1/ The Biden administration approved the Willow oil-drilling project in the Alaskan Arctic over the objections of nearby tribal communities, environmentalists, and Democrats, who warned that the development threatens the pristine wilderness and that the project’s greenhouse gas emissions contradict Biden’s vow to fight climate change. Last month, the Interior Department said it had “substantial concerns” about the Willow project, including its direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions and impact on wildlife. The Interior also estimated that the project would generate roughly 9.2 million metric tons of carbon dioxide a year – the equivalent to adding two million gas-powered cars to the roads. The U.S. currently emits about 5 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide annually. The decision allows ConocoPhillips to start developing three drilling sites within Alaska’s National Petroleum Reserve. The project is expected to produce about 180,000 barrels of oil a day at its peak – equivalent to about 40% of Alaska’s current crude production. Separately, Biden made the entire U.S. Arctic Ocean indefinitely off limits to future oil and gas leasing, and limited drilling in more than 13 million acres in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, where ConocoPhillips’s 600 million-barrel Willow venture is planned. (Associated Press / Washington Post / New York Times / Wall Street Journal / NBC News / Bloomberg / CNN / CNBC / NPR / Politico)
2/ The Biden administration took emergency measures to ensure that all depositors of Silicon Valley Bank – which failed Friday – and Signature Bank – which failed Sunday – would be paid back in full. Following the second- and third-largest bank failures in history, the U.S. Treasury, the Federal Reserve, and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. invoked a so-called systemic-risk exception to back deposits beyond the federally insured ceiling of $250,000 to prevent contagion at other small and regional banks. “Americans can rest assured that our banking system is safe. Your deposits are safe,” Biden said. “Let me also assure you we will not stop at this; we’ll do whatever is needed.” The Federal Reserve also set up an emergency lending program to ensure that other banks could meet the needs of depositors. Federal officials noted that the money being used to aid depositors will come from the Deposit Insurance Fund that banks – not taxpayers – pay into. The failure of Silicon Valley Bank – the nation’s 16th largest bank – occurred two days before the 15th anniversary of the Federal Reserve-backed rescue of Bear Stearns. (NBC News / Associated Press / NPR / New York Times / Washington Post / Bloomberg / CNBC / CNN)
3/ Trump has “no plans” to appear before the Manhattan grand jury investigating the hush money payment to Stormy Daniels during his 2016 presidential campaign. Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office convened the grand jury to evaluate whether Trump falsified business records in connection with a $130,000 payment Michael Cohen made to Daniels before the 2016 election. The DA’s office informed Trump last week of his right to testify before a grand jury in the probe. Cohen, who is expected to testify before the grand jury next week, previously said he fronted the money involved in the transactions and was reimbursed by Trump. At least seven other people have testified about the hush money deal. It remains unclear, however, whether Bragg will seek an indictment at the end of the process. (ABC News / NBC News / New York Times / Washington Post / CNN)
4/ West Virginia’s Republican-majority Legislature passed a bill banning health care for transgender minors in the state. Despite every major medical organization, including the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Psychiatric Association, supporting gender-affirming care for minors, more than a dozen states have restricted or have considered restricting access to care. The bill heads to the desk of Republican Gov. Jim Justice, who hasn’t taken a public stance on the legislation. (Associated Press / USA Today)
5/ A Texas man filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against three women who allegedly helped his ex-wife terminate her pregnancy. In the first lawsuit of its kind since Roe v. Wade was overturned, Marcus Silva alleges that his now ex-wife learned she was pregnant in July 2022 and conspired with friends to illegally obtain abortion-inducing medication without his knowledge to terminate the pregnancy. While Roe was overturned by the Supreme Court in June 2022, the state’s trigger law, which made performing abortion a crime punishable by up to life in prison, didn’t go into effect until August. However, in 2021 Texas passed a law that deputized private citizens to sue any person who performs an abortion or helps someone get an illegal abortion. Silva’s civil case could result in the women each being forced to pay over $1 million in damages. Texas’ abortion laws, however, exempt the pregnant person from prosecution. (Texas Tribune / Washington Post / Bloomberg)
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