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Apple, Amazon and others back groups trying to kill US climate legislation

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Apple, Amazon, Microsoft and Disney are among the major companies backing corporate lobby groups and organizations that are battling a US climate bill, according to a report. That’s despite those companies all making pledges to reduce their impact on the environment.

The United States Chamber of Commerce, the Business Roundtable and the Rate Coalition are three of the lobbyist and business groups that oppose the Democrats’ $3.5 trillion budget bill, which includes measures to fight climate change. The Guardian reports that watchdog Accountable.US analyzed the groups to learn which companies have connections to them.

The Chamber of Commerce, the biggest lobbying group in the US, has said it would “do everything we can to prevent this tax-raising, job-killing reconciliation bill from becoming law.” The group’s board includes executives from the likes of United Airlines and Microsoft.

The board of the Business Roundtable includes Apple CEO Tim Cook, Google and Alphabet chief executive Sundar Pichai and Amazon CEO Andy Jassy. The group has said it’s “deeply concerned” about the bill and the increased taxes it would lead to for the rich. Google has also made political contributions in the past to individuals and organizations that have denied climate change.

The report notes that The Rate Coalition is set to release attack ads against the bill. That body’s members include Disney and Verizon (Engadget’s former parent company).

The support of lobbying groups that are attempting to kill the bill conflicts with the tech companies’ attempts to tackle the climate crisis. Apple, Google and Microsoft have all backed the Paris Agreement, for one thing. Apple and Microsoft promised to become carbon neutral and carbon negative respectively by 2030.

In 2019, Amazon and founder Jeff Bezos launched the Climate Pledge, which has a goal of hitting net zero carbon emissions by 2040 and meeting the Paris Agreement benchmarks a decade early. Microsoft is among the 200+ companies that have joined the pledge. Disney, meanwhile, is aiming to reach net zero emissions for its direct operations by 2030.

Engadget has contacted Apple, Google and Microsoft for comment. The Guardian said that none of the companies it contacted rejected the stances of the groups they’re members of. None of them said they would re-assess their connections to those bodies either.

As Congress considers a vote on the #IIJA, we urge action to modernize the transportation network, reduce emissions and address the climate change crisis. The climate-focused elements included represent significant strides to turn ideas to reality. https://t.co/J1nHUGs1yC

— Amazon Public Policy (@amazon_policy) October 1, 2021

On Friday, Amazon expressed support for the infrastructure bill and the climate aspects of the Build Back Better reconciliation bill. A spokesperson provided the following statement to Engadget:

Amazon believes both private and public sector leadership is required to tackle the global issue of climate change. That’s why we actively advocate for policies that promote clean energy, increase access to renewable electricity, and decarbonize the transportation system. In addition to advocating for these issues on a local, state, and international level, we have a worldwide sustainability team that innovates sustainable solutions for both our business and customers, as well as co-founded The Climate Pledge – a commitment to be net-zero carbon 10 years ahead of the Paris Agreement.

Amazon has made bold commitments to reduce our carbon emissions, and we continue to encourage other companies to join us. We support investments in the Infrastructure and Build Back Better bills to lower emissions in key sectors like energy and transportation, and we believe these investments will help advance America’s carbon reduction goals. As we said earlier this year, we support an increase in the corporate tax rate to pay for things like infrastructure, and we look forward to Congress and the administration coming together to find the right, balanced solution that maintains or enhances U.S. competitiveness.

Update 1/10 12:22PM ET: Added Amazon’s statement.

Source: https://www.engadget.com/apple-amazon-disney-microsoft-climate-bill-lobbyist-opposition-161736552.html?src=rss
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The Article Was Written/Published By: Kris Holt

A giant asteroid buzzed the Earth yesterday

A gigantic asteroid that is considered potentially hazardous by NASA zipped past the Earth yesterday at a very high rate of speed. The asteroid, called 2016 AJ193, flew past the Earth at a velocity of 58,000 mph. It’s hard to imagine a speed that high; it equates to traveling about 16 miles every second. NASA estimates the asteroid is about … Continue reading

Source: https://www.slashgear.com/a-giant-asteroid-buzzed-the-earth-yesterday-22687978/
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The Article Was Written/Published By: Shane McGlaun

No EV tax credit if you earn more than $100,000, says US Senate

Sen. Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.) departs the US Capitol at dawn after an overnight session of the US Senate on August 11, 2021, in Washington, DC. Sen. Kelly was one of three Democratic Senators who voted to gut the plug-in vehicle tax credit.

Enlarge / Sen. Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.) departs the US Capitol at dawn after an overnight session of the US Senate on August 11, 2021, in Washington, DC. Sen. Kelly was one of three Democratic Senators who voted to gut the plug-in vehicle tax credit. (credit: Win McNamee/Getty Images)

On Tuesday night, the US Senate passed an amendment that would limit the plug-in vehicle federal tax credit. Currently, tax payers are eligible for a tax credit of up to $7,500 based on the size of the vehicle’s battery for the first 200,000 plug-in vehicles from a given automaker. But Republican Senator Deb Fischer of Nebraska introduced a non-binding amendment to the $3.5 trillion budget bill that would means-test this tax credit, restricting it to tax payers with incomes below $100,000.

Perhaps more significantly, Sen. Fischer’s amendment also restricts the tax credit to EVs that cost less than $40,000. Consequently, the only battery EVs that will still be eligible for the tax credit will be the Hyundai Ioniq Electric ($34,250), Hyundai Kona EV ($38,565), Mini Cooper SE ($30,750), and the Nissan Leaf S Plus ($39,220). Chevrolet’s Bolt EV and Bolt EUV are both below the price threshold, but in 2019 the automaker sold its 200,000th plug-in vehicle, at which point the tax credit began to phase out.

The amendment passed, 51-48. Senator Fischer took to Twitter to say that “everyday Americans are living paycheck to paycheck because of the sharp rise in costs due to #Bideninflation. We shouldn’t be subsidizing luxury vehicles for the rich using money from hard-working taxpayers.” (Inflation is mostly being driven by high prices for used cars, which in turn is a result of the chip shortage.)

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Source: https://arstechnica.com/cars/2021/08/senate-votes-to-restrict-ev-tax-credits-despite-climate-crisis/
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The Article Was Written/Published By: Jonathan M. Gitlin

Electric cars have much lower life cycle emissions, new study confirms

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Enlarge / If we’re serious about decarbonizing, the internal combustion engine has to go by 2030-2035, according to a new study. (credit: Reinhard Krull/EyeEm/Getty Images)

If you listen to electric vehicle naysayers, switching to EVs is pointless because even if the cars are vastly more efficient than ones that use internal combustion engines—and they are—that doesn’t take into account the amount of carbon required to build and then scrap them. Well, rest easy because it’s not true. Today in the US market, a medium-sized battery EV already has 60–68 percent lower lifetime carbon emissions than a comparable car with an internal combustion engine. And the gap is only going to increase as we use more renewable electricity.

That finding comes from a white paper (pdf) published by Georg Bieker at the International Council on Clean Transportation. The comprehensive study compares the lifetime carbon emissions, both today and in 2030, of midsized vehicles in Europe, the US, China, and India, across a wide range of powertrain types, including gasoline, diesel, hybrid EVs (HEVs), plug-in hybrid EVs (PHEVs), battery EVs (BEVs), and fuel cell EVs (FCEVs). (The ICCT is the same organization that funded the research into VW Group’s diesel emissions.)

The study takes into account the carbon emissions that result from the various fuels (fossil fuels, biofuels, electricity, hydrogen, and e-fuels), as well as the emissions that result from manufacturing and then recycling or disposing of vehicles and their various components. Bieker has also factored in real-world fuel or energy consumption—something that is especially important when it comes to PHEVs, according to the report. Finally, the study accounts for the fact that energy production should become less carbon-intensive over time, based on stated government objectives.

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Source: https://arstechnica.com/cars/2021/07/electric-cars-have-much-lower-life-cycle-emissions-new-study-confirms/
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The Article Was Written/Published By: Jonathan M. Gitlin

Dinosaur killer asteroid research says source in solar system

It would appear that we’re a bit closer to the source of the asteroid that killed all the dinosaurs on Earth. Researchers from Southwest Research Institute published a paper this week with research on material samples harvested from the crater dated back to the event that changed the course of life on Earth. Perhaps most surprising among the details shared … Continue reading

Source: https://www.slashgear.com/dinosaur-killer-asteroid-research-says-source-in-solar-system-29684584/
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The Article Was Written/Published By: Chris Burns

China plans to build the first ‘clean’ commercial nuclear reactor

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Are you intrigued by the possibility of using nuclear reactors to curb emissions, but worried about their water use and long-term safety? There might be an impending solution. LiveSciencereports that China has outlined plans to build the first ‘clean’ commercial nuclear reactor using liquid thorium and molten salt.

The first prototype reactor should be ready in August, with the first tests due in September. A full-scale commercial reactor should be ready by 2030.

The technology should not only be kinder to the environment, but mitigate some political controversy. Conventional uranium reactors produce waste that stays extremely radioactive for up to 10,000 years, requiring lead containers and extensive security. The waste also includes plutonium-239, an isotope crucial to nuclear weapons. They also risk spilling dramatic levels of radiation in the event of a leak, as seen in Chernobyl. They also need large volumes of water, ruling out use in arid climates.

Thorium reactors, however, dissolve their key element into fluoride salt that mostly outputs uranium-233 you can recycle through other reactions. Other leftovers in the reaction have a half-life of ‘just’ 500 years — still not spectacular, but much safer. If there is a leak, the molten salt cools enough that it effectively seals in the thorium and prevents significant leaks. The technology doesn’t require water, and can’t easily be used to produce nuclear weapons. You can build reactors in the desert, far away from most cities, and without raising concerns that it will add to nuclear weapon stockpiles.

China is accordingly building the first commercial reactor in Wuwei, a desert city in the country’s Gansu province. Officials also see this as a way to foster China’s international expansion — it plans up to 30 in countries participating in the company’s “Belt and Road” investment initiative. In theory, China can extend its political influence without contributing to nuclear arms proliferation.

That might worry the US and other political rivals that are behind on thorium reactors. The US-based Natrium reactor, for instance, is still in development. Even so, it might go a long way toward fighting climate change and meeting China’s goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2060. The country is still heavily dependent on coal energy, and there’s no guarantee renewable sources will keep up with demand by themselves. Thorium reactors could help China wean itself off coal relatively quickly, especially small-scale reactors that could be built over shorter periods and fill gaps where larger plants would be excessive.

Source: https://www.engadget.com/china-molten-salt-thorium-clean-nuclear-reactor-214210381.html?src=rss
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The Article Was Written/Published By: Jon Fingas

Concrete buildings could become rechargeable batteries you can live in

Concrete is the most widely consumed material in the world after water. Now, researchers have been exploring how it can be used to store electricity to eventually transform concrete buildings into rechargeable batteries that we live and work in. The engineers from Sweden’s Chalmers University of Technology demonstrated a prototype concrete battery that holds 10 times more power than previous approaches, you’d need 200 square meters of concrete batter to “provide about 8 percent of [a typical home’s] daily electricity consumption,” says researcher Emma Zhang. — Read the rest

Source: https://boingboing.net/2021/07/19/concrete-buildings-could-become-rechargeable-batteries-you-can-live-in.html?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=concrete-buildings-could-become-rechargeable-batteries-you-can-live-in
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The Article Was Written/Published By: David Pescovitz

GM just cut a big deal to tackle EV’s dirty secret

GM plans to use US-sourced lithium in its next-generation batteries for electric vehicles, tapping a new – and potentially less environmentally damaging – supply for the essential but controversial metal. Lithium batteries are a key part of EV expansion, both for GM and indeed all automakers looking to electrification, but the rare metal has some significant drawbacks along with it. … Continue reading

Source: https://www.slashgear.com/gm-just-cut-a-big-deal-to-tackle-evs-dirty-secret-02680884/
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The Article Was Written/Published By: Chris Davies

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