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Climate Change

California Cooking, Russia Shuts Off Gas To Europe

California is cooking in extreme heat, Russia has shut down a key gas pipeline to Europe, and there are changes in the White House with regards to climate and energy. Scroll down below for the updates.

Heatwave Breaks Records, Threatens Human Health: Extreme heat shattered records up and down the West Coast over the weekend, threatening human health as well as the electricity grid. More than 45 million people across seven states were under heat alerts over the weekend. Extreme heat is the deadliest form of climate-related severe weather and compounds underlying societal inequities including racist housing policy. The heat is most dangerous for those experiencing homelessness or who otherwise are unable to access air conditioning, and high overnight temperatures are also especially dangerous because they prevent the human body from cooling down. “A lot of hot interior locations are not cooling down at night, so the human body doesn’t get a break,” NWS forecaster Brooke Bingaman told the San Francisco Chronicle. “Our challenge closer to the coast is we are dealing with a population where a lot of people don’t have AC.” High temperature records fell across the Bay Area with preliminary readings recorded Monday highs of 116°F in Fairfield (prev. record: 108°F) and 100°F in Oakland (prev. record: 95°F). Death Valley hit 127°F on Thursday; if verified, that would break the global record for the hottest temperature ever recorded in September. Some cities, like Los Angeles, have taken steps to mitigate the impact of extreme heatwaves, but those initiatives have not received the logistical and financial resources required. Marta Segura, named LA’s first chief heat officer earlier this year on top of her full-time job as the city’s climate emergency mobilization director, told the LA Times, “If we don’t serve the most vulnerable frontline communities and invest in them …​​ We’re not going to get to the climate solution for anyone.” (Multi-state heatwave: (CNNAxiosWashington Post $, AP; Vulnerable populations: CBS; Records: (San Francisco ChronicleKCRA SacramentoSacramento Bee $, San Francisco ChronicleSacramento Bee $; Death Valley: Sacramento Bee $, CBSAxiosWashington Post $, HuffPost; LA heat office: (LA Times $; Climate Signals background: Extreme heat and heatwaves)

Russia Shuts Off Nord Stream Gas Indefinitely: Russia indefinitely cut off delivery of methane-based gas to Europe, Gazprom said Friday. The state-owned energy company blamed the Nord Stream 1 pipeline shutdown on maintenance issues, just hours after the G-7 announced a joint cap on Russian oil prices, itself an effort to reduce Russia revenue from foreign fossil fuel sales. The full shut down of Russian gas deliveries is a marked escalation of its leveraging of Europe’s dependence on its methane-based gas in order to prevent a more forceful response to its invasion of and atrocities in Ukraine since late February. While increased energy prices across Europe have driven up inflation — as European leaders have to obtain energy from non-Russian sources and store up methane gas for the winter — those efforts have reduced Putin’s leverage in the region. (Washington Post $, New York Times $, CNNReutersAxiosUSA TodayAxiosNewsweekFT $, Wall Street Journal $, CNBCWall Street Journal $, New York Times $; G-7 Price Cap: The HillCNBC)

California Grid Avoids Big Blackouts On Labor Day, Danger Still Looms: The California electrical grid avoided large-scale blackouts Monday as residents heeded officials’ calls to reduce their electricity consumption amid the scorching heat. California’s grid operator (CAISO) had warned the extra demand on the grid could force as many as 3 million households offline and warned projected peak electrical demand will be even higher on Tuesday with demand outstripping supply by as much as 5,000 MW. While not nearly as bad as when 2 million Californians lost power in August 2020 because PG&E mistakenly shut down a gas-burning power plant, not everyone’s lights (and air conditioning) stayed on. Nearly 67,000 Bay Area customers lost power when transformers blew because of the extreme heat. Climate change is threatening the California grid — which, despite investments in renewable energy, is still powered largely by fossil fuels — in multiple ways in addition to increasing demand from air conditioning in the face of extreme heat. The historic megadrought across the American West is reducing hydroelectricity production from dams powered by shrinking reservoirs, and wildfires — supercharged by vegetation desiccated by heat and drought — threaten generating stations and transmission lines. Some 45 new wildfires ignited across the state on Sunday alone. “We designed the grid and wrote reliability requirements for the 20th century,” Mark Dyson of RMI told Vox. “We didn’t know that the weather was going to get a lot more extreme, both cold and hot. And what we’re seeing in particular is large, aging fossil fuel plants showing their weaknesses.” (Heatwave straining grid & demand reduction requests: Sacramento Bee $, San Francisco ChronicleLA Times $, San Francisco ChronicleAxiosAPLA Times $, E&E $, CNN, Grist, CNN, Bloomberg $, HuffPost, Bloomberg $, New York Times $, Reuters, Sacramento Bee $; Tuesday shortfall: AP; Overall climate grid threats: Vox; Transformer failures: AxiosNBC-Bay Area; Heat and fire grid threats: Wall Street Journal $; New wildfires: AP; Hydropower: TIME; Climate Signals background: Extreme heat and heatwavesWildfiresWestern megadrought)

White House Climate & Energy Staffing Changes: The White House announced multiple climate and energy staffing changes on Friday. Gina McCarthy will officially leave her role as national climate advisor on September 16 and will be replaced by her deputy Ali Zaidi. John Podesta will also return to the White House as senior advisor to the President, overseeing the implementation of the climate and clean energy provisions in the Inflation Reduction Act. Podesta advised President Barack Obama on climate policy, served as President Bill Clinton’s chief of staff, and was chairman of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign. Biden also announced plans to nominate NYU law professor Richard Revesz to head the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), a pivotal role overseeing federal regulations. (Washington Post $, NPRE&E NewsPoliticoThe HillReutersNew York Times $, HuffPostAxiosNew York Times $, CNBCAxios; Revesz: Wall Street Journal $, The Hill)

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