World hurtling to climate danger zone

World hurtling to climate danger zone

The world is on pace to steamroll past a key climate danger point far sooner than expected, thanks to broken promises from governments and corporations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Despite agreements in the Paris Climate Accords on actions aimed at keeping global warming below 2 degrees Celsius, a new report from the world’s top body of climate scientists is now saying that we won’t come close to meeting our goals if world governments continue on their present course. The AP’s Frank Jordans and Seth Borenstein report

The report’s authors said they had “high confidence” that unless countries step up their efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions, the planet will on average be 2.4C to 3.5C (4.3 to 6.3 F) warmer by the end of the century — a level experts say is sure to cause severe impacts for much of the world’s population. “We are on a pathway to global warming of more than double the 1.5-degree limit agreed in Paris,” said [U.N. Secretary-General Antonio] Guterres. “Some government and business leaders are saying one thing – but doing another.” “Simply put, they are lying,” he added. “And the results will be catastrophic.”

Back in Louisiana, the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority has sent its $1.35 billion plan for coastal restoration and hurricane risk reduction to the state legislature. Chip Kline, CPRA’s board chair, spoke to the Baton Rouge Press Club on Monday about the organization’s spending plan to save the state’s coast, which will provide jobs to local workers. 

 Nearly 150 projects are being implemented from the $1.3 billion dollars. More projects mean more jobs. “We’re going to be working with our technical and community colleges in southeast Louisiana so that we can ensure that those individuals coming out of those technical and community college can be fed into some of these jobs that were created,” he said.

Scaled-back Covid relief
The U.S. Senate agreed to a scaled-back Covid-19 aid package on Monday that excludes funds for global vaccine efforts, an omission that may hinder efforts to fight new variants of the virus. The $10 billion deal – less than half of the White House’s initial $22.5 billion proposal –  includes additional aid for domestic testing, vaccination and treatment efforts and is largely paid for by repurposing unspent money from previous Covid relief packages, a key GOP demand. The New York Times’ Emily Cochrane, Alexandra E. Petri and Aina J. Khan report:

“This $10 billion Covid package will give the federal government — and our citizens — the tools we need to continue our economic recovery, keep schools open and keep American families safe,” Mr. Schumer said in a statement. “While this emergency injection of additional funding is absolutely necessary, it is well short of what is truly needed to keep us safe from the Covid-19 virus over the long-term.” He added that he planned for additional bipartisan negotiations over another emergency aid package that could include both aid for the global vaccination effort and additional assistance for Ukraine as it battles a Russian invasion. 

Earmarks are back
Earmarks, which members of Congress use to direct funds to specific projects in their home districts, are back after an 11-year hiatus. Home-district projects disappeared from Beltway politics after voters’ opinion soured on them after high profile abuses. While the magnitude of projects included in this year’s spending bill are small compared to the last time Congress used earmarks, the 2022 version still included plenty for lawmakers to crow about in their local communities — even when they voted against the bill. The AP’s Alan Fram and Aaron M. Kessler explain how some lawmakers, like Louisiana Rep. Garret Graves and Sen. Bill Cassidy, voted against spending bills but were still rewarded with projects. 

Rep. Garret Graves, R-La., voted against both portions of the legislation yet won projects worth $45 million, among the House’s highest figures. He said he didn’t like the overall bill’s size and its lack of money for his state to recover from recent hurricanes. “I’m supposed to say I didn’t vote for the bill, so I’m not going to go work projects for our district?” said Graves, who won funds for water projects and sugar cane research. “No, that’s not what our job is.” Five GOP senators who opposed the bill received projects worth $386 million, [Taxpayers for Common Sense’s] figures show: John Boozman of Arkansas, Richard Burr and Thom Tillis of North Carolina, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana and Mike Rounds of South Dakota.

This kind of favorable treatment for opponents of legislation perplexes lawmakers from previous generations.

If someone was opposing legislation bearing a project they’d requested, “I’d explain to them that by and large, if they ever wanted an earmark again they’d vote for the bill,” former Rep. Bob Livingston, R-La., said in a recent interview. He chaired the House Appropriations Committee in the 1990s.

IRS struggling to compete for workers
Years of budget cuts and worker attrition, compounded by the Covid-19 pandemic, have left the IRS’s workforce in a sad state. Already facing an aging labor force and antiquated technology, the agency is now struggling to hire new workers in a red-hot job market that can offer more pay than their $16- and $17-an-hour jobs. The Washington Post’s Lisa Rein tells the story of how staffing challenges brought on by years of underfunding the IRS are slowing down tax processing today: 

Commissioner Charles Rettig told Congress in March that the agency will need to hire 52,000 employees in the next six years just to tread water. The rebuilding effort across the nation and in Ogden (Utah] has collided with a new obstacle: the country’s heated competition for workers. Utah’s unemployment rate of 2.1 percent in February tied with Nebraska’s for the lowest in the country. The jobless rate around Ogden was 2.3 percent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The total of 6,000 employees on the [IRS’s] Ogden campus makes it the city’s largest employer, but the government is competing with a nearby Air Force base, an automotive supplier paying entry-level air-bag assembly workers $17.82 an hour, a kidney dialysis company — and a just completed Amazon distribution center down the street that’s hiring for 500 jobs, some starting at $17 an hour.

Number of the Day
$246 million – Amount of money from storm recovery reimbursements to local governments from 2008 to 2021 that the Louisiana Legislative auditor could not verify to determine if the money was correctly spent or accurately calculated (Source: Louisiana Legislative Auditor via Louisiana Illuminator)