Apr 19, 2017 by

Stuff that matters

Mulligan   GRIST

Or perhaps we should say that the state is trying to pass a carbon tax again. That distinction — between a tax and a cap — is the main reason for the do-over.

If this sounds like a riveting story for tax attorneys, it isn’t. California, with the world’s sixth largest economy, is a potential model for other governments considering climate policies. But right now, cap and trade isn’t working in California because businesses aren’t sure that the bill that created the program is legit.

You need a supermajority to pass a tax in the state, and lawmakers didn’t have that when they passed the cap-and-trade law. A state appeals court recently ruled that it wasn’t an unconstitutional tax. But opponents plan on taking the battle to the state’s Supreme Court.

Until this is cleared up, businesses are sitting tight. When California recently tried to auction off $600 million of emissions permits, they bought just $8.2 million worth.

Some California legislators are already rallying to pass a new cap-and-trade law, this time with a bombproof supermajority. It would also extend the lifespan of the current law, which is set to expire in 2020, and perhaps the lifespan of our civilization.

get the picture?

The Bureau of Land Management website got a fossil fuel makeover.

The agency, which tends to U.S. public lands, has lately caused quite a stir with recent changes to its homepage banner. Could BLM be trying to tell us something? Let’s take a quick trip through the site’s updates over the last few weeks.

We begin with two people on a backpacking trip, looking toward the sunrise — and, presumably, a brighter future.

Just kidding! No more future! How about a massive seam of coal instead? Two weeks ago, the bureau swapped the wholesome hikers for this wall of coal, dwarfing a tiny person and car in the corner. We get the message: Humans small, coal big.

But in case that didn’t get the point across, BLM changed things up again this week. In the newest image, people are absent altogether, though the pipeline alludes to their domination over the landscape. There are some mountains and forest fading into the background, like an afterthought.

The makeover is in line with the agency’s recent moves: Since Trump took office, BLM has sold huge leases for oil drilling and coal mining on public lands.

As BLM spokesperson Jeff Krauss told NPR, the rotating images are part of an “IT redesign” to showcase the many things the agency manages.

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