The main purpose of this ongoing blog will be to track planetary extreme or record temperatures related to climate change. Any reports I see of ETs will be listed below the main topic of the day. I’ll refer to extreme or record temperatures as ETs (not extraterrestrials).😉
Main Topic: Why D.C. Statehood Would Be Good For The Climate
Dear Diary. President Biden will be facing a log jam of bills not getting passed by the Senate in April if the filibuster (which requires a supermajority of 60 out of 100 votes) is not discarded. The litmus test for Republican senators is whether or not they will support a massive voting rights bill, which will come to the floor of the Senate for a vote, probably within the next two weeks. If there is no Republican support the old filibuster rule may very well go the way of the dinosaurs.
Even if there is no more than a simple majority of 50 Democratic senators (+ Vice President Kamala Harris to break ties), there would be no wiggle room at all for decent the next two years. There is one other big item that could change these political dynamics. Washington D.C. statehood is seriously being considered as well as that for Puerto Rico. Should these two territories get statehood an additional four seats would be added to the Senate, or two per additional state. Both of these regions vote heavily progressively democratic, so it would be very likely, should both areas get statehood, an additional four Democrats would be added to the Senate.
Should D.C. and/or Puerto Rico get statehood this would be great news for fighting our climate war going well beyond Biden’s administration into the 2030s. Such changes would likely keep the U.S. Senate in democratic hands for a longer time period, thus additional measures beyond the huge green infrastructure bill would be able to get passed more easily without being watered down through compromise. That’s something that all of my green environmental friends can root for.
Here is a recently penned Washington Post opinion piece on D.C. statehood that doesn’t mention the environment but encapsulates history behind the push for the measure and what it means for its residents:
D.C. statehood is about more than getting a vote
Monica Roaché, 48, is a fifth-generation Washingtonian who is fighting for D.C. statehood. (Family photo)
By Petula Dvorak Columnist March 22, 2021 at 12:58 p.m. PDT
Monica Roaché does not want to be yanked back into Maryland. No thank you, no way.
“We’re the nation’s capital and we’re a unique community with unique needs,” said Roaché, 48, a fifth-generation Washingtonian whose ancestors fled slavery in Southern Maryland, establishing their roots in the vibrant cultural and intellectual scene of Georgetown, back when it was a primarily Black enclave.
Roaché is fighting for D.C. statehood, and she’s not into the alternative idea that some Republicans are offering this week as the prospect for a 51st state gets a hearing in Congress.
Advocates from 51 for 51 are optimistic about statehood chances for the District. (André Chung/for The Washington Post)
That bright idea: simply merging D.C. into Maryland.
“You could fit 1,130 D.C.’s inside the state of South Dakota,” Rep. Dusty Johnson (R-S.D.) said in a statement about his bill. “Let’s be honest: DC isn’t a state. It’s a city.”
Dusty (allow me to address the honorable congressman by his first name, because it’s such a great aptronym in this case) is countering the increasingly popular notion that D.C. residents deserve representation — it has moved to the top of the priority list for Democratic lawmakers — with a dusty, old argument about size.
Supporters for D.C. statehood cheer as drivers honk their horns during the morning commute outside the Rayburn Building in Washington on Feb. 11, 2020. (Marvin Joseph/The Washington Post)
“D.C. is 68 square miles — that includes both land mass and water. It’s 95% smaller than our nation’s smallest state, Rhode Island,” he said in the statement, omitting the fact that D.C.’s population size (705,749) is larger than two other states, Vermont (623,989) and Wyoming (578.759) — and only slightly smaller than his state (844,659).
His solution to that is a bill abolishing the 23rd Amendment, which gave D.C. residents the right to vote in presidential elections in 1960. Huh?
But wait! He’s not taking away the right to vote, he says, because he’s pairing that with the “District of Columbia-Maryland Reunion Act,” a bill that redraws boundaries to give Maryland most of residential D.C.
That way, D.C. gets to vote for the president and gets representation in Congress — without creating a new state that just happens to be overwhelmingly blue. What the heck, Maryland’s blue anyhow. Problem solved with a little boundary redrawing, sending them all back to the arms of Maryland, a former slave state.
Whoa. Frederick Douglass would’ve loved that for sure.
This campaign is not simply about the right to vote, and casting a ballot in Maryland doesn’t solve this issue. It’s about the right to vote for the unique interests of the District, said Roaché, who is an at-large member of the D.C. Democratic Committee.
On practical matters, Roaché points to the lack of a state’s authority that thwarted D.C.’s ability to swiftly activate a National Guard presence during the Jan. 6Capitol insurrection.
And because D.C. isn’t officially a state, pandemic relief was also shortchanged when it was given the amount of help allocated to territories, not states, she said.
Dusty and hisco-sponsors, all Republican men, didn’t see it.
“A 51st state is not the answer,” the congressman’s news release on the topic said.
Okay — so why don’t we just make North and South Dakota one big state of Dakota, and let D.C. become a state? That would make the new state of Dakota the 40th most populous state, below Idaho but just above Hawaii, and the number of stars on the American flag would remain unchanged.
According to the Montevideo Convention on statehood of 1933, which established the rights and duties of South and North American states, there are four requirements for statehood: a permanent population, a defined territory, a government and the capacity for relations with other states.
And does D.C. have all this? Check, check, check and check.
Add to that a Stanley Cup, a World Series win, a WNBA title, a music (Go-Go), a food (half-smoke), a sauce (mumbo) and we’ve got most other states beat.
Dusty’s real argument isn’t about D.C.’s size orability to be a state. It’s really about the fear that one of the Blackest (ninth-largest percentage of African American residents in a big city) and most educated populations in America (60 percent of D.C. residents have a bachelor’s degree, 34 percent have an advanced degree) will have a say in Congress.
For the anti-statehood crowd, it’s all about preventing more Democratic lawmakers casting votes.
For Marylanders, it’s about not wanting D.C. as another county. In a Washington Post-University of Maryland poll in 2019, the Old Line State favored D.C. statehood and opposed annexation.
For the Americans ambivalent about statehood, it’s all about a shrug and an assumption this land is just a federal place of bureaucrats and big buildings, a territory of nothing but legislation and regulation. (Forget that California actually has a larger federal workforce than all of D.C. does.)
D.C. is more than that. Established in 1790 with land ceded from Maryland and Virginia, D.C. became a real place, a personality, a vibe, an important part of the American story.
Washington was an early cultural and intellectual capital for African Americans, the first place in the nation for emancipation — enslaved people were freed in D.C. nine months before President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Act — and the first place African Americans won the right to vote, granted by Congress with the Reconstruction Act of 1867.
Like the West Coasters taking pride in their state’s frontier roots, Washingtonians take pride in the reasons they set roots in the nation’s capital.
Too often “Washington” is synonymous with the scandals that elected politicians bring with them when they come from elsewhere.
But really, native Washingtonians contribute little to the histrionics of Capitol Hill.
Because D.C. natives include actors Helen Hayes, Samuel L. Jackson, Dave Chappelle, Goldie Hawn, Chita Rivera, Taraji P. Henson and William Hurt. Athletes Kevin Durant and Pete Sampras were born in D.C. So were musicians Marvin Gaye, Duke Ellington and Henry Rollins. As were Connie Chung, Tim Gunn, Bill Nye, Stephen Colbert and Jim Henson. Queen Noor of Jordan and J.W. Marriott Jr. have D.C. birth certificates, too.
That’s an extraordinary 68 square miles, don’t you think?
More than enough for a star on a flag and the right to vote.
Here are some “ET’s from this weekend:
Here is more climate and weather news from Sunday:
(As usual, this will be a fluid post in which more information gets added during the day as it crosses my radar, crediting all who have put it on-line. Items will be archived on this site for posterity. In most instances click on the pictures of each tweet to see each article. The most noteworthy items will be listed first.)
Now here are some of today’s articles and notes on the horrid COVID-19 pandemic:
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Guy Walton “The Climate Guy”