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Last month saw the most tornadoes ever recorded in March in the US, and it was the second record-breaking March in a row. In general, scientists are seeing more severe weather earlier in the year, and yes, climate change is likely a factor.
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The Senate on Sunday afternoon passed Democrats’ $750 billion health care, tax and climate bill, in a significant victory for President Joe Biden and his party. The final, party-line vote was 51-50, with Vice President Kamala Harris breaking the tie. The Democrat-controlled House, which is expected to take up the legislation on Friday, must approve the bill before Biden can sign it into law. The measure includes a handful of important but narrow provisions to lower prescription drug prices and extend enhanced Affordable Care Act subsidies for three years. The bill would also be the biggest climate investment in US history, slashing US greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by 2030, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s office said. To boost revenue, the legislation would impose a 15% minimum tax on the income large corporations report to shareholders, raising $258 billion over a decade. While the deal is far smaller than the slimmed-down $1.75 trillion version the House passed in October, Democrats and the White House say the bill could still have a massive impact on many Americans.
2. Oil and gas
The International Energy Agency is planning to hold an emergency meeting today to discuss ways to stabilize oil markets – possibly following suit with President Joe Biden’s decision to release millions of barrels of oil from emergency reserves. Oil prices dropped sharply after Biden’s announcement yesterday, but even the release of a million barrels a day would only cover about a third of lost production from Russia. Industry experts warn that gas prices could still hit new highs in the US this spring and summer. Biden also announced plans yesterday to ramp up domestic production of minerals needed to manufacture batteries for electric vehicles and long-term energy storage. The hope is that by doing so, the US can lessen its dependence on fossil fuels – and be less vulnerable to wild swings in oil prices during international conflicts.