reality is only those delusions that we have in common...

Saturday, September 24, 2022

week ending Sep 24

 Fed raises rates by another three-quarters of a percentage point, pledges more hikes to fight inflation - The Federal Reserve on Wednesday raised benchmark interest rates by another three-quarters of a percentage point and indicated it will keep hiking well above the current level. In its quest to bring down inflation running near its highest levels since the early 1980s, the central bank took its federal funds rate up to a range of 3%-3.25%, the highest it has been since early 2008, following the third consecutive 0.75 percentage point move. Stocks seesawed as Fed Chairman Jerome Powell discussed the outlook for interest rates and the economy. "My main message has not changed since Jackson Hole," Powell said in his post-meeting news conference, referring to his policy speech at the Fed's annual symposium in August in Wyoming. "The FOMC is strongly resolved to bring inflation down to 2%, and we will keep at it until the job is done." The increases that started in March — and from a point of near-zero — mark the most aggressive Fed tightening since it started using the overnight funds rate as its principal policy tool in 1990. The only comparison was in 1994, when the Fed hiked a total of 2.25 percentage points; it would begin cutting rates by July of the following year. Along with the massive rate increases, Fed officials signaled the intention of continuing to hike until the funds level hits a "terminal rate," or end point, of 4.6% in 2023. That implies a quarter-point rate hike next year but no decreases. The "dot plot" of individual members' expectations doesn't point to rate cuts until 2024. Powell and his colleagues have emphasized in recent weeks that it is unlikely rate cuts will happen next year, as the market had been pricing. Federal Open Market Committee members indicate they expect the rate hikes to have consequences. The funds rate on its face addresses the rates that banks charge each other for overnight lending, but it bleeds through to many consumer adjustable-rate debt instruments, such as home equity loans, credit cards and auto financing. In their quarterly updates of estimates for rates and economic data, officials coalesced around expectations for the unemployment rate to rise to 4.4% by next year from its current 3.7%. Increases of that magnitude often are accompanied by recessions. Along with that, they see GDP growth slowing to 0.2% for 2022, rising slightly in the following years to a longer-term rate of just 1.8%. The revised forecast is a sharp cut from the 1.7% estimate in June and comes following two consecutive quarters of negative growth, a commonly accepted definition of recession. Powell conceded a recession is possible, particularly if the Fed has to keep tightening aggressively. Core inflation excluding food and energy is expected to decline to 4.5% this year, little changed from the current 4.6% level, before ultimately falling to 2.1% by 2025. The reduction in economic growth came even though the FOMC's statement massaged language that in July had described spending and production as having "softened." This meeting's statement noted: "Recent indicators point to modest growth in spending and production." Those were the only changes in a statement that received unanimous approval. Otherwise, the statement continued to describe job gains as "robust" and noted that "inflation remains elevated." It also repeated that "ongoing increases in the target rate will be appropriate." The dot plot showed virtually all members on board with the higher rates in the near term, though there were some variations in subsequent years. Six of the 19 "dots" were in favor of taking rates to a 4.75%-5% range next year, but the central tendency was to 4.6%, which would put rates in the 4.5%-4.75% area. The Fed targets its fund rate in quarter-point ranges. The chart indicated as many as three rate cuts in 2024 and four more in 2025, to take the longer-run funds rate down to a median outlook of 2.9%. Markets have been bracing for a more aggressive Fed. "I believe 75 is the new 25 until something breaks, and nothing has broken yet," said Bill Zox, portfolio manager at Brandywine Global, in reference to the size of the rate hikes. "The Fed is not anywhere close to a pause or a pivot. They are laser-focused on breaking inflation. A key question is what else might they break." Traders had fully priced in the 0.75 percentage point move and even had assigned an 18% chance of a full percentage point hike, according to CME Group data. Futures contracts just before Wednesday's meeting implied a 4.545% funds rate by April 2023. The moves come amid stubbornly high inflation that Powell and his colleagues spent much of last year dismissing as "transitory." Officials relented in March of this year, with a quarter-point rise that was the first increase since taking rates to zero in the early days of the Covid pandemic. Along with the rate increases, the Fed has been reducing the amount of bond holdings it has accumulated over the years. September marked the beginning of full-speed "quantitative tightening," as it is known in markets, with up to $95 billion a month in proceeds from maturing bonds being allowed to roll off the Fed's $8.9 trillion balance sheet.

FOMC Statement: Raise Rates 75 bp; "Ongoing increases appropriate" --Fed Chair Powell press conference video here or on YouTube here, starting at 2:30 PM ET. FOMC Statement: Recent indicators point to modest growth in spending and production. Job gains have been robust in recent months, and the unemployment rate has remained low. Inflation remains elevated, reflecting supply and demand imbalances related to the pandemic, higher food and energy prices, and broader price pressures. Russia's war against Ukraine is causing tremendous human and economic hardship. The war and related events are creating additional upward pressure on inflation and are weighing on global economic activity. The Committee is highly attentive to inflation risks.The Committee seeks to achieve maximum employment and inflation at the rate of 2 percent over the longer run. In support of these goals, the Committee decided to raise the target range for the federal funds rate to 3 to 3-1/4 percent and anticipates that ongoing increases in the target range will be appropriate. In addition, the Committee will continue reducing its holdings of Treasury securities and agency debt and agency mortgage-backed securities, as described in the Plans for Reducing the Size of the Federal Reserve's Balance Sheet that were issued in May. The Committee is strongly committed to returning inflation to its 2 percent objective.In assessing the appropriate stance of monetary policy, the Committee will continue to monitor the implications of incoming information for the economic outlook. The Committee would be prepared to adjust the stance of monetary policy as appropriate if risks emerge that could impede the attainment of the Committee's goals. The Committee's assessments will take into account a wide range of information, including readings on public health, labor market conditions, inflation pressures and inflation expectations, and financial and international developments.

Interest rate goes up to highest level in 14 years -The Federal Reserve announced Wednesday that interest rates will go up .75 of a point as part of the board's effort to slow inflation. The increase marks the highest interest rates have been since 2008. The higher interest rates make borrowing for items such as homes and cars more expensive. The Fed Board voted unanimously to raise interest rates. "Recent indicators point to modest growth in spending and production," the Fed said. "Job gains have been robust in recent months, and the unemployment rate has remained low. Inflation remains elevated, reflecting supply and demand imbalances related to the pandemic, higher food and energy prices, and broader price pressures. Russia's war against Ukraine is causing tremendous human and economic hardship. The war and related events are creating additional upward pressure on inflation and are weighing on global economic activity. The Committee is highly attentive to inflation risks." The risk of raising interest rates, experts say, is that it could cause the U.S. to slip into a recession. The effective federal interest rate is now over 3% for the first time since January 2008. Interest rates peaked at 5.25% in late 2006 and early 2007, roughly a year before the U.S. went into a recession. From 2009 through the middle of 2017, interest rates remained below 1% before reaching a peak of around 2.42% in 2019. In response to the pandemic, the Fed lowered rates nearly to 0 until early this year. But with the highest inflation in over four decades, the Fed has responded with a rapid succession of rate hikes.

Powell’s Whatever-it-Takes Moment: Policy “WILL Be Enough to Restore Price Stability.” Fed Hikes by 75 Basis Points. Shocker, Sees 4.4% by End of 2022 by Wolf Richter - The FOMC voted unanimously to hike its policy rates by another 75 basis points, the third hike of this magnitude in a row. This brought the target for the federal funds rate to a range between 3.0% and 3.25%.At every meeting, the Fed has increased its projections where its policy rates would be by the end of 2022. As per its “dot plot” today, the median projection by FOMC members for the mid-range of the federal funds rate jumped by a full percentage point from the last projections, to 4.4%.This means a target range between 4.25% and 4.5% by the end of 2022, which means an additional 125 basis points in hikes spread over the next two meetings, much higher and much more aggressive than expected.According to the dot plot, 12 of the 19 FOMC members now see the federal funds rate between 4.5% and 5% by the end of 2023.In the statement, the Fed said it “anticipates that ongoing increases in the target range will be appropriate.”“In my view and the view of the Committee there is a ways to go,” Fed Chair Jerome Powell said at the press conference.“We’re taking forceful and rapid steps” to get this inflation under control, he said. “The longer the current bout of high inflation continues, the greater the chance that expectations of higher inflation will become entrenched,” Powell said. The Fed is now purposefully crushing the entire Fed-pivot fantasy that has been widely propagated for months. “Restoring price stability is essential to set the stage for achieving maximum employment and stable prices over the longer run,” he said. “Price stability is the responsibility of the Federal Reserve and serves as the bedrock of our economy. Without price stability, the economy does not work for anyone. In particular, without price stability, we will not achieve a sustained period of strong labor market conditions that benefit all,” he said. “We will keep at it until we are confident the job is done,” he said. The Fed raised all its policy rates by 75 basis points today:

  • Federal funds rate target range, to 3.0% – 3.25%.
  • Interest it pays the banks on reserves, to 3.15%.
  • Interest it charges on overnight Repos, to 3.25%.
  • Interest it pays on overnight Reverse Repos (RRPs), to 3.05%.
  • Primary credit rate it charges banks, to 3.25%.

Quantitative Tightening, which shifted into full speed in September, will continue at that pace. Powell pointed out several times during the press conference that QT was an important tool in cracking down on inflation.Asked when the Fed would shift policy and start outright selling mortgage-backed securities (rather than just letting them come off via the pass-through principal payments), Powell reiterated what had been said before many times that this would be an option later on in the QT process, after QT is already “well underway.”. At least since the July meeting, the Fed has been hammering home the theme that the people, particularly those at the lower end of the income spectrum that have to spend all their income on necessities, are “suffering from inflation.” And that’s why the Fed has to crack down on inflation, even if unemployment rises and the economy slows – and Powell repeated that theme in the press conference today several times.“People are seeing their wage increases eaten up by inflation,” Powell said today. When you spend all your money on necessities, and then those prices go up, that hurts, he said.High inflation is “very painful” for people at the lower end of the income spectrum, he said. “Inflation is really hurting.”The housing market is interest-rate sensitive, and is already reacting to the rate hikes, he said. After the “unsustainable” price increases recently, “the housing market will have to go through a correction … to get to where people can afford housing again,” Powell said.And he expects that the CPI for housing costs, which are now a big driver behind overall CPI, would remain elevated for a while.

Strong US dollar boomerangs on Europe The Federal Reserve is expected to raise interest rates another three quarters of a point this week in its effort to bring down inflation, further increasing the strength of a rapidly rising dollar in the process. That’s increasingly being seen as a problem in Europe, where concerns about a recession are growing as currencies lose power to the U.S. dollar. Europe is also dealing with economic pressures from Russia’s war on Ukraine, with mounting fear that Russian President Vladimir Putin could use energy as a potent weapon this winter. The worries are leading to new complaints from those who see the Fed’s actions as potentially causing more problems than they will fix if Europe takes a serious hit. “This is my real frustration with what the Fed is doing now. Frankly, the global geopolitical economic conditions don’t justify 75 basis points,” Claudia Sahm, a former Federal Reserve economist and founder of Sahm Consulting, said in an interview with The Hill. “Our monetary policy is crushing Europe and emerging markets. The Fed is almost certainly making the hardship in Europe worse,” she added. Rising interest rates make it more expensive to borrow money and effectively make the U.S. dollar more valuable compared to other currencies. The euro is down about 12 percent on the year compared to the dollar, reaching a one-to-one ratio, the weakest level in about 20 years. The British pound is down more than 15 percent on the year to its lowest level since the mid-1980s. The Japanese yen is down 20 percent compared to the dollar, the Chinese renminbi is down about 9 percent, the Indian rupee about 7 percent and the Swiss franc about 5 percent. The changing values of the currencies have a number of real-world effects. The dollar goes farther for U.S. travelers abroad, but it makes it more expensive for U.S. manufacturers to export goods. It reduces costs for U.S. importers at a time when supply-chain problems related to the coronavirus and high demand emerging from the pandemic have helped fuel inflation. The international knock-on effects of a strong dollar are not likely to be at the top of Fed’s current list of priorities. Getting a handle on 40-year-high inflation, which was initially mischaracterized by Fed economists and Treasury officials as “transitory” and not a serious cause for concern, is more pressing. The Fed may even view an artificially strong dollar as a good thing in the short term because it’s favorable to U.S. consumers despite forcing global economies to recalibrate their import and export dynamics. But a major recession in Europe, where central banks are also raising interest rates to fight inflation, is not in the interest of the U.S., which is one of Europe’s biggest trading partners. Domestic producers have also been hit hard by the strong dollar and are keen to see exchange rates level off in the interest of selling more goods overseas. More interest rate hikes by the Fed will continue to undercut bottom lines in the U.S. manufacturing sector. But the Fed is conscious that inflation is sensitive to higher import costs. Recent research from the New York Fed showed that high import prices due to backed-up supply chains were a major reason behind the rising prices felt by U.S. consumers in the pandemic’s aftermath. Price increases passed on to domestic producers from higher import prices “more than doubled during the Covid period,” according to a study published in August by the New York Fed’s Liberty Street Economics blog. Europe is in a particularly difficult spot because of the Russia-Ukraine war, which shows little sign of slowing down despite advances in recent weeks by Ukraine. Faced with a barrage of Western sanctions that now include a price cap on Russian energy exports, Russia halted its natural gas supplies to Europe at different times over the summer, citing maintenance issues with a major pipeline. European authorities reacted by implementing new energy regulations to bring down “astronomic” electricity prices while moving their economies away from formerly cheap and abundant Russian natural gas. In the United Kingdom, the government increased its price cap on household energy expenditures by 80 percent for October as the country deals with soaring energy prices. “We are supporting this country through this winter and next, and tackling the root cause of high prices, so we are never in this position again,” British Prime Minister Liz Truss said in a statement on the energy crisis earlier this month.

What will the Fed do, and will it work? Forecasters don't always know --With inflation raging and the Fed continuing to raise rates in a bid to tamp it down, economists expect that the U.S. may need to dip into a recession to return prices to stable levels. "The US economy is undergoing a rapid and substantial deceleration — one which will manifest in a significant change of tone across a wide variety of economic indicators relatively soon," wrote Carl Riccadonna and a team of economists at BNP Paribas in a research note this week after the Fed announced a rate hike on Wednesday. As Riccadonna noted, Fed Chairman Jay Powell was clear that the Fed is determined to do "enough to restore price stability." But that's difficult for the central bank to do: Fed governors have only a few tools, and they don't work perfectly. A pair of new academic papers from economists affiliated with the National Bureau of Economic Research analyze both the Fed's dilemma and the work of the economists that follow it. In one study, "Perceptions about Monetary Policy," researchers look at how professional economic forecasters predict the Fed's actions. These forecasters – the economists and market strategists who work for institutions like Bank of America, for instance – get paid to discern what the Fed is going to do before the central bank does it. This used to be a much harder task back before the era of transparency, when the Fed governors rarely explained their thinking. But even today, with Chairman Jay Powell giving press conferences to discuss how the central bankers see economic data, it's hard to know exactly what they're planning and what the effect will be on the economy. That's crucial, because "what matters for the success of monetary policy is not only the actual monetary policy framework used by policy makers, but also the understanding of that framework by the public," the researchers write. "What we think is going on is, even these very sophisticated professional forecasters, they don't know exactly what the monetary policy framework really is," said Pflueger, an assistant professor at the University of Chicago's Harris School of Public Policy. "What people do seem to do is learn from monetary actions." When the Fed raises rates in a strong economy, she said, the analysts learn that the central bank is paying attention to economic conditions and will respond accordingly. It takes the forecasters about six months to figure out what the Fed is doing, but at that point they can deduce the Fed's intentions to some degree, the researchers found. For bankers, the important finding from the paper is to look sharp, Pflueger said: "If you see the monetary policy framework changing, it might change more quickly than you think." The question that John Cochrane, an economist who is a senior fellow at Stanford's Hoover Institution, asks in his working paper is how effective that framework is: "Can the Fed contain inflation without dramatically raising interest rates?" The answer, he said, is that "we genuinely don't know." In his own view, "it is possible, but difficult," for the Fed to restrain inflation. That's because the pandemic-relief spending of the last two years is now over, so it's possible that inflation will vanish just as soon as the government stops spending so much money. But it's also possible that conventional economic wisdom is right, and that the Fed will have to raise rates to be higher than the current rate of inflation before prices come down, he said. Cochrane had a darker view on the implications of his paper, "Expectations and the Neutrality of Interest Rates," is for banks. "I think the Fed is going to steadily raise rates until inflation goes substantially away," he said. "There is a lot of momentum in inflation; it took two years to really get going, and it will take a while to reduce. So I think rates will go a lot higher than most people (and financial markets) forecast."

The Federal Reserve has no good options now to curb inflation -  by Catherine Rampell -- The Federal Reserve is taking actions that might hurt the poor. Not because Fed officials want to hurt the poor, but because virtually any choice they make will likely hurt the most vulnerable in some dimension. The Fed hiked interest rates sharply again this week in its efforts to tackle inflation. It also broadcast plans to raise rates higher over the next year than previously projected. These actions carry big risks: The steeper the rate hikes, the greater the chance the U.S. economy plunges into recession.Because of this growing risk, we’re likely to soon see another round ofattacks against the central bank for its supposed indifference toward working people.After all, recessions tend to disproportionately hurt lower-income or otherwise disadvantaged workers. Those with lower wages, less education or disabilities are often the first to see their hours and jobs slashed, and the last to be hired back. This was especially true in the2020 pandemic recession and subsequent recovery. It is reasonable, then, to worry about Fed actions today.Here’s the thing. As central bank officials have pointed out, high inflation also disproportionately hurts the poor.As a general rule of thumb, most bad things happening in the macroeconomy usually cause greater suffering among the poor. On some level, this should be obvious: If you have more resources — a savings cushion, in-demand professional skills, a strong network — you are more likely to be able to withstand a big economic shock.It’s not always true, of course, but it happens to be the case now as we stare down the twin threats of recession and inflation.Almost everyone hates big increases in prices. But lower-income Americans, as well as people of color, have arguably been hurt most by skyrocketing inflation. There are a few reasons for this. For one, low-income households tend to spend a larger share of their budgets on necessities, such as groceries and rent. These necessities have already gotten much more expensive and are harder for consumers to cut back on (unlike, say, spending on entertainment or other luxuries that wealthier households disproportionately purchase). Lower-income households also tend to spend more than they earn, largely because of transfer payments such as the earned-income tax credit that supplement their wages. That means even if they’re getting relatively large nominal wage increases (as is the case lately), their additional wages can still be outstripped by higher expenses.Additionally, as Fed Vice Chair Lael Brainard pointed out during a recent speech, the rich also have greater ability to substitute down to cheaper products. For example, if breakfast cereal prices rise, higher-income households that buy name-brand Cheerios can save money by opting for the cheaper store brand. But poorer households were likelyalready buying that cheap store-brand option.The upshot is that no matter what path the Fed chooses, it is likely to inflict pain on the poor. If there is a recession, the poor suffer. If inflation continues unabated, the poor suffer, too.

The Fed won't sell MBS any time soon. Now what? - Mortgage rates have surged in response to inflation and related monetary policy actions, but recent comments from Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell allayed at least one worry for those in housing finance — for the time being.By announcing that the Fed won't be selling off mortgage-backed securities from its portfolio any time soon, Powell provided some near-term relief for lenders worried about added rate volatility in their market."The positive in yesterday's announcement is that the Fed did not announce any ramped up expectations of sales," David Battany, executive vice president of capital markets at Guild Mortgage said.The Fed could use sales of mortgage-backed securities from its $2.7 trillion portfolio as a tool in the fight against inflation. That's been a worry for housing finance firms because they see MBS as more closely tied to home loan rates than other levers the federal officials might pull for this purpose. Already the Fed has stopped growing its portfolio and allowed $35 billion in MBS to go into runoff each month, only buying if that amount is exceeded.If the Fed sells MBS, effectively reversing the pandemic stimulus that contributed to record-low mortgage rates over the past two years, financing costs could surge further.But now — even though Powell has said he still thinks it's something policymakers will eventually turn to — some lenders think it's increasingly likely it won't happen, particularly ifthe recession some economists are forecasting occurs. "I believe they will not consider selling MBS at all," said Shmuel Shayowitz, president and chief lending officer at Approved Funding. "Certainly, if inflation spikes after their final two rate hikes, that would be [an arrow in their] quiver they use to calm the markets, but I don't see them pulling that lever. I believe that inflation numbers might start stabilizing."Shayowitz thinks monetary policymakers will exercise some caution around actions that could unduly weaken the housing market but some other experts note that Powell could be somewhat aggressive on that front given that the Fed chairman said he wants to bring "shelter inflation" down. "They want to see a housing price correction, so they're probably holding onto the tool of outright selling the [securitized] mortgages as a backstop if they can't get where they need to with interest rate hikes,"

The Fed Is Wrong Again: Core Inflation Rapidly Rolling Over And Will Drop To 3% By Q1 - The Fed was dead wrong for the past decade in perpetuating QE long after the economic crisis had passed, but especially in 2020 and 2021 when it saw nothing but transitory inflation, and refused to step in an contain soaring prices which we are seeing today everywhere in action. And the Fed is also dead wrong now in its crusade to crush inflation - as it confirmed today when it hiked 75bps and telegraphed another 145bps of rate hikes - even if it means a grave recession.Why is the Fed wrong again? Because besides sliding commodity prices (which will very likely soar in the very near future, especially once winter arrives in Europe and once Biden's drain of the SPR is over), the bulk of core CPI components - and certainly some of the biggest drivers such as shelter, cars and airfares are rolling over fast.That's according to a new report by JPM's Phoebe White, who writes that she forecasts a material softening in inflation across all of the components that have been the largest contributors of core inflation over the past year—not only vehicle prices, but rents, medical care services, and airfares as well—and last week’s hot CPI report does not change this view.At a high level, we have seen a continued rotation in the composition of core inflation over recent months, with core services inflation accelerating from 3.7% Y/Y as of December 2021 to 6.1% as of August 2022, while core goods inflation has decelerated from 10.7% to 7.1%. Notably, even while core goods inflation continues to run hotter than core services inflation, services receive nearly triple the weight in the calculation of the core index, with the rent components alone comprising more than 40% of the basket (Exhibit 1). Thus, it is clear to see why rent inflation, which has accelerated above 6% Y/Y in recent months, is the largest contributor to core CPI inflation as of the August report: Exhibit 2 shows that the two rent measures, owners’ equivalent rent and rent of primary residence, account for 1.9%-pts and 0.7%-pts, respectively. Let's drill down into the data, starting start with rent inflation - which is the largest contributor to Core Inflation - and which the JPM analyst expects to peak in the next few months and roll over. Why? Take the Zillow Observed Rent Index which like the Apartment list price index (which we have discussed countless times especially when it was soaring higher), tends to lead the CPI rent measures, and this index has been softening recently.And while JPM expects shelter inflation to break above 7% Y/Y by early next year - due to its several month delay from real-world prices - the bank also expects the pace of monthly gains to peak within the next few months. The rate of increases in the Zillow Observed Rent Index, which measures asking rents on new leases, peaked above 17% in February, but has softened to 12% oya as of August—a notable softening, albeit still elevated versus the ~4% average pace observed prior to the pandemic. Unlike the Zillow data, the rent components in CPI track average rents across both new and existing leases. Thus fluctuations in the Zillow index slowly pass-through to official measures as the stock of leases begins to resemble the recent flow of new leases, with each percentage-point increase in the Zillow rent index preceding a 0.6%-pt cumulative increase in shelter CPI . Away from rents, new and used vehicles have had the next largest contributions to core CPI. And with demand softening, supply constraints easing, and raw material costs falling, JPM thinks declines in used vehicle prices are on the near-term horizon. Declines in new vehicle prices are likely to follow in 2023. In fact, the Manheim Used Vehicle Value Index, which measures the prices dealerships pay for used cars at auctions, has declined since its peak in January, with the index falling 4% in August alone, and another 2.3% over the first half of September. When will this slowdown appear in official data: as chart 5 illustrates, the pass-through from the Mannheim index to the BLS data exhibits a 1-3 month lag, making it somewhat difficult to forecast the precise timing of inflections in the used vehicle CPI. Looking ahead, JPM expects the trend of falling used vehicle prices to continue over coming months: Chart 6 shows that the J.P Morgan Automotive Commodities Index is now down 35%, reflecting the cost-weighted average price of the commodities used to manufacture a vehicle. Used vehicle prices tend to be more sensitive to raw commodity costs compared with new vehicles, given that scrap value reflects a greater share of the overall price of a used vehicle.

2Y Treasury Yields Top 4.00% For First Time Since Oct 2007 - For the first time since October 2007, the yield on 2Y US Treasury bonds has topped 4.00%... ...having soared over 60bps since Fed Chair Powell gave his hyper-hawkish speech at Jackson Hole...Meanwhile, the terminal rate for Fed rate-hikes has risen to 4.52% this morning, expected in March 2023... Do we really think The Fed can get there without folding to political pressure or flip-flopping to abate risk-asset carnage? As we noted earlier, how do we think Elizabeth Warren is going to react to this?When the Fed hikes to 3.25% from 2.50%, it will be paying banks $460MM in daily interest on IOER/Reverse Repo.
When the Fed hikes to 4.25% by year end, it will be paying $600 million in daily interest to BANKS. Think that won't be a political issue? Think again
Finally, which would you rather own - 2Y notes backed by the US govt paying 4% or the S&P 500 paying 1.7%? TINA is dead... and remember all of this is priced into the rates market already...

What is priced in right now:
+75bps tomorrow;
+75bps in Nov,
+50bps in Dec.
-> 4.49% in March

Maybe not so much the stock market. Meanwhile, the German yield curve is the most inverted... ever...

Gold Declines to Near Two-Year Low with Focus on Fed’s Rate Hike - Gold fell to near the lowest level in more than two years as the dollar strengthened, with investors weighing the likely size of the Federal Reserve’s looming interest-rate hike.The greenback rose Tuesday alongside inflation-adjusted Treasury yields, putting some pressure on bullion. The metal plunged below the $1,700-an-ounce mark last week following hot inflation data that spurred some bets on a 100 basis point rate hike by the Fed.Most economists see the central bank opting for a smaller 75 basis point increase, which will have largely been priced in by bullion traders. Other central banks including the Bank of England will also make rate decisions this week.Investors are continuing to pare back their gold positions, with exchange-traded fund holdings down to the lowest since Jan. 20. Physical buying from China appears strong, with total imports of non-monetary gold last month jumping to the highest since June 2018, according to data from the country’s customs administration.For gold, “a further slide to the mid-$1,500 an ounce level is possible,” UBS AG Wealth Management strategists including Wayne Gordon wrote in a note. “With 10-year US real yield expectations breaking above 1% and a stronger US dollar, we see further outflows from ETFs and futures over coming months.”

Tensions rise amid frustration over mystery Manchin deal - Lawmakers are frustrated about being kept in the dark as Democratic leaders strategize how to jimmy an energy deal struck with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) behind closed doors through Congress — while also averting a government shutdown. Democratic leadership is aiming to use a must-pass government-funding bill to advance an energy permitting proposal by Manchin by the end of the month. But with roughly two weeks standing between Congress and the critical funding deadline, tensions are simmering over the closely-kept negotiations. “We don’t know what it is. They haven’t released the text, they don’t give us the detailed explanation,” Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) told The Hill this week. “So, I don’t know how you could ask people to vote for something they don’t know what it is.” “There’s a reason they’re keeping it secret: it’s either still being negotiated or it’s so weak it has no meaning or it’s too strong for other people,” she added. Only a broad outline of Manchin’s plan has been released. It includes setting maximum timelines for the environmental review process for energy projects, which advocates say could undercut the analysis required for a project’s approval and weaken community involvement. Other components would make it harder for states to block projects that run through their waters and require the president to pick a “balanced” list of energy projects that should be prioritized. The outline also says that a natural gas pipeline that runs through West Virginia, known as the Mountain Valley Pipeline, would be completed. But in the absence of official text, lawmakers from both sides of the aisle are complaining that they don’t know what they’re debating. Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) who is leading the left-wing opposition to Manchin’s reforms, said he’d be open to negotiating a package if it will provide protections for communities that face high pollution burdens. Still, he expressed frustration that the details of Manchin’s proposal haven’t been spelled out. “We’re negotiating in the dark and all the cards are held by the Senate and we’re just supposed to react,” Grijalva told The Hill. He said he’s seeking a meeting with leadership to negotiate and also plans to reach out to Manchin. Pressed on Thursday whether the text would be released before legislation is unveiled for the funding bill, Manchin told The Hill he believes it will be “released in the CR,” referring to the continuing resolution, which is expected to push the government funding deadline to December as the midterm cycle picks up. A continuing resolution is a short-term spending bill that keeps spending at present levels. As for when and how the funding bill will be brought up for consideration, much appears to be up in the air, as top leaders indicate those details are still being hashed out. Sen. Richard Shelby (Ala.), top Republican on the Senate Appropriations Committee, speculated that the CR might not drop until “probably closer to the end of the month” — which he noted would up the pressure on both sides to pass a CR before funding lapses. However, he raised doubts about whether Manchin’s permitting measure will make it into the larger funding package. “Republicans and a lot of Democrats [are] against it. So, I don’t know where it goes yet,” he said.He pointed to a separate permitting proposal released by Capito and other Republicans this past week as an alternative.

Oil wish list or renewables boost? Manchin bill may be both - The transition to a clean energy economy will involve trade-offs. Few are as stark as those in the permitting bill unveiled Wednesday by Sen. Joe Manchin, the West Virginia Democrat. The bill could provide a significant boost to transmission infrastructure, which is needed to ensure widespread renewable adoption. Where permitting a transmission line can now take a decade, the bill would limit federal environmental reviews to two years, put a statute of limitation of 150 days on legal challenges and give the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission more authority to permit transmission lines. But Manchin’s proposal could also lead to the construction of more fossil fuel projects, producing more greenhouse gas emissions and blunting attempts to green the U.S. economy. It would expand a program aimed at expediting federal permitting reviews to include offshore oil leases and approve the Mountain Valley pipeline, which would carry natural gas from West Virginia into Virginia. \ Whether the proposal can survive the House and Senate is an open question. The bill has scrambled traditional political alliances. Republicans and progressive Democrats are opposed. Clean energy developers are supportive. Most, though not all, environmentalists are against it. Greg Wetstone, president and CEO of the American Council on Renewable Energy, said permitting reform is needed to fully realize the emission-cutting benefits of the climate spending law Congress passed earlier this year. Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) criticized the bill for mirroring the “wish lists” of the fossil fuel industry. “You can still see fossil fuel’s fingerprints all over the text: shortened public comment periods, fewer avenues for communities to fight back against projects polluting their communities, and weakened enforcement of bedrock environmental and public health laws,” said Grijalva, who chairs the House Natural Resources Committee. “These dangerous permitting shortcuts have been on industry wish lists for years.” Much of the climate benefits from permitting reform come from transmission. Integrating more wind and solar will require more long-range power lines that can move power from where it is being generated to the population centers where the electricity is being consumed. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine says the U.S. needs to boost transmission capacity 60 percent by the end of the decade to put the country on track for net-zero emissions by 2050. The U.S. has a checkered history of transmission development. It has had some success building new lines, particularly in the Midwest, where 16 of 17 projects planned over the last decade were permitted. But the country has also encountered a series of high-profile failures. An attempt to build a transmission line carrying hydropower from Canada into New England was first rejected by New Hampshire and then nixed by voters in Maine, only for the state’s high court to open the door for the project again. It remains in limbo (Climatewire, Sept. 6). A $4.5 billion line bringing wind from the Oklahoma Panhandle to Tulsa was scrapped in 2018, eventually replaced by a slightly scaled-back version of the project. Perhaps most infamous was an eight-year effort to build a 700-mile line connecting Oklahoma wind power to the East Coast via Tennessee. The project died in 2017 but not before its trials and tribulations were captured in the popular book “Superpower” by Texas Monthly reporter Russell Gold. Even when projects do succeed, it can take years. The Anschutz Corp. began planning a 732-mile line aimed at bringing Wyoming wind to Southern California in 2008. It received its last permit in 2020 after obtaining approvals from the Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management and Bureau of Reclamation, along with state and county regulators in four states. The project is still waiting on a notice to proceed from BLM, which is expected to arrive next year. .

The Missing Data Behind Manchin’s Dirty Pipeline Deal - As heatwaves and droughts scorched the country this summer, Democrats in Washington sold their Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) to voters as a tool to combat climate change. To deflect questions about why fossil fuel companies were celebrating the bill, party leaders and their media acolytes pointed to studies — one by an institution with ties to fossil fuel giants — asserting that even with its provisions expanding oil and gas development, the legislation would result in a huge net reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.However, those studies did not take into account an agreement that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) says was an integral part of the IRA: Legislation to accelerate the construction of fossil fuel pipelines, which data show drive planet-warming emissions.Now, as Senate Democrats are moving to pass that pipeline side deal — and as some liberal pundits insist climate activists should halt their criticism of the agreement — lawmakers appear to be flying blind about the legislation’s environmental impacts.Congressional staffers and environmental groups tell The Lever that they have seen no reliable analyses comprehensively quantifying the climate effects of the initiative to expand oil and gas infrastructure, even though the bill is now moving forward, and even though a draft version of the pipeline bill has been in the public domain since early last month, before the IRA even passed.“Our modeling of the IRA was based on the final legislative text, and there was no permitting reform text to refer to so it was not explicitly considered,” John Larsen, partner at the consulting firm Rhodium Group, told The Lever. The Rhodium Group’s projections were widely cited as proof that Democrats’ IRA would significantly reduce emissions.We're building a reader-supported investigative news outlet that holds accountable the people and corporations manipulating the levers of power. Join our fight by becoming a free or paid subscriber today.The pipeline agreement, which is backed by the Biden administration, was originally negotiated between Schumer and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) — respectively Congress’s top recipients of utility and fossil fuel industry campaign cash.Though the final text of the measure is still secret, the leaked draft — which was emblazoned with the watermark of a powerful oil and gas industry lobbying group — elucidated the broad strokes of the deal: weakened environmental laws and expedited timetables to steamroll any opposition or delay when fossil fuel companies want to build pipelines through fragile ecosystems and local communities.And yet, the same Democratic lawmakers who waved around emissions projections to justify passage of the IRA have produced no similar estimates about the emissions implications of the pipeline deal that Schumer acknowledges was “part of the IRA.” “The fact that emissions projections for Schumer’s side deal have not been discussed either in private or in public point to the reality of what’s at stake here,” said Jim Walsh of the environmental group Food and Water Watch. “Schumer and Manchin’s deal is not talking about clean energy; it’s a fossil fuel payday. The leaked draft specifies the fast-tracking of 19 fossil fuel-related infrastructure projects. Any effort to spin that increased pollution as emissions reduction would be just that — spin.”

Manchin releases permitting reform package - Senate Energy and Natural Resources Chair Joe Manchin released his long-promised permitting reform plan this evening.Democratic leaders promised Manchin to pursue permitting reform legislation in exchange for supporting the Inflation Reduction Act. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has vowed to include the permitting language in a continuing resolution to keep the government open.The West Virginia Democrat’s text reveals further details about provisions outlined in a draft summary released this summer. The latest bill, however, doesn’t stray far from Manchin’s long-standing demands.The legislation would direct federal agencies “to issue all approval and permits” for the nearly complete Mountain Valley pipeline, which would carry natural gas from West Virginia to Virginia.When it comes to National Environmental Policy Act reviews, the bill would direct the administration to instate shot clocks and page counts.The bill would create a White House priority list for key projects. It also includes requirements for transmission lines, water quality permits, hydrogen energy and mining, according to a summary.Previewing the legislation Tuesday, Manchin addressed concerns from environmentalists about hampering environmental reviews.Manchin said, “Do we throw caution to the wind? No. Did we make you go through the environmental process? Yes, we just accelerate the time.”Progressives have come out against the legislation and are particularly opposed to coupling it with a must-pass spending bill. And even though many Republicans have long supported permitting reform, they have repeatedly questioned Manchin’s effort.Manchin this week said some lawmakers who have been critical of the permitting reform push may be seeking revenge for his involvement in the Inflation Reduction Act (E&E Daily, Sept. 21).

Senator Joe Manchin unveils bill that would expedite federal energy projects -The US senator Joe Manchin released an energy permitting bill on Wednesday to speed up fossil fuel and clean energy projects. The bill is expected to be attached to a measure to temporarily fund the government that Congress must pass before 1 October. The legislation would require the federal government to issue permits for Equitrans Midstream Corp’s long-delayed $6.6bn Mountain Valley pipeline to take natural gas between West Virginia, Manchin’s home state, and Virginia. The wider funding bill needs approval of the House and Senate and to be signed by Joe Biden to become law. Manchin’s staff told reporters that he believed the funding bill will would get the 60 votes needed to pass the Senate with the permitting measure attached. The permitting measure from Manchin, a centrist Democrat and an important swing vote in the 50-50 Senate, would require Biden to designate 25 energy projects of strategic national importance for speedy federal review. The USelectricity grid needs expansion and fixes as some of its major transmission lines are 50 years old. Improving transmission lines would help renewable projects like wind and solar farms in rural areas get clean power to cities. Biden’s landmark climate and spending bill – what’s in it, and what got cut? Read more The bill also sets a two-year target for environmental reviews on energy projects that need to be completed by more than one federal agency. Progressive lawmakers and environmental groups have been concerned that the bill would speed fossil fuel projects while undermining US environmental laws. In the House of Representatives, 77 Democrats this month asked the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, to keep the side deal out of the funding bill. Senator Tim Kaine, a Democrat from Virginia, said after the bill was released he could not support its “highly unusual provisions” regarding Mountain Valley pipeline. Kaine said they “eliminate any judicial review” for key parts of the pipeline approval process and strip jurisdiction away from a US court of appeals for cases involving it. He said he had not been included in talks about the measure, even though 100 miles (160km) of the pipeline would run through his state. While the bill would speed up the processes required by a bedrock US green law called the National Environmental Policy Act, which mandates reviews of major projects, “it doesn’t amend the underlying statutes”, a member of Manchin’s staff told reporters in a call. Getting at least 10 Republican senators to support the measure could be complicated after Senator Shelley Moore Capito, a Republican from Manchin’s state, issued her own bill this month more favorable to fossil fuels. Some Republicans were also concerned because Manchin voted for Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act, which contained $369bn for climate and energy security. Speaking about the unwillingness of some Republicans to support permitting, Manchin said on Tuesday: “If they’re willing to say they’re going to shut down the government because of a personal attack on me, or by not looking at the good of the country, that is what makes people sick about politics.”

Manchin permitting bill release fails to appease skeptics - Senate Energy and Natural Resources Chair Joe Manchin released his much-anticipated permitting reform bill Wednesday, but the text does not appear to have calmed the progressive rebellion and Republican indifference to the effort.The West Virginia Democrats’ text largely mirrors an outline released in recent weeks. It includes new timelines for permitting and a list of priority projects to accelerate. The bill also includes efforts to ease Clean Water Act and grid approvals, according to a summary.Democratic leaders now have to gather enough support to attach the legislation to an upcoming short-term government funding measure in order to fulfill their promise to Manchin, who sees the permitting language as going hand-in-hand with the recently enacted Inflation Reduction Act.But the odds of approving the bill only seem to be getting longer. Progressives remain adamant in their opposition. And one prominent Democrat slammed the proposal in the immediate aftermath of its release.“[The Mountain Valley pipeline section] is completely unacceptable,” Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) told reporters Wednesday night. “I was not consulted about it. I will do everything I can to oppose it.”Manchin’s bill includes a mandate for agencies to approve the contentious Mountain Valley natural gas pipeline project from West Virginia to Virginia. Many Virginia communities have revolted against the venture.The Manchin bill would move the legal venue for challenges to Mountain Valley from the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond to the U.S. Circuit Court for the District of Columbia Circuit.“Allowing a corporation that is unhappy about losing a case to strip jurisdiction away from the entire court that is handled the case is [unprecedented],” Kaine added. “It would open the door for massive abuse and corruption, so I can’t support it.”Manchin this week said the pipeline could spur more domestic production of natural gas that could help ease inflation as well as provide supplies for Europe amid shortages caused by the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Environment and Public Works Chair Tom Carper (D-Del.) — a key figure in the permitting reform negotiations — continued to endorse the overall effort but distanced himself from the Mountain Valley language, saying it was worked out between Manchin and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.).

Joe Manchin’s Pipeline Deal Irks Both Parties, Snarling Spending Bill - The West Virginia Democrat is trying to attach an oil and gas permitting measure to must-pass spending legislation.— When Senator Joe Manchin III of West Virginia agreed in late July to supply his crucial vote allowing Democrats to pass their landmark climate change, health and tax legislation, heextracted a promise in return: Congress would pass a separate bill by the end of September making it easier to build a natural gas pipeline in his state.Now lawmakers in both parties are balking over a deal they insist they were never a part of, prompting a dispute that threatens to derail a government spending bill that must pass by next weekend to stave off a shutdown.Mr. Manchin has insisted that legislation to streamline the permitting of fossil fuel and energy infrastructure projects, including the West Virginia pipeline, be tied to the spending measure, which is expected to keep the government funded through mid-December.It is the latest chapter in long-running tensions between Mr. Manchin and liberal Democrats, who have bristled at how the West Virginian has used his swing vote in the evenly divided Senate to scuttle or whittle down President Biden’s agenda and, when he has agreed to go along, demanded hefty concessions for doing so. Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the majority leader, has said he intended to attach the two bills, and the White House on Wednesday confirmed Mr. Biden’s support for the legislation in a statement.“Today, far too many energy projects face delays — keeping us from generating and shipping critical, cost-saving clean energy to families and businesses across America,” Karine Jean-Pierre, the White House press secretary, said in a statement. This is an important step forward to further unlock the potential of these projects and the good-paying jobs they support.”The permitting bill, which would explicitly allow for the completion of the Mountain Valley Pipeline, a controversial gas project that passes through West Virginia, was left out of the climate legislation because it was being considered as a budget reconciliation bill, which allowed Democrats to shield the sprawling measure from a Republican filibuster but also strictly limited what could be included.After the climate legislation became law, dozens of liberal lawmakers expressed concerns about the permitting measure, warning against weakening environmental protections, including the National Environmental Policy Act, which requires the government to study the impacts to the environment of any highways, pipelines or other major federal projects.Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, the independent in charge of the Budget Committee, has said he would oppose Mr. Manchin’s legislation, meaning that at least 11 Republicans would need to back it in the 50-50 Senate to scale the 60-vote threshold to move it past a filibuster if the rest of the Democratic caucus backs it. Most Republicans have instead rallied around a more aggressive package unveiled by Senator Shelley Moore Capito, Republican of West Virginia.“I’ve never seen stranger bedfellows than Bernie Sanders and the extreme liberals siding with Republican leadership,” Mr. Manchin said at a news conference on Tuesday. “What I’m hearing is that this is like revenge politics, and basically revenge toward one person: me.”

Manchin: 'Revenge politics' could sink permitting reform - Senate Energy and Natural Resources Chair Joe Manchin is decrying forces aligning against his permitting overhaul effort, a sign of the long odds the legislation likely faces in passing Congress.The bill, long sought by the energy industry, is expected to be released later today.“I got to be honest with you, I’ve been around for a long time in state and federal politics, I’ve never seen stranger bedfellows than the Bernie Sanders and the extreme liberal left siding up with Republican leadership in Congress,” Manchin (D-W.Va.) said of opposition to the plan Tuesday. “I’ve never seen this.”He added, “It’s revenge toward one person — me.”Manchin’s comments on what he called “revenge politics” reflect the growing sentiment on Capitol Hill that the permitting plan won’t move on stopgap spending legislation, due by Oct. 1, as the West Virginia Democrat and his allies had hoped.While no lawmakers declared the legislation dead, they acknowledged both policy and political differences are complicating the effort, which might not be settled until after the November election or even into the next Congress.Republicans, who almost uniformly favor streamlining environmental reviews for energy projects, are nonetheless throwing cold water on the permitting idea.“I think the situation he’s in right now is entirely of his own making,” said Senate Minority Whip John Thune (R-S.D.), who like most Republicans has expressed frustration with Manchin for supporting the Democrats’ Inflation Reduction Act only after being promised a future vote on the permitting bill.Thune said it’s unclear if the Manchin proposal could get the support of 10 to 12 Senate Republicans needed to move the bill as part of the stopgap without the threat of a filibuster. Sixty votes are needed to advance most legislation in the Senate with each party controlling 50 seats.Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said yesterday he still planned on adding the permitting bill to the government funding bill, known as a continuing resolution, and getting it passed by the end of next week. He said he hoped Republicans would get behind it, too.Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), the chamber’s top GOP energy appropriator, said he may back permitting reform on the CR depending on what’s proposed. But he acknowledged there’s “no question” that some GOP senators are mad at Manchin over the deal on the Inflation Reduction Act. “I think my side learned a good lesson in dealing with Manchin: You never let a dog guard your food, he’ll eat it,” he added.

Kaine says Mountain Valley Pipeline provision in Manchin bill 'could open the door to serious abuse and even corruption' - Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine (D) on Thursday sharply criticized a provision of a federal energy permitting reform bill that would force completion of the controversial Mountain Valley Pipeline, saying that “it could open the door to serious abuse and even corruption.” “If they demonstrate on the merits that they should be entitled to build a pipeline … then build it by all means,” Kaine said in a lengthy speech on the U.S. Senate floor. “But don’t embrace the need for permitting reform and then choose one project in the entire United States affecting my state and pull it out of permitting reform, insulating it from the normal processes.” The completion of the 303-mile Mountain Valley Pipeline, intended to carry gas from the Marcellus shale fields in West Virginia to southern Virginia, has been a political flashpoint in Virginia since it was first proposed in 2014. Opposition to the project has led to numerous court challenges, a settlement with Virginia over more than 300 environmental violations and the yanking of multiple federal permits by judges in the Richmond-based U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals.. Today, most of the unfinished portion of the pipeline lies in Virginia’s Giles, Craig and Montgomery counties. This August, the project grabbed national attention when Sen. Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia, said he had agreed to support Democrats’ sweeping Inflation Reduction Act in exchange for approval of separate legislation to reform the nation’s energy permitting processes. A one-page summary of what the legislation would do included the completion of Mountain Valley. The text of the bill, which was released Wednesday, would require the federal government to issue outstanding permits for the project within 30 days, including authorizations from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to protect endangered species, from the Bureau of Land Management to allow the pipeline to cross the Jefferson National Forest in Virginia and from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to approve its remaining crossing of federal waters. The legislation says that none of those actions would be subject to review by the courts. Additionally, it would transfer any other legal action related to the pipeline or challenges to the act itself from the 4th Circuit to the D.C. Circuit. On Thursday, Kaine said Congress should not interfere with specific judicial and administrative review cases and called the transfer of jurisdiction away from the 4th Circuit “a very, very dangerous precedent.” “What ground would there be for such a historic rebuke of my hometown federal circuit court, to say that just because they ruled against a powerful energy corporation, we will in an unprecedented way strip jurisdiction away from them in a pending case that is midstream and not allow them to hear it?” he asked.

Can Manchin Get The Votes He Needs For His Permitting Bill? | WVPB - U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin is building support on Capitol Hill for his permitting reform legislation for energy projects. But he’s still short of the votes he needs. Manchin released the text of his legislation on Wednesday. By Thursday, he appeared to pick up support for it on both sides of the aisle. Crucially, among them was his fellow West Virginian, Sen. Shelley Moore Capito. Capito could persuade her fellow Republicans to support Manchin’s bill – last week, he told reporters he was hoping she would. On the other hand, some of his fellow Democrats have said they won’t support it. That group includes Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine. The bill would fast-track the Mountain Valley Pipeline, which passes through Virginia and West Virginia. The 300-mile natural gas pipeline is a top priority for both Manchin and Capito. Republicans want some of the same permitting changes Manchin does, but some of them still feel burned by the Inflation Reduction Act, which Manchin negotiated over the summer. No Republicans voted for it. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer plans to include Manchin's legislation in a must-pass spending package to keep the government open after Sept. 30. The deal has the support of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and President Joe Biden. In addition to easing permits for the Mountain Valley Pipeline, Manchin's bill would also accelerate construction of new transmission lines for renewable energy — a key component of decarbonizing the electric power grid.

Manchin’s permitting reform deal on life support in face of GOP opposition | WKRN - The controversial permitting reform bill unveiled by Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) late Wednesday has only a slim chance of passing the Senate next week, as Republicans don’t want to give the West Virginia senator a victory after he resurrected President Biden’s tax and climate agenda in late July. Republican senators, who had been shut out of negotiations over the permitting bill’s language, said Wednesday they don’t expect it to pass if attached to a short-term government funding bill that Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) plans to bring to the floor next week. GOP senators didn’t get a chance to look at the bill to reform permitting for energy projects until 6 p.m. Wednesday but predicted earlier in the day that if it fell short of a stronger permitting reform proposal offered by Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), they wouldn’t vote for it. Capito and Barrasso said Wednesday evening their staffs were reviewing the 91-page bill and said they would hold off on making final verdicts until they know more about it. Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) outlined multiple problems with the draft of Manchin’s bill that circulated earlier this summer during a presentation he delivered to a Senate Republican lunch Wednesday. His message to GOP senators was clear: Unless Manchin fixed multiple provisions that were problems for the fossil fuel industry, Republicans shouldn’t support it. Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), an advisor to the Senate GOP leadership, said he couldn’t see a government funding measure pass next week with Manchin’s permitting reform attached. “I don’t know what Sen. Schumer’s plans are, whether he’s going to attach it to the CR. I doubt it’s going to pass,” Cornyn said, referring to a short-term continuing resolution to fund the government. Capito, who has a competing permitting reform bill, said Wednesday afternoon that Manchin hasn’t shared any of the details of his legislation before it was made available to the media and general public. Republicans say they don’t want to reward Manchin by passing his permitting reform resolution because Schumer is bringing it to the floor as part of a deal he struck with the West Virginia senator in July to pass the Inflation Reduction Act, which implemented a 15 percent corporate minimum tax and included $369 billion in energy investments to combat climate change. “It’s going to be extremely difficult to do just because of the circumstances surrounding the deal that was made,” said Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.). Rounds said he would take a close look at Manchin’s proposal if he’s willing to shift it substantially closer to the reforms that Capito has proposed but predicted that’s not likely to happen. “I’m not sure he’d have the support of Democrats then. I think that it’s going to be a very difficult deal to get done,” Rounds added. Even Democrats who support Manchin’s permitting reform bill say they won’t support it if it is rewritten to mirror Capito’s proposal as part of an effort to secure more Republican votes. Manchin will need more than 10 Republicans to pass his permitting reform bill, as several Democrats and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) have signaled opposition to marrying the Manchin permitting reform language with a short-term spending bill. Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) is circulating a letter with the support of Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Sanders urging Schumer to keep separate permitting reform and a short-term government funding bill that needs to pass by the end of next week. But Merkley on Wednesday stopped short of threatening to vote against the government funding resolution if it includes permitting reform. He explained that he drafted the letter to draw attention to the concerns environmental justice groups have over Manchin’s bill. Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) has also released a statement saying the permitting reform language should not be added to must-pass legislation to keep the government funded. Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) issued a statement Wednesday evening declaring his opposition to the Manchin bill because it would approve the construction of a hundred miles of the Mountain Valley Pipeline through his home state and he was not adequately consulted. “I cannot support the Mountain Valley Pipeline-related provisions in this legislative text. Over 100 miles of this pipeline are in Virginia, but I was not included in the discussions regarding the MVP provisions and therefore not given an opportunity to share Virginians’ concerns,” he said. Schumer was spotted having an intense conversation with Kaine just off the Senate floor shortly after the Virginia senator put out his statement. Schumer faces an even bigger problem on the Republican side of the aisle, where opposition to Manchin’s bill has coalesced over the last two weeks. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Wednesday praised Capito’s permitting reform bill as a better option than Manchin’s. “Very predictably, this background deal is crumbling before our eyes,” McConnell said on the Senate floor, making reference to Schumer’s promise to pass Manchin’s permitting reform bill before the end of September. He predicted that Republicans would find Manchin’s bill insufficient to get enough domestic oil, gas and coal projects up and running to reduce the cost of mounting energy bills. “Every indication thus far suggests [it] will be weak reform in name only legislation,” he said. He promised all 50 Republicans would vote for Capito’s permitting reform bill if it’s included in the short-term funding measure instead of Manchin’s proposal. “If our colleague across the aisle wants real permitting reform, Sen. Capito’s fantastic bill only needs Sen. Manchin plus nine more Democrats to clear this chamber,” McConnell said. “Otherwise it would appear the senior senator from West Virginia traded his vote on a massive liberal boondoggle in exchange for nothing,” he said, referring to the Inflation Reduction Act, which passed in August because of Manchin’s support.

Lawmakers want to change permitting bill. Will they succeed? - The new permitting reform proposal is already facing calls from skeptical lawmakers who want to dramatically change it. Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) wants to alter language for a natural gas pipeline that runs through his state. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) wants to speed up offshore wind projects. Republicans have doubts about the bill granting new powers to the nation’s top energy regulator and want the legislation to be closer to one introduced by one of their colleagues. Those gripes span the political spectrum and leave in serious doubt the fate of the legislation, which was introduced Wednesday by Energy and Natural Resources Chair Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.).Despite those doubts, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has set a test vote next week. The intention is to tie the permitting bill to stopgap spending legislation. Schumer pledged to hold a vote on permitting as part of Manchin’s support for the climate-focused Inflation Reduction Act.“We’ve spent the last couple weeks trying to find common ground between our team, Sen. Manchin’s team and Sen. Schumer’s team, and I think our efforts to make sure any changes we made to accommodate the clean energy development were with respect to the environment and to hope we do no damage,” Environment and Public Works Chair Tom Carper (D-Del.) told E&E News.The permitting overhaul would speed environmental reviews for energy projects, prioritize transmission and make changes under the Clean Water Act, among numerous provisions (E&E Daily, Sept. 22).The effort picked up a crucial ally yesterday in Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), the ranking member on EPW.For her, the inclusion of a provision that would speed approval of Mountain Valley pipeline, a controversial West Virginia to Virginia natural gas project mired in environmental reviews and lawsuits, was key. Her vote is also seen as critical to bringing skeptical Republicans on board.But the Mountain Valley provision is also driving a wedge in rank-and-file Democrats. Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) immediately announced his opposition to the provision, calling into question his support for the overall package if it remains. Key to his concerns is a provision that would move judicial jurisdiction of the pipeline.Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) said yesterday she also opposes the legislation for similar worries.“I’m still going through it, but this idea of being able to move jurisdiction from one court just because you don’t like the court’s decision, especially for the one pipeline,” Duckworth said. “Are we going to do that all across the country next?”

The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA): A Brief Assessment - IRA falls short of what is needed because of two reasons: the fiscal stimulus to the renewable energy transition is far too small compared to what is needed in view of the steadily building climate crisis; and the positive price incentives, loved by establishment economists, will not work, failing to bring about the required structural transformation of the US economy, addicted to fossil fuels, to a net-zero-carbon system. Let me consider these two points in somewhat greater detail.First, most climate macro-economists agree that a strategy to reduce carbon emissions so as to keep global warming below 1.5°C degrees (with a reasonable degree of probability) would require an annual increase (or reallocation) of investment by around 2 to 2.5% of GDP (for instance, see Taylor, Semieniuk, Foley and Rezai 2021). For the US, this would mean an increase in investment in renewable energy generation and infrastructure of around $500 billion per year. IRA is budgeting an annual increase in such investment of $37 billion, which is less than one-tenth of what is needed. It is difficult to see how the limited stimulus provided by IRA is going to lower US emissions by (the expected) forty per cent compared to levels in 2005.I must add here, on this point, that per capita greenhouse gas emissions are much higher in the US than in the European Union (EU) or the United Kingdom (UK). In fact, in 2019, consumption-based CO2 emissions are 17.1 tonnes per person in the US compared to 7.74 tonnes per capita in the EU-27 and 7.71 tonnes per person in the UK. This implies that even if IRA manages to lower per capita carbon emissions in the US by 40% over the next 10 years, CO2 emissions by the average American continue to remain much higher than average per capita emissions in Western Europe. In other words, US climate action remains relatively unambitious. As Lance Taylor (2021)pointed out a year ago, “the USA is far behind the rest of the world in attacking global warming. A gallon of gasoline costs around $2.50 here vs. at least $7.00 in Western Europe.” It is important to keep sight of the relatively limited ambition level of US climate policy—especially in view of the political hyperbole and climate eschatology characterising US macroeconomic discussions on IRA.Second, IRA wants to have the cake and eat it. It wants to promote clean energy using positive price incentives, but at the same time is protecting the vested interests of fossil fuel capital, allowing it to continue its stranglehold on the US political system. Gone are earlier ideas of taxing carbon or pricing carbon by setting up a CO2 trading regime. Instead, IRA provides mainly positive pecuniary inducements, which (paraphrasing Martin Weitzman 2007) are meant to unleash the decentralised power of capitalist inventive genius on the problem of researching, developing, and finally investing in economically efficient carbon-avoiding alternative technologies. More specifically, as is lucidly explained by Jeff Goodell (2022), “In theory, it works like this: subsidies and rebates will give home heat pumps the little push they need to replace gas furnaces, which in turn will reduce demand for natural gas, which will close down the fracking operations that leak methane into the atmosphere. Subsidies and rebates will also give electric vehicles the extra shove they need to replace internal combustion engines, which will cut the demand for oil and that will in turn push companies like ExxonMobil and Shell and BP to accelerate their investments in clean energy. The faster this happens, the bigger it snowballs, and the faster the world is transformed.” I have put ‘in theory’ in italics because this is the crux: it won’t happen like this is reality. Sorry.According to many energy modelers, the potential for CO2 reductions from the IRA rebates and tax credits may be around 40% by 2030 (compared to 2005). But the assumptions concerning price-induced technological progress in energy and carbon efficiency on which most climate-economy models are built, are merely educated ‘guesses’—after all, data on past performance do not provide any guidance for the structural economic transformation and the required degree of decoupling of economic growth and CO2 emissions that lies ahead (Storm 2009; Schröder and Storm 2020). Many modelers are techno-optimists, downplaying the stylized fact that labor and energy productivity levels have increased at close to equal rates for centuries (Semieniuk et. al., 2021). Rebates, subsidies, and tax credits falling within a politically acceptable range may be capable of inducing macroeconomically small changes in the structure of the economy and level of emissions. But given technical and structural constraints, the proposed incentives will not be effective, as Lance Taylor (2021) showed, in bringing about the structural change necessary to stabilize warming below 1.5°C. To argue otherwise is a conscious act of self-deception in the spirit of Wilkins Micawber’s stubborn and unfounded optimism that, in the face of adversity, “something will turn up.” Meanwhile, the Keeling Curve (Figure 1), the chart of CO2 concentration in the atmosphere (measured at Mauna Loa Observatory), continues to rise steadily and relentlessly.

Cook Inlet Lease Sale Going Ahead Under New Law - The Department of the Interior has announced that the Proposed Notice of Sale for Lease Sale 258 in Cook Inlet, Alaska, will be going ahead under the Inflation Reduction Act. As a result of the new Act, Congress directed that the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) to hold the Lease Sale 258 by December 31, 2022. BOEM will propose to offer up to 224 blocks toward the northern part of the Cook Inlet Planning Area, from roughly Kalgin Island in the north to Augustine Island in the south, in water depths ranging from 33 to 260 feet. BOEM released the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for Lease Sale 258 in October 2021, and a final EIS and Record of Decision will be published later this fall. A Final Notice of Sale will be published at least 30 days before the date of the sale. As the Department implements the IRA, it will conduct robust environmental reviews and strong engagement with local, state, and Tribal governments, stakeholders, community leaders, and the American public. This is the second Lease Sale that came into focus recently. Namely, BOEM accepted 307 highest valid bids from Lease Sale 257 in the Gulf of Mexico last week. The lease sale was held in November 2021, but a federal judge invalidated the results in February of this year. Initially, the court rejected a plan to lease millions of acres in the Gulf of Mexico for offshore oil drilling, saying the Biden administration did not adequately consider the lease sale’s effect on greenhouse gas emissions, violating a bedrock environmental law. Now, a new judgment sent the proposed lease sale back to the Interior Department to decide the next steps. The judgment meant that it was up to the Interior to decide whether to go forward with the sale after a revised review, scrap it, or take other steps. Gulf of Mexico Lease Sale 257, the eighth offshore sale held under the 2017-2022 National OCS Oil and Gas Leasing Program, offered approximately 15,148 unleased blocks located from three to 231 miles offshore, in the Gulf’s Western, Central and Eastern Planning Areas in water depths ranging from nine to more than 11,115 feet. It generated $191,688,984 in high bids for 308 tracts covering 1.7 million acres in federal Gulf of Mexico waters. A total of 33 companies participated in the lease sale, submitting $198,511,834 in total bids. Although 308 tracts were initially awarded in the sale for a total of almost $192 million to energy companies including Shell, BP, Chevron, and Exxon, BOEM said in its latest statement that it accepted 307 highest bids worth $189,888,271.

How the gas industry capitalized on the Ukraine war to change Biden policy - The Russian tanks and armored vehicles had barely begun to roll into Ukraine before the fossil fuel industry in the US had swung into action. A letter was swiftly dispatched to the White House, urging an immediate escalation in gas production and exports to Europe ahead of an anticipated energy crunch. The letter, dated 25 February, just one day after Vladimir Putin’s forces launched their assault on Ukraine, noted the “dangerous juncture” of the moment before segueing into a list of demands: more drilling on US public lands; the swift approval of proposed gas export terminals; and pressure on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, an independent agency, to greenlight pending gas pipelines.By the winter of 2022, there should be “virtual transatlantic gas pipelines” flowing from the US to Europe, the authors envisioned.Six months on from the letter, Russia’s invasion has stalled and in places retreated, but the US gas industry has achieved almost all of its initial objectives. Within weeks, Joe Biden’s administration adopted the gas industry’s major demands as policy. They paved the way for new pipelines and export facilities, established a new taskforce to boost gas exports to Europe and approved $300m in funding to help build out gas infrastructure on the continent.“I can’t even begin to tell you how much the momentum has changed for companies in the United States that have wanted to bring their projects forward and just haven’t been able to get long-term contracts,” said a jubilant Fred Hutchison, president of LNG Allies, the industry group that sent the letter, just three weeks after both the military and lobbying pushes started.The rhetoric of the Biden administration, which styled itself as deeply committed to tackling the climate crisis, had “changed substantially” within just a week, Hutchison noted. Biden’s creation of the gas export taskforce was a “direct response to the proposal put forward by LNG Allies”, the group boasted in March.But the embrace of liquified natural gas – or LNG, gas that has been cooled to -260F (-160C), turning it into a liquid that can be shipped overseas – as an act of defiance to Putin has dismayed climate activists who warn it will lock in decades of planet-heating emissions and push the world closer to climate catastrophe.“The fact that just weeks after those demands were laid out, President Biden was turning industry wishes into policy is a damning indictment of a president who had promised to tackle the climate crisis,” said Zorka Milin, senior adviser at Global Witness, which shared a new report on the escalation in gas infrastructure with the Guardian.Milin said the US gas industry was “licking its lips” at the onset of the Ukraine war. “There is no doubt that Biden’s apparent capitulation to the gas industry has opened the door for these companies to continue to profit off the backs of those suffering in Ukraine, those living close to new gas infrastructure in the US and the millions affected by climate change globally,” she added. LNG Allies, which is the operating name of the US LNG Association but does not publicly disclose its members or donors, has notched a number of notable wins since the start of the war. The group wanted six specific gas export applications to be expedited, and within three weeks the US Department of Energy granted two of them, Cheniere Energy’s Sabine Pass project in Louisiana and its Corpus Christi operation in Texas.

House GOP agenda light on energy details, silent on climate - House Republican leaders Friday plan to outline an agenda for GOP candidates to campaign on this fall that highlights long-standing conservative energy priorities like expanded domestic production and regulatory reforms. Dubbed the “Commitment to America,” the plan is a political manifesto of poll-tested priorities that GOP strategists believe will appeal to voters in both parties and allow them to gain the handful of seats necessary to win the House majority. It’s an approach similar to the House Republicans’ 1994 “Contract with America” agenda that the party successfully used to seize control of the chamber for the first time in decades.Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.), the architect of the 1994 plan, helped Republicans craft this year’s agenda. “The Commitment to America represents a new direction and better approach that will get our nation back on track,” states an outline of the plan released Thursday by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), who is seeking to paint Democrats as “out of touch” with the challenges facing everyday Americans.The rollout of the plan will be held in the suburbs of Pittsburgh, the second-largest city in a swing state where they believe their message will resonate. It will focus on four themes: strengthening the economy, keeping Americans safe, promoting a range of personal freedoms and holding government more accountable.“You’ve got to be running for something, not just against something. We can point out all of their failures, and all their incompetence, how they caused the cost of living to explode. But at the end of the day, what are you for? That’s what the Commitment to America is about,” said Rep. Tom Emmer (R-Minn.) chair of the National Republican Congressional Committee.The pitch by House Republicans stands in contrast to their Senate counterparts, who have notably chosen not to put out a legislative agenda. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has said he’d let voters know the party’s intentions should they win back the Senate in November.According to a campaign-style website unveiled Thursday, House Republicans will stress the need for American energy independence to help lower gasoline prices. Under the Biden administration, they’ll argue, gas prices have risen by 60 percent and that the Trump and Obama administrations each approved 10 times as many federal energy leases.The GOP says it will seek to “maximize the production of reliable, American-made energy” and cut in half the permitting time for energy projects. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), the ranking member on Energy and Commerce who would chair the panel if the GOP gains the House, has outlined similar ideas for an “American energy dominance agenda” (E&E Daily, Sept. 14)The campaign proposal offers no specifics on how domestic production would be expanded or what regulatory changes would be coming. Nor does the proposal mention curbing carbon emissions or cutting climate change.Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.), an Energy and Commerce Republican who helped shape the plan, said a GOP-controlled House will promote natural gas as a “big transition fuel that’s helped us get to cleaner air quality and reduce our CO2 emissions.”

Cori Bush on Her Green New Deals for Cities | The Nation - St. Louis is home to a pair of the biggest coal companies on the planet, massive coal ash deposits, asthma that affects Black children far more than white children, and a landfill full of nuclear waste that could catch fire. For these reasons and more, voters of Missouri’s first district renominated Representative Cori Bush to the Democratic ticket, nearly guaranteeing her a second term in office in a deep-blue district representing most of St. Louis. Bush will go back to Washington with a climate bill specially designed to finance urban environmental cleanup and decarbonization, the Green New Deals for Cities Act of 2021 (HR 2644).“It’s the people who put our pressure on our politicians,” Bush told The Nation. “The voters, the people, and the local governments need to know that this funding can be available.”Cosponsored by Democratic Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, HR 2644 would distribute $1 trillion directly to cities, towns, and Native American tribes over a period of four years, bypassing conservative state legislatures to empower local governments. “St. Louis has been in need of more investment for such a long time,” the congresswoman said. “We see it in other cities, too, like Flint, and now Jackson,” all of which now share a catastrophic drinking water crisis. “We know our walls are full of lead paint. Black children are hospitalized with asthma with 10 times the frequency as white children.”Of 72 cities surveyed by the Equity Indicators Project, which measures racial disparities in areas like health care, education, and employment, St. Louis was the lowest-scoring cityfor asthma-related health problems.Dust and mold in housing are serious contributors, but so is poverty, which puts adequate health care out of reach.These systemic issues are only made worse by extreme weather events occasioned by climate change, which are already wreaking havoc on decrepit US infrastructure. In July 2022, St. Louis experienced aone-in-a-thousand-years flooding event. Roughly 25 percent of the area’s normal yearly rainfall fell in about 12 hours. Bush said, “Homes were flooded, people lost vehicles and became displaced. That’s happened inGeorgia, and in Rhode Island too. And in Jackson, Mississippi, a predominantly Black community has no access to clean water. This isn’t happening in a community that’s affluent.”With 46 politicians signed on, including Representatives Ayanna Pressley and Jim McGovern, the Green New Deals for Cities Act is meant to be a broad, flexible, revenue-sharing model. It is based on crisis legislation like the Heroes Act, which was designed to get coronavirus aid to frontline communities. Bush argues that cities should receive funding for the climate crisis just like they received funding for Covid. “There have been 11 more 90-degree days [per year on average] than when I was born,” she said. “This is documented, this is researched, and we need this direct investment.”The funding is focused on local needs like replacing lead pipes, retrofitting water infrastructure, building bike lanes, installing electric vehicle charging stations, testing soil and water for contaminants, and phasing out fossil fuel infrastructure, among other options.The bill also supports reparations programs for Black and Indigenous communities to remediate historical environmental injustices, but the details of that aspect of the program are not yet defined.For new infrastructure projects, the bill gives “preference to local hiring,” creating opportunities for people of color, immigrants, women, and the formerly incarcerated. Explicitly, the money can’t be used to greenwash law enforcement agencies, immigration detention centers, and prisons through projects like buying new electric police vehicles.

Why Republicans support Kigali - The Senate could ratify a major climate treaty by the end of the week. And it’s being pushed across the finish line by conservative Republicans and industry. The Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol has long been a standout in U.S. climate politics. An unusual set of business and political realities have allowed the 2016 agreement — which sets a timeline for the global phase down of climate superpollutants used in cooling — to gain strong bipartisan support. That could translate into a vote as soon as Wednesday to approve the amendment, which has been ratified by 137 countries. Scientists say it could help the world avoid a half-degree Celsius of global warming, a major step toward meeting international climate targets. The remarkable coalescence of conservatives and progressives around Kigali follows years of unbending partisanship on climate policy, sinking nearly every major legislative effort to reduce carbon emissions in the United States. The treaty’s bipartisanship contrasts the Inflation Reduction Act, the biggest spending bill on climate ever passed by Congress. It found zero Republican supporters in the Senate this summer. The Senate voted 64-30 Tuesday in favor of a procedural motion that tees up the final vote on Kigali. Even though many Senate Republicans voted no, skeptical of an international climate accord, the roll call suggested enough support for ratification. The Constitution requires support from two-thirds of senators present. And industry representatives who have led outreach on Capitol Hill say they believe some of the senators who are supportive of Kigali were absent Tuesday. Of the six senators missing, four are expected to vote for Kigali, a Senate aide said (E&E News PM, Sept. 20). U.S. industry is ardently supportive of U.S. ratification of Kigali, offering an influential — and rare — business ally to a major climate measure. “They are activated,” the Senate aide said. The roster of trade groups that have lobbied hard for ratification includes the cooling and refrigerating industry, the American Chemistry Council, the National Association of Manufacturers and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Senate Ratifies Kigali Amendment, the Global Pact to Curb Hydrofluorocarbons - — The Senate voted on Wednesday to approve an international climate treaty for the first time in 30 years, agreeing in a rare bipartisan deal to phase out of the use of planet-warming industrial chemicals commonly found in refrigerators and air-conditioners.By a vote of 69 to 27 the United States joined the 2016 Kigali Amendment, along with 137 other nations that have agreed to sharply reduce the production and use of hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs. The chemicals are potent greenhouse gases, warming the planet with 1,000 times the heat-trapping strength of carbon dioxide. Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the majority leader, called the ratification “a historic step forward to combating global warming in a huge way.” He predicted that the vote may count as one of the most important bipartisan accomplishments during this Congress. Twenty-one Republicans joined all present members of the Democratic caucus to approve the treaty, including Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the minority leader.“Ratifying the Kigali Amendment, along with passing the Inflation Reduction Act, is the strongest one-two punch against climate change any Congress has ever taken,” Mr. Schumer said, referring to last month’s passage of the nation’s first major climate change law, which pumps $370 billion into expanding wind and solar energy and electric vehicles.If the Kigali pact is successfully implemented, scientists estimate it would prevent up to 0.5 degrees Celsius, or roughly 1 degree Fahrenheit, of warming by the end of this century. At this stage in the planet’s rapid warming, every fraction of a degree makes a difference.Average global temperatures have risen 1.1 degrees Celsius compared with preindustrial times. Scientists have said an increase beyond 1.5 degrees Celsius significantly increases the likelihood of catastrophic climate impacts. On a practical level, the vote changes little in the United States because Congress and the Biden administration have already enacted policies to reduce the production and importation of hydrofluorocarbons in the United States by 85 percent over the next 15 years, and industry has turned to alternative chemicals.But ratification of the treaty, which the United States helped to secure in the waning days of the Obama administration, carries symbolic weight and adds momentum at a time of heightened action on climate change in Washington.“This treaty shows that it’s not hopeless to solve climate change,” said Durwood Zaelke, president of the Institute for Governance & Sustainable Development, a Washington-based research and advocacy organization.

 Biden Rebukes Russia's "Outrageous" Ukraine Escalation, Says US "Not Seeking A New Cold War" - As expected President Biden in his speech blasted Putin's "outrageous" invasion of Ukraine and latest escalation by ordering a 'partial' mobilization. He stressed before the UN General Assembly the war is "about extinguishing Ukraine's right to exist as a state — plain and simple." On Ukraine, the president said further, "The world should see these outrageous acts for what they are. Putin claims he had to act because Russia was threatened. But no one threatened Russia, and no one other than Russia sought conflict.""Ukraine has the same rights that belong to every sovereign nation. We will stand in solidarity with Ukraine. We will stand in solidarity against Russian aggression," Biden continued. He highlighted Putin's mention of nuclear weapons in his early Wednesday speech, and responded "we are not seeking a new Cold War." Biden made mention of alleged atrocities by Russian forces in places like Izium, and even charged the Kremlin with "torture" of Ukrainian civilians. Overall, there was little unexpected in the somewhat lengthy speech, nor were there any specific new US courses of action or sanctions in response to the Ukraine conflict or Putin's fresh declarations. Below is Biden's UN address, which lasted a little over 30-minutes, in full...

U.S. Senators Propose Secondary Sanctions On Russian Oil -U.S. senators have put forward legislation that would impose secondary sanctions on Russian crude oil, Reuters said on Tuesday, in a move that could provoke two of Russia’s largest oil importers, China and India. Democratic Senator Chris Van Hollen and Republican Senator Pat Toomey—two members of the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee—have implored the Biden Administration to enact secondary sanctions on Russia’s crude oil and crude oil products. If passed, the legislation would target banks and other financial institutions, insurers, and brokers of Russian oil that exceed a specific price cap, which the senators suggest should be imposed no later than March 2023.Targeting banks, the two senators said, would make it more difficult for Russia to evade the price cap by making deals with countries that are not a party to the cap discussed earlier this month, outside the G7.The administration requires “new authority from Congress” to choke off Russia’s oil revenues, astatement from Van Hollen reads.The ultimate goal of the legislation is to make it harder for buyers to circumvent the price cap, designed to restrict Russia’s revenue stream from the sale of oil and oil products, which it would then use to fund its activities in Ukraine.“I promise to work with Senator Van Hollen to get this bill enacted as soon as possible so that Russia can no longer profit from the oil sales funding its war in Ukraine,” Toomey said at a Committee meeting on Tuesday, according to Reuters.The Committee also believes that a price cap would “reduce the potential for price spikes in the market,” Elizabeth Rosenberg, Treasury Assistant Secretary for Terrorist Financing and Financial Crimes, said at the Committee meeting. Rosenberg also indicated that guidelines are coming that would address the issue of blending Russian crude with crude from other sources to skirt those sanctions.

Polls: Americans Oppose Increasing Ukraine Aid, Defending Global Democracy --Two new polls from Morning Consult and Concerned Veterans for America show at least a plurality of Americans are tired of interventionism. The results show twice as many Americans want to send less aid to Ukraine than those who would support sending more. Meanwhile, only 17% of Americans are concerned about defending democracy around the globe. The Joe Biden White House built its foreign policy around the idea it would move away from fighting wars against terrorists in the Middle East, and refocus the Department of Defense on “Great Power Competition.” The administration marketed the policy as “autocracy versus democracy” with the White House leading the Western countries against Russia, China, Iran, North Korea and other ostensibly bad countries. The White House has faced some criticism for claiming to promote democracy and selling weapons to brutal tyrants in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, UAE and apartheid Israel. Though Morning Consult’s polling released last week shows the White House’s idea of promoting democracy is not resonating with the American people. The poll asked Americans about their views on the country’s most pressing foreign policy challenges. Only 17% of respondents told the pollsters that “upholding global democracy” was a top five concern, ranking 11th behind drugs, climate, immigration, terrorism and the economic crisis. The poll was backed by another by Concerned Veterans for America that found US citizens do not want increased involvement in Ukraine: “Only 15% of the American public support sending more military and financial aid to Ukraine than wealthy European countries, with almost twice as many people (34%) wanting to send less assistance,” CVA wrote. Chart via Morning Consult... Additionally, a majority of Americans only want the assistance to continue if Europeans match the American commitment. The poll shows Americans are firmly opposed to military intervention in Ukraine. Over 55% of respondents oppose direct American military intervention while only 14% percent support fighting a war for Kiev. The results for Ukraine were similar to Americans wanting a scaled-back role in the world, with 42% of respondents saying they want a smaller role and only 7% supported more intervention.

Biden says he warned Xi that breaking Russia sanctions would be ‘gigantic mistake’ -- President Biden said in a new interview that he told Chinese President Xi Jinping that it would be a “gigantic mistake” to violate sanctions against Russia around the time that Moscow began its war in Ukraine. Biden called Xi earlier this year after the latter met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Beijing during the Olympics, Biden told Scott Pelley, according to excerpts from an interview with CBS’s “60 Minutes” set to air Sunday night. “I said, ‘If you think that Americans and others will continue to invest in China based on your violating the sanctions that have been imposed on Russia, I think you’re making a gigantic mistake, but that’s your decision to make,’ ” Biden said. The call was “not to threaten” the Chinese president, but to warn about the repercussions of breaking the sanctions, Biden noted. “Thus far, there’s no indication they’ve put forward weapons or other things that Russia has wanted,” Biden said of China. The U.S. has slapped escalating sanctions on Russia in response to Moscow’s aggression against Ukraine, including a ban on Russian energy imports and blacklisting Putin and his family and allies.US relations with China are also fraught, amid tensions around Taiwan’s independence and China’s treatment of its Uyghur ethnic minority. Putin said Friday at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in Uzbekistan said that he and Xi have “discussed what we should do in the current conditions to efficiently counter unlawful restrictions” from the West, according to The Associated Press. But Biden in his “60 Minutes” interview dismissed suggestions that warming relations between Xi and Putin could herald a “new, more complicated Cold War.”

Biden says US forces would defend Taiwan against ‘unprecedented attack’ - President Biden said U.S. forces would defend Taiwan against an “unprecedented attack” in a new interview aired Sunday, his latest comments suggesting the U.S. might engage militarily in response to Chinese aggression against the self-governing island.When asked in a “60 Minutes” interview if U.S. forces would defend Taiwan amid threats of a Chinese invasion, Biden answered, “Yes.”After CBS’s Scott Pelley asked specifically if American men and women would defend Taiwan, Biden again answered in the affirmative.“Yes, if in fact there was an unprecedented attack,” the president said.The White House said in a statement to The Hill that his sentiment was nothing new. “The President has said this before, including in Tokyo earlier this year. He also made clear then that our Taiwan policy hasn’t changed. That remains true,” the spokesperson said.Biden drew Beijing’s ire in May when he said the U.S. would defend Taiwan militarily if China invaded.“That’s the commitment we made,” Biden said at the time. “Look, here’s the situation. We agree with the ‘One China’ policy … but the idea that to be taken by force, just taken by force, is just not appropriate.”The U.S. has long expressed “strategic ambiguity” toward Taiwan, avoiding any clear position on the island’s status but accepting the “One China” policy that recognizes Beijing as representing all of China.Biden also told Pelley the U.S. agrees “with what we signed onto a long time ago,” referencing the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act, which commits the U.S. to providing Taiwan with the means to defend itself.“There’s One China policy, and Taiwan makes their own judgments about their independence,” the president said. “We are not moving — we’re not encouraging their being independent. … That’s their decision.”Beijing claims sovereignty over Taiwan, which is independently governed, and has lashed out at recent shows of U.S. support for the island, such as Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) trip to Taipei last month.Pelosi became the highest-ranking American official to visit the country since 1997, but her visit prompted unprecedented Chinese military drills, including missiles launched over Taiwan.The Hill has reached out to the Chinese Embassy in Washington for comment on Biden’s remarks.U.S. officials have warned that between now and 2030, there remains an acute Chinese threat against Taipei.Congress is currently debating changes to U.S. policy on Taiwan, including whether to pass legislation authorizing $4.5 billion in military spending for Taiwan over four years. Biden asked Congress this month to approve more than $1 billion in arms sales to Taiwan.

Biden Again Indicates that US Will Defend Taiwan ‘Militarily’ – Does This Constitute a Change in Policy? - In an exchange on “60 Minutes,” Biden was asked directly if the U.S. would “come to Taiwan’s defense” if it were attacked by China. He replied: “Yes, we have a commitment to do that.” He also confirmed that U.S. intervention would be military.By my count, this is the fourth time Biden as president has suggested that the U.S. will come to Taiwan’s aid militarily if the island is attacked. In 2021 he made similar remarks in an interview with ABC News and then again while taking part in a CNN town hall event. And earlier this year he said something similar while in Japan, marking the first time he has made the assertion while in Asia.On each occasion he has made such a comment, it has been followed quite quickly by the White House’s walking back the remarks, by issuing statements along the lines of “what the president actually means is …” and stressing that this isn’t a shift away from the official U.S. policy on China or Taiwan.But I think that with each incident it is harder to prevaricate about Biden’s comments being an accident, or suggest that he in some way misspoke. I think it is clear at this point that Biden’s interpretation of the Taiwan Relations Act – which since 1979 has set out the parameters of U.S. policy on the island – is that it allows for a U.S. military response should China invade. And despite White House claims to the contrary, I believe that does represent a departure from the long-standing policy of “strategic ambiguity” on Taiwan.Strategic ambiguity has long been the U.S. policy toward Taiwan – really since the 1950s, but certainly from 1979 onward. While it does not explicitly commit the U.S. to defending Taiwan in every circumstance, it does leave open the option of American defensive support to Taiwan in the event of an unprovoked attack by China.Crucially, the U.S. hasn’t really said what it will do – so does this support mean economic aid, supply of weapons or U.S. boots on the ground? China and Taiwan are left guessing if – and to what extent – the U.S. will be involved in any China-Taiwan conflict.By leaving the answer to that question ambiguous, the U.S. holds a threat over China: Invade Taiwan and find out if you face the U.S. as well.Traditionally, this has been a useful policy for the U.S., but things have changed since it was first rolled out. It was certainly effective when the U.S. was in a much stronger position militarily compared with China. But it might be less effective as a threat now that China’s military is catching up with the U.S. Leading voices from U.S. allies in Asia, such as Japan, believe that “strategic clarity” might be a better option now – with the U.S. stating outright that it would defend Taiwan if the island were attacked. Biden has definitely been more openly supportive of Taiwan than previous presidents. He officially invited a representative from Taiwan to his inauguration – a first for an incoming president – and has repeatedly made it clear that he views Taiwan as an ally.He also didn’t overturn the Taiwan Travel Act passed under the the previous administration of Donald Trump. This legislation allows U.S. officials to visit Taiwan in an official capacity.In August 2022, U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan, making her the highest-profile U.S. politician to go to the island in decades.Meanwhile, for the second time, Biden in his “60 Minutes” interview indicated a belief that it was up to Taiwan to decide its future, departing slightly from the usual line that the U.S. doesn’t support changes to the status quo. However, Biden has also said he does not support a unilateral declaration of independence from Taiwan.So there has been a shift to a degree. But the White House is keen not to overstate any change. At heart, there is a desire by the U.S. to not stray from the Shanghai Communique.

Test scores drop, disqualification rates rise at Army recruiting shops - The Army’s second-in-command for all things training said Thursday that the service saw a 10% drop in aptitude test scores during the pandemic, and that dipped further to 13% this year. Other Army data showed that up to 70% of potential recruits interested in Army service are disqualified in the first 48 hours due to obesity, low test scores or drug use. Previously, that disqualification rate was between 30-40%. The challenges are big — more of the recruits can’t meet weight standards or academic standards, more are using illegal drugs or military-banned substances such as cannabis, and few know much about the Army. And what they do know isn’t flattering. The Army will not meet its end strength goal for this fiscal year, which ends this month. To meet its end strength goals, the Army will need to recruit somewhere between 27,000 and 33,000 new soldiers in less than 11 weeks. Army Times has reported extensively on recruiting challenges and new programs, including a pilot program that takes on otherwise unqualified recruits for up to 90 days before basic training. Those recruits work on disqualifying factors like body fat percentage and test scores. The Army has been in a “nosedive” for the past 14 months, Gervais admitted. Though the service met its end strength goals last year, that was driven by overachievement on the retention side. The formula for hitting end strength goals lies in recruiting, retention and lowering attrition, she said. Retention rose in recent years and attrition dropped but may rise again.

An F-16 pilot died when his ejection seat failed. Was it counterfeit? -An Air Force investigation of a fatal fighter jet crash in 2020 quietly discovered that key components of the pilot’s ejection seat may have been counterfeit, Air Force Times has learned. First Lt. David Schmitz, an F-16 Fighting Falcon pilot at South Carolina’s Shaw Air Force Base, died June 30, 2020, when his ejection seat malfunctioned as he tried to escape from a failed nighttime landing. He was 32.The Air Force’s official inquiry in the months following the accident found that electronics inside the seat were scratched, unevenly sanded and showed otherwise shoddy craftsmanship.That raised red flags at the Air Force Research Laboratory, which called for a closer look to confirm whether the pieces were fraudulent, according to previously unreported slides provided to Air Force Times. It’s unclear whether that question was ever answered.While the Air Force suspected parts of the seat were counterfeit, it buried the information in a nonpublic section of its accident investigation report.Those details have come to light in a federal civil lawsuit filed by Schmitz’s widow, Valerie, who is suing three defense companies for negligence and misleading the Air Force about the safety of their products.“What the military does is inherently dangerous to begin with,” plaintiff attorney Jim Brauchle said Tuesday. “If you’re going to be engaging in that kind of activity, you want to be doing it with equipment that’s going to work.”The case in U.S. District Court in South Carolina targets F-16 manufacturer Lockheed Martin; Collins Aerospace, which builds the ACES II ejection seat installed on planes across the Air Force; and multiple business units of Teledyne Technologies, which makes the seat’s digital recovery sequencer.A sequencer is supposed to execute the steps of the ejection process when triggered in an emergency. Teledyne’s product is used in ejection seats on the F-15, F-16, F-22 and F-117 fighter jets, the A-10 attack plane, and B-1 and B-2 bombers around the world, according to its website.In Schmitz’s case, the ejection seat shot 130 feet into the air but failed to deploy its parachute. The airman hit the ground about seven seconds later while still strapped into his seat. He died on impact. Counterfeiting has plagued the Pentagon’s supply chain for decades, and contractors are often unaware they are providing faulty materials.

US Ends Reports On Military Costs, Arms Transfers -- The State Department announced in August that it will no longer publish World Military Expenditures and Arms Transfers (WMEAT) reports, which have been released by the US government since the 1960s. The WMEATs detail US global military spending, arms transfers, and related data for each country in the world. The 2022 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) included an amendment that repealed a 1994 provision requiring the State Department to publish a WMEAT each year. "Section 5114(b)(4) of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2022 repealed the 1994 statutory provision that required the Department of State to publish an edition of WMEAT every year. Consistent with this repeal, the Department of State will cease to produce and publish WMEAT," the State Department said on its website. The State Department said that the report it published in 2021 was the "final edition" of the WMEAT. The 2021 WMEAT covered an 11-year period from 2009 through 2019 and found that the US was by far the world’s largest arms dealer. During that period, about "79 percent of world arms trade by value appears to have been supplied by the United States." The discontinuation of the WMEAT reports, which reduces the US government’s transparency, comes as the US is shipping billions of dollars worth of arms into Ukraine with virtually no oversight. Since Russia invaded on February 24, the US has pledged $15.1 billion in weapons for Kyiv.

 Pentagon opens sweeping review of clandestine psychological operations -The Pentagon has ordered a sweeping audit of how it conducts clandestine information warfare after major social media companies identified and took offline fake accounts suspected of being run by the U.S. military in violation of the platforms’ rules. Colin Kahl, the undersecretary of defense for policy, last week instructed the military commands that engage in psychological operations online to provide a full accounting of their activities by next month after the White House and some federal agencies expressed mounting concerns over the Defense Department’s attempted manipulation of audiences overseas, according to several defense and administration officials familiar with the matter. The takedowns in recent years by Twitter and Facebook of more than 150 bogus personas and media sites created in the United States wasdisclosed last month by internet researchers Graphika and the Stanford Internet Observatory. While the researchers did not attribute the sham accounts to the U.S. military, two officials familiar with the matter said that U.S. Central Command is among those whose activities are facing scrutiny. Like others interviewed for this report, they spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive military operations. The researchers did not specify when the takedowns occurred, but those familiar with the matter said they were within the past two or three years. Some were recent, they said, and involved posts from the summer that advanced anti-Russia narratives citing the Kremlin’s “imperialist” war in Ukraine and warning of the conflict’s direct impact on Central Asian countries. Significantly, they found that the pretend personas — employing tactics used by countries such as Russia and China — did not gain much traction, and that overt accounts actually attracted more followers. Centcom, headquartered in Tampa, has purview over military operations across 21 countries in the Middle East, North Africa and Central and South Asia. A spokesman declined to comment.Air Force Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder, the Pentagon press secretary, said in a statement that the military’s information operations “support our national security priorities” and must be conducted in compliance with relevant laws and policies. “We are committed to enforcing those safeguards,” he said.Spokespersons for Facebook and Twitter declined to comment. According to the researchers’ report, the accounts taken down included a made-up Persian-language media site that shared content reposted from the U.S.-funded Voice of America Farsi and Radio Free Europe. Another, it said, was linked to a Twitter handle that in the past had claimed to operate on behalf of Centcom. One fake account posted an inflammatory tweet claiming that relatives of deceased Afghan refugees had reported bodies being returned from Iran with missing organs, according to the report. The tweet linked to a video that was part of an article posted on a U.S.-military affiliated website. Centcom has not commented on whether these accounts were created by its personnel or contractors. If the organ-harvesting tweet is shown to be Centcom’s, one defense official said, it would “absolutely be a violation of doctrine and training practices.”

Treasury and State sanction Iran over woman’s death in custody of Morality Police - The Treasury and State departments on Thursday announced new sanctions on Iran’s Morality Police and other senior security officials following the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian who died while being held by authorities on allegations of violating the country’s strictly enforced dress code for women. Amini, whose death has sparked protests across Iran, was arrested Sept. 13 for purportedly wearing a hijab too loosely. Iranian officials claim Amini’s death at Kasra Hospital in northern Tehran three days after her arrest was the result of a heart attack, but hospital officials reported that she arrived with severe brain trauma caused by “multiple blows to the head.” In addition to the Morality Police, the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control announced sanctions in a news release on seven senior leaders from a number of Iran’s security organizations, including the country’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security, the Army Ground Forces, the Basij Resistance Forces and the Law Enforcement Forces, accusing them of “abuse and violence against Iranian women and the violation of the rights of peaceful Iranian protestors.” “Mahsa Amini was a courageous woman whose death in Morality Police custody was yet another act of brutality by the Iranian regime’s security forces against its own people,” Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said in a statement. “We condemn this unconscionable act in the strongest terms and call on the Iranian government to end its violence against women and its ongoing violent crackdown on free expression and assembly.” “The Iranian government needs to end its systemic persecution of women and allow peaceful protest,” a spokesperson for the State Department said in a statement. “The United States will continue to voice our support for human rights in Iran and hold those who violate them to account.”

Deal averting railroad strike has potential to fall apart - The White House-brokered agreement to avert a railroad strike has the potential to fall apart, threatening widespread economic disruption right before the midterm elections. Rail workers are set to vote on the tentative deal reached between unions and railroads Thursday morning. If any of the 12 rail unions fail to ratify a new contract, nearly 125,000 rail workers could be headed for a strike. The agreement would mandate two-person crews, cap health care costs and allow workers to take time off for medical appointments or other scheduled events without being penalized, all key concessions won by unions. The deal also provides 24 percent raises over five years, back pay and cash bonuses, similar terms to those offered by the White House-appointed presidential emergency board (PEB) last month. But nearly 36 hours after the agreement was announced, rail workers said they still didn’t have concrete details on sick leave and voluntarily assigned days off. That’s raised some doubts about just how strong the new contract language is. Ron Kaminkow, an organizer at Railroad Workers United, which represents rank-and-file railroaders, said that there’s “a lot of anger, confusion and hostility” toward the new agreement, which many workers feel is intentionally vague. “Workers are pissed off and this time we actually have a lot of leverage,” said a locomotive engineer at Norfolk Southern who asked to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation. “I know I’m not going to accept anything less than what we deserve.” The two largest rail unions warned during negotiations that their members wouldn’t approve a contract that doesn’t quell outrage over unpredictable scheduling, unsafe working conditions and a lack of sick leave. For the strike threat to end, workers would need to feel that the proposed contract is far stronger than the deal offered by the PEB. A survey of rail workers at the SMART Transportation Division found that nearly 8 in 10 would have voted to reject that contract.

Deal That Prevented Rail Strike Still Needs Worker Support (AP) — A last-minute deal prevented a railroad strike for now, but many rail workers remain unhappy with working conditions, including some who protested outside their workplaces Wednesday ahead of votes to approve the new contracts. Handfuls of workers gathered outside railyards across the country in pickets organized by a newly formed workers group separate from the 12 unions that negotiated the deals last week with the major U.S. freight railroads. The protesters expressed dissatisfaction with the deals, just as the unions are trying to explain the potential benefits they negotiated to their roughly 115,000 members ahead of contract votes. Fears about the dire economic consequences of a rail strike that could cripple all kinds of businesses that rely on railroads to deliver raw materials and finished goods prompted the Biden administration to jump into the middle of the contract talks last week and urge both sides to reach an agreement. The contract talks included Union Pacific, Norfolk Southern, BNSF, CSX, Kansas City Southern and a number of other railroads, so the entire country would have been affected by a strike. Nearly a dozen BNSF workers gathered near Minot, North Dakota, Wednesday with homemade signs declaring “We demand more!!” and “We will not back down.” Another group of a half dozen workers stood outside their worksite in Olathe, Kansas, with signs saying “Railroad greed driving inflation" and “Greedy railroads harming nations supply chain.” Workers' concerns about time off and demanding attendance policies at the railroads took center stage in the negotiations. In the end, the unions that represent engineers and conductors secured a promise of three extra unpaid days off for workers to attend doctors' appointments without being penalized and improved scheduling of days off to go with the 24% raises and $5,000 in bonuses that a special board appointed by President Joe Biden recommended this summer for the five-year deals. It remains to be seen whether those concessions are enough to get workers to vote for these deals. A branch of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers union rejected a deal last week that didn't include those extra days off, so they are back at the table now working on a new pact. Two smaller unions did approve their deals, but the nine other unions will be counting their votes at various times over the next two months. The two biggest unions that held out the longest — the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen union that represents engineers, and the Transportation Division of the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers union that represents conductors — aren't expected to report the results of their votes until mid November. Members of those unions are still waiting to see all the details of the deals that Biden announced last Thursday because lawyers are still finalizing everything before the full agreements get released. That puts any potential for a strike out beyond the midterm elections, which mitigates the potential political impact of the talks for Biden and the Democrats. If any of the unions do reject their contracts, Congress could still be forced to step in.

Joe Biden Thinks a Rail Strike has Been Averted. Do Rail Workers? - Just after 5 a.m. on Thursday, Marty Walsh tweeted that the railroad companies and the railroad unions had come to a tentative agreement, less than 19 hours from a potential shutdown: By 11:30 a.m., Joe Biden was in the White House Rose Garden, declaring victory: “This is a win for tens of thousands of rail workers and for their dignity and the dignity of their work, it’s a recognition of that.” As the President turned to leave, a reporter called out a question: “Mr. President, is it premature to celebrate before the unions vote?” Strictly speaking, the answer is yes. The signed tentative agreement now goes out for a ratification vote to the members of 12 different rail unions. Per the Railway Labor Act, a new tentative agreement means a new cooling-off period, so the midnight deadline was mooted as part of the deal. But a contract rejection is still a very live possibility, based on discussions with members and leaders of various unions involved. So a strike (or lockout) is still on the table.The actual language agreed upon by the National Carriers’ Conference Committee and the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen and SMART-TD bargaining committees has not been released to the public nor to the membership, to some members’ frustration. So we can only speculate based on press releases and officials’ public comments.But the general consensus is that the deal makes two main improvements upon the Presidential Emergency Board (PEB) recommendations (which the holdout unions, BLET and SMART-TD, refused to accept, and which the Brotherhood of Railway Signalmen’s general chairmen and the Machinists District Lodge 19’s membership both voted to reject).One is the addition of some number of unpaid sick days. Time-off policies in general and sick time in particular have been a focus of discussion. During negotiations, union leaders told the Washington Post, they abandoned their demand for 15 paid sick days, but maintained that “members should be allowed to attend routine medical appointments without jeopardizing their employment.” Per the BLET/SMART-TD press release after the deal was announced, the agreement contains “contract language exempting time off for certain medical events from carrier attendance policies,” but the release doesn’t specify a particular number of days or which medical events are covered. The other improvement in the deal is a limit to health care cost increases. The PEB agreement recommended that workers should pay 15 percent of health care premium payments. Currently, railroad workers pay about $230 per month for both family and individual plans. This deal has workers paying the 15 percent, but a release from the Brotherhood of Railway Signalmen says it caps the monthly amount workers will pay at $398.97.The BLET/SMART-TD release doesn’t mention the cap, just that “no additional increases will apply to our monthly contributions while the parties bargain over the next National Agreement.” Which is to say, there will be no premium increases from 2024 (the end of the term of this tentative agreement) until the next agreement is ratified (which could be months or years).

FAA rejects airline’s request to reduce pilot time requirement amid hiring issues - The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on Monday denied a request from Republic Airways to halve the flight time required for new pilots if they attend the airline’s training school. Individuals are typically required to fly 1,500 hours before serving as a commercial pilot, but Republic Airways — which flies smaller routes for United Airlines, American Airlines and Delta Air Lines — argued the reduced requirement would improve hiring at a time when many airlines face staffing challenges. Republic told the FAA that its pilot academy, located in Indianapolis, resembles those used to train military pilots, whose flight time requirement is already reduced to 750 hours, so the agency should warrant the same reduction. The FAA rejected those claims, adding that even if a reduction was appropriate, Republic’s request for an exemption was not the appropriate vehicle to make such a change. “After full consideration of Republic’s petition for exemption and the public comments, the FAA has determined that the relief requested is not in the public interest and would adversely affect safety,” the agency wrote in its decision. The decision comes at a time when many airlines report facing staffing challenges. As the coronavirus pandemic subsided and more Americans returned to the skies, many travelers faced delays and cancellations this summer while the industry struggled to keep up with rising demand. The challenges have led airlines to suspend some routes and sideline jets despite willing passengers, especially at smaller airports serviced by regional airlines, like Republic. The airline had contended that the exemption would provide a more efficient training path for aspiring pilots and satisfy demand at those smaller airports. Republic also noted a lack of diversity among pilots, arguing that high entry barriers to the field, including the flight time requirement, especially inhibit minority groups. “The FAA disagrees that the reduction of R-ATP flight hours will address (1) a perceived pilot shortage, (2) reduced commercial aviation services to small communities, or (3) recruitment within diverse talent pools,” the agency wrote in its decision.

Biden Declares The COVID Pandemic "Is Over" Despite Continued Use In Policies & Programs --About a year and a half too late to the game, Joe Biden finally admitted in a Sunday broadcast interview with 60 Minutes that the covid pandemic is over, stating: “We still have a problem with COVID. We’re still doing a lotta work on it. It’s — but the pandemic is over. if you notice, no one’s wearing masks. Everybody seems to be in pretty good shape. And so I think it’s changing. And I think this is a perfect example of it.” Apparently, in the ever teetering mind of Joe Biden the prevalence of masks was a measure of the prevalence of covid. Of course, this all depends on where in the US or the world you have been living. In red states, masks have been gone for around two years with the majority of people not wearing them. And despite the predictions (and fantasies) of many on the political left, conservatives were not dropping dead in the streets; far from it. In fact, red states that ended shutdowns and mandates well ahead of blue states enjoyed far superior economic recovery including superior job and business recovery numbers, and virtually no difference in terms of death and infection rates occurred. In fact, studies now show that there was little to no positive effect made by the covid lockdowns and the usefulness of mask mandates is also in question.Furthermore, infection and fatality rates for covid began to drop long before the covid mRNA vaccines were introduced widely to the public. The facts and the science show that covid stopped being a major threat not long after it spread to the US. The official median IFR (Infection Fatality Rate) according to dozens of peer reviewed studies stands at mere 0.23%. Meaning, over 99.7% of the population is not under threat from covid. The lockdowns didn't work, but they weren't needed. The mask mandates didn't work, but they weren't needed. And, the rates started dropping dramatically for the original covid strains before even 5% of the US population was vaccinated. All in all, every single government policy that interfered in the lives and freedoms of millions of people ended up being pointless.Biden's recent declaration means nothing, because he is in no position to determine the current state of the pandemic. The American people already did that, and we declared the thing over a long time ago. Immediately after Biden’s remarks, Kentucky Rep. Thomas Massie insisted that the administration should now relinquish all the emergency powers it has grabbed by hyping the threat of the virus. “If ‘the pandemic is over’ as Biden says, then all of the President’s emergency powers predicated on a pandemic, all COVID vax mandates, the emergency powers of every governor, Emergency Use Authorizations, and the PREP act should all be voided tomorrow,” said Massie.

Biden says the 'pandemic is over' despite the US maintaining one of the highest death rates worldwide with nearly 400 Americans dying of COVID-19 daily -President Joe Biden said the COVID-19 pandemic was over in an interview with CBS News on Sunday, despite the US maintaining one of the highest death rates worldwide. The comment was made during a tour of the Detroit Auto Show with 60 Minutes correspondent Scott Pelley. As they were walking, Pelley asked Biden: "Is the pandemic over?""The pandemic is over," Biden said, but acknowledged the virus is still a problem. "We still have a problem with COVID. We're still doing a lot of work on it," he added.Gesturing to attendees who weren't wearing masks to support his point, Biden said "Everybody seems to be in pretty good shape. And so I think it's changing. And I think this is a perfect example of it."While cases are falling, Biden's comments come as hundreds of Americans continue to die from the infectious disease. According todata from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the US is averaging around 400 deaths per day. As of September 17, data from Johns Hopkins University found that the US has some of the highest COVID-19 figures globally in terms of cases and deaths. Next to the US is Japan, with 1,139 deaths recorded over the previous week.States across the US are rolling back pandemic-related restrictions such as lifting mask mandates. Federal regulations still require passengers flying to the US from international destinations to be vaccinated. In May, the President told Americans to not grow numb as the country's death toll rose to 1 million people.

Baldwin tests positive for COVID-19 -- Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) on Sunday announced she tested positive for COVID-19 and will work remotely from quarantine. Baldwin, who is vaccinated and boosted, said in a Twitter post announcing the positive test that she is “only experiencing minor symptoms.” Baldwin adds to the count of Democratic senators testing positive for the virus after the Senate returned from its August recess. Sens. Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.) and Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this month, and Sen. Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.) missed a week of votes while isolating in India after testing positive during an eight-day economic delegation to the country. Baldwin hit the ground running after the recess as the Democrats’ lead negotiator on a bill to protect same-sex marriage. The Respect for Marriage Act was expected to come to the Senate floor next week, but Baldwin said Thursday that it’s now on hold until after the midterms.

Long COVID and ME/CFS patients denounce Biden in protest outside White House - Dozens of demonstrators affiliated with the patient advocacy group #MEAction gathered Monday on the sidewalk in front of the White House, chanting, “Biden lied, we died, ME treatments now!” and “The pandemic is not over! Biden’s lies are costing lives!” They were joined online by thousands more who could not travel due to their condition. However, there was hardly a mention of the event in the mainstream press. One had to turn to social media to gather news on these developments. The protest, organized by Long COVID and myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) patients, had serendipitously been scheduled for September 19, one day after the airing of President Biden’s interview on CBS News’ “60 Minutes,” in which Biden declared, “the pandemic is over.” He added, “No one’s wearing masks. Everybody seems to be in pretty good shape.” Biden’s statements amounted to a slap in the face to tens of millions of Americans who have had their loved ones suddenly taken away from them due to COVID-19 or suffer from its debilitating consequences and have been essentially ignored by the political establishment. Laurie Jones, executive director of #MEAction, shot back at Biden, saying, “Not only is the pandemic not over, the disabling of millions of Americans from Long COVID and ME/CFS has become a national emergency.” Indeed, the pandemic is far from over even after nearly 1.1 million Americans have died from COVID-19. Between 400–500 Americans continue to die every day, the equivalent of the deaths suffered in the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks every week. During the pandemic, COVID-19 has consistently been the third leading cause of death, including in 2022, as it has already killed more than 225,000 and counting. With the fall and winter seasons approaching, experts fear that a simultaneous surge of COVID-19 and the flu will have major consequences on the population and health systems which have already been broken by more than two years of incessant waves of COVID-19. Debilitating Long COVID already affects upwards of 4 million working-aged Americans, while as many as 12 million Americans have such severe Long COVID that they would likely meet the diagnosis for the complex, chronic disease ME/CFS, which often leaves patients unable to work and participate in daily life. Currently, the mechanism for both diseases is poorly understood and no therapies or medications are approved to treat the conditions. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, somewhere between 0.84 to 2.5 million Americans were affected by ME/CSF at a cost of $24 billion annually to the economy. Across the globe, an estimated 15–30 million, including women, men and children, are suffering from ME/CFS, with roughly 75 percent unable to work and 25 percent so severely affected that they were housebound or bedbound. The #MEAction group, which calls themselves the “millions missing,” explained their precarious social position in their communities: Unable to work, socialize, or appear in public spaces, we are missing important parts of our lives. We are missing careers, missing time spent with family, and for the most severe, we are missing ordinary moments like going out in the sun, reading a book and socializing with a friend.” They also note that “millions of dollars are missing from government-funded research.” This is further compounded by “millions of doctors and other healthcare providers missing the medical education they need to diagnose and care for people with ME. The ranks of those suffering from symptoms related to ME/CFS have been compounded several-fold by the preventable COVID-19 pandemic, as Long COVID can present similar symptoms to ME/CFS and is believed to have a similar pathophysiology. According to the Financial Times, debilitating Long COVID may already impact up to 100 million people globally. Just in the US, the impact on the economy has been estimated at close to $750 billion per year by Harvard economics professor David Cutler.

Fauci: “We are not where we need to be if we are going to quote ‘live with the virus’” - It is unlikely the U.S. will eradicate the coronavirus and a “suspicious” new variant, BA 2.75.2, is on the horizon, President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser, Anthony Fauci, said Monday during a fireside chat with the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “We are not where we need to be if we are going to quote ‘live with the virus’ because we know we are not going to eradicate it,” Fauci said. “The next question we ask: ‘Are we going to be able to eliminate it from our country or from most of the world?’ and the answer is unlikely, because it is highly transmissible and the immunity that’s induced by vaccine or infection is also transient.” Fauci’s comments came the day after Biden said “the pandemic is over” during a “60 Minutes” interview that aired Sunday evening. “We still must be aware of how unusual this virus is and continues to be in its ability to evolve into new variants which defy the standard public health mechanisms of addressing an outbreak,” Fauci said Monday, adding that the intensity of the outbreak currently is “unacceptably high.” As of Monday, nearly 400 people were dying every day from Covid, according to the CDC. Fauci attributed the persistence of the virus in part to the “lack of a uniform acceptance of the interventions that are available to us in this country.” “Even now, more than two years, close to three years into the outbreak, we have only 67 percent of our population vaccinated and only one half of those have received a single boost,” Fauci said. Fauci acknowledged that the pandemic is “heading in the right direction,” but warned that it is “likely that we will see another variant emerge” going into late fall and early winter.

People dealing with long COVID-19 symptoms could be impacting U.S. economy - Over the weekend, President Joe Biden said the COVID-19 pandemic is over, and the World Health Organization said it may be coming to a close. Cases are down in the U.S. and across the world, but the pandemic is not over for people who are suffering from long-COVID. The physical symptoms can last years, and the economic impact can also be life-changing. In February, we introduced you to Jeff Whitmer, who has been battling long-COVID. It has affected his family life and his work life. He was working, but he said he had to take breaks throughout the day. "I still have the severe headaches, body aches, the brain fog. So, it's kind of a combination," he said. "Minor things make it where I'm beyond exhaustive. And that was never me before." Whitmer is one of millions of American workers battling long-COVID. Despite his symptoms, Whitmer was working. But, a new study by the National Bureau of Economic Research says roughly half a million workers have permanently disappeared from the U.S. workforce. The study says most patients suffering lasting effects of COVID-19 symptoms transitioned from illness directly into retirement. "You've seen a disproportionate impact of it among older people. So, there I think you see the bigger impact of long-COVID," Michael Greiner, an assistant professor at the Oakland University School of Business Administration said. According to Greiner, some mature workers with long-COVID decided it wasn't worth it to return to work, and those who did might have cut their hours. The Minneapolis Fed says more than a quarter of people with long COVID have had their work "impacted". So, they have dropped out of the workforce or reduced work hours. That can slow economic growth here in Michigan and nationwide. "If you have fewer people in the workforce, you're going to have less economic growth. And I think we've actually seen that impact when you look at the GDP figures over the last couple of quarters, which actually have been shrinking," Greiner said. According to the CDC, 40% of adults have had COVID-19 and one in five have continued symptoms. The CDC says 40 percent of use adults have had colvd and 1 in 5 for them have continued symptoms "That's 8% of the adult population of the United States. That's a tremendous number," Beaumont Infectious Diseases Dr. Matthew Sims said.

Sen. Rand Paul, Dr. Anthony Fauci have heated debate on vaccines -Republican Kentucky Senator Rand Paul and NIAID Director Dr. Anthony Fauci had a heated debate over the efficacy of vaccines.

Fauci "Misled Congress" About Gain-Of-Function Research, But 'Protected By Biden Admin'; Former CDC Chief Says -- Just last week, Senator Rand Paul appeared on Fox News and slammed Anthony Fauci for taking the default position of trying to “cover up” his activities, including potentially encouraging social media companies to censor medical information.“I think that all of America should be appalled that America’s doctor, the leading expert on COVID in public health, doesn’t want to divulge information, doesn’t want to divulge his communications with Big Tech,” Paul urged, adding that Fauci’s “modus operandi” is to “cover up”.A month before that, Senator Paul spoke after first ever Senate hearing on gain of function research, having revealed that there is a committee that is supposed to oversee such experimentation with potentially lethal viruses, but that it is above the oversight of Congress.“We don’t know the names. We don’t know that they ever meet, and we don’t have any records of their meetings,” the Senator reiterated, adding “It’s top-secret. Congress is not allowed to know. So whether the committee actually exists, we’re uncertain.”“We do know that they’ve met three times and there are thousands of gain-of-function research proposals. They’ve only met three times, they’ve only reviewed three projects,” Paul continued.The Senator added that “When Dr. Fauci said, ‘Oh, we’ve reviewed this and the experts have looked at this, and said it’s not gain-of-function,’ even that wasn’t true. There was a committee that was formed after 2017 to look at this dangerous research. They didn’t look at this research at all because they never reviewed it. So no one reviewed this to say it wasn’t gain-of-function research. They didn’t review it, period.”“So we learned a lot of things, but I think we reconfirmed that Dr. Fauci is not being honest with us,” Paul urged, adding “Yes, the NIH funded gain-of-function research. Yes, it was dangerous. And yes, nobody looked over this. Nobody reviewed the research. Yes, a million people died. And there still seems to be a significant lack of curiosity on the part of Democrats.”Of course, Fauci shrugged this off as just more 'vast-right-wing-conspiracy-theory' or some-such. But, Dr. Fauci has a problem now... Robert Redfield told former Senate Finance Committee investigator Paul Thacker that National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci "knew" he funded gain-of-function research that makes viruses more dangerous, and "misled Congress" when he denied it."Rand Paul was right after all... and it wasn't a vast right wing conspiracy? Shock horror!

Pandemic unemployment fraud estimate reaches $46.5 billion - A federal watchdog on Thursday found that fraudsters may have stolen $45.6 billion from the nation’s unemployment insurance program during the pandemic, using the Social Security numbers of dead people and other tactics to deceive and bilk the U.S. government.The new estimate is a dramatic increase from the roughly $16 billion in potential fraud identified a year ago, and it illustrates the immense task still ahead of Washington as it seeks to pinpoint the losses, recover the funds and hold criminals accountable for stealing from a vast array of federal relief programs.The report, issued by the inspector general for the Labor Department, paints a grim portrait of the country’s jobless aid program beginning under the Trump administration in 2020. The weekly benefits helped more than 57 million families just in the first five months of the crisis — yet the program quickly emerged as a tempting target for criminals.To siphon away funds, scammers allegedly filed billions of dollars in unemployment claims in multiple states simultaneously and relied on suspicious, hard-to-trace emails. In some cases, they used more than 205,000 Social Security numbers that belonged to dead people. Other suspected criminals obtained benefits using the identities of prisoners who were ineligible for aid.But officials at the watchdog office warned their accounting still may be incomplete: They said they were not able to access more updated federal prisoner data from the Justice Department, and acknowledged that they only focused their report on “high risk” areas for fraud. The two factors raised the prospect that they could uncover billions of dollars in additional theft in the months to come.The government also announced Thursday it had reached the “milestone” of charging 1,000 individuals with crimes involving jobless benefits during the pandemic. Kevin Chambers, the director for coronavirus-related enforcement for the Justice Department, described the situation in a statement as “unprecedented fraud.” The inspector general’s office, meanwhile, said it had opened roughly 190,000 investigative matters related to unemployment insurance fraud since the start of the pandemic. Asked about the findings, a spokesman for the Labor Department pointed to a response letter from the agency included with the inspector general’s report. The agency said it is “committed” to helping states “combat the continually changing and new types of sophisticated fraud impacting the UI system.” It pointed to monetary grants and other recent guidance meant to help states improve their systems for awarding and monitoring claims.The new report on unemployment fraud underscores the persistent challenge facing the federal government, two years after it approved the first of roughly $5 trillion in response to the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. That money helped rescue the economy from collapse early in the pandemic, yet it quickly became a ripe target for waste, fraud and abuse, as The Post has documented in a year-long series tracking the spending called the Covid Money Trail. The scope of that theft has been vast: Earlier this week, federal prosecutors charged 47 defendants in an entirely different scheme targeting a program to provide free meals for needy children. The organization, Feeding Our Future, allegedly stole more than $250 million from the meal program in what the Justice Department described as the largest single fraud case targeting coronavirus aid to date.

 White House: GOP abortion ban would mean a nationwide crisis (AP) — The White House and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists said Thursday that a Republican-led proposal to ban abortion nationwide after 15 weeks would endanger the health of women and have severe consequences for physicians.“If passed and enacted, this bill would create a nationwide health crisis, imperiling the health and lives of women in all 50 states,” according to a preliminary analysis of the bill by Jennifer Klein, the White House Gender Policy Council chairwoman, that was obtained by The Associated Press. “It would transform the practice of medicine, opening the door to doctors being thrown in jail if they fulfill their duty of care to patients according to their best medical judgment.”President Joe Biden himself said at a fundraiser that some GOP efforts to ban abortion were more extreme than his own Catholic faith.“I happen to be a practicing Roman Catholic. My church doesn’t even make that argument,” he said, referring to abortion bans that leave “no exceptions. Rape, incest. No exceptions.” The measure introduced last week by Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., proposes a nationwide ban that would allow for rare exceptions. The federal legislation has almost no chance of becoming law in the Democratic-controlled Congress. GOP leaders did not immediately embrace it and Democrats are pointing to the proposal as an alarming signal of where Republicans would try to go if they were to win control of the Congress in November.

Bill to split spousal student loans heads to House floor -- The House Rules Committee on Monday advanced a bill allowing borrowers to sever spousal student loans, potentially making hundreds of additional Americans eligible for loan forgiveness. Democrats on the committee also focused on how the bill will finally allow individuals to leave the program in cases of divorce or domestic violence. “Victims of domestic violence or economic abuse should never have to pay the debts of their abuser,” said Chairman Jim McGovern (D-Mass.). “Closing this loophole is just common sense.” The bill was voted out of committee 7-3 and is expected to get a floor vote on Tuesday. Nearly 15,000 people combined their student loans under the program between 1993 and 2006, with couples agreeing to be held liable for each other’s debts, according to The Washington Post. But there was no way to sever the joint debt under the program, leaving some people shouldering the debt of their exes — or abusers in some cases. About 770 loans have yet to be paid off, the Post reported. The Joint Consolidation Loan Separation Act would also make program participants eligible for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program ahead of the Oct. 31 deadline for applications, as well as President Biden’s recently announced student loan forgiveness program providing up to $20,000 in forgiveness for federal borrowers making less than $125,000. “This bill comes at a critical time as many borrowers seek relief under President Biden’s recently announced loan cancellation program,” said Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.) “Simply put, by advancing the Joint Consolidation Loan Separation Act, we’re providing borrowers with additional avenues to seek loan relief.” GOP committee members expressed a number of concerns with the bill, including whether it could be enacted in time for participants to apply for forgiveness programs, and what they said was lack of specifics on how the debt would be passed on to both parties if the loans were separated. Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.) proposed an amendment addressing those concerns, which was voted down 7-3, with Democrats dismissing the GOP concerns.

 House and Senate Democrats prepare resolutions to oppose local book bans - Top congressional Democrats are preparing to address a wave of bans and restrictions on school library materials Thursday with new resolutions that call on local governments “to protect the rights of students to learn,” according to lawmakers and a draft copy of the legislation. The moves represent urgent statements of concern from President Joe Biden’s party about ongoing controversies that affect as many as 4 million U.S. schoolchildren, according to one recent estimate. The congressional response has won endorsements from the American Federation of Teachers and National Education Association labor unions as well as prominent literary and left-leaning educational interest groups. “The wave of book bans that has swept across our country in recent years is a direct attack on First Amendment rights and should alarm every American who believes that freedom of expression is a fundamental pillar of our democracy,” said Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), a sponsor of the House resolution and chair of the chamber’s oversight subcommittee on civil rights and liberties, in a statement. Both the House and Senate resolutions will face an uncertain path to a vote. Alarmed Democratic lawmakers have nevertheless convened hearings this year over political organizing and state restrictions against books and curriculum that address gender identity and race. A group of party pollsters and strategists have also sought to draw voter attention to the controversies during fall’s midterm elections as they attempt to depict conservative-led campaigns as extremist and at odds with a significant share of public opinion. “Efforts to remove books from schools and public libraries simply because they introduce ideas about diversity or challenge students to think beyond their own lived experience is not only anti-democratic but also a hallmark of authoritarian regimes,” Raskin said. Hawaii Democratic Sen. Brian Schatz is sponsoring a Senate resolution. The draft House measure cites a 1982 Supreme Court decision — Board of Education v. Pico — which ruled the First Amendment limits schools’ discretion to remove books from high school and junior high libraries, and that schools cannot limit content in a “narrowly partisan or political manner.” The resolution further “expresses concern about the spreading problem of book banning and proliferating threats to freedom of expression in the United States” and “reaffirms the United States’ commitment to supporting writers’ freedom of expression, and the freedom of all Americans to read books without government censorship.” It finally calls on schools and local governments to offer students opportunities “to read a wide array of books reflecting a multitude of viewpoints and perspectives.” Efforts to ban or restrict library materials in schools, universities and public libraries are on track to hit new records this year. The American Library Association cataloged 681 efforts to target 1,651 unique titles between January and August, according to preliminary association data that is already surpassing a high-water mark recorded in 2021.

New USPS Delivery Network: Radically Cutting Rural Service, Headcount; Likely to Further Slow Delivery - This month the Postal Service will begin implementing a massive initiative to change how the mail is delivered. Instead of working out of the back of post offices, letter carriers will be relocated to large, centralized facilities called Sorting & Delivery Centers. These S&DCs will be housed in currently operating processing centers, large post offices, and eventually one of the new multi-functional mega-plants the Postal Service plans to create over the next few years. Spaces are already being prepared in Atlanta, Indianapolis, and Charlotte, where the Postal Service has leased a 620,000 square foot facility almost adjacent to a large Amazon warehouse.The effects on postal employees will be significant, as discussed in this previous post. Tens of thousands of letter carriers will find themselves working at an S&DC that’s much farther from where they live, meaning longer commutes, more driving time, and more transportation expenses. Postmasters and managers will see their positions downgraded because they don’t have carriers to supervise. Thousands of clerks at post offices will become unnecessary since they won’t need to provide support for the carriers. They will be among the 50,000 positions that the Postmaster General says he plans to eliminate.Eventually, patrons of post offices will be affected, too. Removing carrier operations eliminates one of the two main functions of a post office, and the excess space in the back will be used to justify “optimizing” the retail network. Some post offices will be relocated to smaller spaces, some will have their hours reduced, many will simply be closed. Properties that the Postal Service owns, many of them significant historic buildings, will be reviewed for disposal. The neighborhoods and towns in which these post offices are located will suffer a loss of jobs and economic activity. Tens of million households will fall within the scope of the initiative.The new delivery network, it’s important to note, is not about closing small, rural post offices — those that typically come under attack because they supposedly don’t bring in enough revenue to justify their existence. The S&DC plan targets urban and suburban post offices. One of the main criteria — perhaps the main criterion — for identifying which post offices will have their carriers relocated is the distance between the S&DC and the post office. If it’s too far, too much time and expense go into just getting a carrier from the S&DC to the first stop on the route. The Postal Service says a 30-minute drive is the maximum “reach.” Since nearly all the potential S&DCs are in urban and suburban areas, this distance limitation virtually guarantees that the impacted post offices will also be in urban and suburban areas. The post offices in rural areas are just too far afield.

Biden administration to cover Puerto Rico’s Fiona recovery costs for the next month - President Joe Biden announced Thursday that the federal government will pay 100 percent of the costs of Puerto Rico’s recovery from Hurricane Fiona for the next month. The move would expand the federal role just a day after Biden issued a major disaster declaration on Wednesday for Puerto Rico, unlocking additional federal assistance as island residents navigate the aftermath of Fiona. That declaration had made federal funds available to Puerto Rico on a cost-sharing basis for debris removal, emergency protective measures and other services. “We’re laser focused on what’s happening to the people of Puerto Rico,” Biden said. The damage of Fiona occurred five years after Hurricane Maria decimated the island’s power, water and health care systems. Disaster recovery expenses are often shared, with the federal government paying 75 percent — and in some cases 90 percent — of the cost and state and local entities covering the rest. But Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer on Tuesday urged the federal government to cover the costs, noting the Puerto Rican government’s precarious financial position.. The new authorization will cover 100 percent percent of the costs for debris removal, power and water restoration and shelter and food for the next month. “We are with you,” he said. “We are not going to walk away.” Puerto Rico Gov. Pedro Pierluisi had asked the Biden administration on Tuesday for an expedited major disaster declaration, two days after Fiona deluged the island with heavy rainfall and knocked out its fragile power grid. “I hope you’re satisfied with the response so far,” Biden told the governor during a virtual joint press conference. Power outages continue to affect the island, with LUMA Energy, the private company managing Puerto Rico’s grid, saying it has restored power to 420,000, or 28 percent, of its 1.5 million customers as of Wednesday morning.

Migrant arrests at southwestern border hit yearly record - The number of arrests of undocumented immigrants at the southwestern border reached a yearly record in August, according to data from U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).Arrests on the southern border were at 2,150,244 in the 11 months leading up to August, according to CBP data released Monday.The number of arrests along the southwestern border in one year has previously never before surpassed 2 million.“Failing communist regimes in Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Cuba are driving a new wave of migration across the Western Hemisphere, including the recent increase in encounters at the southwest U.S. border,” said CBP Commissioner Chris Magnus in a news release.“More individuals encountered at the border without a legal basis to remain will be expelled or removed this year than any prior year,” he added.August saw 2.2 percent more arrests overall than July. There was a 175 percent increase in arrests of Venezuelan, Cuban and Nicaraguan migrants in August compared to a year ago.The number of Mexican immigrants arrested in August 2022 decreased by 43 percent compared to August 2021.The figures from the Biden administration come as Republicans are again seeking to make immigration a central issue heading into the midterms in November.A number of GOP governors have sent migrants by bus or train to Democratic-run cities, in what they claim is an effort to spread the burden of caring for immigrants, but which Democrats call a crude political ploy.Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) flew approximately 50 migrants from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard, Mass., on Wednesday in an attempt to publicly criticize liberal immigration policies.Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) has previously bused migrants to Washington, D.C., New York City and Chicago, saying that political leaders in these states support permissive immigration laws without realizing their effects on border states.The CBP also shared numbers related to drug seizures nationwide, reporting that the amount of drugs seized had increased by 1.4 percent in August since the previous month.Cocaine and fentanyl seizures increased by 193 percent and 6 percent respectively, while methamphetamine and heroin seizures decreased by 44 percent and 10 percent respectively.

Three Martha Vineyard Migrants File Lawsuit Against DeSantis - The undocumented migrants who were transferred to Martha’s Vineyard have quickly adopted one common American practice: litigation. A firm, Lawyers for Civil Rights, in conjunction with the migrant-led nonprofit Alianza Americas, filed the action on behalf of Yanet Doe, Pablo Doe and Jesus Doe who are using pseudonyms for the action “on behalf of themselves and all others similarly situated.” The filing is a Jackson Pollock of legal claims with twelve claims thrown against Florida from false imprisonment to intentional infliction of emotional distress to misuse of the Coronavirus State Fiscal Recovery Fund. The splattering of a claims face considerable legal barriers based on the consent of the migrants, as shown in a waiver released by Florida.The filing of a lawsuit upon entry to the United States is not unprecedented, of course.Indeed, I teach in torts where an immigrant to the United States filed a tort action for an involuntary inoculation upon entry in O’Brien v. Cunard. Yet, this is a case involving undocumented migrants who allegedly signed a waiver and agreed to the trip.The filing does not include the widespread claims of kidnapping and human trafficking made by Democratic politicians and some legal experts. Cables programs are still claiming that criminal kidnapping charges should be brought after the flight.The lawyers are alleging that the migrants were mislead or defrauded in going to Martha’s Vineyard. The flight is portrayed as “designed and executed a premeditated, fraudulent, and illegal scheme centered on exploiting this vulnerability for the sole purpose of advancing their own personal, financial and political interests.”Gov. DeSantis responded by calling the lawsuit “political theater,” which is ironic given that the flight was clearly designed as precisely that type of political theater.

Twitter Jan. 6 whistleblower Anika Collier Navaroli speaks to The Washington Post - In an explosive hearing in July, an unidentified former Twitter employee testified to the House Jan. 6 committee that the company had tolerated false and rule-breaking tweets from Donald Trump for years because executives knew their service was his “favorite and most-used … and enjoyed having that sort of power.” Now, in an exclusive interview with The Washington Post, the whistleblower, Anika Collier Navaroli, reveals the terror she felt about coming forward and how eventually that fear was overcome by her worry that extremism and political disinformation on social media pose an “imminent threat not just to American democracy, but to the societal fabric of our planet.” “I realize that by being who I am and doing what I’m doing, I’m opening myself and my family to extreme risk,” Navaroli said. “It’s terrifying. This has been one of the most isolating times of my life.” “I wouldn’t be doing this if I didn’t believe the truth matters,” she said. Twitter banned Trump two days after the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol, citing fears he could incite further violence. By that time, he had sent more than 56,000 tweets over 12 years, many of which included lies and baseless accusations about election fraud. One month earlier, he had tweeted, “Big protest in D.C. on January 6th. Be there, will be wild!” Advertisement Navaroli, a former policy official on the team designing Twitter’s content-moderation rules, testified to the committee that the ban came only after Twitter executives had for months rebuffed her calls for stronger action against Trump’s account. Only after the Capitol riot, which left five dead and hundreds injured, did Twitter move to close his 88 million follower account. Tech companies traditionally require employees to sign broad nondisclosure agreements that restrict them from speaking about their work. Navaroli was not able to speak in detail about her time at Twitter, said her attorney, Alexis Ronickher, with the Washington law firm Katz Banks Kumin, who joined in the interview. But Navaroli told The Post that she has sat for multiple interviews with congressional investigators to candidly discuss the company’s actions. A comprehensive report that could include full transcripts of her revelations is expected to be released this year.

Virginia Thomas agrees to interview with Jan. 6 panel — Conservative activist Virginia Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, has agreed to participate in a voluntary interview with the House panel investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection, her lawyer said Wednesday.Attorney Mark Paoletta said Thomas is “eager to answer the committee’s questions to clear up any misconceptions about her work relating to the 2020 election.”The committee has for months sought an interview with Thomas in an effort to know more about her role in trying to help former President Donald Trump overturn his election defeat. She texted with White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and contacted lawmakers in Arizona and Wisconsin in the weeks after the election. Thomas's willingness to testify comes as the committee is preparing to wrap up its work before the end of the year and is writing a final report laying out its findings about the U.S. Capitol insurrection. The panel announced Wednesday that it will reconvene for a hearing on Sept. 28, likely the last in a series of hearings that began this summer.

Trump team resists special master’s request to explain declassification of Mar-a-Lago documents - Former President Trump’s legal team on Monday night resisted a request to elaborate on his claims around declassifying the documents recovered last month from his Mar-a-Lago home. In a filing to the court-appointed special master that Trump requested, his attorneys said the “time and place” for making such a disclosure would come in a motion in a criminal trial as an effort to recover his property. “Otherwise, the Special Master process will have forced the Plaintiff to fully and specifically disclose a defense to the merits of any subsequent indictment without such a requirement being evident in the District Court’s order,” Trump’s legal team wrote. The resistance comes after Trump’s attorneys insinuated the former president declassified the more than 300 documents recovered from his Florida home but stopped short of fully making the claim in court filings. “The government’s stance assumes that if a document has a classification marking, it remains classified irrespective of any actions taken during President Trump’s term in office,” Trump’s legal team wrote in a filing last week. “There is no legitimate contention that the chief executive’s declassification of documents requires approval of bureaucratic components of the executive branch,” they added. The Justice Department’s legal team seized on the hinting from Trump’s lawyer in their next filing. “Plaintiff principally seeks to raise questions about the classification status of the records and their categorization under the Presidential Records Act (‘PRA’). But plaintiff does not actually assert — much less provide any evidence — that any of the seized records bearing classification markings have been declassified,” the department wrote. “Such possibilities should not be given weight absent plaintiff’s putting forward competent evidence,” it added.

Dearie asks Trump lawyers whether they believe FBI lied about seized documents - The Mar-a-Lago special master on Thursday ordered Donald Trump’s lawyers to state in a court filing whether they believe FBI agents lied about documents seized from the former president’s Florida residence in a court-authorized search last month, or claimed to have taken items that were not actually in Trump’s possession.In a Thursday afternoon filing, U.S. District Judge Raymond J. Dearie — the special master — told Trump’s legal team to state by Sept. 30 whether they believe any of the seized items were incorrectly described in the Justice Department’s 11-page inventory list, which said some of the documents were highly classified.Dearie also told them to say whether they are claiming that any items on the inventory list were not in fact taken from the premises.Trump has said on social media and in television interviews that the FBI planted items when they searched his Mar-a-Lago residence and private club on Aug. 8. He also claimed to have declassified documents found in that search that were marked classified and were highly sensitive. His lawyers have not made similar assertions in court, however, instead saying they have not reviewed the seized materials and are unable to confirm whether the government’s inventory list is accurate.Dearie’s order, in essence, demands that Trump’s lawyers back up their client’s claims. “This submission shall be Plaintiff’s final opportunity to raise any factual dispute as to the completeness and accuracy of the Detailed Property Inventory,” he wrote.At a hearing Tuesday, Dearie pressed Trump’s lawyers to take a position on whether the classified documents were, as Trump has said, declassified, but they demurred.The status of key investigations involving Donald TrumpDearie’s approach is strikingly different from how Judge Aileen M. Cannon — the Florida-based district court judge who granted Trump’s request to appoint a special master earlier this month — has handled her part of the case.Cannon never asked Trump’s attorneys to explain why they thought the inventory list might be inaccurate or why they implied that some of the documents that were labeled as classified were not actually classified.In his order, Dearie gave the government — which is investigating the potential mishandling of classified information at Mar-a-Lago — until Monday to submit a statement declaring whether its inventory list is a full and accurate representation of what was seized. The government must also later respond to any factual disputes that Trump’s team raises in its filings.

Special master calls for help in Trump Mar-a-Lago documents fight - The outside expert tapped to sort through former President Donald Trump’s legal claims over documents seized from his Florida home last month is calling for backup.U.S. District Court Judge Raymond Dearie, a New York City-based jurist named by a federal judge in Florida to act as a so-called special master in the review of more than 11,000 documents the FBI confiscated, proposed on Thursday that former Magistrate Judge James Orenstein help with the process.“The undersigned has determined that the efficient administration of the Special Master’s duties requires the assistance of the Honorable James Orenstein,” Dearie’s proposed plan for the document review said. The order said Orenstein “has experience with complex case management, privilege review, warrant procedures, and other matters that may arise in the course of the Special Master’s duties.”Orenstein spent 16 years as a federal magistrate in the same Brooklyn courthouse where Dearie sits. Orenstein drew attention several years ago for his role in what was semi-sarcastically dubbed “the magistrates’ revolt” — rulings from a smattering of federal magistrate judges across the country questioning government tactics in warrant applications seeking electronic data. In 2016, Orenstein issued a controversial ruling rejecting prosecutors’ arguments that a two-century-old federal law gave the government the right to command Apple to assist in unlocking an iPhone used by an alleged drug dealer. The judge’s pro-privacy stance in that matter may have led the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to appoint him to a list of approved friends of the court who provide their perspective on surveillance requests.

Trump headlines fascist rally in Youngstown, Ohio, calls for mass execution of “drug dealers” - Seeking to bolster Republican candidates ahead of the 2022 midterm elections, this past Saturday, ex-president Donald Trump headlined a sparsely attended fascistic rally in Youngstown, Ohio. With the elections set to be held in just over 50 days, the rally, held in a 6,000 seat arena, was a chance for Trump to solidify his standing as the Republican kingmaker and unchallenged 2024 presidential front-runner. However, at no point during the event, including during the crescendo of Trump’s rant, which featured an orchestral song linked to the fascist QAnon movement, was the arena ever full. This is despite the fact that the rally was heavily promoted by Trump-aligned media and featured several current Republican politicians speaking before the former president. In a first for a Trump rally, the small crowd, likely encouraged by political operatives working on behalf of the ex-president, held up their index finger as the QAnon song was being played. The gesture is popular among pro-Trump and QAnon elements, including members of fascist Nicholas Fuentes’ “America First” group. The overt appeals in Trump’s address to the right-wing QAnon conspiracy is the would-be dictator’s response to ongoing investigations by the US Justice Department into his failed coup and his pilfering and storing of classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago resort after leaving the White House. Last Monday, CNN reported and several other outlets confirmed that Trump’s former chief of staff, Mark Meadows, and one of his top deputies, Ben Williamson, recently complied with a subpoena issued by the US Department of Justice (DoJ) concerning their role in Trump’s failed coup. Citing anonymous sources, CNN claimed that Meadows turned over thousands of text messages and emails to the DoJ which he had previously given to the January 6 House Select Committee. The following day, Trump co-conspirator and fellow speaker at the Youngstown rally, MyPillow founder Mike Lindell, had his cellphone seized by FBI agents. The FBI confirmed the seizure of Lindell’s phone but did not state the nature of the investigation. Lindell claimed in an interview with the Washington Post that the FBI agents asked him questions about images posted on his website, Frank Speech, concerning a voting machine from Mesa County, Colorado. As Lindell was being questioned by FBI agents, Trump spoke on the phone with Micki Witthoeft, mother of QAnon fascist and deceased Air Force veteran Ashli Babbitt, outside the Washington D.C. jail. During the phone call, Trump reiterated his support for Babbitt, who was shot by a cop while storming the Capitol on January 6. “The Radical Left haters cannot be allowed to get away with this. There must be justice,” Trump told Babbitt’s mother.In his speech Saturday, Trump presented himself as a Christ-like savior who was “right about everything” for which he was being “persecuted” by a “sick and deranged political no other president or anyone else else in American history.”

Retired General Compares Trump's Ohio Rally to Hitler's 1936 Nazi Event - Retired four-star U.S. Army General Barry McCaffrey compared Donald Trump's Saturday night rally in Ohio to a rally held by Adolf Hitler's Nazi Party in 1936 in Nuremberg, Germany. "Astonishing Trump language. The crowd is similar to a Nuremberg rally 1936. A lawless Trump in office in 2024 election would slide us into autocracy and deny our Constitutional safeguards. This is our greatest danger as a nation since 1860. VOTE," McCaffrey wrote on Twitter on Saturday. The Nuremberg Rallies were an annual event held by the Nazis between 1933 and 1938, according to Calvin University. The 1936 rally had three focal points related to Germany's goals: the evils of Bolshevism—a Soviet political thought, being independent from foreign sources of raw materials, and the country's demands to retrieve the colonies it lost after World War I. The Nazi regime passed two new laws at the time known as the Nuremberg Laws or Nuremberg Race Law, which were announced at a rally in Nuremberg, according to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. The Reich Citizenship Law stipulated that only racially pure Germans could hold German citizenship, while the Law for the Protection of German Blood and German Honor banned race-mixing by prohibiting intermarriages and sexual relations between Jewish people and people "of German or related blood." During Saturday's rally, Trump supporters raised their hands to give an index-finger salute, symbolizing America First, according to NBC News reporter Ben Collins, as the former president delivered a speech with what appeared to be dramatic music of a QAnon song playing in the background as he spoke. The song was identified as the 2020 track, "WWG1WGA," which stands for "where we go one we go all," by musician Richard Feelgood. The acronym WWG1WGA is a common slogan used by QAnon members. The song has long been celebrated by the QAnon community, according to the nonprofit organization Media Matters for America, with some supporters saying "if that's not a Q proof then I don't know what is," and calling the song "THE mother of all Q proofs."

NY AG Letitia James sues Donald Trump, family; accuses them of fraud - New York Attorney General Letitia James on Wednesday accused former President Donald Trump of massive fraud in a civil lawsuit following a three year inquiry into the finances of the family business. James said Trump "falsely inflated his wealth by billions of dollars" to enrich himself and his family and the lawsuit seeks to effectively shutter the former president's namesake business, the Trump Organization. "Mr. Trump thought he could get away with the art of the steal, but today, that conduct ends," James said. "There aren't two sets of laws for people in this nation: former presidents must be held to the same standards as everyday Americans." James said she has referred some of the allegations to federal authorities, including the Manhattan U.S Attorney's Office and the IRS for possible criminal investigation. Weisselberg pleads guilty: Allen Weisselberg, Trump Organization CFO, pleads guilty in tax case. The deal requires he testify. The extraordinary lawsuit, which also names children Donald Trump Jr., Ivanka Trump and Eric Trump, seeks $250 million in penalties; a permanent ban on the Trumps from running businesses in New York; and the legal action attempts to block Trump and the Trump Organization from purchasing commercial real estate in New York for five years. James described an "astounding" pattern of fraud that allegedly represented a "violation of the law." The lawsuit alleges that Trump, with the aid of his children and senior executives at the Trump Organization, falsely inflated his net worth by billions of dollars "to induce banks to lend money to the Trump Organization on more favorable terms than would otherwise have been available to the company." The false valuations, state officials asserted, also sought to induce insurers to provide coverage at lower premiums. For a decade, Trump and the business "created more than 200 false and misleading valuations of assets on his annual Statements of Financial Condition to defraud financial institutions," the attorney general said.

Trump sued: Family inflated net worth by billions, says lawsuit - Donald Trump and three of his children have been hit with a fraud lawsuit after a New York investigation into their family company - the Trump Organization. It alleges that they lied "by billions" about the value of real estate in order to get loans and pay less tax. Prosecutors say the Trump Organization committed numerous acts of fraud between 2011-21. Mr Trump has dismissed the lawsuit as "another witch hunt". The former president's eldest children, Donald Jr, Ivanka and Eric Trump, were also named as defendants alongside two executives at the Trump Organization, Allen Weisselberg and Jeffrey McConney. The lawsuit has been brought by New York Attorney General Letitia James, who is the state's most senior lawyer, after a three-year civil investigation. Her office does not have the power to file criminal charges, but is referring allegations of criminal wrongdoing to federal prosecutors and to the Internal Revenue Service. "With the help of his children and senior executives at the Trump Organization, Donald Trump falsely inflated his net worth by billions of dollars to unjustly enrich himself and cheat the system," Ms James said in a statement. She said Mr Trump's own apartment in Trump Tower, which was valued at $327m (£288m), was among the properties whose values were allegedly misrepresented. "No apartment in New York City has ever sold for close to that amount," Ms James added. "White collar financial crime is not a victimless crime," the attorney general said. "When the well-connected break the law to take in more money than they are entitled to, it reduces resources available to working people, to regular people, to small businesses and to all tax payers." Ms James is asking a court to bar the former president and his children from serving as officers or directors in any New York business. She also wants the Trump Organization banned from engaging in real estate transactions there for five years. The announcement comes after Ms James - a Democrat who is running for re-election in November - rejected at least one offer to settle the long-running civil investigation into the company's business practices. Blasting the lawsuit on his Truth Social site, Mr Trump branded Ms James, who is black, a racist. "Another Witch Hunt by a racist Attorney General, Letitia James, who failed in her run for Governor, getting almost zero support from the public," he wrote. The Trumps have previously accused Ms James of pursuing a political vendetta, citing remarks she made before being elected as attorney general in 2018 in which she vowed to sue Mr Trump and branded him an "illegitimate president".

Read the New York attorney general's lawsuit against Trump, family members, company -- New York Attorney General Tish James has filed a wide-ranging civil lawsuit against former President Donald Trump, the Trump Organization and three of his adult children for fraud and misrepresentation. Read the full lawsuit.

Social media platforms’ ‘flawed policies’ amplify election fraud claims: report Social media companies have weak policies on misinformation and have failed to enforce them consistently ahead of the 2022 midterms, according to a new report released Monday.The report, from New York University’s Stern Center for Business and Human Rights, faults Meta, Twitter, YouTube and TikTok for not taking a proactive approach to address misinformation, including a growing trend of election denialism and false claims of fraud.They say the lack of a proactive approach threatens the approaching election.Although social media companies have pledged to tackle election misinformation, the report said the companies’ “flawed policies and inconsistent enforcement result in the continued amplification of election denialism, especially in key battleground states.”The report highlights Facebook’s continued exemption of politicians from its fact-checking program as a concern for amplifying the spread of election denialism. It also slam’s Twitter for having an “on-again/off-again enforcement” of its Civi Integrity Policy in a way that has allowed election denialism to “gain momentum since early 2021.” The report also focuses on video content, stating that YouTube has allowed its platform to be “exploited by proponents of disinformation” and that TikTok is “increasingly plagued by political misinformation.” Paul Barrett, an author of the report, said the risk is heightened by the number of Republican candidates who have embraced election denialism. “In a sense, the problems are intensifying, even though it’s an off year, even though it’s not a presidential election. And I don’t think the platforms have appreciated the degree to which election denialism seems to have become sort of a permanent part of Republican politics,” he told The Hill. “Rather than being extra vigilant, it seems like the platforms are kind of just going through the motions there. They’ve put out statements and said these are our policies — they’re basically the same policies they’ve had in the past,” he said. In response, the platforms responded to researchers by defending the policies they have in place.

The online incel movement is getting more violent and extreme, report says - The Center for Countering Digital Hate analyzed more than 1 million posts showing a rise in advocacy of rape, mass killings. The most prominent forum for men who consider themselves involuntarily celibate or “incels” has become significantly more radicalized over the past year and a half and is seeking to normalize child rape, a new report says.The report, by the Center for Countering Digital Hate’s new Quant Lab, is the culmination of an investigation that analyzed more than 1 million posts on the site. It found a marked spike in conversations about mass murder and growing approval of sexually assaulting prepubescent girls.The report also says that platforms including YouTube and Google, as well as internet infrastructure companies like Cloudflare are facilitating the growth of the forum, which the report said is visited by 2.6 million people every month. “These businesses should make a principled decision to withdraw their services from sites causing such significant harm,” the report says.“This is a novel, new violent extremist movement born in the internet age, which defies the usual characteristics of violent extremist movements that law enforcement and the intelligence community are usually used to,” said Imran Ahmed, founder and CEO of CCDH, a US-based nonprofit. “Our study shows that it is organized, has a cogent ideology and has clearly concluded that raping women, killing women, and raping children is a clear part of the practice of their ideology.”Incels blame women for their failings in life. The term originated decades ago, and while the first incel forum was founded by a woman in the mid 1990s, incel communities have since become almost exclusively male. Incel ideology has been linked to dozens of murders and assaults over the past decade, the most prominent one involving Elliot Rodger, a 22-year-old self-described incel who murdered six people in a stabbing and shooting rampage in Santa Barbara, Calif., in 2014. Before killing himself, he posted a long manifesto and YouTube videos promoting incel ideology. In March, the U.S. Secret Service’s National Threat Assessment Centerreleased a report warning that anti-woman violence was a growing terrorism threat.According to the CCDH analysis, members of the forum post about rape every 29 minutes, and more than 89 percent of posters support rape and say it’s acceptable. The CCDH analysis also found that posters on the forum are seeking to normalize child rape. More than a quarter of members of the forum have posted pedophilia keywords, the analysis found, and more than half of the members of the forum support pedophilia.The forum also changed its rules this year to accommodate what appears to be a trend toward normalizing rape of younger victims, according to the report. The forum previously implored users not to “sexualize minors in any way, shape or form,” but in March changed that language to “do not sexualize prepubescent minors in any way, shape, or form.”The report also cited content that reflected the trend toward pedophilia, noting that a majority of commenters voiced support for a post that read, “As an incel, there is literally no reason to be against pedophilia.” Another thread started by a regular user who had posted more than 7,000 times to the forum contained an image of a 12-year-old child with the comment “who in their right mind would prefer a 22 year old [woman] to this?”

A Fossil Fuels Giant Has Been Raising the Election Chances of Extreme-Right Candidates — Using a Dangerous High-Tech Weapon -- Pam and Russ Martens ~ The Federal Election Commission (FEC), a federal agency, states that its mission is to “protect the integrity of the federal campaign finance process by providing transparency and fairly enforcing and administering federal campaign finance laws.” So last week Wall Street On Parade sent an email inquiry to the FEC, asking the following: “The fossil fuels conglomerate, Koch Industries, which is privately-owned by billionaire Charles Koch and the heirs of his late brother, David, owns a massive voter database, data mining, get-out-the-vote operation, etc. called i360. “As you will see from the FEC link below, i360 is selling its services to a multitude of Republican candidates for seats in the House and Senate, as well as to PACs that in turn support those candidates.“My question is, how is it legal for a privately-owned fossil fuels conglomerate to operate i360, effectively a more sophisticated version of the Republican National Committee.“My second question is, how does the public know that i360 isn’t charging $50,000 for a service and providing $250,000 in actual services to the candidate that it believes will vote on behalf of the fossil fuel agenda in Congress?“And, finally, Koch Industries and/or Charles Koch also fund various front groups, like the former Freedom Partners [Action] and the ongoing Americans for Prosperity [Action], which finance attack ads against candidates opposing Koch-supported candidates. How is this broad sweep of campaign operations legal for a sprawling, privately-owned fossil fuels conglomerate operated by a billionaire?”The response from the FEC was that we could file a complaint with the FEC if we felt campaign laws were being violated. The problem with that is the same entities – Charles Koch and Koch Industries – were part of a corporate network that pushedCitizens United to the Supreme Court and got a rewrite of campaign finance laws so that corporate lawyers now have a far superior advantage over citizens in interpreting the law. The FEC’s website tells us that it has “more than 300 employees.” As of 2020 there were 176,933 voting precincts in the United States. But the FEC has only 300 employees. This sounds like a feature not a bug in how corporations have co-opted the election process in the United States.

 Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley Have Mysteriously Disappeared from this Week’s Senate and House Banking Hearings - By Pam and Russ Martens - There are eight Global Systemically Important Banks (G-SIBS) in the U.S. They are: JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, Bank of New York Mellon, Morgan Stanley, State Street and Wells Fargo. These are the banks that pose the greatest risk to the stability of the U.S. financial system and are monitored under the Federal Reserve’s stress tests. Five of those eight banks pose the greatest risk to financial stability because together they hold $200.18 trillion (yes trillion) in notional derivatives (face amount) or 86 percent of all derivatives held by all of the nation’s banks, according to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency – the federal regulator of national banks. Those banks are: JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, and Bank of America. In any Senate Banking or House Financial Services Committee hearing that is going to probe if these mega banks could blow up the U.S. financial system again — as they did in 2008 – these five banks have to be at the table for the hearing to be credible. But for some reason – which fails to pass the smell test from every angle – Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley have gone missing from the witness table at both the hearing on Wednesday at the House Financial Services Committee and at the hearing on Thursday at the Senate Banking Committee. The CEOs of the other banks will be present to be grilled on their most recent crimes. Adding to the fishy smell, both banks were included at last year’s large bank hearings by the same Committees. This year, instead of Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, new additions to the witness panel have popped up out of the blue. The CEOs of PNC, U.S. Bank and Truist have been added to the witness panel at both the Senate and House hearings, despite the fact that none of these banks have been designated Global Systemically Important Banks; rank anywhere near Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley when it comes to derivative exposure; or played any key role in blowing up the U.S. financial system in 2008. In a comprehensive report in February 2015, OFR researchers sounded the alarm that those five mega banks posed enormous risks to U.S. financial stability. Systemic risk scores were based on size, interconnectedness, substitutability, complexity, and cross-jurisdictional activities. According to the OFR researchers Meraj Allahrakha, Paul Glasserman, and H. Peyton Young: “The larger the bank, the greater the potential spillover if it defaults; the higher its leverage, the more prone it is to default under stress; and the greater its connectivity index, the greater is the share of the default that cascades onto the banking system. The product of these three factors provides an overall measure of the contagion risk that the bank poses for the financial system. Five of the U.S. banks had particularly high contagion index values — Citigroup, JPMorgan, Morgan Stanley, Bank of America, and Goldman Sachs.” It’s certainly not that Goldman Sachs or Morgan Stanley have cleaned up their act so much that they no longer need to be a focus of Congressional Committees. As recently as May 6 of this year, Wall Street On Parade reported as follows: “We’ve been reading SEC filings for more than 35 years. We have to sadly say that the 10-Q that Goldman Sachs filed with the SEC on May 2, for the quarter ending March 31, 2022, shocks even our well-documented assessment of Wall Street as a crime syndicate. Goldman Sachs has listed pretty much everything the firm does as a target of an ongoing investigation, notwithstanding that the company and a subsidiary were criminally charged by the U.S. Department of Justice in the looting and bribery scandal known as 1MDB in October 2020, admitted to the charges, and had to pay over $2.9 billion. On August 4, Goldman Sachs provided the following disclosure when it filed its quarterly report (10-Q) with the Securities and Exchange Commission: “The firm is cooperating with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in connection with an investigation of GS Bank USA’s credit card account management practices, including with respect to the application of refunds, crediting of nonconforming payments, billing error resolution, advertisements, and reporting to credit bureaus.” Then there was the report just last Friday by Bloomberg News that the federally-insured online bank operated by Goldman Sachs Bank USA, Marcus, was under investigation by the Federal Reserve. The article provides this bleak assessment of a deposit-taking bank backed by the U.S. taxpayer:

Bank CEOs navigate wide range of Democrats' and Republicans' grievances in House hearing — The leaders of some of America's largest banks defended their institutions from a wide array of attacks from lawmakers of both political parties during their testimony in the House Financial Services Committee Wednesday. The hearing, which was still ongoing as of this publication, featured sworn testimony from the CEOs of JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, U.S. Bancorp, Truist Financial and PNC Financial Services Group. The subject matter of the hearing, which was led by House Financial Services Chair Maxine Waters, D-Calif., ran the gamut of financial policy. The bank leaders were grilled on their long- and short-term expectations for the U.S. economy, the potential impact of capital reform under the Biden administration, banks' investments in Russian and Chinese markets and the future of oil and gas lending. "Our nation continues to battle an ongoing epidemic, inflation, that's affecting every household's budget, Russia's invasion of Ukraine, rising interest rates and other crises that have battered our economy," Waters said in her opening remarks. "In this environment, the role that banks play to protect consumers and provide access to affordable credit is absolutely critical." The approach taken by the bank CEOs assembled on Capitol Hill for Wednesday's hearing — including Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan, Jane Fraser of Citigroup, Brian Moynihan of BOFA, Charlie Scharf of Wells Fargo, William Rogers Jr. of Truist, William Demchak of PNC and Andy Cecere of U.S. Bank — varied from institution to institution. The CEOs representing the largest regional banks in the U.S. were genteel and emphasized what they described as a conservative approach to risk at their institutions. "We have earned a reputation for being well-managed, financially sound, and responsible in our approaches to underwriting and risk," Cecere said. Demchak echoed that sentiment, describing his institution as a "Main Street banking organization focused on traditional banking activities." CEOs of the megabanks, on the other hand, were more defensive. Dimon at times verged on pugilistic in his remarks and responses to lawmakers, describing the country's largest banks as "a force for good for the country, its citizens, and the global economy."

Jamie Dimon slams crypto tokens as 'decentralized Ponzi schemes' - Jamie Dimon didn't mince words when a U.S. lawmaker mentioned the executive's history of criticizing cryptocurrencies. "I'm a major skeptic on crypto tokens, which you call currency, like Bitcoin," the JPMorgan Chase chief executive said in congressional testimony Wednesday. "They are decentralized Ponzi schemes." Stablecoins — digital assets tied to the value of the U.S. dollar or other currencies — wouldn't be problematic with the proper regulation, and JPMorgan is active in blockchain, Dimon said.The comments represent the latest criticism leveled against digital currencies by Dimon, who once called Bitcoin "a fraud" before eventually saying he regretted the comments.House Financial Services Committee Chairwoman Maxine Waters and Ranking Member Patrick McHenry have been working to reach an agreement on stablecoin legislation.Under the latest version of the bill, it would be illegal to issue or create new "endogenously collateralized stablecoins" such as those similar to TerraUSD, the algorithmic stablecoin that collapsed earlier this year, according to a copy obtained by Bloomberg. While Dimon has been a vocal critic of bitcoin, the firm has been focused on using blockchain for financial services. JPMorgan uses its custom blockchain and token, JPM Coin, to conduct intraday repurchase agreements, which allows other financial institutions to take out short-term loans using high-quality collateral. JPMorgan was also the first Wall Street bank to launch a presence in the metaverse in February.

Senators lean into culture war in second day of CEO hearings — The currents of culture war hung heavily over a second day of large-bank CEO hearings on Capitol Hill on Thursday, as Senate Republicans threatened consequences for financial institutions that prove too deferential to progressive causes. Speaking before the Senate Banking Committee, CEOs representing seven large banks — JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, U.S. Bancorp, Truist Financial and PNC Financial — faced a smaller crowd of lawmakers than Wednesday's hearing in the House. But senators came armed with sharp questions for the bankers. Senate Banking Committee Chair Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, had harsh words for the CEOs in his opening remarks, suggesting their banks had more work to do to rebuild customer trust. They identified consolidation among regional banks as a concern. "Trust goes both ways. And with crisis after crisis, and scandal after scandal, the biggest Wall Street banks have lost the trust of the American people," Brown said. "And as super-regional banks get bigger and more complex, they're starting to look more and more like Wall Street." The committee's top Republican, Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, also had a dire warning for the CEOs gathered Thursday, saying that a GOP majority on Capitol Hill might attempt to limit the ability of banks to support progressive causes. "Some of my colleagues are pressuring banks to use both their balance sheets and their influence to address issues wholly unrelated to banking, such as global warming, gun control, voter rights and abortion," Toomey said in his opening remarks. "Several large banks have been far too willing to acquiesce to these demands by embracing a liberal ESG agenda that harms America." "If banks don't cease and desist from weighing in on social and cultural issues, don't be shocked if Republicans, once back in power nationally, seek to pressure banks to advance their goals," Toomey said, with the caveat that he would oppose such a push if it came to pass. (Toomey will exit office after the current session of Congress.) Several of Toomey's Republican colleagues echoed similar sentiments throughout Thursday's hearing. Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., told the CEOs that "you will never win — never — the über-woke sweepstakes." Brown, speaking to reporters after the hearing, dismissed the GOP concerns. "They always look for demagoguery — the political benefits brought to you by demagoguery," Brown told reporters during the scrum, which was broadcast by CSPAN. "They're really good at that. It's fairly meaningless, but it's what they're good at."

Bank leaders steer clear of no-overdraft pledge in Senate testimony -Executives from three of the largest U.S. banks declined to pledge to eliminate overdraft fees when asked if they would do away with them. "We don't believe the full elimination of them is actually a good result," Bank of America Chief Executive Brian Moynihan said in response to a question from New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez during congressional testimony Thursday. Jamie Dimon, JPMorgan Chase's CEO, said his company offers the product, and "we think it's the right thing to do." Noting that 23% of the bank's U.S. customers opt in to the fees, Dimon said, "I have faith in the American public to make their own choices." Wells Fargo CEO Charlie Scharf said he believed customers should have a choice in whether they use overdraft fees. Virtually all the largest U.S. banks have reworked their overdraft policies in recent years, as data showed the fees take an outsize toll on low-income Americans.

Dimon defends need for fossil fuel investments to Congress -- JPMorgan Chase Chief Executive Jamie Dimon said that the U.S. needs to invest in the fossil fuel industry to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the long term and protect economic growth. "We aren't getting this one right," Dimon said when asked for his stance on the nation's energy strategy during testimony before Congress Wednesday. "Investing in the oil and gas complex is good for reducing CO2." Dimon also answered multiple questions on environmental, social and governance investing. He said that there needs to be "more work" in making clear what ESG ratings are and what they mean. When asked if Russia had been removed from JPMorgan's ESG fund suite, Dimon said the bank had "probably" done so and smiled. He said the bank would be "happy" to provide a more precise answer. Later in the hearing, Dimon and Wells Fargo CEO Charlie Scharf were questioned about their support of the State Financial Officers Foundation, a Republican group that's been criticizing strategies that favor ESG over other investment types. Rep. Sean Casten, a Democrat from Illinois, asked if they will stop funding SFOF, which he said is "spreading disinformation." "If that were true, we would probably cancel it," Dimon said. Scharf said he agreed. In response to another question, Dimon said JPMorgan is getting requests from every government and central bank around the world about ESG, and expects to soon spend "hundreds of millions" of dollars on the matters.

White House sparks confusion with FDIC picks — The White House's puzzling decision to announce its choice of two Republican nominees for the board of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. set off waves of surprise throughout financial policy circles on Tuesday. The choice of Travis Hill as vice chair of the FDIC board could unseat current acting Chairman Martin Gruenberg, according to the FDIC bylaws that say the vice chair leads the agency in the absence of a Senate-confirmed chair. While the White House said that a nomination for chair is "forthcoming," sources familiar with the matter say there has been no decision on a pick. "Everyone is wondering what this is all about and no one knows," said Thomas Hoenig, former FDIC vice chairman and former president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City. It would also be unusual to tap Republicans for the minority-held seats on the FDIC board without an accompanying chair, even if the bylaws didn't dictate that the vice chair should lead the agency in the current setup. "Usually you don't necessarily see a Democratic president announcing a nomination of two Republican appointees to an agency where there are vacancies and it's not super urgent to have them," said Keith Noreika, executive vice chairman of Patomak Global Partners' banking supervision and regulation group, and former acting comptroller of the currency who served on the FDIC board in that capacity. "So the first thing is there is a big package that's coming, and what does that entail? Does it entail a new FDIC chair, does it entail some kind of permanent nomination to the OCC?" The Republican nominees — particularly Jonathan McKernan, who most recently worked under Senate Banking Committee ranking member Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa. — appear designed to grease the wheels in the Senate, paving the way for eventual Democratic chair nominations. Hill previously served as policy chief for former FDIC Chair Jelena McWilliams, who was popular among Republican lawmakers. 

Treasury asks if there are any outdated crypto-related regulations -The Treasury Department is seeking public comment on how cryptocurrency can be used in illegal activities and how the federal government could curb such crimes.Notably, one of the questions asks: "What existing regulatory obligations in your view are no longer fit for purpose as it relates to digital assets?" Treasury also questions what alternative obligations would "effectively address illicit finance risks related to digital assets and vulnerabilities?" The notice stems from President Biden's executive order asking various agencies, including Treasury, to study cryptocurrencies. Treasury released several reports tied to the executive order earlier this week, urging financial regulators to continue tight oversight of digital assets, as well as robust consumer protection. "Without appropriate controls and enforcement of existing laws, digital assets can pose a significant risk to national security by facilitating illicit finance, such as money laundering, cybercrime and terrorist actions," U.S. Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian Nelson said in a statement accompanying the request for comment. "As we work to implement the Illicit Finance Action Plan, hold bad actors accountable and identify potential gaps in existing enforcement, we look forward to receiving the public's input on this urgent work." The request for information will officially be published on Tuesday. The deadline for comments is Nov. 3.

 Republicans have another bone to pick with the Fed: Bank capital -- Senate Banking Republicans have a new rallying cry against the Federal Reserve: the capital requirements are too damn high. Several Republicans on the committee, including ranking member Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., criticized the Fed's current capital requirements as overly restrictive during a Thursday hearing that featured CEOs from seven of the largest banks in the country as witnesses. "Some seem to think that [with] additional regulation and added capital requirements, there's no cost, so why not?" Toomey said while questioning the panel executives. "It seems to me that there is a cost of adding unnecessary capital requirements on an already well-capitalized institution."Sens. Tim Scott, R-S.C. and Bill Hagerty, R-Tenn., echoed these sentiments during their allotted questioning periods. Scott, who is next in line to replace Toomey as top Republican on the committee after Toomey retires at the end of the 117th Congress, said if banks are required to hold onto a greater share of their equity to absorb losses, it could lead to fewer loans being issued. This tightening of liquidity could have an outsized impact on small and minority-owned businesses, he added."Having been a small business owner, that formula looks like first time business owners [and] minority business owners are going to have a harder time getting the credit they need to grow and strengthen the economy in their neighborhoods," Scott said.

 Puerto Rico's Power System Heads Toward Litigation for Debt Deal – Puerto Rico’s bankrupt power utility and bondholders may face off in court Wednesday in the wake of Hurricane Fiona’s damage after mediation talks over the agency’s $9 billion debt restructuring ended last week without a deal.US District Court Judge Laura Taylor Swain ordered a hearing for Wednesday on the commonwealth’s push to start litigation after months of court-supervised mediation failed to produce a debt-cutting plan for Puerto Rico’s Electric Power Authority, called Prepa. The island’s financial oversight board filed a potential litigation schedule late Friday even though it still wants to continue negotiations with creditors.A Category 1 hurricane that knocked out power across Puerto Rico raises questions about whether climate change is intensifying the damage caused by moderate storms and why the territory’s infrastructure remains fragile five years after Hurricane Maria pulverized the island.Hurricane Fiona, with wind speeds around 90 mph, left Puerto Rico’s 3.3 million residents without power Sunday and Monday. Officials say they expect full restoration will take days.The power loss forced the closure of public schools through at least Tuesday and caused the loss of cellphone service in parts of Puerto Rico and bewilderment at Fiona’s destructive capacity.Puerto Rico Gov. Pedro Pierluisi called Fiona’s damage “catastrophic” and said parts of the territory had received more rain than during Hurricane Maria in 2017, a Category 4 storm that demolished the island and killed more than 3,000 people.Seven percent of the territory’s cellphone towers were out of service on Sunday, according to a Federal Communications Commission report, and the number of outages could increase.Roughly 100,000 of Puerto Rico’s 1.5 million electricity customers had their power restored on Monday. Preliminary reports suggest that some parts of Puerto Rico had received nearly 28 inches of rain since Fiona made landfall Sunday afternoon as a Category 1 storm. The National Hurricane Center said some areas may receive more than 30 inches. Maria dumped 41 inches in a day — one of the highest precipitation levels on record for Puerto Rico.

 BankThink: Big banks and regulators: Do more to close the racial wealth gap | American Banker -CEOs of America's largest retail banks are testifying before Congress this week. As lawmakers turn their eyes on the banking industry, minority banks and their partnerships with the largest U.S. banks can shed light on the industry's efforts to eliminate racial wealth disparities and the growth that these partnerships can drive. To close the racial wealth gap, banks should deepen partnerships with minority-led banks, and policymakers should eliminate regulatory barriers that prevent these banks from reaching their full potential. Much of the work of providing access to bank accounts, home and business loans, and wealth-building opportunities for Black, Brown and Indigenous communities has historically fallen on the shoulders of under-resourced community lenders. Minority depository institutions and community development financial institutions have been on the front lines working to eliminate barriers to building wealth, credit and economic resilience for minority communities. MDI branches, which are often in census tracts with high minority populations, serve as critical hubs of financial opportunity in these communities. verrazano-bridge-357.jpg As the nation emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic, minority businesses and low- to moderate-income consumers are trying to emerge as well. Minority banks remain at the forefront of efforts to rebuild communities and close the racial wealth gap. This time, larger banks are committing to providing MDIs with support. Banks can fill gaps in funding, scale, staffing and technology that challenge these institutions. MDIs and CDFIs are essential to the economies of underserved minority communities, but they are often underfunded and understaffed. In the last few years, the largest banks have committed more than $500 million in equity investments, grants and other support to MDIs. These efforts have included assisting in building new customer-facing technology, providing operational and technical support and bringing minority banks into lines of business whose scale they wouldn't normally be able to achieve. But despite how crucial these investments are, more is needed for MDIs to grow. There are more ways that large banks can provide support. MDIs play a critical role in minority communities, and larger banks have the tools to support financial resilience and help close the racial wealth gap. In addition to capital, larger banks can provide business opportunities, true partnerships and extensive technological support. Both large banks and MDIs benefit when large banks embed support for MDIs into their businesses. Investing in MDIs' resilience by engaging them in business opportunities is a critical way to increase MDIs' access to capital markets and allow them to better meet the credit needs of low- and moderate-income communities. For example, large banks should work with MDIs on loan syndication opportunities that allow the smaller institutions to participate in activities that benefit communities inside and outside their areas of operation. They can also collaborate with minority-owned banks to underwrite bonds and support minority banks' access to municipal financing deals. These opportunities have unfortunately been out of reach for most MDIs due to past capital constraints. We also believe regulators should encourage and incentivize collaboration across the financial sector, to drive impact in traditionally hard-hit communities. Such regulatory incentives could include the MDI/CDFI investment tax credit, incentivizing loan participations or syndications through the Community Reinvestment Act, Treasury's Emergency Capital Investment Program and CDFI credit. Partnerships are a driving force that could result in significantly more lending to consumers of color and minority-owned businesses. Investing in MDIs through partnerships allows for not just momentary survival but true prosperity for these institutions in the long run.

Less Than Half Of Manhattanites Are Back In The Office Despite 'Pandemic Being Over' --"The pandemic is over," President Biden declared in a CBS' "60 Minutes" interview Sunday, in an attempt to optically please Americans just how great his administration is working to restore a sense of normalcy ahead of the midterm elections. But one segment of the economy has yet to return from the brink: commercial real estate. Even though the pandemic is over in Biden's eyes and quite honestly could've been over a long time ago -- remote and hybrid working has forever scarred commercial real estate that's still in a big fat ugly bubble. Manhattan has no sense of normalcy, where the Partnership for New York City surveyed 160 major firms only to find that 49% of office workers are back in their cubicles. This was a notable increase from 38% in April. However, due to hybrid work models, only 9% of workers are in the office five days a week. About 77% of employers maintain a hybrid office schedule to accommodate employee preferences. Another metric, and perhaps the gold-standard measure of office-occupancy trends, is the card-swipe data provided by Kastle Systems. The NYC office occupancy rate is only 38% and has bounced between 30-40% for much of this year. The slow return to the office where levels are barely over occupancy rates seen right before the start of the omicron wave last November comes as a slew of companies from to Ford to Peloton to Carvana to Zillow to Coinbase, among many others, have laid off workers because of the incoming Fed-induced economic downturn. A declining workforce will mean smaller corporate footprints. Even though big Wall Street firms demanded their employees back in the office after Labor Day, there was no meaningful increase in Kastle card-swipe data trends across NYC. Meanwhile, public transit in NYC is well below pre-pandemic levels as commuters shun riding the subways, perhaps because violent crime in the metro area is out-of-control. Maybe there's a more significant trend at play due to the mass exodus of people and companies post-Covid and remote work trends, signifying substantial challenges for the city's economic recovery. In October 2020, Mark Zandi, the chief economist for Moody's Analytics, said NYC could be in a downturn until 2023.

Calabria: FHFA is making housing less affordable by backing investors -As a greater share of single-family homes are being purchased as investments, a debate has emerged about what government-backed mortgage providers can or should do about it. During the first quarter of 2022, 28% of single homes were bought by someone looking to rent or flip the property rather than use it as a primary residence, according to a recently published report on the state of the U.S. housing market from Harvard University's Joint Center for Housing Studies. That's up 19% from the prior year and up from the 16% average between 2017 and 2019. Former director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency Mark Calabria said the uptick raises a question about what role Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac should be playing in the home investment market, particularly amid a spiraling housing affordability crisis. Calabria said a decision by the FHFA last September to suspend certain elements of its Preferred Stock Purchase Agreement with Fannie and Freddie, including caps on investment property and second home loans, have fueled the uptick in investor activity and, in turn, further limited the already constrained supply of housing for owner-occupants throughout the country. "Suspension of the PSPA limitations have undermined housing affordability, as they have increased investor demand for homes that would have otherwise gone to homeowners," Calabria said. "The fundamental problem facing our housing market is a lack of supply; increasing investor demand inflates prices unnecessarily." Others say the uptick in demand has more to do with market dynamics throughout the country that have been playing out for years rather than any specific policy at the federal level. As one housing policy expert noted, the rise in investor market share began in 2020, well before the changes to the PSPA.

BankThink; FHFA should beware the credit bureaus' new scoring model - American Banker - The sound everyone heard last month was the housing market slipping into recession. After three white-hot years of double-digit price increases, list prices are now falling, inventory is growing, interest rates are rising, canceled sales contracts are accelerating and mortgage applications continue to slide. The implications for the U.S. economy are obvious, as housing is both a bellwether economic indicator and a pillar of our financial sector. Nobody needs a reminder of how trouble in the housing market can spiral into something much worse, which is why the focus of every federal agency and regulator must be to prioritize market stability, increase oversight of risk exposure and ladle out extra helpings of alert and caution in all matters pertaining to mortgage lending. The motto above all else should be "safety first." Unfortunately, it appears nobody read this memo at the credit scoring model company owned jointly by the three credit reporting bureaus: Experian, TransUnion and Equifax. They are currently lobbying the Federal Housing Finance Agency to permit their inclusion for mortgage applications underwritten by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac while simultaneously hoping that nobody notices that they have tinkered with their untested scoring model. In August, VantageScore announced it would no longer include paid medical debt collections in its credit score. The practical effect of this maneuver is to render the credit scoring model it previously submitted to the FHFA as essentially defunct and obsolete, having now removed data points it previously claimed were relevant to the risk assessment of mortgage applicants. As the FHFA is currently conducting diligent evaluations of credit score models for possible inclusion in mortgage lending, it is troubling that one of the applicants has switched horses midstream, raising a series of questions for consumers, regulators and their friends in the Biden administration:

  • — How can the FHFA properly appraise the predictive qualities of this new modified credit model when just months ago the credit bureaus submitted an entirely different scoring model under the premise it was tested and accurate?
  • — Which version of their scoring model is the FHFA supposed to trust? And how can lenders be sure that a recently altered scoring model is within the margins of acceptable risk?
  • — And lastly, why are the three bureaus still collecting consumer data on medical debt and collections while the scoring model company they jointly own dismisses their relevance?

The burden of mitigating risk and limiting defaults and foreclosures in mortgage lending rests on the reliability and predictability of the credit scoring models used by mortgage brokers and lenders. Arbitrary changes to these models are not conducive to reliability, predictability and risk mitigation in lending

Foreclosure starts rose in August -After increasing for two consecutive months, the national delinquency rate fell by 3.6% in August, to just 4 basis points above the record low set in May, Black Knight said. However, foreclosure starts rose 14.7% compared with July and by nearly 174% over August 2021.The improvement in performance might be short-term given the consensus that the U.S. economy is headed into a recession. August ended with 2.79% of all outstanding loans 30 days or more late on their payments but not yet in foreclosure, representing approximately 1.489 million properties. That is 54,000 fewer properties than July and 633,000 less than in August 2021, Black Knight's First Look report found.Of those, 567,000 borrowers were considered to be seriously delinquent, 90 days or more late on their scheduled payment. That is a month-to-month improvement of 27,000, or 4.5%. On a year-over-year basis, 772,000 fewer borrowers were in seriously delinquent status, a decline of nearly 58%.As of the end of August, an additional 185,000 properties were in the foreclosure pre-sale inventory, a gain of 1,000 from July and of 43,000 from August 2021.In another piece of good news, cure activity — borrowers that resume making their payment on time — improved as 62,000 seriously delinquent loans returned to current status, up from 58,000 in July.Servicers started 20,300 foreclosures in August, up 14.7% from July and 185.9% from one year ago. Foreclosures as a percentage of loans 90 days or more late was 0.53%, an increase of 183 bps from the previous month and 173.9% over the prior year. The five states with the highest share of seriously delinquent loans: Mississippi, 2.37%; Louisiana, 2.02%; Alaska, 1.72%; Alabama, 1.68% and Arkansas, 1.55%.

Black Knight: Mortgage Delinquency Rate decreased in August - From Black Knight: Black Knight: Mortgage Delinquencies Near Record Low in August; Foreclosure Starts Up 15% from July, Still More Than 40% Below Pre-Pandemic Levels
• The national delinquency rate fell 3.6% in August to 2.79%, just 4 basis points above May 2022’s record low
• Improvement was broad-based, with the number of borrowers a single payment past due falling by 4% and those 90 or more days delinquent down 4.5%
• After dropping steadily over recent months, cure activity also improved in August, with 62K seriously delinquent loans curing to current status, up from 58K in July
• The month’s 20.3K foreclosure starts represent a 15% jump in activity from July, but remain 44% below August 2019 levels
• Likewise, starts were initiated on 3.4% of serious delinquencies; up slightly from July but still less than half the rate seen in the years leading up to the pandemic
• Prepays (SMM) edged up 1.5% for the month, due to calendar-related effects, but are still down by 69% year-over-year as rising rates continue to put downward pressure on both purchase and refinance lending.
According to Black Knight's First Look report, the percent of loans delinquent decreased 3.6% in August compared to July and decreased 30% year-over-year.
Black Knight reported the U.S. mortgage delinquency rate (loans 30 or more days past due, but not in foreclosure) was 2.79% in August, down from 2.89% in July. The percent of loans in the foreclosure process increased in August to 0.53%, from 0.52% in July. The number of delinquent properties, but not in foreclosure, is down 633,000 properties year-over-year, and the number of properties in the foreclosure process is up 43,000 properties year-over-year.

Mortgage rates up to highest point since 2008 - Mortgage rates surged 27 basis points this week to levels last seen in the fall of 2008, Freddie Mac said. At the same time, the benchmark 10-year Treasury rose to its highest level since 2011 as investors worried about inflation. The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 6.29% for the seven days period ended Sept. 22, up from last week when it averaged 6.02%, according to the Freddie Mac Primary Mortgage Market Survey. A year ago at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 2.88%. It is the highest the 30-year FRM has reached since the week of Oct. 30, 2008, when it peaked at 6.46%. Meanwhile, the 15-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 5.44, up 13 basis points from last week's 5.21%, while a year ago, it was 2.15%.And the 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage averaged 4.97% compared with 4.93% the previous week and 2.43% for the same week in 2021."The big driver was the CPI data release, which showed that inflation is not slowing as expected and likely requires more rate increases from the Federal Reserve," said Paul Thomas, vice president, Zillow Home Loans, in a statement. "In addition, jobless claims showed a persistently tight labor market, which could drive up costs of goods and services as wages increase."The 10-year Treasury opened Thursday morning at 3.55% and by 9:45 AM was up to 3.67%, compared with its Wednesday close at 3.51%. The last time the yield was at 3.5% was in April 2011.The over 300 basis point rise in rates over the past year is the largest increase over a trailing 12 month period since the early 1980s, Keefe, Bruyette & Woods analyst Bose George wrote in a report issued after the Federal Open Market Committee's actions on Wednesday raising short-term rates 75 bps."This creates a very challenging environment for volume-sensitive businesses such as mortgage originators and title insurers," George said. "Given the magnitude of the move in rates, we think there could be downside to current estimates for industry volumes in 2023."The uncertainty about inflation, how the Fed will manage its balance sheet and overall monetary policy is resulting in elevated interest rate volatility and wider mortgage-backed securities spreads, George said. Besides the 10-year Treasury yield, MBS pricing is another factor in setting mortgage rates.

Falling Home Prices: Flipper Opendoor Hit With Losses in Echo of Zillow Collapse - -Company lost money on 42% of its August resales after it failed to anticipate slide in housing demand. The US housing market’s sharp downturn has been bad for builders, flippers and almost anyone who had plans to sell a home when rising mortgage rates shut down the pandemic buying frenzy. The slump has been especially harsh for Opendoor Technologies Inc., pioneer of a data-driven spin on home-flipping known as iBuying. The company, which sells thousands of homes in a typical month, lost money on 42% of its transactions in August, according to research from YipitData. Opendoor’s performance — as measured by the prices at which it bought and sold properties — was even worse in key markets such as Los Angeles, where the company lost money on 55% of sales, and Phoenix, where the share was 76%. A representative for Opendoor declined to comment on the figures, which don’t include fees charged to customers or expenses incurred in renovating and marketing homes. Opendoor’s rocky summer is reminiscent of the pricing problems that doomed Zillow Group Inc.’s iBuying business last year, according to a research note from Mike DelPrete, a scholar-in-residence at the University of Colorado Boulder. That doesn’t mean Opendoor is going to shut down the business, but it demonstrates the depth of the losses — and September is likely to be even worse than August, DelPrete’s analysis shows. “Opendoor’s metrics are in the danger zone,” DelPrete said in an interview. “They are very close to where Zillow was in its worst moments.”

NAR: Existing-Home Sales Decreased to 4.80 million SAAR in August - From the NAR: Existing-Home Sales Slipped 0.4% in August Existing-home sales experienced a slight dip in August, marking the seventh consecutive month of declines, according to the National Association of REALTORS®. Month-over-month sales varied across the four major U.S. regions as two regions recorded increases, one was unchanged and the other posted a drop. On a year-over-year basis, however, sales fell in all regions.Total existing-home sales, completed transactions that include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, notched a minor contraction of 0.4% from July to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.80 million in August. Year-over-year, sales faded by 19.9% (5.99 million in August 2021)....Total housing inventory registered at the end of August was 1,280,000 units, a decrease of 1.5% from July and unchanged from the previous year. Unsold inventory sits at a 3.2-month supply at the current sales pace – identical to July and up from 2.6 months in August 2021.This graph shows existing home sales, on a Seasonally Adjusted Annual Rate (SAAR) basis since 1993.Sales in August (4.80 million SAAR) were down 0.4% from the previous month and were 19.9% below the August 2021 sales rate.The second graph shows nationwide inventory for existing homes.According to the NAR, inventory decreased to 1.28 million in August from 1.30 million in July. Headline inventory is not seasonally adjusted, and inventory usually decreases to the seasonal lows in December and January, and peaks in mid-to-late summer.The last graph shows the year-over-year (YoY) change in reported existing home inventory and months-of-supply. Since inventory is not seasonally adjusted, it really helps to look at the YoY change. Note: Months-of-supply is based on the seasonally adjusted sales and not seasonally adjusted inventory.Inventory was unchanged year-over-year (blue) in August compared to August 2021.Months of supply (red) was unchanged at 3.2 months in August from 3.2 months in July. This was above the consensus forecast.

 US Existing Home Sales Sink For 7th Straight Month - Today we get our first glimpse of the carnage in the housing market from August. With mortgage rates having soared and homebuilder sentiment tumbling (and permits plunging), it should be no surprise that existing home sales were expected to fall for the 7th straight month (-2.3% MoM vs -5.9% MoM in July). Somewhat surprisingly, existing home sales 'only' fell 0.4% MoM in August (from a revised 5.7% MoM drop in July), but that is still 7 consecutive drops. This left existing home sales down 19.87% YoY... That is the longest streak of MoM sales declines since Oct 2007. The Existing Home Sales SAAR fell to 4.80mm - the lowest since These are based on closings that likely occurred in June/July. Despite declining sales, “we are seeing no increase in inventory on net,” Yun said. “Inventory will remain tight in the coming months and even for the next couple of years,” Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist, said in a statement. “Some homeowners are unwilling to trade up or trade down after locking in historically-low mortgage rates in recent years, increasing the need for more new-home construction to boost supply.” The median selling price rose 7.7% from a year earlier to $389,500. The annual increase was the smallest since June 2020. After hitting a record $413,800 in June, prices have fallen on a monthly basis. The August decline was broad across price points and regions. First-time buyers accounted for 29% of all transactions in August, matching the July share.

Housing Starts Increased to 1.575 million Annual Rate in August --From the Census Bureau: Permits, Starts and Completions Privately‐owned housing starts in August were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,575,000. This is 12.2 percent above the revised July estimate of 1,404,000, but is 0.1 percent below the August 2021 rate of 1,576,000. Single‐family housing starts in August were at a rate of 935,000; this is 3.4 percent above the revised July figure of 904,000. The August rate for units in buildings with five units or more was 621,000. Privately‐owned housing units authorized by building permits in August were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,517,000. This is 10.0 percent below the revised July rate of 1,685,000 and is 14.4 percent below the August 2021 rate of 1,772,000. Single‐family authorizations in August were at a rate of 899,000; this is 3.5 percent below the revised July figure of 932,000. Authorizations of units in buildings with five units or more were at a rate of 571,000 in August. The first graph shows single and multi-family housing starts for the last several years.Multi-family starts (blue, 2+ units) increased in August compared to July. Multi-family starts were up 21.0% year-over-year in August. Single-family starts (red) increased in August and were down 14.6% year-over-year.The second graph shows single and multi-family housing starts since 1968.This shows the huge collapse following the housing bubble, and then the eventual recovery. Total housing starts in August were above expectations, however, starts in June and July were revised down slightly, combined.

Housing Bubble Woes: Home Prices Drop 3.5%, Steepest Monthly Drop since Jan. 2016. Sales, already at Lockdown Levels, Drop Further. Active Listings Rise Further by Wolf Richter - In July and through mid-August, mortgage rates fell sharply from the 6%-range in mid-June, on the widely propagated fantasy of a Fed “pivot” on rate hikes. By mid-August, the average 30-year fixed mortgage rate was down to 5%. Yesterday, they were at 6.47%. But the brief interlude of dropping mortgage rates slowed down the decline in home sales – sales declined again in August from July but at a slower rate – with Realtors in mid-August talking about the market waking back up. But prices backed off for the second month in a row, and in a big way, amid widespread price reductions, and that also helped getting some deals done. The median price of existing single-family houses, condos, and co-ops whose sales closed in August dropped a hefty 3.5% in August from July, the largest month-to-month percentage drop since January 2016, after the 2.4% drop in the prior month, to $389,500, according to the National Association of Realtors. While there is some seasonality involved, the percentage drop was much bigger than normal in August, whittling down the year-over-year price increase to 7.7%, down from the 25% year-over-year increases last summer (data via YCharts): In the West, price drops are further advanced, amid dismal sales. For example, in San Francisco and in Silicon Valley, median prices have plunged in recent months – now down on a year-over-year basis in San Francisco and Santa Clara County (San Jose) and up just a hair in San Mateo County, according to data from the California Association of Realtors. Sales of existing houses, condos, and co-ops across the US dipped a smidgen from July, after the 5.9% plunge in the prior month, to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of sales of 4.80 million homes, roughly level with lockdown-June 2020, according to the National Association of Realtors in its report. This was the seventh month in a row of month-to-month declines. Beyond the lockdown months, it was the lowest sales rate since 2014, and down by 29% from October 2020 (historic data via YCharts): Sales of single-family houses dropped by 0.9% in August from July, and by 19% year-over-year, to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.28 million houses. Sales of condos and co-ops rose 4% from July, to 520,000 seasonally adjusted annual rate, down 25% year-over-year. Compared to August last year, sales fell by 20%, the 13th month in a row of year-over-year declines, based on the seasonally adjusted annual rate of sales (historic data via YCharts):

August Housing Starts: Record Number of Housing Units Under Construction -Today, in the CalculatedRisk Real Estate Newsletter: August Housing Starts: Record Number of Housing Units Under Construction: Excerpt: The fourth graph shows housing starts under construction, Seasonally Adjusted (SA). Red is single family units. Currently there are 812 thousand single family units under construction (SA). This is below the previous four months, and 16 thousand below the peak in April and May.Single family units under construction have peaked since single family starts are now declining. The reason there are so many homes under construction is probably due to supply constraints. Blue is for 2+ units. Currently there are 890 thousand multi-family units under construction. This is the highest level since February 1974! For multi-family, construction delays are probably also a factor. The completion of these units should help with rent pressure.Combined, there are 1.702 million units under construction. This is the all-time record number of units under construction. There is much more in the post. You can subscribe at (Most content is available for free, so please subscribe).

New Residential Building Permits: Down 10% in August - The U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development have now published their findings for August new residential building permits. The latest reading of 1.517M was down 10% from the July reading and is below the forecast of 1.610M.Here is the opening of this morning's monthly report: Privately‐owned housing units authorized by building permits in August were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,517,000. This is 10.0 percent below the revised July rate of 1,685,000 and is 14.4 percent below the August 2021 rate of 1,772,000. Single‐family authorizations in August were at a rate of 899,000; this is 3.5 percent below the revised July figure of 932,000. Authorizations of units in buildings with five units or more were at a rate of 571,000 in August. [link to report] Here is the complete historical series, which dates from 1960. Because of the extreme volatility of the monthly data points, a 6-month moving average has been included. Here is the data with a simple population adjustment. The Census Bureau's mid-month population estimates show substantial growth in the US population since 1960. Here is a chart of housing starts as a percent of the population. We've added a linear regression through the monthly data to highlight the trend.

NAHB: Builder Confidence Declined in September - The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) reported the housing market index (HMI) was at 46, down from 49 in August. Any number below 50 indicates that more builders view sales conditions as poor than good. From the NAHB: Builder Confidence Falls for Ninth Straight Month as Housing Slowdown Continues: In another sign that the slowdown in the housing market continues, builder sentiment fell for the ninth straight month in September as the combination of elevated interest rates, persistent building material supply chain disruptions and high home prices continue to take a toll on affordability. Builder confidence in the market for newly built single-family homes fell three points in September to 46, the lowest level since May 2014 with the exception of the spring of 2020, according to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB)/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI) released today.“Buyer traffic is weak in many markets as more consumers remain on the sidelines due to high mortgage rates and home prices that are putting a new home purchase out of financial reach for many households,” said NAHB Chairman Jerry Konter, a home builder and developer from Savannah, Ga. “In another indicator of a weakening market, 24% of builders reported reducing home prices, up from 19% last month.” “Builder sentiment has declined every month in 2022, and the housing recession shows no signs of abating as builders continue to grapple with elevated construction costs and an aggressive monetary policy from the Federal Reserve that helped pushed mortgage rates above 6% last week, the highest level since 2008,”. “In this soft market, more than half of the builders in our survey reported using incentives to bolster sales, including mortgage rate buydowns, free amenities and price reductions.” … All three HMI components posted declines in September. Current sales conditions dropped three points to 54, sales expectations in the next six months declined one point to 46 and traffic of prospective buyers fell one point to 31. Looking at the three-month moving averages for regional HMI scores, the Northeast fell five points to 51, the Midwest dropped five points to 44, the South fell seven points to 56 and the West posted a 10-point decline to 41. This was below the consensus forecast, and below 50. The "traffic of prospective buyers" is now well below breakeven at 31.

Housing Bubble Woes: Home Builders Cut Prices, Pile on Incentives, amid Plunging Traffic of Buyers, Spiking Cancellations, Holy-Moly Mortgage Rates --“Buyer traffic is weak in many markets as more consumers remain on the sidelines due to high mortgage rates and home prices that are putting a new home purchase out of financial reach for many households,” according to the National Association of Home Builders this morning regarding its survey of home builders. “In another indicator of a weakening market,” and a “soft market,” over 50% of the builders reported using incentives to prop up sales or reduce cancellations – more on those cancellations in a moment. Those incentives, the NAHB said, include “mortgage rate buydowns, free amenities, and price reductions.”: The percentage of home builders who reported cutting prices jumped to 24% in the September survey, up from 19% in August, and up from 13% in July.Cutting prices and using mortgage rate buydowns (when the builder subsidizes the mortgage) counteract some of the effects of soaring mortgage rates – now over 6%. When the market begins to freeze over, price cuts is what needs to happen, because home builders cannot just sit on the houses they have started on or have completed. They must sell them one way or the other.The confidence of builders of single-family houses fell again in September, the ninth month in a row of declines, “as the combination of elevated interest rates, persistent building material supply chain disruptions, and high home prices continue to take a toll on affordability,” the NAHB report said.With today’s index value of 46, the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index is now below where it had been in May 2006, on the way down into the Housing Bust. The NAHB’s regional Housing Market Index plunged the most in the West (red line in the chart below), after still rising during the first three months of 2022. This is a stunning plunge from March (91), when home builders still expressed enormous confidence, and six months later, now at 34, the lowest since June 2012, as the West was coming out of the Housing Bust.The index dropped the least in the South (green line), which is the only region with a reading still above 50, which marks the neutral line in the index. But even in the South, sentiment has been falling sharply. The chart shows from December through September:The index for traffic of prospective buyers dropped to 31. Buyer traffic is a sign of interest among potential homebuyers. And many of them lost interest at these prices. Hence the price reductions and other incentives to get them to look and nibble:The NAHB index for current sales has dropped for the seventh month in a row, to 54. This means that slightly more builders rated current sales as “good” rather than “poor” (50 is even).

AIA: Architecture Billings Index shows "Demand for design services accelerates" in August Note: This index is a leading indicator primarily for new Commercial Real Estate (CRE) investment. From the AIA: Demand for design services accelerates: Demand for design services from U.S. architecture firms grew at an accelerated pace in August, according to a new report today from The American Institute of Architects (AIA).AIA’s Architecture Billings Index (ABI) score for August rose to 53.3 compared to 51.0 in July (any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings). During August, the score for new project inquiries rose to 57.9 from 56.1 the previous month, while the design contracts score softened slightly with a score of 52.3, down from 52.9 in July.“While a strengthening billings score is encouraging, the flat scoring across regions and sectors is indicative of a nationwide deceleration over the next several months, said AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker, Hon. AIA, PhD. “A variety of economic storm clouds continue to gather, but since design activity continues to increase, we can expect at least another 9–12-month runway before building construction activity is negatively affected.”...
• Regional averages: South (52.9); Midwest (51.4); West (50.2); Northeast (49.8)
• Sector index breakdown: multi-family residential (52.0); institutional (52.0); commercial/industrial (51.2); mixed practice (51.2)
This graph shows the Architecture Billings Index since 1996. The index was at 53.3 in August, up from 51.0 in July. Anything above 50 indicates expansion in demand for architects' services. Note: This includes commercial and industrial facilities like hotels and office buildings, multi-family residential, as well as schools, hospitals and other institutions. This index has been positive for 19 consecutive months. This index usually leads CRE investment by 9 to 12 months, so this index suggests a pickup in CRE investment into 2023.

Americans Drowning In Long-Term Credit Card Debt: Survey - In June we reported that consumer credit - particular revolving credit - was through the roof, as tapped-out consumers relied on credit cards to make ends meet. This has only gotten worse.. Acccording to an Aug. 30 report from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, credit card balances increased by $46 billion from last year, becoming the second-biggest source of overall debt last quarter. While both student and car loans hit all time new highs at the end of the 1st quarter. And so it comes as no surprise from Bloomberg that more US consumers are saddled with credit card debt for longer periods of time. According to a survey by released on Monday, 60% of credit card debtors have been holding this type of debt for at least a year, up 50% from a year ago, while those holding debt for over two years is up 40%, from 32%, according to the online credit card marketplace. And while total credit-card balances remain slightly lower than pre-pandemic levels, inflation and rising interest rates are taking a toll on the already-stretched finances of US households. About a quarter of respondents said day-to-day expenses are the primary reason why they carry a balance. Almost half cite an emergency or unexpected expense, including medical bills and home or car repair. The Federal Reserve is likely to raise interest rates for the fifth time this year next week. Credit-card rates are typically directly tied to the Fed Funds rate, and their increase along with a softening economy may lead to higher delinquencies. Total consumer debt rose $23.8 billion in July to a record $4.64 trillion, according to data from the Federal Reserve. -Bloomberg The Fed's figures include credit card and auto debt, as well as student loans, but does not factor in mortgage debt.

Why Are Walmart And Other Major US Retailers Canceling Billions Of Dollars In Orders As Summer Comes To An End? Do they know something that they aren’t telling us? As you will see below, Walmart, Target and other major U.S. retailers are literally canceling billions of dollars in orders ahead of the coming holiday season. The holiday season is typically the busiest time of the year for retailers, and at this time in 2021 there was actually a great deal of concern that there wouldn’t be enough inventory due to global supply chain problems. But now everything has changed. All of a sudden major retailers are feverishly canceling orders, and this would only make sense if a severe economic downturn was imminent. For example, Walmart is admitting that it has canceled “billions of dollars in orders” as we approach the upcoming holiday season… John David Rainey, Walmart’s EVP and CFO, said it had cleared most summer inventory, was reducing exposure in electronics, home and sporting goods, and canceled “billions of dollars in orders” to realign inventories. He said, “Our actions in Q3 will allow us to make significant progress toward rationalizing absolute levels and mix, which will enable our stores to be well positioned ahead of the holiday season.” So what would make them suddenly cancel “billions of dollars” in orders that they thought that they were going to need for the holiday season? Perhaps some enterprising reporter will be willing to ask them such a question. Meanwhile, we just learned that Target has also canceled “more than $1.5 billion” in orders… Target said it had reduced its “inventory exposure in discretionary categories” throughout Q2 by canceling more than $1.5 billion of orders in these categories and marking down products. Target is much smaller than Walmart is, and so for Target to cancel so many orders is a really big deal. And it turns out that Kohl’s and Under Armour have also been canceling large numbers of orders as well…Kohl’s has also pulled back on order receipts and increased promotions to get through an inventory glut. Under Armour also said it made some proactive cancellations due to supply chain constraints to ensure that “the right inventory was coming in at the right time,” These retailers are obviously scared that they will end up stuck with massive amounts of inventory that they cannot sell. Do they believe that economic activity during the months ahead will be much lower than they originally anticipated? One corporate executive that is actually publicly admitting that he believes that a recession is coming is FedEx CEO Raj Subramaniam… FedEx CEO Raj Subramaniam told CNBC’s Jim Cramer on Thursday that he believes a recession is impending for the global economy. “I think so. But you know, these numbers, they don’t portend very well,” Subramaniam said in response to Cramer’s question of whether the economy is “going into a worldwide recession.” The CEO’s pessimism came after FedEx missed estimates on revenue and earnings in its first quarter. The company also withdrew its full year guidance.

 The Fed says unemployment will rise. Here's who economists say would lose their jobs first. - The Federal Reserve escalated its fight against inflation this week, instituting a major rate increase and saying more will likely follow. The moves will cause a jump in the number of unemployed Americans by the end of next year, the central bank said. The Fed has put forward a series of aggressive interest rate hikes in recent months as it tries to slash price increases by slowing the economy and choking off demand. But the approach risks tipping the United States into a recession and causing widespread joblessness.Fed Chair Jerome Powell on Wednesday acknowledged that rate hikes would cause pain for the U.S. economy, as growth slows and unemployment rises. He added, however, that "a failure to restore price stability would mean far greater pain later on."The job losses forecasted by the Fed this week would by the end of 2023 raise the unemployment rate from its current level of 3.7% to 4.4%. That outcome would add an estimated 1.2 million unemployed people, according to Omair Sharif, the founder of research firm Inflation Insights.Those job losses will disproportionately fall on some of the most vulnerable workers, including minorities and less-educated employees, according to economists and studies of past downturns.Here are the groups of workers who would most likely lose their jobs if unemployment rises: Black workers would be among the first to lose their jobs if unemployment spikes, since they're disproportionately concentrated in industries sensitive to economic downturns. Racial discrimination often influences choices made by companies about which workers to fire, economists said."The Fed's actions really do mean some disparate impact for Black workers in the American economy," Michelle Holder, a labor economist at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, told ABC News.The vulnerability of Black workers in a downturn manifested during the most recent recession, in spring 2020, when the pandemic caused higher unemployment for Black workers at every education level when compared with their white counterparts, a RAND Corporation study found.Overall, the unemployment rate for Black workers in the early period of the pandemic peaked at 16.8%, while the unemployment rate for white workers reached only 14.1%.Between the late 1980s and mid-2000s, government employment data shows "considerable evidence" that Black workers are among the first ones fired as the economy weakens, according to an economic study published in 2010 in Demography, an academic journal."To be blunt, discrimination still occurs in the American labor market," Holder said.A similar dynamic of disproportionate job losses impacts Hispanic workers, the economists said.William Spriggs, the chief economist at the AFL-CIO labor union and a professor of economics at Howard University, said Hispanic workers would suffer acutely in a downturn brought about by interest rate hikes, since they're disproportionately represented in the construction industry.When the Fed raises rates, it often leads to a spike in mortgage rates, causing prospective homebuyers to put off their purchases and builders to delay further construction. U.S. 30-year fixed-rate mortgages jumped to 6.29% on Thursday, the highest level in 14 years, according to Freddie Mac's mortgage market survey.As of last year, Hispanic workers made up nearly a third of all construction workers, according to a National Association of Home Builders analysis of government data published in June.

New Vehicle Inventory Still Near Record Lows, with Twist: Fuel-Efficient Cars Vanish, Full-Size Pickups Pile Up. Ram, Dodge, Jeep Overstocked --But Kia, Toyota, Honda: nearly nothing on the lot. Where the shortages are, and where ample supply is, by brand and segment. By Wolf Richter --At the end of August, inventories of new vehicles on dealer lots and in transit ticked up to 1.23 million vehicles, still at the woefully low levels that have prevailed since the spring of 2021, down by 65% from August 2019. But increasingly, there is now a new wrinkle in these shortages, according to inventory data from Cox Automotive: Many fuel-efficient models have essentially vanished from inventories, and there are long waiting lists for many of those models, and customers wait for months to get what they ordered, including EVs and hybrids and compact cars, while inventories of pickup trucks and other larger vehicles are building, and some brands, such as Ram and Dodge, are now overstocked and are offering massive discounts. In terms of days’ supply at the end of August, it ticked up to 40 days, from 37 days in July. This is still very low, but up from the 30-day range last summer. By comparison, in 2019, supply averaged 89 days, and that was on the high side, and there were lots of deals to be had. The chip shortages persist, but to a lesser extent. Monday evening, Ford announced that it expects to have 40,000 to 45,000 unfinished vehicles on storage lots at the end of Q3, waiting for parts. Since last year, automakers have been building vehicles that were missing components in order to keep their plants operating. When the missing components arrive, automakers install them, complete the vehicles, and ship them to dealers. GM, at the end of Q2, had 95,000 unfinished vehicles on storage lots, waiting for components. Other automakers are also doing this to mitigate the effects of the chip shortages. Shortages are concentrated in specialized cheap microcontrollers and semiconductors that the auto industry uses for mundane things. If one of the chips in a rear-view mirror is in short supply, the component maker cannot deliver the rear-view mirrors to the assembly plant, and the vehicle cannot be completed. But it can be built, and put on a storage lot, and when the rear-view mirror arrives, the vehicle can be completed.

The inactive Kentucky Speedway is now a storage facility for unfinished Ford trucks -- Ford is using the inactive Kentucky Speedway as a storage facility. And you can see the trucks in the parking lots surrounding the speedway from space.The Kentucky Speedway in Sparta opened in 2000 and hosted NASCAR races at the track through 2020. The track has been unused for racing after it was left off the 2021 NASCAR schedule and its vast parking spaces are now being utilized by Ford thanks to a semiconductor shortage that has plagued the auto industry since the COVID-19 pandemic.Ford has been parking unfinished F150 trucks at the speedway since the spring and the number of trucks at the track has only continued to grow. Just look at how many trucks are sitting in the parking lots this month as Ford waits to get the parts it needs to finish the trucks and ship them off to buyers and dealers. As of this week, the unfinished trucks are taking up a majority of the track's parking spaces per satellite images.Kentucky Speedway is less than two hours away from Ford’s Louisville assembly plant. That plant is the primary place where Ford’s trucks are built. The automaker said earlier this week that it currently had over 40,000 trucks and SUVs that it couldn’t finish because of a lack of parts. It’s not the only manufacturer facing the same scenario. GM also has thousands of cars unfinished that are waiting on parts.

 New York City vaccine mandate ends for private employers - New York City will drop its coronavirus vaccine mandate for private employers, Mayor Eric Adams (D) announced, describing the change as “additional flexibility.” “This puts the choice in the hands of New York businesses, and it’s imperative that we’re asking them to continue to encourage their employees to get their vaccines and booster shots,” he said Tuesday. The mandate, which will end Nov. 1, had previously required all employees “who perform in-person work or interact with the public” to be vaccinated against the coronavirus. The policy faced opposition from vocal critics, including Brooklyn Nets star player Kyrie Irving. In March, Adams amended the mandate, creating an exemption for unvaccinated performers and professional athletes so they could perform and play in public. The city now encourages private business to “put in place their own vaccine policies.” Adams made the announcement alongside the promotion of a citywide campaign to promote booster shots.

 Long Covid Fools Us: Unemployment Could Be Much Higher Than Official Numbers Imply The Federal Reserve hiked interest rates Wednesday to curb consumer demand and inflation acknowledging the move risks triggering a painful recession. Defending the move, the Fed points to low official unemployment numbers indicating a tight labor market that could induce a wage price spiral.But I disagree because reassured workers don’t have as much power as it may seem to hike wages and push up prices. A late August Brookings Institutionreport by Katie Bach reveals millions of workers may jump back into the labor market soon, softening wage pressure and raising unemployment.The Brookings study analyzed data from the Household Pulse Survey from the U.S. Census and other estimates to conclude that between 2-4 million former workers are out of the labor market because of “long Covid.” I call these workers “long Covid displaced workers.”From the report, it is possible that long Covid contributes to about 27% of current labor shortages. Brookings reasons that if employers say they have 11.4 million job openings and 3 million workers* and could fill those openings the labor market wouldn’t be so tight.And if the labor market isn’t so tight then the Fed is moving too sharply to cause a recession when we are closer to recession than the Fed thinks.Why do I think there is a reserve army of people ready to work?A Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis study found about one half of those experiencing Covid symptoms for longer than three months recovered. That means about 1.5 million workers could be now ready to jump in the labor market, increasing the numbers of jobless by almost 18% by adding to the already 8.4 million unemployed.Also many people may not be working yet because they are isolating, family members are recovering, or children’s school schedules are unstable.This large reserve army of labor who may compete against the unemployed and moderate wage hikes.Brookings also highlights how many wages are lost because of long Covid —David Cutler at Harvard similarly estimates $200 billion a year. Fed-type economists focused on inflation might worry that if long Covid sufferers recover enough to earn those lost wages, consumer demand would go up. But all the $200 billion wouldn’t translate into new consumer demand: long Covid displaced workers are spending income now and a big portion of wages are taxed, saved, and diverted to health insurance and pensions. The inflation pressure just isn’t there. Policies to help displaced workers jump back into work include expanding Medicare and mandating workplace accommodations Older workers are probably more likely to have long Covid symptoms. Making Medicare the first payer, and employer-plans the second health-insurance payer, may right an unintended source of age discrimination since health insurance for older is more expensive. If Medicare was first payer and Medicare age was at 50 instead of 65, many more employers would welcome many more older workers. Brookings calls for government requiring employers to help long Covid displaced workers by mandating improved workplace accommodations.

 'Can’t work at a desk': What it's like to be out of work with Long COVID - Two-and-a-half years into the pandemic, millions of Americans are still suffering from long-term effects of COVID-19, otherwise known as Long COVID. The health impacts are clear. What's not clear is the impact on the economy and the workplace.“I’m desperate to get back to work, but I still can’t work at a desk or talk for more than 20-30 minutes without needing to rest for hours at a time,” Charlie McCone, a 32-year-old based out of San Francisco, told Yahoo Finance. “I feel like people read things like that from Long COVID patients and think it’s an exaggeration, but I wish it were."That collective suffering — symptoms include fatigue, "brain fog," heart palpitations, and autoimmune conditions — is affecting the economy: As many as 4 million individuals with Long COVID may be out of the workforce because of their symptoms, according to a new Brookings Institution report, suggesting that more than 2% of the U.S. labor force could be sidelined by Long Covid.According to the Brookings report, “using the average U.S. wage of $1,106 per week, the estimated 3 million people out of work due to Long COVID translates to $168 billion a year in lost earnings. This is nearly 1% of the total U.S. gross domestic product. If the true number of people out of work is closer to 4 million, that is a $230 billion cost.”Dr. Svetlana Blitshteyn, director of the Dysautonomia Clinic in Buffalo, New York, and a clinical associate professor of neurology at the University at Buffalo Jacobs School of Medicine, has seen the workplace impact first-hand. She's been studying Long COVID patients since 2020.“My first patient was a medical resident who couldn’t return to his hospital duties after COVID-19,” Blitshteyn told Yahoo Finance. “He told me that several of his co-workers, including a cardiologist attending, were experiencing the same symptoms."By December 2020, Blitshteyn’s research led her to publish a case series of 20 patients with postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS), a condition that affects blood flow in the body, and other autonomic disorders post-COVID. Among those patients, an astounding 60% were unable to return to work. At her practice, most of her Long COVID patients have the same issue or require special accommodations like a part-time schedule or working from home in order to maintain employment.“Obviously, by the nature of my practice, I end up seeing sicker patients, but I think Long COVID is one of the main reasons why there are shortages of workers in health care and other industries today,” she said.Indeed, that may be partly why the August jobs report showed labor participation rate at 62.4%, below pre-pandemic levels despite more than 11.2 million open jobs as of July 29.To better understand the impact of Long COVID, Yahoo Finance spoke with several individuals out of the workforce as they continue struggling with their illness.

 Your electric bill may go up by more than 60 percent this winter. Here’s why. - National Grid has told the state that it aims to hike electric bills amid a surge in natural gas prices. Massachusetts consumers and businesses could be in for some sticker shock this winter when they open their electric bills — and feel the impact of a war an ocean away. A rate filing on Wednesday from National Grid, showing wintertime power bills rising more than 60 percent from a year ago, is just the latest example of how Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and related energy supply issues are hitting close to home as the winter heating season approaches. Both National Grid and Eversource, the state’s two dominant utilities, have filed for increases in gas rates within the past week, and Eversource is expected to raise its electric rates as well. The higher fuel costs, also seen in the heating oil and propane markets, come as residents face inflation almost everywhere they turn. …… Natural gas-fired power plants still provide at least half of the region’s electricity. Costs for obtaining gas have skyrocketed following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the subsequent natural gas shortage in Europe. …

Kids are waking up in the night to check their notifications and are losing about 1 night's worth of sleep a week, study suggests - Children under 12 may be losing the equivalent of one night's sleep every week due to excessive social media use, a new study suggests.Almost 70% of the 60 children under 12 surveyed by De Montfort University in Leicester, UK, said they used social media for four hours a day or more. Two thirds said they used social media apps in the two hours before going to bed.The study also found that 12.5% of the children surveyed were waking up in the night to check their notifications. Psychology lecturer John Shaw, who headed up the study, said children were supposed to sleep for between nine to 11 hours a night, per NHS guidelines, but those surveyed reported sleeping an average of 8.7 hours nightly.He said: "The fear of missing out, which is driven by social media, is directly affecting their sleep. They want to know what their friends are doing, and if you're not online when something is happening, it means you're not taking part in it. "And it can be a feedback loop. If you are anxious you are more likely to be on social media, you are more anxious as a result of that. And you're looking at something, that's stimulating and delaying sleep." TikTok had the most engagement from the children, with 90% of those surveyed saying they used the app. Snapchat was used by 84%, while just over half those surveyed said they used Instagram. In California, lawmakers are seeking to mitigate some of the negative effects social media can have on young children. The state recently passed a law aimed at targeting some of the more damaging features used by the apps. It prohibits social media apps from purposely designing features that are detrimental to kids' well-being, according to a factsheet.

WA students can now take excused mental health days - Starting this school year, Washington has joined a growing number of states that can excuse students from school specifically to take care of their mental health. The change comes amid increasing rates of depression and anxiety — which have been steadily rising for at least a decade. Before the law — HB 1834, which took effect June 9 — was passed, one of Thai See’s friends had to take a mental health day, whether it was officially OK or not. “He just didn’t come to school one day. [He] was like, ‘I can't handle it… And I had to tell my mom that I'm throwing up and I can't go, but I just cannot stomach it today,’” said See, a senior at West Valley High School in Yakima and a member of the statewide group Justice for Girls Coalition for Washington State who testified for the change before the state Legislature. “And it was heartbreaking.” No one says that mental health days are a new thing for students. But this will be the first school year in Washington that it’s an official thing. “I would argue that those kinds of absences have been going on forever, it’s just now that we’re coding it differently in our system,” said Enumclaw High School Principal Rodrick Merrell. “Now parents can be honest and say, ‘My student is struggling today.’” He says the change means that each school can make an official count of its mental health-related absences. Washington is one of 12 states that specifically allows students to take excused mental health days off, according to the website Very Well Mind. The first was Virginia, which implemented its law in 2019. At least four other states are considering it. Schools can now accept mental health symptoms in the definition of an excused absence, just as they do physical health symptoms. It formalizes allowing students to take days off to care for their mental health, including for counseling and behavioral health appointments. The law does not allow students to excuse themselves, and each district will come up with its own requirements — for example, if a parent or doctor note will be needed to determine whether an absence is excused. Merrell said that it’s a change that’s been needed. “If a kid breaks their leg, we wouldn’t expect them to take part in PE,” Merrell said. “But I don’t think there’s an equivalent for a student with debilitating depression.”

Police: Social media threat leads to lockouts and several Sioux City public schools - The Sioux City Police Department has released a report on what caused three Sioux City public schools to issue lockouts Friday morning.Police say on Sept. 23 at about 8:30 am. students at West High School notified school officials and law enforcement about a concerning post on social media. The post reportedly showed ammunition and a message that seemed like a veiled threat.Due to this, the Sioux City Community School District issued lockouts at West High, West Middle and Loess Hills Computer Programming Elementary School. The police eventually located the student that made the post and questioned them. But since the post was not a direct threat, police are referring this incident to the county attorney’s office for consideration of charges.

School book bans and challenges, at record highs, are rising again --Attempts to ban books from school libraries in America are on track to rise again this school year, after reaching historic highs last year, a pair of national reports has found. The studies, released over the weekend by the American Library Association (known as ALA) and PEN America, a nonprofit devoted to free expression, both suggest that the number of books being targeted for removal from school libraries is on track to exceed the thousands targeted last year. And both counts are likely significant underestimates. The association’s report documents 681 attempts to ban or restrict access to 1,651 different books in schools between Jan. 1 and Aug. 31 of this year. In 2021, the association tracked 729 efforts to ban or restrict access to 1,597 books — which at the time represented the highest tally of attempted book bans in one year since the association began studying the issue two decades ago. For comparison, book challenges and bans hovered around the high 200s and the high 400s between 2018 and2020.The PEN America report found that, between July 2021 and June 2022, there were 2,532 attempted book bans targeting 1,648 unique books. This newest count builds on a PEN America report published in April that found slightly more than 1,500 attempted book bans, targeting about 1,000 titles, between July 2021 and March 2022. Until last year, PEN America had not tracked these numbers in detail.Both reports found that the texts being challenged are overwhelmingly those written by or about people of color or LGBTQ individuals.Both Jonathan Friedman, director of free expression and education programs at PEN America, and Deborah Caldwell-Stone, director of the ALA’s office for intellectual freedom, warned of dire consequences for the current generation of students — even in the cases where attempted book bans fail and texts are returned to shelves, or where students find ways to access books on their own outside of school.“When you dictate what people can read, what people can choose from, that’s the mark of an authoritarian society, not a democratic society,” said Caldwell-Stone. “We really have to question what we intend for the education of our young people,” she said.Friedman argued that children can learn to feel ashamed of certain identities when books featuring them become banned. “That stigma can have psychological impacts on young people and their sense of belonging,” he said, “and the imagination they have about the stories they themselves could eventually write.”The spike in book bans and challenges come amid an education culture war that has seen parents, teachers, school officials, students, politicians and pundits battle over how educators should teach about race, racism, American history, gender identity, sexuality and LGBTQ issues. Hundreds of laws have been proposed — and dozens passed — including bills that limit teaching in all of these categories.

Opinion | Virginia’s new school guidance protects parental rights - The Washington Post -- Recent guidance for Virginia public school districts released by the administration of Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) represents a victory for parents. Some on the left have already attacked the guidance as being hateful and transphobic. But as a parent whose two daughters attend Virginia schools, I applaud Youngkin’s actions as a welcome breath of common sense. Those who would criticize the new Virginia guidance should first read the document. It lists as its first guiding principle a statement all Virginians should support: “Parents have the right to make decisions with respect to their children.” Too often in recent years, progressives have overridden those parental rights, encouraging students to “transition” genders without consulting or informing their rightful legal guardians. The new policies reflect a proper balance that considers parental rights and constitutional obligations. Virginia school district employees can use a student’s preferred pronouns, provided they have the explicit consent of a parent to do so. However, in no case can a district “compel … personnel or other students to address or refer to students in any manner that would violate their constitutionally protected rights.” Finally, the Youngkin guidance provides a victory for women and girls, by directing that “for any athletic program or activity that is separated by sex, the appropriate participation of students shall be determined by sex” as assigned at birth. This provision will ensure that individuals born male cannot compete in women’s sports because of the inherent physical advantages (size, strength, etc.) that their sex at birth provides.

New York City teachers union prepares sell-out contract with city - On Tuesday, September 13, the day the contract between New York City’s Department of Education (DOE) and the United Federation of Teachers (UFT) expired, Michael Mulgrew, the union’s president disavowed any attempt—even the smallest or exclusively symbolic—by the union to fight to improve the living conditions of its members. After months of silence on the contract, Mulgrew said in a letter to its members: “The UFT is ready and willing to sit down at the bargaining table with the city to negotiate the next DOE-UFT contract … the [Democratic Mayor Eric] Adams administration, however, has yet to begin bargaining with any municipal union and is crying poverty despite having deep financial reserves.” The UFT has issued no demands for pay raises to meet inflation, let alone improve educators pay, or for adequate medical care or for better working conditions. This is despite the fact that educators work and live in one of the most expensive cities in the world and have seen their real income decline for years. Mulgrew and other UFT officials have excluded any talk of a strike by 100,000 UFT members, or any other form of struggle, over the lack of a contract and the city administration’s intransigence. Adams is, in fact, preparing a vicious assault on the living conditions of city workers, as Mulgrew knows full well. The city is not “crying poverty” but beginning to implement a program of sweeping austerity.Already hundreds of educators have been “excessed” (removed from jobs and put into a pool of unassigned educators) because of a $375 million budget cut to schools over the summer. Whole school programs have also been cut out. Despite the rhetorical opposition from the UFT and the Democratic city council members who voted for it in the first place—the cuts remain in place. As the school year started after Labor Day, 300 early childhood Instructional Coordinators and Social Workers discovered, without warning, that the city had removed them from their jobs. Now Adams has implemented further cuts. On the same day the contract expired, Adams announced that he had asked city agencies to cut budgets by 3 percent this year and by 4.75 percent in the next fiscal year, which begins in July. Warning of the likelihood of recession, he has proposed these cuts “so our city can weather these turbulent times.” State authorities have warned that the city budget could face a $10 billion budget shortfall next year. A recession, which is being deliberately provoked by the Federal Reserve Board to discourage workers from seeking higher wages, would worsen the indebtedness of New York City, which already sits on a mountain of over $100 billion in debt. While Democrats and Republicans demand “sacrifice” from educators and school children, the Biden administration has endless resources to fund wars against Russia and China.

With Ontario government plotting to ban education strikes, workers demand to know how unions plan to respond - Ontario’s hard-right Doug Ford-led Tory government is determined to impose sweeping concessions on over 250,000 teachers and education support workers, whose contracts expired last month. These include huge real wage cuts and massive reductions in public education funding. Education Minister Stephen Lecce has vowed that if education workers will not surrender to these attacks, the government will force them to do so by banning all strikes and collective job action. In an opinion piece for the rabidly right-wing Toronto Sun earlier this month, Lecce all but promised strikebreaking legislation, declaring provocatively that students have “a right to learn, from September through to June.” This from a minister of a government whose insistence on prioritizing corporate profits over human life during the pandemic has led to seven waves of mass infection, and the deaths of over 14,000 Ontarians. The five education unions are refusing to warn workers about the threat of back-to-work legislation, let alone spelling out how they intend to mobilize workers to answer it. This is because none of them—be it the Ontario School Board Council of Unions (OSBCU), the Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario, Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation, Ontario English Catholic Teachers Federation, or the Association des enseignantes et des enseignants franco-ontariens—has any intention of defying a back-to-work law. Instead, they are working behind the scenes with Ford and Lecce to keep workers divided so they can impose rotten sellout contracts on them and suppress the education workers’ struggle. The anger among rank-and-file workers over the unions’ refusal to oppose the Ford government’s onslaught on their wages and conditions found expression in a recent exchange in the Ontario Education Workers United Facebook group between a school support staff worker and Laura Walton, OSBCU’s president and lead negotiator. The exchange began when the worker posted a World Socialist Web Site article from 2019 describing the three-year sellout agreement engineered by OSBCU, which is affiliated with the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE). That agreement was the first major contract to enforce Ford’s 1 percent per year wage-cap, which the government subsequently enshrined in law under Bill 124 and imposed on over 1 million Ontario public sector workers. Walton sought to brush aside the article’s criticism, pointing out that it was published in 2019, implying that it had no relevance to contract negotiations in 2022. The worker rejected this, writing in response, “I posted the article about the 2019 sellout—over which you, Laura Walton, presided—because the predicament that support staff and teachers now find themselves in is directly connected with that betrayal. “Moreover, the CUPE leadership and the teacher unions are today leading us down the same blind alley. As they did in 2019, the various unions are each pursuing their own ‘strategy,’ dividing workers in the face of a ruthless right-wing government/employer.

High School Defends Trans Teacher Who Wore Massive Fake Breasts To Class - A Canadian high school teacher has sparked controversy after pictures emerged of her wearing large breast prosthetics while teaching students. Kayla Lemieux, a Manufacturing Technology teacher at Oakville Trafalgar High School in Ontario, who began transitioning from being male to a female a year ago, has gone viral online after students took photos and videos of the teacher, seemingly without her knowledge. As Anna Slatz reports at, the teacher is seen wearing an extremely prominent prosthetic bust, one which clearly outlines the nipples through his tight shirt. He is also donning a bright blonde wig and short-shorts. In response, the high school defended their employee, writing to parents and explaining why they support Ms Lemieux's gender expression, Reduxx reports. In a statement to parents, the school said: "As a school within the Halton District School Board (HDSB), Oakville Trafalgar High School recognizes the rights of students, staff, parents/guardians and community members to equitable treatment without discrimination based upon gender identity and gender expression. We strive to promote a positive learning environment in schools consistent with the values of the HDSB and to ensure a safe and inclusive environment for all students, staff and the community, regardless of race, age, ability, sex, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, ethnicity, religion, cultural observance, socioeconomic circumstances or body type/size."

Florida A&M students sue state over funding, allege discrimination of HBCUs - A group of six students at Florida A&M University in Tallahassee filed a class-action lawsuit against the state Thursday alleging decades of discriminatory underfunding of the public historically Black university. The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida, has many of the hallmarks of past fights in Maryland, Mississippi, Alabama and South Carolina for equitable treatment of public HBCUs. It alleges that the state pours more money into traditionally White institutions such as Florida State University, also in Tallahassee, and allows schools to duplicate FAMU’s academic programs. “There is a vast difference between the two universities in the city of Tallahassee,” said Britney Denton, a doctoral student at FAMU’s College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences and a plaintiff in the case. “If you go to the north side, you’ll see the magnificent sports facilities and amazing housing. But when you get to the south side where the HBCU is, it’s a different world because we aren’t given the same resources.” Advertisement Denton said it was clear to her and her classmates that FAMU wasn’t to blame for the stark differences in infrastructure and institutional wealth, but rather the university was a victim of state-sponsored discrimination. “We could see the bigger picture,” she said. “The university needs resources from the state and local government, which haven’t provided enough support.” The students are asking the court to appoint a mediator to recommend ways to rectify the inequities and force Florida to commit to complete parity in its support of all its public universities within five years. FAMU said it is not involved in the lawsuit and declined to comment on the case. The Board of Governors for the State University System of Florida, a named defendant, also declined to comment on pending litigation. Florida has four historically Black campuses; the other three are private. The state has increased its funding for the schools in recent years, providing more than $123 million in the 2020-2021 budget, up $21.3 million from the previous year.The complaint says there has been a deliberate effort by the state to undermine FAMU’s competitiveness by letting other public colleges duplicate its academic programs, luring away prospective students. Decades of disparate state funding have prevented FAMU from achieving parity with its traditionally White counterparts, according to the suit. It claims the University of Florida received a larger state appropriation per student than FAMU from 1987 to 2020, amounting to a shortfall of roughly $1.3 billion. Attorneys for the students say the disparity is striking because the two schools share the distinction of being Florida’s only public land-grant universities. States are obligated to match federal dollars for all land-grant universities, but the historically Black campuses are frequently shortchanged.

New School instructors rally to end three years of wage freezes - Without a new contract for more than three years, part-time faculty at New York City’s New School rallied last week to demand a deal to counteract years of wage freezes and budget cuts. An estimated 150 to 200 adjunct professors and students at the New School gathered outside the University Center last Wednesday as part of the demonstration to demand fair pay. As Jazz faculty—who have been without a new contract for nearly as long—played live music, workers and students held signs reading, “Teaching conditions are learning conditions.” One sign read, “Part-time faculty: 87% of the teaching [staff], 13% of the budget.”The International Youth and Students for Social Equality (IYSSE) at New York University (NYU), which neighbors the New School, intervened at the rally, speaking to workers and students and distributed 150 copies of UAW presidential candidate Will Lehman’s letter to university employees.One adjunct instructor at the rally told the IYSSE, “We’re not being compensated for the extra work that we’ve been performing during the pandemic. We haven’t even had a raise. I make $4,500 for a three-credit course.“We don’t get paid for grading or emailing students; we’re only getting paid per contact hour. For instance, a three-credit course has 45 contact hours per semester, but I would say I’m working double or three times as much. The students suffer as a result. I would definitely put more into the course if I got paid more, and this would actually be necessary for the students.”The instructor added that one of her colleagues made twice as much as she did ($9,000) for a three-credit course because of seniority.Nell, an undergraduate who attended the rally to support her instructors, said, “I think it’s essential for people to have enough money to survive. It is ironic that the New School, which presents itself as very progressive, does not pay 87 percent of its instructors a livable wage.”Nadia and Max, both undergraduates in the Fine Arts program, also came to support the adjunct professors. Nadia said, “Most of the best professors I’ve had here are part-time faculty. They’re making the school what it is.”Max added, “I know so many teachers who are going out of their way and are paying out of their own pockets to facilitate an environment that students can actually work in. I know many who are spending basically 24 hours every day in the craft shops that are also part-time.“Most have second jobs because they can’t afford to live on just teaching, but the New School is even marketing the fact that many professors are also working actively in the arts, even though the reality is that they have to. They do not even get maternity leave.” Nadia said, “There’s overwhelming support for the teachers among the student body. There’s strong disdain for the administration but a strong bond by students with the teachers, the custodial staff, and really all the workers.”

 Do Men Face Barriers to Birth Control? - In discussing reproductive health care, men are often left out of the conversation. However, in the wake of recent access restrictions, it is crucial to examine the accessibility of all reproductive health care. A vasectomy, a male sterilization procedure, is safe, non-invasive, and often reversible. But, female sterilization is twice as common in the United States, even though it has more side effects and possible complications. This article in Public Health Post, I explore why men in the United States rarely utilize vasectomies. I discusses barriers to care such as medical misinformation, limited insurance coverage, and individual provider restrictions. These barriers, as well as social stigma, disproportionately leave female partners with the burden of birth control. Read the full post here!

Declining US Citizen’s Life Expectancy - Lifted from notes by One handed economist David Zetland comes with this reminder about US life expectancy dropping. David goes further and gives the reasons for decreasing Life Expectancy. America, my increasingly ex-country, has lower life expectancy than 21 “peer” countries. This decline being due to a combination of death from Covid, cars, guns, and lifestyle.The first fact about Covid was sadly unsurprising:The coronavirus pandemic killed so many people that U.S. life expectancy fell from roughly 79 in 2019 to 76 in 2021—the largest two-year decline in nearly a century. The drop was sharpest among Native Americans and Alaska Natives, whose life expectancy fell to 65, close to the national average during World War II. The second fact was perhaps more alarming:The U.S. fared worse in life expectancy than other high-income countries. While most of the developed world saw conditions improve in the second year of the coronavirus pandemic, more Americans died of COVID after the introduction of the vaccines than before their invention.Some of the most immediate causes of America’s high death rate are guns, drugs, and cars.

  • The U.S. has more guns and gun violence than any other rich country.
  • more drug-overdose deaths than any other high-income country—both overall and on a per capita basis. Even before the pandemic, life expectancy in the U.S. declined for consecutive years in 2015 and 2016, largely because of the opioid epidemic and drug overdoses, and
  • a higher death rate from car related road accidents than Canada, Australia, Japan, South Korea, and the European Union. Even on a per-miles-driven basis, the U.S. still has a higher death rate than much of Europe.

(America’s rank, at 54th in the world for life Expectancy in 2020, is likely to fall further, due to ongoing deterioration.) At some point, it may be useful for politicians to pay attention to saving their voters’ lives. Remember how Russian life expectancy dropped by around 5 years between 1990 and 1992?

 Coronavirus dashboard for September 19: no, the pandemic is *not* over - Contrary to the statement by President Biden last night, the coronavirus pandemic is *not* over. First, here’s the long term look at infectious particles in wastewater by Biobot, compared with confirmed cases: Levels of COVID in wastewater continue to be as high as at any point before last winter’s original Omicron onslaught. And confirmed cases are at levels that were moderate – but not terribly low – before Omicron as well. Hospitalizations have decreased by slightly over 1/3rd, from 46,000 to 30,000, from their peak in June, but are not as low as they were in summer 2020, summer 2021, or this past spring: Where there is a definite abatement from earlier times during the pandemic is in deaths: In the past 6 months, deaths have generally averaged between 300 and 500 a day, and are presently a little over 400 This is lower than at any previous point during the pandemic except for June and July 2021. Deaths among the elderly continue to be about 3/4’s off all deaths from COVID: But the mortality rate for hospitalizations due to COVID has declined dramatically: Weekly excess deaths have waned to an extreme minimum: Together, these statistics suggests that a large share of people who die from COVID are the elderly who were already in poor health with compromised immune and other systems, who likely would have died from other causes in the immediate future. Although I won’t bother with a graph, it is also true that the likelihood of dying from COVID skews heavily in the direction of those who are either not fully vaccinated, or are entirely unvaccinated. Meanwhile, the CDC has updated its variant information. A week ago there appeared to be an anomalous increase in the original BA.2 variant. When we last saw something like that, it turned out that it was really new variants BA.4&5. and for the first time in several months. This has been the case again, as several new variants are making headway: The two new variants that have appeared in the analysis are BA.2.75.2 and BF.7, also known at BA. BA.2.75.2 is a subvariant of a strain that originally caused an outbreak in India several months ago. BF.7 is one of the many subvariants of BA.5 that have appeared globally. While I haven’t found a lot of analysis of the two in the past several weeks, I did find this: The below article on the progress of BA.2.75.2 and BF.7 in other countries compared with BA.4.6 in particular states:GISAID data shows that in many other countries where BA.4.6 has made significant inroads, it quickly faded in the face of another heavily-mutated new Omicron variant, dubbed BA.2.75. It was first sequenced in May in India, where it has spread rapidly. It was first sequenced in May in India, where it has spread rapidly. In countries like Spain, Germany, the U.K., Ireland and Italy where BA.4.6 initially made way against near-uniform dominance by BA.5, BA.2.75 has beat back both of those predecessors and become dominant. Omicron BA.4.6 was short-lived: virtually everywhere it will be outcompeted by the fitter BA.2.75 & BF.7 / BA. that emerged in the meantime. In short, the pandemic is by no means over. At the current rate of 400 deaths daily, there will be nearly 150,000 deaths annually from COVID. And at the rate of 300,000 new infections per week, about 1/3rd of all Americans will be infected during the year. If you go maskless indoors, you are likely to catch COVID sometime soon. Depending on your age, the state of your immune system, and vaccination, your outcome will be better or worse. Yes, the pandemic is gradually transitioning to an endemic disease. But by no means are we there yet.

Dreaded Side Effect Rears Its Ugly Head in Latest COVID Variant - All over the world, the rates of death and hospitalization from COVID keep dropping. But our successful mitigation of the worst outcomes of the 33-month-old pandemic belie a growing crisis.More and more people are surviving COVID and staying out of the hospital, but more and more people are also living with long-term symptoms of COVID. Fatigue. Heart problems. Stomach problems. Lung problems. Confusion. Symptoms that can last for months or even a year or more after the infection clears.As many as 21 percent of Americans who caught the SARS-CoV-2 virus this summer ended up suffering from long COVID starting four weeks after infection, according to a new study from City University of New York.That’s up from 19 percent in figures the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported in June.Compare those numbers to the recent rates of death and hospitalization from COVID in the U.S.—three percent and .3 percent, respectively. Long COVID is by far the likeliest serious outcome from any novel-coronavirus infection. And possibly getting likelier.The CUNY study, which is not yet peer-reviewed, focused on American adults, but the results have implications for the whole world. Globally, long-term symptoms are partially replacing COVID deaths. After all, more COVID survivors means more people at risk of long-term symptoms. And long COVID is cumulative—people get sick and stay sick for a while.“Despite an increased level of protection against long COVID from vaccination, it may be that the total number of people with long COVID in the U.S. is increasing,” epidemiologist Denis Nash, the CUNY study’s lead author, told The Daily Beast. That is, every day more people catch long COVID than recover from long COVID.But understanding long COVID, to say nothing of preventing it, isn’t a priority in the global epidemiological establishment. That needs to change, Nash said. “I believe it is long past time to be focusing on long COVID in addition to preventing hospitalizations and deaths.”In recent weeks, authorities have logged around half a million new COVID cases a day, worldwide. That’s not quite as low as the 400,000 new cases a day health agencies tallied during the biggest dip in case-rates back in February 2021. But it’s close. What’s really remarkable, however, is how few of those half-a-million-a-day COVID infections are fatal. Lately, just 1,700 people have been dying every day—that’s a fifth as many died daily in February last year, when the number of new infections every day was only slightly greater.

Long COVID Experts and Advocates Say the Government Is Ignoring 'the Greatest Mass-Disabling Event in Human History' - Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel is used to feeling like the only person in the country who still cares about COVID-19. He ignores the side-eye he gets for wearing an N95 mask at parties—a self-imposed policy that makes him “look odd” but kept him safe after a recent work dinner turned into a superspreader event. The oncologist, bioethicist, and professor at the University of Pennsylvania provides each of his students with an N95 and runs four HEPA air filters during lectures. He rolls down the windows when he gets in an Uber and goes hungry on planes so he can wear his mask the whole time. Emanuel, 65, takes these precautions even though he’s vaccinated and boosted and thus well protected against severe COVID-19. The acute disease doesn’t scare him much—but what could come after does. “The only thing that’s preventing me from leading a normal life is the risk that I’ll get Long COVID,” Emanuel says. “I can’t say why people aren’t [reacting like] their hair’s on fire. This is a serious, serious illness.” Emanuel’s not totally alone. In a July Axios-Ipsos poll, 17% of people said their biggest fear related to COVID-19 is the possibility of getting Long COVID, a potentially disabling condition in which symptoms linger or emerge well after an acute infection. But at a time when the majority of U.S. adults think there’s little risk in returning to normal, mask wearers, test takers, and social distancers walk a lonely road. Even public-health agencies seem over it. Throughout 2022, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has rolled back many of its recommended COVID-19 precautions. CDC guidance no longer recommends social distancing, mask-wearing, or screening tests for most people who don’t have symptoms, and unvaccinated people don’t need to quarantine if they’re exposed to the virus. The agency contends its lighter touch is warranted now that the vast majority of the U.S. population has good protection against severe disease from being vaccinated, contracting COVID-19, or both. But even with high levels of population immunity, Long COVID cases continue to pile up. By the CDC’s own estimate from June, one in five U.S. adults with a known prior case of COVID-19 had symptoms of Long COVID. Having COVID-19 also raises a person’s risk of developing chronic conditions including heart disease, asthma, and diabetes, according to CDC research. Long COVID can take many forms, including exhaustion, cognitive dysfunction, neurological issues, and chronic pain. People can develop it whether they’re young or old, sick or healthy, vaccinated or not. And while some people get better in a matter of months, recent studies and many patient experiences show symptoms can last years. There is no known cure for Long COVID, and the only way to prevent it is not to get infected at all. That, a vocal group of experts and advocates say, is why people should resist the U.S.’ collective shrug to the unchecked spread of COVID-19. The virus may not kill or hospitalize as many people as it once did, but it still upends lives every day. Around 1.2 million people in the U.S. became disabled as a result of the virus by the end of 2021, according to the Center for American Progress, a progressive think tank. Up to 4 million people in the U.S. are out of work because of Long COVID. Specialists who treat Long COVID report months-long waitlists. And in the current “let it rip” phase of the pandemic, all of that may get worse. “We’re in the middle of the greatest mass-disabling event in human history,” says Long COVID patient and advocate Charlie McCone. And unless people wake up to the long-term consequences of COVID-19, it is “going to continue taking folks out like fish in a barrel.”

What moves us 'closer to the unfortunate finish line of getting long Covid' --You may have up to a 50% higher risk of developing long Covid-19 if you suffer from common psychiatric issues such as anxiety or depression, a recent study found.Signs of the malady can include breathing problems, brain fog, chronic coughing, changes in taste and smell, overwhelming fatigue, difficulties in performing daily life functions, and disruptions in sleep that can last months, even years, after the infection has cleared the body.People who self-identified as having anxiety, depression or loneliness, or who feltextremely stressed or worried frequently about the coronavirus were more likely to experience long Covid-19, according to the study published this month in JAMA Psychiatry. “We found participants with two or more types of psychological distress before infection had a 50% higher risk of getting long Covid,” said study coauthor Dr. Siwen Wang, a research fellow in the department of nutrition at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston.About 40 million adults over 18 in the United States live with an anxiety disorder, while over 21 million have suffered from major depression, according to national statistics. Many mental health conditions often overlap, with concurrent diagnoses, experts say. More than a fifth of adults in the US (22%) and the UK (23%) say they often or always feel lonely, a Kaiser Family Foundation study said.“Having higher levels of psychological distress prior to a Covid infection also increased the risk of getting long Covid by 50%,” Wang said. “Those people also reported more symptoms seen in long Covid.”It’s possible that some could use the study’s findings to support a hypothesis that post-Covid illness is psychosomatic, a prevalent belief in the early days of the pandemic, said Dr. Wesley Ely, a professor of medicine and critical care at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee. He was not involved in the study.Instead, the study’s message should be that people with existing psychological distress are closer to the “disaster” of long Covid, said Ely, codirector of Vanderbilt’s Critical Illness, Brain Dysfunction and Survivorship Center.“Imagine 10 people are running a race, and you give five people a head start,” Ely said. “Those are the people who already had a mental health issue – they are just closer to the unfortunate finish line of getting long Covid.”

Facing chest pain during Long Covid? Heart inflammation is the answer, finds study - Even as the scare of coronavirus has reduced owing to reduced reported fatal cases, the threat of Long Covid still looms at large. There is an ever increasing boom of symptoms patients, suffering from Long Covid, have complained of. This varied range of symptoms include persistent heart complaints such aspoor exercise tolerance, palpitations or chest pain. These complains have risen even though the Covid infection was mild. A recently conducted study has shown that the underlying cause for the same could be heart inflammation. Earlier studies, predominantly among young, physically fit individuals, were already able to show that mild cardiac inflammation can occur after Covid-19. Long Covid refers to the long-term effects of the SARS-CoV-2, which causes coronavirus infection in the body. According to the US-based Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it includes a wide range of ongoing health problems, which can last for days, weeks, and even months after one is diagnosed Covid negative. A team of medical scientists led by Dr Valentina Puntmann and Professor Eike Nagel from the Institute for Experimental and Translational Cardiovascular Imaging at University Hospital Frankfurt followed up 346 people – half of them women – between the age of 18 and 77 years, in each case around four and eleven months after the documented SARS-CoV-2 infection. The team had also analysed the study participants' blood, conducted heart MRIs, and recorded and graded their symptoms using standardised questionnaires. 73% reported heart problems at the beginning of the study and in 57% these symptoms persisted 11 months after the SARS-CoV-2 infection. The research team measured mild but persistent heart inflammation that was not accompanied by structural changes in the heart. Blood levels of troponin – a protein that enters the blood when the heart muscle is damaged – were also unremarkable. The research found that even if people suffered from mild Covid-19 infection, they remained susceptible to heart inflammation or cardiac inflammation. This led to severe chest pain, poor exercise tolerance, palpitations. Researcher Dr Puntmann explains that the chest inflammation remains an effect of virus triggered autoimmune process. The clinical picture is more reminiscent, she says, of the findings in chronic diffuse inflammatory syndromes such as autoimmune conditions. She also insisted that the tachycardiac condition are significantly different from classic viral myocarditis. “Although most likely driven by a virus-triggered autoimmune process, a lot more research is needed in order to understand the underlying pathophysiology. Similarly, the long-term effects of cardiac inflammation following a mild Covid infection need to be clarified in future studies, " the researcher added.

COVID-19 can cause lasting lung damage – 3 ways long COVID patients' respiration can suffer -“I just can’t do what I used to anymore.” As pulmonologists and critical care doctors treating patients with lung disease, we have heard many of our patients recovering from COVID-19 tell us this even months after their initial diagnosis. Though they may have survived the most life-threatening phase of their illness, they have yet to return to their pre-COVID-19 baseline, struggling with activities ranging from strenuous exercise to doing laundry. These lingering effects, called long COVID, have affected as many as 1 in 5 American adults diagnosed with COVID-19. Long COVID includes a wide range of symptoms such as brain fog, fatigue, cough and shortness of breath. These symptoms can result from damage to or malfunctioning ofmultiple organ systems, and understanding the causes of long COVID is a special research focus of the Biden-Harris administration. Not all breathing problems are related to the lungs, but in many cases thelungs are affected. Looking at the lungs’ basic functions and how they can be affected by disease may help clarify what is on the horizon for some patients after a COVID-19 infection. The main function of the lungs is to bring oxygen-rich air into the body and expel carbon dioxide. When air flows into the lungs, it is brought into close proximity with the blood, where oxygen diffuses into the body and carbon dioxide diffuses out. Matching ventilation and perfusion rates is critical for basic lung function, and damage anywhere along the airway can lead to difficulty breathing in a number of ways. One form of lung disease is obstruction of airflow in and out of the body.Two common causes of impairments like these are chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and asthma. In these diseases, the airways become narrowed because of either damage from smoking, as is common in COPD, or allergic inflammation, as is common in asthma. In either case, patients experience difficulty blowing air out of their lungs.Researchers have observed ongoing airflow obstruction in some patients who have recovered from COVID-19. This condition is typically treated with inhalers that deliver medications that open up the airways. Such treatments may also be helpful while recovering from COVID-19.Another form of lung disease is referred to as restriction, or difficulty expanding the lungs. Restriction decreases the volume of the lungs and, subsequently, the amount of air they can take in. Restriction often results from the formation of scar tissue, also called fibrosis, in the lungs due to injury.Fibrosis thickens the walls of the alveoli, which makes gas exchange with the blood more difficult. This type of scarring can occur in chronic lung diseases, such as idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, or as a result of severe lung damage in a condition called acute respiratory distress syndrome, or ARDS. Patients with acute respiratory distress syndrome due to COVID-19 may be treated with a helmet that provides oxygen, reducing the need for intubation. Around 25% of patientswho recover from ARDS go on to develop restrictive lung disease. Researchers have also found that patients who have recovered from COVID-19, especially those who had severe disease, can later develop restrictive lung disease. COVID-19 patients who require a ventilator may also have recovery rates similar to those who require a ventilator for other conditions. Long-term recovery of lung function in these patients is still unknown. Drugs treating fibrotic lung disease after COVID-19 are currently undergoing clinical trials. Finally, even when air flow and lung volume are unaffected, the lungs cannot complete their function if blood flow to the alveoli, where gas exchange occurs, is impaired. COVID-19 is associated with an increased risk for blood clots. If blood clots travel to the lungs, they can cause a life-threatening pulmonary embolismthat restricts blood flow to the lungs. The alveoli of the lungs are where oxygen diffuses into the bloodstream and carbon dioxide diffuses out.ttsz/iStock via Getty Images PlusIn the long term, blood clots can also cause chronic problems with blood flow to the lungs, a condition called chronic thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension, or CTEPH. Only 0.5% to 3% of patients who develop a pulmonary embolism for reasons other than COVID-19 go on to develop this chronic problem. However, there is evidence that severe COVID-19 infections can damage the blood vessels of the lung directly and impair blood flow during recovery.

COVID-19 infections increase risk of long-term brain problems – Washington University School of Medicine - If you’ve had COVID-19, it may still be messing with your brain. Those who have been infected with the virus are at increased risk of developing a range of neurological conditions in the first year after the infection, new research shows. Such complications include strokes, cognitive and memory problems, depression, anxiety and migraine headaches, according to a comprehensive analysis of federal health data by researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and the Veterans Affairs St. Louis Health Care system.Additionally, the post-COVID brain is associated with movement disorders, from tremors and involuntary muscle contractions to epileptic seizures, hearing and vision abnormalities, and balance and coordination difficulties as well as other symptoms similar to what is experienced with Parkinson’s disease. The findings are published Sept. 22 in Nature Medicine.“Our study provides a comprehensive assessment of the long-term neurologic consequences of COVID-19,” said senior author Ziyad Al-Aly, MD, a clinical epidemiologist at Washington University. “Past studies have examined a narrower set of neurological outcomes, mostly in hospitalized patients. We evaluated 44 brain and other neurologic disorders among both nonhospitalized and hospitalized patients, including those admitted to the intensive care unit. The results show the devastating long-term effects of COVID-19. These are part and parcel of long COVID. The virus is not always as benign as some people think it is.” Overall, COVID-19 has contributed to more than 40 million new cases of neurological disorders worldwide, Al-Aly said. Other than having a COVID infection, specific risk factors for long-term neurological problems are scarce. “We’re seeing brain problems in previously healthy individuals and those who have had mild infections,” Al-Aly said. “It doesn’t matter if you are young or old, female or male, or what your race is. It doesn’t matter if you smoked or not, or if you had other unhealthy habits or conditions.” Few people in the study were vaccinated for COVID-19 because the vaccines were not yet widely available during the time span of the study, from March 2020 through early January 2021. The data also predates delta, omicron and other COVID variants.

The mental health effects of living with long COVID - Los Angeles Times - About 2½ years ago, I started showing symptoms of COVID-19. But unlike my friends and family members who bounced back from the infection, some of my symptoms continued. It would take dozens of doctor’s and medical appointments to confirm that I had long COVID.I am a data journalist at the Los Angeles Times and have a deep appreciation for spreadsheets, so my inclination was to track my symptoms.My planner became a living document in which I detail the good days and the bad using color-coded dots to denote how I am feeling. I used to take an even more comprehensive approach, tracking in a spreadsheet every time I had shortness of breath, my blood pressure dropped or I lost my voice. The reality is, although the note-taking was helpful for taking to doctor’s appointments, the daily data collection for a year wore on me.Pandemic stress, traumatic events and economic uncertainty have upended our world. This series aims to make the cascade of threats to your mental health a little easier to manage.I wanted to believe that my meticulous data keeping would result in answers from my doctors, a precious “aha” moment that every person with a rare disorder longs for. But by the late summer of 2021, I felt completely overwhelmed with test results, research I came across in my long COVID support group and the reality that no one doctor has a perfect solution for dealing with my symptoms.There were days when I had to make calls to get the earliest available appointments, do interviews, go to one or two doctor’s appointments and analyze data, as well as manage my day-to-day life. The doctors kept saying, “We just don’t know anything yet” and “Let’s try this new medicine, but we’ll have to monitor you for two to three months.” That, on top of the news I was covering every day, made me feel as though I was wading deeper and deeper into the dark ocean.My doctors told me if I didn’t schedule a break, my body would take one for me. So I took a step back from work and said “yes” to taking care of myself. I am very fortunate to have a supportive employer and family and friends and the financial means to go on leave. Rest is crucial after COVID, but unfortunately the systems in this country don’t support mental health well or the physical health needs of folks who need it the most. My leave allowed me to focus on my health and only my health, instead of trying to juggle five things at once.I realized that, as much as I enjoy data collection, it was time to ditch the spreadsheet of my personal symptoms and shift my focus and energy and just be kinder to myself.I swapped my spreadsheet for an Apple Watch and spent more time outside, focusing on the gains I could make during walks — each day a little bit longer and more challenging. It freed up my brain space to think about what I really enjoy doing. I started to paint during my leave to still use my creative side, especially since I was not writing much. At first, it offered an escape on my worst days, but over the last few months, it has developed into much more.

 Long COVID might be a lot more common than we think, as symptoms linger 2 years later for 20% of survivors, new study finds How long do long COVID symptoms linger? It’s the question on the mind of millions of sufferers. Less than three years into the pandemic, answers are limited. But those in Wuhan, China—where the outbreak began in late 2019—would know best, as they’ve lived with the virus’s repercussions the longest. A new study published this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association sheds some light on the matter. Researchers at Army Medical University in Chongqing, China, and Wuhan Huoshenshan Hospital in Wuhan, China, interviewed nearly 2,000 COVID survivors, all of whom were treated for the illness at Wuhan hospitals from February through April 2020. They found that the long-term symptoms of most—like fatigue, chest tightness, anxiety, and myalgia—lessened, then resolved between the first- and second-year anniversaries of their discharge. The exception: patients with dyspnea (difficulty breathing), whose symptoms didn’t seem to resolve with time. Patients who had been admitted to the intensive care unit were also more likely to have persistent symptoms, researchers found. The ongoing fatigue described by many COVID survivors is similar to that described by survivors of other diseases like Ebola and SARS, a coronavirus much more fatal than COVID-19 that caused epidemics in 2003. Fatigue in SARS survivors has been reported to last as long as four years, researchers wrote. The study examined survivors of the initial strain of Omicron and may or may not be applicable to other strains, including Omicron, the authors emphasized. Nearly 20% of American adults who’ve had COVID—an estimated 50 million Americans—report having long COVID symptoms after their infection resolves, according to data collected by the U.S. Census Bureau this summer. Long COVID is roughly defined as symptoms that persist or appear long after the initial COVID infection is gone, but a consensus definition has not yet been broadly accepted. Many experts contend that long COVID is best defined as a chronic-fatigue-syndrome-like condition that develops after COVID illness, similar to other post-viral syndromes. Other post-COVID complications, like organ damage and post-intensive-care syndrome, should not be defined as long COVID, they say. But many of those writing reports, and self-reporting long COVID to the Census Bureau and other entities, likely aren’t making such a distinction. This means the number of those with true long COVID is likely overestimated.

Australia: More than 3,000 COVID-19 deaths in residential aged care this year - Recent federal government health data has revealed that more than 3,000 Australians have died from COVID-19 in residential aged care facilities since January 1. The total number of deaths in aged care has quadrupled, from 967 to 3,981, since the lifting of public health measures last December. In total, more than 91,600 COVID-19 cases have been recorded in aged care residents and 59,800 cases among staff. Before January 7, just 5,017 residents and 4,912 staff had been infected. Staff prepare to collect samples at a drive-through COVID-19 testing clinic at Bondi Beach in Sydney, Australia, Saturday, Jan. 8, 2022. (AP Photo/Mark Baker) More than 1,200 residents and 400 workers are currently infected with COVID-19, with active outbreaks at 270 aged care facilities across the country. The majority of these are in NSW (97) and Victoria (75), followed by Queensland (36), South Australia (28) and Western Australia (23). These figures expose the Labor Party’s federal election campaign promise to bring “dignity, quality and humanity back into aged care” as an utter fraud. Since the May 21 election of Anthony Albanese’s federal Labor government, more than 1,500 aged care residents have died from COVID-19. As the death toll has mounted, the Labor government has deepened the homicidal “let it rip” response to the pandemic adopted by all state, territory and federal governments, Labor and Liberal-National alike. The wave of illness and death that is being inflicted on the population is the result of a conscious and deliberate policy. Virtually all public health measures to mitigate the spread of the virus have been removed, including the ending of mask mandates in most indoor environments and the slashing of the isolation period for those infected from seven to five days. These moves have no scientific or health justification, but are instead motivated by the demands of big business and the financial press that there can be no interruption to the flow of corporate profits. Since September 9, reporting of COVID-19 infections, hospitalisations and deaths has been reduced from daily to weekly in every state and territory except Victoria. This is a clear attempt to cover-up the extent of the spread of COVID-19 in order to reinforce the lie that the pandemic is over. In reality, August was the deadliest month of the pandemic in Australia so far, with 2,056 COVID-19 deaths recorded—the first time 2,000 deaths had been exceeded within a month. More than 12,000 deaths have been recorded in 2022 alone. The attitude of the ruling class to the crisis in aged care was expressed in the remarks of Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly in July, when he described the thousands of coronavirus deaths of elderly people as a delayed “reaping” after the first eighteen months of the pandemic, during which COVID-19 rates were relatively low and influenza virtually non-existent. This amounts to a deliberate culling of the most vulnerable in the population, the elderly, frail and sick, whom the financial and ruling elite deems “unproductive.”

Fauci fears ‘anti-vaxxer attitude’ could cause outbreaks of non-COVID disease - Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, said in a new interview that the “anti-vaxxer attitude” of some Americans risks causing non-COVID virus outbreaks in the U.S. “I’m concerned the acceleration of an anti-vaxxer attitude in certain segments of the population . . . might spill over into that kind of a negative attitude towards childhood vaccinations,” Fauci told The Financial Times in an interview published Sunday. “If you fall back on vaccines against common vaccine-preventable childhood diseases, that’s where you wind up getting avoidable and unnecessary outbreaks,” Fauci added. Fauci, who announced his pending retirement from government last month, said political division is one factor driving anti-vaccine sentiment, noting how some states have not promoted COVID-19 vaccination and Congress has failed to advance billions of dollars in funding.The World Health Organization released a report in July showing that vaccination among children declined more during the COVID-19 pandemic than at any time in the past 30 years.Fauci’s remark comes after New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) declared a state of emergency last week due to the spread of polio through wastewater, spurring the state to ramp up vaccinations against the virus. The U.S.’s COVID-19 vaccination rate amongst adults is still at 67 percent, according to CDC data, but is well below other countries.

 NIH advisers urge tighter oversight of experiments on deadly viruses - Biosecurity advisers to the federal government are calling for tighter scrutiny of experiments with potentially dangerous viruses and other pathogens, reflecting an ongoing debate within the scientific community over the benefits and risks of such laboratory research. This contentious issue has become even more rancorous amid speculation that some kind of “lab leak” might have played a role in the origin of the coronavirus.The draft recommendations from members of the National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity, which met Wednesday to discuss the policies, do not address the pandemic’s origin. Nor is there any direct reference to the coronavirus.But the first recommendation clearly carries the signature of the pandemic: The external advisers urge the government to broaden its definition of the kinds of experiments that require special reviews and safety measures.Current policies cover pathogens that are “likely highly virulent” — that is, extremely deadly. But the advisers say this fails to cover pathogens that don’t meet that threshold of deadliness, yet “pose a severe threat to public health or national security if the pathogen was capable of wide and uncontrollable spread in human populations.”That is a fair description of the novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, which is far less lethal than viruses such as Ebola but is extraordinarily transmissible.During a brief period for public comment Wednesday, Rutgers University professor Richard H. Ebright provided a litany of what he said were defects in the existing policies, including a lack of transparency, a failure to review many risky experiments, and a lack of enforcement. Research conducted by privately funded institutions is not covered by the policies, he noted.Epidemiologist Syra Madad, co-chair of a working group focused on policies covering enhanced pathogens, said the group “believes that increased transparency is needed.”Board members also expressed concern about imposing excessive constraints on necessary research. Madad said the slow process of reviewing proposals has already discouraged younger researchers.“If we over-regulate in the United States, all it will be doing is pushing unregulated or non-regulated research overseas, and we have to deal with that issue,” said retired Rear Adm. Kenneth Bernard, formerly with the U.S. Public Health Service, another board member. Wednesday’s meeting was the first chance for the full board to discuss the draft recommendations — as well as the first opportunity for the public to weigh in. Final recommendations from the board are not expected for months, and top federal officials will ultimately decide on the policies.

FDA warns online trend of cooking with OTC drugs can cause harm or death -The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is warning young people against engaging in an online trend that challenges people to cook with over-the-counter drugs, saying there are “significant risks” in using these medications incorrectly. At the beginning of this year, the trend took off on social media apps such as TikTok, where users would post videos of chicken marinating in liquid NyQuil. Online users were aghast at this “challenge,” which appears to have jumped in popularity after one account claimed that the “sleepy chicken” helped with their cold symptoms. However, mentions of “NyQuil chicken” go as far as back as 2017 on Twitter, as Mic reported earlier this year. It’s unclear if these demonstrations are meant to be taken humorously or sincerely, but some attempts to recreate the food have been posted on social media this year. “The challenge sounds silly and unappetizing — and it is. But it could also be very unsafe. Boiling a medication can make it much more concentrated and change its properties in other ways,” the FDA said in a consumer update last week. “Even if you don’t eat the chicken, inhaling the medication’s vapors while cooking could cause high levels of the drugs to enter your body. It could also hurt your lungs. Put simply: Someone could take a dangerously high amount of the cough and cold medicine without even realizing it,” said the agency.

 How the climate crisis is fueling the spread of a brain-eating amoeba- The death of a child in Nebraska this summer put the rare but deadlyNaegleria fowleri – more commonly known as brain-eating amoeba – back in the headlines. The amoeba lives in warm, fresh water and can enter the body through the nose, where it travels to the brain and starts to destroy tissue.The case underscored a troubling new reality – climate change is encouraging the amoeba to pop up in parts of the US where it isn’t typical, such as the north and west. Naegleria grows best in warm waters – temperatures above 30C, and can tolerate temperatures of up to 46C, says Charles Gerba, a microbiologist at the University of Arizona. That makes it well-suited to spread in a warming climate.“It likes warm surface waters during the summer in the northern latitudes,” he says.The amoeba causes an illness called primary amebic meningoencephalitis, and while getting sick is rare – between 2012 to 2021, only 31 cases were reported in the US, according to the Centers for Disease Control – it’s incredibly lethal. According to the CDC, only four people out of 151 have survived the infection between 1962 and 2020.In the US, Naegleria has typically been limited to the southern states, but in recent years it has spread steadily northward. A 2021 study showed that even though the rate of infections hasn’t budged, the amoeba is moving from southern states to midwestern areas. It’s been found as far north as Minnesota. Outbreaks have mostly been associated with swimming in lakes, though an outbreak in Arizona stemmed from use of warm groundwater where Naegleriawas growing in a well. Previous cases have also shown people contracting the infection through contaminated water used for backyard slip-n-slides, or performing nasal irrigation. The pathogen was discovered for the first time in Iowa this summer, after someone died at a popular lake. A nearby weather station recorded high temperatures of around 35C (95F) on two consecutive days over the July 4 holiday when the swimmer is believed to have contracted the amoeba. Gerba adds that most cases are in males less than 18 years of age – though it’s not clear why. It’s possible that young boys are more likely to participate in activities like diving into the water and playing in the sediment at the bottom of lakes and rivers, where the pathogen is likely to reside. The climate crisis is also exacerbating extreme weather events – such as flooding and drought – that can introduce more pathogens into the environment. “In the drought areas, the pathogens will be concentrated in the water bodies, which could increase the exposure dose of pathogens when humans are in close contact with the water bodies,” says Shen. In areas that flood, the water can transfer pathogens in the environment – for example, a flood could bring pathogens from soil or aquatic environments to homes and buildings, or cause wastewater collection to overflow and spew pathogens into the environment.

Tick-carrying deer are moving in next door -White-tailed deer — known to carry tick-borne illnesses like Lyme disease — may now be making their homes in suburban neighborhoods, rather than stopping by for a midnight snack. Efforts to control the East Coast’s heavily overpopulated deer population have largely assumed that these animals live in wooded parklands and only pass through nearby neighborhoods for after-dark grazing. But a five-year study, published on Monday in Urban Ecosystems, has found that these deer are settling into residential areas — spending entire nights within 50 meters (164 feet) of suburban households. “We knew deer were in and around neighborhoods, but we didn’t realize just how much they were living in the neighborhoods,” senior author Jennifer Mullinax, an assistant professor of environmental science at the University of Maryland, said in a statement. Mullinax and her colleagues captured and collared 51 deer from five parks in the metropolitan area of Howard County, Md., monitoring their behavior with high-resolution GPS trackers. The deer typically avoided residential areas during daytime but moved in at night, according to the researchers, who said the animals often would sleep near lawns and yards. “A big takeaway from this study is that neighborhoods are the home range of suburban white-tailed deer,” Mullinax said. Reducing tick populations by either removing deer or treating areas where deer bed down for the night can help limit the spread of such diseases, according to the study.

Hotter days lead to more harassment and hate speech - As temperatures rise, so does human anger and aggression.That’s the takeaway from two new studies published in the past week — the latest in a growing collection of literature linking extreme heat to changes in human temperament and behavior.The newest paper, published Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, suggests that hotter temperatures may drive an increase in workplace harassment and discrimination. Harvard University doctoral student Ayushi Narayan, the study’s author, looked specifically at the U.S. Postal Service by examining more than 800,000 harassment and discrimination reports filed with the agency’s Equal Employment Opportunity Office between 2004 and 2019. She noted the location where each incident occurred and assembled local weather data for each report.She found that when temperatures exceeded 90 degrees Fahrenheit, the number of reports increased by about 5 percent, compared to cooler temperatures of between 60 and 70 degrees. She also found a smaller increase in incidents, of around 2.6 percent, when temperatures exceed 80 degrees.Narayan also conducted an extra analysis, comparing the date that incidents occurred with the date the reports were filed. She found that the higher temperatures were correlated with the incidents themselves, not employees’ decisions on when to file the charges.“Taken together, my findings show that heat stress can increase incidents of workplace harassment and discrimination,” Narayan wrote.A second study, published last week in the medical journal The Lancet by a group of researchers from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany, suggests a link between weather and online hate speech. The study used a machine learning technique to identify hate speech on Twitter, analyzing 4 billion tweets across nearly 800 U.S. cities between 2014 and 2020. The researchers found that hate speech grew more prevalent in both very cold and very hot conditions. Compared with moderate temperatures in the 50s and 60s, the researchers found that hate speech increased by as much as 12.5 percent in extreme cold and by as much as 22 percent in extreme heat.

The 'triple dip' La Niña, and its likely impact in India - The ongoing La Niña phase of the equatorial Pacific Ocean has just been predicted to persist for at least another six months, making it one of the longest ever La Niña episodes in recorded history. It is also only the third episode since 1950 to stretch into a third year. This is likely to have wide-ranging implications for weather events across the world in the coming months, and can potentially aggravate both floods and droughts in different regions. The periodic warming and cooling of surface waters in the equatorial Pacific Ocean — a phenomenon described as El Niño Southern Oscillations, or ENSO — is known to trigger widespread changes in atmospheric conditions, and has a major influence on global weather patterns, including the Indian monsoon. La Niña refers to the ENSO phase in which sea-surface temperatures are cooler than normal. The warmer phase is known as El Niño. A result of interactions between ocean and wind systems, El Niño and La Niña have almost opposite impacts on weather events. Also in Explained Climate |The ‘stubborn’ and ‘abnormal’ La Ninã conditions are impacting India’s monsoon El Niño and La Niña episodes typically last for about nine months to a year. They usually develop in the March-June period, and are the strongest during winter (November-January in the northern hemisphere), before weakening or dissipating by March or April of next year. Occasionally, however, they continue for much longer periods. In recent years, the El Niño of 2015-16, spread over 19 months, was one of the longest on record, and was dubbed ‘Godzilla’ due to its sustained high intensity. The current La Niña episode has already surpassed that in length. Having started in September 2020, it has prevailed for the last 24 months, and looks set to continue for another six months, and has thus been classified as a ‘triple dip’ La Niña. However, El Niño and La Niña events are not mirror images of each other. They differ in length and strength. El Niño episodes occur more frequently and are usually associated with more impactful weather events. La Niña, on the other hand, has a longer run. That is why multi-year La Niña events, those that continue for more than 12 months, are quite common. An El Niño is more likely to be a single-year event. According to a recent paper published by Chinese researchers, almost half (six out of 13) of all La Niña events since 1950 have stretched for two years, while three, including the current one, have continued for three years. In contrast, over 75% of El Niño events (15 out of 20) ended within a year. No El Niño has ever stretched into a third year.

Despite La Nina, Brazil's Growing Season Off to a Good Start - La Nina scares Brazilian farmers because they know all too well that lower sea-surface temperatures in the tropical Pacific Ocean typically leads to dry conditions in southern states, and a delay to the wet season in northern states. Two years ago, the dryness in the south wasn't too bad, but the wet season was delayed by about two weeks in the central. Last year, the wet season started fine for central states, but southern areas were incredibly dry. This year, it feels like La Nina has no influence whatsoever -- at least not yet. During the late winter and early spring, fronts have been regularly pushing into southern Brazil and stalling, with scattered showers developing for a few days followed by another round a few days later. Soil moisture in these southern states, from Mato Grosso do Sul to Parana and points south, are near or above normal for this time of year. But this week, a front is pushing deeper into the country and has been bringing scattered showers to central states as well. So far, the rains in central Brazil have not been heavy. They've been somewhat isolated to widely scattered and not overly intense. But that front is now moving farther north and is going to stall out from Mato Grosso to Minas Gerais from Sept. 22-25. Periods of showers will help to soften soils for more widespread planting of first-crop soybeans near or ahead of schedule. That will not be the end of the rain in the near future. Another front will move out of Argentina and into southern Brazil Sept. 28. Once again, the front is forecast to move into central states and produce widespread precipitation across the entire growing region. In between the two fronts, showers may still pop up and produce good rainfall. Forecasts from the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasting suggest that 30-60 millimeters (1.18 to 2.36 inches) of rain will fall in the next 10 days, with many areas seeing more than that based on thunderstorm movements and persistence over areas. Getting that much rain will continue to provide ample soil moisture for southern states that have already gotten a jump to their planting, while starting off the wet season for central states pretty close to the average start date of Sept. 26. There is a caveat though -- and with weather, there usually is one. After the second front moves through next week, there are not a lot of chances for getting showers back into southern Brazil going into the first couple of weeks of October. La Nina may be back up to its usual tactics of dryness over southern Brazil. As long as soybeans have the chance to be planted and germinate, then the crop could handle a few weeks of drier weather in its early development stages. Full-season corn may see some issues if the roots cannot chase the soil moisture deeper into the column. And producers that do not plant early could be looking at delays until rains return.

Top Grower Brazil’s Coffee Supplies Have Never Been Lower - Stockpiles in Brazil, the biggest producer globally, are headed for a record low.Inventories in the South American nation may dip to just 7 million bags by March, according to Silas Brasileiro, president of the National Coffee Council. A more comfortable level is between 9 million and 12 million bags weighing 60 kilograms, analysts say.

Western reservoirs could run dry in 3 years, top official warns - A top Centennial State official warned Colorado River Basin states that the system’s federal reservoirs could effectively empty in a few short years barring aggressive reductions to water demands.Colorado River Water Conservation District General Manager Andy Mueller painted a bleak future for the basin’s seven states — Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming — on Friday, during his organization’s annual conference in Grand Junction, Colo., on the river’s future.“If we continue in the way we’re operating now, if we don’t reduce our demands, we’re going to really see those reservoirs really hit a crisis,” Mueller said. “I’m not talking about in 20 years, I’m talking about in the next three or four years. We have a period of time here to change our use.”More than two decades of drought have significantly diminished the Colorado River, which spans 1,450 miles and supplies water to some 40 million individuals.Although Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Camille Touton instructed those seven states to find up to 4 million acre-feet in reductions, no agreements had been reached as of a mid-August deadline (E&E News PM, Aug. 16).One acre-foot of water is equal to about 326,000 gallons, or enough water to cover a football field to a depth of 1 foot.Under the terms of the 1922 Colorado River Compact, the seven states share 16 million acre-feet of water annually divided equally between the Upper Basin states — Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming — and the Lower Basin states — Arizona, California and Nevada.Mueller noted that the drought has sharply reduced that flow to 12 million acre-feet, but is likely to drop even lower under continued drought conditions.“When we listen to the scientists today, they say plan for a 9 million acre-foot river,” Mueller said. “That’s incredibly scary because … that’s a huge economic disruption, that’s communities suffering in all the basins.”But those lower flows have already sharply impacted federal reservoirs in the Upper Colorado basin, Mueller noted.Under a drought operations agreement, federal officials tapped both the Blue Mesa Reservoir in Colorado and the Flaming Gorge Reservoir in Wyoming in recent years to keep water levels in the Lake Powell reservoirs high enough to maintain hydropower operations (Greenwire, May 3).Although Reclamation officials indicated that drought response efforts could continue to rely on those upstream reservoirs, Mueller dismissed those plans as unfeasible.“We’ve now drained Blue Mesa, we’re draining Flaming Gorge as we speak, and we have no plans for how we’re going to handle this when those reservoirs are dropped. We can’t keep doing this,” he said. Among Mueller’s recommendations, he called for the federal government to demand the Lower Basin states to account for evaporation and transit losses in their annual water use.

Violent floods hit central Italy after 6 months’ worth of rain within 3 hours- authorities describe the situation as apocalyptic and compare it to a tsunami - Violent storms hit central Italy’s Marche region late September 15, 2022, causing major floods in which at least 9 people lost their lives and 4, including two minors, went missing. Around 50 people were being treated for hypothermia and other injuries.The Ancona prefect’s department revised the death toll after previously putting it at 10, ANSA reports. However, two of the deceased are in the process of being identified and it is possible that these victims are among the people who are currently considered missing.1The mayor of Castellone di Suasa described the situation as ‘apocalyptic’ while other local authorities compared it to a tsunami, sweeping through villages.A large-scale rescue operation was launched, with more than 300 firefighters, to bring people to safety.Dozens of people managed to save themselves from the flood waters by climbing onto roofs and trees, from where firefighters were able to rescue them.The region received around 400 mm (15.7 inches) of rain within just 2 to 3 hours – the equivalent of six months’ worth of normal rainfall.“It is the legacy of the hot summer of 2022 which, due to the hot sea, means there is a possibility of intense rainfall for at least another month,” Il meteorologists said.Head of civil protection at Marche’s regional government, Stefano Aguzzi, said the rain was far stronger than forecast. “We were given a normal alert for rain, but nobody had expected anything like this,” he told reporters.

‘It is beyond bleak’: Pakistan floods affecting 16m children, says Unicef - All four of Haliman’s daughters have fallen sick after she left her flood-ravaged house in her village in Qambar Shahdadkot district in the Sindh province of Pakistan. Two of her daughters have a recurring fever and two have skin diseases.“I have never seen such diseases. The skin on my eldest daughter’s feet is peeling off,” said Haliman, sitting on a charpoy in a girls’ college in Larkana, where she had sought refuge along with a hundred others. “It is because of the floods and she waded through the flood water with me for hours. It is not only her feet, but her back, thighs and neck have bumpy rashes.”Devastating floods in Pakistan triggered by heavy monsoon rains have killed more than 1,500 people, including 528 children, and affected about 16 million children, according to Unicef. Authorities say the waters that have washed away homes, roads, crops, livestocks and people will take at least three to six months to recede.Floods have also brought water-borne diseases. “Millions of people are living under the open sky,” the Pakistani prime minister, Shehbaz Sharif, told the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, last week. “Water is giving rise to the water-borne diseases.” He has urged the world to focus on the impact on children. Haliman said her daughters are suffering. “The skin diseases are getting worse and the fever of my daughters is also not going down. I am not getting any reasonable treatment here.” At least 3.4 million girls and boys remain in need of immediate, lifesaving support. Unicef Pakistan’s representative, Abdullah Fadil, warned that without a massive increase in support, many more children would die. “The situation for Pakistani families is beyond bleak, and malnourished children are battling diarrhoea and malaria, dengue fever, and many are suffering from painful skin conditions,” he said.Rawat Khan, 47, holding her daughter Iqra, whose ear became discoloured and blemished with small, pus-filled spots, said these diseases were not common before but now all the children were getting sick. Her son’s chest was swollen too. “The doctors are asking us to get tests done in Karachi … but we cannot afford that. We don’t have money. We lost our houses and savings in the floods,” she said.“We only saved our lives. We could save nothing else. We are helpless to see our children falling sick and we are unable to do anything about it. The government has failed us.”Dr Faiq Ali, who arranged a medical camp in Warah, a village in Qambar Shahdadkot, one of the most affected districts in Sindh province, said he saw more than 300 children on Sunday and all had various conditions such as malaria, diarrhoea and skin diseases. “These all are water-borne diseases. You see standing water in the flooded areas where osquitoes are rampant and people don’t have clean drinking water and they walk in the contaminated water and drink the same water. Everything is so bleak,” Ali said.He added that a large part of the population was affected and this was on a large scale.“Sadly, the government is not active in a way that it should be as we have not seen such disasters before. The National Disaster and Management Authority is also not playing an active role. We will see a bigger disaster in the shape of diseases in near future if the government stays inactive,” Ali warned.Many flood-affected victims in Larkana said they were living in the constituency of the foreign minister, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, and he had not visited them. They asked for his help for their children.Jaffarabad, one of the most affected towns in Balochistan, which along with Sindh are the worst-hit provinces, represents the same bleak image where children are falling sick.

Typhoon Muifa Hits Another Vessel -The shipyard where the jack up installation vessel Voltaire is being built was hit by Typhoon Muifa on September 14-15, Jan De Nul Group has revealed. The eye of the typhoon passed over the yard, causing the vessel to come loose from its moorings, Jan De Nul Group noted. “Fortunately, no one was injured,” the company said in a statement posted on its website. “Voltaire is now safely moored back in the shipyard and first sight assessments show limited damage to certain parts of the crane and the helideck. Further assessments are ongoing,” the company added in the statement. On September 16, Kosmos Energy revealed that the Greater Tortue Ahmeyim floating production, storage and offloading vessel drifted approximately 655 feet off the quayside as a result of Typhoon Muifa. According to a weather tracker on the AccuWeather website, Muifa started off as a tropical depression in the Philippine Sea on September 6, before turning into a typhoon on September 9. It then turned into a severe tropical storm on September 14 and a tropical depression on September 16, according to AccuWeather. Jan De Nul Group launched the Voltaire back in January at the COSCO Shipping Shipyard in Nantong, China, describing it as a next-gen offshore jack-up installation vessel for offshore renewables and decommissioning. In a company statement at the time, Jan De Nul Group noted that the vessel would be the second and largest jack-up vessel in the company’s fleet. Four “giant” legs of 426 feet support the vessel to achieve stable working conditions at “unsurpassed” water depths up to 262 feet and with an elevated load of 16,000 tons, Jan De Nul Group outlined at the time. Jan De Nul Group describes itself as an expert in offshore, marine, civil, environment and project development..

.Widespread flooding and damage after the worst September storm since the 1970s hits Alaska, U.S. - (video) Remnants of Typhoon “Merbok” slammed into western Alaska, U.S. on September 16 and 17, 2022, bringing significant storm surge and high winds to the region. This was the worst September storm to hit Alaska since the 1970s. The flooding and wind damage affected 50 communities, impacting airports, roadways, buildings and bridges. Described by weather authorities as ‘historic’ and ‘the worst-case scenario’ – the storm caused widespread flooding, power outages, and damage to buildings, roads and other infrastructure. Damage reports include many communities along more than 1 600 km (990 miles) of coastline, including Hooper Bay, Nome, Unalakleet, and Shaktoolik in Western Alaska.1 Water levels in Nome rose 3 to 4 m (10 – 13 feet) above normal, flooding the region as far as 100 km (62 miles) from the coast – the highest level of storm surge in more than 50 years surpassing previous record-level flooding in 2011 and 1974. A vital 100 km (62 miles) highway connecting Nome and Council along the shore of the Bering Sea sustained major damage with large sections of the road flooded or completely destroyed. Hooper Bay experienced some of the worst damage, with much of the community under several feet of water, according to local officials. Mike Dunleavy, Governor of Alaska, declared a disaster on September 18 and the State of Alaska has formed an emergency operations center to respond. The Alaska Department of Transportation & Public Facilities (Alaska DOT&PF) said it received reports of significant erosion, some experiencing over 30 m (100 feet) of shoreline loss, including Shaktoolik, Nome, Newtok, Scammon Bay, and Tununak. “We also have airports in several communities with lighting systems out due to community-wide power outages. (Shaktoolik, Scammon Bay, and Newtok are all locations where we are assessing runway damages).”

As massive storm batters Alaska coastal towns, residents are evacuated, widespread flooding reported - CBS News A massive, potentially record-breaking storm brought major flooding and damage to coastal towns in Alaska Saturday, and some residents were evacuated. Gov. Mike Dunleavy said he "verbally declared" a disaster for communities impacted by the storm.The center of the storm was making its way up the Bering Strait Saturday afternoon, the National Weather Service said. On Alaska's western coast, the towns of Nome, Hooper Bay, Skaktoolik, Kotlik and Nunam Iqua were all hit hard by the storm, according to the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities (ADOT&PF). The governor said on Twitter that there had been no reported injuries as of Saturday morning. "We will continue to monitor the storm and update Alaskans as much as possible," he tweeted. A news briefing was scheduled for 7:30 p.m. local time Saturday night. The state had also established an emergency operations center. Rep. Mary Peltola also tweeted Saturday afternoon, asking that Alaskans "please be safe and seek shelter. It's imperative we all look out for each other and keep each other safe. We will get through this, but stay safe." In the town of Golovin, major flooding was reported early Saturday, according to the National Weather Service, and forecasters warned it would only get worse. The town could see an additional 1 to 2 feet of water by the day's end. The Old Golovin Airport was under water, according to ADOT&PF. "Water is surrounding the school, homes and structures are flooded, at least a couple homes floating off the foundation, some older fuel tanks are tilted over," the weather service's office in Fairbanks tweeted.Photos from the weather service showed the high water levels there.Wales – the westernmost town in both Alaska and the U.S., located on the Bering Strait coast – was seeing flooding in "low lying areas," the weather service reported."Water levels will peak this afternoon with the high tide, then gradually fall through Sunday," the weather service tweeted.Another town, Shaktoolik, reported coastal flooding, with water "entering the community and getting close to some homes," according to the weather service. Residents there were evacuated to a school and clinic. Shaktoolik was also expected to see the worst of the storm later in the day.According to the weather service, the water level in Nome rose above 10 feet Saturday, and is expected to continue to rise.The weather service also shared footage from a webcam in Unalakleet, comparing an average day in the town against the scene there Saturday morning.As of Saturday afternoon, large swaths of the state's western coast were under coastal flooding and high wind warnings. The weather service said flood warnings would remain in effect for several areas through Sunday night, while the wind warnings were expected to expire by Saturday night. The weather service said the Yukon–Kuskokwim Delta would see a "smaller surge" during high tide in the afternoon and evening hours Saturday.The "highest water levels are expected from Kipnuk north to Newtok," the NWS tweeted. A coastal flood warning was extended for that region through 10 p.m. Saturday. The weather service shared peak reported wind gusts as of 8 a.m. local time — the highest recorded was 91 mph in Cape Romanzof. Several other towns, including Golovin, saw winds topping 60 mph.

Storm Surge in Alaska Pulls Homes From Their Foundations - The New York Times — Communities along Alaska’s western coast faced widespread flooding on Saturday as a powerful storm — the remnants of Typhoon Merbok — roared across the Bering Sea, with wind gusts tearing the siding off buildings and a storm surge pulling homes from their foundations. The impact was felt across hundreds of miles of coastline as the storm raked the state from south to north. In Nome, raging waters pushed into six of the city’s streets, including part of Front Street, near where mushers finish the Iditarod sled-dog race. In Chevak, about 200 miles south, images showed sheds floating in tumbling waves next to sunken boats. In Golovin, about 70 miles east of Nome, Dean Peterson said water had jumped the 20-foot berm that protects the community of 170 people, rushing through the lower-lying areas, pulling three homes from their foundations and destroying another. People in the community scrambled to rescue an older adult from his home, and many evacuated to take shelter in the school, which itself was not fully protected. “The school is completely surrounded by water,” Mr. Peterson said. He said he did not know of any injuries. John Handeland, the mayor of Nome, said Saturday afternoon that there were no reports of injuries in his community, but that the storm surge had flooded several roads, pushing driftwood and debris into town. An unoccupied home was taken by the waters, and one waterfront road was at least partially washed away. “It will be a few days before we can totally analyze the level of destruction,” he said. On Saturday morning, water levels were seven to nine feet above normal in Nome, where the population is less than 10,000, according to the National Ocean Service, a division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Coastal flood warnings in some areas remained in effect through Sunday morning, National Weather Service officials in Alaska said. In the Koyuk area, about 130 miles east of Nome, water levels could still reach 12 to 18 feet above normal tide lines, they said. Forecasters said the storm’s size and strength made it one of the most powerful systems to move through the Bering Sea area in decades, with waves north of the Aleutian Islands peaking at 50 feet on Friday. Many communities experienced wind gusts that were close to hurricane strength. Brian Brettschneider, a climatologist based in Anchorage, said global warming had likely contributed to the severity of the storm. The explosive development of storms this far north is atypical, he said, because water temperatures are normally too cold to allow tropical cyclones to form. “There’s a strong argument to be made that climate change tipped the scales to favor this storm,” he said. Sea surface temperatures recorded along Alaska’s western coast were at or near record highs, Mr. Brettschneider said. “We can say that climate change will increase the likelihood that all these ingredients are in place at the same time,” he said, “and it’s not unreasonable to assume these types of storms will become more frequent.” Emergency responders from local, state, federal and tribal agencies were assessing the situation and preparing to deploy. The region includes many communities with small populations — a few hundred people or less — and that are not connected by roads, making a broad response challenging.

Western Alaska confronts damage after historic storm - The Washington Post - Floodwaters began receding in Alaska on Sunday, revealing the damage after the remnants of a typhoon lashed the state with its fiercest storm in years.The full extent of the storm’s impact may not be clear for days, but residents across the state’s low-lying western coast are still grappling with water damage, power outages and other hazards. The impacted areas span well over 1,000 miles of coastline, including “some of the most remote areas of the United States,” according to Jeremy Zidek, public information officer with Alaska’s Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.“It’s a very large area and the damages across that area really vary quite a bit,” Zidek said. “Access to these areas is very difficult.”The storm is still ongoing in the northwest part of the state, Zidek said. No injuries or fatalities tied to the storm have been reported yet, but Alaska state troopers are conducting a search for a young boy missing from Hooper Bay, one of the heavier-hit villages.For years, scientists have expressed concern that climate change has set the stage for greater impacts from large nontropical cyclones in Alaska. Warmer summers and oceans have caused a greater-than-normal seasonal loss of sea ice, which makes the region more vulnerable to ocean inundation.Gov. Mike Dunleavy (R) declared an emergency Saturday in the face of the “unprecedented” storm. Communities along the low-lying western coast saw severe flooding and violent winds.Roads — of which there few in the region — have been battered and washed away. The storm surge knocked out lines of communication, prompted evacuations and wrenched homes from their foundations. One unoccupied house drifted until it got stuck under the Snake River Bridge.The tide gauge in Nome, which is known for being the endpoint of the famed Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, showed water levels more than nine feet above normal levels early Saturday, exceeding the peak seen during ferocious storms in 2011 and 2004, according to the National Weather Service. A fire broke out Saturday at the Bering Sea Bar and Grill in Nome amid the heavy winds. An offshore ocean buoy reported waves at or above 35 feet for 12 hours, peaking at more than 50 feet, while winds gusted over 70 mph for 11 hours. Dozens of small, primarily Indigenous communities dotting the coast face unique challenges as they try to recover from the damage before winter comes, according to Rick Thoman, a climate specialist at the International Arctic Research Center.

8 million ordered to evacuate as Typhoon Nanmadol slams Japan --Powerful Typhoon Nanmadol is on a path that will put the entire country of Japan at risk for life-threatening impacts, including widespread flooding, damaging winds and coastal inundation early this week. AccuWeather meteorologists warn that lives and property will be at risk throughout the country as the typhoon, which as of late Sunday, local time, was the equivalent strength of a Category 3 major hurricane (maximum sustained winds of 111-129 mph or 178-208 km/h) on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale, slams southern Japan early this week. As of Sunday evening, local time, more than 8 million people have been ordered to evacuate in southern and western mainland Japan, according to NHK World. Nanmadol made its initial landfall in southern Kyushu, the southernmost island of mainland Japan, on Sunday. At the time of landfall, the typhoon had a central pressure of at least 27.61 inches of mercury (935 millibars). This pressure reading launched Nanmadol into the history books as one of the top five strongest storms to make landfall in Japan since record-keeping began in 1951. As it continues its trek over southern mainland Japan, Nanmadol's wind intensity will lessen, but its rain impacts are expected to remain a significant threat through the early week. "Nanmadol is expected to bring torrential rain, damaging winds and dangerous seas to the Ryukyu Islands this weekend and this will shift to mainland southern Japan by Sunday and Monday, local time," AccuWeather Meteorologist Rob Richards said. The Ryukyu Islands and southern mainland Japan are in line for a tropical deluge with rainfall amounts of 8-12 inches (200-300 mm) anticipated and an AccuWeather Local StormMax™ of 36 inches (900 mm). This can trigger extensive flooding as well as mudslides in the mountainous terrain. These areas that will be in closest proximity to the storm's center will face the highest risk of destructive winds. "Wind gusts of 100-120 mph (160-190 km/h) with an AccuWeather Local StormMax™ of 140 mph (225 km/h) are expected," Richards said. Significant tree and power line damage are anticipated with these gusts, and structural damage can also occur. Experts strongly discourage people from venturing out during the height of the storm as flying debris can turn into deadly projectiles. Those indoors should stay away from glass windows. "Major flooding and potential damage to infrastructure will be likely due to these rain and wind impacts. Dangerous seas will also cause shipping problems across this part of the basin," Richards said. Coastal locations in the Kyushu province that lie to the east of the center of the storm will be at greatest risk of facing inundation from storm surge. Due to the anticipated damaging winds, flooding rainfall, dangerous storm surge and a number of other economic factors, Nanmadol will be a 4 on the AccuWeather RealImpact™ Scale for Tropical Cyclones in Japan. After the typhoon sweeps through southern Japan, the storm is likely to lose wind intensity and become a tropical storm as it passes across or just north of Honshu, Japan's main island, by Monday night or Tuesday, local time. AccuWeather meteorologists say this loss in wind intensity will decrease the amount of wind damage across the balance of mainland Japan but will not lower the flooding risk. Most central and northern portions of the island can anticipate at least 2 inches (50 mm) of rain from the storm, leading to incidents of flooding and disruptions to all modes of transportation. For a time earlier in the weekend, Nanmadol was classified as a "very strong" typhoon by the Japan Meteorological Agency, the authority for the basin.On Friday and early Saturday, the Joint Typhoon Warning Center classified it as a "super typhoon." While the storm lost this designation late Saturday, local time, it remained a powerful force of nature. Nanmadol was only the second storm this year in the basin to grab the super typhoon label. The first super typhoon of the year occurred earlier this month as Hinnamnor raged in the basin. Nanmadol will be the third blow from a tropical cyclone in less than a month for Japan. In late August into early September, Super Typhoon Hinnamnor slammed Okinawa before bringing severe impacts to South Korea. More recently, Typhoon Muifa made landfall over Japan's Ishigaki Island on Monday, Sept. 12, before it targeted China and pounded Shanghai.

Nanmadol hits Kyushu as 4th strongest typhoon in the recorded history of Japan - (videos) Typhoon “Nanmadol” made landfall in Kyushu, Japan on September 18, 2022, with maximum sustained winds of 175 km/h (110 mph) and a central pressure of 935 hPa, making it the 4th strongest typhoon on record to make landfall in Japan. Historical records there date back to 1951. An estimated 9.5 million people have been advised to evacuate their homes ahead of the landfall. Weather stations in Kyushu recorded more than 500 mm (19.69 inches) of rain in 24 hours on September 18; and about 1 000 mm (39.3 inches) from September 15 – 18 in Misato Town, Miyazaki – more than twice its average for the entire month of September. Nanmadol caused widespread floods and landslides, in which 2 people lost their lives, 1 person went missing and more than 100 were injured. More than 340 000 people were left without electricity. After traveling along the Sea of Japan coast, the typhoon moved through the northeastern region of the country’s largest main island of Honshu early Tuesday, September 20, with the JMA warning of strong winds, high tides and potential landslides in areas already hit by heavy rain.1 Landslides and a fallen bridge were confirmed in mountainous regions of Miyazaki, while part of the Hikone Castle structures, designated an important cultural property, in Shiga Prefecture was found damaged, the Mainichi reports. The typhoon wrought damage in Morotsuka, a village located in the mountainous regions of Miyazaki, which was similarly battered in a typhoon in September 2005 and had spent about 10 years to complete elevation work.

Typhoon Nanmadol: Severe power outages as storm travels towards Tokyo - More than 300,000 households across southwestern Japan have been left without power after Typhoon Nanmadol made landfall late on Sunday, prompting local authorities to issue a “special warning” urging residents to seek shelter from the powerful storm. The storm is now moving north across Japan’s third largest island, Kyushu, and is expected to bring about strong rains throughout the week, Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) said Monday. Close to 10 million people in Kyushu were advised to seek shelter in sturdy buildings or move to higher ground in advance of the storm’s arrival Sunday. Such advisories are not mandatory and in the past authorities have struggled to encourage people to leave their homes. On Sunday, Kyushu authorities took the unusual step of issuing a rarely used “special warning” in the hope of conveying the seriousness of the threat posed by the storm. A “large-scale disaster” could be also be imminent with extensive flooding and landslides, JMA warned. “The highest level of vigilance is required for rising water levels and flooding of rivers, landslide disasters and flooding of lowlands,” it said on Sunday. Several prefectures which include the cities of Fukuoka and Nagasaki, have been without electricity since the arrival of the typhoon on Sunday, said the Kyushu Electric power company. At least 17 people so far have been injured from the typhoon, authorities added. Nanmadol is the 14th typhoon Japan has experienced this year and comes after the country grappled with record setting heatwaves in June that caused massive power outage to millions of residents in the capital Tokyo and high numbers of heatstroke among the vulnerable elderly. Nanmadol is expected to travel to central Japan toward Tokyo over the coming days and will maintain much of its strength as it moves, experts warned. Ferries and bullet train services, as well as hundreds of flights have been canceled across the country due to the dangerous weather.

Hurricane Fiona deluges Puerto Rico; Typhoon Nandamol hits Japan » Yale Climate Connections -Hurricane Fiona overcame the dry air and wind shear that had been stifling it to become the third hurricane of this year’s Atlantic season on Sunday in the waters just south of Puerto Rico. As of 11 a.m. EDT on Sunday, September 18, Fiona was packing top sustained winds of 80 mph and moving west-northwest at 8 mph, about 50 miles south of Ponce, Puerto Rico. Fiona is a relatively large hurricane, so winds close to hurricane strength were already affecting Puerto Rico at midday Sunday. Sustained winds of 62 mph, gusting to 75 mph, were reported at Las Mareas on the southeast coast. As Fiona clips the western end of Puerto Rico on Sunday afternoon and evening, it will put the island squarely on its stronger right-hand side, heightening the risks of wind and water. Much of the island can expect at least tropical storm-force winds sustained at 40 to 60 mph, enough to bring down trees and power lines. Puerto Rico is in a fraught multiyear process of upgrading its electrical grid, which remains compromised after the devastating impacts of Hurricane Maria in 2017 and a sequence of earthquakes in western Puerto Rico in late 2019 and early 2020. The lights went out on Saturday during a Fiona briefing from the governor, an unsettling harbinger of the power issues that could face many residents post-Fiona. As of 1 pm. EDT Sunday, reported that about 40% of the island’s customers were without power. UPDATE: Shortly after 1 p.m. an island-wide power outage hit Puerto Rico.Flash floods and mudslides are the biggest immediate threat from Fiona. Because of Fiona’s relatively slow forward speed of 8 mph, rainfall totals of 10 to 20 inches will be widespread across Puerto Rico, and localized totals could top 25 inches where Fiona’s strong southerly winds hit the mountainous terrain. The wind threat is less across the eastern Dominican Republic, but rainbands on the west side of Fiona could bring pockets of 4 to 12 inches there.Fiona’s rains have already caused havoc in the Leeward Islands; St. Claude Matouba Irfa, in the mountains in southwestern Guadeloupe, measured a 24-hour rainfall total of 19.85 inches (504.2 mm) on Saturday. One death on Guadeloupe is being blamed on flooding from Fiona. The track forecast for Fiona is much more straightforward now that the hurricane has consolidated. Fiona will undergo a classic recurvature over the next several days, first going through the Mona Passage between Hispaniola and Puerto Rico on a northwesterly track, and then arcing northward and northeastward over time. Forecast ensemble members overwhelmingly agree on the recurvature, allowing residents of the U.S. East Coast to breathe more easily.People in Bermuda need to take Fiona quite seriously. From Monday into Tuesday, the arcing path of Fiona will take it over an area of very warm sea surface temperatures (SSTs) that are 29-30 degrees Celsius (84-86°F), or about 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7°F), warmer than average. These warm waters extend to unusual depth with high heat content, as shown in Figure 1, preventing cold water from being upwelled to dent Fiona’s strength. Despite moderate wind shear of around 15 knots, and an atmosphere that is only moderately moist (mid-level relative humidity of around 60%), Fiona could intensify dramatically, as the environment will gradually moisten and the wind shear will be largely aligned with Fiona’s motion. The DTOPS intensification index from the 12Z Sunday SHIPS model predicted a 51% chance that will Fiona will gain 30 mph of sustained wind by Monday morning.

Hurricane Fiona sweeps away a bridge in Puerto Rico after causing 'catastrophic' flooding: video -Hurricane Fiona struck Puerto Rico on Sunday, causing massive flooding and an islandwide blackout.The storm made landfall along the extreme southwestern coast of Puerto Rico at 3:20 p.m., with winds up to 85 miles per hour, according to the National Hurricane Center.The storm swept away a bridge in the town of Utuado in central Puerto Rico. It was erected after Hurricane Maria struck in 2017, theAssociated Press reported, citing the police."These rains will produce life-threatening and catastrophic flash and urban flooding across Puerto Rico and the eastern Dominican Republic, along with mudslides and landslides in areas of higher terrain," the hurricane center said on Sunday.Hundreds of people have been evacuated or rescued across Puerto Rico as floodwaters submerged cars, the ground floor of buildings, and an airport runway, the AP reported."The damages that we are seeing are catastrophic," said Governor Pedro Pierluisi, per the AP.Grid operator Luma said on Sunday the storm contributed to an islandwide blackout. The company said later it's in the process of restoring power. Tropical storm and hurricane conditions are likely to continue in parts of Puerto Rico until Monday morning, the hurricane center said. Hurricane conditions are also expected in parts of the eastern Dominican Republic on late Sunday and Monday, and in the Turks and Caicos on Tuesday, it added.

Hurricane Fiona knocks out power in all of Puerto Rico - After passing over the island of Guadalupe, the eye of Tropical Storm Fiona, now a Category 1 hurricane, entered southern Puerto Rico Sunday with steady winds of about 80 miles an hour and gusts of more than 100 miles an hour in a radius of 30 miles from the center of the storm (in the southwest region), and tropical storm conditions in a radius of 140 miles, the rest of the Island. The capital city of San Juan recorded 70-mile-per-hour gusts at its airport. Electricity has been knocked out for the entire island, leaving the US territory of 3.2 million people in the dark. Fiona landed in Puerto Rico on September 18, two days before the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Maria, a Category 4 hurricane that left hundreds of dead and destroyed thousands of homes. It is expected that Fiona, though not as strong as Maria, will result in devastating flooding. Already there have been reports of washed out roads and bridges that are isolating towns. The Spanish language Miami Herald (El Nuevo Herald) reported that on the first day of the storm, 1033 people sought refuge in 105 public shelters in 77 municipalities. Many others are in basements and with neighbors and friends. Winds have blown roofs off of many homes, according to social media reports. Electricity provider LUMA Energy formally shut down power to 1.5 million households on Sunday afternoon, though many of those households had already lost power earlier in the day. A LUMA statement indicates that, as a consequence of the storm, “weather conditions are very dangerous and make it very difficult to make a good evaluation,” predicting that it may take several days to completely restore service. The US National Hurricane Center (NHC) warned that between 12 and 30 inches of rain would fall on southern and eastern Puerto Rico, causing catastrophic flooding, coastal flooding, and sudden mudslides, conditions that may result in lives lost. According to the NHC, the Grande de Loiza River and the Cagüitas River in northern and central Puerto Rico have already flooded. Reports in Social Media also indicate that other rivers are also flooding in the southern region of the island, flooding roads. Hurricane Fiona’s impact on Puerto Rico will be all the more devastating at a time in which the island is still in the process dealing with three major shocks: the COVID-19 pandemic, the considerable damage inflicted by Hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017, and the ongoing effects of the island’s financial bankruptcy. An average of 1,143 COVID-19 cases per day were reported in Puerto Rico in the last week. Since the beginning of the pandemic, at least 1 in 3 residents have been infected, a total of 980,975 reported cases. At least 1 in 668 residents have died from the coronavirus, for a total of 5,071 deaths. Five years after Hurricanes Irma and Maria damaged more than 700,000 homes (60 percent of the total), reconstruction is still on the agenda for the working class and poor. Alongside new, unaffordable and unoccupied housing, there is a critical shortage of modest and public housing, as well as a shortage of Section 8 vouchers. Furthermore, a significant number of households live in floodplains, waiting for the destruction brought about by new storms and hurricanes. Schools, clinics, hospitals, bridges and highways across the island are also still waiting to be rebuilt. Puerto Rico’s electricity grid, almost completely destroyed by Irma and Maria, leaving thousands of Puerto Ricans without power for months, was never fully rebuilt and remains very fragile to this day. In April of this year, an island-wide blackout caused by a fire in an electric plant lasted several days. Finally, the government of Puerto Rico is carrying out austerity policies mandated by the Fiscal Oversight and Management Board’s plan of adjustment recently approved by the courts and creditors. The 25-year Plan of Adjustment is meant to subordinate the living conditions of Puerto Rican workers to the profit interests of creditors and banks.

Puerto Rico crippled by flash flooding and power failures as Fiona heads toward Bermuda » Yale Climate Connections - Hurricane Fiona made landfall on the southwestern corner of Puerto Rico at 3:20 p.m. EDT Sunday as a category 1 storm with 85 mph winds. Though Fiona arrived as “only” a Cat 1, the impacts from Fiona’s rains have been catastrophic – characteristic of a major hurricane – with widespread rainfall amounts of 1-2 feet causing devastating flooding. Multiple locations in Puerto Rico recorded more than 20 inches of rain in the 24 hours ending at midnight Sunday. According to the National Weather Service, the Puerto Rico record for 24-hour rainfall is 23.75 inches, set at Toro Negro Forest on October 7, 1985, during the passage of a tropical wave that later became Tropical Storm Isabel. The National Weather Service reported that Fiona brought 22.00 inches during the calendar day Sunday to a COOP site (Adjuntas). Rain gauges near Ponce reported 21.09 inches and near Caguas reported 20.62 inches respectively. The Caguas rain gauge recorded an astonishing 27.14 inches of rain in the 24 hours ending at 10:15 a.m. EDT Monday, which if confirmed would set a new 24-hour rainfall record for Puerto Rico.As of 11 a.m. EDT Monday, the National Weather Service reported that three rivers in Puerto Rico were at major flood stage, and at least 10 rivers have been at major flood since Sunday, with several exceeding their all-time record water levels set in 2017 during Hurricane Maria.While rain has been the main story with Fiona, the hurricane also brought high winds that caused significant tree and power line damage. Winds gusted as high as 103 mph at the Ponce Yacht and Fishing Club shortly before 2 p.m. EDT Sunday, and to 113 mph inland at higher elevations at Yauco in southwestern Puerto Rico. Arriving on top of ongoing problems with Puerto Rico’s power grid, Fiona’s winds and flooding were likely responsible for an island-wide power outage that began near 1 p.m. EDT Sunday. As of 10 a.m. EDT Monday, was reporting that 90% of the island was still without power. Since wind damage will be less with Fiona than with Maria, power in larger cities may be restored more quickly this time, but prolonged outages are still quite possible, especially in remote areas where flooding will make access difficult. Approximately 25% of the island’s population was also without water, as of 8 a.m. EDT Monday.

‘Catastrophic’ damage, power outages as storm pummels Puerto Rico - Puerto Rican Gov. Pedro Pierluisi said Monday that Hurricane Fionahas caused “catastrophic” destruction in urban areas, killing at least two people and leaving nearly the entire island archipelago without power.The slow-moving storm dumped over 32 inches of rain near Ponce, Puerto Rico’s second largest city, according to a rain gauge maintained by the U.S. Geological Survey. Downpours capable of producing flash floods were expected to continue well into Tuesday, according to officials and radar readings. The governor estimated “billions” in damage.Federal Emergency Management Agency chief Deanne Criswell is expected to travel to Puerto Rico on Tuesday. Her visit will coincide with the five-year anniversary of Hurricane Maria, the Category 4 storm that left Puerto Rico in the dark for months, killing more than 3,000 people. The federal government set aside billions for reconstruction, but the sluggish recovery has left the territory’s communities vulnerable. • Luma Energy, the private consortium managing Puerto Rico’s electric transmission and distribution, said it has restored power to 100,000 customers in the northern part of the big island. Flooding has severely impacted the water system, leaving about 750,000 without service. Pierluisi said he has been in touch with President Biden and government leaders in New York, New Jersey and California to coordinate assistance with the recovery. The National Guard has activated 600 soldiers throughout Puerto Rico in rescue operations. Emergency responders have rescued around 1,000 people. Fiona is expected to strengthen and become a major hurricane as it leaves the U.S. territory and the Dominican Republic, where it made landfall Monday morning.After millions of people in Puerto Rico lost power during Hurricane Fiona, the government set up a website for residents to access information about the conditions and other resources.The rain from Hurricane Fiona isn’t yet over in Puerto Rico and rainfall totals continue to climb into staggering territory.A rain gauge maintained by the U.S. Geological Survey near Ponce, Puerto Rico’s second largest city, has registered a storm total of 32.1 inches through 5 p.m. Monday.It is one of several gauges to post over 20 inches from the storm. The heaviest totals have concentrated in southern and eastern Puerto Rico.Even though the core of Fiona has pulled well to the northwest of Puerto Rico and storm warnings have been discontinued, its circulation continues to drag rain bands over the island which are forecast to continue into Tuesday. Some spots could still add a few inches to current totals.

Fiona leaves floods, power outages in Puerto Rico - Hurricane Fiona smashed through Puerto Rico on Monday with pounding rain and winds that triggered mudslides, "catastrophic" flooding and a power outage that swept across the entire island. Hundreds of thousands lacked running water.More than 1,000 water rescues were performed and more were underway, Gov. Pedro Pierluisi said. Even as the storm made landfall Monday in the Dominican Republic, it continued to slam Puerto Ricowith unrelenting rains -- more than 30 inches in southern parts of the island.The National Weather Service in San Juan urged residents to move to higher ground "immediately.""Heavy rainfall and catastrophic flooding continues across much of Puerto Rico," said Richard Pasch, a specialist with the National Hurricane Center.Authorities reported two deaths in Puerto Rico – one a 58-year-old man swept away by a flooded river in the inland town of Comerio and another one a 70-year-old man burned while trying to operate a generator. Another death was reported in the Dominican Republic, where a person was hit by a falling tree. The Aqueduct and Sewer Authority said more than 800,000 customers – two-thirds of the homes and businesses – were without drinking water service. The entire power grid across the U.S. territory went down Sunday afternoon before the storm made landfall, leaving everyone without electricity.Less than 10% had regained power Monday, and power distribution company LUMA Energy warned that it could take several days to fully restore electricity because of the outage's magnitude.In an effort to restore power, LUMA and other power distribution companies worked to recover services to over 200,000 customers around the island late Monday."We have the equipment, tools and resources to respond to this event," the company said.The Dominican Republic government reported one death from falling trees because of the storm, which prompted at least four international airports to shut down, but by late afternoon Fiona was moving away from land. It could strengthen into a major hurricane by Tuesday.In Puerto Rico, National Guard and Municipal Emergency Management personnel were helping with evacuations and water rescues in several communities of severely damaged Salinas in the south, Mayor Karilyn Bonilla Colón said. She urged residents to stay in their homes or shelters. The southern city of Ponce, the largest population center outside the San Juan metropolitan area, also experienced major flooding."Lands are saturated, rivers are overgrown, areas are flooded areas, and streets are still impassable," Bonilla Colón said. "Please stay safe and consider the first responders and rescue personnel who have done a titanic job to save lives."

Fiona becomes a Category 4 hurricane, expected to hit Atlantic Canada as a powerful hurricane-force cyclone - Fiona strengthened into a Category 4 hurricane at 06:00 UTC on Wednesday, September 21, 2022, while moving away from the Turks and Caicos islands. The center of Fiona will continue to move away from the islands today, and approach Bermuda late on Thursday. The system is expected to affect portions of Atlantic Canada as a powerful hurricane-force cyclone late Friday and Saturday. Heavy rain will continue impacting the islands through tonight, with additional flooding possible, NHC warns. Tropical storm conditions are possible on Bermuda by late Thursday (LT), September 22. At 06:00 UTC on September 21, the center of Hurricane “Fiona” was located about 170 km (105 miles) N of North Caicos and 1 215 km (755 miles) SW of Bermuda.1 The storm had maximum sustained winds of 210 km/h (130 mph) and minimum central pressure of 13 km/h (8 mph). Additional strengthening is forecast through tonight, with some fluctuations in intensity possible tonight and Thursday. Fiona is moving toward the north near 13 km/h (8 mph) and this general motion is expected to continue through today. A turn toward the NNE, with an increase in forward speed, is expected by Thursday. On the forecast track, the center of Fiona will continue to move away from the Turks and Caicos today, and approach Bermuda late on Thursday. Gusty winds are likely to continue over portions of the southeastern Bahamas and Turks and Caicos islands overnight. Tropical storm conditions could reach Bermuda by late Thursday or early Friday. Swells generated by Fiona are affecting the northern coast of Hispaniola, the Turks and Caicos Islands, and the southeastern and central Bahamas. These swells will continue to spread westward across the southwestern Atlantic toward the northwestern Bahamas and the east coast of the United States during the next day or two. Swells from Fiona are expected to reach Bermuda by early Thursday, causing life-threatening surf and rip current conditions. Fiona is expected to affect portions of Atlantic Canada as a powerful hurricane-force cyclone late Friday and Saturday, September 23 and 24, and could produce significant impacts from high winds, storm surge, and heavy rainfall, NHC said. This year, water temperatures have been running 5 to 10 °C (10 – 20 °F) higher than average over the North Atlantic, especially just south of Atlantic Canada, and those warmer-than-usual waters may result in less weakening of the hurricane or a slower transformation to a rainstorm, AccuWeather meteorologists said.2 A dip in the jet stream over eastern Canada late this week will likely allow Fiona to take a path into the Gulf of St. Lawrence, western Newfoundland, or possibly northern Nova Scotia from Friday night to Saturday. Should the storm track into the Gulf of St. Lawrence, high water levels and significant coastal flooding can occur in the region, and the storm could make a mess for maritime operations in the region. “Fiona will bring widespread power outages due to high winds, flooding due to torrential rain and isolated storm surge and massive seas offshore and in the Gulf of St. Lawrence,” AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist and Canada Weather Expert Brett Anderson said. Strong winds from Fiona over the North Atlantic just south of Newfoundland and the Gulf of St. Lawrence can allow swells to build to 12 m (40 feet) or higher.

Many across Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic remain without power and running water as the storm churns toward Bermuda — More than a million people in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic are without power or running water again Thursday as crews work to repair critical utilities disabled by Hurricane Fiona, which is now a Category 4 monster heading toward Bermuda. The first major hurricane of this year’s Atlantic season has killed at least five people across the Caribbean: one in Guadeloupe, two in Puerto Rico and two in the Dominican Republic. “This was something incredible that we’ve never seen before,” Ramona Santana in Higüey, Dominican Republic, told CNN en Español. “We’re in the streets with nothing, no food, no shoes, clothes, just what’s on your back. … We don’t have anything. We have God, and the hope help will come.” Now packing sustained winds of 130 mph, the center of Fiona is due to pass just west of Bermuda early Friday, with conditions starting to deteriorate Thursday, said CNN meteorologist Robert Shackelford. The island nation is under a hurricane warning; Americans are warned not to travel there, and relatives of US government personnel may leave, the State Department said. “The National Hurricane Center is certain that Bermuda will experience tropical-storm-force winds,” Shackelford said. “Once Fiona passes by Bermuda, the storm is forecast to impact Nova Scotia by Saturday afternoon.” The Canadian Hurricane Centre has issued a hurricane watch for Nova Scotia from Hubbards to Brule, Prince Edward Island, Isle-de-la-Madeleine, and the coast of Newfoundland from Parson’s Pond to Port aux Basques. Hurricane Fiona “could be Canada’s version of Sandy,” Canadian forecasters warned, comparing the size and intensity as well as the combination of a hurricane and a more winter-like storm such as a nor’easter. A tropical storm watch has also been issued for several coastlines in Atlantic Canada, including from west of Brule to Cap Madeleine, Quebec, and Anticosti Island. Residents in Atlantic Canada need to be prepared for a long period of utility outages and structural damage to buildings, according to Environment Canada, Canada’s national weather service. Meanwhile, a developing storm poised to be named Hermine could become a monstrous threat to the US Gulf Coast by next week, forecast models showed. In Puerto Rico, where Fiona delivered flooding rains and an islandwide blackout as it made landfall Sunday, more than 450,000 people lacked or had intermittent water service, according to the government’s emergency portal system. As of Thursday, 495,000 customers, about 38%, have electricity in Puerto Rico, according to LUMA Energy, which operates the island’s power grid. About 890,000 customers, or 67% of all users, now have running water, according to Puerto Rico Aqueduct and Sewer Authority Executive President Doriel Pagán Crespo.

Hurricane Fiona pounding Bermuda before setting sights on Canada - Fiona, a Category 3 hurricane, pounded Bermuda with heavy rains and winds early Friday as it swept by the island on a route forecast to have it approaching northeastern Canada late in the day as a still-powerful storm. Authorities in Bermuda opened shelters and closed schools and offices ahead of Fiona. Premier David Burt sent a tweet urging residents to "take care of yourself and your family. Let's all remember to check on as well as look out for your seniors, family and neighbors." The Canadian Hurricane Centre issued a hurricane watch over extensive coastal expanses of Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland. The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said Fiona should reach the area as a "large and powerful post-tropical cyclone with hurricane-force winds." "It's going to be a storm that everyone remembers when it is all said and done," said Bob Robichaud, warning preparedness meteorologist for the Canadian Hurricane Centre. Meanwhile, CBS News weather producer David Parkinson is pointing to Tropical Depression 9, which he says was given that tag early Friday by the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami. Parkinson says models show it moving over Cuba as what would be named Hurricane Hermene, then rapidly intensifying before making landfall on Florida's Gulf Coast, likely mid-week, then perhaps crossing Florida and heading up the U.S. East Coast. Early Friday, the system was some 615 miles east-southeast of Kingston, Jamaica. The hurricane center says Hermene could wind up as a strong Category 2 hurricane, meaning its winds would be up to 110 mph. The U.S. hurricane center said Fiona had maximum sustained winds of 125 mph early Friday. It was centered about 155 miles northwest of Bermuda and 765 miles south-southwest of Halifax, Nova Scotia. It was heading north-northeast at speedy, for hurricane, 21 mph. Hurricane-force winds extended outward up to 115 miles from the center and tropical storm-force winds extended outward up to 345 miles.

Atlantic Canada braces for Fiona: ‘It’s going to hit us in the face.’ - The hurricane that left 3.2 million people without power in Puerto Rico is expected to strike Atlantic Canada hard this weekend.  “This storm is going to hit us, folks,” Halifax Mayor Mike Savage said Thursday. “It’s going to hit us in the face.” Hurricane Fiona is expected to run into a trough of eastward-moving low pressure, whisking together to make an “extremely strong and dangerous storm” for eastern Canada, said Canadian Hurricane Centre meteorologist Bob Robichaud. Fiona is expected to be a post-tropical storm by the time it reaches the region by Saturday. “That does not mean a weaker storm,” Robichuad warned. “That just means that the structure of the storm is different than a pure tropical system.” Modeling suggests Fiona will make landfall in Nova Scotia, touching eastern parts of the province, including Cape Breton, before moving into the Gulf of St. Lawrence. “We are very concerned about what Fiona is going to do in Atlantic Canada,” said Jonathan Porter, chief meteorologist for AccuWeather. “This is going to be a ferocious storm across Atlantic Canada.” Preparations have been underway for days. Residents in the region have been told to expect fierce winds, downed trees and power outages. Nova Scotia Power said it will activate its emergency operations centre Friday morning in anticipation of the province’s first hurricane of the season. “We are taking every precaution and will be ready to respond to Hurricane Fiona as safely and efficiently as possible,” said Sean Borden, the electric utility’s storm lead. Provincial officials have advised residents to be ready with a three-day emergency supply of water, food, clothing, first aid supplies, batteries, flashlights and blankets all packed in a bag or container, ready to go if there’s an evacuation order.

Fiona Makes Landfall in Canada, Causing Widespread Power Failures - Post-Tropical Cyclone Fiona was bringing heavy rains and hurricane-force wind gusts to eastern Canada on Saturday after making landfall in Nova Scotia before dawn, forecasters said.As of 8 a.m. Eastern, Fiona was about 200 miles northeast of Halifax and producing maximum sustained winds of 85 miles per hour, according to the National Hurricane Center in the United States. It was moving north at 23 m.p.h., and its center was over the Gulf of St. Lawrence.The storm had been downgraded to a post-tropical cyclone from a Category 3 hurricane on Friday, but such storms can still be powerful and destructive.More than 400,000 people were without power in Nova Scotia as of 9 a.m. on Saturday, according to Nova Scotia Power.A patchwork of hurricane, wind and tropical storm warnings were in effect early Saturday across parts of Atlantic Canada and eastern Quebec.The Canadian government said, just before 9 a.m. Eastern, that parts of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island had already received nearly five inches of rain. And at 8 a.m., the U.S. hurricane center said flooding was expected there and in western Newfoundland, and predicted multiple inches of rain in Labrador and eastern Quebec.Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada delayed a trip to Japan scheduled for Saturday because of the storm. “It’s going to be a bad one,” Mr. Trudeau said at a news conference on Friday.The storm was expected to weaken later in the weekend, the Canadian Hurricane Center said in a separate advisory on Saturday morning.Fiona was forecast to bear down on Labrador and the Labrador Sea on Sunday. A storm surge was expected in parts of Nova Scotia, western Newfoundland and the Gulf of St. Lawrence.Forecasters were also monitoring three other weather systems in the Atlantic on Saturday, including Tropical Storm Ian, which could threaten Florida as a major hurricane early next week. It was about 300 miles south-southeast of Jamaica’s capital early Saturday, and it was expected to strengthen over the central Caribbean Sea.In Bermuda on Friday, officials and residents were beginning to assess Fiona’s impact. The island’s weather service said some areas had experienced hurricane-force winds, including a 100-m.p.h. gust on the western side of the island. As of Saturday morning, nearly 8,000 people were without power across the island, according to Belco, Bermuda’s sole supplier of electricity. Jonathan Smith, an author and a former Bermuda police commissioner, said that the island had avoided the worst of the storm. “We were just at the fringe of sustained hurricane-force winds,” he said as he tended to damage at one of his buildings. “Had Hurricane Fiona tracked just 20 to 50 miles further east, this would have been a very destructive encounter.”

Ferocious Fiona batters Canada with hurricane-force winds, heavy rain - Fiona transitioned into a post-tropical cyclone Friday evening as it slammed into the Canadian Maritimes with hurricane-force winds, torrential rainfall and significant storm surge. The threat of the powerful storm prompted Hurricane and Tropical Storm Warnings to be issued for hundreds of miles of coastline from New Brunswick and Nova Scotia to Newfoundland and eastern Quebec. Fiona was the strongest hurricane of the 2022 Atlantic basion season and at one point was a Category 4 with sustained winds around 140 mph. The National Hurricane Center said the storm system had sustained winds of around 105 mph and a pressure of 933 millibars, making it one of the strongest cyclones to ever impact the eastern parts of the country. As of Saturday afternoon, Hurricane Fiona was centered around 100 miles west-northwest of Port Aux Basques, Newfoundland. The cyclone is racing northward around 25 mph with winds at 80 mph. Wind gusts as high as 93 mph were clocked in Bermuda on Friday morning as Fiona passed by to the west. Hurricane Fiona is captured on video slamming Bermuda early Friday morning with strong winds and heavy rain. Gusts were clocked on the island reaching 93 mph. The Canadian Hurricane Centre has issued various Hurricane Warnings, Tropical Storm Warnings and Tropical Storm Watches across Atlantic Canada. These warnings and watches include parts of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, Prince Edward Island and eastern Quebec.

Fiona washes houses away, knocks out power in Canada (AP) — Fiona washed houses into the sea, tore the roofs off others and knocked out power to the vast majority of two Canadian provinces Saturday as it made landfall as a big, powerful post-tropical cyclone. Fiona transformed from a hurricane into a post-tropical storm late Friday, but it still had hurricane-strength winds and brought drenching rains and huge waves. There was no immediate confirmation of fatalities or injures. Ocean waves pounded the town of Channel-Port Aux Basques on the southern coast of Newfoundland, where entire structures were washed into the sea. Mayor Brian Button said Saturday over social media that people were being evacuated to high ground as winds knocked down power lines. "We've already had houses … that are washed away," he said. Button said anybody who has been told to leave their home needs to leave. "I'm seeing homes in the ocean. I'm seeing rubble floating all over the place. It's complete and utter destruction. There's an apartment that is gone, that is literally just rubble," said René J. Roy, a resident of Channel-Port Aux Basques and chief editor at Wreckhouse Press, said in a phone interview. Roy estimated between eight to 12 houses and buildings have washed into the sea. "It's quite terrifying. I'm seeing coastal erosion. I see a house dangling out in the middle of air," Roy said. Jolene Garland, a spokeswoman for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Newfoundland and Labrador, said a woman was safe after being "tossed into the water as her home collapsed" in the Channel-Port Aux Basques area. She said authorities received a report of another individual being swept out to sea but conditions were too dangerous to immediately confirm or respond. Garland described extreme weather conditions along the southwest coast of Newfoundland that included "high winds, high waves, flooding and electrical fires." Multiple structures have been destroyed by high seas, she said The Royal Canadian Police said the town of 4,000 is in a state of emergency as authorities deal with multiple electrical fires and residential flooding.More than 415,000 Nova Scotia Power customers — about 80% of the province of almost 1 million — were affected by outages Saturday morning. Over 82,000 customers in the province of Prince Edward Island, almost the entire province, were also without power, while NB Power in New Brunswick reported 44,329 were without electricity.

Fiona, a record-setting storm, leaves path of destruction in eastern Canada - (video) Post-tropical storm Fiona made landfall early Saturday morning, bringing severe wind, heavy rain, and leaving hundreds of thousands without power across eastern Canada. According to the Canadian Hurricane Centre, the storm made landfall early Saturday morning over eastern Guysborough County, N.S. As it passed over Hart Island, the storm has an unofficial recorded pressure of 931.6 — making Fiona the lowest pressured storm on record to make landfall in Canada. The fierce storm toppled a number of trees across the region, with some falling into power lines, cars and houses, and there have been multiple reports of blocked and washed out roads as crews begin assessing damage in areas where the storm has already passed. More than 415,000 Nova Scotia Power customers were affected by outages Saturday morning — almost 80 per cent of the homes and businesses it serves. According to the Nova Scotia Power outage map, about 367,000 customers are still without power as of 4 p.m. Over 82,000 customers in the province of Prince Edward Island were also without power, while NB Power in New Brunswick reported 44,000 were without electricity. As of 3 p.m., Fiona was over the eastern Gulf of St. Lawrence and was expected to track northeastward Saturday evening, before turning more northward tonight to reach the Quebec lower north shore and southeastern Labrador by late overnight. “Severe winds are still occurring over Prince Edward Island, Cape Breton Island, western Newfoundland, and portions of eastern Quebec,” the Canadian Hurricane Centre said. “There are also large waves, especially for the southwest coast of Newfoundland, Atlantic coasts of Nova Scotia, and eastern portions of the Gulf of St. Lawrence. There is storm surge occurring for parts of Nova Scotia, the Gulf of St. Lawrence and western Newfoundland.” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pledged the federal government’s help on Saturday to areas feeling the “terrible impact” the storm. “This is a very powerful and dangerous storm,” he said. Earlier in the day, Trudeau convened an Incident Response Group meeting with Emergency Preparedness Minister Bill Blair and other officials and during his address to the nation said the government will be there for Canadians impacted by the storm. He will make his way to the impacted areas when it is possible to do so. “The last thing I want to do is displace any of the extraordinary emergency teams and authorities who are rightly focusing on everything needed on the ground,” said Trudeau. A state of emergency was declared in the Newfoundland town of Port aux Basques, with Mayor Brian Button saying some houses have been washed away amid high winds and surging seas. At least two Port aux Basques residents were reported to have been swept away from their homes into the ocean as the storm battered the region Saturday morning.

Tropical Storm “Ian” forms in the Caribbean Sea, heading toward the Cayman Islands, Cuba and Florida, U.S. - Tropical Storm “Ian” formed over the central Caribbean Sea at 03:00 UTC on September 24, 2022, as the 8th named storm of the 2022 Atlantic hurricane season. The system is strengthening on its way toward the Cayman Islands, Cuba, and Florida, U.S. At 12:00 UTC on September 24, the center of Tropical Storm “Ian” was located about 485 km (300 miles) SSE of Kingston, Jamaica, and 915 km (570 miles) SE of Grand Cayman.1 The storm had maximum sustained winds of 75 km/h (45 mph) and a minimum central pressure of 1004 hPa. It was moving WSW at 24 km/h (15 mph). On the forecast track, the center of Ian is forecast to move across the central Caribbean Sea today, pass southwest of Jamaica on Sunday, September 25 and pass near or over the Cayman Islands Sunday night and early Monday. A Hurricane Watch is in effect for the Cayman Islands. A Tropical Storm Watch is in effect for Jamaica. It is expected to produce heavy rainfall and instances of flash flooding and possible mudslides in areas of higher terrain, particularly over Jamaica and Cuba. Hurricane conditions are possible in the Cayman Islands by early Monday, with tropical storm conditions possible by late Sunday. Tropical storm conditions are possible in Jamaica on Sunday. Early next week, Ian is forecast to move near or over western Cuba as a strengthening hurricane and then approach the Florida peninsula at or near major hurricane strength, with the potential for significant impacts from storm surge, hurricane-force winds, and heavy rainfall. While it is too soon to determine the exact magnitude and location of these impacts, residents in Cuba, the Florida Keys, and the Florida peninsula should ensure they have their hurricane plan in place and closely monitor forecast updates through the weekend, NHC said.

Tropical Storm Ian could strengthen to Category 4 hurricane as nears Florida - A tropical storm that is currently on track to make landfall in Florida next week as a hurricane could strengthen into a Category 4 storm, the latest forecast shows. Tropical Storm Ian formed over the central Caribbean Sea late Friday, becoming the ninth tropical storm of the season. The storm is expected to continue to strengthen over the weekend into a hurricane by Sunday night as it approaches the Cayman Islands. A hurricane watch is currently in effect for the Cayman Islands. Ian is forecast to strengthen into a Category 2 hurricane as it closely passes the Cayman Islands, then become a major Category 3 hurricane early Tuesday as it moves past Cuba. Very warm ocean waters and low wind shear are providing favorable conditions for rapid intensification of the storm, which is projected to become a Category 4 storm by Tuesday afternoon. The current forecast track shows landfall on the west coast of Florida or the Florida Panhandle by midday Thursday, though the track and intensity of the storm can still change over the coming days. Increased wind shear could help weaken Ian before it makes landfall, though it is still too early to determine by how much. "With majority of west coast in the cone, uncertainty of landfall remains high," the National Weather Service said.The National Hurricane Center has advised residents of Cuba, the Florida Keys and the Florida peninsula to have a hurricane plan in place and closely follow forecast updates. In preparation for the storm, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis issued an executive order Friday declaring a "state of emergency" for 24 Florida counties in the system's potential path. He expanded the order on Saturday to include the entire state of Florida, with conditions "projected to constitute a major disaster."

Africa: After the drought comes the flood - The flooding in Nigeria is extreme. Houses have been swept away, more than 300 lives have been lost and more than 100,000 people are displaced, according to the authorities. The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) says the floods are the worst in decades and has warned that the situation could deteriorate further. Speaking after an emergency meeting on Monday, NEMA Director General Mustapha Habib Ahmed said the flooding was a result of regular rains since July. The Niger River and its largest tributary, the Benue, have been carrying immense amounts of water. Experts say that several dams in Nigeria and neighboring Cameroon could overflow in the coming weeks. Large swathes of arable land are already flooded. A group of people standing near flood waters Experts are warning that floods could exacerbate hunger in Nigeria Warnings come too late Three of Nigeria's northern states are particularly affected by the flooding: Yobe, Adamawa and Borno. Yerma Ahmad Adamu, a senior physician at Yerma Memorial Hospital in Maiduguri, the capital of Borno State, is dissatisfied with the government's response. map showing Nigeria with the affected Borno State Flooding has hit northern Nigerian states particularly hard, with neighboring Cameroon also affected The call by NEMA and neighboring states for people to evacuate to high-lying places and stockpile foodstuffs came too late, Adamu said in a DW interview. Authorities had warned of the floods six months ago, Adamu said. But concrete forecasts about the extent were lacking, although they would have helped those now affected to prepare better. "People need to boil water, and health centers should have zinc oxide ready — that's given to children and adults to protect them from diarrhea — plus a combination of salt and water," the physician told DW.

Roads turn into raging rivers as heavy rains hit Spain - (videos) Heavy rainfall hit parts of Spain on September 23, 2022, causing severe flash floods and turning roads into raging rivers. The worst affected was Tarragona. The Catalonia Meteorological Service said it recorded more than 100 mm (3.93 inches) of rain on September 23, while local rescue crews responded to more than 750 calls for help, including 460 for flooding. Many cars were swept away, while in some cases, flood waters completely submerged them and entered homes.

Eruption at Lipad mud volcano, Malaysia - (videos) The Malaysian Lipad mud volcano erupted at around 10:00 LT on September 18, 2022, creating a spectacular view. Similar eruptions at the volcano took place in 2014 and 2019. Lipad is the largest and best-known mud volcano in the Tabin Wildlife Reserve, said Dr. Mark Tingay, geomechanics and pore pressure specialist. Eruption volume was estimated at 16 500 m3 (583 000 ft3), covering an area of about 5 500 m2 (59 200 ft2) in an average 3 m (10 feet) thick mudflow, Tingay said. This is a natural occurrence and is no cause for concern, said Dr. Felix Tongkul, a volunteer with Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) as an Honorary Professor of Geology. The eruption was rapid, like in the video footage, for about 2 minutes, then slow for about 10 minutes. Mud was spewed to a height of about 6 m (20 feet).

Very strong M7.6 earthquake hits Colima-Michoacan bordered region, hazardous tsunami waves possible, Mexico - A very strong and shallow earthquake registered by the USGS as M7.6 hit the Colima-Michoacan border region, Mexico at 18:05 UTC on September 19, 2022. The agency is reporting a depth of 15 km (9 miles). EMSC is reporting M7.6 at a depth of 25 km (15 miles).The epicenter was located about 37.2 km (23.1 miles) SE of Aquila (population 1 740), 46.7 km (29 miles) SSW of Coalcomán de Vázquez Pallares (population 10 784), 90 km (55.9 miles) SE of Tecoman (population 85 689) and 110.3 km (68.5 miles) SSE of Colima (population 137 383), Mexico.66 000 people are estimated to have felt very strong shaking, 756 000 strong, and 1 699 000 moderate.Based on the preliminary earthquake parameters, hazardous tsunami waves are possible for coasts located within 300 km (186 miles) of the earthquake epicenter, PTWC said.Landslides triggered by this earthquake are estimated to be significant in number and (or) spatial extent.Liquefaction triggered is estimated to be limited.

Asteroid 2022 SK4 flew past Earth at just 0.039 LD - the closest flyby of the year - A newly-discovered asteroid designated 2022 SK4 flew past Earth at a distance of just 0.039 LD / 0.0001 AU (14 863 km / 9 272 miles) at 21:41 UTC on September 19, 2022. This is the 79th known asteroid to fly past Earth within 1 lunar distance since the start of the year and the 4th so far this month. It is also the closest flyby of the year, after 2022 FD1 on March 25 at just 0.04 LD. 2022 SK4 was first observed at SONEAR Observatory, Brazil on September 20, one day after the close approach. The object belongs to the Aten group of asteroids, and has an estimated diameter between 2.3 and 5.1 m (7.5 – 16.7 feet).

Duke Energy Is Leaking a Potent Climate-Warming Gas at More Than Five Times the Rate of Other Utilities - —Four thin, metal cylinders containing the world’s most potent greenhouse gas stand lashed to the base of a Duke Energy substation on a quiet country road. The tanks are made to hold sulfur hexafluoride (SF6), an electrical insulator that was once used to fill race car tires, tennis balls and even Nike Air Max shoes. A single pound of SF6 heats the planet as much as 25,200 pounds of carbon dioxide and remains in the atmosphere for 3,200 years according to the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. SF6 is one of several long-lived, synthetic, fluorine-containing chemicals that are released by heavy industry, chemical manufacturers, semiconductor-makers and electric utilities according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA, which does not regulate emissions of any of these potent greenhouse gases, notes that once they are released, they are “essentially permanent additions to the atmosphere.” How a Successful EPA Effort to Reduce Climate-Warming ‘Immortal’ Chemicals Stalled In 2020, Duke Energy, which provides electricity in six states, leaked nearly 11 metric tons of SF6 into the atmosphere from its electric substations in North and South Carolina alone, more than any other utility in the nation, according to mandatory reports the company files with the EPA each year, reviewed by Inside Climate News. The emissions were equal to the annual greenhouse gas emissions of more than 59,000 automobiles, according to the EPA’s greenhouse gas equivalency calculator. Jeff Brooks, a spokesperson for Duke Energy, based a half-hour south of here in Charlotte, said a possible reason the company’s emissions were higher than all other utilities in 2020 may be a reflection of how often Duke Energy inspects equipment and refills leaked gas relative to other companies. If, for example, Duke Energy only refilled leaked gas on an individual piece of equipment every five years while other companies refilled leaked gas every two years, Duke would report five years worth of emissions for that piece of equipment for the year it was refilled, while other companies would only report two years worth of emissions, Brooks said. Under such a scenario Duke Energy would likely have years of low emissions punctuated by a single year of high emissions. However, this is not the case. SF6 emissions from Duke Energy’s North and South Carolina electric utilities have been the highest of any electric power company in the country for six of the last seven years, according to company data reported to the EPA. While other utilities have participated for decades in a voluntary program with the EPA to reduce SF6 emissions to next to nothing, Duke Energy has not. Duke Energy’s leak rate in North and South Carolina, where it reports combined emissions from subsidiaries Duke Energy Carolinas and Duke Energy Progress as a single entity, was 5.2 percent in 2020, or more than five times higher than the average leak rate of utilities that participate in the EPA’s voluntary emissions reduction program.Based on emissions data Duke Energy reported to the EPA, the two utilities emitted 119 tons of SF6 in the last decade alone, the greenhouse gas equivalent of more than half a million automobiles over a one-year period.

 How a Successful EPA Effort to Reduce Climate-Warming 'Immortal' Chemicals Stalled - When Sally Rand, a former EPA official, used to meet with industry executives to discuss an obscure, but incredibly potent and long-lived group of greenhouse gases, she knew how to get their attention. “I call[ed] them ‘the immortals,’” Rand said. “It sort of resonated. It’s like, look, every time it goes up, it’s gonna be there for all the rest of time.” Rand was talking about a class of fluorinated gases that remain in the atmosphere for thousands of years. The man-made chemicals—sulfur hexafluoride (SF6), tetrafluoromethane (CF4) and hexafluoroethane (C2F6)—are released by the aluminum, magnesium, semiconductor and electric power industries. The gases, which remain largely unregulated, stay in the atmosphere for anywhere from 3,200 years in the case of SF6, to 50,000 years for CF4. Once they are released, they are “essentially permanent additions to the atmosphere,” the EPA notes.The collective emissions are small, about half of 1 percent of all greenhouse gases released each year. But because of their long atmospheric lifetimes, those emissions add up. “One pound becomes two pounds, and two pounds becomes three pounds,” Rand said. “At least with CO2 and methane, you can say, ‘Well, the atmospheric lifetime is kind of within a time horizon that you can get your mind around,’ but these are just forever.” Voluntary efforts to limit the emissions of these long-lived gases began in the mid to late ‘90s and enjoyed initial success. Emissions of each pollutant dropped by approximately 50 percent or more in the first decade. But by 2016, three of the four industry partnerships covering the production of aluminum, magnesium and semiconductors were shut down as the agency’s priorities shifted elsewhere. The fourth, the SF6 Emission Reduction Partnership for Electric Power Systems, is still officially active, but the EPA issued its last annual report on the program in 2015.“Resource priorities shifted, and it was because of success,” said Rand, who led the EPA’s industry partnerships focused on long-lived fluorinated gases. “When I left there just weren’t as many people working on these programs.” Rand, who retired in 2016, said many of the people who worked on F gases shifted to efforts to reduce methane emissions. “There’s just a lot out there to be done,” she said.Now, Rand and other former EPA officials who oversaw these programs in the 1990s and early 2000s say it’s time to re-engage industry and redouble efforts to eliminate the remaining fluorinated gas emissions.

We will all die if we continue like this’: Indigenous people push UN for climate justice - As the United Nations General Assembly opens this week in New York, Indigenous people are taking to the streets, and waters, of New York to protest for climate justice and call on world leaders to recognize Indigenous rights. Starting Saturday, activists have protested in front of consulates, projected images of deforestation on buildings in midtown, sailed down the Hudson and East Rivers, and held a die-in in front of the New York Stock Exchange. “Every day we see violence increasing, Indigenous Peoples being murdered and the destruction of our territories happening at an accelerated rate,” said Dinaman Tuxá, Executive Coordinator at Articulation of Indigenous Peoples of Brazil (APIB), a national organization that unites Indigenous communities in support of their rights. “We demand the immediate demarcation of our lands and full protection of our rights and lives, as this is the only way in which we can continue to contribute to the fight against the climate crisis.” APIB members focused their attention on President Jair Bolsonaro, who is in New York to make an address before the General Assembly and has pushed for development of the Amazon at the expense of Indigenous people. From 2019, when Bolsonaro took office, to 2021, Brazil lost over 13,000 square miles of Amazon forest. In just the first six months of this year, 1,500 square miles of forest were destroyed, the highest ever for that time period. Bolsonaro’s policies have also led to increasing violence against Indigenous land defenders–last year at least 27 people were killed protecting their territories. “Further allowing deforestation puts biodiversity, the lives of Indigenous Peoples and traditional communities, and the global climate at risk,” said Carol Pasquali, Executive Director at Greenpeace Brazil, which helped organize the protest. “World leaders must be accountable and put people and the planet first always.”Indigenous activists are also using this week to push world leaders on concrete climate actions. Led by the Pacific Islands Students Fighting Climate Change (PISFCC), boats filled with activists sailed down the Hudson and East Rivers in New York to call on world leaders to support their calls for climate justice. Indigenous people from Pacific Islands are often the most affected by rising sea levels and other climate impacts despite minimal contributions to the crisis, but have limited influence on the international level. “Our traditional knowledge is interrelated with our lands and this climate change is threatening to take this away, but we in Vanuatu will not be passive victims,” said Arnold Kiel Loughman, Attorney General of the Republic of Vanuatu, an island nation in the South Pacific Ocean. “We will do everything we can to defend the human rights of our people.”Vanuatu and PISFCC are calling for the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to issue an advisory opinion on climate change – non-binding legal advice provided to the United Nations which carries significant weight internationally. As of 2017, only 28 advisory opinions have been requested, on subjects ranging from use of nuclear weapons to United Nations expenses. To date, the International Court has never heard a case on climate change. Advocates say the issuing of an opinion would put pressure on member states to review their policies and commitments, including strengthening the Paris Agreement by clarifying state’s obligations toward climate goals, and affirming Indigenous rights in the fight against climate change. For that to happen, the General Assembly must vote to send the case to the ICJ, which organizers believe is likely. Vanuatu and PSIFCC are calling for that vote and rallying support among countries through both diplomatic channels and public campaigning.

Biden meets with U.K. leader under cloud of climate skepticism - President Joe Biden celebrated his climate victories at the United Nations on Wednesday. Then he sat down with British Prime Minister Liz Truss, who is staffing the highest ranks of her new government with officials who reject climate science. The meeting of the U.N. General Assembly in New York offered Biden an international stage to tell world leaders that he had delivered on his boldest climate pledges. He called them a “global game changer.” Not long after, Biden had his first bilateral meeting with Truss, who is building a Cabinet of officials who have rejected basic climate science, worked to block clean energy installations and claimed that climate policy will harm people financially. Since becoming prime minister earlier this month, Truss has pledged to reverse a 2019 fracking ban and approved a large expansion of oil and gas leasing. She stepped into the role amid an energy crisis, fueled by skyrocketing natural gas prices as a result of Russia’s war in Ukraine. Concerns about climate change were threaded through the speeches of other world leaders at the U.N. this week, but Truss only commented on “energy security” during her meeting with Biden. “We want to work more closely with the United States, especially on energy security, on our economic security, but also in reaching out to fellow democracies around the world to make sure that democracies prevail and we protect the freedom and future of our citizens,” she said. The bilateral meeting comes at a pivotal moment for international climate policy. After decades of setbacks in the United States, the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act last month — and forthcoming regulations that will curtail methane emissions from oil and gas production, vehicle emissions, and carbon dioxide from power plants — puts the U.S. on track to cut its greenhouse gases in half by the end of the decade. At the U.N. meeting, Truss did not mention climate change. But during her campaign, Truss, who once worked as a manager at Shell PLC, the British oil and gas giant, pledged to uphold the country’s 2050 net-zero carbon target. Now her early actions are raising doubts among advocates. Truss has long criticized wind turbines and solar projects. When she was environment minister under former Prime Minister David Cameron, she cut funding for solar farms and claimed, without evidence, that they harmed agricultural production. One of Truss’ first appointments as prime minister was Jacob Rees-Mogg, to head the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. Rees-Mogg, who will lead the government’s climate change strategy, said recently that he wants to extract “every last drop” of oil from the North Sea. In a 2013 opinion piece in The Telegraph newspaper, Rees-Mogg attacked policies that would shift the British economy toward renewable energy, claiming that it would send the British people “back to living in the stone-age by reducing people’s use of energy.” “It is widely accepted that carbon dioxide emissions have risen but the effect on the climate remains much debated while the computer modelling that has been done to date has not proved especially accurate,” he wrote. “Common sense dictates that if the Meteorological Office cannot forecast the next season’s weather with any success it is ambitious to predict what will happen decades ahead.” In fact, decades worth of climate modeling has been largely accurate and may have perhaps even underestimated heat records. The last seven years have been the hottest in recorded history, NOAA and NASA have determined. Truss’ new environment minister, Ranil Jayawardena, has supported the country’s robust offshore wind industry, but in a Facebook video posted last year he said the United Kingdom doesn’t need solar power. He then encouraged people to contact local leaders across the country to block solar projects.

Embattled World Bank leader 'slow-walking' climate initiatives - - World Bank chief David Malpass tried desperately Thursday to convince global leaders that he knows climate change is caused by burning oil, gas and coal. But, by then, the bank itself was under scrutiny for propping up fossil fuel production. “I am not a denier,” Malpass said during an appearance on CNN International. Later, in an email to staff, the World Bank president asserted that the comments he made earlier this week casting doubt on mainstream climate science were “incorrect and regrettable.” His efforts to escape the public perception that he’s a climate denier collided with growing concerns that the world’s top development bank is led by a Trump appointee who observers say has slow-walked the organization’s transition away from financing fossil fuel projects in some of the planet’s poorest nations. The World Bank’s board of directors voted nearly a decade ago to restrict coal financing to “rare circumstances.” Four years later, the bank announced plans to begin phasing out support for oil and gas projects in 2019. But that drilling restriction included a major loophole: “In exceptional circumstances, consideration will be given to financing upstream gas in the poorest countries where there is a clear benefit in terms of energy access for the poor,” the bank said at the time. Now the bank offers direct support for oil and gas production and indirect aid to coal projects through budgetary support to governments such as Indonesia, experts say. Fatih Birol, executive director of the International Energy Agency, said the World Bank and similar institutions have “not necessarily” fulfilled the critical role they play in accelerating the clean energy transition in developing countries. “I wish the board members of those multilateral development banks would put financing the clean energy transition in the emerging countries as an absolute priority to the managers there,” he said in an interview. “But where we stand today, I don’t see that it is happening.” Malpass’ comments reverberated into the highest echelons of geopolitics, with top leaders like climate envoy John Kerry warning that climate denial remains a potent ideology years after scientists have established that fossil fuel use worldwide is rapidly driving temperatures upward. “The science is clear,” Kerry said Thursday at the Global Clean Action Energy Forum in Pittsburgh. “We have to push back against those forces that are content to deny the reality of science.”

Burning world’s fossil fuel reserves could emit 3.5tn tons of greenhouse gas - Burning the world’s proven reserves of fossil fuels would emit more planet-heating emissions than have occurred since the industrial revolution, easily blowing the remaining carbon budget before societies are subjected to catastrophic global heating, a new analysis has found. An enormous 3.5tn tons of greenhouse gas emissions will be emitted if governments allow identified reserves of coal, oil and gas to be extracted and used, according to what has been described as the first public database of fossil fuel production. The database, which covers around three-quarters of global energy production, reveals that the US and Russia each have enough fossil fuel reserves to single-handedly eat up the world’s remaining carbon budget before the planet is tipped into 1.5C (2.7F) or more of heating compared to the pre-industrial era.Among all countries, there is enough fossil fuel to blow this remaining budget seven times over, propelling people and ecosystems into disastrous heatwaves, floods, drought and other impacts never seen before in human history. Governments have agreed to restrain global heating to 1.5C but have largely declined to actively halt new fossil fuel leases or extraction.“You’ve got governments issuing new licenses or permits for coal that are completely decoupled from their own climate commitments,” said Mark Campanale, founder of Carbon Tracker Initiative, which is launching the new Global Registry of Fossil Fuels with Global Energy Monitor on Monday.“It’s like a country announcing that they’re going on a climate change diet and they’re going to eat salad for lunch and then sneaking back to their office and working their way through a box of donuts,” he said. “You’re not on a diet if you’re stuffing your face with donuts, but that’s what’s happening with countries and their developers of fossil fuels.”For the world to have an even chance of avoiding 1.5C or more of global heating, scientists have estimated the world can only emit 400 to 500bn more tons of greenhouses gases. This would involve drastically cutting emissions by around half this decade before zeroing them out entirely by the mid point of the century.However, the US alone has the potential to release 577bn tons of emissions, most of that from coal, through its known fossil fuel reserves. While Joe Biden has presided over America’s first ever climate change legislation and vowed to tackle what he has called an “existential threat to humanity”, his administration has continued to hand out leases for oil and gas drilling, including in vast swathes of the Gulf of Mexico, site of the BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster.Of these reserves, 27bn tons of emissions are set to be released from approved American projects already under development, which include 33.2bn barrels of oil, according to the database.

Global emissions targets spell growth for CO2 tech sector - - Companies that produce technologies to remove or reduce carbon emissions are “poised for strong continued growth,” reaching an expected value of $1.4 trillion by 2027, according to new market research. The research report, recently released by the financial data firm PitchBook, predicts that the sector will be worth $905 billion by the end of this year. That makes the global climate tech sector relatively small — collectively worth less than electric vehicle maker Tesla. But PitchBook predicts that the emerging sector will enjoy an 8.8 percent growth rate over the next five years, “thanks to increasing global focus on aggressive emissions targets and consumer interest in emissions reduction.” That rate could also increase if there were “dramatic regulatory change or technological innovation” during that time, the report for investors said. The sector PitchBook analyzed is a broad one. It includes startups that capture or trade carbon dioxide, industrial and building firms with products that are less emissions-intensive than conventional ones, and land management companies that use or produce monitoring tools or low-emissions fertilizers. The most valuable group of companies in the space are ones working to reduce planet-warming emissions during construction and over the lifetimes of buildings. They are currently worth almost $459 billion and are expected to increase in value to $650 billion over the next five years, according to the report. That segment includes incumbents like building materials producers Holcim Group and HeidelbergCement, as well as startups like green construction firm Veev and energy efficiency company Resideo Technologies. The segment PitchBook calls “green industry” is focused on decarbonizing industrial production of chemicals and raw materials. It’s valued at more than $400 billion, according to the report. Notable firms include lithium battery recycler Redwood Materials and the mining company Lilac Solutions. PitchBook expects green industry to be the most valuable climate tech segment by 2027, with an estimated value of $657 billion. For those projections to play out, however, emissions pricing legislation like the European Union’s carbon border adjustment mechanism “will be critical to ensure that those providing green chemicals and materials are not at a disadvantage against foreign high-emissions products,” the report said.

Carbon pipeline companies respond to safety concerns - Last night we told you about concerns opponents to two carbon pipelines had about the safety of the projects.After a rupture in Mississippi in 2020, and a government report released this year, fears about carbon dioxide exposure have risen. The companies say there are really three main changes: Making sure the pipelines are built inside solid ground, working with first responders on how to evacuate the area, and using a central command center to immediately notify authorities if a rupture occurs.As a reminder, federal regulators found that the pipe in Mississippi was built on a steep embankment, and record rainfall caused the pipe to become exposed and break.Both Summit Carbon Solutions and Navigator CO2, the two local pipeline companies, say they’ll build their infrastructure to avoid difficult ground conditions. The federal government found the pipeline company in Mississippi failed to tell authorities what could happen if their pipe broke. The local pipeline companies say that won’t happen this time around.“There’s an awareness and an acknowledgment and plans in place with all of those teams so that you don’t have the surprises, frankly, that took place in Satartia (Mississippi),” said Elizabeth Burns-Thompson, the Vice President of Government and Public Affairs for Navigator CO2.In Mississippi, the company didn’t immediately notify first responders that a leak had occurred. The federal government’s report says no fatalities were reported, but 45 people sought medical attention at the local hospital.Here’s a spokesperson for Summit Carbon Solutions when asked if a potential leak could be dangerous.“It can be. And so one of the things that we’re in the process of doing is we’re doing computer modeling... what those risks are, what the area would look like, perhaps for, you know, some a dangerous area versus a nondangerous area,” said John Satterfield, director of Regulatory Affairs and Social Governance.Both pipeline companies say they’ll have a command center that can identify any leaks and manually turn off local valves. They also say they’re meeting with local emergency management personnel to explain the risks and develop charts that would show which way a carbon dioxide plume would travel.Safety aside, a spokesperson for Summit Carbon Solutions says over 50 percent of its track in Iowa is now under voluntary easement, but it’s unclear how much of the track will need to be finished using eminent domain.

Summit Carbon Solutions files for pipeline permit on part of Minnesota route - Summit Carbon Solutions, the company behind a plan to capture carbon emissions from ethanol plants in five states and pipe it to western North Dakota for storage, has filed for its first permits in Minnesota. Summit has filed documents with the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission for pipeline permits in Otter Tail and Wilkin counties. That portion of the pipeline would connect the Green Plains Ethanol plant in Fergus Falls, one of six Minnesota ethanol plants that are part of the project. The ethanol plant near Fergus Falls, Minnesota, is one of 32 plants on the Summit Carbon Solutions pipeline route. The pipeline would run west through Wilkin County, crossing into North Dakota south of Breckenridge, Minnesota. Application documents can be found on the PUC website ; the docket number is 22-422.The 28.1 miles of pipeline would cost $50 million to build, according to permit documents filed on Sept. 12. The Iowa-based company says it expects to start construction in the second half of 2023 and construction is expected to take about 10 months.

As farmers split from the GOP on climate change, they're getting billions to fight it -If you ask Iowa farmer Robb Ewoldt about the federal dollars he's received over the last few years to help make his land more sustainable, it's clear he's a big fan. "It works out really well in our operation," says Ewoldt, who farms corn and soybeans on "just shy of 2,000 acres" near Davenport, Iowa. "We see tremendous benefits in conservation, water quality and carbon sequestration." He's been involved with the Conservation Stewardship Program, or CSP, for about eight years now. The program aims to help farmers improve yields, increase the resilience of their fields to extreme weather and maintain and improve their conservation systems — such as no-till and cover crops. On his farm in that time, "soil health [has] improved to a point where we see a yield advantage in our farming practices. ...We can watch those yields go up year after year. That's where the real benefit comes in," he says. The government's conservation programs are meant to bolster farmers' response to climate change, as Ewoldt and others like him are forced to confront worsening droughts on the one hand, and unprecedented rainfall and flooding on the other. But even with billions more in federal assistance on the way, there is little sign the massive infusion of money from Democrats' recently passed Inflation Reduction Act will reshape politics in the solidly Republican state of Iowa, nor move the dial for farmers in other rural areas where the GOP maintains a seemingly irreversible foothold. The CSP was enacted as part of the 2008 Farm Bill, but the Biden administration's Inflation Reduction Act, passed by Democrats on a straight party-line vote, has added a whopping $20 billion to it and other conservation programs specifically aimed at helping farmers combat the effects of climate change. "This is a big chunk of funding relative to what they've had in recent years," says Cathy Day, climate policy coordinator with the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition. She says in the past, the programs have been stretched so thin that "we generally have somewhere in the range of 3 to 4 times the farmers applying compared to those who actually get contracts." The programs can have a huge impact for farmers and the environment, says Sara Nicholas, a policy strategist at the Pennsylvania-based nonprofit Pasa Sustainable Agriculture. She cites a 2015 study by the Natural Resources Defense Council showing that "for every additional 1% of organic matter that gets into the soil, which is what a lot of these CSP programs' practices are trying to do, those soils can capture an additional 20,000 gallons of rain per acre."

N.J. sets East Coast's largest offshore wind target -New Jersey plans to build more offshore wind than any other East Coast state, with a new target of developing 11 gigawatts by 2040. Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy established the new goal in an executive order Wednesday. It’s nearly a 50 percent increase over the state’s previous target of developing 7.5 GW — to power about 3.2 million homes — by 2035. The new goal also leapfrogs over New York’s target of 9 GW. Only California has declared it will develop more offshore wind, with a goal of 25 GW by 2045. Advertisement “This is an aggressive target, but it is an achievable one,” Murphy said Wednesday at a Climate Week event in New York City, where he initially announced the new goal. To date, the state has awarded contracts for over 3.7 GW of offshore wind projects, although all of the projects are still seeking federal permits. A third round of state awards is set to open in the second quarter of 2023. Murphy cited those contracts, along with technological advances on wind turbines, as evidence of the goal’s feasibility. The 11 GW target is in line with what energy officials have projected is necessary for meeting New Jersey’s climate goals, which include 100 percent carbon-free electricity by 2050. Offshore wind could contribute nearly a quarter of the state’s power by that date, under a least-cost scenario drawn up by state officials in a 2020 road map for New Jersey’s energy future. The new goal may exacerbate some challenges for the state as well. To plug so much wind power into the grid, officials may have to help plan a new multiproject transmission system — an idea that experts say will likely become necessary across the East Coast, due to limited interconnection points on shore. New Jersey was one of the first to pursue that transmission “backbone” when it reached an agreement with grid operator PJM Interconnection LLC last year. Developers in New Jersey may also have to contend with ongoing opposition from coastal towns and fishing interests, who see wind farms as a blight on viewsheds that has encroached on lucrative fishing grounds. And some green groups may sue the state over its plans for an offshore wind port on the Delaware River, citing perils to an endangered species of sturgeon (Greenwire Sept. 9).

Biden administration launches floating offshore wind initiative with 15 GW target by 2035 - The Biden administration on Thursday launched floating wind turbine initiative that includes leasing enough deep-water acreage to support 15 GW of floating offshore wind capacity by 2035. The administration also set a goal of cutting floating wind farm costs by more than 70% to $45/MWh by the middle of the next decade through the Floating Offshore Wind Shot effort. Clean energy advocates said the initiative would boost offshore wind development. “Paired with the recently enacted Inflation Reduction Act, these targets will dramatically reduce costs for offshore wind development, allowing deployment of clean energy at the scale needed to take action to address climate change,” American Clean Power Association CEO Heather Zichal said in a statement. There is about 1,500 GW of fixed-bottom offshore wind potential in the United States and 2,800 GW of floating offshore wind potential, according to a study by the National Renewable Energy laboratory. However, only about 40 GW of fixed-bottom offshore wind is under development in the United States and 0.1 GW of floating capacity has been deployed globally, according to the Biden administration. While the U.S. has been slow to develop fixed-bottom offshore wind, the Biden administration aims to be a leader in floating offshore wind technology by building on its previous goal of adding 30 GW of offshore wind by the end of this decade. The Floating Offshore Wind Shot, led by the departments of Energy, Interior, Commerce and Transportation, aims to slash the cost of floating wind technology. “Achieving this cost target will require focused research, development, and demonstration to catalyze continued cost reductions, with a focus on manufacturing, engineering, and continued increases of offshore wind turbine capacity,” the White House said. Bringing floating offshore wind technology to scale will unlock opportunities for offshore wind power off the coasts of California and Oregon, in the Gulf of Maine and elsewhere where the water is too deep for fixed-bottom wind farms, according to the White House.

Schools are harnessing solar power in record numbers -In 2014, two solar energy groups published a report finding that only about 3,750 U.S. schools — out of a total of roughly 130,000— were generating electricity from solar panels. But that number is on the rise. According to the fourth edition of the “Brighter Future” report,, released last week by the clean energy nonprofit Generation180, the number of U.S. schools using solar power has more than doubled in the last seven years, reaching roughly 8,400 by the end of 2021. These so-called “solar schools” now account for nearly 1 in 10 public, independent, and charter K-12 schools and serve more than 6 million students nationwide. Tish Tablan, director of Generation180’s Solar for All Schools program and lead author of the report, called the number “an incredible milestone.” As some schools build new rooftop and ground-based solar arrays, others are subscribing to community solar programs. In some cases, schools with solar panels are generating enough electricity to sell it back to their communities. Since 2015, American schools’ total solar energy capacity has nearly tripled to 1,644 megawatts — enough to meet the electricity use of all the households in a city the size of Boston, Denver, or Washington, D.C. At the front of the pack is California; the Golden State has both the greatest number of solar schools and the most solar capacity. It’s in fourth place for the percentage of schools that have solar power, trailing only Connecticut, Washington, D.C., and Hawai’i, where a full 40 percent of schools have adopted solar. And other states are making great gains — between 2019 and 2021, Washington state saw solar capacity grow more than eightfold, while Wisconsin, Illinois, Arkansas, and Virginia all at least doubled their installed solar capacity. According to Tablan, much of this growth has been enabled by third-party financing models like power purchase agreements, or PPAs. With these agreements, developers pay to install and operate solar panels, while schools buy the electric output for a predetermined amount of time. Developers benefit because the agreements allow them to take advantage of federal tax credits and provide a stable source of income. For schools, the agreements can slash thousands of dollars off their utility bills and remove up-front costs associated with solar installation — something that the Generation180 report says has been “critical” for solar expansion beyond the most affluent school districts. As of 2021, the report finds that 47 percent of the public schools with solar power are eligible for federal Title I Schoolwide Program funding, which indicates that at least 40 percent of their students come from low-income families. (As of 2019, 57 percent of all public schools nationwide are eligible for such funding.)

Rural Electric Co-ops Get a ‘Downpayment’ on the Renewable Future -With aging infrastructure, billions of dollars in debt tied to coal plants, and no access to federal tax incentives for renewable energy projects, the electric cooperatives that provide energy to most of rural America have been largely unable to transition away from fossil fuels. “We are just flat out never going to make the clean energy transition in rural communities without major federal intervention,” said Erik Hatlestad, the director of the Energy Democracy program at CURE, a rural environmental non-profit based in Minnesota. Now, that critical federal help is here in the form of the Inflation Reduction Act. Included in the sweeping $750 billion bill is $9.7 billion to help rural electric cooperatives transition to renewable energy sources. Although this funding makes up just 1.3% of the bill’s total cost, advocates say the investment is historic. “What is in the [Inflation Reduction Act] is a downpayment on the rural energy transition,” Hatlestad said. “It is by no means enough to fully transition every rural electric coop, but it is the largest single investment in rural electrification in history.” According to the text of the Inflation Reduction Act, the purpose of the funding is to provide federal financial assistance “to achieve the greatest reduction in carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide emissions associated with rural electric systems.” This means that rural electric cooperatives will be able to apply for loans from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to build new renewable energy systems, purchase renewable energy from other sources, and improve the energy efficiency of existing systems. The main goal of these provisions is to drastically reduce rural electric cooperatives’ continued reliance on fossil fuels. This is critical, as two-thirds of the energy produced by and for rural electric cooperatives comes from fossil fuels, according to Erik Hatlestad.

California is awash in renewable energy — except when it’s most needed - — As California suffered through an epic heat wave this month, state officials pleaded with residents to conserve electricity. Almost simultaneously, power grid operators were rejecting thousands of megawatts of solar and wind energy that could have provided a cushion to get through the crisis.The explanation illustrates one of the paradoxes confronting California as it rushes to transition to a clean-energy economy: The state has built up so much renewable energy production in recent years that it can rarely use it all during peak production hours. But it also doesn’t have enough storage capacity to hang onto it for when it might be needed.The result is that officials are frequently forced to jettison solar power production while the sun is shining, just hours before customer demand peaks in the late afternoon and evening. The same thing happens to a lesser extent with wind energy — and the issue is surfacing in multiple other states as well.“It all comes down to this problem of: It’s not how much energy we have, it’s the when and the where the energy is being produced,” said James Bushnell, an economics professor at the University of California at Davis. “Particularly the solar resources — it’s just in the wrong places and at the wrong times.”Some solar power operators accept the situation as the cost of doing business, because large plants can soak up more sun later in the day even if they’re overproducing during the sunnier hours. This can benefit consumers, who can see lower rates when solar is running, because it’s generally a cheaper energy source than fossil fuels. Defenders of the system say some inefficiency is to be expected as California embarks on the nation’s most ambitious transition to clean energy, and that eventually there should be enough battery storage to ensure excess power doesn’t go to waste.But solar and wind generation in California is at this point far ahead of storage capacity, and in some cases isn’t sited near adequate transmission lines. Batteries and transmission lines can be costly to build and find space for, feeding skepticism from the fossil fuel industry about green energy.The need to use not lose excess power was underscored during the record heat wave that broiled California for 10 straight days earlier this month, busting heat records as temperatures soared well past 100 degrees. Demand for energy spiked as residents hid indoors and blasted their air conditioners.State officials pleaded for conservation and issued daily alerts advising Californians to limit their power consumption from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. Officials urged residents to set their thermostats at 78 degrees during those hours and hold off on charging cars or using large appliances.Despite these efforts, on Sept. 6, the state set a record for power consumption — and came perilously close to imposing targeted blackouts to safeguard the energy grid, something that hasn’t happened in two years. State officials say they avoided blackouts that evening only by blasting an urgently worded emergency text message to residents, who responded by quickly curbing their energy use.

FERC meeting: Manchin bill, gas woes and cyber 'candy' - The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is ready to implement new authority outlined in Sen. Joe Manchin’s permitting bill, but it would be “foolish” for the agency to do so without state input, FERC Chair Richard Glick said yesterday. The “Energy Independence and Security Act” — which was introduced Wednesday by the West Virginia Democrat and backed by the White House — would allow FERC to issue permits for long-distance transmission lines determined to be in the national interest, something the commission has never done before. It would also give authority to FERC over pipelines that transport hydrogen gas, according to the bill text. The agency might need additional resources to carry out the new authority if Manchin’s permitting package is signed into law, Glick said, adding that he has not had a chance to read the legislation in detail. When it comes to transmission projects, however, state input will always be critical, he said. “We can’t move forward from a progress perspective on policy related to transmission just at FERC, and the states can’t do it alone. It needs to be done together,” said Glick, a Democrat. Glick’s remarks came immediately following FERC’s monthly meeting, where the five-person commission also proposed new incentives for utilities to address cybersecurity and rejected a bid from New York natural gas generators to overhaul the state’s capacity market. The commissioners also discussed energy challenges in New England and directed the grid operator in the region to change a winter reliability program that critics have called a giveaway to fossil fuel, nuclear and hydroelectric generators. Whether the permitting package will be enacted remains an open question, as some progressive Democrats and Republicans in the Senate have said they would not support it (E&E Daily, Sept. 22). But if it does become law, it would represent a significant step forward to spur the development of high-voltage power lines considered critical for the transition to cleaner energy, experts say. While the commission has long had permitting authority over interstate natural gas pipelines, it hasn’t had jurisdiction over multistate power lines, which generally need to be approved by every state through which they pass. The existing process can open up opportunities for the lines to be challenged in court or rejected by state regulators, observers say. In addition, regional transmission projects have sometimes failed to move forward because of state conflicts over who should pay for them. The permitting bill could address all of those issues, including by giving FERC eminent domain authority if necessary to advance projects on state lands.

Wood pellets may be hard to get this winter, and more expensive - The price hikes and supply crunches that have clobbered fuel supplies and raised prices throughout the world are starting to affect the one fuel we can call our own: Wood pellets. “There is quite a bit available right now but with the ongoing situation, there might be a rude awakening. … We’re preparing for the fact that we might not have all our brands available this winter,” said Lee Hughston, manager of Osborne Agway in Concord. The supply situation is dicey enough that the national Pellet Fuels Institute is cautioning users who depend on them to stock up soon. Hughston said Osborne Agway is giving the same message: “We encourage our regulars to do it early.” And even though there is no shortage yet, the possibility of one combined with pressure from high diesel prices and labor shortages is showing up in higher prices. “We used to have quarterly issues on pricing. Now the mill is calling essentially the first of each month … with $10 or more a ton or $20 a ton,” Hughston said. He pointed to local hardwood pellets, a staple of the New Hampshire market. “Right now it is $330 a ton, almost $50 higher than this time last year.” And more increases are likely. More pressure comes from increased demand. The sharp spike in the cost of heating oil, used by about 40% of New Hampshire homes, propane and electricity has raised interest in adopting at least supplemental heat from a pellet stove. “A lot of people are new, coming into it to get away from ‘Our electric bill has basically doubled in cost, oil has gone up.’ People are looking for alternatives,” said Kyle McGarr, assistant manager at Stove Barn on Loudon Road. “Last year, a lot of gas fireplaces were being sold; this year it has jumped from that to wood and pellet stoves.” The existence of a 26% federal tax credit for sufficiently good wood or pellet heating systems is also an incentive. The New Hampshire Department of Energy's Sustainable Energy Division also provides a rebate payment of 40% of the price of high-efficiency bulk-fed wood-pellet boilers and furnaces, capped at $10,000 for homes. But there’s a problem for these newbies: Many stove manufacturers are back-ordered, often by months. If you try to buy one now, one store manager cautioned, you may not get an installation until well into winter.

Future EVs should charge by day — study - Utilities think they’re doing the responsible thing when they ask their customers who have electric vehicles to plug them in at night. But a new study peers into the next decade and comes to the opposite conclusion. Most charging should happen during the day. Here’s why: The electric grid of 2035 could pulse with enormous quantities of solar power at midday, and electric cars are the most economical and climate-friendly place to put it. The Stanford University study comes at a fluid moment in the trajectory of the electric vehicle and its fueling. Automakers plan to deliver millions of EVs in the coming years, but drivers’ charging habits are still unwritten. Electric companies and the federal government, which will spend $7.5 billion in the next five years to build out EV-charging infrastructure, have not yet made key decisions about where chargers will be located or when they are intended to be used. John Gartner, an EV and charging researcher at the Center for Sustainable Energy who is unaffiliated with the study, said the notion of moving charging to the sunny hours in an EV-heavy world makes sense. “This load shifting of EV charging has great synergies to the growing percentage of renewable energy which on many days will be available in abundance before peak demand begins in the evening hours,” Gartner wrote in an email. The study, published Thursday in the journal Nature Energy, originated with a burning question. The Bits & Watts Initiative at Stanford’s Precourt Institute for Energy works with utilities and energy providers to understand the future electric grid. Two years ago, the center asked its stakeholders to name what concerned them most. “The number one answer was vehicle electrification and how that will affect the grid,” said Ram Rajagopal, an engineering professor and Bits & Watts’ co-director. “It quickly became apparent to us,” he added, “that we don’t know what it’s going to look like when there’s a massive adoption of electric vehicles.” To estimate the impact, Rajagopal and other researchers examined data from actual charging sessions — specifically, 2.8 million sessions by 27,000 EV owners in the San Francisco Bay Area three years ago. They found patterns to be anything but monolithic, with sessions at various locations and times of day.One was now what it would look like if half of all passenger vehicles were electric by 2035 — a goal that California is starting to work toward, now that it has finalized its plan to phase out sales of combustion-engine vehicles by that year (Climatewire, Aug. 26). And, as a grid stress test, it also considered the possibility of 100 percent EVs by that year.

How a clean energy future is colliding with mining's dark past - To get the United States running on clean energy will require a lot of metal: A single electric vehicle battery pack could contain around 8 kilograms of lithium, 14 kilograms of cobalt, and 35 kilograms of nickel. A wind turbine can contain more than 4 tons of copper. Over the next several decades, global demand for these “critical minerals,” a group that includes lithium, cobalt, nickel, and copper, is projected to increase by 400-600 percent driven by a surge in manufacturing of renewable technologies. For some metals like lithium and graphite, it could skyrocket by as much as 4,000 percent.China dominates this global market, processing 50-70 percent of the world’s lithium and cobalt. But the Biden administration hastaken a hard line against providing tax breaks to manufacturers who source metals from countries without free trade agreements with the U.S. That means that developers of technologies like electric vehicles and wind turbines need to find new supply streams – and fast. But the process of extracting metal and mineral deposits from the earth, known as hardrock mining, has a reputation for contaminating local watersheds and causing irreparable environmental damage. That’s why domestic mining projects often encounter legal challenges and protests when they are initially proposed.“It’s very hard to open up a mine in the United States. No one wants a mine in their backyard,” said Jordy Lee, a program manager at the Payne Institute for Public Policy at the Colorado School of Mines. “It’s not clear how the U.S. is supposed to mine and produce all these minerals when there’s so much pushback against the industry.” Domestic mining is governed by a 150-year old law that critics characterize as a relic of the Wild West Era. Unlike laws regulating other extractive industries like oil and gas, the General Mining Law of 1872 doesn’t require companies to pay federal royalties on the resources they extract from public lands. A patchwork of more recent legislation regulates the environmental impacts of mining, but since it is distributed across multiple federal agencies, it can take years before a project gets approved. The Biden administration has recently passed a batch of bills to incentivize the buildout of a domestic supply chain to mine and process the minerals necessary for weaning the country off fossil fuels. Now, Senator Joe Manchin, Democrat of West Virginia, isproposing legislation that would speed up permitting for major energy and infrastructure projects, including mining. The National Mining Association has said that the bill would help hardrock mining companies meet rising demand by providing some certainty that their projects will get greenlighted. Environmental advocates and community groups whose land risks destruction from proposed projects see it differently. Mining activity has left deep scars across the American West, where the Environmental Protection Agency estimates that 40 percent of watersheds have been contaminated by hardrock mines. This environmental degradation has had particularly severe consequences for indigenous communities because many live close to the country’s largest deposits of nickel, lithium, cobalt, and copper.

 Grid nightmare haunts Texas governor's race - In his bid to turn the Texas governor’s mansion blue, former Rep. Beto O’Rourke has seized on the state’s beleaguered power grid as a reason to oust Republican Gov. Greg Abbott. The big question — besides whether the underdog Democrat can win — is if O’Rourke or Abbott could help drive a sweeping Texas grid overhaul. Experts suggest it’s possible with some determination, although the governor’s direct power is somewhat limited. O’Rourke has called for major changes as Texas deals with fallout from a prolonged freeze in February 2021 that nearly took down its main grid and left millions of people without power. Winter Storm Uri was linked to more than 240 deaths in the state. Texas’ growing population is another reason critics say grid improvements must happen, especially for periods of hot or cold weather. “Initially, people may not have attributed responsibility for the power failures to the governor. But they judge the response and the claims to have solved it or at least resolved it,” said Cal Jillson, a professor of political science at Southern Methodist University. “If it were to happen again, it would be more directly on the governor.” The power crisis created an opening for an O’Rourke challenge in the race, according to Jillson. And while electricity may not be the top issue for voters compared to social issues and inflation, it is one that has become more tied to the governor’s office. Surging electricity rates associated with higher prices for natural gas — a key fuel — and costs for maintaining the grid have kept the issue top of mind for many voters. A Real Clear Politics average of polls shows Abbott with an average lead of 7.3 percentage points, although O’Rourke has been closer in some recent surveys. The election is scheduled for November. O’Rourke has hammered Abbott for months over the management of the grid. In response to a conservation warning ahead of a May heat wave, he wrote on Twitter that “the governor of the 9th largest economy on earth – the energy capital of the world – can’t guarantee the power will stay on tomorrow.” O’Rourke’s website promises to “redesign the power grid to prioritize Texas families, not wealthy energy corporations.” He also pledges a robust plan that includes more investment in renewable energy, weatherization to shore up the grid from future storms and connecting Texas’ main grid to other states.

Grid anger rises in Puerto Rico as massive outages remain - Puerto Rico struggled to restore power for residents Tuesday, providing a reminder that the U.S. territory’s shaky electricity system was unreliable long before Hurricane Fiona arrived Sunday. The ongoing crisis — which left more than 3 million people without power — is renewing critiques of Puerto Rico’s centralized system from environmental groups and some analysts who see microgrids as key to building a more reliable grid. Others have called for the implementation of more rooftop solar. Grid experts and residents are asking why more hasn’t been done to strengthen Puerto Rico’s electricity system since Hurricane Maria, a powerful Category 4 storm, made landfall five years ago. There’s also increasing pressure on LUMA Energy LLC, the company that began operating the island’s grid last year. “As Puerto Rico begins to recover from Hurricane Fiona, LUMA must be held accountable for providing the safe, reliable, and affordable electric service to the people of Puerto Rico,” New York Attorney General Letitia James (D) said in a letter to three federal agencies Tuesday. James asked the Department of Energy, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the Federal Emergency Management Agency to investigate LUMA, noting other electricity issues and outages in recent years. FERC did not respond to questions by press time. But Charisma Troiano, a DOE spokesperson, confirmed that the agency had received the letter. “Right now, DOE is focused on working with our partners to restore power as quickly as possible,” Troiano said in an email Tuesday. In a statement, LUMA said it is “focused on damage assessment, reenergizing and repairing the grid, and restoring power as quickly and safely as possible. When every customer who was impacted by this devastating hurricane has their power back on, we will be more than available to discuss the progress we’ve made and the significant challenges we have faced.“ Fiona arrived in Puerto Rico as a Category 1 hurricane and has been linked to at least four deaths.

Puerto Rico's power grid struggled ahead of Hurricane Fiona blackout - The hurricane winds that knocked out power to the entire island of Puerto Rico over the weekend encountered an electrical grid that experts liken to a house of cards: a fragile, decrepit, patchwork system running on old equipment that has failed to substantially modernize since the U.S. territory’s deadliest storm, Hurricane Maria, swept through five years before. 10 steps you can take to lower your carbon footprint The state-run utility that is responsible for electricity generation is bankrupt, and mediation to restructure its $9 billion debt to bondholders ended without a deal last week. Luma Energy, the private consortium that was hired in 2020 to handle transmission, has failed to satisfy critics, as power outages have increased in duration this year even apart from destructive storms, according to a report last month by the Puerto Rico Energy Bureau. And a major plan to modernize the island’s electricity system, funded with billions from the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency as a response to Hurricane Maria — which killed about 3,000 people and left some residents out of power for nearly a year — has been slow to get started. “Given all that, it shouldn’t be surprising that we are where we are,” Sergio Marxuach, policy director at the Center for a New Economy, a Puerto Rico-based think tank, said by phone from his home on the island’s north coast, which was running on generator power. “What we’re seeing right now is a direct consequence of that failure to act” since Hurricane Maria, he said. Fiona made landfall on Sunday afternoon with 80 mph winds and quickly knocked out power to more than 3 million people — or the entire population of Puerto Rico. Luma Energy officials on Monday said power has been restored to just more than 100,000 people by Monday afternoon, including in the San Juan metropolitan area, at the city’s main hospital campus and the island’s largest airport, but the company had yet to offer a detailed assessment of the damage. The extent of Fiona’s destruction remains unclear. The storm’s outer bands continue to drop copious amounts of rain and threaten to swell waterways already breaching their banks and causing landslides in the mountains. Some areas of Puerto Rico’s big island and its eastern islands are not yet accessible, officials said. Gov. Pedro Pierluisi said at least two people have died. Advertisement Puerto Rico Adjutant General Jose Reyes, who commands the territory’s National Guard, said Monday that his troops have performed more than 30 search-and-rescue operations in 25 municipalities across the island. More than 1,000 people had to be rescued from flooded homes, particularly along the southern coast in the town of Salinas, where one of the largest operations brought 400 people to safety. In Yabucoa, Mayor Rafael Surillo Ruiz said he had never seen flooding like what his community had experienced in the last 24 hours. Roads and bridges that had recently been repaved were swept away by engorged rivers. At least two barrios saw waters rise several feet, and municipal workers spent all night and morning rescuing trapped vulnerable residents, including carrying the bedridden elderly from their soaked beds, he said. “It’s painful that we are here again,” Surillo Ruiz said. “Now we are in not one but two recovery processes: what was left over from Maria, where we haven’t made much progress, and now we have to add everything that happened with this hurricane.”

Hurricane Maria and Puerto Rico 5 Years Later - by Menzie Chinn - Now seems a useful time to re-assess some of the pronouncements made in the wake of the tragic disaster that struck Puerto Rico in September 2017. First, fatalities of Americans (contra Mr. Trump’s seeming assertion these were not American) were much higher than some commentators claimed. Second, arguments that economic policies undertaken in 2016 and 2017 (i.e., the austerity measures associated with PROMESA) caused more deaths than Hurricane Maria are incorrect. Finally, the economic challenges that existed before the hurricane struck — including insufficient tax revenues — remain, even as the economy has rebounded. First, let’s recall that some commentators argued in the wake of the Hurricane that no more than 200-400 deaths occurred. Even after being tutored in terms of what the data meant, some continued to provide unrealistically low estimates.From Sandberg, et al. (July 2019) in Epidemiology: Now compare against shoot-from-the-hip comments on Econbrowser, such as this from Steven Kopits on 5/31/2018: Excess deaths in PR through year end, those recorded by the Statistics Office, numbered only 654. Most of these occurred in the last ten days of September and the whole of October. While the power outages there were exacerbated by the state ownership of PR’s utility, a large portion of the excess deaths would likely have occurred regardless, given the terrain and the strength of the hurricane. I would note that excess deaths fell by half in December. Thus, the data suggests that the hurricane accelerated the deaths of ill and dying people, rather than killing them outright. I would expect the excess deaths at a year horizon (through, say, Oct. 1, 2018) to total perhaps 200-400. Still a notable number, but certainly not 4,600. [emphasis added-MDC]. Mr. Kopits’ updated (6/4) analysis concludes, even with updated data:Thus, the year-end excess death toll of 1,400 may be treated as a firm number in practice. I think “firm” is an adjective to be avoided in these situations. Here is a graph presenting selected estimates, from this April 2019 post, which includes some of the earlier estimates. Figure 1: Cumulative excess deaths from September 2017, for simple time dummies OLS model (blue), OLS model adjusting for population (green), and Quantile Regression model adjusting for population (red), Milken Institute point estimate (black square) and 95% confidence interval (gray +), Santos-Lozada, Howard letter (chartreuse triangle), Cruz-Cano and Mead (pink squares), Kopits (teal triangle). Not pictured: Kopits estimate of 300-400 for October 2018. Source: author’s calculations, Milken Institute (2018), Santos-Lozada and Howard (2018), Cruz-Cano and Mead (2019), and Kopits (2018). What about arguments that austerity measures associated with PROMESA caused more excess mortality than the hurricane [extensive argument here] . In order to assess this argument, first consider mortality data through February 2018. What about arguments that austerity measures associated with PROMESA caused more excess mortality than the hurricane [extensive argument here] . In order to assess this argument, first consider mortality data through February 2018. Figure 2: Mortality per month (blue). Gray denotes in-sample period; orange shading denotes Hurricane Maria and post-hurricane period; dashed line at PROMESA legislation. Source: Santos-Lozada and Howard, 2017, June release of Vital Statistics data. Second, now consider constructing the counterfactual not incorporating austerity measures both before and after PROMESA implementation (legislation passed as of in July 2016, control in effect as of October 2016). I accomplish this by estimating two equations: (1) a simple averaging over the 2010-2015 period, and (2) a log-log OLS regression specification incorporating population estimates (as well as a dummy for October 2014). 2016 seems an appropriate break point for austerity given Brad Setser’s discussion of Puerto Rican finances. These specifications are discussed in this post. I show in Figure 3 the implied excess mortality figures. Figure 3: Excess mortality per month calculated using averages 2010-15 (blue), and population adjusted using 2010-15 sample (red), population is cubic interpolation from IMF World Economic Outlook database data. Gray denotes in-sample period; orange shading denotes Hurricane Maria and post-hurricane period; dashed line at PROMESA legislation. Source: Santos-Lozada and Howard, 2017, June release of Vital Statistics data, IMF WEO April 2018 database, and author’s calculations. Notice in neither case are most of the pre-Maria deviations statistically significant at the 10% msl. In other words, one could not typically reject the null hypothesis of no austerity-induced excess mortality, pre-Maria. Third, it’s instructive to consider excess mortality from 2016M01-2017M08, and how it compares to excess mortality to that 2017M09-2018M02. If one assumes zero population change from 2016-17, then one gets the estimate of cumulative deaths (“avg. ’10-’16”) in red line, which indicates minimal impact of austerity.

How Puerto Rico’s banned coal ash winds up in rural Georgia -A hulking coal plant on the southern coast of Puerto Rico provides a substantial chunk of the island’s power. It burns coal that has crossed the Caribbean from a vast strip mine in Colombia.Along with power, the plant produces 300,000 tons of toxic coal ash each year. The ash has wreaked havoc in the region, contaminating groundwater in the Puerto Rican town of Guayama, possibly contributing to cancers and other illnesses among locals.Coal ash flooded agricultural fields during Hurricane Maria and it’s an ongoing concern in a hurricane-prone region where Hurricane Fiona is inundating the island with heavy rainfall, causing mudslides and immense damage.The ash was also shipped to the Dominican Republic, where it was dumped and used as building material until residents of the Arroyo Barril neighborhood saw increasing cancer and plummeting birth rates, and the Dominican government banned the importation.Through laws passed in 2017 and 2019, the Puerto Rican government essentially prohibited the storage of coal ash on the island. -So now, barges take the ash across 1,300 miles of ocean to a private port terminal in Jacksonville, Florida, and then on to a landfill in Georgia. Last year a barge spilled toxic ash into the coastal waters, and local authorities and environmentalists say that’s just a preview of the havoc the ash could cause, especially in a hurricane-prone area. They want the coal ash barred from their waterways and roads, but their hands are largely tied by lack of jurisdiction over the private port, Keystone Terminal. They have trouble even obtaining information about coal ash shipments and the environmental and health risks they might pose.

Canadian dock workers go on strike, leading to closure of major coal terminal - Early Saturday, September 17, 200 dock and warehouse workers, affiliated with Local 502 of the International Warehouse and Longshore Union (ILWU), walked off the job, shutting down Westshore Terminals Ltd. and the Delta coal port, located in Vancouver, British Columbia. Opened in 1970, the Deltaport specializes in exporting coal mined in Canada and the US globally. Workers at the vital port had been laboring without a contract since January 2022. Despite not having a contract, the ILWU kept workers on the job for nine months before a strike notice was issued by ILWU Local 502 plant Chair Randy Chartier on September 16. The strike notice followed a previous “bargaining update” issued by Chartier that same day which declared that “[T]alks between ILWU Local 502 and Westshore Terminals Ltd have broken down.” In a flyer handed out at the picket line on Saturday and distributed by ILWU members online, the union notes its decades-long service in suppressing the class struggle, bragging that in 52 years “ILWU Local 502 has never had to Strike at Westshore.” The statement claimed that the union was “forced into a historical first-time position at Westshore, having to withdraw our labour to get a Fair Contract.” The statement notes that dockworkers, like all sections of the working class in Canada, the US and around the world, have had to labor through “an unprecedented pandemic, cost of living increases and skyrocketing inflation.” Canadian workers, like their US brothers and sisters, have seen their paychecks evaporate in the face of over 8 percent inflation rates. The statement notes that during these “difficult years, Westshore Terminal has not suffered” and, in fact, has “increased its Dividend three times and issued two special Dividends,” totaling C$441,000,000. The following day, September 17, 2022, ILWU International President Willie Adams issued a statement expressing “solidarity with striking workers at Westshore Terminals.” In the US, the ILWU has been working hand in glove with the Biden administration since last October to prevent any work stoppage on the docks, especially at the crucial ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, lest the “economy”— that is, Wall Street’s profits—suffer. In an obviously false statement, Adams claimed that “workers at Westshore Terminals who are striking for a fair contract do not walk alone.” In fact, no other ILWU local in Canada or the US has joined their brothers and sisters on strike, despite the fact that the issues facing the Deltaport dockworkers—inflation, COVID-19 and longer working hours—are the same issues that confront workers across North America and around the world.

Russian Oil, Coal Exports To China Soar In August - China's imports of crude oil and coal imports from Russia exploded in August, data showed on Tuesday, but despite the jump in supply, Russia handed back its top oil supplier ranking to Saudi Arabia for the first time in four months, even as coal exports hit a record high. According to data from the Chinese General Administration of Customs, imports of Russian oil, including supplies pumped via the East Siberia Pacific Ocean (ESPO) pipeline and seaborne shipments from Russia's European and Far Eastern ports, totalled 8.342 million tonnes, up 28% Y/Y, the equivalent of 1.96 million barrels per day (bpd), and just slightly off May's record of nearly 2 million bpd. China is Russia's largest oil buyer, especially now that most of the western world has sanctioned Russian energy. China's purchases of Russian oil have soared in order to reap the benefits of a plunge in European buying and tumbling prices for Russian oil... ... just when Beijing needs it most as the Ukraine crisis pushes Moscow in search of alternative markets Russian imports rose as Chinese independent refiners extended purchases of discounted Russian supplies that elbowed out rival cargoes from West Africa and Brazil. But despite the full price, imports from Saudi Arabia rebounded last month to 8.475 million tonnes, or 1.99 million bpd, 5% above the year ago levels, and just inching out Russia for the top spot. Saudi Arabia also remains the biggest supplier on a year-to-date basis, shipping 58.31 million tonnes of oil from January to August, down 0.3% on the year, versus 55.79 million tonnes from Russia, which was up 7.3% from the year ago period. In total, China crude oil imports in August fell 9.4% from a year earlier, as outages at state-run refineries and lower operations at independent plants caused by weak margins capped buying. The table below shows imports by country, with volumes in metric tonnes and percentage change calculated by Reuters.

 Derelict ships that sunk off Hayden Island rise again — Two derelict ships that sunk in the Columbia River are finally being removed with the help of the U.S. Coast Guard and other state agencies. The two ships first arrived in Portland in 2006. After sitting off Hayden Island for more than a decade, both ships sunk last year. Now the Coast Guard is carefully removing any leftover oil from the vessels before hauling them off for disposal. When the vessels first arrived more than 15 years ago, they were purchased by a nonprofit organization in hopes of turning them into a floating museum. But those plans never worked out, and eventually the two ships — the 100-foot military tug Sakarissa and the 125-foot former Coast Guard cutter Alert — were seized by the state of Oregon. Both ships sank before any coordinated effort could materialize to have them towed away and dismantled, making the prospect of removing them even more costly and time-consuming. Thankfully, it's now happening. This isn’t the first time that crews with the Coast Guard have been out to the Columbia River along Hayden Island in North Portland. “Back in 2020 the Coast Guard responded to a report of diesel fuel in the areas of the ships and we responded using the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund and removed thousands of gallons of diesel fuel,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Travis Magee, a spokesperson with the U.S. Coast Guard. The Coast Guard will be using $1 million from that fund to raise each ship out of the water and then safely dump any remaining oil out. Magee said the vessel Alert sank last October, and it was April when the Sakarissa sank. There’s still no word on what caused these ships to sink, but Magee said that there were people living on them at certain points.

Central WA is eyeing nuclear power again — but on a smaller scale - It could be the next big thing in power plants. Or actually the next big little thing: small prefabricated nuclear reactors. An Oregon company wants to provide a quick, flexible way to power the region by building modular nuclear units that can be built in a factory and then transported to the power-plant site for final assembly. Not only would these new units be carbon-free — although not likely controversy-free — but they’re also less expensive to build than traditional nuclear power plants. Each modular unit would be a mini-reactor capable of generating 50 to 300 megawatts of energy. (One hundred megawatts could power 120,000 houses.) Small modular reactors are supposed to be designed so extra modules can be added as needed, with 12 modules being the theoretical maximum. This concept is supposed to lead to lower costs, faster construction times and more flexibility in tailoring a reactor complex to its customers’ needs. The nation’s first small modular reactors will likely show up in the Pacific Northwest, possibly in Idaho and Central Washington’s Grant County, with a target online date of roughly 2030. Some U.S. and world leaders are pushing this new sort of nuclear reactor as a carbon-emissions-free measure to combat climate change. The front runner in setting up a small modular reactor in the United States is NuScale Power of Corvallis, Oregon. But its prominence has brought extra scrutiny. Does NuScale’s design create more radioactive waste than a conventional reactor? In August 2020, NuScale became the first, and so far only, small modular reactor developer to receive approval for its 60-megawatt design by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The company plans to submit an improved follow-up version of that design to the commission this December. These design changes include having the proposed reactors produce 77 megawatts each. By comparison, the Columbia Generating Station reactor north of Richland generates 1,200 megawatts. NuScale declined Crosscut’s request for in-person interviews, and discussed the venture solely through email. There are roughly two dozen small modular reactor designs worldwide, about half of which originate in the United States. So far, the world has two functioning 150-megawatt reactors, both on a barge in the Russian Arctic Ocean port of Pevek. China expects to have one up and running by 2026. NuScale also hopes to deliver six small modular reactors to Romania by 2028. The company has been pursuing two partnerships in the Northwest to build small modular reactor complexes in Idaho and Central Washington. The Idaho venture appears to be on track to open in 2030. Meanwhile, NuScale appears to be losing to a competitor in the Central Washington proposal. NuScale also hopes to deliver six small modular reactors to Romania by 2028.

German Nuclear Power Plant To Shut Down After Reported Leak - As Germany desperately attempts to stave off a winter energy crisis, most recently seizing Rosneft refinery assets, a leak at a nuclear plant reported by the country’s Environment Ministry adds to the pressure, with operations now set to be shut in for a week as repairs get underway. Germany’s Isar 2 nuclear power plant in Bavaria on Monday reported a leak that will require it to go offline in October for repairs. The nuclear plant is already slated for a permanent shutdown at the beginning of next year as part of Germany’s plan to phase out nuclear power. However, given the looming energy crisis in Germany as winter approaches, there has been some discussion of delaying a phase-out of nuclear power. The leak at Isar 2 means that a week of repairs in October will be necessary if the power plant is to remain operational beyond December 31st, Reuters reported, citing the plant’s operator. Two weeks ago, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz rejected the idea of extending the country’s use of nuclear power and delaying the phase out of nuclear power plants. Germany’s opposition conservatives have called on the chancellor to keep the country’s two remaining nuclear reactors online. Scholz has resisted this temptation, insisting that the country will have enough energy resources to make it through the winter. Under Scholz’s plan the remaining two nuclear reactors will be kept in emergency reserve but will not be producing any power, the Guardian reports. Germany solidified its plans to quit nuclear power in 2011. Under those plans, three reactors were shut down in 2021 and three more this year, with two remaining in the phase-out, including Isar 2. The move is increasingly unpopular amid an energy crisis.

2 BP workers are dead after a major fire at an Ohio refinery, company says - Two people have died after a giant blaze broke out Tuesday at a British Petroleum refinery in Ohio, officials said. Images posted on social media showed huge flames and a column of black smoke at the Husky Toledo Refinery in the city of Oregon, just outside Toledo. BP had earlier said two staff members were injured in the fire on Tuesday night. A spokesperson confirmed early Wednesday that the two workers had succumbed to their injuries. "It is with deep sadness we report that two bp staff injured in a fire at the bp Husky Toledo Refinery have passed away," the spokesperson said. "Our thoughts are with the families and loved ones of these two individuals." They said all other staff members were accounted for and that an employee assistance team was onsite to support workers impacted by the incident. The spokesperson said the fire was extinguished Tuesday night at around 10:15 p.m. The refinery was "safely shut down," they said, and remains offline through Wednesday.

Toledo area oil refinery shut down after fire kills 2 — A fire at an oil refinery in northwest Ohio killed two people and the facility was shut down Wednesday, officials said. The fire started Tuesday night at BP's Husky Toledo Refinery, BP spokesperson Megan Baldino said in a statement. There was no word on how it started or the extent of the damage. Baldino said Wednesday that the two workers had died but did not provide their names or further details about the injuries they sustained. She said all other staff were accounted for and the plant was safely shut down. The refinery, just east of Toledo, can process up to 160,000 barrels of crude oil per day and “has been an important part of the region’s economy for more than 100 years,” according to BP’s website. In addition to its own fire department, the company said it worked closely with local fire crews. “Our highest priority remains the safety of our staff, the responders and the public,” Baldino said. BP announced last month it had agreed to sell its 50% interest in the Husky Toledo Refinery to its joint venture partner Cenovus Energy. The fire happened a few weeks after an electrical fire at a BP refinery in northwest Indiana, about 15 miles southeast of Chicago, caused the company to temporarily close that facility. No one was hurt.

BP Refinery In Ohio That Provides Gasoline For Midwest "Shut Down" After Fire - The BP-Husky Toledo refinery in Oregon, Ohio, was rocked by an "explosion" around 1830 local time, according to local news WTOL, citing witnesses. Videos posted on social media show the fire at the BP refinery.A BP spokesperson told Reuters the BP-Husky Toledo refinery in Oregon, Ohio, has been "safely shut down" in response to Tuesday night's fire. The fire's cause is still unknown, but sources told Reuters, "leaking fumes from a crude unit may have caused the ignition in another unit at the facility." The source added: "Workers finished a maintenance turnaround at the facility in recent weeks and the plant had resumed operating."The refinery processes up to 160,000 barrels of crude oil daily, providing the Midwest with gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, propane, asphalt, and other products.There's no word if the refinery will spark fuel shortages across the Midwest.

BP oil refinery fire in Toledo: Michigan gas prices surge 5 cents - An oil refinery fire and explosion Tuesday near Toledo that left two dead and forced the BP facility to shut down is raising additional concerns about how it will affect Midwest gasoline supplies and prices at the pump, which throughout most of the summer had been in decline. In one day, AAA spokeswoman Adrienne Woodland told the Free Press, the average gas price for regular unleaded in Michigan jumped 5 cents a gallon to $3.85, a result of the shutdown, according to the motor club's national analysts. AAA tracks prices nationwide.It's unclear, she added, how long higher prices will continue.But AAA's analysts predicted the Ohio refinery shutdown could continue for up to two weeks. One of about 130 in the United States, the Husky Toledo Refinery is unlikely to have a major effect on the nation’s average gas price, which, according to gasoline price tracker GasBuddy, fell to $3.64 on Monday in the 14th consecutive week of declines and longest downward streak since 2015.

Midwest Gasoline Prices Surge Following Deadly BP Refinery Fire - A refinery fire in Ohio caused gasoline prices in neighboring Indiana to post the largest overnight increase of any state, with Ohio itself and Michigan poised to follow. Average prices at the retail pump jumped nearly 6 cents a gallon in the Hoosier State, home to a major fuel hub supplying the upper Midwest, according to data from auto club AAA. The rise followed higher wholesale and rack prices, which surged by as much as 40 cents a gallon in some areas of Indiana, according to price reporting agency Opis. Spiking wholesale costs in nearby Ohio means retailers there will likely raise prices in the coming days, and Michigan may see an acceleration of retail gains already underway.

NEXUS windfall was less than expected for Northeast Ohio schools. A local auditor is fighting back - The NEXUS natural gas pipeline was completed in 2018 across parts of Northeast Ohio amid much controversy and environmental concerns. One of the main selling points was that it would generate millions of dollars in tax revenue for public entities near its path - primarily, school districts.But after years of appeals and negotiations between NEXUS and the state's tax officials about how much the pipeline is actually worth, that windfall isn’t panning out exactly the way it was supposed to. Now, one county auditor is taking action.“This is all my NEXUS stuff. It keeps growing,” Lorain County Auditor Craig Snodgrass said, chuckling, as he pointed out piles of paperwork in his office on a recent September morning.Snodgrass is trying to get clarification on a settlement earlier this year between Ohio’s department of taxation and the companies that operate the NEXUS pipeline, Enbridge and DTE Energy.Schools and other public entities, including libraries and municipal governments, receive tax revenue when utilities like pipelines are constructed nearby. When the NEXUS pipeline was completed in 2018, the state tax commissioner set the value of the pipeline at $1.4 billion statewide.Broken down across the 13 counties the pipeline runs through, that meant some school districts – including ones in Lorain, Medina, Stark and Summit – would receive millions of dollars each year.But NEXUS appealed the state’s valuation multiple times over the course of several years, disputing how much the pipe was actually worth. During that time, it paid schools just about 40% of the valuation.The state ordered an appraisal and settled with NEXUS in late June of this year, revaluing the pipeline for $950 million - about 58% of the initial valuation.That didn’t seem quite right to Snodgrass.Snodgrass appealed the settlement in September to give him more time to request documents and try to better understand how they got to that agreement, he said.“Hopefully we're going to be able to obtain some information that we otherwise weren't allowed to get, or {were} prohibited from getting, and hopefully come up with, you know, what is the right number? You know, at least to get a comfort level,” he said. “But until we actually get those documents, it's just shooting in the dark.”Snodgrass hired third-party consultants to help him look into all of the appraisals and the state’s final valuation.If they find enough evidence to support Snodgrass’s suspicion that the pipeline is worth more, they’ll present their argument to the board of tax appeals. If they are successful, school districts could get closer to the revenues they were initially promised.

 Fracking ban in Delaware River Basin survives Pa. GOP lawmakers’ challenge in federal court -Republican state lawmakers lost their bid to overturn a fracking ban in Northeast Pennsylvania enacted by the regulatory agency that oversees drinking water quality for about 15 million residents in four states. The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued a ruling Friday that the lawmakers, led by state Sens. Gene Yaw and Lisa Baker, and the municipalities that joined don’t have standing to bring the case against the Delaware River Basin Commission. “In our view, the state senators and the Senate Republican Caucus lack standing because the legislative injuries they allege affect the state legislature as a whole, and under well-established Supreme Court caselaw, ‘individual members lack standing to assert the institutional interests of a legislature,’ ” the decision reads. The court said the municipalities lacked standing because the injuries claimed — lack of revenue from fracking operations — were “hypothetical.” The Republican lawmakers argued that the DRBC, which is governed by a federal compact and includes the governors of the four states that draw from the Delaware River, overstepped its legal authority in banning fracking in the basin, which includes the eastern part of Pennsylvania. Democrats and environmental groups applauded the ruling from judges L. Felipe Restrepo, Jane R. Roth, and Julio M. Fuentes. “In short, this case was nothing short of political posturing,” said the Delaware Riverkeeper Network’s Maya van Rossum. The decision on standing is precedential, meaning it binds all courts in the 3rd Circuit from allowing cases where individual lawmakers challenge policy. “It makes clear that these types of challenges by state legislators cannot go forward, the courthouse door is not open to them,” said Robert Wiygul, an attorney representing suburban Philadelphia Democratic senators who joined the case on the side of the DRBC. “They were trying to speak for the General Assembly as a whole.” The plaintiffs also tried to use the Environmental Rights Amendment of the Pennsylvania Constitution to argue in favor of their standing as “trustees” of the state’s natural resources. “The court cited how upside down and backwards that was,” Wiygul said. All four basin states — Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and New York — voted to ban fracking in February 2021.

Pennsylvania sees decline in natural gas rigs - Pittsburgh Business Times - Pennsylvania has lost two natural gas drilling rigs over the past month but it's still ahead of where the industry was a year ago.There were 23 rigs operating in the commonwealth in the natural gas drilling regions as of Friday, according to a count released weekly by Baker Hughes and Enverus. That's down from the high of 25 that has occurred in May, June, July and into early August. Pennsylvania's largest concentration of drilling rigs are in the southwestern part of the state but there are other rigs elsewhere in western Pennsylvania, plus the northcentral and northeast parts of the Marcellus Shale.A shortage of natural gas supply is keeping prices much higher than normal, about $8.81 per million BTU in August 2022. That's the highest monthly average since 2008 and is far and away above the $1.92 per million BTU as late as September 2020. But gas prices have steadily climbed as many natural gas producers, which are publicly traded, have not rapidly increased production. That's especially the case in Appalachia, where Marcellus and Utica shale gas pipelines have for the most part been filled.August's average Henry Hub natural gas spot price is more than twice as high as the $4.07 per million BTU that was recorded the same month a year ago. And, to be sure, there's more drilling going on now than September 2021: There were an average of 18 rigs operating in Pennsylvania a year ago.But after a year, Pennsylvania's loss has been W est Virginia's gain: Baker Hughes counts 13 rigs running in West Virginia, up from nine a year ago. Ohio is down year over year by one rig, from 12 in September 2021 to 11 today.

Climate law spurs CCS at new West Virginia gas plant - Competitive Power Ventures Inc. announced plans Friday to build a multibillion-dollar natural gas power plant in West Virginia with carbon capture technology, saying the project would not be possible without the new climate and energy law. The 1,800-megawatt project will be operational later this decade, according to CPV, a Maryland-based power generation development company. It joins a handful of power plants worldwide aiming to be equipped with carbon capture, which traps carbon dioxide emissions before they enter the atmosphere. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), who spoke Friday at CPV’s announcement in Charleston, W.Va., said the plant is a $3 billion investment that “will provide a thousand jobs when all is said and done.” He used the opportunity to stress the importance of ensuring the U.S. is “energy independent” amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and decision to cut off natural gas to Europe. Manchin and CPV pointed to the importance of the 45Q tax credit, which was expanded under the Inflation Reduction Act. For industry and power, the credit’s value increased from $50 to $85 per metric ton of CO2 stored through secure geological storage, and from $35 to $60 per metric ton of CO2 stored via enhanced oil recovery. “That makes the difference that makes a project like this work,” Manchin said Friday. “That’s the purpose, and that’s the reason.” Mahmoud Abouelnaga, a solutions fellow at the environmental think tank Center for Climate and Energy Solutions, said no operational natural gas combined-cycle facilities currently use carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS). “It is important to see more power generating facilities utilizing CCUS technology, especially in states that depend largely on fossil power like West Virginia,” Abouelnaga said in an emailed statement. Multiple companies are planning to outfit natural gas power plants with carbon capture, according to according to a databasemaintained by the Clean Air Task Force, an environmental group. The California Resources Corp. plans to add CCS to its Elk Hills power plant, for example, while 8 Rivers Capital LLC announced last year that it would build two emissions-free gas plants — one in Illinois and one in Colorado — using technology from NET Power LLC (Energywire, April 16, 2021). Globally, the only commercial-scale power plant currently operating with carbon capture is the Boundary Dam Power Station in southeastern Saskatchewan, Canada, which is coal-fired. The Petra Nova project in Texas entered a mothball status in May 2020 ((Energywire, July 11).

Closer look at Lincoln County pipeline explosion, safety report You've seen the ads on TV and radio asking you to call 811 before digging, to make sure there's nothing in the ground. But you may never have thought about the possibility of a pipeline rupture. For people in the Indian Camp neighborhood in northern Lincoln County, that became a reality at 1:23 a.m. on Aug. 1, 2019. "I was in a daze when I woke up...just didn't know what was going on," Robbin Turner said, whose front door is less than 1,000 feet from the site of the rupture. One person is dead and five others hurt from a natural gas explosion in Lincoln County, Ky. on Aug.1. A 30-inch diameter pipe, part of an interstate natural gas pipeline from Texas to New York, ruptured and released 101.5 million cubic feet of natural gas. It also created a massive fireball."The shaking I thought --at first-- was the aftershock from a nuclear explosion. That's what my brain was telling me," Turner said. Turner saw flames shooting hundreds of feet in the air. It melted the vinyl on the side of her house, and melted paint on her and her husband's two trucks.The explosion killed 58-year-old Lisa Derringer, who was a grandmother and friend to many people in the neighborhood. Six others were hospitalized. Five homes were destroyed and another 14 were damaged.The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) released its final report on the explosionSept. 14, 2022.The independent governmental regulator found Enbridge, the pipeline operator, committed several errors in the lead up to the explosion, with many of those factors contributing to the deadly accident.Enbridge changed the Texas Eastern Transmission pipeline from a unidirectional line (going north) to a bi-directional line (flowing both ways) between 2014-2017. The NTSB found the company did not fully understand the changes in pressure and temperature this would create.Enbridge also underestimated the presence of "hard spots" in the pipeline according to the report.A hard spot is a point in a pipeline where metal is harder than the surrounding metal. This can cause a small heat system to occur, which increases temperature.

Kentucky Spending $30M on New NatGas Pipe to Expand Biz Growth - Marcellus Drilling News - There’s no wishy-washiness or shilly-shallying in Kentucky when it comes to building new natural gas pipelines. At least, there isn’t any prevarication under the current administration of Gov. Andy Beshear. Earlier this week, Beshear presented a ceremonial check for $30 million to fund the construction of a 53-mile, 16-inch natural gas pipeline to feed natgas to the southern Pennyrile Region in the western part of the state. The aim is to “support rapid business growth” in that area of the state. Business growth and jobs coming to Kentucky–thanks to Marcellus/Utica shale gas.

A Natural Gas Shortage Is Looming For The US - Last week, the media rushed to report that natural gas prices in the United States had fallen sharply after trade unions and railway companies reached a tentative deal that averted a potentially devastating strike. Indeed, natural gas prices fell by nearly a dollar per million British thermal units, helped by a respectable build in inventories. And yet, inventories remain below the seasonal average, exports are running at record rates, and producers are beginning to struggle to meet demand, both at home and abroad. Reuters’ John Kemp wrote in a recent column that domestic and international gas consumption had risen to record highs, and shale producers—the ones that account for the bulk of U.S. natural gas output—were having a hard time catching up with this demand.Meanwhile, although higher on a weekly basis, inventories remained at the second-lowest for this time of the year for the last 12 years, Reuters’ market analyst noted. He also added there were no signs of any improvement in the level of inventories despite the rise in prices.None of this suggests lower prices for natural gas are coming to either the United States or international markets as the northern hemisphere heads into winter. On the contrary, the latest figures suggest more financial pain for gas consumers. And they confirm, to an extent, forecasts made earlier this year.In the spring, the principals of investment firm Goehring & Rozencwajg said U.S. gas prices will converge with international prices towards the end of 2022. They noted something few other analysts tend to mention: the concentration of much of U.S. gas production in a handful of fields, with just two—Marcellus and Haynesville—accounting for as much as 40 percent of the total.The Permian contributes another 12 percent of the U.S. total gas output, and the rig count in the Permian has been down for two weeks in a row, according to the latest data. Less drilling means less associated gas to add to the national total.Meanwhile, on the demand side, electricity generation in the United States is seen reaching a record high this year, Kemp noted in his column, driven by the post-pandemic economic rebound. A hotter summer also contributed. A cold winter would certainly push gas consumption even higher.Another contributor is the lack of alternative sources of electricity generation: coal plants are being retired, and droughts in many parts of the country have compromised its hydropower capacity, the Reuters analyst also noted.While this is happening at home, demand for gas continues strong across the globe, too, as everyone seeks to stock up on fuel for the winter. U.S. energy companies are exporting liquefied natural gas at record rates. And disgruntlement at home is beginning to rear its head.“We appreciate that the [Joe] Biden administration has been working with European allies to expand fuel exports to Europe. A similar effort should be made for New England,” a group of governors from New England wrote in a letter to Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm this summer, per a Financial Times report.The governors then went on to call on the administration to make sure there was enough LNG for American consumers, essentially asking politicians to reduce LNG exports. This does not bode well for balance in the U.S. gas market.

 How the gas industry capitalized on the Ukraine war to change Biden policy - The Russian tanks and armored vehicles had barely begun to roll into Ukraine before the fossil fuel industry in the US had swung into action. A letter was swiftly dispatched to the White House, urging an immediate escalation in gas production and exports to Europe ahead of an anticipated energy crunch. The letter, dated 25 February, just one day after Vladimir Putin’s forces launched their assault on Ukraine, noted the “dangerous juncture” of the moment before segueing into a list of demands: more drilling on US public lands; the swift approval of proposed gas export terminals; and pressure on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, an independent agency, to greenlight pending gas pipelines.By the winter of 2022, there should be “virtual transatlantic gas pipelines” flowing from the US to Europe, the authors envisioned.Six months on from the letter, Russia’s invasion has stalled and in places retreated, but the US gas industry has achieved almost all of its initial objectives. Within weeks, Joe Biden’s administration adopted the gas industry’s major demands as policy. They paved the way for new pipelines and export facilities, established a new taskforce to boost gas exports to Europe and approved $300m in funding to help build out gas infrastructure on the continent.“I can’t even begin to tell you how much the momentum has changed for companies in the United States that have wanted to bring their projects forward and just haven’t been able to get long-term contracts,” said a jubilant Fred Hutchison, president of LNG Allies, the industry group that sent the letter, just three weeks after both the military and lobbying pushes started.The rhetoric of the Biden administration, which styled itself as deeply committed to tackling the climate crisis, had “changed substantially” within just a week, Hutchison noted. Biden’s creation of the gas export taskforce was a “direct response to the proposal put forward by LNG Allies”, the group boasted in March.But the embrace of liquified natural gas – or LNG, gas that has been cooled to -260F (-160C), turning it into a liquid that can be shipped overseas – as an act of defiance to Putin has dismayed climate activists who warn it will lock in decades of planet-heating emissions and push the world closer to climate catastrophe.“The fact that just weeks after those demands were laid out, President Biden was turning industry wishes into policy is a damning indictment of a president who had promised to tackle the climate crisis,” said Zorka Milin, senior adviser at Global Witness, which shared a new report on the escalation in gas infrastructure with the Guardian.Milin said the US gas industry was “licking its lips” at the onset of the Ukraine war. “There is no doubt that Biden’s apparent capitulation to the gas industry has opened the door for these companies to continue to profit off the backs of those suffering in Ukraine, those living close to new gas infrastructure in the US and the millions affected by climate change globally,” she added. LNG Allies, which is the operating name of the US LNG Association but does not publicly disclose its members or donors, has notched a number of notable wins since the start of the war. The group wanted six specific gas export applications to be expedited, and within three weeks the US Department of Energy granted two of them, Cheniere Energy’s Sabine Pass project in Louisiana and its Corpus Christi operation in Texas.

Gas, a 'bridge fuel,' dominates U.S. power at any price - Natural gas prices are skyrocketing, and America is a captive customer. The idea that gas would lead the nation into a renewable revolution isn't evident in 2022. Surging natural gas prices normally result in booming coal generation. But 2022 isn't normal.Power companies are shrugging off the highest gas prices in over a decade as they ramp up electricity generation at U.S. gas plants, which are producing 7 percent more power through September compared to last year. Coal generation, by contrast, is down 8 percent.The unusual dynamic reflects the energy transition in America. Gas has long been referred to as the bridge fuel that would connect a period of declining coal usage to a future ruled by renewables. The U.S. is now stuck in the middle of that bridge, unable to tap the full promise of clean energy, nor turn back to coal after a decade of power plant retirements.The result is an inflexible dependence on gas, regardless of how much it costs, analysts say. “The retirement of coal plants and with the drought impact on hydro has left the reserve capacity margin thin in a lot of places and that has left a lot of reliance on gas,” said Ira Joseph, a longtime gas and power analyst. ...

Natural Gas Futures, Cash Prices Fail to Sustain Fresh Momentum - Coming off a 56.0-cent sell-off to close out last week’s trading, natural gas futures on Monday shrugged off recent bearish developments and reversed course, trading in positive territory most of the day. Still, futures lost momentum late, despite seasonally stout cooling demand forecast for this week, and the October Nymex gas futures contract settled at $7.752/MMBtu, down 1.2 cents day/day. November lost seven-tenths of a cent to $7.804. NGI’s Spot Gas National Avg. shed a half-cent to $7.035, though prices were up in several regions. Production held just shy of 100 Bcf/d on Monday, down slightly from the 2022 highs reached earlier this month, according to Bloomberg’s estimate. Weather-driven demand, meanwhile, was poised to mount “as unseasonably strong upper high pressure builds over the interior U.S. with highs of upper 80s and 90s,” NatGasWeather said. “An early fall weather system will race across the Great Lakes and Northeast late in the week for a few” heating degree days “to aid national demand.” Demand for U.S. LNG exports – from both Europe and Asia – also held strong to start the week. Analysts said consumption likely would remain elevated through the fall as countries across the northern hemisphere work to get more gas in storage to ensure supplies for winter. “Dependence on the gas market remains high” and liquefied natural gas demand is “very strong,” Rystad Energy senior analyst Fabian Rønningen said. LNG feed gas volumes hovered near or above 12 Bcf/d much of September, keeping U.S. export facilities in operation running near capacity. All of which leaves the market concerned about potentially precarious domestic supplies for winter, creating the upward price pressure early Monday. With shoulder season around the corner, though, it was not enough to propel futures into the green for the day.

U.S. natgas futures ease to 6-week low on record output (Reuters) - U.S. natural gas futures slid about 1% to a fresh six-week low on Tuesday on near record output and forecasts for less demand next week than previously expected. Prices were also held in check on expectations demand would decline next month when the Cove Point liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant in Maryland shuts for a couple weeks of maintenance in October. U.S. gas use has already been reduced for months by the ongoing outage at the Freeport LNG export plant in Texas which has left more gas in the United States for utilities to inject into stockpiles for next winter. Front-month gas futures NGc1 fell 3.5 cents, or 0.5%, to settle at $7.717 per million British thermal units (mmBtu), their lowest close since Aug. 8 for a third day in a row. That was also the first time the front-month declined for four consecutive days since December 2021. In the spot gas market, the premium of the Henry Hub benchmark NG-W-HH-SNL in Louisiana over the Waha hub NG-WAH-WTX-SNL in the Permian Shale in Texas rose to $2.71 per mmBtu on Tuesday, its highest since October 2020 as pipeline maintenance limits the amount of gas that can exit the Waha producing basin. That compares with an average premium of Henry Hub over Waha of $1.30 per mmBtu so far in September, 63 cents so far in 2022, $1.33 in 2021 and a five-year (2016-2020) average of 80 cents. Despite recent declines, gas futures were still up about 107% so far this year as higher prices in Europe and Asia keep demand for U.S. LNG exports strong. Global gas prices have soared due to supply disruptions and sanctions linked to Russia's Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine. Gas was trading around $56 per mmBtu in Europe and $43 in Asia JKMc1. That was a 9% increase in European prices. Data provider Refinitiv said average gas output in the U.S. Lower 48 states rose to 98.9 bcfd so far in September from a record 98.0 bcfd in August. With the coming of cooler autumn weather, Refinitiv projected average U.S. gas demand, including exports, would slip from 91.6 bcfd this week to 90.1 bcfd next week. The forecast for next week was a little lower than Refinitiv's outlook on Monday. The average amount of gas flowing to U.S. LNG export plants rose to 11.3 bcfd so far in September from 11.0 bcfd in August. That compares with a monthly record of 12.9 bcfd in March. The seven big U.S. export plants can turn about 13.8 bcfd of gas into LNG.

Natural Gas Futures Snap Losing Streak After Putin’s Veiled Nuclear Threat - Natural gas futures on Wednesday gained ground for the first time in five sessions as global supply doubts personified by Russia’s president and his threat of launching nuclear weapons overshadowed fading demand.The October Nymex gas futures contract settled at $7.779/MMBtu, up 6.2 cents day/day. November gained 5.5 cents to $7.827.NGI’s Spot Gas National Avg., however, slid 19.5 cents lower to $6.840 as cooler temperatures settled into the Lower 48.Before U.S. markets opened, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced plans to call up reserves and deploy hundreds of thousands of soldiers to support the Kremlin’s invasion of Ukraine – signaling the entrenched, seven-month war could drag on indefinitely. The conflict has rattled global energy markets, most notably interrupting Russian natural gas deliveries to Europe. Countries across the continent have since moved with haste to buy up U.S. exports of LNG – providing strong price support. A prolonged war would likely ensure long-term demand for American liquefied natural gas, and this provided futures a boost Wednesday, according to EBW Analytics. .“Europe is staring down aggressive curtailments of Russian gas supplies and rising consumer utility bills, necessitating austerity measures and beyond to bail out consumers and utilities and prevent a dangerous shortfall this winter,” RBN Energy LLC analyst Lindsay Schneider said.“Prices in continental Europe have now topped $20/MMBtu for a year…On top of the elevated prices, outrageous spikes higher and lower have become a semi-regular occurrence as the gas market struggles to find balance,” she added. “And high prices and volatility are not going anywhere anytime soon as Europe braces for a winter with little or even no Russian gas.” In a televised address Wednesday that was translated for the Associated Press (AP), Putin threatened to use Russia’s nuclear arsenal should the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) interfere in the war. Putin accused the West of “nuclear blackmail” and noted, without evidence, “statements of some high-ranking representatives of the leading NATO states” about the possibility of using nuclear weapons against Russia, according to the AP.“To those who allow themselves such statements regarding Russia, I want to remind you that our country also has various means of destruction … and when the territorial integrity of our country is threatened, to protect Russia and our people, we will certainly use all the means at our disposal,” Putin said. He added: “It’s not a bluff.”

Natural Gas Futures Flop Following Stout Storage Print; Cash Prices Follow Suit - Natural gas futures fell for the third time this week after the latest government inventory data showed the biggest boost to underground storage this year, reflecting waning demand and robust production. The October Nymex gas futures contract dropped 69.0 cents day/day and settled at $7.089/MMBtu. November fell 63.4 cents to $7.193. NGI’s Spot Gas National Avg. shed 45.5 cents to $6.385 as cooler weather arrived along with the official start of autumn on Thursday. National Weather Service (NWS) data showed comfortable high temperatures ranging from the high 60s to the low 80s across large swaths of the Lower 48 on Thursday, from California to the Midwest to the Northeast. More of the same was forecast for the weekend. At the same time, Bloomberg estimated production Thursday at 99.6 Bcf/d, just shy of the 2022 peak – and record high – above 100 Bcf/d reported earlier this month. The shift to heating demand, meanwhile, may take several weeks. The latest U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) storage report, released Thursday, provided further evidence that supply and demand are beginning to align after a scorching summer that had created doubts about the adequacy of domestic supplies. EIA reported an injection of 103 Bcf into natural gas storage for the week ended Sept. 16. The result exceeded analysts’ expectations and soothed market concerns about supplies for the coming winter. The build marked the largest of the year. EIA reported a 102 Bcf injection for the week ended June 3. That was the only other triple-digit increase of the year so far. The latest print topped expectations and historical averages, adding to bearish price sentiment. Prior to the report, major polls showed median estimates hovering around an injection in the 90s Bcf. EIA reported a year-earlier injection of 77 Bcf and a five-year average injection of 81 Bcf. The build for the Sept. 16 week lifted inventories to 2,874 Bcf. The Midwest led all regions with a build of 35 Bcf, according to EIA. The South Central posted an increase of 31 Bcf. It included a 19 Bcf injection into nonsalt facilities and an increase of 12 Bcf into salts. The East region posted an injection of 29 Bcf. Mountain region stocks rose by 5 Bcf, while Pacific inventories increased by 2 Bcf. Looking ahead, early estimates submitted to Reuters for the EIA print covering the week ending Sept. 23 ranged from injections of 65 Bcf to 98 Bcf, with a mean increase of 86 Bcf.

U.S. natgas falls 4% to 10-week low on oil price drop, mild forecasts (Reuters) - U.S. natural gas futures fell about 4% to a fresh 10-week low on Friday on a drop in crude prices and expectations the weather will remain mild into early October, keeping both heating and cooling demand low and allowing utilities to inject lots of gas into storage over the next few weeks. In addition, the U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC) projected that Tropical Depression 9 will strengthen into a hurricane as it moves from the Caribbean Sea to the Gulf of Mexico over the next few days before hitting South Florida on Wednesday. With much of the nation's gas production located away from the Gulf of Mexico in shale basins like the Permian in West Texas and Appalachia in Pennsylvania, analysts said tropical storms were more demand-destroying events since they knock out power and can cause liquefied natural gas (LNG) export terminals to shut. Another factor weighing on gas prices was the expectation that demand would decline in October when the Cove Point LNG plant in Maryland shuts for a couple weeks of maintenance. Cove Point is consuming about 0.8 billion cubic feet per day (bcfd) of gas. U.S. gas use has already been reduced for months by the ongoing outage at the Freeport LNG export plant in Texas which has left more gas in the United States for utilities to inject into stockpiles for next winter. Front-month gas futures fell 26.1 cents, or 3.7%, to settle at $6.828 per million British thermal units (mmBtu), their lowest close since July 14. Oil prices plunged about 5% to an eight-month low as the U.S. dollar hit its strongest level in more than two decades and on fears rising interest rates will tip major economies into recession. The gas price drop kept gas futures in technically oversold territory with a relative strength index (RSI) below 30 for a second day in a row. For the week, the gas contract fell about 12%, its biggest weekly percentage decline since June. That was also the first time the front-month fell for five weeks in a row since January 2019. Analysts at energy consulting firm EBW Analytics said recent gas price declines caused gas prices to fall below ethane prices, which should cause energy firms to capture ethane rather than rejecting it into gas pipes. That should reduce the amount of total gas (plus ethane) available to the market. Despite recent declines, gas futures were still up about 83% so far this year as higher prices in Europe and Asia keep demand for U.S. LNG exports strong. Global gas prices have soared due to supply disruptions and sanctions linked to Russia's Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine. Gas was trading around $51 per mmBtu in Europe and $38 in Asia. Data provider Refinitiv said average gas output in the U.S. Lower 48 states rose to 98.7 bcfd so far in September from a record 98.0 bcfd in August. With cooler autumn weather coming, Refinitiv projected average U.S. gas demand, including exports, would slip from 92.4 bcfd this week to 91.4 bcfd next week and 88.7 bcfd in two weeks. The forecasts for next week was higher than Refinitiv's outlook on Thursday. The average amount of gas flowing to U.S. LNG export plants rose to 11.3 bcfd so far in September from 11.0 bcfd in August. That compares with a monthly record of 12.9 bcfd in March.

 USA Could See Strong Hurricane Enter Gulf of Mexico by Mid-Week - Oil prices moved lower this week on economic concerns magnified by a decision to increase interest rates by the U.S. Federal Reserve. WTI fell to $82.40 per barrel at one point but managed to move back up over the $83 level. Brent hit two consecutive daily lows of $89.30 before rebounding to over the $90 mark. Early week, traders focused on a report that August permits for new houses were the lowest in two years sparked by increased material costs and higher mortgage rates scaring-off potential buyers. But the main focus this week was on the U.S. Fed as the decision was made to raise the federal funds rate by 0.75 percent in a continuing effort to curb inflation. The higher lending rates have been viewed as stunting economic growth and, in turn, demand for energy. A mostly bearish inventory report added to the downside push. On the bullish front, traders had to consider reports that the output of the OPEC+ group was 3.5 million barrels less than the quota amounts, as well as the possibility of Russia escalating their war with Ukraine. This week’s EIA Weekly Petroleum Status Report indicated that inventories of commercial crude rose for the third-straight week, adding 1.1 million barrels to 431 million and now just two percent below normal for this time of year. The API reported that inventories rose by one million barrels while the WSJ survey predicted a gain of 2.2 million barrels. Refinery utilization unexpectedly ticked higher to 93.6 percent, up 2.1 from 91.5 percent the prior week. Total motor gasoline inventories increased by 1.6 million barrels to 214.6 million barrels, decreasing to six percent below average. Distillates increased 1.2 million barrels to 117.3 million barrels, now at 18 percent below normal. Crude oil stocks at the key Cushing, OK, hub rose 343,000 barrels to 25 million barrels, or 33 percent of capacity. Imports of crude were 6.95 million barrels vs 5.8 million barrels the prior week, while exports were 3.54 million barrels per day, up from 3.52 million barrels per day the prior week. Exports of refined products were 6.7 million barrels per day. Volumes withdrawn from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve were 6.7 million barrels, which dropped the total inventory to 427 million barrels. Total reserves of the government’s oil, which are at 1984 levels, are now less than the total commercial inventory. The U.S. government has now sold about 218 million barrels in the past year. Meanwhile, the DOE is offering another 10 million barrels of SPR oil for delivery in November. U.S. oil production held at 12.1 million barrels per day vs 10.6 million barrels per day last year at this time. The U.S. oil and gas rig count increased three rigs last week to 763 for the first rise in three weeks. Rates for Very Large Crude Carriers (VLCCs) from the U.S. Gulf Coast to China increased by 39 percent just since early August based upon increasing demand. The UAE has moved-up its target of five million barrels per day to 2025 from an original date of 2030. The Emirates were in a prior dispute with Saudi Arabia over their desire to produce as much as they can while oil is in demand, fearing a global move away from fossil fuels in the future. Seaborne barrels of Russian Urals fell to their lowest level since September despite heavily discounted prices. The pending EU boycott of Russian crude may only worsen their situation. While hurricane season has yet to impact the U.S. Gulf of Mexico, Hurricane Fiona has her sights set on Eastern Canada which could disrupt a 300,000 barrel per day refinery in New Brunswick. Still, forecasters indicate the U.S. could see a strong hurricane enter the Gulf of Mexico by mid-week. In a major ‘about face’, the UK has lifted the ban on hydrofracturing as the country tries to deal with its energy crisis. All three major stock indexes got pummeled this week on the interest rate hike report and look to settle lower week-on-week. The U.S. dollar gained strength on the inflation-curbing measure which resulted in keeping crude from gaining much ground. Natural gas broke sharply to the downside on a bearish inventory report and moderating temperatures as we head into the fall season. After rising above $8.00/MMBtu at one point, Henry Hub September NYMEX futures traded down to near $7.00/MMBtu and look to settle lower on the week. The EIA Weekly Natural Gas Storage Report showed an injection of +103 Bcf last week vs forecasts calling for 69 Bcf. Total stored gas now stands at 2.87 Tcf, around -6.4 percent vs year-ago levels and -10.4 percent from the five-year average. There are essentially only five weeks of injection left before the official start of winter on November 1. Weekly injections would now have to average 165 Bcf to get to a total storage level of just 3.7 Tcf. By comparison, last November started at 3.6 Tcf while November 2020 was 3.96 and November 2019 was 3.7 Tcf. U.S. natural gas production last week hit a record high of 100 Bcfd. The polar vortex is circulating again ahead of the coming winter. The path of the North American Jetstream will determine just how far south this area of frigid temperatures will reach. Early models predict a normal seasonal pattern which will impact the Northeast and Upper-Midwest U.S. mainly.

Biden administration proposes revisions to offshore drilling safety regulations – The Biden administration has proposed offshore drilling safety measures that it said would help prevent oil spills and protect workers and the environment. The announcement came during a recent conference call between Interior Secretary Deb Haaland and reporters. The proposal aims to restore some of the safety provisions put in place by the Obama administration in 2016 following the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The Trump administration had revised the rules in 2019 to reduce what the oil and gas industry said was a financial burden. The rule revisions would tighten technical requirements for blowout prevention systems and mandate speedier failure investigations. They also require companies to submit failure data directly to BSEE rather than to third parties. Under the new rule, inspections of such failures will also need to start sooner. Under the Trump administration, inspections needed to begin 120 days after a failure; they would now need to start in 90. Under the Obama rule, inspections had to be finished within 120 days. The proposal is open to public comment until Nov. 14. The Interior Department indicated that it would further tweak the rules, but the new proposal does not appear to be an exact replication of what was put forth during the Obama years. The Biden administration estimates that the changes will cost between $2.2 million and $2.4 million over a 10-year period.

Oil And Gas Jobs Are Bouncing Back In The Lone Star State - Two years ago, oil and gas companies in Texas were laying off employees amid the most severe downturn in the industry’s history. This year, job growth in America’s oil and gas heartland has been so strong that labor shortages have prevented the industry from expanding.According to the latest data, Texas added 2,600 new oil and gas jobs in August in the upstream sector. That was a decline from July when the upstream industry added 3,100 new jobs, but still a robust number and the latest proof that oil and gas companies are over the pandemic. “Upstream employment is growing steadily alongside the world’s demand for affordable, reliable energy. The Texas oil and natural gas industry continues to play its leadership role in enhancing national and energy security in our nation and for our trade allies around the world,” said the president of the Texas Oil and Gas Association, commenting on the numbers released by the Texas Workforce Commission.The data shows that since September 2020, the trough of the latest downturn, the upstream industry in Texas has added jobs at an average monthly rate of 1,943, for a total of 44,700 jobs added over the past two years. As of August, the total number of people employed by Texas upstream businesses stood at 201,700.Upstream oil and gas employment is growing strongly in New Mexico as well: Texas and New Mexico share the Permian basin, seen as the top performer in the U.S. shale patch. The New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions expects employment in that sector to expand by 10.8 percent by 2028.Even with these strong employment growth rates, U.S. oil and gas is being plagued by a labor shortage that is interfering with growth plans, as frugal as these plans are. A lot of the limited production growth in the shale patch has been blamed on shareholders insisting they see some cash returns after years of backing drillers, but the lack of workers has also had a part to play.Back in April this year, the Wall Street Journal reported that the Permian was “running out of the workers, cash and equipment needed to produce more oil.” Author Collin Eaton noted that many workers who were let go during the pandemic simply did not return to their old jobs when those became available. Some, he noted, left mid-project to look for higher wages elsewhere.Since then, the number of oil and gas jobs has continued to grow, but not fast enough, it appears, compounded by shortages of materials and equipment, too. Shareholders in public companies are still the biggest culprit, according to analysts and to the companies themselves.

Natural Gas Drilling Eases Lower as Numbers Grow in Oil Patch -The U.S. natural gas rig count fell two units to 160 for the week ended Friday (Sept. 23), while a three-rig increase in the oil patch pushed the combined domestic tally one unit higher overall to 764, according to updated numbers from Baker Hughes Co. (BKR). The combined 764 active U.S. rigs as of Friday represents a 243-rig increase over year-earlier levels, according to the BKR numbers, which are partly based on data from Enverus.Total land drilling was unchanged week/week, while the Gulf of Mexico added one rig overall to raise its total to 15. Vertical drilling increased by two rigs, while one directional rig was added for the period. Partially offsetting was a two-rig decline in horizontal drilling, the BKR data show.The Canadian rig count climbed four units for the period to reach 215, reflecting gains of two oil-directed rigs and two natural gas-directed units. Canada’s rig count as of Friday was up 53 units over year-ago levels.Broken down by major drilling region, the Cana Woodford added two rigs week/week, while the Arkoma Woodford, Marcellus Shale and Permian Basin each added one rig. The Ardmore Woodford, Granite Wash, Utica Shale and Williston Basin each posted one-rig declines for the period.Counting by state, New Mexico picked up three rigs week/week, while Louisiana, Oklahoma and Pennsylvania each added one. On the other side of the ledger, Texas dropped two rigs from its total, while Kansas, North Dakota and West Virginia dropped one rig each, the BKR data show Domestic crude output stalled during the week-earlier period at a level below the 2022 peak, and far lower than the pre-pandemic high, according to updated data released earlier in the week by the Energy Information Administration (EIA)After climbing earlier in the summer, U.S. production flattened for the past four weeks at 12.1 million b/d, EIA said in its Weekly Petroleum Status Report. That kept output below the 2022 high of 12.2 million b/d and about 1 million b/d lower than the pre-pandemic pinnacle reached in early 2020.Exploration and production companies have boosted output from well below 12.0 million b/d in the pandemic’s immediate aftermath in 2021 and early this year. But they have done so cautiously amid political pressure to invest more in renewables and bouts of oil demand uncertainty.

 Why U.S. Shale Producers Aren’t Riding To The Rescue Despite Tight Oil Supplies - The great U.S. shale machine has hit a wall. Drilling and fracking activity has flatlined, and some shale executives are warning that U.S. production growth may come in below expectations – perhaps by a lot. That’s bad news for oil markets that are already supply constrained. Spare capacity problems within the OPEC+ cartel are well-documented, an Iran nuclear deal that would unleash more Iranian oil onto global markets looks unlikely, and record crude oil releases from the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) are coming to an end in a couple of weeks, and a looming EU embargo is set to disrupt Russian oil exports further. The oil market is set to suffer another big supply crunch, which means a spike in prices. Despite intense market signals that more supply is needed, shale producers say a bailout is not in the cards. U.S. producers are doing everything they can under the circumstances. Indeed, shale executives are warning European policymakers that they can’t rescue Europe from a supply crunch if Russian output is further constrained. Shale producers will still enjoy substantial growth this year and next – it just may underwhelm market watchers compared to the high expectations and past performance. U.S. oil production has stagnated at around 12.1 million barrels daily for the past few weeks. That’s a considerable rebound after a decline to less than 10 million barrels a day when oil prices crashed during the pandemic. Still, it’s far from the 13 million barrels a day America was producing before the pandemic. More troubling, U.S. drilling and fracking activity has been flat since mid-June, with about 600 oil rigs operating over this span. The active oil rigs in the Permian Basin now number 316 – the lowest in four months. That suggests that the most prolific U.S. shale basin, the main driver of America’s oil production growth, is going through a significant slowdown, which points to sluggish volumes in the future. No one should be surprised if America fails to add the 1 million barrels per day this year that experts expected. Scott Sheffield, CEO of Pioneer Natural Resources, expects U.S. production to rise by just 500,000 barrels a day this year – and next year’s gains could fall well below the 800,000 barrels a day increase now foreseen by the U.S. Energy Information Administration. What’s going on here? Pre-pandemic, shale was single-handedly adding enough supply each year to meet global demand growth. Now, the sector appears to be coming up short. Part of this is down to supply chain issues, inflation, and infrastructure constraints – the sorts of things that give producers less bang for their buck and cause them to think twice about new investments. These issues have been problematic across the global economy for some time. What’s unique for the energy industry is the extreme volatility in commodity markets that we’ve seen recently. In the third quarter, so far, international benchmark Brent crude and U.S. marker West Texas Intermediate (WTI) are down about 20 percent for the worst quarterly percentage decline since the start of the pandemic in 2020. WTI was over $120 a barrel in June but dropped to $80 last month. It now trades at around $85 a barrel. That kind of whipsawing of prices gives pause to any producer thinking about making new capital outlays. Rising interest rates and fear of an economic recession are weighing on executives’ minds, despite the incentive of supply tightness in energy markets. Sheffield thinks oilfield inflation will remain steady at roughly 10 percent through 2023 but warns that diesel prices – required to power most drilling rigs and fracking equipment – are a potential driver of higher inflation. Diesel stockpiles have fallen on solid demand and exports, and U.S. supplies stand near five-year lows ahead of winter, a time of strong demand for this fuel type. There are also investor and political pressures holding back shale production. Wall Street is not blessing significant production increases at this time, preferring instead a low-production, high-profit model that prioritizes dividends and share buybacks. Compensation incentives for executives in the shale industry are now dominated by cash return targets rather than production growth targets. That means the low-growth model is baked into the sector. The Biden administration’s anti-fossil fuel policies and messaging have not helped the investment environment. The White House may ask producers for more supply today, but their policy priorities seek to eliminate the need for that additional supply within five years. This timeline is woefully short in an industry that often makes investments on timelines of 20 years or longer. Even for shale plays with shorter investment cycles, there’s little incentive to invest millions of dollars into new rigs and employees if companies don’t see a long-term return. It all adds up to something close to paralysis for the shale sector. With so many forces pushing and pulling at once, the prudent move in the minds of many executives is to do nothing – to wait and see how this crazy market pans out.

DOE Announces Notice of Sale of Additional Crude Oil From the Strategic Petroleum Reserve | Department of Energy -- Notice is Part of Biden-Harris Administration’s Continued Action to Protect American Consumers and Address the Global Supply Disruption Caused by Putin’s Energy Price Hike — The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Petroleum Reserves today announced a Notice of Sale of up to 10 million barrels of crude oil to be delivered from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) in November 2022. This Notice of Sale is part of President Biden’s announcement on March 31, 2022 authorizing the sale of crude oil from the SPR as continued support to help address the significant market supply disruption caused by Putin’s war on Ukraine and aid in lowering energy costs for American families. The President’s announcement authorized DOE to release up to 180 million barrels from the SPR to serve as a wartime bridge as domestic production—which is expected to reach a new record next year—ramps back up. This historic release of SPR crude has already provided approximately 155 million barrels of crude oil supply to the U.S. economy—resulting in certainty of supply for American consumers. Today’s announcement will bring the total to 165 million barrels out of the 180 million barrels the President authorized in March. DOE plans to release up to 10 million barrels of sweet crude oil with deliveries in November 2022 from the Big Hill and West Hackberry SPR storage sites. DOE must receive bids for this notice no later than 10:00 a.m. Central Time on September 27, 2022. Contracts will be awarded to successful offerors no later than October 7, 2022.
The sale will be conducted with the following crude oil options from the following two SPR sites:

  • Up to 5 million barrels from Big Hill
  • Up to 5 million barrels from West Hackberry

The SPR is the world's largest supply of emergency crude oil, and the federally owned oil stocks are stored in underground salt caverns at four storage sites in Texas and Louisiana. The SPR has a long history of protecting the economy and American livelihoods in times of emergency oil shortages. A recent analysis from the Department of the Treasury estimates that SPR releases this year, along with coordinated releases from international partners, have reduced gasoline prices by up to about 40 cents per gallon compared to what they would have been absent these drawdowns. Since June 2022, retail gas prices have dropped for more than thirteen consecutive weeks.

U.S. to sell up to 10 mln bbls of oil from SPR for Nov. delivery - The US Energy Department said on Monday it will sell up to 10 million barrels of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, for delivery in November, extending the timing of a plan to sell 180 million barrels from the stockpile to tame fuel prices. President Joe Biden's plan announced in March of the largest release of oil from SPR in history had aimed to sell 180 million barrels by the end of October. So far, only 155 million barrels have been sold and the next sale will bring the total to 165 million barrels, the department said. The sale will be of oil low in sulphur, known as sweet crude, from the SPR's sites in Big Hill, Texas and West Hackberry, Louisiana. Contracts will be awarded no later than Oct. 7. The SPR holds oil in heavily-guarded former salt caverns along the Gulf of Mexico coast. There is no date set for selling a full 180 million barrels. "As we look to the future, I think what you're seeing right now is us evaluating the current market dynamics and making sure that our releases align with the needs," a senior Biden administration official told reporters in a call about the sale. High gasoline prices have been a vulnerability for the Biden administration and the deliveries will take place in the same month as the Nov. 8 midterm elections in which the president's fellow Democrats hope to keep control of Congress. US gasoline pump prices have fallen from above $5.00 a gallon in June to about $3.68 today.

Arizona Woman Sentenced to Six Years in Prison for Conspiracy to Damage the Dakota Access Pipeline– An Arizona woman was sentenced today in federal court to six years in prison for Conspiracy to Damage an Energy Facility. Ruby Katherine Montoya, age 32, was ordered to serve three years of supervised release to follow her prison term and pay $3,198,512.70 in restitution.According to court documents, Montoya, and co-defendant Jessica Reznicek, as early as November 8, 2016, and continuing until May 2, 2017, conspired with other individuals to damage the Dakota Access Pipeline at several locations within the Southern District of Iowa, Northern District of Iowa, and the District of South Dakota. Specifically, Montoya admitted to damaging and attempting to damage the pipeline by: (1) using an oxyacetylene cutting torch to burn holes in the pipeline, and (2) setting fire to pipeline instrumentation and equipment in Mahaska, Boone, and Wapello Counties within the Southern District of Iowa.U.S. Attorney Richard D. Westphal stated, “The sentence imposed today demonstrates that any crime of domestic terrorism will be aggressively investigated and prosecuted by the federal government. The seriousness of the defendant’s actions – that occurred multiple times, at different locations, resulting in over $3 million dollars in restitution – warranted the significant prison sentence imposed by the Court and should deter others who think of engaging in such criminal acts.”Following the sentencing, FBI Omaha Special Agent in Charge Eugene Kowel said, “The sentence received by Ruby Montoya sends a clear message that those who commit violence through an act of domestic terrorism will be identified, investigated, and prosecuted. The FBI is committed to protecting the American people. We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to bring domestic terrorists to justice.” Montoya’s co-defendant, Jessica Reznicek, was sentenced to 96 months imprisonment on June 30, 2021.

The long legal saga of DAPL arsonist Ruby Montoya --A week after FBI agents ransacked her bedroom in August 2017, Ruby Montoya sat before a videographer. Just steps away from the rooms where FBI agents had hauled dozens of bags and boxes from the Des Moines Catholic Worker House where Montoya lived, the 27-year-old addressed his questions with a preternatural calm.“You really put your life on the line. How do you feel about the whole ordeal?” he asked. “I don’t have kids,” she explained. “I don’t have any obligations like that, and I saw a necessity to act in a different way that I believe is more effective.” That “way” entailed a series of arsons that Montoya and her friend and Catholic Worker housemate, Jessica Reznicek, committed along the route of the Dakota Access Pipeline a few months earlier. Beginning on election night 2016 and continuing intermittently through early May 2017, the women ignited oil-soaked rags to try to destroy heavy machinery. They also lit acetylene torches to burn holes in the 1,172-mile-long pipeline, which at the time was under construction but nearing completion. Though the women were never apprehended by law enforcement while taking these actions, they failed to stop completion of the pipeline. So, that July, Montoya and Reznicek called a press conference and took credit for the arsons, even though they knew doing so would expose them to felony prosecution. “If we have any regrets, it is that we did not act enough,” the women said in their joint statement, which was intended to steer attention toward the threat the pipeline posed to drinking water sources along its route from North Dakota to Patoka, Illinois. (This pipeline has leaked at least five times since it began carrying oil in May 2017.)“We anticipated the repercussions of every action that we took,” Montoya told another interviewer that same summer. “We were fully prepared going into it, in that mental mind game of, ‘I’m driving myself to jail right now.’” Despite expressing their willingness to surrender themselves to authorities in the weeks following their credit claim and the FBI raid that followed, law enforcement officials did not bring charges for more than two years. By early September 2019, the women were a thousand miles apart. Reznicek lived with nuns and attended daily mass at the St. Scholastica monastery in Duluth, Minnesota. Montoya taught grades 3 and 4 at the Running River Waldorf School in Sedona, Arizona.By that month’s end, however, a grand jury had indicted both women on nine identical federal felonies. Each faced a maximum 110 years in jail — one of the most aggressive prosecutions of environmental activists in U.S. history. After accepting a plea deal, Reznicek was sentenced to eight years in prison last year. Half of those years are the result of a controversial terrorism enhancement that the government applied to her sentence.On Thursday, more than five years after admitting to her crimes, Montoya was sentenced to six years in federal prison. Her sentenced was lengthened by a terrorism enhancement similar to Reznicek’s. After Montoya was sentenced, she was immediately handcuffed by U.S. Marshals and escorted out of the federal courtroom in Des Moines, Iowa.*

More than 8,000 gallons of oil spill in Williams County after pipeline ruptures - — An estimated 8,400 gallons of crude oil spilled from a pipeline in Williams County, N.D., on Tuesday, Sept. 20, according to a news release from the state Department of Environmental Quality. Stealth Oilwell Services, a third-party contractor, struck a pipeline owned by Enable Bakken Crude while digging in the ground. Enable Bakken Crude is a subsidiary of Texas-based Energy Transfer, which operates the Dakota Access Pipeline. The spill about 14 miles south of Tioga impacted agricultural land, but no oil flowed into water sources, according to paperwork filed by an Energy Transfer employee. If severe enough, oil spills can render affected farmland unusable for years after the fact. The pipeline was shut down after the spill, and workers have recovered most of the spilled oil. Department officials will continue inspecting the site and monitoring remediation efforts, according to the release.

Judge approves $230M settlement in California oil spill case — A judge has approved a $230 million lawsuit settlement by the owners of a pipeline that spilled more than 140,000 gallons of crude oil into the ocean off California in 2015, lawyers announced Thursday. A federal judge in Los Angeles gave final approval on Tuesday to a settlement of a class-action suit that blamed All American Pipeline, L.P. and Plains Pipeline, L.P. for the May 2015 spill off the Santa Barbara coast. The corroded undersea pipeline ruptured north of Refugio State Beach in Santa Barbara County, northwest of Los Angeles. All American Pipeline later estimated that 142,800 gallons spilled. It was the worst California coastal oil spill since 1969. It blackened popular beaches for miles, killing or fouling hundred of seabirds, seals and other wildlife and hurting tourism and fishing. “Due to failed maintenance and extensive pipeline corrosion, the pipeline ruptured and spilled, devastating the fishing industry and soiling coastal properties from Santa Barbara County to Los Angeles County,” said a press statement from the law firms that filed the suit. People who believe they may be entitled to some of the money have until Oct. 31 to submit claims.

California relied heavily on natural gas during Sept heat wave -EIA - During an extreme heat wave in early September, the California power grid relied on natural gas for almost half of its electricity generation to meet peak demand, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said on Wednesday.For brief periods during the week of Sept. 4, natural gas accounted for up to 60% of theCalifornia Independent System Operator fuel mix, compared with 32% for the year prior to the record-setting demand week, the EIA said. CAISO typically relies on natural gas, hydroelectric power, and electricity imports to meet peak demand, the EIA said, adding that less efficient and costlier natural gas units are often the last resort.During the hours between 5 p.m. and 9 p.m., when cooling demand peaks and solar energy output wanes, the share of natural gas in the mix rose to more than half for the week of Sept. 4, CAISO data showed.Meanwhile, the share of lower carbon-emitting sources, such as solar, wind and nuclear, dropped to 24% for the week of Sept. 4, from 40% for the year up to that week, the data showed.The grid operator avoided rolling outages by urging customers to conserve energy for 10 consecutive days through the heat wave, as homes and businesses in the drought-stricken region cranked up their air conditioners.

U.S. Refiners May Soon Purchase More Canadian Crude - Canada’s benchmark heavy oil price could soon see a boost as U.S. refiners are expected to return to buying large volumes of Canadian crude once the massive releases from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) by the Biden Administration end in October, traders and analysts tell Reuters. The U.S. Administration authorized in March the release of 1 million barrels per day (bpd) from the SPR over a period of six months in a bid to lower oil prices and potentially boost domestic production through contracts with companies to purchase future oil at fixed prices. The SPR releases are a response to the disruption of global oil markets caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and subsequent Western sanctions that have led to soaring oil and gas prices. Since the 180-million-barrel SPR release over six months is mostly of sour crude, the discount of Western Canadian Select (WCS)—the benchmark price of oil from Canada’s oil sands delivered at Hardisty, Alberta—relative to the U.S. benchmark WTI has widened this summer. With the expected end of the SPR releases next month, U.S. refiners are set to boost imports of crude from Canada and from other producers of sour and heavier crudes. “When the SPR releases finish, these refiners will look to lean harder again on Canadian barrels or seaborne imports,” Matt Smith, lead oil analyst for the Americas at Kpler, told Reuters. This would narrow the discount of the Canadian oil benchmark to the U.S. benchmark, analysts say. This summer, the WCS discount has widened to $20 per barrel below WTI. Last year, the WTI-WCS price differential averaged $12.78 per barrel, according to the Alberta Energy Regulator. Before the market turmoil caused by the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the SPR releases in the U.S. in response to the high oil prices, the regulator expected the WTI-WCS price differential to average $14.00 per barrel this year.

Petroperu says latest oil spill stemmed from sabotaged pipeline — Peru's state-run oil company Petroperu Sunday reported an attack against the Norperuvian Oil Pipeline (ONP) in the jungle region of Loreto had caused a spill triggering environmental contingency protocols. “Police authorities and Petroperu have been able to confirm that the crude oil leak that spread along the Cuninico river and reached the Marañon river on Friday was the result of an intentional 21-centimeter cut to the pipe,” the company said in a statement. The Cuninico is a major tributary to the Marañon river, which in turn is a major contributor to the Amazon river. “The cut has been sealed with a metal clamp to contain the hydrocarbon,” the company also reported. Petroperu reported the presence of traces of crude oil in the Cuninico river, in the Loreto region (northern jungle), after complaints of contamination from native communities. “Six communities do not have water to drink or to prepare their food,” said indigenous “apu” (leader) Galo Vásquez of the Cuninico people. The Prosecution has launched a probe into the causes of the incident. Petroperu has reported 10 attacks on its pipeline in Loreto since January, which have caused oil spills. The pipeline has recorded at least 29 acts of sabotage since 2014, according to the National Society of Mining, Petroleum, and Energy. The company also noted that 19 barriers have been installed so far to prevent the spread of hydrocarbons while dialoguing with local groups “to continue with the containment and cleaning work.” “To this end, the personnel crews carry out patrolling and supervision work in order to identify other sectors of the river that require the installation of this containment equipment. In the same way, the definitive repair of the pipeline will be carried out,” Petroperu pointed out.

Where Is the Most Dangerous Offshore Region for Oil, Gas Right Now? -The answer to that question really depends on the sector of oil and gas where you work, Dryad Global Chief Executive Officer Corey Ranslem told Rigzone.“If you look at the oil rigs then it would be the Bay of Campeche in the Gulf of Mexico,” Ranslem said. “We have seen the number and types of attacks increase over the past year along with the level of violence. Assailants are now armed and are increasing the number of attacks against oil rigs in this region,” Ranslem added.“If you manage tankers there are two areas in the world designed as high risk, the Gulf of Guinea and Libya. Just in the past week we’ve seen fighting pick up on the outskirts of Tripoli. We also saw a recent boarding on a cargo ship in the anchorage off Guinea,” Ranslem continued.When asked if there is anything oil and gas workers can do to stay safe in these regions, Ranslem offered some practical advice.“Stay vigilant and keep a good visual and radio watch,” he said.“The other major recommendation is to have a plan in place of how to deal with the intruders in these situations. Right now, we aren’t seeing kidnappings like we did off Somalia, but that doesn’t mean it can’t happen,” Ranslem added. Ranslem has 27 years of experience in the public and private sector working with ports, cargo lines, cruise lines and large yachts, Dryad Global’s website highlights. He is a veteran of the U.S. Coast Guard and is a recognized expert in U.S. Federal Court in maritime security, the site shows.

Aker BP picks compatriot firm for oil spill monitoring system - Norway’s oil and gas company Aker BP has selected compatriot technology supplier Vissim to develop an expanded digital platform for future oil spill monitoring and detection system on the Norwegian continental shelf. Vissim will develop a software solution that integrates input from a number of different oil spill detection sources, including radars, satellites, and sensors on subsea production equipment, and combine them into one visual overview. The solution will be applied to all Aker BP-operated assets on the Norwegian continental shelf. Additionally, it will integrate meteorological data to allow Aker BP to plan for so-called compensating measures in connection with its offshore operations. Vissim’s oil spill detection system is said to be based on its comprehensive OCEAN data platform that enables AI and machine learning.

More Than 5 Million People In UK Go Without Food To Pay Energy Bills - Millions of Britons have faced impossible choices in recent months as the cost-of-living crisis has worsened, with 5.6 million people, or 11%, having gone without food because of the rising cost of living as energy and food prices soar, the Money Advice Trust charity said in a new report on Wednesday. As of August 2022, a fifth of UK adults, or 21%, were behind on one or more household bill, the report found. That’s up from 15% in March 2022. Unsurprisingly, energy was the most common bill for people to be behind on, with 1 in 9, or 11%, currently in energy arrears. And 1 in 9 adults in the UK say that their energy supplier had increased their monthly payments to a level they could not afford. As of August, a total of 10.9 million people are behind on household bills, which is an increase of 3 million people since March 2022, Money Advice Trust said. “My energy costs are huge now so I’m in debt for the first time. I can’t afford school uniform for my kids. I can’t afford to care for my disabled child adequately,” one respondent in the survey said. Moreover, 5.9 million people, or 11%, said they had gone without heating, electricity, or water in the past three months as a result of the rising cost of living, the report showed. The UK’s new Prime Minister Liz Truss has a $147 billion (£130 billion) plan to freeze household energy bills at their current levels. As the energy and cost-of-living crisis in the UK deepens, the Truss government is looking to avoid an 80% planned surge in the so-called price cap on household energy bills set to kick in in October. Truss is looking to freeze the annual household bill for gas and electricity at the current level of $2,235 (£1,971) or below.

UK Government Lifts Shale Gas Production Moratorium - The UK department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has announced that, to bolster the UK’s energy security, the government has lifted the moratorium on shale gas production in England and confirmed its support for a new oil and gas licensing round. BEIS revealed that the government will consider future applications for hydraulic fracturing consent, adding that developers will need to have the necessary licenses, permissions and consents in place before they can commence operations. The department highlighted that the decision to lift the shale moratorium comes alongside the publication of the British Geological Survey’s (BGS) scientific review into shale gas extraction, which was commissioned earlier this year. The review recognized that we have limited current understanding of UK geology and onshore shale resources, BEIS noted, adding that “it is clear that we need more sites drilled in order to gather better data and improve the evidence base”. BEIS stated that lifting the pause on shale gas extraction will enable drilling to gather this further data, “building an understanding of UK shale gas resources and how we can safely carry out shale gas extraction in the UK where there is local support”. The department also revealed that a new licensing round is expected to be launched by the North Sea Transition Authority (NSTA) in early October. This round is expected to lead to over 100 new licenses and the NSTA is expected to make a number of new blocks of the UK Continental Shelf available, BEIS outlined. The department also revealed that the UK is scaling up renewables, nuclear, and lower carbon energy sources “to boost Britain’s energy security in the long term”. “In light of Putin’s illegal invasion of Ukraine and weaponization of energy, strengthening our energy security is an absolute priority, and, as the Prime Minister said, we are going to ensure the UK is a net energy exporter by 2040,” Business and Energy Secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg said in a government statement. “To get there we will need to explore all avenues available to us through solar, wind, oil and gas production - so it’s right that we’ve lifted the pause to realize any potential sources of domestic gas,” he added. Commenting on the UK’s latest shale development, Charles McAllister, the director of policy, government and public affairs at industry body UK onshore oil and gas (UKOOG), said, “UKOOG welcomes the new Written Ministerial Statement, which formally lifts the moratorium on hydraulic fracturing in England and seeks to better support the industry throughout the life cycle of development”. “UK shale gas offers evident economic, environmental and geopolitical benefits not provided by a continued over-reliance on energy imports. The BGS report clearly states that more data collection is needed in the UK and we are ready to provide proposals to government to do just that,” he added. McAllister noted that UKOOG continues to support the UK’s transition to net zero and said “every single costed net zero compliant scenario recognizes the need for natural gas and oil throughout and at the outcome of our 2050 goal”. “The development of a UK shale gas industry, amongst other technologies, provides a credible path for the UK to become an energy exporter by 2040, following on from 2021 where the UK produced the least amount of energy in over 50 years,” he said. Also commenting on the UK’s shale news, Cuadrilla Resources Limited CEO Francis Egan said, “I am very pleased that the government has quickly and decisively followed up the Prime Minister’s announcement of two week ago with … [the] WMS”. “Communities across the North of England stand to benefit most from … [the] announcement. Cuadrilla is determined that a portion of all shale gas revenue should be delivered to local residents as a community dividend. This would mean each producing shale gas site could generate potentially hundreds of millions of pounds for local households, families, and communities,” he added.

Thousands Take To The Streets In Belgium Against Soaring Energy Prices - Thousands of people protested against soaring electricity prices and costs of living in the Belgian capital Brussels on Wednesday, following a similar protest the day before in Slovakia, and earlier this month in the Czech Republic. In what has been dubbed “a national day of action”, as reported by the Associated Press, some 10,000 people protested across the country, demanding solutions to soaring electricity and natural gas prices and skyrocketing costs of living. According to AP, citing a Belgian media poll, at a time when electricity and gas bills have nearly doubled from a year ago, some 64% of Belgians are concerned they may not be able to pay their energy bills. In June, some 70,000 Belgium workers also took to the streets, protesting sharp spikes in the cost of living. On Tuesday, similar protests were launched in Slovakia, where several thousand rallied in the capital Bratislava against high inflation. The anti-government protests were organized by the leftist opposition, but also joined by far-right forces. Protesters blame the government’s support of Ukraine for soaring inflation. In the first week of September, mass protests also rocked the Czech Republic, with some 70,000 people gathering in the capital Prague to demonstrate against the government for skyrocketing costs of living in a move the Czech prime minister warned had been influenced by Russian propaganda. Risk consultancy Verisk Maplecroft’s civil unrest index shows that more than half of the 198 countries covered by the index saw an increase in civil unrest in the past quarter. “The world is facing an unprecedented rise in civil unrest as governments of all stripes grapple with the impacts of inflation on the price of staple foods and energy,” principal analyst Torbjorn Soldvedt said.

Portugal says could face shortage if Nigeria does not deliver all LNG due - Portugal could face supply problems this winter if Nigeria does not deliver all the liquefied natural gas (LNG) it is due to, the European Union country's environment and energy minister said on Monday. Asked whether with many countries now looking for alternatives to Russian gas there was a chance that Nigeria might not meet its LNG supply volumes, Duarte Cordeiro said that while the government had given Lisbon assurances that it would do so, "there is a risk of it not complying". "From one day to another, we may have a problem, such as not being supplied the volume of gas that is planned," Cordeiro told a conference in Lisbon hosted by CNN Portugal. Cordeiro did not say what would prevent Nigeria supplying the LNG it was contracted to. Oil and gas output in Nigeria has been throttled by theft and vandalism of pipelines, leaving gas producer Nigeria LNG Ltd's terminal at Bonny Island operating at 60 per cent capacity. Nigeria LNG, which is owned by state-oil company NNPC Ltd, Shell, TotalEnergies and Eni, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Although Portugal has its gas reserves at 100 per cent of storage capacity, Cordeiro said that if fewer Nigerian LNG deliveries materialised, it would have to look for alternative supplies. With other European countries doing the same, this would likely lead to higher imported gas prices, he said. Portugal last year imported 2.8 billion cubic meters of LNG from Nigeria, or 49.5 per cent of total imports, while the United States was the second-largest supplier with a share of 33.3 per cent. Its other suppliers include Trinidad and Tobago, Algeria, Qatar and Russia, the latter accounting for just 2 per cent last year. Portugal is "diversifying its suppliers to increase the country's energy security", Cordeiro said, adding that it is adopting strategies to lower gas consumption, while boosting its already high production of electricity through renewables. "Portugal has been preparing, like all of Europe, for what will be a difficult winter," he said, urging the European Commission to move forward with the implementation of a joint gas purchasing platform and defining import prices. .

Greenpeace Activists Block Unloading Of Russian Gas In Finland - Activists from Greenpeace Nordic have stopped the ship Coral Energice from unloading its cargo of Russian fossil gas at an LNG terminal in Röyttä, Tornio, Northern Finland. Greenpeace activists in kayaks prevented the ship from docking while climbers occupied the cranes that were supposed to unload the gas from the ship. The activists also demanded from the Finnish government to immediately stop imports of Russian fossil gas. “It’s completely unacceptable that Russian fossil gas is still allowed to flow into Finland, more than six months after Putin began his invasion of Ukraine. The Finnish government and prime minister Sanna Marin must ban all Russian fossil fuel imports immediately. The state-owned company Gasum should not be allowed to continue funding the war in Ukraine”, says Olli Tiainen, climate and energy campaigner at Greenpeace Nordic. Finnish state-owned company Gasum is importing gas from Gazprom and Novatek to Finland and Sweden. According to Greenpeace, importing is being done sometimes directly, but more recently, via a more intricate arrangement where the gas is first transshipped to other vessels at sea. Gasum’s customers in Finland include maritime and shipping operators as well as forest and steel industry companies. Finnish prime minister Sanna Marin stated earlier this year that Finland would be able to cut off all Russian fossil fuel imports fast and the minister for state ownership steering Tytti Tuppurainen commented in August that the LNG imports from Russia should be stopped because Finland, as well as all of Europe, should not be dependent on Russian energy. “Talks about the end of Russian gas imports have now been heard for months, but Gasum is still operating as if the war didn’t exist. The current energy crisis in Europe is caused by Russia’s aggression, and it should be a turning point for Finland and all of Europe. Now is the time we really need to transition away from fossil fuels that fuel both conflicts and crises,” Tiainen added.

Europe's real-time experiment in energy contraction - European society is currently undergoing a real-time experiment in energy contraction. Sanctions imposed on Russia in the wake of the Russia-Ukraine conflict have led to a dramatic reduction in imports of Russian oil and natural gas. The Europeans are still receiving some Russian oil via pipeline though that flow was reduced last month. The reasons for the decline in natural gas deliveries from Russia—deliveries not prevented by Western sanctions—are disputed with each side accusing the other of being the cause. Those of us who have been warning about the coming energy stringency believed that it would result from the rising cost of extracting hydrocarbons—and the inability to bring new production online faster than production is declining from existing wells. In Europe, we are getting an early preview of what such a future looks like when a society is unprepared for a sudden decline in the availability of oil and natural gas.The loss of Russian natural gas imports is shaping up to be nothing less than catastrophic for Europe. Just two years ago the price of gas at the Dutch Title Transfer Facility, Europe's most liquid natural gas market, was hovering around €11 per megawatt hour. At the close last Friday the price was almost 17 times higher at just under €188. At one point in late August the price spiked to €349. In the decade prior to the outbreak of the pandemic, the highest price ever seen for the TTF was a little over €29. Prior to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Russian natural gas constituted 45 percent of all natural gas imports to Europe according to the International Energy Agency. So dependent is Europe on imports of natural gas that Russian imports accounted for 40 percent of TOTAL European consumption.The Russian government has indicated that it is willing to provide gas to Europe once again. All Europe need do is ask and promise to pay its bills (in rubles). For obvious reasons, European governments don't want to strengthen Russia's finances. Beyond this, any renewed flows of gas could be terminated or curtailed as a way to punish Europe if it does not become more flexible on a settlement in Ukraine. This is the backdrop in Europe going into the fall and winter seasons when heating demand for natural gas will rise. That means prices will likely rise and many businesses will likely fail as energy costs overwhelm them. Already smelters and ammonia producers have closed or significantly reduced operations as high energy prices have made those operations unprofitable. Electricity supply—much of which in Europe is generated by gas-fired power plants—is likely to be inadequate leading to blackouts and brownouts. If European businesses are forced to close due to high energy prices during the coming winter, there will likely be widespread unemployment. An economic recession then seems possible. One writer believes the economic effects will be more like a depression.

The Unintended Consequences Of The EU Energy Emergency Plan - This week saw the European Commission's President Ursula von der Leyen do something that would have probably been considered the opposite of democracy just a few years ago. She proposed that governments impose a ceiling on certain energy producers' revenues and add a windfall profit for Big Oil majors. Called "a solidarity contribution" or "a crisis contribution," the windfall tax's aim is the same as the aim of the revenue ceiling: manage energy costs in a runaway inflation environment and get some additional money to, according to the plan, distribute among those who most need it. Like all grand plans, however, unintended consequences abound with this one, and one of the gravest is the discouragement of oil and gas investments at a time when global oil and gas investments are already lower than they should be in light of demand projections. JP Morgan's head of global energy strategy said it this week in an interview with Bloomberg. "If you're planning your capital budget, you have to think twice now that you have a new risk," Malek told Bloomberg. "It encourages majors to return cash to shareholders as they use that free cashflow that could have been used in investment." Per plans, the EU seeks to "raise" some $140 billion from windfall taxes on non-gas electricity generators and oil gas, and coal companies for their "extraordinary record profits benefiting from war and on the back of consumers," to quote Von der Leyen.Reaction from the industry was swift. Austria's OMV said the consequences of such measures could be huge, adding that it was unfair to base the windfall levy proposal on oil companies' profits from the last three years since these were not normal times, Reuters reported, quoting CEO Alfred Stern."We will keep an eye on that, as it can already have a massive impact," Stern told media, noting, however, that the exact impact was difficult to glean because the proposal has yet to be fleshed out.Per von der Leyen's State of the Union speech, in which she listed the windfall tax among measures to cope with the energy crisis, the idea is to tax oil and gas companies with 33 percent of any current-year profits that were 20 percent above the company's average earnings for the last three years.OMV's Stern noted that the last three years included two pandemic years when a lot of companies in the oil and gas industries struggled to stay afloat, let alone post a profit, with oil prices falling as low as $25 per barrel. If what JP Morgan's Malek predicts is correct, this would mean less energy security for the future with less new oil and gas production outside Russia. The key, Malek told Bloomberg, was whether the levy would stay for years or be quickly removed once the money was raised.

Europe, More Than Putin, Must Shoulder The Blame For The Energy Crisis -- The same arrogant, self-righteous posturing from the West that fueled the Ukraine war is now plunging Europe into recession Outraged western leaders are threatening a price cap on imports of Russian natural gas after Moscow cut supplies to Europe this month, deepening an already dire energy and cost-of-living crisis. In response, Russian President Vladimir Putin has warned that Europe will “freeze” this winter unless there is a change of tack. In this back-and-forth, the West keeps stepping up the rhetoric. Putin is accused of using a mix of blackmail and economic terror against Europe. His actions supposedly prove once more that he is a monster who cannot be negotiated with, and a threat to world peace. Denying fuel to Europe as winter approaches, in a bid to weaken the resolve of European states to support Kyiv and alienate European publics from their leaders, is Putin’s opening gambit in a plot to expand his territorial ambitions from Ukraine to the rest of Europe. Or so runs the all-too-familiar narrative shared by western politicians and media. In fact, Europe’s arrogant, self-righteous posturing over Russian gas supplies, divorced from any discernible geopolitical reality, reflects precisely the same foolhardy mindset that helped provoke Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine in the first place.It is also the reason why there has been no exit ramp – a path to negotiations – even as Russia has taken vast swaths of Ukraine’s eastern and southern flanks – territory that cannot be reclaimed without a further massive loss of life on both sides, as the limited Ukrainian assault around Kharkiv has highlighted.The western media has to carry a major share of the blame for these serial failures of diplomacy. Journalists have amplified only too loudly and uncritically what US and European leaders want their publics to believe is going on. But maybe it is time that Europeans heard a little of how things might look to Russian eyes. The media could start by dropping their indignation at “insolent” Moscow for refusing to supply Europe with gas. After all, Moscow has been only too clear about the reason for the shutdown of gas supplies: it is in retaliation for the West imposing economic sanctions – a form of collective punishment on the wider Russian population that risks violating the laws of war.The West is well practiced in waging economic war on weak states, usually in a futile attempt to topple leaders they don’t like or as a softening-up exercise before it sends in troops or proxies. Iran has faced decades of sanctions that have inflicted a devastating toll on its economy and population but done nothing to bring down the government. Meanwhile, Washington is waging what amounts to its own form of economic terrorism on the Afghan people to punish the ruling Taliban for driving out US occupation forces last year in a humiliating fashion. The United Nations reported last month that sanctions had contributed to the risk of more than a million Afghan children dying from starvation. There is nothing virtuous about the current economic sanctions on Russia either, any more than there is about the blackballing of Russian sportspeople and cultural icons. The sanctions are not intended to push Putin to the negotiating table. As US President Biden made clear in March, the West is planning for a long war and he wants to see Putin removed from power.Rather, the goal has been to weaken his authority and – in some fantasy scenario – encourage his subordinates to turn on him. The West’s game plan – if it can be dignified with that term – is to force Putin to overextend Russian forces in Ukraine by flooding the battlefield with armaments, and then watch his government collapse under the weight of popular discontent at home. But in practice, the reverse has been happening, just as it did through the 1990s when the West imposed sanctions on Iraq’s Saddam Hussein. Putin’s position has been bolstered, as it will continue to be whether Russia is triumphing or losing on the battlefield.

Yanis Varoufakis: Time to Blow Up the Electricity Markets --The blades of the wind turbines on the mountain range opposite my window are turning especially energetically today. Last night’s storm has abated but high winds continue, contributing extra kilowatts to the electricity grid at precisely zero additional cost (or marginal cost, in the language of the economists). But the people struggling to make ends meet during a dreadful cost-of-living crisis must pay for these kilowatts as if they were produced by the most expensive liquefied natural gas transported to Greece’s shores from Texas. This absurdity, which prevails well beyond Greece and Europe, must end.The absurdity stems from the delusion that states can simulate a competitive, and thus efficient, electricity market. Because only one electricity cable enters our homes or businesses, leaving matters to the market would lead to a perfect monopoly – an outcome that nobody wants. But governments decided that they could simulate a competitive market to replace the public utilities that used to generate and distribute power. They can’t.The European Union’s power sector is a good example of what market fundamentalism has done to electricity networks the world over. The EU obliged its member states to split the electricity grid from the power-generating stations and privatize the power stations to create new firms, which would compete with one another to provide electricity to a new company owning the grid. This company, in turn, would lease its cables to another host of companies that would buy the electricity wholesale and compete among themselves for the retail business of homes and firms. Competition among producers would minimize the wholesale price, while competition among retailers would ensure that final consumers benefit from low prices and high-quality service. Alas, none of this could be made to work in theory, let alone in practice. The simulated market faced contradictory imperatives: to ensure a minimum amount of electricity within the grid at every point in time, and to channel investment into green energy. The solution proposed by market fundamentalists was twofold: create another market for permissions to emit greenhouse gases, and introduce marginal-cost pricing, which meant that the wholesale price of every kilowatt should equal that of the costliest kilowatt.The emission-permit market was meant to motivate electricity producers to shift to less polluting fuels. Marginal-cost pricing was intended to ensure the minimum level of electricity supply, by preventing low-cost producers from undercutting higher-cost power companies. The prices would give low-cost producers enough profits and reasons to invest in cheaper, less polluting energy sources.

Germany To Nationalize Struggling Uniper In Deepening Energy Crisis - Germany on Wednesday announced a move to nationalize struggling natural gas supplier Uniper SE as it strives to keep the industry functioning in the wake of a global energy crisis, according to Reuters. Uniper is Germany's largest importer of Russian NatGas and has suffered tremendous losses after Russian energy giant Gazprom slashed Nord Stream 1's pipeline capacity to zero, forcing the utility to purchase natgas outside contracts on the open market at record high prices. Berlin agreed to purchase the remaining stake owned by Uniper's parent company, Finnish utility Fortum Oyj for $1.69 (1.70 euro) per share. Buying Fortum's stake means Germany will own 99% of Uniper. The cost of nationalization comes as Berlin is set to inject 8 billion euros, equivalent to around $8 billion, into the utility. The move is to keep the lights on across German homes and businesses as the risk of power rationings increases. "This step has become necessary because the situation has worsened significantly."The state will do everything necessary to keep systemically important companies in Germany stable at all times," Robert Habeck, Germany's economy minister, said Wednesday.Uniper shares crashed by as much as 39% to 2.55 euros. Shares are down 93% on the year... In July, Berlin injected a whooping 15 billion euros ($14.95 billion) to save the utility though the move to nationalize ahead of winter shows further deterioration in energy security for Europe's largest economy.Here's what Markus Rauramo, CEO and President of Fortum, said about the deal:"Under the current circumstances in the European energy markets and recognising the severity of Uniper's situation, the divestment of Uniper is the right step to take, not only for Uniper but also for Fortum."The role of gas in Europe has fundamentally changed since Russia attacked Ukraine, and so has the outlook for a gas-heavy portfolio. As a result, the business case for an integrated group is no longer viable."

Russian energy giant Gazprom may be able to withstand Western sanctions by buying back its bonds, Barclays says - High natural gas prices have put Gazprom on track for sky-high profits this year – and the state-run energy giant may use the extra cash to better insulate itself from Western sanctions, according to Barclays.Natural gas prices have soared this year as Moscow choked off supply to Europe via key pipelines, including Nord Stream 1. Benchmark Dutch TTF natural gas futures have scored a series of records, hitting a high of 346 euros ($346) per megawatt hour in August.Gazprom reported profits of 2.5 trillion rubles ($42 billion) in the first six months of this year, meaning it's already surpassed last year's $29 billion. Even conservative estimates suggest it has already made more than $70 billion from gas sales this year, according to Barclays."High gas prices have provided Gazprom with financial flexibility," said a team led by energy analyst Amarpreet Singh in a recent research note."On conservative estimates, Gazprom has already generated more revenue from gas sales in 2022 than in the whole of 2021, which was already the most profitable for the group in recent years."Barclays said all signs point to the energy giant reinvesting the profits to reduce its foreign debts, which could make it more resilient to Western sanctions.On August 11, Gazprom's finance arm requested changes to contracts for its dollar-denominated bonds, which the bank sees as a precursor to the company buying back its non-ruble debts. "Gazprom is exploring a strategy to buy back its eurobond curve," Singh's team said. "It is seeking consent on a number of its bonds, which would allow it to buy back directly, avoiding issues caused by Russian capital controls and European sanctions."

Russia Sets Out How Much It's Going to Cut Gas Flow - Russia set out just how much its gas flows to the global market will fall in the next three years -- and the numbers underscore the scale of the challenge facing Europe’s energy consumers. Annual pipeline gas exports are set to drop by almost 40% to 125.2 billion cubic meters in 2023-2025, according to the nation’s three-year draft plan, seen by Bloomberg. Pipeline gas exports is estimated at 142 billion cubic meters this year, the draft showed. Russia’s gas giant Gazprom PJSC has been reducing flows to Europe -- historically its biggest market -- for months amid the region’s sanctions over the invasion of Ukraine. Some European customers were cut off after refusing to comply with the Kremlin’s demand to be paid in rubles for supplies. Russia has also cut shipments to the region through major pipelines, citing Western sanctions and technical reasons. That left the region with capped flows via Ukraine and deliveries via the second leg of TurkStream as the last remaining routes for supplies to the continent. The budget draft doesn’t provide a breakdown of the export markets. However, based on historic data and current flows, Turkey may become the single largest client of Gazprom on the continent. Last year Russia gas producer exported almost 27 billion cubic meters to Turkey. China could become the second-largest buyer of Russian pipeline gas next year. The deal between Gazprom and China National Petroleum Corporation envisions a gradual increase of supply via the Power of Siberia pipeline to around 21 billion cubic meters in 2023 from some 15 billion to 16 billion targeted for this year. Based on the assumptions above and given annual supplies of some 30 billion cubic meters to former Soviet Union nations, about 45 billion cubic meters of gas could be delivered to the European market. That equates to some 123 million cubic meters per day. Russia currently exports to Europe some 80 million cubic meters per day. Those figures are subject to change as Gazprom makes the final decision on supplies based on market conditions, client requests, and potentially further escalations of Russia’s standoff with the West. Russia expects crude exports to increase slightly, despite Europe halting most purchases from the nation. The three-year budget draft projects 250 million tons of crude to be exported next year, up from 243 million tons seen delivered this year, with 255 million tons and 260 million tons to be shipped in 2024 and 2025 respectively. Shipments of oil products, however, are seen declining to 113 million tons in 2023, from a projected 130 million tons this year, according to the draft.

Putin says Russia's not responsible for the EU's energy crisis — it just needs to 'push the button' on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline to get more natural gas - Russian President Vladimir Putin denied Russian responsibility for Europe's energy crisis and said the EU can simply turn on the new Nord Stream 2 pipeline if it wants more natural gas from his country."The bottom line is, if you have an urge, if it's so hard for you, just lift the sanctions on Nord Stream 2, which is 55 billion cubic metres of gas per year, just push the button and everything will get going," said Putin after the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit in Uzbekistan on Friday, per Reuters.He also criticized the "green agenda" — the EU's renewable energy push — which he said started the energy crisis even before the war in Ukraine.The Nord Stream 2 natural-gas pipeline runs in parallel to Nord Stream 1, a key pipeline that delivers fuel from Russia to Europe. The $11 billion Nord Stream 2 pipeline was completed in September, and stands to double Russia's gas flows to Europe. However, Nord Stream 2 has never been operational because Germany shelved the project in February, days before Russia invaded Ukraine.The EU is staring at an energy crisis this coming winter as Russia supplies about 40% of Europe's natural gas, most of which is transported via pipelines. In 2021, Russia exported about 155 billion cubic meters of the fuel to Europe — more than one-third of which came from the Nord Stream 1 pipeline, according to Reuters.In early September, Russia state gas giant Gazprom completely turned off supply to Europe via Nord Stream 1. Gazprom and the Kremlin have consistently insisted that the slowing of gas flows was due to technical reasons. European natural-gas prices have more than doubled from a year ago, but have fallen from their record high of 345 euros ($344) in August, lately as countries on the continent met their winter storage targets ahead of schedule. Dutch TTF gas futures, the benchmark, were down just over 7% at 174.25 euros on the ICE index Monday.

Trump: Germany could soon cease to exist because of its heavy energy dependence on Russia - Former US President Donald Trump has said that Germany could soon cease to exist as a country because of its heavy energy dependence on Russia. Trump on Saturday said he had told former German Chancellor Angela Merkel that her country’s dependence on Russia’s energy could soon lead to a“surrender” of Germany to Moscow. He claimed that he had long warned Berlin about such a threat about the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, recalling that he even once gave the then-chancellor a white flag to "surrender" to Russia. "If you're getting 72% of your energy from Russia, here is the white flag, because you will be surrendering very quickly. Who the hell thought it was gonna happen this fast, right?" Trump said. The former president made the remarks during a rally in Youngstown, Ohio, saying the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which was supposed to pump Russian gas to Germany, would make Berlin even more dependent on Russian energy exports. Berlin halted the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project, which was designed to double the flow of Russian gas heading directly to Germany, in response to Russia’s military campaign in Ukraine. Trump cited the "bad things" which have happened between Berlin and Moscow in the past as proof that Germany should not have relied so heavily on Russia. Trump went on to say, “Germany now is going back to the old-fashioned stuff, including coal,” despite its previous pledges to go green. “But they have no choice, they won’t have a country, they won’t have a country left,” Trump added. Earlier this month, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz rejected the possibility of Berlin suspending gas imports from Russia even though only small volumes are currently coming in. Western governments, not least the European countries, have been experiencing a worsening energy crisis. Germany, along with other European Union countries, is scrambling to support homes and industries, since Russian energy giant, Gazprom, has drastically cut the deliveries through the Nord Stream 1 natural gas pipeline to about 20 percent of its capacity to the continent in late February.

Trump claims Germans could be 'left without land' due to energy crisis - The Germans could be “left without a country” because of the reduction in Russia’s energy supply, former President Donald Trump said Saturday at his Save America meeting in Youngstown, Ohio. He added that he had long warned Germany of such a threat, recalling that he even once gave former Chancellor Angela Merkel a white flag to “surrender” to Russia. other choice. The 45th US president spoke after German Chancellor Olaf Scholz earlier this month rejected the possibility that Berlin would suspend gas imports from Russia, even though only small volumes are currently coming in. He added that Berlin had made timely decisions about the storage of gas in Germany’s underground gas storage facilities, the launch of coal-fired power plants and the construction of liquefied natural gas terminals. The German chancellor also argued that “if Russia stops supplies, which it continues to reduce, we can increase supplies from Norway, the Netherlands, from Western European direction.” The comments came after Russian gas giant Gazprom announced it had received a warning from the country’s technical watchdog Rostekhnadzor about a failure of the only remaining working engine for the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline, and that the facility has been shut down indefinitely until the facility is closed. problems have been resolved. Nord Stream 1, the main pipeline supplying Europe with Russian natural gas, has been running at 40% of its capacity since mid-June and at 20% from the end of July. shortly after Russia launched its ongoing special operation to demilitarize and de-nazify Ukraine on February 24. g that Western sanctions had led to the suspension of Nord Stream 1’s activities. He underlined that Moscow and Gazprom “have committed to and continue to abide by their obligations and contracts”, but that they “simply cannot meet at the moment to the restrictions and sanctions” imposed by the US and its allies. The impact of the sanctions gas and electricity prices rose to record levels in Europe amid record high inflation, including in Germany, where it rose to a 40-year high of 8.8 percent in August. also warned against taking a hot shower daily. Leading Munich-based think tank Ifo, meanwhile, has warned that the surge in energy prices is “devastating” the German economy and could lead to a 0.3% decline in the German economy. gross domestic product next year, a significant deterioration from an estimate of 3.7% growth, made in June.

Who Buys Russian Oil Now? New Markets Could Absorb Half Crude Shunned by EU - Russia could find new markets for about half of the crude exports that will be banned by the European Union from December, according to energy-data firm Kpler. Indonesia, Pakistan, Brazil, South Africa, Sri Lanka and some countries in the Middle East could together buy as much as 1 million barrels a day of crude from Russia in the coming winter, Kpler said in a research note.

Efforts ongoing to restore gas leak at oil well in Sangama – NUPRC The Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC) said it has been notified of a gas leak incident on the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company’s (NPDC), Well 6, in Sangama community, Bonny Local Government Area of Rivers State. A statement from the NUPRC said efforts are being made alongside other relevant agencies to deal with the situation. The statement signed by Engr. Gbenga Komolafe, Commission’s Chief Executive said the incident which was reportedly observed on September 3, 2022 at about 13:30 hours, was reported by the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Exploration & Production Limited (NNPC E&P LTD) on September 9, 2022. He said a Joint Investigation visit (JIV) was carried out on September 11, by a team from NUPRC, National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA), Rivers State Ministry of Environment as well as Community representatives with the Nigerian Police Force (NPF) in attendance. During the joint investigation visit, the commission said, “the team observed a gas leak from one of the valves on the wellhead. A closer look revealed that the Anode valve on the wellhead had been tampered with. It was adjudged by the regulators to have been caused by third party interference. “However, the community did not agree with the regulators and as a result would not sign the joint investigation report in spite of the technical explanation by the team. This prompted the team to reconvene on September 15, 2022 when, after an extensive discussion, all stakeholders eventually signed the incident report.

Shell, community differ on cause of oil leak in Bayelsa community - The Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) has said that the reported oil spill from its flow station at Diebu, Bayelsa State, was from a residual spill traced to an old sabotaged facility. The Peremabiri Community on 24 August reported that the leak polluted the environment, causing untold hardship to the fishing settlements. The Media Relations Manager of SPDC, Bola Essien-Nelson, however, said on Tuesday that the reported leak was from an old incident. According to Mrs Essien-Nelson, SPDC on 4 May received a report of a theft on a section of its Diebu Creek Oil Well 6 flow line, resulting in an oil leak. “The well and Diebu Creek flow station (facility) have not been in operation since February 26, when the facility was shut due to the unavailability of the Trans Niger Pipeline. “A Joint Investigation Visit (JIV) to the site revealed that the incident was caused by third-party interference and theft of SPDCJV property. “A cleanup of the free phase oil was immediately carried out, while assessment of the residual impact is scheduled to happen in November when water levels are expected to be low enough to allow for the impact assessment. “This will be followed by remediation of the site after due approval of the Remediation Action Plan by The Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission. “On August 26, SPDC received a report of an oil sheen sighted at the same site of the May 4 incident. “The community believes that this oil sheen is the result of a new spill. This is not the case. “A follow-up JIV conducted on September 6 revealed that the sheen was the residual impact from the same sabotage/vandalism of May 4,” Mrs Essien-Nelson said. The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), however, learnt that an operational mishap from the flow station discharged the crude into the company’s right of way. A field report of the JIV by the National Oil Spills Detection and Response Agency sighted by NAN indicated that the leak was due to an operational mishap, which discharged crude oil within SPDC’s operational area with no impact on the third-party area. JIV is a statutory step by oil firms, host communities and regulators to ascertain the cause, volume and area impacted after every oil spill Return Koma, who represented the Peremabiri community in the JIV, told NAN that SPDC officials and the regulators were unanimous that the incident was being investigated as a result of equipment failure. He said that an operational mishap on 24 August at Diebu Creek Flow Station, operated by SPDC, discharged a yet-to-be ascertained volume of crude into the environment. Mr Koma, who is the Peremabiri Community Development Committee Chairman, however, said that the JIV could not arrive at the quantity of spilled crude and so did not sign the JIV report. “We have conducted the JIV, they accepted responsibility for the leak at the flow station and another one at nearby Well 6, (and) both were due to equipment failure. “We were unable to agree on the volume of spilled crude and so did not sign the report,” Mr Koma said.

UN secretary general says 'polluters must pay,' calls for extra tax on fossil fuel profits - The U.N. secretary general said Tuesday that developed economies should impose an extra tax on the profits of fossil fuel firms, with the funds diverted to countries affected by climate change and households struggling with the cost-of-living crisis. In a wide-ranging address to the U.N. General Assembly in New York, Antonio Guterres described the fossil fuel industry as "feasting on hundreds of billions of dollars in subsidies and windfall profits while households' budgets shrink and our planet burns." Fossil fuel firms and their "enablers" needed to be held to account, he went on to state. "That includes the banks, private equity, asset managers and other financial institutions that continue to invest and underwrite carbon pollution." It also included what he called "the massive public relations machine raking in billions to shield the fossil fuel industry from scrutiny." Despite the remarks, Guterres appeared to acknowledge the reality of the current situation, in which coal, oil and gas continue to play a crucial role in the modern world, in both developed and emerging economies. "Of course, fossil fuels cannot be shut down overnight," he said. "A just transition means leaving no person or country behind. But it's high time to put fossil fuel producers, investors and enablers on notice." "Polluters must pay. And today, I am calling on all developed economies to tax the windfall profits of fossil fuel companies." Guterres said that these funds should be re-directed to "countries suffering loss and damage caused by the climate crisis; and to people struggling with rising food and energy prices." Guterres' speech on Tuesday reinforced comments he made back in August, when he said it was "immoral for oil and gas companies to be making record profits from this energy crisis on the back of the poorest people and communities and at a massive cost to the climate." "The combined profits of the largest energy companies in the first quarter of this year are close to 100 billion U.S. dollars," he added. "I urge all governments to tax these excessive profits and use the funds to support the most vulnerable people through these difficult times." The notion of imposing a windfall, or one-off, tax on energy companies has gained traction in some quarters over the past few months, with the sector recording huge profits amid a spike in commodity prices, while many homes and businesses struggle with rising energy bills and a wider cost-of-living crisis.

US climate envoy Kerry cautions against long-term gas projects in Africa -U.S. climate envoy John Kerry cautioned against investing in long-term gas projects in Africa as countries in the region, some hoping to tap recent oil and gas discoveries, wrestle with how to power their development with clean energy. “We are not saying no gas,” Kerry told Reuters on the sidelines of an African environment ministers’ conference in Dakar, Senegal, on Thursday. “What we are saying is, over the next few years, gas replaces coal or replaces oil,” the former secretary of state and Democratic presidential candidate said, adding that gas can be used as a transition to cleaner energy sources. Also read: Stellar cross border payment to address African crypto market But after 2030, it will be important to capture the emissions from gas too, Kerry added. Continued financing of oil and gas projects in Africa has become a key issue for the countries, which they plan to push during a United Nations climate summit in Egypt in November. Senegal and other countries in the region aim to start producing oil and gas, which they hope will help boost their electricity production, power industries and curb energy poverty. Over 600 million people, or 43% of Africa’s population, lack access to electricity, most of them in sub-Saharan Africa, according to the International Energy Agency.

UN gets funds needed to salvage derelict oil tanker off Yemen - The UN now has all the funds needed to start an emergency operation to prevent a massive oil spill from the derelict Safer oil tanker in the Red Sea off Yemen. David Gressly, the UN resident and humanitarian coordinator for Yemen, said on Wednesday that donors have pledged all of the $75 million required for phase one of the UN plan — an emergency operation to transfer oil from the decaying tanker to a safe vessel, reports Xinhua news agency. He said the donation has surpassed the required $75 million. The UN Development Programme is actively working on the first contracts to initiate the salvage operation. There will be a period of a few weeks of mobilization for that, followed by a four-month operation to stabilize the Safer for the work to transfer oil to a second vessel, and then for completing the work of phase two — a permanent storage solution, said Gressly. The progress was announced after a high-level event on the Safer tanker, co-chaired by the Netherlands, the US and Germany, on Wednesday. To begin work on the emergency operation as soon as possible, the UN needs donors to convert all of the pledges to cash. As of Sunday, $59 million had been disbursed or was in the process of being disbursed. The UN also needs a further $38 million for phase two. The original budget for the plan was reduced by $31 million largely because of the adoption of a double-hull vessel tethered to a buoy system as the safe long-term solution. The system is the fastest to implement and most flexible of the three long-term replacement options that were considered, according to the UN. The Safer, currently carrying more than 1 million barrels of oil, has been moored off the port of Hodeidah since 1988 as a crude oil storage and offloading platform. It has not been inspected or maintained since 2015. In May 2020, seawater leaked into the engine room. A temporary fix by divers from the Safer corporation succeeded in containing the leak. But the fix was not supposed to hold for long.

 Kuwait’s KNPC to spend $4.2bln on new oil projects - State-owned Kuwait National Petroleum Company (KNPC), the OPEC producer’s downstream investment arm, is planning to pump nearly 1.3 billion Kuwaiti dinars ($4.2 billion) into new projects as part of its long-term development strategy stretching until 2040, a newspaper reported on Wednesday. KNPC has just updated the strategy to include new projects which could comprise more gas facilities, upgrading refining production and building of scores of new petrol pumps, the Arabic language daily Alanba said, quoting official sources. “The sources affirmed that KNPC has updated its 2040 strategy to include new projects and initiatives that will achieve all targets set in that strategy,” the paper said. New projects will lift the Gulf country’s domestic crude refining output to 1.6 million barrels per day by 2025, increase gas production and ensure greater local private sector participation in the hydrocarbon projects, the report said. It quoted the sources as saying KNPC has chalked out a plan for “gas treatment” and that there could be a need for the construction of a sixth LPG production unit and additional petroleum products storage facilities. “KNPC’s new strategy also confirmed plans to build 181 petrol stations to cater for domestic demand until 2040,” the report said, adding that 18 stations have already been constructed through the emirate.

Global Oil Demand Dropped By Over 1 Million Bpd In July - Global oil demand fell by an estimated 1.1 million barrels per day (bpd) in July this year the latest data from the Joint Organizations Data Initiative (JODI) showed on Monday. Historically, global oil demand normally rises rather than falls in July. The demand decline was driven by drops in consumption in China, India, Indonesia, developed European economies, and Saudi Arabia, according to JODI, which compiles self-reported data from many countries. The July fall in demand is in contrast to the five-year average for the month of July, excluding the pandemic years of 2020-2021, which shows demand rising seasonally by an average of 350,000 bpd, the Riyadh-based International Energy Forum (IEF) said. As a result of lower demand in July, global product inventories in July increased by 63 million barrels—more than three times the average seasonal increase. Crude inventories increased counter-seasonally by 9 million barrels. However, global crude and product inventories were still nearly 438 million barrels below the five-year average, the JODI data showed. In Saudi Arabia, demand fell counter-seasonally by 192,000 bpd in July, which was the first monthly decline since February. Chinese oil demand dropped by 191,000 bpd in July and was 655,000 bpd below year-ago levels. However, Chinese demand was still 135,000 bpd above July 2019 levels, according to the JODI data. Chinese demand was hit by the snap COVID lockdowns which have discouraged travel this summer. China is even expected to see its oil demand fall in 2022 for the first time in more than three decades. “Growth in global oil demand continues to decelerate, weighed down by renewed Chinese lockdowns and an ongoing slowdown in the OECD,” the International Energy Agency (IEA) said in its closely watched Oil Market Report last week. The IEA revised down its growth estimate for 2022 by 110,000 bpd from last month’s assessment and now expects global oil demand to grow by 2 million bpd this year.

Oil prices fall more than 1.5% on demand fears and strong dollar - (Reuters) -Oil fell by more than 1.5% on Monday, pressured by expectations of weaker global demand and by U.S. dollar strength ahead of possible large increases to interest rates, though supply worries limited the decline. Central banks around the world are certain to increase borrowing costs this week and there is some risk of a blowout 1 percentage point rise by the U.S. Federal Reserve. [MKTS/GLOB] "The upcoming Fed meeting and the strong dollar are keeping a lid on prices," said Tamas Varga of oil broker PVM. Brent crude for November delivery fell $1.49, or 1.6%, to $89.86 a barrel by 1002 GMT. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) for October dropped $1.57, or 1.8%, to $83.54. A British public holiday for the funeral of Queen Elizabeth was expected to limit activity on Monday. Oil also came under pressure from hopes of an easing of Europe's gas supply crisis. German buyers reserved capacity to receive Russian gas via the shut Nord Stream 1 pipeline, but this was later revised and no gas has been flowing. Crude has soared this year, with the Brent benchmark coming close to its record high of $147 in March after Russia's invasion of Ukraine exacerbated supply concerns. Worries about weaker economic growth and demand have since pushed prices lower. The U.S. dollar stayed near a two-decade high ahead of this week's decisions by the Fed and other central banks. A stronger dollar makes dollar-denominated commodities more expensive for holders of other currencies and tends to weigh on oil and other risk assets. [USD/] The market has also been pressured by forecasts of weaker demand, such as last week's prediction by the International Energy Agency that there would be zero demand growth in the fourth quarter. Despite those demand fears, supply concerns kept the decline in check. "The market still has the start of European sanctions on Russian oil hanging over it. As supply is disrupted in early December, the market is unlikely to see any quick response from U.S. producers," ANZ analysts said. Easing COVID-19 restrictions in China, which had dampened the outlook for demand in the world's second-biggest energy consumer, could also provide some optimism, the analysts said.

Oil Futures Reverse Higher as OPEC Misses Output Quota -- Oil futures advanced in afternoon trade Monday, with all petroleum products finishing the session higher. This followed industry surveys showing the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and 10 allied partners missed their August production target, heightening concerns over tight supplies on the global market. OPEC+ oil production fell short of its target level by a record 3.58 million barrels per day (bpd) in August, according to an industry survey released Monday, which has significantly widened the gap between the group's pledged output and delivered production. The coalition's 10 participating OPEC members, led by Saudi Arabia, accounted for 1.399 million bpd of the August shortfall, while their non-OPEC partners underproduced by 2.185 million bpd. Russia, severely constrained by Western sanctions, missed the target by a massive 1.252 million bpd, with deeper losses expected later this year with the onset of a European Union-wide embargo on Russian seaborne crude exports. Within OPEC, Nigerian production was 700,000 bpd short of its August quota amid ongoing infrastructure issues and security concerns. OPEC+ August production quota was 43.854 million bpd. OPEC+ agreed on a 100,000-bpd increase for September, which will be effectively reversed in October. Officials have repeatedly highlighted dwindling capacity within the group and the need for additional investment globally in the oil and gas sector. The OPEC+ Joint Technical Committee studies market conditions that feed the group's policy decisions will next meet on Oct. 4 ahead of the Oct. 5 ministerial meeting to determine November's production policy. November Brent futures on the Intercontinental Exchange settled $0.65 higher at $92 per barrel (bbl). October West Texas Intermediate futures on NYMEX, which expires Tuesday afternoon, advanced $0.62 to $85.73 per bbl Monday, with the November contract settling with a $0.37 discount to the expiring contract. NYMEX ULSD October futures rallied 13.83 cents to settle the session at $3.3108 gallon, and the front-month RBOB contract gained 4.84 cents for a $2.4641-per-gallon settlement. The U.S. dollar index, which has an inverse relationship with WTI, strengthened for the third session, finishing Monday at 109.982. Earlier this month, the dollar index spiked to a 110.785 more than 20-year high amid rising bets that the Federal Reserve will have to hike interest rates aggressively this week, and at their two remaining meetings in 2022 to draw down excess liquidity from the market. The hotter-than-expected August CPI reading caught the market off-guard, dashing expectations that the Federal Reserve would quickly gain control of rising prices this year, and begin cutting the key overnight lending rate as soon as 2023. The August reading suggests, however, inflation is stickier than previously appreciated by the market, likely forcing the central bank to continue to lift rates aggressively and holding them higher for longer.

Oil Prices Settle Higher as Easing China Lockdowns Stoke Demand Hopes - U.S. crude oil prices cut losses to settle higher Monday as investors weighed up the demand outlook amid easing Covid lockdown measures in China and the impact of slowing global growth. On the New York Mercantile Exchange crude futures climbed 62 cents to settle at $85.73 a barrel, while on London's Intercontinental Exchange, Brent gained 65 cents to settle at $92.00 a barrel. Oil prices had started the session on the back foot, down more than 3% as investors worried that further Federal Reserve tightening expected later this week will slow global growth further and pose an even bigger threat to oil demand. The Fed is forecast to raise its benchmark rate by 0.75% this week and release fresh projections on inflation and economic growth as well as updated forecasts on future rate hikes that will likely show higher for longer rates and slowdown in growth. Sentiment on oil prices was boosted by easing COVID restrictions in major cities in China, the largest importer of oil. Chengdu, a major Chinese city with about 21 million inhabitants, reopened after a two-week lockdown. The positive start to the week for oil prices followed a more than 2% decline last week after the International Energy Agency cut its forecast on oil demand and anticipated growth to stop in the fourth quarter. The IEA cut its forecast for demand growth this year by 110,000 barrels per day (bpd) to 2 million bpd. The pressure on oil prices from weaker demand and higher supply isn’t likely to continue for the long term as major oil producers and ongoing geopolitical tensions could provide some respite. “Weakening economic activity and forecasts is likely to stall the post COVID recovery in oil demand but prices could see upward support from OPEC+ market management, post COVID demand recovery, unplanned outages in oil and power generation and more geopolitical tension,” Credit Suisse said in a recent note as it maintained its near-term WTI forecasts for the fourth quarter of $87 per barrel.

Oil prices up but expected US Fed rate hike paints bearish picture (Reuters) -Oil prices ticked up on Tuesday as OPEC and its allies keep producing less than their quotas, but were headed for a fourth monthly decline ahead of an expected further U.S. interest rate hike which may curb economic growth and fuel demand. Brent crude futures for November settlement were up 41 cents, or 0.5%, to $92.41 a barrel at 0939 GMT. U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude for October delivery was at $85.82 a barrel, up 9 cents. The October contract will expire on Tuesday and the more active November contract was at $85.53, up 17 cents, or 0.2%. A sign of underlying tight supply, a document from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and allies led by Russia showed the group fell short of its output target by 3.583 million barrels per day (bpd) in August - around 3.5% of global oil demand. Meanwhile, the impasse over a revival of the Iran nuclear deal is also continuing to keep that country's exports from fully returning to the market. Still, both Brent and WTI are headed for their worst quarterly drops in percentage terms since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. The dollar remained firm near a two-decade high versus major peers on Tuesday, making oil more expensive for holders of other currencies, amid a slew of central bank meetings around the world this week. The U.S. Federal Reserve on Wednesday is likely to raise interest rates by another 75 basis points to rein in inflation. While other major economies are tightening, China, the world's second-largest oil user, on Tuesday left its benchmark lending rates unchanged as it tries to balance supporting its sluggish economic growth against the weakening yuan. The Bank of England will announce rates on Thursday. Fears of aggressive central bank tightening are still driving concerns about a "quickly weakening global economy" and pressuring crude prices, said Edward Moya, senior market analyst at OANDA, in a note. U.S. crude oil stocks are estimated to have risen last week by around two million barrels, a Reuters poll showed. U.S. vehicle travel in July fell 3.3% from a year earlier, dropping for a second month. The U.S. Energy Department will sell up to 10 million barrels of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve for delivery in November, extending the timing of a plan to sell 180 million barrels from the stockpile to tame fuel prices.

Oil Falls Ahead of Interest Rate Hikes Expected This Week | Rigzone - Oil fell ahead of several global interest-rate decisions that are expected to bring further monetary tightening. The Fed and other central banks from Europe to Asia are expected to deliver interest-rate hikes this week as they seek to tame rampant inflation that’s hit demand. Liquidity thinned, leading to volatile price swings, while a stronger dollar has added to headwinds. Brent crude futures settled near $91, taking cues from declining equity markets that minimally trimmed losses later in the day. “Macro-economic pressures from the Federal Reserve set to raise interest rates this week has added pressure back on the US stock market which seems to be capping crude prices,” said Dennis Kissler, senior vice president at Bok Financial Securities. “Near term, prices are vulnerable to the Fed’s rate rises and more Strategic Petroleum Reserve releases scheduled through November.” Crude has lost about a third of its value since early June, erasing all the gains made in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, amid concerns that a global slowdown will hit demand. The potential for increased supply has also weighed on the outlook. The US said Monday it would offer an additional 10 million barrels of oil from its strategic reserves in November, ahead of plans by the European Union to ban Russian crude in December. Still, Saudi Aramco warned that when the global economy recovers the world’s spare oil production capacity could be eliminated. The company’s chief executive officer said that by the time the world realizes the issue it may be too late to change course. WTI for October delivery, which expired Tuesday, dropped $1.28 to settle at $84.45 a barrel in New York. The more-active November contract fell $1.42 to $83.94. Brent for November settlement dropped $1.38 to $90.62 a barrel. Investors also are considering the prospect of higher Iranian crude flows should protracted talks on reviving a nuclear deal reach a conclusion. Discussions on efforts to resurrect an accord on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York are “a possibility,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani said at a press conference. Elsewhere, Russia’s seaborne crude exports fell sharply in the first half of September. Crude shipped from its ports dropped by almost 900,000 barrels a day in two weeks, to 2.54 million barrels a day in the week to Sept. 16, from 3.42 million in the seven days to Sept. 2.

API Sees Crude, Product Inventory Builds - The American Petroleum Institute (API) reported a build this week for crude oil of 1.035 million barrels, while analysts predicted a bigger build of 2.321 million barrels. The build comes as the Department of Energy released 6.9 million barrels from the Strategic Petroleum Reserves in the week ending September 16, leaving the SPR with 427.2 million barrels. In the week prior, the API reported a build in crude oil inventories of 6.035 million barrels after analysts had predicted a draw of 200,000 barrels. WTI fell on Tuesday prior to the data release. At 3:16 p.m. ET, WTI was trading down $1.54 (-1.80%) on the day at $84.19 per barrel—a roughly $2 per barrel decrease on the week. Brent crude was trading down $1.40 (-1.52%) on the day at $90.60—a $2 decrease on the week. U.S. crude oil production data for the week ending September 9 stayed the same for the third week in a row at 12.1 million bpd, according to the latest weekly EIA data. The API reported a build in gasoline inventories this week of 3.225 million barrels for the week ending September 16, compared to the previous week's 3.23 million-barrel draw. Distillate stocks saw a build of 1.538 million barrels for the week, on top of last week's 1.75-million-barrel increase. Cushing inventories were up by 510,000 barrels this week. Last week, the API saw a Cushing increase of 101,000 barrels. Official EIA Cushing inventory for the week ending September 9 was 24.648 million barrels, down from 24.783 million barrels in the prior week. Oil prices were flat after the release, with WTI trading at $4.19 (-1.80%) and Brent trading at $90.93 (-1.16%).

Oil Spikes as Putin Threatens Nuclear Response in Ukraine -- Oil futures nearest delivery on the New York Mercantile Exchange and Brent crude traded on the Intercontinental Exchange spiked more than 2% early Wednesday in reaction to Russian President Vladimir Putin's announcement to partially mobilize Russian military forces for deployment to Ukraine and threatening the use of Russia's nuclear arsenal in a major escalation in the seven-month conflict. Oil spiked, the U.S. dollar surged, nearing a fresh 20-year high, and the euro plummeted after Putin raised stakes in his unprovoked conflict in Ukraine, calling on 300,000 reserve soldiers and threatening to use "all instruments at the disposal" to defend Russia's territorial integrity. The new phase in the conflict follows an earlier announcement from the leaders of self-proclaimed republics of Donbass, Lugansk, Kherson, and Zaporizhiya to hold referendums on joining Russia as early as Friday, Sept. 23. The plan closely mirrors the annexation of the Crimea that was quickly approved by the Russian government in 2014. However, referendums in eastern Ukraine could be used by Russia to claim that Ukrainian attacks to liberate its own territory amount to attacks on Russia itself, a troubling development. Separately, the American Petroleum Institute reported late Tuesday commercial crude oil inventories increased by a smaller-than-expected margin during the week ended Sept. 16, while refined fuels stocks spiked amid signs of accelerated demand destruction. Domestic crude stocks increased 1.035 million barrels (bbl) in the reviewed week said API, compared with estimates for a 2.2-million-bbl draw. Stocks at the Cushing, Oklahoma, tank farm, the NYMEX delivery point for West Texas Intermediate futures, rose 510,000 bbl. API data further showed gasoline supply increased 3.22 million bbl in the week profiled, missing estimates for a 500,000 bbl decline, while distillate inventories rose 1.538 million bbl, more than three times calls for a 500,000-bbl-increase. In financial markets, U.S. equity futures rose slightly ahead of the Federal Open Market Committee's announcement on interest rates scheduled for 2 p.m. EDT at the conclusion of their two-day meeting. Central bank officials are expected to approve a third consecutive increase of 0.75% in the federal funds rate, while signaling interest rates will go higher and stay there longer to bring inflation under control. In Europe, money markets are rapidly dialing up calls for the Bank of England to deliver two outsized rate increases by the end of the year, with traders placing around a 60% chance of a 0.75% increase on Thursday. That would be the bank's largest increase since 1989, when it jacked up borrowing costs. Near 7:45 a.m. EDT, WTI futures for November delivery advanced above $86 bbl, up $2 in overnight trading, while the international crude benchmark Brent contract for November on ICE rallied to $92.66 bbl. NYMEX ULSD October futures gained 1.82cts to $3.904 gallon, and the front-month RBOB contract spiked 5cts to $2.4978 gallon.

US Gasoline Pump-Prices End Record Losing Streak As End Of SPR Drain Looms - Crude prices remain higher this morning ahead of the official inventory data, but have pared gains from overnight anxiety related to Putin's escalating war rhetoric, as traders focused more on the impact of The Fed. Macro markets are definitely the elephant in the room right now with rates and the dollar really keeping a lid on crude rallies,” said Rebecca Babin, a senior energy trader at CIBC Private Wealth Management. Adding to bearish sentiment, China issued a giant new quota to export refined fuels, according to a local industry consultant, which could weigh on oil product markets. API

  • Crude +1.035mm
  • Cushing +510k
  • Gasoline +3.225mm
  • Distillates +1.538mm


  • Crude +1.141mm
  • Cushing +343k
  • Gasoline +1.57mm
  • Distillates +1.23mm

Confirming API's data, the official inventory data showed crude stocks rising for the 3rd straight week and inventory builds across the entire complex... The 1.14 million-barrel build in commercial crude stockpiles was more than offset by the withdrawal of 6.9 million barrels from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. The net result was a nationwide crude draw of 5.76 million barrels in the week to Sept. 16. US crude production was flat week-over-week as rig counts continue to stagnate.,..

Oil prices slide 1% after U.S. Fed raises interest rates --Oil prices fell about 1% to a near two-week low in volatile trade on Wednesday after the U.S Federal Reserve delivered another hefty rate hike to quell inflation that could reduce economic activity and demand for oil. The Fed raised its target interest rate by 75 basis points for the third time to a 3.00-3.25% range and signalled more large increases to come. Risk assets like stocks and oil fell on the news, while the dollar rallied. Brent crude futures settled 79 cents, or 0.9%, lower at $89.83 a barrel, its lowest close since Sept. 8, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude fell $1.00, or 1.2%, to $82.94, its lowest close since Sept. 7. Earlier in the session, oil gained over $2 a barrel on worries about a Russian troop mobilization before dropping over $1 on a strong U.S. dollar and lower U.S. gasoline demand. U.S. gasoline demand over the past four weeks fell to 8.5 million barrels per day (bpd), its lowest since February, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). "The stand-out data point is the continuing weakness in gasoline demand. It's really what's been haunting this market," The U.S. Energy Information Administration reported a 1.1 million barrel increase in crude stocks last week, half the build analysts forecast in a Reuters poll. Russian President Vladimir Putin called up 300,000 reservists to fight in Ukraine and backed a plan to annex parts of the country, hinting he was prepared to use nuclear weapons. U.S. President Joe Biden accused Russia of making "reckless" and "irresponsible" threats to use nuclear weapons. Oil prices soared to a multi-year high in March after the Ukraine war broke out. European Union sanctions banning seaborne imports of Russian crude will come into force on Dec. 5. "Much of today's downside appeared related to strength in the U.S. dollar and we still view near-term U.S. dollar direction as a critical component in assessing near-term oil price direction," analysts at energy consulting firm Ritterbusch and Associates said. The dollar was on track for its highest close in over 20 years against a basket of other currencies, making oil more expensive for buyers using other currencies. Signs of a recovery in Chinese demand gave prices a lift early in the session.In the United States, however, the economic news was not so good. Existing home sales dropped for the seventh straight month in August as affordability deteriorated further amid surging mortgage rates. In Europe, "government are increasingly intervening in energy markets in an attempt to stave off economic crisis," analysts at energy consulting firm EBW Analytics said in a note. Germany agreed to nationalize natural gas company Uniper SE , while the British government said it would cap wholesale electricity and gas costs for businesses.

Oil Gains as Traders Balance Supply Fears, Weak Demand - Oil futures nearest delivery on the New York Mercantile Exchange and Brent crude traded on the Intercontinental Exchange moved higher early Thursday as traders balanced concerns over short supplies this winter, stoked by threats from Russian President Vladimir Putin to cut oil exports to Europe, against sputtering demand fundamentals as central banks rush to jack up interest rates to fight inflation. The global financial system has not seen a cycle of such aggressive monetary tightening since perhaps the early 1980s when central banks were forced to continue raising interest rates even as their economies sputtered. The Bank of England this morning raised its benchmark lending rate by 50 basis points in a seventh consecutive hike this year to slow a relentless rise in consumer prices. Higher rates come as the United Kingdom faces an energy crisis and a recession forecast while the UK's new Prime Minister, Liz Truss, presses forward with a set of economic reforms. The policy action follows similar rate increases from the central banks of Norway and Switzerland among others where consumer prices accelerated at the fastest clip since the creation of the European Union. On Wednesday, the Federal Open Market Committee delivered a 75-basis-point hike for the third consecutive meeting this year and admitted there will be below-trend growth in the medium term. Fed officials on Wednesday cut growth projections, raised their unemployment outlook and repeatedly spoke of the painful slowdown that's needed to curb price pressures that are running at the highest levels since the 1980s. Goldman Sachs economists have since raised their forecast for the Federal Reserve's pace of interest rate hikes amid Powell's hawkish comments. The investment bank now expects rate hikes of 75 basis points in November, 50 basis points in December, and 25 basis points in February for a peak target range for the federal funds rate of 4.5% to 4.75% compared with 4% to 4.25% before this week's FOMC meeting, economists led by Jan Hatzius said in a research note. On the bullish side, traders continue to monitor developments in eastern Ukraine after Putin ordered the partial mobilization of reserve troops alongside renewing threats to use Russia's nuclear arsenal against any country that compromises Russian territorial integrity. During a televised address to the nation, Putin claimed "collective West attempts to break up Russia in many different pieces," comparing it to the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991. Near 7:45 a.m. EDT, the U.S. Dollar Index, which has an inverse relationship with West Texas Intermediate, continued higher to 110.865 after reaching 111.360 on Wednesday -- the highest trade since May 2002. WTI futures for November delivery advanced to $84.10 barrel (bbl), up $1.20, while the front-month Brent contract gained to $91.05 bbl. NYMEX ULSD October futures added 7.4 cents to $3.4078 gallon, and the front-month RBOB contract gained 4.97 cents to $2.5362 gallon.

Oil Rises Slightly as Economic Outlook Concerns Mount - Oil clung to a slight gain after a slew of rate hikes around the world reaffirmed central bankers would continue to fight inflation at the expense of economic growth. West Texas Intermediate settled near $83 a barrel, sticking close to the previous day’s close. Equity markets fell under the weight of multiple interest rate hikes from Norway to South Africa, putting a lid on oil prices. Markets are largely following macroeconomic indicators after the Fed boosted rates by 75 basis points for a third straight time, casting a shadow on oil’s demand outlook. Traders are “waiting for the next headline to dictate market direction here,” “You’re looking for some kind of fundamental part of the puzzle to change dramatically to put the bid in.” Crude remains on track for its first quarterly decline in more than two years on concerns that demand may be crimped by an economic slowdown. Nonetheless, geopolitical risks to supply and OPEC’s readiness to support prices with production cuts have provided a floor of sorts. OPEC would consider additional cuts if crude prices fall because current levels are affecting the budgets of some members, Nigeria’s oil minister Timipre Sylva told Bloomberg Thursday, Data this week showed that signs of economic slowdown are mounting, as US gasoline and diesel demand fell to the lowest seasonal levels in more than a decade. The Energy Information Administration also reported nationwide US crude stockpiles and those at the key storage hub at Cushing, Oklahoma, expanded last week. WTI for November delivery rose 55 cents to $83.49 a barrel at market close in New York. Brent for November settlement gained 63 cents to settle at $90.46 a barrel. Traders are also watching bullish indicators for the coming months, including an escalation of Russia’s invasion to Ukraine that prompted EU member states to push for the adoption of a price cap on Russian oil before its sanctions take effect in December. The sanctions could further crimp supplies. Russian President Vladimir Putin has previously said Russia would not supply commodities to nations that introduce price caps.

Oil prices down 3% with recession fears in focus - Khaleej Times - Oil prices fell on Friday as demand fears were stoked by rising interest rates and a stronger dollar, though losses were capped by Moscow's mobilisation campaign in its war with Ukraine and apparent deadlock in talks on reviving the Iran nuclear deal.Brent crude futures fell $2.81, or 3.11%, to $87.65 a barrel by 1051 GMT. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were also down, retreating by $2.93, or 3.51%, to $80.56.Front-month Brent and WTI contracts were down 4.03% and 5.37% respectively over the past week.Global equities hit a two-year low on Friday while the dollar index reached its highest level in two decades, putting downward pressure on oil."Recession fears, further rate hikes and the consequent dollar strength trumps geopolitical tension," said Tamas Varga, oil analyst at PVM Oil Associates."The upside in oil will be limited while the dollar is strong, albeit the weekend's staged referendum in the eastern part of Ukraine could further increase tension between Russia and the West, especially if Ukrainian allies provide additional help for Ukraine to reclaim these territories."Russia launched referendums on Friday aimed at annexing four occupied regions of Ukraine, which Kyiv called an illegal sham that it said included threats to residents if they do not vote.After the US Federal Reserve raised interest rates by a hefty 75 basis points on Wednesday, central banks around the world followed suit with hikes of their own, raising the risk of economic slowdowns.A downturn in business activity across the euro zone deepened in September, a survey showed, suggesting that a recession is looming as consumers rein in spending to contend with a cost of living crisis.In Britain, meanwhile, the pound fell to a 37-year low and government bonds crashed after the new finance minister announced historic tax cuts and huge increases to borrowing. On the oil supply side, efforts to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear deal have stalled as Tehran insists on the closure of the U.N. nuclear watchdog's investigations, a senior U.S. State Department official said, easing expectations of a resurgence of Iranian crude oil exports.

Oil slides 6% on heightened recession worries and a fresh 20-year high for the US dollar-- Oil prices on Friday tumbled to a nine-month low as recession fears swept throughout global risk assets and the US dollar continued this year's ascent to reach a fresh two-decade high against major currencies. West Texas Intermediate crude fell as much as 6.1% to $78.42 per barrel, the first break below $80 a barrel since January 11. Brent crude, the international benchmark, lost 5.3% to $85.50, its lowest price since January 24. WTI and Brent crude were veering toward steep weekly losses, of about 8% and 7%, respectively. "The threat of a global recession continues to weigh on oil prices, with widespread monetary tightening over the last couple of days fueling fears of a significant hit to growth," "Central banks now appear to accept that a recession is the price to pay for getting a grip on inflation, which could weigh on demand next year." The Federal Reserve on Wednesday and the central banks of the UK, Norway and Switzerland on Thursday each raised interest rates to deal with elevated inflation as prices for energy and food have increased this year. The Federal Open Market Committee in aiming to slow activity in the world's largest economy is expected to stretch its rate-hiking cycle into 2023 and foresees hitting a peak interest rate of 4.6%. Recession worries hurt stock markets in Europe, Asia, and the US on Friday. The S&P 500 dropped by nearly 2%. Oil prices were also lower as the US dollar continued to march higher. The US Dollar Index flew up by more than 1% on Friday, pushing past 112 to reach a fresh 20-year high. Dollar-denominated oil prices can be hurt by gains in the greenback's value as it makes the commodity more expensive to purchase by holders of foreign currencies. The dollar index, which tracks the greenback's performance againstthe euro, the Japanese yen, the British pound, the Canadian dollar, the Swedish krona, and the Swiss franc, was on course to rise by nearly 3% this week. The gains were fueled by the Fed's rate hike this week of 75 basis points, the third consecutive meeting to mark a jumbo-sized increase in the fed funds rate. Rising Treasury yields on the back of the Fed's latest rate hike have fueled demand for dollars. Meanwhile, European Union officials are rushing to reach a deal on capping prices for Russian oil after President Vladimir Putin stepped up Moscow's aggression against Ukraine, according to a Bloomberg report Friday. The EU's embargo on seaborne Russian crude is set to start on December 5.Global oil supplies remain tight but the proposed price cap might lead to a lower supply of Russian oil, UBS Global Wealth Management said Friday. "Officials in the Kremlin, including deputy prime minister Alexander Novak, have pointed out that Russia would not sell oil to countries adhering to a price cap," "We see this as a credible threat, and if Russia were to withhold barrels from the market, we think oil prices could move above $150/bbl for an extended period." The firm's base case is for oil prices to rise to $110 barrels by the end of 2022 and to $125 a barrel by March.

Oil plunges to 8-months low on strong dollar, looming recession fears - (Reuters) -Oil prices plunged about 5% to an eight-month low on Friday as the U.S. dollar hit its strongest level in more than two decades and on fears rising interest rates will tip major economies into recession, cutting demand for oil. Brent futures fell $4.31, or 4.8%, to settle at $86.15 a barrel, down about 6% for the week. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude fell $4.75, or 5.7%, to settle at $78.74, down about 7% for the week. It was the fourth straight week of declines for both benchmarks, the first time this has happened since December. Both were in technically oversold territory, with WTI on track for its lowest settlement since Jan. 10 and Brent for its lowest since Jan. 14. U.S. gasoline and diesel futures were also down more than 5%. The U.S. Federal Reserve raised interest rates by a hefty 75 basis points on Wednesday. Central banks around the world followed suit with their own hikes, raising the risk of economic slowdowns. "Oil tanks as global growth concerns hit panic mode given a chorus of central bank commitments to fight inflation. It seems central banks are poised to remain aggressive with rate hikes and that will weaken both economic activity and the short-term crude demand outlook," aid Edward Moya, senior market analyst at data and analytics firm OANDA. The U.S. dollar was on track for its highest close against a basket of other currencies since May 2002. A strong dollar reduces demand for oil by making the fuel more expensive for buyers using other currencies. "We had the dollar exploding higher and pushing down dollar-denominated commodities like oil and growing fears over the looming global recession that is coming as the central banks raise interest rates," said John Kilduff, partner at Again Capital LLC in New York. The euro zone's downturn in business activity deepened in September, a survey showed, suggesting a recession looms as consumers rein in spending and as governments urge energy conservation following Russia's moves to cut off European supply. Wall Street's main indexes slid more than 2% on Friday as investors feared the U.S. Federal Reserve's hawkish policy actions to quell inflation could trigger a recession and dent corporate earnings. The dollar <.DXY> index reached its highest in over two decades, pressuring oil prices. Russia launched referendums aimed at annexing four occupied regions of Ukraine, raising stakes of the war in what Kyiv called a sham. On the supply side, efforts to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear deal have stalled as Tehran insists on closure of the U.N. nuclear watchdog's investigations, a senior U.S. State Department official said, easing expectations of a resurgence of Iranian crude oil exports.

Russia's Su-35 may be alternative if deal on purchase of US F-16 fails: Official - A senior Turkish official says Ankara may consider the purchase of Russian Su-35 fighter jets, if plans to buy F-16 aircraft from the United States fail. Ismail Demir, head of the Turkish Defense Industries Directorate, made the remarks while speaking to CNN Turk on Saturday, when asked about Turkey’s alternatives in the event of the F-16 deal’s failure. He stressed that "one of the variants could be the Su-35." “If there will be no F-16s … We’ll say that Turkey is not without alternatives. All alternatives, including the Su-35, come to the table,” he said. A highly maneuverable supersonic jet, the Su-35 is capable of destroying aerial targets, as well as striking seaborne and ground targets, such as air defense sites. Turkey mulling purchase of Russian Su-35 jets: Turkish daily Turkey mulling purchase of Russian Su-35 jets: Turkish daily Turkey is reportedly considering to purchase Su-35 jets from Russia after the US suspended Ankara’s membership in its F-35 program. Turkey made a request in October to the United States to buy 40 Lockheed Martin-made F-16 fighters and nearly 80 modernization kits for its existing warplanes. Washington has so far refrained from expressing any opinion on the sale, saying it needs to go through the standard arms sales process. The sale of US weapons to NATO ally Turkey became contentious after Ankara acquired Russian S-400 missile defense systems, triggering US sanctions as well as Turkey's removal from the F-35 fighter jet program. Moscow and Ankara signed an agreement in 2017 to deliver S-400 to Turkey, making it the first NATO member to purchase the air defense missile system from Russia. The deal angered the US and NATO, with Washington pressuring Turkey to abandon the Russian air defense system. The US claims that the Russian missile systems are not compatible with the military hardware within the Western military alliance. Washington canceled the joint memorandum on the F-35 with Turkey in 2019, signing it with the seven remaining partners in the F-35 project - the UK, Italy, the Netherlands, Australia, Denmark, Canada and Norway. At the time, Ankara condemned the move as a “grave mistake” that would inevitably harm mutual relations and threatened retaliation. Turkey has continued to look for ways to modernize its air force after the US removed it from its F-35 export program.

At Least 7 Dead In Iran As Anti-Hijab Protests Grow - A fifth day of protests in Iran have resulted in multiple deaths amid a security crackdown, following the death last week of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old from Iranian Kurdistan who reportedly died due to being roughed up by police for "unsuitable attire" - or not conforming to Islamic Republic standards of a hijab. Iranian officials say seven people have died since protests erupted Saturday, following Amini's funeral, where women began removing their headscarves in protest, sometimes burning them in public displays of defiance. Demonstrators have decried instances of what they say is 'live fire' tactics and deadly forced used by police to disperse the protests, which have now spread across several provinces. New Arab/Getty Images: Mahsa Amini was reportedly bludgeoned repeatedly against a wall after she was detained for showing too much hair. At least one of the dead has been reported as a security member, coming also amid hundreds of arrests. "Crowds cheered when women burned their hijabs on a bonfire in Sari on Tuesday, the fifth successive day of unrest," BBC has reported of scenes coming from the country Tuesday. "Activists said a woman was among three protesters shot dead by security forces in Urmia, Piranshahr and Kermanshah." Dozens of videos showing fierce anti-hijab protests, as well as chants against the country's 'morality police' have been circulating widely on the internet. According to a description of some of the viral protest videos reviewed by The New York Times: Protesters have been calling for an end to the Islamic Republic, chanting things like “Mullahs get lost,” “We don’t want an Islamic republic,” and “Death to the supreme leader.” Women have also burned hijabs in protest against the law, which requires all women above the age of puberty to wear a head covering and loose clothing. Tehran has responded Tuesday by throttling internet speeds and also outright blocking social media sites, including Instagram. "For security reasons, the relevant authorities may impose certain restrictions on internet speed," Iran's Information Ministry announced in a fresh statement.

Xi Tells Armed Forces Focus On Preparing For Wars As Geopolitical Flashpoints Intensify -Coming off last week's Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in Uzbekistan where the two leaders met, the Australian Strategic Policy Institute observes, "Xi has likely sensed the opportunity to use the Sino-Russian 'no limits' partnership to extract greater Russian resources from Putin in exchange for China’s continued backing.""Despite his seemingly unimpressed face at the summit, Xi is unlikely to break ties with Putin over the lack of Russian progress in Ukraine. Russia simply remains too important a partner in China’s strategy to challenge the United States’ position in the Indo-Pacific," the institute's analysis adds.And interesting given the timing, Xi on Wednesday - the same day that Putin declared a 'partial' national military mobilization - addressed a national military seminar, telling top officers to focus their attention on gearing up for potential military action on the horizon. "It is imperative to conscientiously summarize and apply successful experience in reforms, to master new situations and [understand] the requirements of the tasks, to focus on preparing for wars, and to have the courage to explore and innovate," Xinhua News Agency quoted the Chinse president as saying.He said further at the Beijing-hosted defense conference, which included high-ranking representatives of China's Central Military Commission (CMC), as well as the People's Armed Police Force and military academies, that major reforms to the nations armed forces he initiated starting years ago have been successful."Long-standing systemic obstructions, structural incongruities and policy issues in the development of national defense and the armed forces have been resolved," he told the top defense officials.

China on Taiwan: 'External interference' won't be tolerated - -- China underscored its commitment Saturday to its claim on Taiwan, telling assembled world leaders that anyone who gets in the way of its determination to reunify with the self-governing island would be “crushed by the wheels of history.”The language was forceful but, for Chinese leadership, well within the realm of normal.“Only when China is fully reunified can there be true peace across the Taiwan Strait,” Wang Yi, China's foreign minister, said at the U.N. General Assembly. He said Beijing would “take the most forceful steps to oppose external interference.”China regularly and vehemently defends its claim to Taiwan, which separated from the mainland after a 1949 civil war and now functions with its own government. A visit last month by the speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, markedly ratcheted up tensions between Washington and Beijing.The language, while pointed, reflected China's typical intensity about the island; its claim seldom goes unmentioned in major international speeches. Taiwan is a core issue of China policy, and Wang's appearance at the leaders' meeting — instead of his boss, Chinese leader Xi Jinping — was a signal that the speech was not necessarily a significant one.“The PRC government is the sole government representing all of China,” Wang said, referring to China's formal name, the People's Republic of China. “The one-China principle has become a basic norm in international relations.”He added: "Any move to obstruct China’s reunification is bound to be crushed by the wheels of history."China exercises regular pressure worldwide on any entity — country, corporation, mapmaker — that even implies Taiwan might be a separate nation. At the Olympics, for example, Taiwan must compete as “Chinese Taipei.” The mainland government's muscle has isolated the island's government, though a few U.N. members continue to have diplomatic relations with Taipei rather than Beijing.On Saturday at the U.N. meeting, just a few speakers before Wang, the prime minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Ralph Gonsalves, spoke forcefully about allowing Taiwan to raise its profile in international organizations, including the World Health Organization. “How can we stand askance, in relative silence and contented inaction, in disregard of Taiwan's legitimate right to exist in accord with the wishes and will of the Taiwanese people?” he asked.

China to BRICS: Resist decoupling in face of unilateral hegemony - China has urged the BRICS countries to resist decoupling and technological barriers in the face of what has been termed the impact of power politics and unilateral hegemony. Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi said the BRICS states should prioritize the issue of development at the ongoing 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly and inject impetus into the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Wang made the remarks on Friday at the meeting of the BRICS foreign ministers in New York. He said power politics and unilateral hegemony severely undermine multilateralism, and various forms of “pseudo-multilateralism” are becoming increasingly confusing. Wang said the BRICS member states – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – should resist severing supply chains and creating barriers in science and technology, and work towards building an open-world economy so as to achieve stronger, greener, and healthier global development. The Chinese diplomat urged the BRICS to focus on long-term development and practical needs, actively respond to the expectations of various parties, and steadily advance the process of BRICS membership expansion as more countries have expressed willingness to join the organization. In addition to Iran and Argentina, which have officially applied for membership, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Egypt have also signaled an intent, according to media reports. Feng Xingke, secretary general of the World Financial Forum and director of the Center for BRICS and Global Governance, says the role of BRICS “in global security has become much more apparent and important.” The BRICS countries, he says, need to continue “to practice genuine multilateralism to counter the pseudo-multilateralism of US-led small groupings.” The BRICS nations have ramped up cooperation and put on display an intent to change the dollar-dominated financial system. Russia and China are leading the de-dollarization initiative to safeguard their interests. Earlier this month, Russian President Vladimir Putin said the process to cut the dollar out of the world economy was “inevitable.” Moscow fast-tracked de-dollarization when the US Treasury Department decided to confiscate Russia's foreign exchange reserves, after Putin ordered a military operation in Ukraine on February 24. Ever since, Russia has been under harsh sanctions. In turn, Russia has downgraded or cut off gas supplies to Europe, triggering an energy crisis there. All BRICS members have taken steps to de-dollarize and improve their autonomy in the global financial system.

EU Threatens To Suspend €7.5BN In Hungary Funding Amid Charges Of 'Cozying Up' To Putin The EU's patience with Viktor Orban's Hungary is running extremely thin after years of wrangling and threats from Brussels of triggering the "rule of law" mechanism, despite recently announced efforts of Budapest to establish an anti-graft agency. It seems Russia's war in Ukraine is hastening a confrontational and fractured ending to the standoff, with the EU on Sunday threatening to freeze 7.5 billion euros which had been earmarked for Hungary, citing persisting corruption and fraud. It's been no secret that Orban has been a thorn in the side of European efforts to punish and isolate Putin's Russia. While Hungary has d emanded exemptions from EU energy sanctions on Russia, and has meanwhile enjoyed cheap gasoline and other energy at a moment prices in the rest of Europe have gone steadily up over the course of the war - and into what's sure to be a tough winter - the belief among leading EU states is that joint bloc anti-Russia actions have been largely blunted. The timing of the fresh EU threats is not going unnoticed.Bloomberg in a fresh report has put the dilemma as follows: "But while most member states have been engaged in a desperate scramble to secure alternative gas supplies ahead of the winter, Orban has deepened his country’s ties to the Kremlin, exploiting the exemptions he demanded from EU sanctions to secure increased imports of gas from Russia."Poland has remained a powerful impediment thus far to Brussels triggering any significant rule of law penalties, despite Warsaw remaining at the forefront of denunciations of Russia's invasion."During years of frustration at the Hungarian government, Orban has been shielded from the EU’s main disciplinary machinery, known as the article 7 procedure, by the support of the nationalist government in Warsaw -- because that mechanism too requires the endorsement of all the other members," Bloomberg recounts. "The war in Ukraine has soured Orban’s relationship with the Polish government, which has been among the most ardent supporters of firm action against Putin, but for now the Poles are standing by Orban."Orban has cast efforts to "punish" his country in terms of a war on traditional values. For now, Poland seems to agree... the vast divergence in rhetoric on the Russia-Ukraine conflict notwithstanding.

Is The European Union About To Rupture? -The possible, even likely, collapse of the European economy would inflict some heavy costs to present European institutions. In this entry, Dr. Peter Nyberg and I detail why we believe we are likely to see some rupturing of the European Union (EU) as originally conceived. This may occur in two ways: Either the European Union disintegrates completely, or it mutates into something unrecognizable to its original purpose. This comment concentrates on some of the factors causing disintegration. The functioning of the EU has, until recently, been built on two political pillars that now appear to be crumbling. Primarily, German growth has made possible the joint financing (through low-cost debt, the EU budget, and the central banks’ clearing system) of unsuccessful economies without the EU forcing them to commit to politically unacceptable reforms. Beneficent global developments have made possible the concentration on economic integration while going slow on the much more contentious integration of cultural, social, and foreign policies. The deterioration of the global economy, together with EU policies, now threaten industry and living standards in EU member states, reduce the scope of joint economic support, and force member states to rapidly evaluate their readiness for possibly radical reductions in their political self-determination. This is most evident in Italy. The yields of Italian sovereign debt have reached levels that can be considered unsustainable, given the country’s high indebtedness and low rate of economic growth. For example, the yield of the Italian 10-year bond breached the 4 percent line late this past week. The maturity structure of Italian debt is also rather unfavorable. At the end of June, for example, Italy had issued only 52 percent of its needs for external financing in 2022. In addition, 35 percent of her outstanding debt will come due already in 2024. Half of her total debt will come due within five years. Without active country-specific support from the European Central Bank (ECB), which the newly introduced Transmission Protection Instrument is designed to facilitate, Italian debt is unsustainable at current yields. Disagreements among member states on the wisdom of filling the ECB with Italian bonds is bound to weaken the glue keeping the EU together as before. The energy crisis is also sowing seeds of serious inner conflict. The politics in the EU are becoming less forgiving as difficulties mount.

War Could Escalate Over Ukraine Terrorist Attacks Inside Russia, Putin Warns - Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday warned that Russia could escalate its war in Ukraine in response to "terrorist" attacks against civilian infrastructure inside Russian territory. Putin has framed his invasion as a limited "special military operation" that could be upgraded into a full-scale war. His government recently rejected calls to mobilize for war, but Putin signaled that there could be some sort of escalation. . "Indeed, we were quite restrained in our response, but that will not last forever," the Russian leader said at a press conference. "Recently, Russian Armed Forces delivered a couple of sensitive blows in that area," Putin added, referring to Russian strikes on Ukrainian power infrastructure that came after Kyiv’s Kharkiv counteroffensive. "If the situation continues like that, our response will be more impactful. Terrorist attacks are a serious matter." Putin accused Ukraine of attempting to attack nuclear power plants inside Russia. "We even see attempts at perpetrating terrorist attacks in the Russian Federation, including — I am not sure if this was made public — attempts to carry out terrorist attacks near our nuclear facilities, nuclear power plants in the Russian Federation," he said. The Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhia Nuclear power Plant inside Ukraine has been the site of frequent shelling, but Putin’s comments were the first time Russia accused Ukrainian forces of attacking a nuclear plant in Russian territory. The assassination of Darya Dugina in a car bomb attack which may have been meant for her father Alexander Dugin last month, is a prime example of suspected Ukrainian ops inside Russia... The daughter of a Russian ultra-nationalist ideologue, Alexander Dugin, was killed in a suspected car bomb attack outside Moscow on Saturday. Darya Dugina was driving her father's car when an explosive device detonated.@smougin reports ⤵️

‘These are not rental cars’: As Ukraine pleads for tanks, the West holds back - Ukraine is asking urgently for modern tanks to help their forces seize on rapid gains in the northeast and take additional territory, but the West is dragging its feet, according to seven people with knowledge of the matter.The tanks have shot to the top of Kyiv’s wish list as Ukraine presses its gains in the eastern Donbas region amid the shocking Russian collapse this month. The request took on new urgency this week after Vladimir Putin announced that he would mobilize 300,000 additional troops for the fight in Ukraine, a major escalation of the campaign.The more modern American-made M-1 Abrams and German-made Leopard tanks would add a powerful punch that could help Kyiv’s forces capture and hold more ground, compared to the old Soviet-era tanks they currently operate, say experts and Ukrainian advisers. But top national security officials in both countries have hesitated to provide the tanks, in part due to the training and logistics challenges involved, according to U.S. officials, Ukrainian advisers and congressional aides.The M-1s, for example, are a completely different system than the Soviet-era tanks Ukraine currently operates, and require significant maintenance and logistics support.“It’s a pretty high hurdle to get Ukraine not only U.S.-made tanks but the parts to maintain them,” said one U.S. official, who like others interviewed for this article spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss ongoing conversations. “You don’t want to give them something that’s going to break down and run out of gas and they can’t refuel them.” For the immediate fight, the Leopards might be a better fit because they are similar to the tanks Ukraine already operates and require less fuel than the Abrams, the official said. But Germany has repeatedly rejected Ukraine’s request for the tanks, with Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht recently saying Berlin has agreed with NATO partners not to take such action “unilaterally.”

Putin Announces Partial Mobilization In Ukraine War Escalation, Says West Wants To "Destroy Russia" -- In a nationwide address that was delayed from its prime-time Tuesday delivery and ahead of votes in four Ukraine regions to join Russia, on Wednesday morning Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a partial military mobilization, while vowing to use all means necessary to defend Russia and pledged to annex the territories already occupied by Russia, raising the stakes in the seven-month-old conflict.Calling the moves “urgent, necessary steps to defend the sovereignty, security and territorial integrity of Russia,” Putin said that Russia is fighting the full might of NATO. The US and its allies, he said, are seeking to “destroy” Russia.The partial mobilization means that reservists will be drafted into military service, Putin said, starting immediately. The Armed Forces will draw on military reservists only, and those who have completed national service, the president said promising that they will be provided with additional training along with all the benefits due to people involved in active duty.The measure is "sensible and necessary" under the circumstances, Putin stated, adding that he has already signed an order for the call-up to start immediately.In his speech, Putin accused Kiev of backing away from peace talks, acting on direct orders from its Western allies. Instead of negotiating, the Ukrainian government has beefed up its military with NATO-trained troops, many of whom are neo-Nazi extremists, he said.Putin also accused the west of using "nuclear blackmail" against Russia noting that "if its territorial integrity is threatened Russia will definitely use all the means at its disposal." to defend Russian territory. "This is not a bluff."Russian forces sent to Ukraine in February have secured a large portion of territory claimed by the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics as well as parts of Ukraine, and the resulting frontline stretches over 1,000km, according to the Russian president.Putin also commented on the upcoming referendums in the two Donbass republics and two regions of Ukraine currently controlled to a large extent by Russian troops. The territories which include Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia provinces, have announced plebiscites on whether become part of Russia, with the ballots scheduled to start on Friday. Putin said his government will respect the outcome of the four referendums, and provide security for the voting process.Some other notable highlights from Putin's address:

Putin faces public anger in Russia over mobilization and prisoner swap - Russian families bade tearful farewells on Thursday to thousands of sons and husbands abruptly summoned for military duty as part of President Vladimir Putin’s new mobilization, while pro-war Russian nationalists raged over the release of Ukrainian commanders in a secretive prisoner exchange. As women hugged their husbands and young men boarded buses to leave for 15 days of training before potentially being deployed to Russia’s stumbling war effort in Ukraine, there were signs of mounting public anger. More than 1,300 people were arrested at anti-mobilization protests in cities and towns across Russia on Wednesday and Thursday, in the largest public protests since Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov dismissed reports of booked-out flights and queues to leave Russia as “false.” “The information about a certain feverish situation in airports is very much exaggerated,” Peskov insisted during his daily conference call with reporters on Thursday. But there were other signs of increased public pushback against Putin and his war, despite the Kremlin’s harsh crackdown on dissent. In the city of Togliatti, a local military recruitment office was set on fire, one of dozens of similar attacks across Russia in recent months. Russia’s war hawks on the far right, meanwhile, had a different cause for fury: a prisoner exchange that freed commanders from Ukraine’s controversial Azov Regiment, long branded by Russia as “Nazis.” They were swapped for dozens of prisoners held in Ukraine, including Viktor Medvedchuk, reputed to be Putin’s closest Ukrainian friend and the leader of the country’s main pro-Kremlin political party. The dual backlash over mobilization and the prisoner exchange showed Putin facing his most acute crisis since he launched the full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Not only is his country grappling with punishing economic sanctions imposed by the West, but his military has suffered dramatic setbacks, including an embarrassing retreat from the northeastern Kharkiv region.

New nuclear threats raise risk from a 'cornered Putin': Experts - Even before Russian troops invaded Ukraine, U.S. officials warned global peace would be endangered if Russian President Vladimir Putin were allowed to brazenly seize another sovereign country. At the same time, analysts have warned that if he faced no option but defeat in that bid, the outcome could prove to be even more dangerous -- a so-called "cornered Putin." Ukrainian successes on the battlefield have not only pushed Russian troops back but now have pushed Putin further into a corner -- forcing him to take a series of dramatic steps to reinvigorate his brutal campaign: a sweeping military draft, labeled as a "partial mobilization," to surge thousands of soldiers to the fight, and orchestrating what the West has called "sham" referenda in occupied territories in Ukraine -- intended to pave the way for them to be "annexed" -- considered, in Putin's view, to be part of Russia. Most alarming, in a rare televised address, Putin also issued a new round of thinly-veiled nuclear threats -- warning that Russia will use "all available means" to protect what he now portrays as Russian people and territory. While some of his rhetoric isn't new, the changed circumstances in the conflict are. ABC News spoke to experts and former U.S. officials about why Putin's latest saber-rattling escalates risks -- for both Putin and the world. Putin's "partial mobilization" to send Russians who have gone through military training to serve in Ukraine is broadly seen as a tacit acknowledgement that his military is failing to accomplish Moscow's goals in Ukraine. But Max Bergmann, a former State Department official and the director of the Europe Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, says it also puts Putin's control over his own country in question. "What is clearly happening here is that the Russian military position in Ukraine is collapsing," he said. "Forcing people to go and fight in Ukraine is an extremely risky political decision. This is one of the most incredibly disruptive things that can be done to a society." Although economic penalties for the invasion continue to have a mounting impact, Bergmann says the move will bring the war home to many Russians for the first time. And what's worse, he adds, is that Putin hasn't even officially called his invasion of Ukraine a war -- still describing it as a "special military operation." "There's a total disconnect between the Russian government messaging that this is just some sort of tactical military effort in Ukraine, versus the need to suddenly rip men that have maybe at one time in their life served in the military for a year away from their families -- many with children -- and from their jobs, off to a battlefield where tens of thousands of people are dying," he said.

US, Euro Area and China GDP over the Pandemic and Recovery - by Menzie Chinn - Following up on the last post, here is a graph of three major economies. Figure 1: Real GDP for US (blue), for Euro area (tan), for China (green), and GDO for US (light blue), all in logs, 2019Q4=0. NBER defined peak-to-trough recession dates for United States shaded gray. Source: BEA, Eurostat, via FRED, China NBS, NBER, and author’s calculations. At current exchange rates, these three economies account for about 60% of world GDP (China is about 20%, US about 25%). The sharp drop in Chinese GDP in Q2 highlights the threat to global economic output posed by the Chinese government’s current approach to dealing with the pandemic.

Fall In Container Spot Rates "Much Steeper", "Less Orderly" Than Expected -Shipping liner executives predicted a continued drop in spot rates during their latest quarterly calls, while offering soothing assurances to investors that the fall would be gradual. Maersk CFO Patrick Jany said it would be a “progressive erosion,” not “a one-day drop.” Matson CEO Matt Cox emphasized rates were “adjusting slowly” in an “orderly marketplace” and not “falling off a cliff.”The decline may indeed be fairly steady, as opposed to the sudden, violent swings seen in bulk commodity shipping. Yet spot container rates appear to be falling more rapidly than some liner executives expected.Stifel analyst Ben Nolan recently met with executives of Matson. “In our meetings, management indicated that … the downward softening has been much steeper and less orderly in the past two months,” Nolan wrote in a client note on Sunday.Matson introduced its third trans-Pacific service — China-California Express — in June 2021 to meet booming demand. During the Aug. 1 conference call, Cox said CCX would run through October. It didn’t.“As a result [of softening demand] the company has completed the last sailing of the temporary CCX service ahead of the targeted October conclusion date,” said Nolan. “Spot rates continue to plummet,” said Clarksons Securities analyst Frode Mørkedal on Monday. “The Shanghai-U.S. West Coast corridor has seen the most significant adjustment.”The Freightos Baltic Daily Index China-West Coast assessment has fallen 76% over the past six months, to $3,799 per forty-foot equivalent unit as of Friday. The Drewry Shanghai-Los Angeles assessment is down 57% in the same period.

World Bank: “Is a Global Recession Imminent?” - A Note by Justin Damien Guénette, M. Ayhan Kose, and Naotaka Sugawara. [T]hree major findings. First, every global recession since 1970 was preceded by a significant weakening of global growth in the previous year, as has happened recently. Second, the global economy is in the midst of one of the most internationally synchronous episodes of monetary and fiscal policy tightening of the past five decades. The policy actions in many countries are necessary to contain inflationary pressures, but their mutually compounding effects could have larger impacts than envisioned—both in tightening financial conditions and in steepening the global growth slowdown. Third, if the degree of global monetary policy tightening markets now expect is not enough to reduce inflation to targets, experience from previous global recessions suggests that the additional tightening could cause significant financial stress and increase the likelihood of a global recession next year.

Tories Create a Hostile Environment for Gypsies and Travellers --Successive waves of deepening austerity and state oppression have disproportionately targeted marginalized groups. In England, Tory policy and legislation on Gypsies and Travellers is a particularly vile manifestation of this phenomenon. A 2019 House of Commons briefing paper on Gypsies and Travellers clearly identifies how various levels of government have abandoned their responsibilities towards their citizens. The briefing identifies local authorities as the responsible level of government: Responsibility for planning for the provision of sufficient Gypsy and Traveller sites in England lies with local authorities, who are best placed to assess the needs of their communities. Even if local authorities might be best placed to make this assessment, they aren’t actually called on to do so. The same briefing notes: Local authorities are no longer required to carry out a specific, separate assessment of the accommodation needs of Gypsies and Travellers in their local area, although they still have a general duty to assess the housing needs of everyone in their area. The result of this failure to fulfill the functions of government is that there is a deep and chronic shortage in available pitches for Gypsies and Travellers. Some local governments have responded by issuing a series of injunctions in an effort to simply remove Gypsies and Travellers from their area. These anti-encampment injunctions have been sought against groups of known and unknown individuals and, most crucially, against individuals who may join the group in the future. This inclusion of injunctions against newcomers was upheld in a 2022 Court of Appeal case and while it has thus far been used to target Gypsies and Travellers, the potential for governments to exploit these injunctions against anyone they deem undesirable should not be ignored, particularly as the UK continues to lock up an increasingly wide variety of protestors. Most people in England who identify as Gypsy or Traveller now live in permanent, fixed dwellings, but there are still a significant number, over 20%, who live in a caravan or other mobile or temporary structure and who need places for encampments. Even without injunctions, there are often no available pitches.

Truss’s Plan to Hike Defence Funding and Ignore the Climate Is a Disaster - Liz Truss, the UK’s new prime minister, places a high premium on loyalty. This is why many former members of the cabinet, however experienced, have been relegated to the backbenches. There is, though, one survivor from the Cameron-Clegg coalition era – Truss herself. In keeping with her own politics, the market fundamentalism of the Tufton Street brigade is very much in evidence in her choices of both ministers and advisers – and in her response to the energy crisis. This will be met by a price cap, but that will be achieved by loans of up to £130bnthat will have to be repaid by the public, with the massive profits of the fossil carbon corporations scarcely affected.Meanwhile, the obscene maldistribution of wealth in the UK continues. The country’s billionaires have now accumulated more than £600bn of wealth, with the top ten on the Sunday Times Rich List amassing £176bn between them – but perish the thought that wealth redistribution or even windfall taxes should be mentioned in polite company. This issue of who pays extends to a major element of Truss’s wider politics: defence policy. A key context, much in tune with grassroots Tories, is that the UK is one of the world’s great powers, to be demonstrated by increasing military spending to 3% of national income by 2030. This is the biggest hike since the 1950s, even though military spending went up under Boris Johnson, largely by diverting money from the international aid programme.Truss’s plan goes very much further. According to a leading defence economist, professor Malcolm Chalmers from the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), this substantially increased spending will run to an additional £157bn at current prices. Chalmers points out that unless there are even more cuts in public spending, this would require income tax to increase by 5p in the pound, or for the standard VAT rate to rise from 20% to 25%. Part of the problem is that Britain’s military-industrial complex is very much a closed system that requires enemies in order to thrive and, if need be, can always resort to appeals for patriotism. It is a thoroughly integrated system comprising the military, arms manufacturers, civil servants, think tanks, security and intelligence agencies and university departments, with trades unions necessarily looking out for their members. Truss’s defence stance, however unaffordable, will go down very well in these circles. It is, after all, nothing new. Five years ago, when Boris Johnson was foreign secretary, he gave that year’s Tory party conference his “let the British lion roar” speech, all about a renewed greatness rooted in the military.One aspect of her political make-up that was evident during the leadership campaign is an almost total ignoring of the challenge of climate change, reinforced last week by her decision to promote an arch-climate sceptic, Jacob Rees-Mogg, to the energy brief.This should come as no surprise. After all, when the Tories won an overall victory in the 2015 election and were no longer encumbered with the Lib Dems, they immediately took an axe to many of the decarbonising initiatives advocated by Labour before 2010 and maintained by the Lib Dems during the five-year coalition.These included reducing support for solar power and electric vehicles; stopping subsidies for onshore wind while increasing them for North Sea oil; privatising the Green Development Bank; and scrapping the “zero carbon homes” plan due to ensure all new homes would be carbon-neutral from 2016.These lost the UK years in decarbonisation, making the current energy crisis even worse.What is perhaps forgotten is that the environment minister at the time was a rising young Tory politician by the name of Liz Truss.Now, we have an entire government minimising the climate crisis just when it is becoming blindingly obvious that it is the greatest single threat to global human security. The government may ignore this but the people won’t – and we can be certain that it will emerge rapidly, before the next general election, to be a focus of mounting public anger and action that will far transcend the activities to date of Extinction Rebellion and other activist and campaigning groups.

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