Senate set to approve treaty against climate superpollutants

Hello and welcome to The Climate 202! Below we have more updates on damage and power outages in Puerto Rico from Hurricane Fiona. But first :

Senate likely to approve Kigali amendment to Montreal Protocol this week

When Congress passed the largest climate bill in US history this summer, not a single Republican voted for the measure.

But now Congress is poised for a bipartisan victory on climate action, as the Senate appears poised to ratify a treaty amendment tackling super climate pollutants with broad Republican support.

The details: Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (DN.Y.) launched votes this week on the Kigali Amendment to 1987 Montreal Protocolwhich requires countries to phase out hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs — global warming chemicals used in air conditioning and refrigeration that are hundreds to thousands of times more potent than carbon dioxide.

  • The Senate will vote this afternoon on a motion to invoke closure of the Kigali Amendment. If 60 senators vote to invoke closure and end debate on the amendment, a final vote will likely take place Thursday.
  • At this point, the Kigali Amendment would need the approval of a two-thirds supermajority of the chamber – 67 senators if all 100 senators are present – ​​to become law.

Supporters of the amendment remain optimistic that it will pass, pointing to broad support from environmental groups and business heavyweights such as the United States Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers.

“This is a vote on a treaty, so it needs 67 votes. Even though this is a tall hurdle, it looks like we can get over it,” said David Doniersenior strategic director of the climate and clean energy program at the Natural Resources Defense Council.

“This effort is going through the Senate on a bipartisan basis and is supported by a coalition from the NRDC to the US Chamber of Commerce, all of whom see the environment, trade and jobs on the rise,” Doniger said. “It’s an unusual alliance, but it’s a good alliance to have.”

Marty Durbinsenior vice president of policy at the chamber, said in a statement that the business group “is a strong supporter of the Kigali Amendment and has been working towards its adoption for several years. HFCs are one of the major contributors to global warming, and passing the amendment is a great opportunity to show American climate leadership.

Of the 50 Republicans in the Senate, four have signaled their concerns by suspending the Kigali Amendment, according to two people familiar with the matter.

The four are Meaning. John Barasso (wo.), James M. Inhofe (Ok so.), mike lee (Utah) and Rand Paul (Ky.), according to the two individuals, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the catches were not public.

Barrasso, the best Republican in the Energy and Natural Resources Committeealso introduced a amendment this would condition the approval of Kigali by the Senate to the definition of China as a developed country. Senator Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) filed a similar amendment. (While China is part of Kigali, along with more than 130 other countries, it is defined as a developing country.)

“The Kigali Amendment is a solution in search of a problem,” Barrasso said in a statement. “There is no need to handcuff America to another international treaty that allows China to play by a different set of rules.”

Ultimately, Schumer can still bring the amendment to the prosecution, despite requests for a stay.

Spokespersons for Inhofe, Lee and Paul did not respond to requests for comment.

However, other Republicans rallied behind the amendment, saying it could create jobs manufacturing chemicals that are more climate-friendly alternatives to HFCs.

“If the Senate does not ratify the Kigali Amendment, the United States will give up its ability to export key American products,” Senator John Neely Kennedy (R-La.), whose state is home to a Honeywell factory that manufactures these chemicals, said in a statement. “These new coolants are environmentally friendly and, more importantly, their manufacturers are creating tens of thousands of jobs in the United States.”

Kennedy also circulated a signature letter to leaders calling for support for the Kigali Amendment, according to two people familiar with the matter. A spokeswoman for Kennedy did not respond to a request for a copy of the letter.

In 2020, Congress passed the US Innovation and Manufacturing Act of Kennedy and Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chair Thomas R. Carper (D-Delete). The bipartisan bill ordered the Environmental Protection Agency reduce the use and production of HFCs nationwide by 85% over the next 15 years.

The EPA issued a final rule targeting HFCs last year, providing a domestic counterpart to what Kigali would achieve internationally.

“I am very happy to finally bring [Kigali] on the ground,” Carper told reporters on Monday. “I think we will get broad bipartisan support. The business community has, almost with one voice, urged us to address this issue because of the great potential for job creation and economic activity. »

Fiona floods Puerto Rico, causes catastrophic damage and severe power outages

While the full scope of Hurricane Fiona‘s destruction remains uncertain, the Puerto Rican governor. Pedro Pierluisi Monday evening estimated “billions” of damage, adding that at least two people died, Arelis R. Hernandez, Jason Samenow, Praveena Somasundaram and Reis Thebault reporting for the Washington Post.

The monster storm has so far knocked out power to the entire island and dumped 32 inches of rain near Ponce, the island’s second-largest town, according to a rain gauge maintained by the United States Geological Survey, with flooding and landslides expected to continue through today.

Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Deanne Criswell will travel to Puerto Rico today, which marks the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Maria make landfall on the island. Maria’s slow recovery has left the territory’s infrastructure extremely vulnerable to the effects of extreme weather, which is intensifying due to human-induced climate change.

  • Fiona upgraded to a Category 3 storm on Tuesday morning, picking up peak winds of 115 mph as it approached the Turks and Caicos Islands, according to the National Hurricane Center.
  • Power has been restored to 100,000 customers in the northern part of Puerto Rico. Meanwhile, the floods have severely affected the water supply system, leaving around 750,000 people without service or drinking water.
  • The National Guard activated 600 soldiers in Puerto Rico for rescue operations, and emergency responders rescued approximately 1,000 people. New York, New Jersey and California have also pledged to send troops to the island to help with relief efforts.

Puerto Rico’s power grid has been in trouble for a long time

Even before Hurricane FionaHigh winds in Puerto Rico knocked out power throughout Puerto Rico on Sunday, the U.S. territory’s power grid was fragile and unreliable, running on old equipment that has been slow to modernize since Hurricane Maria swept the area five years ago, The Post’s Joshua Partlow and Arelis R. Hernandez report.

Luma Energythe utility that was hired in 2020 to handle power transmission, hasn’t been able to keep the lights on this year even without destructive storms, according to a report last month by Puerto Rico Energy Office. At the same time, a plan to modernize the electricity system, financed to the tune of 12 billion dollars by the Federal Emergency Management Agency response to the 2017 storm – which killed an estimated 3,000 people and left some residents without power for almost a year – has yet to take shape.

The island’s power grid has been at the center of the debate, with protesters, customers and workers calling Governor Pedro Pierluisi to cancel the Luma contract, although the significant energy problems date back decades and are largely the result of bureaucratic delays, mismanagement and underfunding.

Hugo Sorrentini, a company spokesman said about 1,500 utility workers are “ready to respond” to the widespread outages, but crews have been stranded by flooding.

A House Committee on Natural Resources Luma’s contract hearing scheduled for Thursday has been canceled, the panel announced Monday. But the government has set November 30 as the deadline to consider extending the 15-year contract.

‘Bad blood’: GOP plans to overturn Manchin’s clearance plan

Senator Joe Manchin III (DW.Va.) is struggling to garner enough Republican votes to advance his energy permit deal with the Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (DN.Y.) before the midterm elections, Caitlin Emma, Burgess-Everett and Sarah Ferris reporting for Politico.

Several Senate Republicans said Monday they may not provide the votes needed to pass the deal, which would speed up the approval process for new energy projects, under an interim funding bill, being given Manchin’s eventual support to the Inflation Reduction Act.

“Given what Senator Manchin has done on the reconciliation bill, [it’s] spawned a lot of bad blood,” Senator John Cornyn (R-Tex.) says. “There’s not a lot of sympathy on our side to offer a reward to Senator Manchin.”

Instead, 48 Republican senators threw their support behind a similar proposal led by Senator Shelley Moore Capito (RW.Va.). It is unlikely, however, that either bill will pass this week as negotiators are no closer to reaching a deal, senior aides said.

Meanwhile, 42 House Republicans and 14 Senate Republicans wrote “Dear Colleague” letters on Monday urging lawmakers to oppose any interim funding bills that allow Democrats to pass a new budget before the end. of the year, Emily Brooks reports for the Hill. The letters arrive just 10 days before government funding ends on September 30, threatening to shut down the government.

Lynn A. Saleh