Inside the Greenhouse is a monthly update on FCNL’s environmental advocacy and the emerging climate issues that impact our work.
Congress Begins Work on Permitting Reform
Following its August recess, Congress returned to Washington D.C. this week to address the issue of permitting reform for existing energy infrastructure projects.
As part of the deal to pass the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), Senate Democrats agreed to Sen. Joe Manchin’s (WV) demand that Congress consider reforms that would streamline and accelerate the existing permitting process for energy infrastructure projects.
There is, however, little agreement (and a great deal of concern) among Democrats on Manchin’s proposal. Environmental groups opposed Manchin’s permitting reform proposal, which they see as favoring a pipeline—the Mountain Valley Pipeline—that runs across the senator’s home state of West Virginia.
Environmental groups are also concerned about the potential impact of permitting reform on marginalized and lower-income communities.
FCNL joined a letter from a coalition of environmental advocacy groups stating our opposition to this permitting reform effort. While improvements to the permitting process will be needed to build out clean energy projects, the implications for environmental justice are too stark to ignore.
Historic Floods Devastate Pakistan
Flooding from monsoon rains in Pakistan has killed more than 1,000 people and left approximately one-third of the country underwater. The rains have washed away roads, crops, homes, bridges, and other infrastructure.
While numerous factors have contributed to the extreme flooding, a warming atmosphere caused by climate change has increased the odds of extreme rain. Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Pakistan’s foreign minister, has called the situation “a climate disaster of biblical proportions.” The United States is providing $30 million in humanitarian assistance to support those affected by the floods.
The flooding is prime evidence that developing countries will endure the worst impacts of climate change, despite relatively low emissions levels. Pakistan emits less than 1% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.
Leaders of developing countries are seeking funding from developed countries for the “loss and damage” associated with climate-fueled heat waves, floods, droughts, and sea-level rise. This is expected to be a key issue at the COP 27 climate conference in November.
In the last six months, FCNL constituents sent 17,442 letters in support of bold climate action!
News and Updates
Europe Continues to Grapple with Energy Crisis
The United Kingdom and European nations continue to wrestle with energy security amidst Russia’s war in Ukraine. Liz Truss, the new prime minister of the United Kingdom, has announced a multi-billion pound relief package to help Britons impacted from rising energy prices, which are anticipated to rise by 80% this winter. Prime Minister Truss is also considering lifting the current ban on hydraulic fracturing, issuing approvals for new oil and gas drilling in the North Sea, and freezing gas and electricity prices for the next two years. Next week, EU officials will meet to discuss a gas price cap.
California Faces Record Heat Wave
California’s state grid operator urged residents to reduce their energy use this week and warned of rolling blackouts in the midst of a record heat wave. As California works to ban combustion-powered engines by 2035 and transition away from natural gas, bolstering and improving the power grid will be of utmost importance.
What We’re Reading:
- Climate disasters in developing countries remind us that the western economies must offer immediate assistance.
- Greenland saw its largest ice sheet melt in the past week.
- The Energy Department announced a new plan to cut costs of geothermal energy systems by 90% by 2035.
- The White House released a new “Climate Mapping for Resilience and Adaptation” tool to help local communities assess climate hazards.