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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
After a decade of either rejecting or ignoring climate change, some congressional Republicans are beginning to publicly acknowledge it, and a few are even considering policies addressing it.
The big picture: Democrats’ push on the Green New Deal, coupled with other trends like growing public concern about climate change, is compelling Republicans to be for something — anything — on the issue.
Driving the news: In hearings held over the last month by Democrats now controlling the House, numerous Republicans have acknowledged human activity is driving Earth’s temperature up and signaled they want to look for policies addressing it.
“Some of them are becoming concerned about the environment. Others are becoming concerned if they go to a town hall and they don’t have any answer. Change comes from the bottom up. It never comes top down. It is bottom up. The public is beginning to say: We want something done."— John Kasich, former GOP governor of Ohio, in Axios interview
One level deeper: So far, the lawmakers' words are mostly that and not backed up by legislation, though some ideas are being floated that focus on innovation.
Yes, but: These position shifts are unlikely to satisfy most Democrats who want far more aggressive policies, and it’s unclear if this shift will eventually be backed by a continuous and broad effort to collaborate on policy.
The other side: A small group of House Republicans, who are part of the Congressional Western Caucus, held a forum and press conference Wednesday opposing the GND. Conservative advocates expressed concern about Republicans supporting climate policies in response to the GND.
Go deeper: Read my whole post here.
The world's largest coal-export terminal in Newcastle, Australia. Photo: Amy Harder/Axios
During a recent trip to Australia, I caught up with Matt Canavan, whose position in the Australian government is similar to that of our Interior Secretary.
Why it matters: As Australia’s minister for resources, Canavan is responsible for this nation’s rich natural resources, including coal but also wind and solar, which are growing rapidly.
Go deeper: Read the whole Q&A here.
The Jin Yang graphite factory in Mashan, China. Photo: Michael Robinson Chavez/The Washington Post via Getty Images
Expert Voices contributor Maggie Teliska writes ... China has steadily been forcing producers of graphite — a material commonly used in smartphone and laptop batteries — to close in response to rising pollution, as mining companies fail to improve the conditions of local land and water resources.
Why it matters: Batteries account for roughly 30% of the global demand for graphite, and China produces 70% of the world's graphite supply. As demand for the material continues to grow, battery prices may rise, which would impede progress toward the $100 per kilowatt hour lithium-ion target that many companies, including Tesla and BMW, are looking to achieve.
Background: Lithium-ion batteries transport electrons through the use of cathode and anode materials, the latter of which is commonly constructed of graphite. The expanding electric vehicle market has been a major contributor to the global rise in graphite demand.
Go deeper: Read her whole post.
Teliska is a a technical specialist at Caldwell Intellectual Property Law, an intellectual property law firm
Ethanol: The EPA is expected to finish by summer a controversial regulation encouraging the blending of more ethanol into gasoline, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said Wednesday, per Reuters.
Mining moves: Mining giant Rio Tinto has paid shareholders $13.5 billion in dividends, the most in its nearly 150-year history, per the Australian Your Money publication.
PG&E delays: The California utility repeatedly delayed repairing a high-voltage transmission that's the main suspect behind California's deadliest wildfire, the WSJ reports (subscription).
Energy outlook: The head of the International Energy Agency, Fatih Birol, is on Capitol Hill today to testify about his organization's annual Energy Outlook. He's also stopping by the Energy Department to hold an event with Energy Secretary Rick Perry.
EPA vote: The Senate is expected to vote — and approve — Andrew Wheeler as Trump's permanent EPA administrator.
“Unfortunately you haven’t been taught about photosynthesis. Photosynthesis is where plants take carbon dioxide to produce oxygen. That’s a problem in today’s world. We haven’t taught kids exactly what’s going on in America and in science.”— Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.), to a young person asking about what he was doing to address climate change
Driving the news: Gosar made the comment at a Capitol Hill press conference Wednesday opposing the GND, a broad progressive policy aimed at drastically reducing GHG emissions but also pushing other broad goals, like universal health care and a federal jobs guarantee.
Fact check, per Axios science editor Andrew Freedman: The issue isn’t photosynthesis. We’re putting more carbon dioxide into the air each year than plants, trees and oceans can suck out. That is what’s causing rising global temperatures. CO2 levels are the highest they’ve been in at least 800,000 years, and the driving reason is human activity.