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: Biden Launches New Climate Justice Initiative
Dear Diary. This morning I learned that the Biden Administration via executive order has established a new Climate Justice Office under the Justice Department. This new office would funnel prosecutorial justice resources towards aiding litigations that would help thwart polluters that prey on poor neighborhoods. Many of these lie along the Gulf Coast where I’ve written many a post on oil and chemical refineries linked to cancer in poor, mainly black neighborhoods.
I applause the Biden Administration for this change, but it’s something that could have been done a year ago when Biden came to power. Perhaps there are more items beyond declaring a climate emergency that the Biden Administration can do. Dear reader, if you think of these, please drop me a note or comment at the very end of today’s post.
For today’s main topic, here is a fresh Washington Post article on this sorely needed change:
Justice Dept. boosts focus on environmental cases that harm the poor
With new office and strategy, Biden administration aims to strengthen enforcement of policy violations that disproportionately impact marginalized communities
The Justice Department is ramping up enforcement of environmental cases that officials say disproportionately harm poor and marginalized communities, creating an office to help coordinate investigations and expanding the breadth of litigation against companies and local or state governments that appear to violate federal laws or commit civil infractions.
Appearing at a joint news conference Thursday, Attorney General Merrick Garland and EPA Administrator Michael Regan said their agencies would work together on the initiative. It aims to build on an executive order issued by President Biden days after his inauguration that called for an “all of government” approach to environmental justice.
Biden has pledged to make addressing these historical inequities central to his presidency, though many activists say he is yet to deliver on this promise. Some agencies, such as the Departments of Transportation and Health and Human Services, have strongly embraced the effort, while others lag behind.
Cynthia M. Ferguson, a senior litigation counsel who has worked for more than two decades in Justice’s environmental and natural resources division, has been named acting director of the Office of Environmental Justice. Biden has requested $1.47 million in funding for that office in fiscal 2023.
Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta has developed an eight-page strategy document that will require each of the 93 U.S. attorney’s offices across the country to designate an environmental justice coordinator and bolster training and education for staffers, officials said.
Gupta said the strategy “underscores the department’s commitment to ensuring that all Americans have access to clean water to drink, clean air to breathe and healthy, thriving communities where they can live, work and raise their families. That is the heart of environmental justice.”
Experts have said neighborhoods with higher concentrations of racial minorities and the economically disadvantaged are more likely to suffer health problems caused by environmental pollution or degradation.
A report last month said 45 million Americans are breathing dirtier air because of racial redlining. The March study found that compared with White people, Black and Latino Americans live with more smog and fine particulate matter from cars, trucks, buses, coal plants and other nearby industrial sources, in areas where disadvantaged populations were concentrated because of housing discrimination.
As recently as 2017, Black people were nearly four times as likely to die from exposure to pollution than White people. According to “Fumes Across the Fence-Line,” a study by the Clean Air Task Force, African Americans were exposed to 38 percent more polluted air than White Americans, and they were 75 percent more likely to live in communities that border an industrial plant or factory.
Under Garland, the Justice Department already has pursued a number of high-profile cases environmental cases. Last fall, the department reached a $1 million settlement with New York City’s education department over potentially harmful admissions from oil-fired boilers in the schools. Justice also launched an investigation into whether rural Lowndes County in Alabama discriminated against Black residents by denying them access to adequate sanitation systems and exposing them to increased health risks.
Officials said the new strategy would provide more tools to aid investigations and litigation. Garland also will rescind a Trump-era ban on the use of supplemental environmental projects, which allow the Justice Department to pursue settlements in which companies or jurisdictions agree to pay for programs or projects to help communities manage and treat public health problems that result from their actions.
Justice officials pointed to a 2007 settlement in which Valero Energy agreed to pay $232 million in new pollution controls at three refineries, as well as $1 million to support a local health center in Port Arthur, Tex., to diagnose and treat asthma and other illnesses caused by the pollution.
Also Thursday, the White House announced the appointment of Jalonne L. White-Newsome, an academic who has worked with activists and in the philanthropic sector, as senior director of environmental justice for its Council on Environmental Quality.
White-Newsome replaces Cecilia Martinez as Biden’s top environmental justice official, four months after Martinez resigned and said she was “dangerously close to burnout.” Martinez was the first person to hold the role.
Biden has pledged to spend 40 percent of new federal funding for infrastructure and environmental projects in communities that bear a disproportionate burden when it comes to pollution. At least $55 billion from the infrastructure law is slated to improve wastewater facilities, including $15 billion to remove lead pipes that have contaminated drinking water in cities including Flint, Mich. Another $1 billion will help clean up neglected Superfund sites, including an abandoned chemical manufacturing plant that has stymied revitalization efforts in Newark.
About $28 million was dedicated to prevent coastal erosion on Native American land on the Kenai River bluffs in Alaska, $65 billion has been dedicated to improving the nation’s electricity grid, and $1 billion is meant to reconnect communities, many of them Black, that were dissected by massive highway projects that started in the early 1960s.
But the administration has yet to spell out how it will deliver hundreds of millions of dollars to communities in states with Republican governors who are opposed to its mission. Activists on the ground in states such as Louisiana, Alabama and Texas have said they doubt they will ever see such funding.
Here are “ET’s” recorded from around the planet the last couple of days and extreme temperature outlooks:
Here is more April 2022 climatology:
Here is more climate and weather news from Friday:
(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 war on Ukraine:
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Guy Walton “The Climate Guy”