Montana Republicans are punishing a trans lawmaker for criticizing their anti-trans bill
Champion of Truth
“State Rep. Jeff Hoverson didn’t want anyone getting in the way of using fossil fuels in North Dakota. Not the United Nations. Not international nonprofits. Certainly not the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. So he made a law to stop them. In March, the North Dakota legislature passed a bill that Hoverson co-authored with a state senator. It’s short, sweet and to the point: “A climate control-related regulation of an international organization, either directly through the organization or indirectly through law or regulation, is not enforceable on this state.”
Hoverson told me he isn’t sure what that will mean the next time the federal government wants to sign a climate treaty. Frankly, he’d prefer the feds not have that kind of power, anyway. But while his law stands out for the scope of its ambitions, it’s not exactly an outlier in its spirit. Across the country, bills pushing back against climate policy have been a trend this legislative session, with multiple states proposing — and passing — laws that would undermine efforts to limit greenhouse gas emissions.
Some of the laws aim to support the oil and gas industry in various ways, such as a bill in Indiana that amends clean-energy incentives for utility companies to include building natural-gas power plants as long as they can be said to displace coal, or another in Kentucky barring conservation easements in the state from infringing on the activities of oil and gas industries. Others have taken the form of preemption laws, barring cities and other regional governments from setting more stringent environmental regulations than the surrounding state. This includes laws preventing bans on gas stoves and requiring municipalities to include natural gas as a source of clean energy, as well as bills that would prevent them from banning the use of certain refrigerants before the federal government does.
None of this is exactly good Earth Day tidings. And, more importantly, this legislation highlights what a mess American climate policy is. These laws pit different branches of government against each other, roll back some environmental protections established in legislation of years’ past and, in the case of North Dakota, create laws to prevent things that are not currently happening and likely wouldn’t be enforceable if they did. Meanwhile, plenty of other states are introducing and often passing bills that do directly or indirectly reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The result is that predicting the near-term future of environmental regulation in this country is really hard. And that, economists say, can end up making it more expensive — and less appealing — to reduce emissions.”
“Vermont is one of at least three states seeking to strengthen its laws against paramilitary activity. At the same time, Idaho — a state with a long history of anti-government militia activity — is seeking to overturn its sole, unenforced law banning militias. The pending legislation represents two very different responses to what federal authorities say is a growing threat of domestic terrorism: Incidents of domestic terrorism, which includes violent militia, increased 357 percent from 2013 to 2021, according to a February report from the Government Accountability Office. The new laws could shape where militias operate, and what they feel emboldened to do, in the years to come.”
“”Millions of people moved during the pandemic, driven by the opportunity to work remotely, the desire for more space, and better affordability,” Nadia Evangelou, senior economist for the National Association of Realtors, wrote January 30. “Twenty-six states experienced an influx of people, with more people moving in than out, while twenty-five states lost movers … California (-343,230), New York (-299,557), and Illinois (-141,656) experienced the largest net domestic outmigration.”
California, New York, and Illinois lost the greatest number of people in raw numbers during 2022, but they were also all in the top ten in terms of the net percentage of population that left each state. New York lost 0.9 percent, Illinois lost 0.8 percent, and California lost 0.3 percent (tying with Pennsylvania, Mississippi, and Rhode Island).
These states all have something else in common: high tax burdens. “Tax burden measures the proportion of total personal income that residents pay toward state and local taxes,” notes WalletHub, which ranks states by the measure. Using an assessment based on property taxes, individual income taxes, and sales and excise taxes, WalletHub ranks New York as the most highly taxed state in the country, puts California in ninth position, and Illinois at 10.”
“At issue is whether it’s fair to use century-old rules, created during an era of relative abundance, to ration water from the rapidly shriveling river now that the West is on the precipice of climate disaster. With California and its six neighbors locked in a dispute over two competing approaches to divvying up the cuts in water deliveries, whatever the administration decides will almost certainly end up in court.”
“The current feud centers on California, a longtime Democratic stronghold, and Arizona, a newfound swing state that has proven crucial to the party’s control of the White House and Senate.
The 1,450-mile long Colorado River made much of the West inhabitable, and now supplies water to 40 million Americans from Wyoming to the border with Mexico, as well as an enormously productive agricultural industry. But climate change has shriveled its flows by 20 percent over the past two decades, and for each additional degree of warming, scientists predict the river will shrink another 9 percent.
Water levels at the system’s two main reservoirs are falling so fast, the Interior Department has said that water users must cut consumption by as much as a third of the river’s flows or risk a collapse that could cripple their ability to deliver water out of those dams. That would also cut off hydropower production that is crucial to the stability of the Western grid.
The states broadly agree that the vast majority of those immediate cuts must be made by the Lower Basin states of Arizona, California and Nevada, whose decades of overuse have accelerated the crisis. But the fight is over whether California, which holds strong legal rights to the lion’s share of the Lower Basin’s water, should have to share in those reductions.”
“Title 42, an immigration policy put into place during the pandemic, was scheduled to be lifted Wednesday, but Chief Justice John Roberts temporarily blocked the border rule at the urging of 19 Republican-led states, which appealed the plan to open up the nation’s borders again.
The stay by Roberts is temporary, and states are bracing for what’s next if — and when — Title 42 is eventually lifted. There’s added anxiety too over whether Republican governors will transport thousands of migrants to Democratic-led strongholds by bus or plane, as Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis did this year.
Over the last month, thousands of migrants have crossed into the U.S. at the Texas border ahead of the expiration of Title 42, a Trump administration pandemic policy that allows the U.S. to expel migrants in order to stem the spread of the Covid-19 virus. Last weekend, the mayor of El Paso declared a state of emergency to help manage the rush of people while Abbott deployed hundreds of Texas national guard and state troopers along the border to block migrants from entering the U.S.”
“The migrant issue hasn’t gone unnoticed in Congress. Special funding in the federal spending bill released this week could take the pressure off of cities like New York, Chicago and Washington, as they try to handle the rise in immigrants and the challenges to provide shelter, food and other basic needs. Cities could apply for a piece of the $800 million that Congress has carved out to handle the flow of migrants if the spending is approved.
Adams, who earlier this week asked for $1 billion to help New York handle “the brunt of this crisis,” said he was “encouraged” by the federal funding, but said that should just be the start.
“With over 800 people arriving in the past four days alone, it’s clear that we still need a comprehensive strategy at our border and additional resources. We cannot be put in a position where we have to choose between services for New Yorkers and supporting arriving asylum seekers,” he said in a statement. Adams has also called for asylum seekers to be authorized to work before six months.”
“Black enrollment fell rapidly at the top schools in the University of California system. Before the ban, Black students made up 7% of the student body at UCLA. By 1998, that figure had slipped to 3.93%. By the fall of 2006, the freshman class included only 96 Black students out of nearly 5,000.
In an effort to address that gap, officials in California have spent more than $500 million in outreach to underserved minority students since 2004, lawyers for the state said in a Supreme Court brief this year.
A similar decline took place at the University of Michigan. Black undergraduate enrollment dropped to 4% in 2021 from 7% in 2006, the year the state approved a referendum banning affirmative action.
Even though a Supreme Court ruling restricting the use of race-conscious admissions is unlikely to affect their states, lawyers for Michigan and California filed briefs with the court over the summer arguing that without affirmative action, achieving racial diversity was virtually impossible.
Florida, which banned affirmative action in 2001 and where admission to the state’s flagship university is also competitive, has taken the opposite position: Racial diversity can be achieved without race-conscious admissions, it said.
A study in 2012 by liberal-leaning research group the Century Foundation found that in most states where affirmative action was prohibited, Hispanic and Black enrollment at flagship universities bounced back after an initial drop.
But the study also showed that those increases did not generally keep pace with the growing number of Hispanic and Black high school graduates.”