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April 27, 2021
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A Critical Mass Sees Climate Change as a ‘Critical’ Threat

Morning Consult regularly asks U.S. voters about a series of potential threats facing the country and about whether they would categorize them as critical, merely important, or not important at all. We previously asked about climate change’s role as a domestic threat in 2017, in the aftermath of former President Donald Trump’s decision to pull the country from the Paris Climate Agreement. 


Roughly four years later, following President Joe Biden’s climate summit last week, we asked again. The share of voters who now characterize climate change as critical has hit 50 percent for the first time, increasing a full 10 percentage points over roughly four years, even as the share of those who say the United States should be party to the Paris Agreement has remained steady over the same period. For more, read on here.


Top Stories

  • The White House plans to back a clean energy standard to decarbonize the power sector, specifically setting a target of getting 80 percent of the country’s power from emissions-free sources by 2030, per a senior administration official. The CES, which would require emissions reductions via multiple potential pathways in order to hit President Joe Biden’s goal of net-zero carbon emissions from the grid by 2035, could potentially be ushered into law via budget reconciliation. (Reuters)
  • The Environmental Protection Agency said it is reviewing the Trump-era decision to block California’s authority to set tailpipe emissions standards, and intends to rescind it after seeking public comment on the move. The decision could have huge implications for nationwide transportation emissions, given that 13 other states and the District of Columbia follow the stricter California standards. (Los Angeles Times)
  • Tesla Inc.’s net profit for the first quarter of 2021 hit a record of $438 million, up from $16 million from the same period one year ago. Tesla also reported sales of 184,877 vehicles and a total Q1 revenue of $10.4 billion, an increase of nearly 74 percent from a year earlier, despite pandemic-related supply chain disruptions. (The Wall Street Journal)
  • BP PLC has also announced rosier quarterly earnings than anticipated, and said it is committed to buying back shares this year as a consequence. The oil giant’s net debt fell to $33.3 billion in the first quarter of 2021 from $38.9 billion at the end of 2020, beating the company’s goal of $35 billion. (Financial Times)

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What Else You Need to Know


The Fight to Clean Up the EPA
Sharon Lerner, The Intercept

Trump nearly broke the EPA. Can the Biden administration repair the damage?


Biden isn’t banning meat, USDA chief says

Ryan McCrimmon, Politico

Conservative lawmakers and commentators spread false claims that Biden’s recent pledge to curb greenhouse gas emissions included a proposal to cut red meat consumption by 90 percent.


Supreme Court considers whether US should pay for Guam hazardous waste cleanup

Rachel Frazin, The Hill

The Supreme Court on Monday heard arguments about whether the U.S. should pay Guam for hazardous waste cleanup over dumping of waste from the Navy at the territory’s Ordot Dump. 


Kerry faces calls to step down over leaked Iran tapes 

Rachel Frazin and Laura Kelly, The Hill

John Kerry, the U.S. special envoy for climate change, is facing calls for his resignation from Republican lawmakers and pundits for reportedly discussing Israeli military operations with Iran’s foreign minister when he served as then-President Obama’s secretary of State.

Climate Change and Emissions

The giant accounting problem that could hamper the world’s push to cut emissions

Chris Mooney and Brady Dennis, The Washington Post

Countries are adopting very different strategies for how they take into account carbon pulled out of the air by their forests.


Points of No Return
Alexandria Herr et al., Grist
As the world warms, these Earth systems are changing. Could further warming make them spiral out of control?


Biden’s quiet plan to prepare the U.S. for the health impacts of climate change

Zoya Teirstein, Grist

Biden’s budget blueprint would “jumpstart” states’ efforts to protect public health from rising temperatures.


After a decade of failures, Washington state passes a cap on carbon emissions

Kate Yoder, Grist

Rejected ballot measures. Legislation that couldn’t muster up enough votes. For more than a decade, Washington state has been trying — and failing — to put a price on carbon. That changed this weekend, when the state legislature finally managed to pass a cap-and-trade bill before the legislative session ended, at nearly the last possible moment, signaling that carbon pricing might not be as dead as you’ve read on Twitter. 


Carbon Restrictions Are Finally Here to Bend the Emissions Curve

Akshat Rathi, Bloomberg

If the world wants to slow global warming, advancing clean technologies won’t be enough. We have to do the hard work of cutting fossil-fuel use.


BlackRock’s Fink, Buoyed by Record Inflows, Vows ‘Loud’ Activism

Erik Schatzker and Annie Massa, Bloomberg

If BlackRock Inc.’s Larry Fink ever had second thoughts about injecting his voice into such weighty issues as climate change and voting rights, he doesn’t anymore.

Renewables and Storage

The Hidden Science Making Batteries Better, Cheaper and Everywhere

Akshat Rathi et al., Bloomberg

Batteries took over the modern world without changing all that much.


Eminent domain opens doors for fossil fuels — could it do the same for renewable energy?

Ysabelle Kempe, Grist

Environmentalists have long opposed eminent domain for fossil fuel projects. Now, the legal power could be vital to building renewable energy infrastructure.

Oil, Gas and Alternative Fuels

Worker group alleges unsafe practices at Marathon Minnesota refinery

Laura Sanicola, Reuters

Inadequate safety standards at Marathon Petroleum’s St. Paul Park refinery in Minnesota have caused avoidable hydrocarbon and chemical releases that pose a threat to the community, a local worker advocacy group said in a report on Sunday, as a lockout of unionized plant workers extends into its third month.


A 16-Year-Old Gasoline-Ethanol Feud Gets Supreme Court Showdown

Jennifer A. Dlouhy, Bloomberg Law

A long-running clash between gasoline and ethanol producers will be before the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday, in a case that could cost small oil refineries hundreds of millions of dollars.


BP targets US retail power market with cleaner fuel mix

Anjli Raval and Myles McCormick, Financial Times

The UK oil major applies to supply electricity generated from gas and renewables.


Israeli, U.A.E. Energy Firms Set Up Biggest Deal Since Diplomatic Agreement

Felicia Schwartz and Rory Jones, The Wall Street Journal

One of Israel’s largest energy companies said it plans to sell its share of an offshore natural-gas field to United Arab Emirates-owned Mubadala Petroleum in what would be the biggest commercial deal between the countries since they agreed to normalize relations last year

Electricity, Utilities and Infrastructure

The big push for a clean power mandate

Ben Geman, Axios

A wide coalition of environmental groups on Monday will urge President Biden and Capitol Hill leaders to require major increases in zero-carbon power generation in the infrastructure package lawmakers are crafting.


Key Republican Energy Regulator Looks to Stay Past End of Term

Dean Scott, Bloomberg Law

A Republican on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission who raised eyebrows for delving into carbon pricing is considering staying on after his term expires, amid doubts that a Democratic successor can be confirmed by the end of June

Environment, Land and Resources

Wells dry up, crops imperiled, farm workers in limbo as California drought grips San Joaquin Valley

Louis Sahagún, Los Angeles Times

As yet another season of drought returns to California, the mood has grown increasingly grim across the vast and fertile San Joaquin Valley.


Stunning DDT dump site off L.A. coast much bigger than scientists expected

Rosanna Xia, Los Angeles Times

When the research vessel Sally Ride set sail for Santa Catalina Island to map an underwater graveyard of DDT waste barrels, its crew had high hopes of documenting for the first time just how many corroded containers littered the seafloor off the coast of Los Angeles.


Species or Ecosystems: How Best to Restore the Natural World?

Fred Pearce, Yale Environment 360

What’s the best way to protect nature and restore what has been lost? A series of new scientific papers offer conflicting views on whether efforts should focus on individual species or ecosystems and point to the role human inhabitants can play in conserving landscape


China says coal will play less-dominant energy role

Huizhong Wu, The Associated Press

China, the world’s biggest coal user, said Tuesday the fossil fuel will play a less dominant role in its energy mix and that, despite plans to build new coal-fired power plants, the country won’t use it on a wide scale.


Global alliance for phasing out coal not fit for purpose, says NGO

Fiona Harvey, The Guardian

Powering Past Coal Alliance accused of failing to follow up on pledges as many countries expand use of coal.


Crucial test starts at Georgia Power’s Vogtle nuclear unit

Matt Kempner, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Georgia Power has launched a crucial series of tests at its first new nuclear reactor at Plant Vogtle, a project that has promised more carbon-free energy but has taken far longer and cost far more than the utility predicted.

Opinions, Editorials and Perspectives

Beer, Brussels Sprouts, Bernie Madoff and Today’s G.O.P.

Paul Krugman, The New York Times

On Friday Larry Kudlow, who was Donald Trump’s top economic adviser, told Fox News viewers that Joe Biden’s climate plans would force Americans to stop eating meat. On July 4, he declared, you’d have to “throw back a plant-based beer with your grilled brussels sprouts.”


Biden’s remarkable success on climate

Jeffrey Sachs, CNN

By every standard, President Joe Biden’s climate change summit was a remarkable success. With great diplomatic dexterity, Biden and climate envoy John Kerry assembled world leaders representing 82% of world carbon emissions, 73% of the world population and 86% of world economic output to commit to bold climate action.


The Biden administration shouldn’t ignore hybrid cars

Ashley Nunes, Financial Times

Not everyone wants a pure electric vehicle.


Everyone is investing in green — here’s what they are missing

Maria Korsnick, The Hill

Mitigating the effects of a changing climate has taken center stage in the financial community. Whether under the label of impact investing, environmental social governance (ESG) investing or a handful of other phrases, the urgency of addressing carbon emissions is becoming clear.


America deserves a pro-jobs climate plan

Sen. Dan Sullivan, Roll Call

Biden policies would restrict our energy production and hand pink slips to millions of Americans.


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