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The week in climate policy: 4 updates you need to know

The USDA is handing out climate certifications to beef products that are anything but climate-friendly; 25 states file a lawsuit against the EPA’s power plants emissions rules.

An aerial photograph of a feedlot

The USDA's climate label for feedlots such as this one is leading to calls for more transparency. Photo: Shutterstock/B Brown

Here are the major climate policy developments for the week of May 6-10:

  • The U.S. Department of Agriculture is under fire for granting meat conglomerate Tyson Foods a "climate friendly" label for its Brazen Beef brand, according to Inside Climate News, despite insufficient data backing the claim. The label assures consumers that the company has achieved a 10 percent greenhouse gas reduction in its beef production. The Environmental Working Group recently released a report detailing its yearslong effort to push the USDA toward more transparency regarding recipients for climate friendly labels. An EWG rep called the "climate-friendly beef" label is "like putting a cancer-free label on a cigarette."
  • Twenty-five Republican-led states filed a lawsuit against the EPA’s new rule requiring coal and natural gas-fueled power plants to start eliminating their carbon emissions by 2032. Led by West Virginia and Indiana, the legal challenge filed did not reveal arguments, but West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey said in a press release that the rule would destroy the domestic coal industry. 
  • The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) released new numbers that demonstrate rising U.S. demand for energy is being almost entirely met by renewably generated electricity. Demand for energy will grow with the increase in data centers to support artificial intelligence, a development that natural gas companies are attempting to seize as a reason to increase natural gas production. But the EIA numbers suggest that rising gas exports are actually increasing the cost for household electricity.
  • An Oklahoma judge blocked the state’s anti-ESG law, issuing a temporary injunction. The original suit alleged that the law — which prohibits state pension systems from contracting with oil and gas companies — was too vaguely written and violates the Oklahoma state constitution. The judge agreed, ruling that the constitution requires retirement funds to exclusively benefit citizens, and that the new law instead pushes a political agenda.

[Continue the conversation on climate policy at Circularity 24 (May 22-24, Chicago), the leading conference for professionals building the circular economy.]

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