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Climate

Here Comes the ‘Green Bank’

On EPA grants, sluggish heat waves, and more

Briefing image.
Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images

Current conditions: April is off to a stormy start across the U.S., with severe weather expected from Texas to Pennsylvania • “Red flag” fire warnings were issued throughout the Great Plains over the weekend • Extreme drought continues to destroy crops in southern Africa.

THE TOP FIVE

1. “Green bank” grants are likely coming soon

The Environmental Protection Agency is poised to announce which nonprofit groups will receive $20 billion in grants aimed at spurring private investments in clean technology projects, according to E&E News. The Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund, a $27 billion program created by the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, is intended to function as a “green bank” that provides affordable financing to initiatives addressing climate change. Two to three grants under the program’s $14 billion National Clean Investment Fund will go to clean financing “hubs” that can distribute the money to deserving projects and lenders. Another two to seven grants from the $6 billion Clean Communities Investment Accelerator will direct funding and technical assistance to nonprofits already serving disadvantaged communities.

2. Contamination fears in Baltimore

Environmental experts are concerned that the ongoing removal of wreckage from Baltimore’s collapsed Francis Scott Key Bridge could cause oil or other hazardous materials to spill into the Patapsco River. Authorities have deployed nearly a mile’s worth of protective and absorbent barriers into the water, the Associated Press reports, though a U.S. Coast Guard spokesperson said Friday that “no immediate threat to the environment” had been identified. The cargo ship that struck the bridge was carrying at least 56 containers with hazardous materials, 14 of which were destroyed. A breach of the ship’s hull at any point during the cleanup process could leak fuel oil into the water, but at present, the hull looks to be intact.

3. Vermont could be the first state to pass a climate superfund bill

The Vermont Senate approved amendments on Friday to a bill that would seek compensation from fossil fuel companies for the impacts of climate change, Heatmap’s Emily Pontecorvo reports. Vermont’s climate superfund bill — one of several to have been introduced in state legislatures in recent years — would authorize the state to determine the cost it has borne from the extraction and combustion of fossil fuels over the past three decades and then ask responsible parties to pay up. (Vermont plans to focus its efforts on the world’s biggest emitters.) Modeled after federal Superfund law that keeps companies on the hook for cleaning up contamination, Vermont’s bill and others like it face an uncertain future and inevitable legal challenges.

4. Study: Climate change is making heat waves sluggish

Heat waves are moving slower, traveling farther, and lasting longer, a new study found. Scientists have known for a long time that climate change is exacerbating heat waves, but the new study, published Friday in the journal Science Advances, determined that heat waves’ movement has slowed by 20% since 1979 — a decline of about 5 miles per day each decade. They’ve also gotten longer and more frequent. Wei Zhang, a climate scientist at Utah State University and one of the study’s authors, is particularly concerned about the effects of prolonged heat waves on urban areas. “If those heat waves last in the city for much longer than before, that would cause a very dangerous situation,” Zhang told The New York Times.

5. Republican attorneys general take aim at Biden’s LNG moratorium

Sixteen Republican-led states asked a federal court late last week to block the Biden administration’s suspension of approvals for new liquefied natural gas export terminals. The U.S. Department of Energy paused its review of new LNG projects in January amid mounting pressure from environmental groups. The motion, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana on Thursday evening, argues that Louisiana and 15 other states will be harmed by the pause.

THE KICKER

800,000: The number of fish estimated to have been killed when liquid nitrogen fertilizer leaked into Iowa’s East Nishnabotna River in early March.

Nicole Pollack

Nicole Pollack is a freelance environmental journalist who writes about energy, agriculture, and climate change. She is based in Northeast Ohio. Read More

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