Happy Earth Day!This is Energy & EnvironmentThe source for the latest news about energy, the environment, or beyond. For The Hill, wereRachel FrazinandZack Budryk.Register hereAnd You can view the full edition by clicking here.
President sees Earth Day as an opportunity and a crisis
President Biden struck an optimistic tone about the planets future during a speech on Earth Day, despite setbacks his administration is facing on its climate agenda.
Biden characterized the environmental challenges as “a genuine opportunity, an opportunity to do things weve wanted to do that only now have become so apparent.
We’ve reached the point where the environmental crisis has become so obvious (with one notable exception, the former president), that we really have the opportunity to do things we couldnt do ten years ago. Biden during a speech at Seattle’s Seward Park Friday.
Biden called on Congress to pass his long-stalled legislation on climate change in his speech.
- Democrats inability to pass significant climate change legislation amid opposition from Republicans and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) has cast a shadow over Bidens climate goals.
- Biden lightly jabbed at Manchin and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), another centrist, without naming them: Theres only two senators who occasionally dont vote with me…Theres virtually no split in the Democratic Party.
Biden claimed that Democrats now have 50 presidents due to the narrow margins in Senate.
He said that anyone can alter the dynamic.
Learn more about Bidens Earth Day speech.
Bonus: A quote for the toxics watchers…Friday’s speech by Biden highlighted some environmental provisions of the bipartisan Infrastructure Law and promised to eliminate all contamination from toxic forever chemical.
This bipartisan infrastructure bill gives communities the money to get forever chemicals, or PFAS out of the water. They are deadly, deadly and a lot of it is responsible because the government and military have engaged in activities that were not obvious but were going to eliminate them all.
SPEAKING FOR THE TREES
At the Seattle Earth Day event, Biden also signed an executive order aimed at protecting old-growth forests, those that have older trees and store a significant amount of carbon dioxide.
- The executive order will require Interior and Agriculture departments to inventory federal forests and identify threats, such as wildfires, by next year.
- According to the White House, it will also require departments to develop new policies for climate-smart management in order to address the threats. The administration will also set 2030 reforestation goals.
A White House official stated during a conference call that preserving old-growth forest will lower wildfire risk to communities and natural resource, including mature and older growth forests.
The official stated that nature is the best and most cost-effective way to fight climate change.
The order will direct agencies to conduct the country’s first ever nature assessment, which examines how nature might change in the future.
Learn more about Bidens executive orders here.
VIRTUAL EVENT INVITE
The Hills Sustainability ImperativeWednesday, April 27 & Thursday, April 282:00 PM ET/11:00 AM PT daily
Sustainability is not optional. It is a necessity. Everyone has a part to play. The Hill will host its second annual festival on April 27 and 28. This festival will bring together policy leaders and practitioners from the sustainability ecosystem. Interviews withEnergy SecretaryJennifer Grholm, Council on Environmental Quality Chair Brenda Mallory. Actress Sigourney WeaverAndContinue reading.Register today to reserve your spot
Experts say the US is not on track to meet Bidens climate goals
A year after President Biden announced the goal of significantly cutting planet-warming emissions by the end of the decade, experts are warning the nation is not on track to meet them.
- The biggest hurdle, they say, is Congresss failure to pass Bidens climate and social spending agenda, as the provisions approved in the House version of the bill would likely have put the country on target.
- There is no clear path without new legislation. This includes the low-carbon energy tax incentives that were included in the Build Back Better bill. Michael Greenstone, a former Obama advisor and now a University of Chicago Professor, stated in a statement.
Is there still a chance? Some of the president’s allies still believe that a package containing climate provisions will be passed by Congress.
But there’s a ticking time: The GOP stands a good chance of winning back the House and Senate in the midterms, and that could put a final stake in those hopes.
Biden marked last years Earth Day by announcing a national goal of cutting climate-warming emissions by 50 to 52 percent compared to where they were in 2005. Biden has endorsed many policies to get the country there in the months since. Many of these were incorporated into the Build back Better bill that passed the House but was defeated by Senator Joe Manchin (D.W.Va.).
Where are things at? Build Back Better would have been the major piece that would have helped us almost get to our at least 2030 targets, said Erin Mayfield, an engineering professor at Dartmouth who has worked on modeling the potential emissions cuts from the bill.
Robbie Orvis is the senior director for energy policy design at Energy Innovation. This think tank specializes in energy and climate policies. We need legislation, standards, as well as additional state actions.
Learn more about the current situation here.
EU URGES CITIZENS to CURT ENERGY USE
The European Union is encouraging its citizens to work from home, use public transit and turn off heaters in an effort reduce the blocs reliance on Russian fuel.
According to a published outline by the European Commission (IEA) and the International Energy Agency, EU residents can save enough oil to fill 120 super tanks and enough natural gas for nearly 20 million homes.
- The outline, called Playing my Part, aims to slash the blocs reliance on Russian energy while also reducing greenhouse gas emissions, a news release accompanying the plan explained.
- The Russian war in Ukraine is a human tragedy and a humanitarian disaster, and were all looking at what can we do ourselves what can we do professionally and what can we do personally, European Commission Director-General for Energy Ditte Juul Jrgensen said at a virtual summit on Thursday.
Jrgensen said everyone taking part to reduce their energy consumption will enable Europeans to save on their energy bills, improve climate conditions as a whole and help Ukraine.
The EU imports around 150 billion cubic metres of gas from Russia each year. Jrgensen explained, however, that the European Green Deal policy initiative could cut around 100 billion cubic meters of gas imports from Russia by 2030 through the acceleration and scaling up of renewable energy.
However, energy savings is the most effective and necessary measure, Jrgensen stated. We can cut immediately.
Learn more about The Hills Sharon Udasin.
PFAS MOVES THIS WOKE
The governors of two New England states have approved key pieces of legislation that transform their relationships with cancer-linked forever chemicals.
- Maine Gov. Janet Mills (D) signed into law on Wednesday a bill that will ban the application of biosolids also known as sludge that contain so-called forever chemicals on farmland.
- Vermont Gov. Phil Scott (R) approved a bill the next day enabling plaintiffs to sue for medical monitoring following exposure to toxins, including these compounds.
Perfluoroalkyl and perfluoroalkyl chemicals (PFAS), are a group that includes thousands of compounds that can linger in the body and environment. PFAS have been linked to testicular cancer, kidney cancer, thyroid disease, and other diseases.
Biosolids containing PFAS-laden compounds have been a major source of contamination on Maine’s agricultural land. This has led to many farmers having to close their doors after discovering that their milk was contaminated by the compounds. These sludges are usually made by paper mills.
Wednesday’s new law will prohibit residents from spreading sludge onto farmlands unless they receive a written determination from the Department of Environmental Protection stating that the sludge is free from PFAS.
In neighboring Vermont, the bill signed by Scott enables plaintiffs to sue polluters for medical screenings following exposure to toxic substances, including PFAS.
This is not a new version of the bill. The governor previously vetoed the bill in 2019. That veto occurred after an official in his office coordinated with a lobbyist in watering down the bills text, as reported by The Hill.
Learn more at The Hills Sharon Udasin.
ON TAP NEXT WOEEK
- Interior Secretary Deb Haaland will appear before the House Appropriations Committee for a hearing on Interiors budget
- Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm will testify before the House Appropriations Committee about DOEs budget. The House Energy & Commerce Committee will also hold a hearing on the departments budget, but witnesses were not listed at press time
- The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will vote on the nomination of Kathryn Huff to be an assistant secretary of Energy for nuclear energy. It will also hold a hearing on the nominations of David Applegate to be Director of the United States Geological Survey, and Carmen Cantor to be an assistant secretary, both of the Department of the Interior, and Evelyn Wang to be director of the DOE’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy.
- Michael Regan, Administrator of the EPA, will testify before the House Energy and Commerce Committee about the budget for the agency.
WHAT WE’RE READING
- How Nebraska’s Governor Became A General In A Right-Wing War Against Bidens Conservation Goal (HuffPost)
- Five charts that show why food is not prepared for climate crisis (The Guardian).
- Megadrought West expected to intensify and expand east: NOAA (ABC News).
- ‘The sound of money’: Wind energy is booming in deep-red Republican states (CNN)
Finally, here’s something a little offbeat, but still on-point:Happy Earth Day.
This is it for today. Thanks for reading. For the most recent news and coverage, visit The HillsEnergy & Environment. We’ll see you Monday.