National News Beat: Amtrak strike, green cars and oil leases, and California fires

An Amtrak passenger train departs Chicago in the early evening headed south Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2022, in Chicago. Business and government officials are preparing for a potential nationwide rail strike at the end of this week, that could also affect local and national passenger trains, while talks carry on between the largest U.S. freight railroads and their unions. Photo by Charles Rex Arbogast/AP

Amtrak strike threatens long distance connections 

Amtrak will begin to cancel all long distance travel Thursday following fears of a strike by freight workers, according to reporting by NBC New York. The closures will not affect commuters looking to travel from New York to Boston, but will affect those who wish to travel from New York City to Chicago or Miami.  

The strike, if a deal is not reached between union workers and management, will occur on Friday. The striking workers are advocating for better over pay and resolution of scheduling issues. While Amtrak employees are not participating in the strike, freight workers that are instrumental in the trains operation are.  

Joe Biden touts green energy at Detroit car show 

President Joe Biden traveled to Michigan on Wednesday to tout new electric car manufacturing following the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act. The law approved $5 billion in spending for a network of EV charging stations that would encourage the sale and transport of electric vehicles. At the car show, President Biden announced the first $900 million would be spent supplying 53,000 miles of road in 35 states with EV chargers, according to reporting by the AP. Biden championed electric vehicles and the actions of his administration in a speech. 

“The great American road trip is going to be fully electrified,” Biden said. “When you see these big projects in your home towns … I want you to feel the way I feel: Pride. Pride in what we can do when we do it together.” 

Biden also thanked unions such as the United Auto Workers and others for their instrumental support in the 2020 election, touting his administration’s efforts to be the most pro-union administration in decades. Biden then drove an electric Cadillac down the showroom with fellow auto CEO’s.  

US Government approves first offshore oil lease of Biden presidency 

The US Government has accepted nearly $190 in bids for offshore oil leases according to reporting by the AP. This signals the end of Biden’s moratorium on offshore oil and gas leases. While new leases for offshore drilling are being approved, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management stipulated that all drilling must, “protect biologically sensitive resources, mitigate potential adverse effects on protected species, and avoid potential ocean user conflicts,” according to the AP.  

The reason that oil and gas leases for offshore drilling have returned is due to the Inflation Reduction Act passed by Congress in August. An amendment added by Senator Joe Manchin stipulated that oil and gas leases on federal lands be revisited. Climate and environmental activists such as Miyoko Sakashita, director of the oceans program at the Center for Biological Diversity, lamented the change, saying it was a blow to ecosystems in the Gulf of Mexico and progress towards tackling climate change. 

California deals with mudslides and wildfires 

Due to heavy rainfall projected in the near future, the San Bernardino Mountain region was evacuated. The region has been dealing with consistent mudslides and flash floods that have left a person missing, according to the AP. To the north, the Mosquito Fire is raging in central California.  

Firefighters were able to keep the fire from consuming the small town of Foresthill. The fire is one of three currently raging in the state. Nearly 11,000 have been evacuated and 6,000 structures are threatened due to the blaze.  

The rains that triggered flash floods and mudslides were triggered by downpours from a weakened tropical storm, which ended a southern California drought. The combination of the drought and the lack of vegetation from previous forest fires made the soil loose, with nothing left to keep it intact.  

The Fairview Fire southeast of Los Angeles is mostly contained after destroying at least 35 homes and killing two.  

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