Lithium Mining Projects May Not Be Green Friendly – The New York Times

Ivan Penn and 

“Atop a long-dormant volcano in northern Nevada, workers are preparing to start blasting and digging out a giant pit that will serve as the first new large-scale lithium mine in the United States in more than a decade — a new domestic supply of an essential ingredient in electric car batteries and renewable energy.

The mine, constructed on leased federal lands, could help address the near total reliance by the United States on foreign sources of lithium.

But the project, known as Lithium Americas, has drawn protests from members of a Native American tribe, ranchers and environmental groups because it is expected to use billions of gallons of precious ground water, potentially contaminating some of it for 300 years, while leaving behind a giant mound of waste.

“Blowing up a mountain isn’t green, no matter how much marketing spin people put on it,” said Max Wilbert, who has been living in a tent on the proposed mine site while two lawsuits seeking to block the project wend their way through federal courts.  . . . “

A Bet 20 Years Ago Made It the Exxon of Green Power – The New York Times

“MADRID — In the winter of 2015, three directors of a Connecticut electric company met with a potential acquirer: a determined Spanish utility executive named José Ignacio Sánchez Galán, who surprised them with a bold vision for America’s utility industry.

“He was very clear then that he saw the U.S. as having enormous potential in renewable energy,” said John L. Lahey, who was chairman of the company, United Illuminating. “This guy six years ago was already way ahead of where the U.S. was.”

Mr. Galán clinched that deal for United Illuminating for $3 billion. His company, Iberdrola, is now poised, with a Danish partner, to begin constructing the first large-scale offshore wind farm in the United States, in waters off Massachusetts. Over all, Iberdrola and its subsidiaries reach 24 U.S. states and have investments in countries from Britain to Brazil to Australia.

For the past 20 years, since he took over Iberdrola, based in Bilbao with 37,000 employees, Mr. Galán has been on a mission to upend the electrical utility industry, a fragmented collection of companies tied to aging coal- and oil-burning generators.  . . . “

Tesla’s Latest Solar Stumble: Big Price Increases – The New York Times

“On an October evening five years ago, Elon Musk used a former set for “Desperate Housewives” to show off Tesla’s latest innovation: roof shingles that can generate electricity from the sun without unsightly solar panels.

After delays, Tesla began rolling out the shingles in a big way this year, but it is already encountering a major problem. The company is hitting some customers with price increases before installation that are tens of thousands of dollars higher than earlier quotes, angering early adopters and raising big questions about how Tesla, which is better known for its electric cars, is running its once dominant rooftop solar business.

Dr. Peter Quint was eager to install Tesla’s solar shingles on his 4,000-square-foot home in Portland, Ore., until the company raised the price to $112,000, from $75,000, in a terse email. When he called Tesla for an explanation, he was put on hold for more than three hours.

“I said, ‘This isn’t real, right?’” said Dr. Quint, whose specialty is pediatric critical care. “The price started inching up. We could deal with that. Then this. At that price, in our opinion, it’s highway robbery.”  . . . :

Inside Biden’s Reversal on Refugees – The New York Times

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/04/20/us/politics/biden-refugees.html?action=click&module=Top%20Stories&pgtype=Homepage

“Last Friday, that wait was finally over. But it was not what anyone outside the White House expected: Mr. Trump’s cap would remain in place.

“The admission of up to 15,000 refugees remains justified by humanitarian concerns and is otherwise in the national interest,” Mr. Biden wrote in a presidential memo to the State Department. Once Mr. Trump’s cap was filled, the memo said, the ceiling could be raised again “as appropriate.”

Instead of making good on his promise to significantly expand refugee entry into the United States, Mr. Biden was sticking to the cap engineered by Stephen Miller, the architect of Mr. Trump’s immigration policies.

“This reflects Team Biden’s awareness that the border flood will cause record midterm losses,” Mr. Miller tweeted, adding that if it were still up to him, “Refugee cap should be reduced to ZERO.”

The idea that Mr. Miller and Mr. Biden were in agreement about anything was anathema to most of the president’s supporters, many of whom flew into a rage.   . . . “

Margaret Renkl | We Were Born to Be Wild – The New York Times

” . . . . During my childhood in the 1960s, it was common to see people casually throwing trash out of their car windows, but these days human indifference to the natural world tends to be better hidden, even from ourselves.

Market forces have worked hard to make sure we don’t notice the depredations we’re complicit in: the microplastics that pollute our waterways every time we wash a fleece jacket or a polyester blouse, the toilet tissue that’s destroying the boreal forest, the poisons we spray on our yards — up to 10 times as much, per acre, as farmers use — because they are marketed to us as benign “applications.”

As I waited in line at a garden center last week, I listened to the store owner telling another customer about a “treatment” she could spray on every bush and tree in her yard to “take care of” any kind of bug that might be feeding on them. He didn’t tell her it would also kill butterflies and bees and obscure bird grasshoppers. He didn’t tell her she would also be poisoning the songbirds that would feed on the poisoned insects or the predators that would feed on the weakened songbirds.

Perhaps she’ll remember making a “lantern” from a Mason jar when she was a child, and then maybe she’ll wonder why there are no lightning bugs for her own children to catch. But I wouldn’t bet on it.   . . . “

Big Oil laggard Exxon faces a new climate threat from Wall Street

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KEY POINTS
  • Exxon Mobil has been a laggard in the oil and gas sector and has seen its market value decline by hundreds of billions of dollars.
  • Pension giant CalSTRS is supporting a new activist fund effort to replace Exxon board members.
  • Activists see this as a perfect time to seek short-term value creation in a better run company as well as more long-term support from investors if the company becomes clearer about its climate plan.

In this article

VIDEO05:41
CalSTRS’s Chris Ailman on calling for company overhaul at Exxon Mobil

Exxon Mobil is poised for a new role in a changing world it doesn’t want: target and test case for a new form of combined attack from activist hedge funds and long-term impact investors focused on sustainability and climate change. A newly formed activist investor group, Engine No. 1, announced plans on Monday to seek four board seats at the oil and gas giant, and underlying the effort are both short-term and long-term goals to change the way Exxon approaches the energy business at a time of rapid transition forced by fears about carbon emissions.

The activist firm — which includes founders from successful activist hedge funds including Partner Fund Management and JANA Partners — thinks the time is ripe for an overhaul of Exxon’s management. The market stats cited in its letter to Exxon’s board highlight a significant drop in operating performance and “dramatic” decline in Exxon’s stock value in recent years as many investors have lost faith in the company.

Source: Big Oil laggard Exxon faces a new climate threat from Wall Street

Exxon faces proxy fight launched by new activist firm Engine No. 1 | Reuters

“(Reuters) -A new investment firm is taking aim at one of corporate America’s most iconic brands, pressing energy giant Exxon Mobil Corp to overhaul itself by focusing more on clean energy to improve its financial performance.

Engine No. 1 is being supported by pension fund California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS) as it pushes the battered energy company, valued at $176 billion, to spend its cash better, preserve its dividend, and refresh its board.

“The industry and the world it operates in are changing and … Exxon Mobil must change as well,” Engine No. 1 wrote to Exxon’s board, adding “given the company’s long-running underperformance and the challenges it faces, it is time for shareholders to weigh in.”

Exxon is reviewing the hedge fund’s letter, an Exxon spokesman said.

The U.S. oil company this year reversed course on a massive oil and gas expansion program, cutting 30% from its spending plan and proposing a budget next year that is $4 billion to $7 billion below its outlays this year. It also plans to reduce its workforce by 14,000 people over the next two years as losses this year reached $2.37 billion.

Engine No. 1 faces a tough road. Exxon has beaten back past activist efforts to change its climate stance and to split the roles of chairman and chief executive.

But industry analysts also said the time may be right for traditional activists’ interest to overlap with climate activists’ interest and force Exxon to act. “There is a need for a fairly active reset right now,” said Andrew Logan, senior director of oil and gas at Ceres, a non profit organization that works with institutional investors and companies. “Everyone starts at the bottom of the hill with Exxon but Engine No. 1’s director nominees is not a list of flaky people.”

The activist investment firm, launched last week by two hedge fund industry veterans, said it plans to nominate four directors to Exxon’s 10-person board who have expertise in clean technology and running energy companies: Gregory Goff, Kaisa Hietala, Alexander Karsner, and Anders Runevad.

“Exxon’s refusal to adequately address climate risk is of serious concern to many shareholders and is a sign of significant governance issues. The company’s board needs overhauling. We’re looking forward to reviewing the slate of new directors,” said New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli, whose fund owns a roughly $300 million stake, according to Refinitiv data.” . . .

Source: Exxon faces proxy fight launched by new activist firm Engine No. 1 | Reuters

Thomas L. Friedman | We Need a High Wall With a Big Gate on the Southern Border – The New York Times

Opinion Columnist

Credit…Rafal Milach/Magnum Photos

“After reading as much as I can about the latest surge in illegal immigration along our southern border, I’m still not clear how much is seasonal, how much is triggered by President Biden’s announcement that he was halting construction of Donald Trump’s border wall and reviewing Trump’s asylum policies, and how much is just the lure of jobs in a rapidly vaccinating United States.

But this latest flood of illegal immigrants and asylum-seekers — more than 170,000 apprehended in March alone, including thousands of children, mostly fleeing chaos in Central America — only reinforces my view that the right border policy is a high wall with a big gate.

I wish we could take in everyone suffering in the world and give each a shot at the American dream, but we can’t while maintaining our own social cohesion, which is already fraying badly enough. So, making immigration policy today requires a tough-minded balance between hardheartedness and compassion.

If we just emphasize the high wall, and wear cruelty as a badge of honor, as Trump did, we lose out on the huge benefits of immigration. But if all we do is focus, as many on the left do, on the evils of a wall and ignore the principles of a big gate — that would-be immigrants and asylum-seekers need to get in line, ring our doorbell and enter legally, and those who don’t should be quickly evicted — we will also lose out on the huge benefits of immigration.

Why? Because so many Americans will think that the border is open and out of control that they will elect leaders who will choke off all immigration, which is the lifeblood of our country. Have no doubt, a seemingly out-of-control border would be a godsend for the Trump G.O.P. — an emotional club even more evocative than the mantra “Defund the police” with which to beat Democratic candidates in the midterms.

Already, a recent ABC News/Ipsos poll found that 57 percent of Americans disapprove of Biden’s handling of the border.”   . . .

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT Comment:
Bravo and thank you Thomas Friedman. I strongly second this opinion piece. Joe Biden is doing a great job on many fronts. Since I think climate change is an existential threat, Joe Biden gets my support for taking this giant threat seriously. But I, like most Americans, want to end illegal immigration, and see a regulated immigration system that serves the needs and desires of the country. Biden will be handing the government back to the Republican party of Trump, and the anti-science modern versions of the know nothings and white supremacists set back by Abraham Lincoln. I expect Friedman understands that his high wall, is really a hardened wall, which isn’t always a physical wall at all. There are plenty of technologies and policy choices to harden the border, without the environmental degredation of a physical wall. I would add to his list of ideas, that we amend the 14th amendment to do away with automatic citizenship for even illegals and tourists born here. We need to expand our guest worker program, so that guest workers are not exploited by rapacious employers. We need to clean up this poitical hot potato of illegal immigration, so we can focus on the host of other problems that threaten the United States and the world.

Their Lawsuit Prevented 400,000 Deportations. Now It’s Biden’s Call. – The New York Times

 
 

“Cristina Morales got the news that she was going to lose her legal right to live and work in the United States via text. The news devastated Morales. But the texts from her friends arrived while Morales, who was then 37, was at the Catholic school where she ran the after-school program. She believed that part of her job was to create a safe place for children, so she said nothing about her despair at work. “You need to have a happy face,” she told me. “No matter how bad you feel.”

Morales kept up the pretense in the car with her family on the way home. As her 11-year-old son and 13-year-old daughter sang in the back seat, she swallowed her tears and tried not to look at her husband. Their children had no idea that Morales was not an American citizen. She and her husband didn’t talk about her status because they didn’t want to taint the kids’ lives with fear. Only a handful of people knew that Morales was a beneficiary of a program called Temporary Protected Status (T.P.S.), which allows some immigrants to reside in the United States while their home countries are in crisis. About 411,000 immigrants had T.P.S. in 2020. More than half of them came from El Salvador, like Morales. The rest emigrated from Haiti, Honduras, Nepal, Nicaragua, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria or Yemen.

Less than a year after President Donald Trump took office, his administration began to dismantle the program. Over the course of eight months in 2017 and 2018, the Department of Homeland Security ordered the departure of 98 percent of T.P.S. recipients by canceling the designation for every country except Somalia, South Sudan, Syria and Yemen. In a January 2018 news release, the Department of Homeland Security announced Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen’s decision to terminate T.P.S. for El Salvador, stating that “the original conditions” that prompted the designation in 2001 “no longer exist.” That’s when Morales received the life-changing texts.” . . .

David Lindsay Jr.Hamden, CT | NYT Comment:

Thank you Marcela Valdes for a complicated and depressing but well reported story. Just yesterday, I called for closing the US border to all illegal immigration, and yet, in this article, you reminded me of all the damage we did in Central America in the last 50 years in the name of anti-communism. There is plenty of blood on our hands, and in many ways, we contributed mightily to the failed states that now push thousands of their people to seek safety here. This story, much of which I once knew, as a young resister to the war in Vietnam and and critic of our support of fascists in Central and South America. The extraordinary problem, is how do you fix such broken countries, when our money and support was often part of the problem, not the solution. We need, perhaps, to set some limit to how many refugees from the south we will accommodate, while making generous, our commitment to restoring order and democracy in these states whose failure we were partly responsible for.

David Lindsay Jr is the author of the Tay Son Rebellion about 18th century Vietnam, and blogs at InconvenientNews.Net.

Bret Stephens | Biden Should Finish the Wall – The New York Times

” . . . But the administration would be foolish to suppose the surge will recede on its own. The years of relative economic prosperity in Mexico that, for a time, led to a net outflow of Mexican migrants from the U.S. are over, thanks to a combination of drug cartels, a pandemic and the misgovernance of its inept populist presidentGuatemalaHondurasEl Salvador and Nicaragua are failing states. A “Plan Colombia”-style package of security assistance could help. But it will cost billions and probably take a decade for its effects to be felt.

In the meantime, the United States risks a version of the European migration crisis of 2015. That’s the one that contributed heavily to the Brexit vote, turbocharged the rise of far-right parties like France’s National Front and the Alternative for Germany, and paved the way to Trump’s election.

There’s little question that our own migration crisis is a political boon for immigration restrictionists. The wonder is why a serious Democratic administration would aid and abet their cause.

It’s also putting the interests of comprehensive immigration reform further out of reach. Congress has not passed a significant immigration bill in over three decades. Joe Biden came to office with an opportunity to get a bipartisan accord, but no Republican will sign on to legislation that widens the doors to legal immigrants, much less one that offers some form of amnesty to illegal ones, without a serious plan for border security. Nothing accomplishes that more visibly than a wall.

For Democrats, that’s an opportunity to defuse the political bomb Republicans would love to plant right under them. And it’s a jobs-creating infrastructure program to boot.

Will a wall solve all of our immigration problems? Hardly. It will take years to build, and some practical, regulatory and legal hurdles might be hard to surmount. But for anyone who hopes for America to remain a proud nation of immigrants, it has to be a part of the solution.”  -30-

David Lindsay Jr.

David Lindsay Jr.Hamden, CT | NYT Comment:

Thank you Bret for daring to think this through. You are right that if Biden isn’t stronger on illegal immigration, he will hand the government back to the Trumpsters. I don’t agree we should finish the wall with steel and bricks, that would be an environmental disaster. But I do agree that Biden has to secure the border, or probably lose power in the next few elections.

The list of reforms is daunting, but not impossible. We need e-verification of workers, and enforce that businesses can’t use illegals without permission and worker protections. We need to legalize or decriminalize all addictive drugs, to stop the gross drug war profits from destabilizing governments on both sides of the wall. As well as a US Marshall plan against climate change and to create new jobs in the US, we need another to help our neighbors to the south. We need to amend the 14th amendment, so you can’t gain citizenship here simply by being born here by either illegals, guest workers, or tourists. Family planning and zero or negative population growth are going to have to part of US foreign and domestic policy, to reduce humans to a sustainable number, and make room for other species, that are disappearing at an alarming rate.

You are right that Biden should finish the wall, but he should do it with all the ideas above, not physical barriers that will cause more endangered species to die off.

David Lindsay Jr is the author of the Tay Son Rebellion about Vietnam, and blogs at InconvenientNews.Net.