Bills in blue states target the fossil fuel industry due to climate damage
Democratic lawmakers in two of the most populous US states are pushing legislation to punish the fossil fuel industry for its apparent role in causing droughts, wildfires and other disasters exacerbated by climate change.
In California, the Senate last week passed a measure that would prevent state public pension funds from investing in the largest oil, gas and coal companies within a decade.
And in New York, Democratic lawmakers last week introduced a bill that would require the largest fossil fuel companies to help pay for infrastructure investments needed to adapt to mounting climate catastrophes.
The measure in both blue states comes as Democrats in Congress continue to fight for its passage. President BidenStop Rebuild betterincluding its investments in combating climate change and promoting clean energy.
Here’s what to know about both bills – and whether they can be passed before the end of their respective legislative sessions:
California eyes withdraw retirement pension
Senate Bill 1173And the California Fossil Fuel Sale Lawwould require state public pension funds to divest from the 200 largest fossil-fuel companies by 2030. The funds would need to report annually on the progress of divestment starting in 2024.
The California Public Employees Retirement System and the California Teachers Retirement System They are the country’s two largest public pension funds, with $9 billion invested in oil, gas and coal.
If passed, the measure would prevent retirement savings for teachers, firefighters and other state public employees from being used to fund fossil fuels at a time when California is grappling with climate change. severe dryness and Relentless wildfire season.
“The State of California can’t invest in something that hurts us,” Majority whip Lena GonzalezD., a Democrat who co-sponsored the bill, told The Climate 202 newspaper. “So this bill is a big statement, but it also puts our money where it belongs.”
And while the Senate passed the bill on Wednesday by a vote of 21-10, the state House 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 run into snags in the assembly’s Public Employment and Retirement Committee, where it holds the presidency. Jim Cooper (D) he referred to opposition to divestment as a concept, Gonzalez said.
Cooper’s office did not respond to a request for comment.
Meanwhile, controversy emerged over the costs of divestment. CalPERS said selling the shares mentioned in the invoice would cost between $75 million and $100 million, while CalSTRS said the divestment would likely result in a $20 billion loss for the fund. But fossil free californiaenvironmental group, Accused Two public pension funds to provide cost estimates ‘severely exaggerated’ recently Report.
The numbers reported to the Senate Appropriations Committee last month were “absolutely ridiculous,” Myriam Eddycoordinating director of Fossil Free California, told The Climate 202.
A CalPERS spokeswoman said in an email that while the pension fund understands the risks of climate change and has a “strong commitment” to reducing emissions, “as a global investor with a fiduciary duty to its members and business partners, CalPERS does not believe divestment is an effective solution to this problem.” “.
New York weighs pollutant payments
Senate Bill 9417The Big Fund Climate Change Act, that would charge the fossil fuel companies that have historically released the largest amount of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. If passed, it would generate an estimated $30 billion over 10 years, shredding businesses high profits In the middle of the war in Ukraine.
The proceeds will be used to pay for a portion of climate adaptation projects, such as efforts to build seawalls, raise the height of roads and bridges, and repair flood damage. On Capitol Hill, Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) Similar legislation has been introduced Last year, but the proposal ultimately wasn’t included in the Democrats’ package to Build Better.
President of the State Senate Finance Liz Krueger, which sponsored the Climate Change Superfinance Act, acknowledged that the bill was unlikely to advance before the conclusion of Thursday’s legislative session. But Krueger, who is running unchallenged for re-election in November, said she plans to push for the measure to pass when the next session begins in January.
“I am 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 with lawsuits brought by Democratic-led states and municipalities that seek to hold the fossil fuel industry financially responsible for climate damage. So far, the lawsuits have been limited in procedural debate over whether they belong in state or federal court, although the Baltimore case has reached Supreme court last year In a narrow technical matter.
Biden wants to rebuild the Environmental Protection Agency. He doesn’t have the money to do that.
President Biden Launch a campaign on a promise to revitalize Environmental Protection Agency As part of its efforts to tackle climate change, but the agency’s limited purchasing power is preventing the country’s largest pollution regulator from doing its job, Washington Post Dino Grandoni reports.
Environmental Protection Agency Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Preventiontasked with monitoring dangerous chemicals, is running on about the same budget as in 2016, although about 200 other toxicologists are needed to complete critical assessments and meet regulatory deadlines.
The agency’s budget problems come as congressional Republicans remain reluctant to meet Biden’s request for an EPA’s $11.9 billion budget for fiscal year 2023, especially since it just received billions as part of the bipartisan infrastructure law.
“It is not a good idea to starve the agency when it comes to trying to protect public health,” EPA Director Michael Reagan He said during congressional budget hearings this month. “We have to rebuild the agency.”
EU agrees to phase out Russian oil but excludes pipeline shipments
The European Union On Monday he finally reached an agreement to phase out Russian oil, although the impact would be reduced by an exemption for oil transported through the pipeline, a concession to Hungary and other landlocked countries, stickers Emily Rohala And the Quentin Aris Report.
The announcement comes after weeks of frantic negotiations between the 27-nation bloc. Hungarian Prime Minister Victor UrbanAlly of the Russian President Russian President Vladimir PutinHe blocked a deal, insisting on more time and money to modernize his country’s oil infrastructure.
While many countries will have waivers or extensions, European Council president Charles Michel He said the agreement would cover more than two-thirds of Russia’s oil imports, and cut off “a huge source of financing for its war machine.” EU officials and diplomats still have to agree on the technical details to ensure official adoption by all member states.
Faced with an energy crunch and intense heat, India is turning to coal
As India faces a constant heat wave due to global warming, its government is turning away from the Prime Minister Narendra ModiThe nation’s vision to become a leader in the field of clean energy, underlining the struggle of the world’s third largest emitter of greenhouse gases to meet green ambitions while meeting the growing demand for energy, stickers Jerry Shih reports.
Although it previously pledged to install 450 gigawatts of renewable energy by 2030, India’s Coal Ministry announced last month that it would reopen old mines to offset blackouts caused by increased electricity consumption for cooling. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Electricity has ordered the plants to burn imported coal to operate at full capacity.
“Earlier we were hailed as bad boys because we were touting fossil fuels and now we’re in the news that we’re not making enough of it,” Anil Kumar Jain Indian Deputy Minister of Coal told reporters.
Agatha heads to Mexico as its strongest hurricane in May
Hurricane Agatha hit Mexico’s southwest coast Monday as a Category 2 storm, the strongest storm the country has ever recorded in May, with winds reaching 105 mph. Jason Samino Reports for The Post.
Agatha’s strength increased when she passed over abnormally warm waters, which is associated with climate change. As the storm moves inland, the National Hurricane Center He warns that Agatha will unleash life-threatening winds and an extremely dangerous flow into the ocean, along with floods and mudslides.
If the storm continues on its current path, it could bring rain to Florida by the end of the week. If a storm forms at that point, it will be named Alex and become the first Atlantic hurricane season beginning on June 1.
The quest to conserve carbon in North Carolina’s wetlands
Up and down the North Carolina coast, conservationists and wildlife officials have spent years working to restore essential landscapes to combat climate change, stickers Brady Dennis reports.
North Carolina’s peatlands can store massive amounts of carbon when wet, but they can also exacerbate global warming by releasing massive amounts of carbon when drained or burned. The restoration effort includes re-wetting more than 43,000 acres of peat to counteract industrial drainage that could deprive wetlands of their natural moisture, leaving them vulnerable to fire.
If these areas are protected, then United nations He said peatlands around the world could store twice as much carbon as 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.