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Let There Be Cloud Brightening

On the return of geoengineering, climate lawsuits, and a cheaper EV.

Sunrise over a mountain.
Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images

Current conditions: Battered Midwest in for more bad weather this weekend • Tornadoes keep hitting the Great Plains • A heat wave in New Delhi that pushed temperatures above 116 degrees Fahrenheit on Friday is expected to last several more days.


1. Red states challenge climate lawsuits

Nineteen Republican-led states are asking the Supreme Court to stop Democrat-led states from trying to force oil and gas companies to pay for the impacts of climate change. Rhode Island in 2018 became the first state to sue major oil companies for climate damages and has since been joined by California, Connecticut, Minnesota, and New Jersey. The states pursuing legal action against oil companies are trying to “dictate the future of the American energy industry,” the Republican attorneys general argued in a motion filed this week, “not by influencing federal legislation or by petitioning federal agencies, but by imposing ruinous liability and coercive remedies on energy companies” through the court system.

2. Geoengineering experiment could resume in California

A month after ordering researchers to stop a cloud brightening experiment due to health and environmental concerns, officials in Alameda, California, determined that the experiment poses no measurable risk to people or wildlife. They found that the saltwater solution being sprayed into air is similar to saltwater, a naturally occurring aerosol. Alameda’s city council plans to reconsider the experiment based on officials’ findings early next month.

The experiment is one of the first tests of a form of geoengineering intended to reflect more solar energy back into space. Sarah J. Doherty, director of the Marine Cloud Brightening Program at the University of Washington, told The New York Times that the report “supports our own evaluation that this is a safe, publicly accessible way to further research on aerosols in the atmosphere.”

3. Conservation group sues Biden administration over coal pollution rule

The Center for Biological Diversity is suing the Biden administration over its new standards for pollution from coal-fired power plants. The rule, which the EPA finalized last month, curtails coal plants’ discharges of heavy metals into water sources. But it includes exceptions for plants that are slated to retire by 2034. The Center for Biological Diversity called this an “unacceptable” loophole, emphasizing the risks that heavy metal pollution pose to communities and ecosystems. Brett Hartl, the conservation group’s government affairs director, said in a statement that the rule gives the coal industry “a free pass to dump millions of pounds of toxic pollution into this nation’s rivers for another 10 years.”

4. Kia Debuts Cheaper, Boxier EV

On Thursday, the Korean automaker Kia revealed the EV3, a small crossover that will start in the $30,000s when it comes to America next year or the year after. While slower than some of its rivals — Kia says it will go 0-60 miles per hour in 7.5 seconds — the EV3 will boast a range of 372 miles, “which blows away most current offerings, especially in that price range,” Andrew Moseman writes at Heatmap. The EV3 is the latest piece of the grand plan put together by Kia (and its owner, Hyundai) to offer an electric crossover at every price point — and a sign that more entry-level EVs might be coming over the horizon.

5. Native beetle threatens giant sequoias

General Sherman, the world’s largest tree, passed a recent health check by researchers looking for evidence of damage by bark beetles. Both giant sequoias and bark beetles are native to California’s Sierra Nevada range, but the mounting pressures of climate change, including heat, drought, and fire, are weakening the sequoias and leaving them vulnerable to dying from bark beetle infestations. “The most significant threat to giant sequoias is climate-driven wildfires,” Ben Blom, director of stewardship and restoration at Save the Redwoods League, told The Associated Press. “But we certainly don’t want to be caught by surprise by a new threat, which is why we’re studying these beetles now.”


Researchers don’t fully understand how climate change is impacting air travel, but evidence suggests that instability in the jet stream may be contributing to the rise in clear-air turbulence.

Nicole Pollack profile image

Nicole Pollack

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


Nuclear Energy Is the One Thing Congress Can Agree On

Environmentalists, however, still aren’t sold on the ADVANCE Act.

A nuclear power plant.
Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images

While climate change policy is typically heavily polarized along party lines, nuclear energy policy is not. The ADVANCE Act, which would reform the nuclear regulatory policy to encourage the development of advanced nuclear reactors, passed the Senate today, by a vote of 88-2, preparing it for an almost certain presidential signature.

The bill has been floating around Congress for about a year and is the product of bipartisanship within the relevant committees, a notable departure from increasingly top-down legislating in Washington. The House of Representatives has its own nuclear regulatory bill, the Atomic Energy Advancement Act, which the House overwhelmingly voted for in February.

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AM Briefing: America’s Long Bake

On Equatic’s big news, heat waves, and the Paris Olympics

Ocean-Based Carbon Removal Is About to Take a Big Step Forward
Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images

Current conditions: Tropical storm warnings have been issued for Texas and Mexico • Parts of southwestern France were hit with large hail stones • The temperature trend for June is making climate scientists awfully nervous.


1. Lengthy heat wave threatens nearly 80 million Americans

About 77 million people are under some kind of heat advisory as a heat wave works its way across the Midwest and Northeast. In most of New England, the heat index is expected to reach or exceed 100 degrees Fahrenheit. What makes this heat wave especially dangerous is its “striking duration,” Jake Petr, the lead forecaster with National Weather Service Chicago, toldThe New York Times. Temperatures are projected to stay exceptionally high for several days before beginning to taper off only slightly over the weekend. According toThe Washington Post, temperatures could be up to 25 degrees higher than normal for this time of year. And forecasters expect it to be unseasonably hot across the country for at least the next three weeks. Below is a look at the NWS HeatRisk projections today (top) and Thursday (bottom). The darker the color, the warmer the temperature and the higher the health risks.

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Crux Is Getting Some Powerful New Backers

The New York-based startup aims to create a market for clean energy tax credits.

Green energy and money details.
Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images

One of the least-noticed changes in the Inflation Reduction Act may be one of the most important.

For years, the government has encouraged developers, power utilities, and other companies to build clean energy by offering tax credits. But those tax credits were difficult to transfer to other companies, meaning that complicated financial instruments had to be created to allow them to share in the wealth.

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