Energy & Environment – Rich counties behind most environmental damage – Advice Eating

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A new study blames nearly three-quarters of the blame for ecological damage on the world’s wealthiest countries, and the White House says a gas tax freeze is “on the table.”

This is Overnight Energy & Environment, your source for the latest news on energy, the environment and more. For The Hill we are Rachel Frazin and Zack Budryk. Someone forwarded this newsletter to you? Subscribe here.

Wealthy nations cause most environmental damage: study

Wealthy nations are responsible for nearly three quarters of the world’s environmental damage, according to a study published in the journal Lancet Planetary Health.

Researchers assigned accountability by calculating fair resource shares subtracted from nations’ actual use of resources.

What did the results say? They found that the US led the way with 27 percent of resource overuse, followed by the European Union with 25 percent. China, the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases overall, was responsible for 15 percent of the overuse of materials, according to the study.

Meanwhile, countries in regions like the Caribbean and the Middle East, as well as low-income African and Latin American countries, together accounted for just 8 percent of resource overuse.

“These results show that rich countries owe an ecological debt to the rest of the world and should take the lead in repairing the damage they have caused,” said lead author Jason Hickel, a professor at the Institute of Environmental Sciences and Technology in Barcelona. The Hill shared in an email. “The first step is that they need to bring their resource use back to sustainable levels, which requires an average 70% reduction from existing levels.”

The study looked at ecological damage other than climate change, but Hickel noted that the team had done previous research that suggested similar responsibilities. “When it comes to these two crises, rich countries are overwhelmingly responsible for the problem and need to take the lead to address it,” he said.

Read more about the study here.

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PSAKI SAYS GASOLINE TAX BREAK IS ‘ON THE TABLE’

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Friday a suspension of the state gas tax was “on the table” but refrained from backing the idea.

“It’s certainly on the table and certainly something we continue to consider,” she told reporters when asked about the tax.

“As you know, our main focus so far has been taking action to increase supply and bring more supply to the global market, but it remains an option that is being considered.”

The suspension of the about 18 cents a gallon tax faces an uphill battle in Congress, having been pushed by weak Democrats but also met with bipartisan opposition.

Earlier, White House communications director Kate Bedingfield said the idea “is actually not off the table. The President is exploring every option to offer gas price relief to consumers.”

Read more about gas tax policy in a story by Rachel and The Hill’s Alex Gangitano, published this week.

New Yorkers get gas tax vacation

Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) announced Thursday that New Yorkers will be relieved of high gas prices as the state gas tax is suspended from June through the end of the year.

Hochul broke the news during a press briefing on her $220 billion state budget, the terms of which have been discussed with state lawmakers since her proposal was submitted in January.

“We understand the need to prevent Russian oil from entering our reserves,” the governor said. “And I applaud everything that President Biden has done to show that we stand ready to stand by the Ukrainian people as they are being targeted by a war criminal.”

But now we need to look at our people where they are and meet them where they are at this time of great stress,” she continued. “This budget will put more money back into people’s pockets.”

The gas tax suspension — equivalent to about 16 cents a gallon — will total about $585 million in relief for families and businesses across New York, according to Hochul.

Tackling rising fuel prices, she explained, is part of a nationwide search to see “what we can do to give people a break.”

Hochul also said she is in ongoing talks with individual counties to ask them to suspend taxes at the local level.

“The cumulative effect is very powerful for people who go to the pump and have that feeling of stress in their chests as they think about the cost of gas while trying to figure out if they can afford it for the day,” said the governor.

Read more from The Hill’s Sharon Usadin.

WHAT WE READ

• California school district sues Dow and Shell over cancer-causing chemicals in water (The Modesto Bee)

• Baltimore wins climate case against Exxon, BP (Reuters)

• Environmental shields for faulty crops need better repair, groups say (Bloomberg Act)

• A “new era of air pollution” in the tropics could take a huge toll (The New York Times)

• EPA investigates Louisiana’s Environment and Health Department for racial discrimination in issuing air pollution permits (NOLA.com)

And finally, something fancy and offbeat: we want one

That’s it for today, thanks for reading. Visit The Hill’s energy and environment page for the latest news and reports. See you monday.

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