Highs And Lows Of The Climate Bill | Crooked Media
August 07, 2022
What A Day
Highs And Lows Of The Climate Bill

In This Episode

  • Hot Take’s Mary Annaïse Heglar joins us to talk about the Senate passing the Inflation Reduction Act on Sunday. It now heads to the House this week where it’s expected to pass. One of the main pieces of the legislation addresses the climate crisis, but the bill ultimately falls short of many activists’ demands.
  • And in headlines: Indiana banned nearly all abortions, President Biden is now negative for COVID, and Lake Mead revealed another set of human skeletal remains.


Show Notes:



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Josie Duffy Rice: It’s Monday, August 8th. I’m Josie Duffy Rice. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar: And I’m Mary Annaïse Heglar. 


Josie Duffy Rice: And this is What A Day, where we’re looking inward to understand why Kim Kardashian and Pete Davidson’s breakup made us sad. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar: Honestly, the only thing about it that makes me sad is that it’s news. [laugh]


Josie Duffy Rice: Fair. Honestly very fair. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar: Yeah. 


Josie Duffy Rice: So first off, let’s give a big What A Day welcome to the co-host of Hot Take, Mary Annaïse Heglar. You’ll be joining the WAD squad for a couple of days. And it is so amazing and exciting to have you with us. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar: Thank you so much for having me, I’m excited. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Of course. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar: On today’s show, a jury ordered Alex Jones to pay more than $45 million to the family of a Sandy Hook shooting victim. Plus, the Senate passed the massive Inflation Reduction Act yesterday. I’ve got some things to say about that and we’ll get to that later. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah, I’m really excited to hear. But first, let’s talk about the current state of climate before we get to the bill, because it’s been very deadly around the world, which is obviously not unusual at this point. Even looking at what’s happened just in the U.S. over the last handful of days really illustrates how important this issue is right now. I mean it’s critical. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar: Yeah. 


Josie Duffy Rice: It’s crucial. It is life or death. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar: Existential. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Existential. And people and wildlife are at stake, right? 


Mary Annaïse Heglar: Definitely. So let’s start in the middle of the country. Josie, what’s been happening over there? 


Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah. So over eight days there have been three extreme rainstorms that have destroyed areas in three states, Missouri, Kentucky and Illinois, and killed at least 39 people. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar: Mmm. 


Josie Duffy Rice: According the New York Times, the storms broke, quote, “century old records”. Some parts of Illinois, quote, “recorded more rain in 36 hours than they usually get the entire month of August”. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar: Mmm hmm. 


Josie Duffy Rice: In Kentucky, the rain was 600% higher than normal and the state is still under threat of serious rainfall this week, which would be disastrous. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar: Yeah. You know, so they have these terms like 100 year storm, 500 year storm. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Mmm hmm. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar: And we have gotten to this point with climate change where those terms are basically meaningless. It’s like record breaking at this point, it means nothing, happens every year. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar: So can you talk about the dangerous flooding out in the West, too? 


Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah. So on Friday, Death Valley National Park announced it would close all roads in and out of the park after serious flooding that stranded about 500 visitors and 500 staff. And this was after almost two inches of rain, so more than 1300 percent higher than its average August rain. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar: Wow. 


Josie Duffy Rice: And to me, like this is an example of like two inches. It doesn’t sound like much. Right? 


Mary Annaïse Heglar: Mmm hmm. 


Josie Duffy Rice: But this is a completely different climate. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar: Mm hmm. 


Josie Duffy Rice: This is the desert. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar: Mm hmm. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Two inches is a big deal. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar: Mm hmm. 


Josie Duffy Rice: And so it’s just a reminder that, like, it doesn’t have to be two feet of rain,. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar: Mm hmm. 


Josie Duffy Rice: But it can overwhelm an environment. Can be seemingly minimal. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar: Mm hmm. 


Josie Duffy Rice: I mean, it has a serious impact on people and places and animals and– 


Mary Annaïse Heglar: Yeah. 


Josie Duffy Rice: So I know I’m preaching to the choir right now, but I think you hear these numbers and you think like, oh, we can withstand that. And the truth is, like, often we cannot. Right. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar: Nope. 


Josie Duffy Rice: And Mary, it’s not just rain, hundreds of miles north of that at the California-Oregon border, The McKinney Fire, which we mentioned last week, has grown to over 60,000 acres and it’s destroyed almost 100 homes and it’s only 40% contained as of our recording at 9:30 p.m. Eastern on Sunday night. So that’s just a sampling of the climate catastrophes spurred by climate change happening as we speak. And again, that’s just the United States, across the world other people are experiencing events like this, but events that are often way more extreme and often in places way less equipped to handle them, right? 


Mary Annaïse Heglar: Mm hmm. 


Josie Duffy Rice: And so speaking of that, I do want the WAD squad to listen to your pod Hot Take. Last month, you and Amy talked to reporter Alleen Brown about the relationship between climate change and mass incarceration. And it’s really such a good episode. I really recommend giving it a listen. The bottom line is that like many of the venues of punishment, jails, prisons, etc. are located in places that are climate precarious. That is kind of by design, right? 


Mary Annaïse Heglar: Mm hmm. 


Josie Duffy Rice: We always put populations that we care less about in the most precarious places, and this means places that are at risk of flooding or extreme heat. And in climate emergencies, incarcerated people are often the last ones to be helped. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar: Mm hmm. 


Josie Duffy Rice: And they’re often not evacuated, nor do they have basic mitigators like heat or air conditioning. I mean, last year, hearing the stories about Texas prisons in the middle of summer, I mean, it was like torture. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar: Yeah. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Right. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar: This year, too. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Right. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Being in the facility alone is torture. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar: Mm hmm. Yeah, we talked about that a lot on the podcast episode. One of the stories Alleen shared with us is that, you know, sometimes security or corrections officers, they’ll have like a separate area that actually is climate controlled and they’ll turn the air conditioning way up. So the, like, sweltering prisoners can watch them in there with their coats. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Mm hmm. That is devastating. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar: So climate change makes prison abolition all the more of an emergency. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Mmm. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar: It’s an acute emergency meeting. A stagnant emergency. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Mm hmm. Yes. So all of what you just heard, you’ll hear much more of that on the episode. It’s so interesting. So check it out. We’ll have a link in our show notes. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar: Yeah. The general rule is if it happens on earth it’s affected by climate change. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Mmm. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar: And vice versa. Um, but yeah. Let’s turn now to the big news out of D.C. Yesterday. The Senate passed the Inflation Reduction Act. 


[clip of Vice President Kamala Harris] The yays are 50, the nays are 50. The Senate being equally divided. The vice president votes in the affirmative and the bill as amended is passed. [applause]


Mary Annaïse Heglar: Mm hmm. So Vice President Kamala Harris broke the tie vote, which split down party lines, which I will just underscore means that Mitt Romney, who had a whole op-ed in the Atlantic about how climate change is real, uh voted against this. And it now, the bill is going to go to the House this week, where it is expected to pass pretty easily. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah. So one centerpiece of the bill tries to tackle climate change and we’re going to talk about that in just a second. But before we get to that, can you highlight some of the other key pieces of it? 


Mary Annaïse Heglar: Sure. So it does several things on health care. It lowers prescription drug costs, but it won’t be immediate and it won’t be for every drug, it is specifically for ten drugs starting in 2026, which oh my God, that is so much closer and sounds so much further away. 


Josie Duffy Rice: I know. I’m like, oh, the real future. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar: Yeah. 


Josie Duffy Rice: No it’s 2022. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar: It’s just a couple of years. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar: It failed to put a cap on insulin prices at $35 a month because Republicans blocked that effort. The bill will also be funded by a new 15% minimum tax for companies that make more than a billion dollars. Those are the big points. Um, And we’ll put a link to a news story in our show notes that goes into more depth. 


Josie Duffy Rice: This bill, to me feels like subjectively a win, objectively kind of depressing. [laugh] You know, you got to wait four years to get lower prescription drug costs. We got to be excited that companies that make a billion dollars have to pay 15% in taxes, which is [?]. Okay. So now it’s very appropriate that you’re here with us today because a centerpiece of the Inflation Reduction Act, as this bill is called, is climate. And it’s been like a huge bargaining chip. Right? And we’ve heard a lot about that and you’ve got some criticisms of it. But let’s start with like what it does. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar: Yeah. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Before we get to why, why it’s not enough. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar: Yeah. So there’s over $360 billion of the bill is investing in climate action. So it does things like invest in renewable energy tax credits on electric vehicles, home improvements, things like that. And 60 billion of it is going toward things that could advance environmental justice in some way, depending on how it is implemented. And some analysis says that the bill would cut America’s carbon emissions by 40% by 2030. 


Josie Duffy Rice: And this sounds like a win, I think, to some people. I mean, I’ve been following kind of the Twitter discussion about it, and there’s also a lot of kind of pushback, right, saying like this doesn’t go far enough. So can you tell us a little bit about that perspective? 


Mary Annaïse Heglar: I think you’d be hard pressed to find anyone who would say that it goes as far as it should. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Right. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar: Even the proponents will tell you it doesn’t go far enough. We’ll link to this in the show notes too, but there’s a really good Twitter thread um before yesterday’s vote by my friend Rhiana Gunn-Wright whose a policy [?] that I trust on pretty much anything, pretty much trust her with my life. So part of what she said is that, quote, “Those investments come at tremendous racist costs, the full scope of which we don’t yet know, but could very likely take some lives.” She also said, quote, “I simply cannot say that another bill that treats Black, Brown and Indigenous lives again as the price of admission for domestic political progress is something where the good outweighs the bad.” 


Josie Duffy Rice: Mmm. Yeah, absolutely. So talk to us a little bit about that specific point. You’ve got your own take here on where this bill falls short. So. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar: Yeah. 


Josie Duffy Rice: For most people, like they’re not hearing about the inequality that’s inherent maybe in the bill or like that we’re seeing in the bill. So talk to us a little bit about that. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar: Before I get to that, I really do want to acknowledge the hard, hard work that went into getting us to this point, not just in the time of this administration, but across generations. People have sacrificed oh so, so much to get this bill, and this bill is meaningful. And I don’t want the fact that there are problems with the bill to sound like it’s a stain on those people’s character or integrity. That’s not how I mean it at all. But there is a lot wrong with the bill. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Mm hmm. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar: So first of all, it expands fossil fuel infrastructure, which we simply can’t do. The science has been crystal clear for years now that if we want a shot at a livable future, which should not sound to anyone like some sort of pie in the sky type of fantasy, like it is just basic survival girl, it is like basic human instinct. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Mmm. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar: Um, We can’t build any more fossil fuel infrastructure if we want to do that. So it’s important to look at where that fossil fuel infrastructure would go. So in order to get Joe Manchin on board with it, the bill requires the leasing of oil and gas drilling on the Gulf of Mexico and Alaska, and those are places that had already been deemed sacrifice zones, including places like Appalachia, where Joe Manchin even wants to bring back the Mountain Valley Pipeline. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Well, that seems good to be bringing back pipelines at this point in the fight. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar: No. 


Josie Duffy Rice: That’s sarcasm. [laughter] That’s terrible. It sounds absolutely awful. And I don’t mean to make jokes because it’s not funny, but it just seems so antithetical to the clear answer– 


Mary Annaïse Heglar: Mm hmm. 


Josie Duffy Rice: For what we need to do moving forward and the clear investments we need to be making and the clear preventative measures we need to be taking. And it just feels like so many people are in denial. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar: Yeah, we keep wanting to find the solutions that are not the solutions. And by we. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Right. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar: I don’t mean me. I don’t mean you. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Right, right. There’s another piece of this bill that you actually think sounds good at first, but once you dig deep, it’s pretty bad. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar: Yeah. 


Josie Duffy Rice: And that’s carbon capture and storage, which sounds fancy and cool to me. So please explain to me why it’s not. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar: It’s not really real. Um, So the bill includes a lot of money for carbon capture and storage, and we talk quite a lot about this bill on the latest episode of Hot Take. So folks who really want to get into the weeds, please go listen to that, because my co-host Amy Westervelt knows so much about this stuff. But anyway, carbon capture and storage is not a thing that anybody knows how to do safely. And it’s how we get mirages, like clean coal that kind of lull people into a sense of complacency about climate change. Carbon capture and storage is basically a fossil fuel executive’s wet dream, [laugh] and it would allow them, theoretically, to attach a contraption to their power plant that would suck out the carbon before it can go into the atmosphere. And if that sounds fantastical, that’s because it is. It doesn’t really exist. And then they’d need to take that carbon and store it somewhere. Now, let’s keep in mind that these are some of the same people who have been drilling for oil for a century and still regularly spill it. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Right. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar: These are the people who just last summer set the ocean on fire. A thing I didn’t even know you could do. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Right. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar: You know! 


Josie Duffy Rice: That was totally new territory for me. I was like, we– 


Mary Annaïse Heglar: Right! 


Josie Duffy Rice: –have crossed into a whole new level. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar: Right? These are not the innovations we need. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Right. Right, right, right. We’re looking for solutions to climate change, and they’re over here innovating, setting the ocean on fire. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar: Yeah. No one asked for that. So would you trust them to put carbon in a ball and bury it somewhere without it backfiring? 


Josie Duffy Rice: Right. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar: You can imagine the types of places where they would take and store this carbon. And I promise you, it wouldn’t be anywhere near where any of these oil tycoons live. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Right. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar: Carbon capture and storage money as far as I understand, it’s not really coming with a lot of regulation. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Mm hmm. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar: So essentially the fossil fuel industry would get to regulate itself. And as a Black woman in the Gulf South who drives through Cancer Alley every time I go to see my momma, I don’t like the odds of that scenario. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah. These are the communities that already get the least amount of attention in every way, right? 


Mary Annaïse Heglar: Mm hmm. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Any policy on any level like these are the places that people ignore. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar: Mm hmm. 


Josie Duffy Rice: How do we kind of combat these narratives? And what more can we be pushing lawmakers to do? 


Mary Annaïse Heglar: Greenwashing abounds. You know, so take a critical eye to that. But, you know, stepping back, I do get the need to pass the bill. And I’m really glad that the dam has broken on climate action. And it’s going to take work to make sure that this is the beginning and not the end. So I want to make sure everybody listening understands that just because the bill is the biggest climate bill ever does not mean that it is anywhere near what we actually need. And anybody working on climate knows that even the folks who like are extremely happy about this bill know that it’s not enough. So it’s a stepping stone and it needs to be treated that way. And we need to fight like hell to save this beautiful planet that we all live on. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Mm hmm. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar: And we need to disabuse people in power of the idea that any casualties are allowable. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Mm hmm. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar: So any elected official needs to be doing everything that they possibly can. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Right. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar: Like we are really, really late in the game for incremental action. So if there’s a tool at anybody’s disposal, they should use it, especially if they’re an elected official. The thing about climate action is that if we were going to go through a prescription of all of the things that need to be done, we would be here like all night. And you would hate me. But –[laughing] 


Josie Duffy Rice: Never. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar: There’s a million things that could be done to solve this. And this is a start. It’s a way to build the momentum that we need to get where we need to go. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Mm hmm. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar: So there’s so much more to say about this, bill. But if you aren’t subscribed to my podcast, Hot Take, go and do that now, where we talk about this bill and so many other things climate. Um, And that’s the latest for now. We’ll be back after some ads. 




Josie Duffy Rice: Now let’s wrap up with some headlines. 


[sung] Headlines. 


Josie Duffy Rice: On Friday, Indiana became the first state to ban nearly all abortions following the Supreme Court’s devastating decision to overturn Roe earlier this summer. The law removes constitutional protections for any abortion procedures. It makes exceptions for when the life of the mother or the fetus is at risk. It doesn’t really define those things. So those exceptions only sort of matter as well as for cases of rape and incest. But Republican lawmakers were even divided on these exceptions. One state representative argued this bill does not go far enough and said during negotiations, the body inside of the mom’s body is not her body, not her body, not her choice. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar: Quick question, is it the representative’s body? 


Josie Duffy Rice: You may wonder. And the answer is it’s especially not, it’s really super, super not his body. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar: Interesting. 


Josie Duffy Rice: At all in any way, shape or form. Interestingly, one Republican senator said exceptions such as for rape are important, especially for rape victims with disabilities. And in his testimony, the lawmaker spoke about his daughter, who has Down Syndrome and actually got choked up on the floor and had to step away. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar: Wow. 


Josie Duffy Rice: It was this kind of moving moment, until you remember that this guy is still trying to keep many others from having the right to control their body in a way that he feels so emotional about the idea of his daughter having that right. So it’s just a reminder of how drastically the game has changed in just a few months. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar: Mmm. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Uh, This law is going to go into effect on September 15th. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar: Yikes. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar: So turning now to Gaza, a cease fire was reached yesterday after three days of intense fighting between Israel and Palestinian militants. Over the weekend, Israeli airstrikes killed at least 44 Palestinians, including 15 children, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Mm. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar: Yeah, more than 300 in Gaza were injured in their literal defense. Palestinians fired hundreds of rockets at Israeli towns and cities, but almost all of them were intercepted by Israel’s missile defense system. The violence on Saturday was the worst in the Gaza Strip since an 11 day war between Hamas and Israel in May of 2021. Egypt helped broker this latest cease fire agreement, although the Israeli prime minister’s office said in a statement that if it’s violated, quote, “the state of Israel maintains the right to respond strongly.” I do not like the sound of that. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah. Police in Albuquerque said on Saturday that a murderer may be targeting Muslim men in the city. Authorities found the body of a Muslim man who was shot and killed over the weekend and they believe the murder could be connected to three other killings of Muslim men that have happened in the past year. Police haven’t made progress on a suspect, but officers did warn members of the Muslim community on Saturday to look out for each other in the wake of the killings. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar: Oh, my God. That must be terrifying. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah, that’s really scary. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar: Alex Jones might want to stock up on some of his own supplements because he was ordered to pay more than $45 million dollars in punitive damages on Friday to the parents of a young child that was killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. Jones had already been ordered to pay $4 million dollars in compensatory damages. This sounds like a huge payout for the parents, but there’s a catch. Texas law caps punitive damages, so Jones could pay as little as one and a half million dollars in that category. The lawyer representing the parents did say that Jones could end up paying more if the case reaches the Texas Supreme Court. 


Josie Duffy Rice: I just want to say just what a deep injustice and tragedy it is that these parents may have to go to the Texas Supreme Court to get payment from a guy who has claimed that they’re like dead children who were killed in their kindergarten classroom, didn’t exist, and that– 


Mary Annaïse Heglar: Right. 


Josie Duffy Rice: [indistinct] scammers and has like basically sicked people on them and — 


Mary Annaïse Heglar: Mm hmm. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Put them through more torture, it’s just unbelievable. President Biden can officially return to his lifestyle of mixing and mingling with party animals all around the globe because he is now negative for COVID and this time, hopefully it will stick. He first saw the coveted single purple line on Saturday, and again yesterday he celebrated his new antibodies with a trip to Delaware to reunite with First Lady Jill Biden. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar: Aww. 


Josie Duffy Rice: I do kind of love the idea of going on vacation to Delaware after you finish COVID. It’s very Biden. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar: Yeah, yeah. Stays on brand. But also, I’ve heard that he secretly really wanted to go to Burning Man and that was the worst part of going to Covid. [laugh] It’s a rumor I’m trying to start. Um.


Josie Duffy Rice: If you were at Burning Man and you spotted Joe Biden, please hit us up. We want to know your whole story. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar: Or if you dressed up as him. [laugh] Um. So and one last story, which should be the basis of a mafia series about climate change. Lake Mead in Nevada revealed another set of human skeletal remains yesterday. For those of you who are keeping track, this is the fourth set to turn up this summer as drought causes Lake Mead’s water levels to drop. The high skeleton count is partly explained by the reservoir’s closeness to Las Vegas, with its large population of people with something to hide. As former Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman said earlier this year, quote, “there’s no telling what we’ll find in Lake Mead. It’s not a bad place to dump a body.” Okay. I’m sorry, I just noticed that he said that earlier this year. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Mm hmm. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar: Not last month. Earlier this year? 


Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar: He knows something. 


Josie Duffy Rice: I love this. I love this. It’s so ex-Vegas mayor to me to be like, it’s not a bad place to dump a body. It’s just so chaotic. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar: Yeah. 


Josie Duffy Rice: And those are the headlines. [music break] That is all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe. Leave a review, avoid Lake Mead, and tell your friends to listen. 


Mary Annaïse Heglar: And if you’re into reading and not just rumors suggesting Kim and Pete may get back together like some of us, [laughter] What A Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe at Crooked.com/subscribe. I’m Mary Annaïse Heglar. 


Josie Duffy Rice: I’m Josie Duffy Rice. 


[spoken together] And enjoy your new antibodies. President Biden. 


Josie Duffy Rice: I really do love this idea of him being in the desert. He could really get some clarity there. [music break] What A Day is a production of Crooked Media. It’s recorded and mixed by Bill Lancz. Jazzi Marine and Raven Yamamoto, are our associate producers. Our head writer is Jon Millstein and our executive producer is Leo Duran. Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka.