NYT Politics

Liz Cheney embraces her role in the Jan. 6 inquiry in a closing campaign ad.
Author: Neil Vigdor
The nearly two-and-a-half-minute ad appeared aimed as much at a national audience as at voters in Wyoming, where she is badly trailing her primary opponent.
Affidavit in Support of Warrant for Mar-a-Lago Search Will Not Be Made Public for Now
Author: Alan Feuer
The affidavit in support of the warrant explains why prosecutors believed there was probable cause that evidence of a crime could found be at the Florida estate.
Heavy Losses Leave Russia Short of Its Goal, U.S. Officials Say
Author: Helene Cooper
The estimated deaths and injuries are stalling Russia’s progress in eastern Ukraine, military experts say, as fighting intensifies in the south.

Portland Business News

Oregon officials urge those at high monkeypox risk to seek vaccines
Author: Elizabeth Hayes
“The good news is that although monkeypox is a serious public health concern and highly infectious in certain situations, it’s not another Covid-19,” said Dr. Dean Sidelnger, state epidemiologist.
Judge tosses Ridwell's bid to halt new Washington County add-on recycling program
Author: Pete Danko
The program arose after Ridwell was forced out of the county.

Seattle Times Opinion

Restore the balance between Navy’s needs and civilian communities impacted by Growler jets
Author: Anne Harvey

We encourage the Navy to act in good faith, to be responsive to the court's directive and negotiate a remedy that works for us all.
America honors its promise to veterans after all with PACT Act
Author: The Seattle Times editorial board

Under the new law, expanded health care and benefits could help as many as 354,000 Washington state veterans.
Navy-jet training: National security
Author: Letters editor

Re: “Judge rejects Navy review for more jet flights on Whidbey” [Aug. 4, A1]: The people complaining have lost site of the importance of the Navy jet training. Right now, with the world situation in Russia and Ukraine, I think we could have World War III. Vladimir Putin has threatened A-bombs. Military training is very […]

Columbian Newspaper

Big climate bill: Spending green bucks to spur green energy

After decades of inaction in the face of escalating natural disasters and sustained global warming, Congress hopes to make clean energy so cheap in all aspects of life that it’s nearly irresistible. The House is poised to pass a transformative bill Friday that would provide the most spending to fight climate change by any one nation ever in a single push.

Friday’s anticipated action comes 34 years after a top scientist grabbed headlines warning Congress about the dangers of global warming. In the decades since, there have been 308 weather disasters that have each cost the nation at least $1 billion, the record for the hottest year has been broken 10 times and wildfires have burned an area larger than Texas.

The crux of the long-delayed bill, singularly pushed by Democrats in a closely divided Congress, is to use incentives to spur investors to accelerate the expansion of clean energy such as wind and solar power, speeding the transition away from the oil, coal and gas that largely cause climate change.

The United States has put the most heat-trapping gases into the air, burning more inexpensive dirty fuels than any other country. But the nearly $375 billion in climate incentives in the Inflation Reduction Act are designed to make the already plummeting costs of renewable energy substantially lower at home, on the highways and in the factory. Together these could help shrink U.S. carbon emissions by about two-fifths by 2030 and should chop emissions from electricity by as much as 80%.

Experts say it isn’t enough, but it’s a big start.

“This legislation is a true game-changer. It will create jobs, lower costs, increase U.S. competitiveness, reduce air pollution,” said former Vice President Al Gore, who held his first global warming hearing 40 years ago. “The momentum that will come out of this legislation, cannot be underestimated.”

The U.S. action could spur other nations to do more — especially China and India, the two largest carbon emitters along with the U.S. That in turn could lower prices for renewable energy globally, experts said.

Because of the specific legislative process in which this compromise was formed, which limits it to budget-related actions, the bill does not regulate greenhouse gas emissions, but deals mainly in spending, most of it through tax credits as well as rebates to industry, consumers and utilities.

Investments work better at fostering clean energy than regulations, said Leah Stokes, an environmental policy professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara. The climate bill is likely to spur billions in private investment, she said: “That’s what’s going to be so transformative.”

The bill promotes vital technologies such as battery storage. Clean energy manufacturing gets a big boost. It will be cheaper for consumers to make climate-friendly purchasing decisions. There are tax credits to make electric cars more affordable, help for low-income people making energy-efficiency upgrades and incentives for rooftop solar and heat pumps.

There are also incentives for nuclear power and projects that aim to capture and remove carbon from the atmosphere.

The bill moves to ensure that poor and minority communities that have borne the brunt of pollution benefit from climate spending. Farmers will receive help switching to climate-friendly practices and there’s money for energy research and to encourage electric heavy-duty trucks in place of diesel.

The Superfund program, used to pay for cleanup of the nation’s most heavily-polluted industrial sites, will receive more revenue from a bigger tax on oil.

The Rhodium Group research firm estimates the bill would dramatically change the arc of future U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, cutting them by 31% to 44% in 2030, compared to what had been shaping up to be 24% to 35% since 2005 without the bill, said Rhodium partner John Larsen. Clean power on the grid, an upcoming Rhodium report says, would jump from under 40% now to between 60% and 81% by 2030, he said.

“It’s not as big as I want, but it’s also bigger than anything we’ve ever done,″ said Sen. Brian Schatz, a Hawaii Democrat who leads the Senate climate caucus. “A 40% emissions reduction is nothing the U.S. has ever come close to before.″

As decisive a change as it is for U.S. policy and emissions, it still does not reach the official U.S. goal of cutting carbon pollution roughly in half by 2030 to achieve net-zero carbon emissions across the economy by 2050.

Not everyone is impressed.

“This law is big for the U.S. but in global terms long overdue,” said Niklas Hohne, co-founder of the New Climate Institute in Germany. “The U.S. has a long way to go on climate change and is starting from a very, very high emission level.”

When U.S. historic carbon emissions are factored in, U.S. spending still lags behind Italy, France, South Korea, Japan and Canada, according to Brian O’Callaghan, lead researcher at the Oxford Economic Recovery Project at the University of Oxford. He noted the bill has nothing to fulfill America’s broken promise of billions of dollars in climate aid for poor nations.

President Joe Biden has frequently said America is back in the fight against climate change, but other leaders have been skeptical with no legislation to back his claim.

And there may be disappointment. Americans hoping to buy an electric car may find many models ineligible for rebates until more components are made in the U.S. Local fights over siting new renewable energy projects could also hamper the pace of the buildout, some experts said. Environmental justice communities are concerned they’ll be asked to accept new carbon capture projects.

Republicans, who unanimously opposed the bill in the Senate, say it would add to consumers’ energy costs, with House GOP Whip Steve Scalise claiming it “wastes billions of dollars in Green New Deal slush funds.”

Rhodium’s Larsen, who crunched the numbers in the bill, said it would lead to consumers paying up to $112 less a year in energy costs.

“As long as I’ve been in this game, progress on climate has always been higher costs for consumers. That’s not how this bill works,” Larsen said in an interview.

The Democrats didn’t have a vote to spare in the evenly divided Senate and Sen. Joe Manchin, a conservative Democrat from coal-producing West Virginia, had long dashed hopes of an ambitious deal. But two weeks ago, faced with public shaming by environmental groups and sharp criticism even from his own colleagues, he stunned Washington by announcing his support for a bill that reduces drug costs, targets inflation and boosts renewables. Since the deal was announced July 27, Manchin has been an avid cheerleader for its passage. Sen. Krysten Sinema, D-Arizona, provided the vital 50th vote, allowing Vice President Kamala Harris to break the Senate tie.

The result is a 755-page bill that spends money without directly taking on fossil fuels, a disappointment to many on the left. Gore said the fossil fuel industry ran a decades-long “deeply unethical campaign to deceive people around the world,” casting doubt on climate change science.

The industry will face higher royalties and new fees for certain excess methane emissions, a potent greenhouse gas — a rare stick amid carrots. But the fossil fuel industry will remain a powerful force and have guaranteed opportunities to expand on federal lands and off the coast before renewables can be built in those places.

Nevertheless, “the undeniable outcome of this will be a real expansion of wind and solar,” said Harrison Fell, a professor focused on energy policy at North Carolina State University.

In 1988 on a steamy summer day, top NASA climate scientist Jim Hansen brought to public attention for the first time the decades-old concept of global warming when he told Congress carbon dioxide was heating up the Earth. That year became the hottest on record. Now, there have been so many hot years it ranks 28th hottest and Hansen has said he wishes his warnings didn’t come true about climate change.

“It’s a mark of shame that it took this long for our political system to react,” said Bill McKibben, a long-time climate activist, adding that it leaves the fossil fuel industry with too much power. “But this will help catalyze action elsewhere in the world; it’s a declaration that hydrocarbons are finally in decline and clean energy ascendant, and that the climate movement is finally at least something of a match for Big Oil.”

Newhouse’s primary success rare among GOP impeachment voters
Author: NICHOLAS K. GERANIOS, Associated Press

SPOKANE — The 4th Congressional District in Washington is a land of snow-capped volcanic peaks and lush irrigated orchards that produce most of the nation’s apples. It’s also home to one of the few Republicans who voted to impeach former President Donald Trump and then won his next election.

U.S. Rep. Dan Newhouse was one of 10 Republicans who voted to impeach Trump last year, and is one of only two to beat back GOP challengers this year.

Newhouse was the leading vote-getter in the race for his seat in the Aug. 2 Washington primary election, despite withering criticism from Trump and a Trump-backed challenger. Meanwhile, U.S. Rep. David Valadao, R-Calif. – who like Newhouse ran in a top-two open primary – also prevailed two months ago.

U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Wash., who also voted to impeach Trump and represents the Vancouver area, conceded to Trump-backed challenger Joe Kent on Tuesday night.

Analysts say Newhouse had a couple of advantages that allowed him to beat back strong challenges from Republicans Loren Culp, who had Trump’s backing, and Jerrod Sessler, who was in Washington, D.C., during the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection and poured a lot of his own money into the race.

Culp, a former small-town police officer, consistently blasted Newhouse as a RINO, or Republican in name only. That wasn’t enough to defeat Newhouse, who came from a well-known farming family and was seeking a fifth term.

“Newhouse had a lot more credibility in the agriculture community,” Cornell Clayton, head of the Thomas S. Foley Institute at Washington State University, said this week. “And Culp just doesn’t. I think that did him in.”

Sessler, a former NASCAR driver spent about $500,000 — mostly his own money — but finished a distant fourth in the race.

Washington’s primary system, in which all candidates run on the same ballot, and the top two vote getters advance to November, regardless of party, also helped Newhouse, analysts said.

“The short answer is this: Newhouse benefitted from our Top 2 primary system, especially given there was a legitimate (if still long shot) Democrat running,” Todd Schaefer, a political science professor at Central Washington University, wrote in an e-mail. “And of course he had the power of incumbency that gave him the ability to tout his record and attack Biden and Culp.”

With Republican votes split among six challengers, that allowed the lone Democrat in the race, farmer Doug White of the Yakima Valley, to finish second and advance to the general election.

White will be a longshot in November in what is arguably the state’s most conservative district.

It encompasses a large area of central Washington, covering the counties of Douglas, Okanogan, Grant, Yakima, Franklin, Benton, and Adams, and part of Walla Walla County. The district, dominated by the Yakima and Tri-Cities communities, is considerably more conservative than the western part of the state.

No Democratic presidential candidate has carried any county in the district since Bill Clinton in 1992 carried Okanogan County. None of the other counties in the district have backed a Democrat for President since Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964, while Adams County has not voted Democratic since Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1936.

The last Democrat to represent the district was Jay Inslee, who won the seat in 1992 and lost it in the Republican wave of 1994. Inslee is now the governor of Washington.

Newhouse is the scion of a prominent farming family based in the Yakima Valley town of Sunnyside, and and is nobody’s idea of a liberal. He has consistently received “A” ratings from the National Rifle Association and Susan B. Anthony List, a leading anti-abortion organization. He also is fighting environmental groups who want to remove four big hydro dams on the Snake River to save endangered salmon.

The Newhouse family operates an 850-acre farm near Sunnyside where they grow hops for local breweries, grapes for local wineries, tree fruit, and alfalfa.

Of the 10 House Republicans who voted for Trump’s impeachment, four opted not to run for reelection. Michigan Rep. Peter Meijer was defeated in a primary on Aug. 2 by Trump-endorsed John Gibbs and Rep. Tom Rice of South Carolina lost to a Trump-endorsed challenger in June. Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming is bracing for defeat in her Aug. 16 primary against a Trump-backed rival.