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U.S. and Brazil Make Climate Pledge as Momentum Builds to Paris

Jun 30, 2015

The U.S. and Brazil issued new commitments Tuesday to promote renewable energy and prevent deforestation, continuing momentum to address climate change leading into global talks later this year in Paris.

The joint statement was issued as Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff visits President Barack Obama in Washington this week. While the announcement doesn’t include specific targets from Brazil to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, the country is pledging to sharply increase its share of renewable energy, up to 33 percent of its total energy mix by 2030. That includes both for transportation fuels and electricity generation.

NY Formalizes Ban on Fracking, Ending 7-Year Review

Jun 30, 2015
(AP/Albany Times Union)

New York formalized its ban on high-volume hydraulic fracturing for natural gas on Monday, concluding a seven-year environmental and health review that drew a record number of public comments.

"After years of exhaustive research and examination of the science and facts, prohibiting high-volume hydraulic fracturing is the only reasonable alternative," Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joe Martens said in announcing the decision. "High-volume hydraulic fracturing poses significant adverse impacts to land, air, water, natural resources and potential significant public health impacts that cannot be adequately mitigated."

New York Targets 50% Clean Energy by 2030

Jun 26, 2015
(Capital New York)

Half of New York's power will come from renewable sources in the next 15 years, under a new state energy plan released Thursday.

According to the plan, the state will try to reduce carbon emissions by 40 percent from 1990 levels by 2030. New York now gets just under a quarter of its power from renewable sources, including, hydro, wind and solar, but that will double to 50 percent in the next 15 years, the plan says.

The state also plans to increase energy efficiency efforts by 23 percent.

Dutch Court Orders Carbon Emissions Cuts to Protect Citizens

Jun 24, 2015
(New York Times)

In a sweeping victory for Dutch environmental activists that could have global repercussions, a court ordered the government Wednesday to cut the country's greenhouse gas emissions by at least 25 percent by 2020.

The ruling by The Hague District Court could lay the foundations for similar cases around the world, said the director of the organization that took the government to court on behalf of 900 Dutch citizens.

The plaintiffs argued — and the court agreed — that the government has a legal obligation to protect its people against looming dangers, including the effects of climate change on this low-lying country, much of which is below sea level and vulnerable to rising sea levels caused by global warming.

EPA Report: Climate Action Plan Will Save Lives, Money

Jun 22, 2015
(National Journal)

Acting on climate change can avert tens of thousands of premature deaths and save billions on electricity and infrastructure costs by the end of the century, according to a new report published by the White House today.

The White House is aggressively pushing the message that action on climate change can produce economic and public health benefits amid attacks from the right that the regulations are too costly and will produce minimal benefits. House Republicans this week will hold two votes on bills that would scale back or block emission rules on power plants.

According to the new report—prepared by the EPA's Climate Change Impacts and Risk Analysis program in partnership with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and other scientific partners—scaling back the climate plan would have impacts across a myriad of sectors, from transportation to agriculture. For example, the report predicts that between 720 and 2,200 bridges would become structurally deficient as a result of extreme weather and storms by 2100.

Climate Change Worries More Americans, but Nation Divided on Issue

Jun 17, 2015
(Northeast Ohio Media Group)

Americans remain deeply divided on the issue of climate change, but more people believe it is a serious problem, according to a Pew Research poll released Tuesday.

There has been little change in Americans' views about global warming during the past two years, with 68 percent saying there is solid evidence the Earth is warming and 25 percent saying there is not enough evidence.

But 46 percent of Americans believe the issue is a very serious problem, up 13 percent from 2013.

Pope Francis Warns of Destruction of World's Ecosystem in Leaked Encyclical

Jun 15, 2015

Pope Francis will this week call for changes in lifestyles and energy consumption to avert the "unprecedented destruction of the ecosystem" before the end of this century, according to a leaked draft of a papal encyclical.

In a document released by an Italian magazine on Monday, the pontiff will warn that failure to act would have "grave consequences for all of us."

Francis also called for a new global political authority tasked with "tackling … the reduction of pollution and the development of poor countries and regions." His appeal echoed that of his predecessor, pope Benedict XVI, who in a 2009 encyclical proposed a kind of super-UN to deal with the world's economic problems and injustices.

According to the lengthy draft, which was obtained and published by L’Espresso magazine, the Argentinean pope will align himself with the environmental movement and its objectives. While accepting that there may be some natural causes of global warming, the pope will also state that climate change is mostly a man-made problem.

White House Approves EPA's Plan to Regulate Airplane Emissions

Jun 10, 2015
(The Hill)

The White House has approved a plan that would allow the Obama administration to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from airplanes.

The White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) review is the last step before the Environmental Protection Agency releases the finding publicly.

EPA will solicit public comments on the finding after its release, and then proceed to write a regulation.

OMB on Wednesday announced it had approved the EPA "endangerment finding" that analyzed the extent to which carbon from planes is harmful.

Obama Administration Bans Offshore Oil Drilling Along New Stretch of California Coast

Jun 10, 2015
(San Jose Mercury News )

In the largest expansion of national marine sanctuaries in California in 23 years, the Obama administration on Tuesday more than doubled the size of two Northern California marine sanctuaries, extending them by 50 miles up the rugged Sonoma and Mendocino coasts.

Under the dramatic move by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the boundaries of the Gulf of the Farallones and Cordell Bank national marine sanctuaries expand from Bodega Bay to Point Arena, permanently banning offshore oil drilling along that stretch of coast.

Court Dismisses Challenge to EPA Carbon Rules

Jun 9, 2015
(National Journal)

In a major victory for the Obama administration, a panel of federal judges has blocked a challenge to the EPA's planned efforts to limit carbon dioxide emissions from power plants.

Tuesday's ruling does not limit the ability to challenge the rules in the future, but states that the challenge came too early, as the EPA has not yet finalized its climate rule. That action is expected later this summer.

The case brought by conservative states and coal companies was an early skirmish in the high-stakes legal battle over the rules, which are at the centerpiece of President Obama's second-term climate change agenda.