Bills in red states punish climate-conscious companies

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Hello and welcome to The Climate 202! ICYMI, yesterday, we reported on how Democratic state lawmakers are promoting bills targeting the fossil fuel industry for climate damage. Today, we take a look at what their Republican counterparts are doing in this space:

Bills in red states punish climate-conscious companies

When You’re here general director Elon Musk tweeted recently that environmental, social and corporate governance is a “scam” that has been “weaponized by fake social justice warriors,” his rhetoric echoed that of some Republican lawmakers.

Indeed, in state houses across the country, GOP lawmakers are promoting bills aimed at punishing companies that divest from fossil fuels or factor climate change into their business decisions. Legislation package pushes corporate climate action across the country culture wars on reproductive rights, critical race theory and other contentious issues.

Like many conservative causes, the trend started in Texas, where Governor Greg Abbott (R) signed legislation last year requiring state pension and investment funds to divest from companies that cut ties with or “boycott” fossil fuel companies.

“Elon Musk is right: ESG is a scam”, Texas Public Policy Foundationa conservative group that backed the measure, said in a video posted on Twitter Last week. “What is an ESG score? This determines the degree to which a company conforms to the agenda of the woke mob. »

Conservative lawmakers in 15 other states have introduced similar legislation, The New York Times reported. Here’s what to know about the proposals in two red states – and what they could mean for business leaders concerned about the financial risks posed by climate change:

Oklahoma cracks down on ‘energy discrimination’

Earlier this month, Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt (R) enacted the law Energy Discrimination Elimination Act, which requires the state to stop doing business with financial companies that “discriminate” against fossil fuel companies. The measure directs the state treasurer to create a list of such companies.

“Oil and gas have been the primary driver of the economy and the state of Oklahoma for the past 100 years,” said Senator Mike Allen (R), who sponsored the bill, said in an interview with The Climate 202. “And so I don’t want to do business with people trying to bankrupt us.”

Asked about climate change, Allen said he generally agreed with the view of Senator James M. Inhofe (R-Okla.), who notoriously snowballed the Senate floor in 2015 to illustrate his belief that global warming is a hoax.

The American Legislative Exchange Council, an organization that works with conservative state lawmakers, last year considered a draft model policy that resembles Allen’s bill and bears the same title. However, Allen said he did not consult the council about the measure.

Joe Trotterdirector of the council’s task force for energy, environment and agriculture, told The Climate 202 that it is not yet clear whether a similar draft policy will be considered at the July meeting of organization in Atlanta.

Louisiana lawmaker targets energy ‘prosperity’

In Louisiana, State Representative Danny McCormick (R) sponsored House Bill 25, which would prohibit state pension systems from investing in companies that have policies against doing business with fossil fuel companies.

In an interview with The Climate 202, McCormick said he was so impressed with the Texas bill that he asked lawyers from the Louisiana legislature to “imitate” the measure. He also expressed skepticism about the scientific consensus that climate change will – and is already having – catastrophic effects around the world.

“I don’t know if we’ve proven that human-caused climate change is significant enough to be of concern right now,” McCormick said. “Prosperity is linked to affordable energy. And if we make energy unaffordable, it will impoverish so many people.

After the bill was introduced in January, members of the House Retirement Committee expressed concern that it “could tie the hands of the pension system when it comes to future investment,” McCormick said. The bill is now “essentially dormant for this session”, he said, adding that he hopes to reintroduce it in a future legislative session.

“Incredibly politicized”

Ivan FrishbergDirector of Sustainable Development at Merged bank, which does not do business with fossil fuel companies, told The Climate 202 that ESG investing has “always been a bit of political football when it comes to fiduciary rules.” He noted that Presidents George W. Bush and barack obama both have published guidance on this subject, while President donald trumps Department of Labor issued rules making it more difficult for pension plan managers to consider ESG factors when investing on behalf of their clients.

However, Frishberg said sustainable investing had become “incredibly politicized” in recent months, particularly after a coalition of financial institutions pledged to align $130 trillion in funds with global climate goals during of the COP26 summit in Scotland last fall.

“The politicization of this and the forces behind it,” he said, “is going to get so much worse than we ever thought.”

In worsening drought, Southern California water restrictions go into effect

New restrictions on outdoor water use go into effect today for more than 6 million Los Angeles-area residents amid extreme drought fueled by climate change, said the Washington Post. Joshua Partlow reports.

The rules, set by the Southern California Metropolitan Water District, limit outdoor watering to one day per week in many jurisdictions. The goal is to reduce water use by 35% as California enters its third straight year of severe drought. If conditions do not improve by September, officials have warned further cuts could be imposed or outdoor water use could be banned altogether.

The restrictions come as about 76% of the Western United States experiences severe to exceptional drought, according to the most recent data from the US Drought Watch. Major reservoirs along the Colorado River, including Lake Mead and Lake Powellfell to their lowest levels in decades.

Trump’s policies have caused America’s climate rankings to plummet

After four years of President Donald Trump delaying action to address climate change at the federal level, the environmental performance of the United States has fallen compared to other countries, according to a report by researchers from Yale and Colombia the universities, Maggie Astor reporting for the New York Times.

The 2022 edition of Environmental performance index ranked the United States 43rd overall, with a score of 51.1 out of 100, compared to 24th place and a score of 69.3 in the 2020 edition. Meanwhile, a climate category measuring progress in the fight against global warming revealed an even bigger drop, with the nation falling from 15th to 101st place, trailing most other wealthy Western democracies.

The climate analysis was based on data up to 2019, and the previous edition was based on data up to 2017, meaning the change largely reflects environmental regulation rollbacks by Trump and ignores President Bidenthe reinstatement or extension of climate rules.

Petrol prices rise after EU crackdown on Russia

Gasoline prices rose across the country on Tuesday after the European Union agreed on plan to cut Russian oil imports to member countries by around 90%, excluding pipeline deliveries, amid war in Ukraine, The Post’s Hamza Chaban reports.

The U.S. average for a gallon of gas hit $4.62 on Tuesday, 52% more than a year ago, according to AAA. Even though crude oil prices started falling in the weeks following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the price of gas remains high.

Some economists call this trend the “rockets and feathers” phenomenon. They note that while a sudden spike in crude prices can quickly push gasoline prices up, when oil drops, gasoline prices tend to fall slowly, like a feather.

HHS to open office focused on environmental justice

The Department of Health and Social Services said on Tuesday that he would create a Office of Environmental Justice to address environmental inequalities in health, continuing President Bidenthe priority given to environmental justice across the federal government, Ella Nilsen reports for CNN.

The office will be headed by an interim director Sharunda Buchananformer official of Centers for Disaster Control and Prevention who specializes in environmental health issues such as lead exposure.

Buchanan said she hopes the office will bring new resources to communities, especially low-income communities and communities of color, which are burdened with environmental risks such as high lead exposure and inadequate treatment of waste.

“I want to work alongside those communities,” Buchanan told CNN. “I like to say that environmental justice and health equity are inextricably linked. If you find an environmental justice problem, you will inevitably find a health problem.

Colorado residents, watch out for the (rather adorable) stowaways!

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