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Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Joshua Lott/Stringer.

Sen. Kamala Harris' VP selection could heighten the ticket's focus on environmental justice while prompting fresh Trump campaign political attacks on Democrats' energy plans.

Why it matters: Her introduction comes in an election year that has seen more emphasis on climate change than prior cycles. One effect of the movement ignited by the police killing of George Floyd is a new focus on environmental burdens that poor people and communities of color face.

  • And beyond whatever White House influence she may have if Democrats win, the 55-year-old would be positioned to run again for president after serving as veep, so her views are important.

The big picture: Harris' overall energy stance is consistent with Biden's at a 30,000-foot level, but there are some differences, too.

  • One part of her wider climate change platform called for a "carbon fee" on polluters, which is a more explicit statement on carbon pricing than Biden has offered.
  • Harris, during a CNN event last year, said she would favor a ban on fracking (though the Washington Post points out a ban wasn't in her online platform).
  • Biden has not called for a ban, which would be extraordinarily unlikely to clear Congress anyway.
  • She's an original Senate co-sponsor of the sweeping but vague Green New Deal resolution. Biden's climate plan calls the Green New Deal a "crucial framework" but he has not explicitly endorsed the Senate proposal.

The intrigue: During her campaign, she called for killing the filibuster if Republicans don't cooperate on a sweeping climate change bill.

  • It's a stance that could lend weight to existing calls for ending the Senate super-majority requirement.

Where it stands: One sign of Harris' priorities arrived just last week when Harris unveiled the "Climate Equity Act" with high-profile Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

  • The bill is designed to better integrate environmental justice (EJ) into future policies.
  • It would create a Congressional Budget Office unit that creates an "equity score" for certain bills; and new steps to review the EJ effects of federal regulations and spending.

What to watch: How much and how often the Trump campaign attacks Harris' climate positions. It's already happening.

  • Last night the Trump campaign's response to her selection cited her Green New Deal support as part of a wider attack claiming she's the most "most radical, far-left" VP pick in history.

Of note: We'll have more on Harris and energy during the campaign, but some analysis of how the former California attorney general's selection could affect climate litigation is eyecatching.

What they're saying: Here's part of a note from the Rapidan Energy Group...

  • "Biden’s climate plan states he will 'strategically support ongoing plaintiff-driven climate litigation against polluters.'"
  • "Although Harris chose not to file suit against ExxonMobil while serving as attorney general of California, her legal expertise and the Democratic Party’s sharp left turn against fossil fuel companies lead us to believe she would push a Biden administration to adopt a more aggressive posture in federal litigation against oil majors."

Go deeper

Amy Harder, author of Generate
Nov 18, 2020 - Energy & Environment

Inside one of Jeff Bezos’ climate change grants

Jeff Bezos. Photo: Eric Baradat/AFP via Getty Images

Jeff Bezos’ $100 million grant to the Environmental Defense Fund is tied as the biggest donation the group has ever received in its more than 50-year history, its president Fred Krupp told Axios Tuesday.

Driving the news: The Bezos Earth Fund, the $10 billion fund Amazon founder and billionaire Jeff Bezos unveiled early this year, officially revealed its first recipients this week. They will receive a total of nearly $800 million.

Updated Dec 7, 2020 - Politics & Policy

The top Republicans who have acknowledged Biden as president-elect

Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Some elected Republicans are breaking ranks with President Trump to acknowledge that President-elect Biden won the 2020 presidential election.

Why it matters: The relative sparsity of acknowledgements highlights Trump's lasting power in the GOP, as his campaign moves to file multiple lawsuits alleging voter fraud in key swing states — despite the fact that there have been no credible allegations of any widespread fraud anywhere in the U.S.

Updated 50 mins ago - World

2 Americans accused of helping Ghosn escape in Japanese custody

Former Nissan chair Carlos Ghosn during a news conference in Jounieh, Lebanon, last September. Photo: Hasan Shaaban/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Two Americans accused of helping former Nissan chair Carlos Ghosn flee Japan in a box in 2019 were taken into Japanese custody after arriving at an airport near Tokyo Tuesday, per the Wall Street Journal.

Why it matters: The extradition of Michael Taylor, 60, a private security specialist and former Green Beret, and his son Peter Maxwell Taylor, 27, ends a months-long fight to remain in the U.S.

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