One of the nation’s most important climate fights is currently playing out under the radar in California, where state residents are weathering an unprecedented tropical storm. Oil and industry lobbying groups are spending millions in a last-ditch attempt to block first-of-its-kind legislation that would require thousands of large companies doing business in the state to fully disclose their carbon emissions, a move that would effectively set national policy. In the final weeks of California’s legislative session, which ends in mid-September, Assembly members are expected to vote on the climate transparency bill.
I started medical school in 2011, full of idealism and optimism over the promise of Obamacare. But the health care system has gotten progressively worse every year that I’ve worked in it, probably because private equity firms keep acquiring new corners. The urgent care was an exception, it was part of a family business, founded by an emergency physician who actually cares about employees. When COVID came, they didn’t lay off a single full-timer even when volume fell off a cliff, probably in part because he was a big Trumper and was convinced the pandemic would “blow over” by the summer of 2020.
The company that manufactured the toxic chemicals that were released and incinerated in the wake of the East Palestine, Ohio, train derailment this winter gave $2 million to the primary Senate GOP super PAC as bipartisan rail safety legislation stalled in Congress. The manufacturer, Occidental Petroleum, has been lobbying on rail and tank car safety, and its lobbying group, the American Chemistry Council — which also donated $250,000 to the main House GOP super PAC — had pushed for changes weakening the bill in committee. The railroad legislation, introduced in the immediate aftermath of the East Palestine disaster, was once seen as the first real shot at imposing new regulations on the railroad industry in years.
Vox (8/7/23) published a piece arguing that “the White House should admit that student debt forgiveness isn’t happening,” and instead make sure that borrowers are prepared for loan repayments to begin again in October. But it failed to disclose that the author is on the student loan industry’s payroll. The Debt Collective, the nation’s first debtor’s union, noted on Twitter (8/7/23) that the author, Kevin Carey, works for a corporate-backed think tank funded in part by the student loan industry, and has worked to undermine student debt cancellation for over a decade. As a result, Carey’s argument that cancellation is futile, and that the White House’s efforts should be focused on helping students restart payments and avoid delinquency, reeks of feigned sympathy.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) lost a key antitrust case on July 11 after a federal judge rejected the agency’s move to halt Microsoft’s $69 billion acquisition of video game holding company Activision Blizzard. FTC Chair Lina Khan has argued that, win or lose, the mere act of taking tech behemoths to court would be a partial victory by signaling the pressing need to update antitrust laws for today’s digital economy (New York Times, 12/7/22). But the Times‘ Cecilia Kang (7/11/23) wrote that the latest rulings “raise questions” about Khan’s strategy, with “critics…speaking out more loudly.” As to which critics are raising these questions, the Times buries the lead.
There are two very different (and antagonistic) renewable energy models: the utility-centered, centralized energy model—the existing dominant one—and the community-centered, decentralized energy model—what energy justice advocates have been pushing for. Although both models utilize the same technologies (solar generation, energy storage, etc.), they have very different physical characteristics (remote vs local energy resources, transmission lines or not). But the key difference is that they represent very different socio-economic energy development models and very different impacts on our communities and living ecosystems.
A chummy interview of Chevron CEO Mike Wirth by CNBC‘s Andrew Ross Sorkin saw the goal of mitigating the devastating harms of climate disruption pitted against the evidently equally important goal of making Wirth more money. Conceding that many people around the world are desperate for an end to the fossil fuels driving the catastrophe, including supposedly Wirth himself, Sorkin added, “At the same time, I think it would be impossible for you not to want your business to grow.” So there’s your frame: the life and health of people and the planet on the one hand, endless corporate profiteering on the other. Only question is, how do we balance them?
More than 1,500 lobbyists in the US are working on behalf of fossil-fuel companies while at the same time representing hundreds of liberal-run cities, universities, technology companies and environmental groups that say they are tackling the climate crisis, the Guardian can reveal. Lobbyists for oil, gas and coal interests are also employed by a vast sweep of institutions, ranging from the city governments of Los Angeles, Chicago and Philadelphia; tech giants such as Apple and Google; more than 150 universities; some of the country’s leading environmental groups – and even ski resorts seeing their snow melted by global heating.
Corporate profits have been the biggest contributor to inflation in Europe since 2021. This is according to a study published by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). “Rising corporate profits account for almost half the increase in Europe’s inflation over the past two years as companies increased prices by more than spiking costs of imported energy”, wrote IMF economists this June. The IMF said “companies may have to accept a smaller profit share if inflation is to remain on track to reach the European Central Bank’s 2-percent target in 2025”. IMF economists Niels-Jakob Hansen, Frederik Toscani, and Jing Zhou detailed their findings in a research paper, “Euro Area Inflation after the Pandemic and Energy Shock: Import Prices, Profits and Wages”.
Makers of PFAS (per and polyfluoroalkyl substances) “forever chemicals” have a lot to hide. Exposure to the toxic compounds — found in everything from nonstick cookware and personal care products, like shampoo and dental floss, to waterproof rain gear — has been shown to cause cancer, thyroid disease, liver damage and fertility issues. Recently, previously secret chemical industry documents were analyzed by researchers from the University of California San Francisco (UCSF). They found that chemical manufacturers had used tactics previously employed by the tobacco industry to suppress their knowledge of the health hazards caused by PFAS exposure, a press release from UCSF said.
“Man is born free and everywhere he is in chains,” philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau said in the 18th century. Likewise, the right to strike is the fundamental source of a union’s power, and everywhere they have signed that right away. “No strike clauses,” which ban workers from striking during the course of a union contract, have been ubiquitous for decades — the price, companies argue, of having a contract at all. Breaking out of this power-sucking bargain is a vital task for the labor movement, if it ever wants to be able to stand up to corporate America in a meaningful way. The good news is that at least one union is actively trying.
The House of Representatives voted 314 - 117 last night to approve a debt deal that includes provisions expediting construction of a controversial fossil fuel pipeline — and attempting to block courts from hearing challenges to its legality. The language nestled into the agreement reached by the Biden administration and congressional Republicans last weekend came amid a flood of campaign cash from executives at NextEra Energy, one of the companies spearheading the pipeline, to Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (Ind.-Ariz.) and two other Democratic senators whose votes could be needed to pass the agreement.
Italy is one of a few countries in the European Union without a legal minimum wage; 21 out of 27 EU countries have instituted minimum wages. In Italy, minimum wages are only determined in collective labor agreements, but these salaries are often very low — around four to six euros per hour. In addition, Italy is the only country in the continent where since 1990, real wages are not growing — they even diminished by 3% in the last 30 years. Thus, one out of 10 people in Italy are working poor, among the youth, this number increases to one out of six. Already a year ago, Potere al Popolo started a political campaign seeking the introduction of a legal minimum wage. At the end of May, together with the alliance Unione Popolare, we submitted a legislative proposal to institute a minimum wage of at least 10 euros (US$ 10.72) per hour, which will also be automatically inflation-linked.
In an ominous but unsurprising development, the Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case that may well imperil our health, safety, labor, clean air and water, food and environmental protections. On May 1, the court decided to reconsider its 40-year-old precedent in the current case of Loper Bright Enterprises v. Raimondo. This right-wing court, which demonstrated its disregard for legal precedent when it overruled Roe v. Wade, may now overturn the well-settled “Chevron deference.” Doing so would be consistent with the conservative fealty to deregulation in order to protect corporate profits.
Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas changed his position on one of America’s most significant regulatory doctrines after his wife reportedly accepted secret payments from a shadowy conservative network pushing for the change. Thomas’ shift also came while he was receiving lavish gifts from a billionaire linked to other groups criticizing the same doctrine — which is now headed back to the high court. The so-called “Chevron deference” doctrine stipulates that the executive branch — not the federal courts — has the power to interpret laws passed by Congress in certain circumstances. Conservatives for years have fought to overturn the doctrine, a move that would empower legal challenges to federal agency regulations on everything from climate policy to workplace safety to overtime pay.