Today in bizarre climate news, we read about how a man disguised as an old woman threw a cake on the glass protecting the Mona Lisa at the Louvre and cried out to people to think of planet Earth. But first:

Bills in blue states target the fossil fuel industry for climate damage

Democratic lawmakers in two of the nation’s most populous states are pushing for legislation to punish the fossil fuel industry for its apparent role in causing droughts, fires and other catastrophes exacerbated by climate change.

In California, the state Senate last week passed a measure that would ban state public pension funds from investing in the largest oil, gas and coal companies within a decade.

And in New York City, Democratic lawmakers last week introduced a bill that would require major fossil fuel companies to help pay for infrastructure investments needed to adapt to growing climate disasters.

The action in both blue states takes place as Democrats in Congress continue to struggle to pass President Biden‘is stopped Rebuild a Better Lawincluding its investment in combating climate change and accelerating clean energy.

Here’s what to know about both bills – and whether they could pass before the end of their respective legislative sessions:

California eyes pension non-investment

Senate Bill 1173, The California Fossil Removal Actwould require the state’s public pension funds to get rid of the 200 largest fossil fuel companies by 2030. The funds should report annually on their non-investment progress since 2024.

La California Public Employees Retirement System and the California State Teacher Retirement System are the two largest public pension funds in the country, with about $ 9 billion invested in oil, gas and coal.

If approved, the measure would prevent the retirement savings of state teachers, firefighters and other public employees from being used to fund fossil fuels at a time when California is facing climate change. extreme drought and a incessant season of fire.

“California can’t invest in what is to our detriment,” Majority whip Lena GonzalezA Democrat who co-sponsored the bill told The Climate 202. “So this bill makes a big statement, but it also puts our money where our mouth is.”

While the state Senate passed the bill on Wednesday by a vote of 21 to 10, the state Assembly has yet to consider the measure. There is still time to pass the bill before August 31, when the California legislative session ends, but the proposal could face obstacles in the Assembly Committee on Public Employment and Retirement, where President. Jim Cooper (D) indicated opposition to undressing as a concept, Gonzalez said.

Cooper’s office did not respond to a request for comment.

Meanwhile, a debate has arisen over the costs of undressing. CalPERS said it would cost between $ 75 million and $ 100 million to sell the shares named in the bill, while CalSTRS said a non-investment could prove a loss of $ 20 billion for the fund. But Fossil Free Californiaenvironmental group, accused the two public pension funds present “wildly exaggerated” cost estimates in recent report.

The numbers reported to the Senate Appropriations Committee last month were “completely ridiculous”. Mirjam Eidecoordinating director of Fossil Free California, told The Climate 202.

A CalPERS spokesman said in an email that while the pension fund recognizes the risks of climate change and has a “strong commitment” to reducing emissions, “as a global investor with a reliable duty to its members and employers, CalPERS does not believe this. to this problem. “

New York weighs in on pollutant payments

Senate Bill 9417the Climate Change Superfund Act, would impose a fee on fossil fuel companies that have historically emitted the largest amount of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. If approved, it would generate about $ 30 billion over 10 years, breaking up the companies. rising profits in the middle of the war in Ukraine.

The proceeds would be used to pay for part of climate adaptation projects, such as work to build marble walls, raise the height of roads and bridges, and repair damage caused by floods. On Capitol Hill, Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) introduced similar legislation last year, but the proposal was ultimately not included in the Democrats’ Rebuild Better package.

State Senate President of Finance Liz Krueger, which sponsored the Climate Change Superfund Act, acknowledged that the bill is unlikely to advance until the legislative session ends on Thursday. But Krueger, who is running unopposed for re-election in November, said she plans to push the step of the measure forward when the next session begins in January.

“I am pretty confident that I will return to the New York State Senate in January 2023, and I will work hard to build support,” she said.

The bill shares the same goal as lawsuits filed by Democratic-led states and municipalities seeking to hold the fossil fuel industry financially responsible for climate damage. So far, the lawsuits have been linked in a procedural dispute over whether they belong to a state or federal court, although Baltimore’s case has made it to the Supreme Court pasintjare on a narrow technical question.

Biden wants to rebuild the EPA. He doesn’t have the money to do it.

President Biden campaigned for a promise to revive the Environmental Protection Agency as part of its push to tackle climate change, but the agency’s limited spending power prevents the country’s top pollution regulator from doing its job, That of The Washington Post Dino Grandoni reports.

The EPAs Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Preventionwhich is tasked with monitoring hazardous chemicals, operates on roughly the same budget it did in 2016, despite needing about 200 additional toxicologists to complete critical assessments and meet regulatory deadlines.

The agency’s budget problems come as Republicans in Congress remain reluctant to meet Biden’s $ 11.9 billion budget request for the EPA for fiscal 2023, especially since it recently received billions as part of the bipartisan infrastructure law.

“It’s not a good idea to starve the agency when it comes to trying to protect public health,” said an EPA administrator. Michael Regan said during the congressional budget hearings this month. “We need to rebuild the agency.”

The EU agrees to remove Russian oil but exempts pipeline deliveries

La European Union an agreement was finally reached on Monday to phase out Russian oil, although the impact will be dampened by an exemption for pipeline oil, a concession to Hungary and other landlocked nations. The Mail Emily Rauhala and Quentin Ariès report.

The announcement comes after weeks of crazy negotiations between the 27-nation bloc. Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orbanally of Russian president Vladimir Putinthwarted a deal, insisting on more time and money to upgrade his country’s oil infrastructure.

While several countries will receive exemptions or extensions, European Council President Charles Michel said the deal would cover more than two-thirds of Russian oil imports, cutting off “a large source of funding for its war machine.” EU officials and diplomats will still have to agree on technical details to ensure formal adoption by all member states.

Facing a power crisis and burning heat, India is falling back on coal

As India faces constant global turbulent heat, its government is moving away from Prime Minister Narendra Modithe nation’s vision to become a leader in clean energy, emphasizing the struggle of the world’s third largest greenhouse gas to meet green ambitions in meeting high energy demand, The Mail Gerry Shih reports.

Despite having previously promised to install 450 gigawatts of renewable energy capacity by 2030, India’s coal ministry announced last month that it would reopen old mines to compensate for rolling blackouts caused by increased electricity consumption for cooling. Meanwhile, the ministry of power has ordered plants that burn imported coal to operate at full capacity.

“We used to be hailed as bad guys because we promoted fossil fuels and now we’re in the news that we’re not supplying enough of it.” Anil Kumar Jain, India’s deputy coal minister told reporters.

Agatha barrels into Mexico as its strongest May hurricane

Hurricane Agatha struck Mexico’s south west coast on Monday as a Category 2 storm, the strongest the country has ever recorded in May, with winds reaching 105 mph. Jason Samenow reports for The Post.

Agatha was strengthened when it passed over abnormally hot water, which is linked to climate change. As the storm moves inland, the National Hurricane Center warns that Agatha will start life-threatening winds and an extremely dangerous ocean wave, along with lightning and landslides.

If the storm stays on its current path, it could bring rain to Florida before the weekend. If a storm forms at this point, it will be named Alex and will be the first of the Atlantic hurricane season to begin on June 1.

The quest to conserve carbon in the wetlands of North Carolina

Up and along the North Carolina coast, environmentalists and wildlife officials have spent years working to restore a landscape essential to the fight against climate change, The Mail Brady Dennis reports.

North Carolina peatlands can store huge amounts of carbon when wet, but they can also exacerbate global warming by releasing huge amounts of carbon when drained or burned. Restoration efforts involve re-watering more than 43,000 acres of peat to counteract the artificial drainage that can starve wetlands from their natural moisture, making them susceptible to fire.

If such areas are protected, the United Nations said peatlands across the globe could store twice as much carbon as in all of the planet’s forests, reducing greenhouse gas pollution by hundreds of millions of tons annually and helping the world achieve its climate goals.

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