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As Former Secretary of State John Kerry looked to assemble an all-star team to support him in his new Climate Special Envoy role, there was one person he wanted by his side — Sue Biniaz. The Former Deputy Legal Adviser at the State Department, who left the agency after the Trump administration took office, knows the Paris Agreement inside and out. She spent 30 years at State and was its lead climate lawyer, playing a central role in all major international climate negotiations.
But her experience goes beyond climate change, to the ocean, human rights, and law enforcement. She will need to draw on all that to help both raise U.S. national ambitions and provide pathways for private and government funding for the gamut of mitigation needed — be it high tech renewable energy or nature-based.
While she may not be as well known by the general public as her boss, she is admired and respected among her peers at the climate COPs. Even after she left the U.S. government, her expertise was highly sought after by the U.N. Foundation, where she wrote and advised on how to keep the agreement’s implementation progressing and particularly on how to bring ocean-based solutions into the ongoing negotiations. Now back and fully engaged for the Biden administration, there is no doubt that the U.S. has a strong negotiator who will serve both the U.S. and the planet well. There are plenty of other women also looking to play a role, and Sue is sure to make room for them at the table.
The nation’s largest reservoir, Lake Mead, created by the Hoover Dam on the Colorado River, has reached record lows (at only 36% full) in the face of a severe drought sweeping the western U.S. The reservoir supplies drinking water for 25 million people in Los Angeles, San Diego, Phoenix, Tucson, Las Vegas, and more.
For generations, Native Alaskans have stored their food year-round in icy cellars that have been dug deep underground, but recently many of these cellars are either becoming too warm so that the food spoils or failing completely due to flooding or collapse Civil Eats’ Kayla Frost reported from Alaska. The cellars, known as siġluaqs, are usually about 10 to 20 feet below the surface and consist of a small room that used to be consistently about 10 degrees Fahrenheit year-round.
Why This Matters: The loss of these natural freezers could be devastating to Native Alaskans.
A 20-year-old tax break for oil and gas companies in Texas quietly met its end last Thursday. In the previous two decades, a provision of the Texas code known as “Chapter 313” has provided $10 billion in property tax reliefto corporations in Texas, primarily petrochemical firms.
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