Overnight Energy & Environment

Energy & Environment — Republicans take voter campaign to gas stations

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Welcome to Tuesday’s Overnight Energy & Environment, your source for the latest news focused on energy, the environment and beyond. Subscribe here.

Today we’re looking at a GOP push to register voters at gas stations, an effort from academics to stop universities from accepting fossil fuel funding for their research and all countries failing to hit international air quality standards.   

For The Hill, we’re Rachel Frazin and Zack Budryk. Write to us with tips: rfrazin@thehill.com and zbudryk@thehill.com.

Let’s jump in.

 

GOP launches voter registration drive at gas stations

Republicans have launched a series of voter registration drives at gas stations in different parts of the country in a bid to draw attention to an issue they see as a political liability for President Biden heading into the November midterm elections.  

The Republican National Committee (RNC) began the effort on Saturday with voter registration drives in Arizona and North Carolina. The party is planning to expand the campaign to other states such as California, Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Maine, Ohio, Texas and Wisconsin.  

The cost of gas has risen for some time due to the coronavirus pandemic and disruptions to global supply and demand, but prices soared after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.   

The spike in gas prices isn’t limited to the United State and is largely outside of the president’s control. Nevertheless, Republicans have sought to cast the rising costs as a result of Biden’s policies. 

“The Biden Gas Hike is a product of his own doing, and Americans have faced record high gas prices as a result,” RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said. 

“The RNC is mobilizing at gas stations across the country to register voters and remind folks that the anti-American energy of Biden and the Democrats is costing them more.”  

While experts say the spike in gas prices is largely caused by pandemic-related supply and demand incongruencies and Russia’s invasion, the RNC’s voter registration drives signal that the party will try to make the rising gas prices a pivotal issue in this year’s midterms.  

The GOP needs to gain just five seats in the House and one seat in the Senate in November to recapture full control of Congress. Democrats, meanwhile, are facing historical headwinds this year after winning the White House and Senate majority in 2020. 

Read more about the initiative here from The Hill’s Max Greenwood.  

 

Academics: Don’t take money from fossil industry

A group of more than 500 academics on Monday called on American and British universities to ban accepting funding for climate research from fossil fuel companies. 

In the letter, signatories wrote that accepting such funding undermined the academic integrity of the research it enables.  

“To be clear, our concern is not with the integrity of individual academics. Rather, it is with the systemic issue posed by the context in which academics must work, one where fossil fuel industry funding can taint critical climate-related research,” the letter states.  

The writers compared accepting fossil fuel funding to public health researchers accepting money from the tobacco industry, which numerous institutions already have a policy of rejecting. Those policies, they write, are based on not only the conflict of interest but also the tobacco industry’s history of obfuscating the link between its product and health issues. 

The letter draws a parallel between this misinformation and the fossil fuel industry’s own history of obscuring the link between the burning of fossil fuels and climate change. In a hearing of the House Oversight Committee last year, Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) repeatedly questioned fossil fuel executives on whether they had knowingly obscured this link, which all the witnesses denied. 

Signers of the letter included activist and philosopher Cornel West, former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams and Pennsylvania State University climatologist Michael Mann. 

Read more about the letter here. 

 

COUNTRIES FAIL TO MEET GLOBAL AIR QUALITY STANDARD 

No countries met the World Health Organization’s (WHO) air quality standards in 2021, according to a survey conducted by the Swiss air quality technology company iQAir released on Sunday. 

According to iQAir’s map of particulate matter concentrations in cities, no countries were able to meet the WHO’s guidelines for air quality. The survey looked at concentrations of a type of small particle pollution known as fine particulate matter, or PM 2.5. 

This type of pollution has been linked to premature deaths, heart attacks and decreased lung function.  

In September, the WHO released new guidelines recommending that the the concentration of PM2.5 be cut down to 5 micrograms per cubic meter, halving it from the previous recommendation established in 2005. This is much lower than the U.S. annual standard of 12 micrograms per cubic meter.  

Out of the 107 cities surveyed by IQAir, 96 percent far exceeded the WHO’s guidelines for PM2.5 concentrations. Only four cities — including San Juan, Puerto Rico, and Charlotte Amalie, U.S. Virgin Islands — were found to meet WHO standards of air quality in 2021. 

Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and the French-controlled island of New Caledonia were the only territories that met WHO standards. Other countries such as Denmark, Japan and Australia were close to meeting air quality standards but had particulate matter concentration levels higher than recommended. 

Bangladesh, Chad and Pakistan were the top three worst countries for air quality in 2021, with PM2.5 concentrations around 66 to 77 microns per cubic meter. The U.S. was found to have an average PM2.5 concentration of 10.3 microns per cubic meter, two times higher than the WHO’s recommendations. 

Read more here from The Hill’s Joseph Choi.  

 

ON TAP TOMORROW

  • The Senate Environment & Public Works Committee will hold a hearing titled “Promoting American energy security by facilitating investments and innovation in climate solutions 

 

WHAT WE’RE READING

  • The ‘majors’ take over NM oil patch (The Albuquerque Journal)

  • Big-box stores could help slash emissions and save millions by putting solar panels on roofs. Why aren’t more of them doing it? (CNN

  • ‘I don’t know how we’ll survive’: the farmers facing ruin in Maine’s ‘forever chemicals’ crisis (The Guardian

  • Astronomy’s contribution to climate change rivals the emissions from some countries (NPR

  • Will War Make Europe’s Switch to Clean Energy Even Harder? (The New York Times)

 

ICYMI

  And finally, something offbeat and off-beatCorvid competencies 

 

That’s it for today, thanks for reading. Check out The Hill’s energy & environment page for the latest news and coverage. We’ll see you tomorrow.  

Tags Carolyn Maloney Joe Biden Ronna McDaniel

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