Big Win On Climate, Says McKibben

Early offshore action in Texas. the rigs are bigger now—so big that a federal court found yesterday that they’re endangering the climate.

His first book was an early harbinger that we wish had changed the world. Now, decades later, his newsletter is worth subscribing to. When Bill McKibben says something has gone right, we cannot wait to read it:

Something went right!?

Through no fault of its own, Biden’s team gets a big win on climate

Last summer the Biden administration granted the largest set of offshore oil leases in American history. The ironies abounded—Biden had insisted during his campaign that he would not be doing this (“And by the way, no more drilling on federal lands, period. Period, period, period,” he’d explained during the New Hampshire primary); it was the Interior Department that officially sold the leases, headed by a secretary, Deb Haaland, that environmentalists had fought like crazy to get confirmed.

At the time, the administration claimed that it had no choice: its hands had supposedly been tied by a ruling from a Louisiana court that sided with 13 GOP attorney generals to force a lease. Attorneys in the environmental movement disagreed, saying that the Biden administration could simply have delayed, in order to do a full assessment of the climate impact. They were disregarded—perhaps in part because the administration was dealing with a spike in gasoline prices and feared the optics, or because it was still in sucking-up mode to Prime Minister Manchin and didn’t want to give him offense.

Whatever the reason, it turned out the environmentalists were right and the administration wrong—yesterday a federal court ruled that indeed the lease sale should be postponed until that climate assessment could be conducted. And when it is conducted, it will clearly show that drilling for more oil and gas will increase the planet’s temperature. (This is called ‘physics’).

All honor to the crew at EarthJustice who brought the suit, aided by groups like Friends of the Earth, the Center for Biological Diversity, Healthy Gulf, and the Sierra Club. Assuming that the Biden administration doesn’t appeal (and if they do, no tender concern for Manchin’s feelings will dampen the howls from the environmental movement) and that industry can’t find some other legal angle to pursue, this buys time—time for, if nothing else, renewable energy to keep getting cheaper. At least for the moment, that oil and gas is safely stored under the Gulf, where the good Lord put it.

That wasn’t the only win last week. The Los Angeles City Council took big steps toward banning new drilling within city limits, a federal appeals court struck down some key approvals for the proposed Mountain Valley pipeline, and Third Act launched a major campaign against the big banks funding the fossil fuel industry. (Thanks to CBS for its coverage this morning)…

Read the whole newsletter here.

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