Climate Bill ‘Transformative’ for Auto and Energy Industries – The New York Times

Jack Ewing and 

“The $369 billion climate and tax package Democrats in the Senate proposed this week could have far-reaching effects on the kinds of cars that Americans drive, where those cars are made and how the country produces its energy. The legislation also aims to break China’s hold on battery supply chains.

The bill, which came back from the dead after Senator Joe Manchin III of West Virginia unexpectedly dropped his opposition, could greatly accelerate changes already underway in the automotive and energy industries. The proposal aims to simultaneously fight climate change and energize domestic manufacturing. For the most part, it would do so through tax breaks and other incentives — a carrot, rather than stick, approach that is likely to go down easier in corporate boardrooms and with voters.

Democrats are proposing to expand cash incentives for buyers of electric vehicles, along with billions of dollars for automakers, battery manufacturers and suppliers to build or retool factories in the United States. There is money to help consumers pay for rooftop solar panels, for electric vehicle chargers and for fuel-efficient heat pumps.”

David Wallace-Wells | Hardly Anyone Talks About How Fracking Was an Extraordinary Boondoggle – The New York Times

Opinion Writer

UpdateThis newsletter has been updated to reflect news developments.

“In the energy scramble provoked by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, American liquid natural gas has so far played the role of Europe’s white knight. If Europe manages to keep its lights on, homes heated and factories running this winter, when energy demand is highest, it will be in large part thanks to shipments of American gas, which have more than doubled since the war began. Today, two-thirds of American oil and even more of its gas come from hydraulic fracturing, better known as fracking, which has played this heroic-seeming role before, in the country’s long effort post-9/11 to get out from the grip of Middle Eastern producers and secure what is often described as “energy independence.” (Donald Trump preferred the term “energy dominance.”) It hasn’t proved quite as useful as you might think: Because energy prices are set on global markets, domestic production doesn’t mean Americans pay less at the pump. But thanks in large part to fracking, the United States has become the world’s largest producer of both oil and gas.

Perhaps the most striking fact about the American hydraulic-fracturing boom, though, is unknown to all but the most discriminating consumers of energy news: Fracking has been, for nearly all of its history, a money-losing boondoggle, profitable only recently, after being propped up by so much investment from Wall Street and private equity that it resembled less an efficient-markets no-brainer and more a speculative empire of bubbles like Uber and WeWork. The American shale revolution did bring the country “energy independence,” whatever that has been worth, and more abundant oil and gas. It has indeed reshaped the entire geopolitical landscape for fuel, though not enough to strip leverage from Vladimir Putin. But the revolution wasn’t primarily a result of some market-busting breakthrough or an engineering innovation that allowed the industry to print cash. From the start, the cash moved in the other direction; the revolution happened only because enormous sums of money were poured into the project of making it happen.”

Why Fungi Might Really Be Magic (When It Comes to Climate Change) – The New York Times

 — Toby Kiers took long strides across the spongy forest floor, felt the adrenaline rush in her veins and stopped at the spot she had traveled so far to reach. Into the ground went a hollow metal cylinder. Out came a scoop of soil.

Dr. Kiers stuck her nose into the dirt, inhaled its scent, imagined what secrets it contained to help us live on a hotter planet. “What’s under here?” she asked. “What mysteries are we going to unveil?”

The soil was deposited into a clear plastic bag, then labeled with the coordinates of this exact location on Earth.

Dr. Kiers, 45, an evolutionary biologist based at the Free University of Amsterdam, is on a novel mission. She is probing a vast and poorly understood universe of underground fungi that can be vital, in her view, in the era of climate change.

Some species of fungi can store exceptional levels of carbon underground, keeping it out of the air and preventing it from heating up the Earth’s atmosphere. Others help plants survive brutal droughts or fight off pests. There are those especially good at feeding nutrients to crops, reducing the need for chemical fertilizers.

In short, they are what she called “levers” to address the hazards of a warming climate.”

Surprise Deal Would Be Most Ambitious Climate Action Undertaken by U.S. – The New York Times

“WASHINGTON — The $369 billion climate and tax package forged in a surprise deal by Senate Democrats on Wednesday would be the most ambitious action ever taken by the United States to try to stop the planet from catastrophically overheating.

The agreement, which Senate Democrats hope to pass as early as next week, shocked even some who had been involved in the sputtering negotiations over climate legislation during the past year. The announcement of a deal, after many activists had given up hope, almost instantly reset the role of the United States in the global effort to fight climate change.

And it was delivered by Senator Joe Manchin III of West Virginia, the holdout Democrat who had been reviled by environmentalists and some of his own colleagues after he said this month that he could not support a climate bill because of inflation concerns.”

“. . . . . Two weeks ago, when even Mr. Biden seemed to be writing an obituary for climate legislation, a small group of lawmakers continued to work with Mr. Manchin. Several Democrats and climate activists credited Senator John Hickenlooper of Colorado with keeping the lines of communication to Mr. Manchin open.

“When a lot of people said ‘That’s the end’ and everyone’s writing it off, I went to everybody I knew and said, ‘Wait a minute, we can’t quit,” said Mr. Hickenlooper, a onetime geologist for an oil and gas company. “We don’t have a satisfactory alternative.”

Many were wary about continuing negotiations because “they didn’t want to have their heart broken again,” Mr. Hickenlooper said. But, he said, Mr. Manchin insisted that he was still open to a deal.”

David Lindsay:  Senator Hickenlooper of Colorado rescues the climate deal!

Thomas L. Friedman | Biden’s Big, Bold, Surprising Plan for a Green Transition (I Hope) – The New York Times

  Opinion Columnist

“While it’s important that the U.S. maintain its longstanding alliance with Saudi Arabia, I wish President Biden had used Zoom for his recent meeting with the Saudi leadership. It was a bad look and bad energy policy for the U.S. president to fly all the way to Saudi Arabia to plead for more oil output when all he had to do was fly to Houston.

When it comes to energy policy today, Biden is not realistically diagnosing our problems or offering a comprehensive solution. (He has also gotten zero help from the G.O.P.) Suspending the federal gasoline tax or draining our strategic petroleum reserves is not a strategy. They are signals that you have none. America is the world’s largest oil producer — not Russia or Saudi Arabia — and we need to get our act together fast by harmonizing three priorities.

In the short term, we need more oil and gas produced in the cleanest ways, with the least methane leakage, to bring down prices at the pump and help dampen inflation. Also in the short term, we need to produce more oil and gas to export to our NATO allies in Europe that have vowed to get off Russian oil — because if the Europeans do so without an abundant alternative, the global price of oil could go to $200 a barrel next winter and force their citizens to choose between heating and eating.”

Most important, for the short term and the long term, we need to produce as much renewable energy and efficiency as possible to help mitigate climate change, which is helping to ignite dangerously high temperatures around the world this month, among many other weird and scary weather phenomena.

In other words, we need a strategy for a GREEN TRANSITION.”

David Lindsay:  I must admit, I  really liked this article. Sometimes, Friedman has the voice of Saruman. Most of the top comments villify Friedman, for allowing that there are any oil and gas execs who aren’t soulless. But I like the idea of asking them for help.

Here is a comment I fully approve:

Bruce Rozenblit
Kansas City, MO July 26

What most people do not realize is the massive contribution fossil fuels make to, not just our economy, but our civilization. It’s in everything. It’s energy moves everything. We have invested about 250 years to build out fossil infrastructure and it’s going to take the rest of the century to get rid of it. Now I’m no apologist for the oil companies, but they do realize how difficult this transition is going to be. This is an all hands on deck situation where all individuals as well as government must participate. In fact, the demand for electricity is going to increase as we switch transportation over to EV’s and heat our homes with heat pumps, and by a lot. Notice the oil executive made no mention of atomic power. It’s as if he is oblivious to it. The only way we can generate the massive amounts of electricity we will need is to utilize atomic power along with renewables. Realistically, we have no choice. Fortunately, there are advanced reactor designs that are now in the pilot plant stage such as TerraPower. Why isn’t big oil investing in these projects? If oil is on the way out, then why not invest in something that can still make money? It appears they don’t see it that way and want to hold onto those wells. The GOP isn’t on board either with atomic power. Again, they are beholden to big oil. This logjam must be broken.

3 Replies78 Recommended

Robin Kaiser-Schatzlein | Alabama Takes From the Poor and Gives to the Rich – The New York Times

Mr. Kaiser-Schatzlein, a journalist, writes frequently about economic policy, inequality and criminal justice. For this essay, he spent four months reporting on fines and fees in Alabama.

“In states like Alabama, almost every interaction a person has with the criminal justice system comes with a financial cost. If you’re assigned to a pretrial program to reduce your sentence, each class attended incurs a fee. If you’re on probation, you’ll pay a fee to take your mandatory urine test. If you appear in drug court, you will face more fees, sometimes dozens of times a year. Often, you don’t even have to break the law; you’ll pay fees to pull a public record or apply for a permit. For poor people, this system is a trap, sucking them into a cycle of sometimes unpayable debt that constrains their lives and almost guarantees financial hardship.

While almost every state in the country, both red and blue, levies fines and fees that fall disproportionately on the bottom rung of the income ladder, the situation in Alabama is far more dramatic, thanks to the peculiarities of its Constitution. Over a century ago, wealthy landowners and businessmen rewrote the Constitution to cap taxes permanently. As a result, today, Alabama has one of the cruelest tax systems in the country.”

The Barbados Rebellion: An Island Nation’s Fight for Climate Justice – The New York Times

“Late on May 31, 2018, five days after she was sworn in as prime minister of Barbados, Mia Mottley and her top advisers gathered in the windowless anteroom of her administrative office in Bridgetown, the capital, for a call that could determine the fate of her island nation. The group settled into uncomfortable straight-backed chairs around a small mahogany table, staring at framed posters of Barbados’s windmills and sugar cane fields. Mottley, who was then 52, can appear mischievous in the moments before her bluntest declarations, but on this evening her steely side showed. She placed her personal cellphone on speaker and dialed a number in Washington for the International Monetary Fund. As arranged, Christine Lagarde, the managing director, answered.”

OAN, a Dependable Trump Promoter, Faces a ‘Death Blow’ – The New York Times

“The future of One America News, which established itself as a powerful voice in conservative media by promoting some of the most outlandish falsehoods about the 2020 election, is in serious doubt as major carriers drop it from their lineups and defamation lawsuits threaten to drain its finances.

By the end of this week, the cable network will have lost its presence in some 20 million homes this year. The most recent blow came from Verizon, which will stop carrying OAN on its Fios television service starting Saturday. That will starve the network of a major stream of revenue: the fees it collects from Verizon, which counts roughly 3.5 million cable subscribers. In April, OAN was dropped by AT&T’s DirecTV, which has about 15 million subscribers.”

The Default Tech Settings You Should Turn Off Right Away – The New York Times

“With iPhones, users can open the settings app and enter the privacy menu to change how they share data about their app use and location.

  • Select Tracking and toggle off Allow Apps to Request to Track. This tells all apps to not share data with third parties for marketing purposes.

  • Select Apple Advertising and toggle off Personalized Ads so that Apple can’t use information about you to serve targeted ads on its App Store, Apple News and Stocks.

  • Select Analytics & Improvements and toggle off Share iPhone Analytics to prevent the iPhone from sending device data to Apple to improve its products.

  • Select Location Services, tap System Services and toggle off iPhone Analytics and Routing & Traffic to prevent the device from sharing geodata with Apple for improving Apple Maps.indsay

David Lindsay. I do not agree with the assumption here that you should not let the corp. have any data to improve their services. The first point is the only one that I categorically agree with. “Select Tracking and toggle off Allow Apps to Request to Track. This tells all apps to not share data with third parties for marketing purposes.”   You should not go this far.

Paul Krugman | The Dystopian Myths of Red America – The New York Times

Opinion Columnist

“Desensitization is an amazing thing. At this point most political observers simply accept it as a fact of life that an overwhelming majority of Republicans accept the Big Lie that the 2020 election was stolen — a claim with nothing to support it, not even plausible anecdotes.

What I don’t think is fully appreciated, however, is that the Big Lie is embedded in an even bigger lie: the claim that the Democratic Party is controlled by radical leftists aiming to destroy America as we know it. And this lie in turn derives a lot of its persuasiveness from a grotesquely distorted view of what life is like in blue America.

Urban elites are constantly accused of not understanding Real America™. And, to be fair, most big-city residents probably don’t have a good sense of what life is like in rural areas and small towns, although it’s doubtful whether this gap justified the immense number of news reports interviewing Trump voters sitting in diners.”