This Anthropogenic Life

A newsletter about people causing and coping with climate change, by Alexander C. Kaufman.

A Substack newsletter by Alexander C. Kaufman

A newsletter about people causing and coping with climate change, by Alexander C. Kaufman.

Big Oil's one glaring midterm loss

Hello from Huntington, Long Island, where I’m celebrating my dad’s birthday, Armistice Day and Kurt Vonnegut’s birthday, in that exact order.

It was a big week for politics on Long Island, as well. On Election Night, incumbents in Congress held firm, including Democrat Tom Suozzi -- whose district this is, and Republicans Pete King and Lee Zeldin. But the state Senate is another story.

Long Island Democrats flipped four seats, retaking the Senate for the third time since World War II. Among those ousted was Carl Marcellino, the 75-year-old state senator who’s represented the district spanning from Glen Cove to Huntington since 1995.

Marcellino will be replaced by Democrat James Gaughran, 61, an attorney and former chairman of the Suffolk County Water Authority. On the environmental front, he proposed increasing state grants for homeowners to replace aging cesspools -- a major source of nitrogen pollution in the Long Island Sound.

Gaughran also said he wanted to convert lands into “forever wild” preserves, and pay for his environmental agenda by pursuing “aggressive legal actions against polluters, like Grumman, that have caused serious damage to our aquifers,” according to an interview he did with the Long Island Herald. My mom is excited about that one.

Announcements:

  • Tuesday, Nov. 27: Jewish Currents presents Bad For the Jews: Halakhic Thunderdome at littlefield in Brooklyn. Tickets are $12 to $15. You can buy them here, and RSVP here.

  • Wednesday, Nov. 28: I’m hosting a climate/environment happy hour at Cherry Tree in Brooklyn. It’s FREE, and will go from 7 - 10:30 p.m.


The post-ops of how Democrats fared in Tuesday night’s election ranged pretty quickly from “blue wave? more like blue ripple” to “Beto 2020.” While, Democrats’ sweep in state attorney general seats was largely overlooked.

Four states flipped blue, and 13 Democrat incumbents were re-elected in seven of them. In an election sweep that secured 27 states and knocked off three of Exxon Mobil’s top allies, that could be bad news for an oil and gas industry that had another otherwise great night.

The wins came as climate change-related litigation at the city and county levels is finally making landfall in state capitals, with two states now suing oil companies and another charging ahead with an investigation that’s likely to lead to a third lawsuit. It’s unlikely any state besides California could follow New York’s lead on the investor fraud suit filed last month.

But with Rhode Island and Massachusetts pursuing very different legal routes, it’s possible others paths will emerge.

I wrote about this, and broke some news about California Attorney General Xavier Becerra’s donors and incoming Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel’s potential plans. You can read the full story here.


🛢️ 🛢️ 🛢️

$100 million.

That’s a rough underestimate of how much money the oil and gas industry spent to kill ballot measures in three states that posed a risk to its business.

“We had a pretty good shot, but they definitely had way more resources than we did,” one advocate for Colorado’s Proposition 112, a measure to drastically limit fracking, told The Intercept. “I guess the oil and gas industry is just another example of money buying elections.”

📺 📺 📺

Ryan Zinke is considering going full-time at Fox News. The embattled Interior secretary -- whose mounting scandals make him the most vulnerable Cabinet member since the president fired Attorney General Jeff Sessions -- is weighing a possible job at the Rupert Murdoch-owned propaganda network, Politico reported.

It’s familiar territory. During his first 13 months in office, Zinke appeared on Fox News four times more often than on all other major cable and broadcast networks combined, according to data from the watchdog Media Matters.

🌆 🌆 🌆

New York City’s climate lawsuit against Big Oil isn’t dead yet.

Four months after a judge tossed the suit, the city is appealing the decision, according to documents filed late Thursday. The suit adds to the oil and gas industry’s legal woes just weeks after the New York attorney general sued Exxon Mobil Corp. for defrauding investors over climate change.

🗑️ 🗑️ 🗑️

18 million miles.

That’s how much truck traffic New York City estimates it will eliminate with a long-awaited new plan to overhaul the private trash pickup industry. The mayor’s office says the plan to divide the city into 20 separate commercial waste zones, each to be served by three to five private carters, will slash traffic 63 percent and dramatically cut air pollution.

🚰 🚰 🚰

Baltimore banned water privatization.

Seventy-seven percent of more than 148,000 voters backed a proposal to amend the city’s charter to make sewage and water-supply systems inalienable.

“With water corporations circling around Baltimore over the past several years, ramped up privatization ploys last Spring, and a federal administration hellbent on propping up corporate power over peoples’ rights, it is momentous that the city has voted to keep its water public,” Rianna Eckel, the Maryland organizer for Food & Water Watch, said in a press release.

🔥 🔥 🔥

Southern California is burning.

The Camp Fire in Butte County killed five people as of Friday and forced tens of thousands to evacuate. The Woolsey fire torched the ultra-wealthy seaside enclave of Malibu, burning down reality-TV star Caitlyn Jenner’s mansion.

The president, meanwhile, is tweeting remarks that reveal he either doesn’t know half of California's forests are managed by the federal government, or doesn’t care, using a disaster that killed nearly a dozen people in a cynical ploy to play to Republican farming interests in the state.

Donald J. Trump@realDonaldTrumpThere is no reason for these massive, deadly and costly forest fires in California except that forest management is so poor. Billions of dollars are given each year, with so many lives lost, all because of gross mismanagement of the forests. Remedy now, or no more Fed payments!

🇺🇸 🇺🇸 🇺🇸

HBO is making The Plot Against America into a show.

This has nothing to do with climate change or environmental issues, necessarily, but this is my goddamn newsletter, that’s my favorite Philip Roth book, and David Simon is writing it!


Quotable menschen

“Even more importantly: Amazon is bad. It is monopolistic. Its owner should have his immoral hoard of wealth forcibly expropriated by the state before his power grows so great that all of society is warped by it.”

Hamilton Nolan in The Guardian.

“To Pelosi and the new Democratic leadership in the House: we hear you have no plan to combat climate change. This is unforgivable."

Sunrise Movement founder Varshini Prakash on Tuesday’s election.

David Roberts@drvox8. It puts the lie to the notion that fossil fuel incumbents are going to be productive partners in the climate fight. Big Oil is tromping around like a giant troll, stomping on citizen climate efforts. That's the landscape, happy talk aside.
Zephyr Teachout@ZephyrTeachoutI trust that the new New York State Senate--now controlled by Dems!--will not unquestioningly rush into a relationship with a company who has prided itself on radically asymetrical deals that leave Amazon with data and power, and its partners with dependency. @rontkim
Sam Stein@samsteinYou might be thinking: "Damn, this morning's mass shooting in the LA bar is pretty damn close to our last mass shooting, the one in the Pittsburgh synagogue." In fact, there were 11 mass shootings (four or more victims) in between. https://t.co/ReEVjNq6EZ
David Sirota@davidsirotaClimate Change: I'm literally burning down your towns and cities. Media/Politicians: Let's talk about anything other than climate change.

Recommendations:

First, this song.


Thanks for reading the latest issue of This Anthropogenic Life. This newsletter is a labor love, and there’s plenty of love to give, so send it to your colleagues and friends and enemies, too. It’s free. As always, reach out to me. I’d love to hear from you. My email is alexanderckaufman@gmail.com.

A newsletter about people causing and coping with climate change, by Alexander C. Kaufman.