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Elizabeth Warren On Climate Plan: ‘No Coal Lobbyists For Head Of EPA

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Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) promised to make the Green New Deal the centerpiece of her administration’s climate policy if she’s elected president. 

But that’d be a crowning legislative achievement. On her first day in the White House, Warren said, she’d halt mining and drilling leases on federal lands and set up a program at the Interior Department to create 10,000 jobs repairing infrastructure in national parks. 

Yet the biggest change might be who she would nominate to lead the agency President Donald Trump has zealously put in the hands of the industries it regulates. 

“No coal lobbyists for head of EPA,” Warren said at her CNN town hall Monday night. 

The remark is a reference to Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler, who until mid-2017 worked as a top lobbyist for the influential coal baron Robert Murray. Warren has zinged him before. In a January Facebook post, she said the anti-corruption bill she unveiled last August would make it so Wheeler “wouldn’t be allowed to get anywhere near that agency — much less run it.”

The last presidential campaign cycle devoted less than six minutes of debate time to climate change. Since then, unprecedented storms and wildfires and increasingly dire warnings from the United Nations and federal scientists sent the issue surging to the top of voter priorities in surveys. It’s already becoming a bigger issue this election. Before facing a question on her climate plan, Warren raised the issue at least twice unprompted on Monday night. 

Warren hinted that climate change ― which she has yet to outline in as much detail as her proposals on student debt, housing and monopolies ― would take a lead role in her foreign policy. 

“The United States is a world leader on climate. We are. We’re just leading in the wrong direction right now,” she said. “It’s not just that we’re doing wrong … we’re giving cover to the rest of the world to everyone who doesn’t want to have to make changes in their economy.” 

She added: “We’re giving them cover. That stops on the first day of my administration.”

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Environment

Meghan Calligraphy Is Still Perfect

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Most people, if they were to become princesses unexpectedly, would really have to brush up on their skills. You know, curtsying, wearing stilettos even when you’re tired, behaving at a fancy dinner, all that stuff. But when Meghan Marklejoined the royal family in 2018, she really had most of the important stuff down pat. We know this because she documented her facility with so many essential princess skills on her lifestyle blog, the Tig (RIP). One skill in particular was a recurring theme: her talent for calligraphy and her love of letters.

Since Meghan became the Duchess of Sussex, there haven’t been too many opportunities for the public to see her great handwriting, except for the occasional craft session and, of course, some bananas. On Thursday, we got one opportunity to glimpse her princess handwriting when Luminary Bakery, a London-based social enterprise that Meghan featured in the issue of Vogueshe guest edited, posted a picture of a thank you note to their Instagram.

One important development evident from the photo is the extremely royal stationery Meghan is using nowadays. There’s a monogram featuring an “M” with what looks to be a little tiara adorning it. She sent it along with a notebook engraved with “Forces for Change,” the theme of her Vogue issue. The note is perfectly polite and enthusiastic. “The work you do, what you represent to the community, the spirit of the women there—you all embody what it means to be ‘forces for change,’” she wrote.

Luminary, which opened in 2016, exists to provide employment opportunities to women who have experienced domestic violence, homelessness, incarceration, or sex trafficking. Meghan featured the company, which runs a cafe and does wholesale baked goods, in her issue of British Vogue, and mentioned them in her editor’s letter.

While Meghan’s thank-you note is gorgeous and proper, it’s not completely perfect. The second line on the envelope is a little wonky. It’s almost as though Meghan felt the need to remind us that she’s human, too.

More Great Stories from Vanity Fair

— Our September cover story: how Kristen Stewart keeps cool
— Marianne Williamson explains her brand of magical thinking
— The surprisingly normal way Prince George celebrated his sixth birthday
— Lil Nas X breaks a major record—and drops some golden tweets too
— Why Samantha Morton doesn’t regret working with Woody Allen

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Environment

Fracking tsar quits after six months and blames eco activists

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The government’s fracking tsar has quit the post after just six months, claiming policy relating to the controversial process means there is “no purpose” to her job.

Natascha Engel told the business secretary, Greg Clark, that developing the industry would be “an impossible task” despite its “enormous potential”. In her resignation letter, she said environmental activists had been “highly successful” in encouraging the government to curb fracking.

Engel, a former Labour MP, wrote the letter following two weeks of protests by the Extinction Rebellion group, which brought parts of London to a standstill with demands to cut emissions to zero by 2025.

She wrote: “A perfectly viable and exciting new industry that could help meet our carbon reduction targets, make us energy secure and provide jobs in parts of the country that really need them is in danger of withering on the vine – not for any technical or safety reasons, but because of a political decision.”

Engel complained that a traffic light system that halts fracking when a tremor with a magnitude of 0.5 is recorded “amounts to a de facto ban”.

“The UK could be on the cusp of an energy revolution the like of which we have not seen since the discovery of North Sea oil and gas,” she wrote.

Protesters stand outside Cuadrilla’s Preston Road fracking site near Blackpool.

Protesters stand outside Cuadrilla’s Preston Road fracking site near Blackpool. Photograph: Hannah Mckay/Reuters

, she said, had the potential to create jobs, economic security and provide a cleaner alternative to coal and biomass.

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Critics say the amount of water needed for fracking is damaging to the environment and claim it releases dangerous chemicals. They also say governments should focus on renewable energy.

Engel’s resignation letter said: “The UK is currently spending £7bn a year on importing gas – money that is not being used to build schools, hospitals or fix the potholes in our roads. Developing our own shale gas industry would mean money going into the Treasury rather than out.”

She added: “We know shale gas can be extracted safely. We have the best regulations and regulators in the world. We know the positive impact it has on local communities, but we are choosing to listen to a powerful environmental lobby campaigning against fracking rather than allowing science and evidence to guide our policy making.”

She said “apart from its uniquely awful name” the process is “materially no different” from other methods of hydrocarbon extraction.

“We are listening to a small but loud environmental movement that opposes in principle all extraction of fossil fuels,” Engel wrote. “The campaign against fracking has been highly successful in raising the profile and filling the coffers of some NGOs, but they do not represent local residents nor the wider population.”

In a statement following her resignation, Engel said: “I hope there will be a rethink sooner rather than later which will see policy guided by science, rather than fear-mongering.

“There is much to be optimistic about how developing technologies – including fracking – can help us accelerate the reduction in CO2 and grow our economy. Sadly today only those who shout get heard.”

At this critical time…
… we can’t turn away from climate change. The Guardian’s environmental coverage reports the scientific facts, social consequences and political choices that are shaping the fate of our planet. As the world’s leaders turn their backs on the environment, we are at a crisis point. Individual consumer choices are important, but we need collective action to achieve the systemic change that will really make a difference. Our pioneering and our fearless reporting on the environment can play a vital role in that. But we need our readers’ support.

More people are reading and supporting our independent, investigative reporting than ever before. And unlike many news organisations, we have chosen an approach that allows us to keep our journalism accessible to all, regardless of where they live or what they can afford.

The Guardian is editorially independent, meaning we set our own agenda. Our journalism is free from commercial bias and not influenced by billionaire owners, politicians or shareholders. No one edits our editor. No one steers our opinion. This is important as it enables us to give a voice to those less heard, challenge the powerful and hold them to account. It’s what makes us different to so many others in the media, at a time when factual, honest reporting is critical.

Every contribution we receive from readers like you, big or small, goes directly into funding our journalism. This support enables us to keep working as we do – but we must maintain and build on it for every year to come.

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Environment

North American drilling boom threatens major blow to climate efforts – report

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More than half of the world’s new oil and gas pipelines are located in North America, with a boom in US oil and gas drilling set to deliver a major blow to efforts to slow climate change, a new report has found.

Of a total 302 pipelines in some stage of development around the world, 51% are in North America, according to Global Energy Monitor, which tracks fossil fuel activity. A total of $232.5bn in capital spending has been funneled into these North American pipeline projects, with more than $1tn committed towards all oil and gas infrastructure.

If built, these projects would increase the global number of pipelines by nearly a third and mark out a path of several decades of substantial oil and gas use.

In the US alone, the natural-gas output enabled by the pipelines would result in an additional 559 million tons of planet-warming carbon dioxide each year by 2040, above 2017 levels, according to Global Energy Monitor, citing International Energy Agency figures.

This surge in emissions is set to take place at a time when scientists have warned of punishing heatwaves, floods and economic damage if greenhouse gases are not drastically cut. A landmark UN report released last year warned that global emissions must be halved by 2030 and essentially nullified by 2050 to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.

“This is a whole energy system not compatible with global climate survival,” said Ted Nance, co-author of the Global Energy Monitor report. “These pipelines are locking in huge emissions for 40 to 50 years at a time, with the scientists saying we have to move in 10 years. These pipelines are a bet that the world won’t get serious about climate change, allowing the incumbency of oil and gas to strengthen.”

New gas pipelines outnumber oil pipelines by around four to one, bolstered by a glut of abundant natural gas that is swiftly replacing coal as the leading electricity source for US homes and businesses.

The most active area for pipelines is the Permian basin in west Texas, a sprawling formation that contains huge deposits of oil and gas. Other active zones include the shale formations in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia, and the Canadian tar sands of Alberta.

Several of these pipeline projects have spurred bitter protests from climate and indigenous activists, such as the Dakota Access project, which resulted in violent clashes at the Standing Rock reservation in North Dakota. The extension to the Keystone pipeline, which would link the Alberta tar sands to refineries on the Gulf of Mexico, has also aroused opposition that Donald Trump has vowed to sweep aside by pushing the project forward.

While domestic energy use increased last year – Americans consumed 4% more energy than in 2017, according to US government figures – the boom in oil and gas pipelines is largely set to cater for the US’ increasing role as an energy exporter. Nance said there are “unrealistic expectations” over exports of liquified natural gas to Asia, in particular, due to an increase in gas production there and concerns over climate change.

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International goals to limit global warming to 2 degrees celsius (3.6F) above pre-industrial times will be “difficult or impossible to achieve” with the completion of the new pipelines, according to Heidi Peltier, an energy expert at the University of Massachusetts, who was not involved in the new research.

“From a climate perspective, this is very bad news,” she said. “What we need is increased investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency, not increased investments in fossil fuel infrastructure.”

At this critical time…
… we can’t turn away from climate change. The Guardian’s environmental coverage reports the scientific facts, social consequences and political choices that are shaping the fate of our planet. As the world’s leaders turn their backs on the environment, we are at a crisis point. Individual consumer choices are important, but we need collective action to achieve the systemic change that will really make a difference. Our pioneering and our fearless reporting on the environment can play a vital role in that. But we need our readers’ support.

More people are reading and supporting our independent, investigative reporting than ever before. And unlike many news organisations, we have chosen an approach that allows us to keep our journalism accessible to all, regardless of where they live or what they can afford.

The Guardian is editorially independent, meaning we set our own agenda. Our journalism is free from commercial bias and not influenced by billionaire owners, politicians or shareholders. No one edits our editor. No one steers our opinion. This is important as it enables us to give a voice to those less heard, challenge the powerful and hold them to account. It’s what makes us different to so many others in the media, at a time when factual, honest reporting is critical.

Every contribution we receive from readers like you, big or small, goes directly into funding our journalism. This support enables us to keep working as we do – but we must maintain and build on it for every year to come.


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