1/ Biden canceled up to $20,000 in student debt for Pell Grant recipients, and up to $10,000 for individual borrowers who make under $125,000 per year. Biden will also extended the federal student loan payment pause for what he called the “final time” through Dec. 31. About 43 million borrowers will benefit, and 20 million will have their debt completely canceled. The White House estimates that nearly 90% of relief will go to people earning less than $75,000. Student loan debt in the U.S. totals nearly $1.75 trillion. (Associated Press / NPR / Axios / CNBC / NBC News / USA Today / New York Times / Washington Post)
2/ Voters in rural western Michigan defunded their town’s only public library over books with LGBTQ content, accusing the librarians “grooming” children and promoting an “LGBTQ ideology.” The Patmos Library was stripped of 85% of its funding for next year and is in danger of closing. Meanwhile, in Idaho, a group of conservative Christians want to ban more than 400 books with LGBTQ characters, scenes describing sexual activity, or invoking the occult from a public library in Bonners Ferry. None of the books, however, are in the library’s collection. (Washington Post / NBC News / Wall Street Journal)
3/ Roughly 20 million U.S. homes are behind on their utility bills – about 1 in 6 American homes. The National Energy Assistance Directors Association said it’s the worst-ever crisis the group has documented as the average price consumers pay for electricity surged 15% in July from a year earlier – the biggest 12-month increase since 2006. Since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, electric utilities have shut off power to more than 3.6 million households, according to the Center for Biological Diversity. “I expect a tsunami of shutoffs.” (Bloomberg / Center for Biological Diversity)
4/ As many as 1 in 6 trees native to the contiguous U.S. are in danger of going extinct due to climate change. A new study assessing the health of all 881 tree species native to the Lower 48 found that extreme weather and prolonged droughts make trees vulnerable to invasive insects and pathogens – the predominant drivers of extinction risk. Biden’s plan to halve emissions in the U.S. by the end of the decade depends on forests to offset about 12% of its pollution. Meanwhile, a 2019 report from the United Nations estimated that 1 million species are in danger of dying out. (Washington Post)
5/ The U.S. has experienced five separate 1-in-1,000 year rain events in the past five weeks. A 1,000-year rain event has an 0.1% chance of happening in any given year. Since late July, St. Louis experienced its wettest day on record, Kentucky received more than 14 inches of rain over five days, eastern Illinois saw more than 8 inches of rain over a 12-hour period, Death Valley – the driest place in North America – came 0.01 inches shy of its all-time daily record, and Dallas recorded both its wettest day and wettest hour on record. (Washington Post)
6/ California plans to ban the sale of new gasoline-powered cars by 2035. The rule will require that all new cars sold in the state by 2035 to have zero emissions – up from 12% today. The ban will also require that 35% of all new passenger cars sold by 2026 have no emissions, which would climb to 68% by 2030. About 16% of new cars sold in California this year have zero emissions. The national average is 6%. The California Air Resources Board will vote on the measure Thursday. (New York Times / Politico / CNN)
poll/ 71% of Americans say they want to see gun laws made stricter, including about half of Republicans. 59% favor a ban on the sale of AR-15 rifles and other semiautomatic weapons and 88% say preventing mass shootings is extremely or very important. 60%, however, also say it’s very important to ensure that people can own guns for personal protection. (Associated Press)
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