What does climate change have to do with the debt limit crisis?

May 19, 2023

The question of when exactly the U.S. government will reach the debt limit is made more complicated by a well-known but in this instance surprising culprit: climate change. A series of recent climate-related disasters has the effect of slowing down the pace of federal tax collection efforts, another factor pushing the government closer to defaulting on its debt this summer.

More than a dozen disasters causing up to a billion dollars in damage occurred in the last year across the United States. As a result, the Internal Revenue Service offered relief to residents of those states by giving them a few extra months to file their taxes. Florida suffered the effects of Hurricane Ian and California experienced a series of severe “atmospheric river” storms this winter. Taken together, those two states account for more than a quarter of federal revenues.

According to U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, the government could run out of funds to pay its obligations by June 1. As the fate of the global economy hangs in the balance, the amount of cash the Treasury receives over the next few weeks could depend in part on the millions of taxpayers who have been able to delay their filings due to climate-fueled disasters.

After Camp Hale success, lawmakers push for more public land protections

Senator Michael Bennet and Representative Joe Neguse reintroduced the “Colorado Outdoor Recreation and Economy (CORE) Act” on Wednesday. The bill would protect over 420,000 acres of public land in Colorado, establish new wilderness areas, and safeguard existing outdoor recreation activities. The bill has previously passed the House several times but never the Senate. Last fall, President Joe Biden used his authority under the Antiquities Act to designate the Camp Hale-Continental Divide National Monument and his administration initiated a mineral withdrawal for the Thompson Divide area, two key pieces of the original CORE Act. Even so, Senator Bennet stressed there is more work to be done, saying, “The CORE Act remains a testament to the hard work of Coloradans who care deeply about protecting our public lands for our economy, our heritage and our way of life. We have to get this done.”

Quick hits

As Arizona runs out of water, farmers confront climate change


Court tosses jaguar habitat protection at Rosemont Copper Mine site

Arizona Daily Star | E&E News

Lawmakers expected to release mining reform legislation

E&E News

Why Crystal Dam in the Black Canyon of the Gunnison is releasing billions of gallons of water

Denver Post

What does climate change have to do with the debt limit crisis?


Colorado takes first step toward environmental justice rules for air pollution

Denver Post

Rockfall forever changes world-famous Teton skyline


Rocky Mountain National Park makes example of “moose selfie idiot”

Unofficial Networks

Quote of the day

”We have always maintained our connection to this place, not by showing or by boasting. It’s just that we came here and we did our prayers, we did our songs on the rim. Through that, I think the spirits heard and awoke and said, ‘Yes, you are still here.’”

—Dianna Sue Uqualla, Havasupai elder, Associated Press

Picture this

Short-horned lizard

Felt cute, might shoot blood out of eyes later…

The short-horned lizard, also known as a “horned toad” or “horny toad,” has an unusual defense mechanism involving the flooding of their ocular sinuses, tissues found below their eye, with blood. Neat. When they feel threatened, its final defense response is to shoot blood out its eye sockets. As a result, the predator is often frightened and flees. Umm, yeah. The lizard also uses this mechanism to remove foreign particles from the surface of its eyes. (Sorry! It was just a bit of dust. Come back! Anyone see a contact?)

Image: Short horned lizard strikes a pose at @bandeliernps#hornedlizard #hornedtoad #bandeliernationalmonument #reptiles #nature #texture #scales

(featured image: Flooding near the North entrance of Yellowstone National Park in November 2022. Photo: Jacob W. Frank, NPS Flickr)