March 31, 2020
The Trump administration is expected on Tuesday to announce its final rule to roll back Obama-era automobile fuel efficiency standards, relaxing efforts to limit climate-warming tailpipe pollution and virtually undoing the government's biggest action to combat climate change.
Four of the world's biggest beverage companies—Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Nestlé and Unilever—are responsible for more than half a million metric tons of plastic pollution in six developing countries each year, a new report says. When burned, that plastic waste emits 4.6 million metric tons of carbon dioxide, the report concludes, equal to the emissions of 2 million cars.
Fossil fuel giant Citgo is liable for a 2004 oil spill that released 264,000 gallons of heavy crude oil into the Delaware River, and the company must pay back $133 million spent to clean it up. At the time, Frescati Shipping Company, which owned the vessel that spilled the oil, and the United States split the cost of the cleanup.
During the Great Recession, the Pennsylvania fracking industry helped soften the financial blow by providing many well-paying jobs and garnering billions of dollars in investments. But today, as the region braces for the coronavirus recession, natural-gas companies are far more likely to weigh on the local economy than to rescue it, The New York Times reports.
There will likely be major cuts to oil demand and production globally as the industry sees drops linked to the coronavirus and increased supply linked to international disputes, according to a new assessment by the IHS Markit Crude Oil Market Service.
Cigarette packets with grisly warnings of the consequences of smoking are intended to deter smokers. Now a group of public health experts says similar warnings should appear on high-carbon products, from airline tickets and energy bills to petrol pumps, to show consumers the health impacts of the climate crisis.
A competition seeking innovative ways to make capturing carbon dioxide a profitable business has been delayed by the coronavirus crisis. Among the finalists were two New York City entrepreneurs who discovered how to make vodka out of the planet-warming gas.
March 30, 2020
With the attention of lawmakers and government agencies focused on the global coronavirus pandemic, polluting industries have seized on the opportunity to advance their own interests. Some, such as the plastics industry, have succeeded, while others have not. But in the end, the relief package came at an expense to the climate.
The Trump administration's unprecedented decision last week to suspend enforcement of U.S. environmental laws amid the COVID-19 crisis throws a lifeline to the oil industry as it copes with the greatest threat to its business in a generation. It also has major consequences for the climate.
With the Ecuadorian government focusing on the coronavirus pandemic, it's been slow to react to other crises, including the recent flooding of the Bobonaza River that inundated several communities and left hundreds without homes. It shows a glimpse of a future in which responses to deadly diseases compound climate risks.
Kentucky, South Dakota and West Virginia have moved toward enacting criminal penalties for protesting against fossil fuels amid the coronavirus pandemic. The legislation comes as the Trump administration eases enforcement of restrictions on polluters and approves a spree of mining projects.
American Climate: She Thought She Could Ride Out the Storm, Her Daughter Said. It Was a Fatal Mistake
Agnes Vicari was a stubborn woman, and when Hurricane Michael barreled toward the Florida Panhandle in October 2018, she refused to leave her home. It was a fatal mistake. "They didn't even find her for days and days," Vicari's daughter said. "And then they couldn't identify her when they did."
The Environmental Protection Agency said Friday that it will extend the selling of winter gasoline this year through May 20, despite its contributions to smog in warmer weather, because producers have been facing lower demand due to the coronavirus.
Barclays has bowed to investor pressure over its climate track record and announced plans to shrink its carbon footprint to net zero by 2050 in alignment with the Paris Agreement. The investment bank has been the top European financier of fossil fuels in the last four years and is the seventh largest globally, The Guardian reports.
Japan has unveiled its latest plans to reduce its greenhouse gases ahead of the UN climate talks this year. But campaigners criticized the proposals, which kept emissions targets mostly unchanged from the country's 2015 pledges, over fears the COVID-19 crisis could prompt countries to water down their climate commitments.
March 27, 2020
The Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday announced a sweeping relaxation of environmental rules in response to the coronavirus pandemic, allowing power plants, factories and other facilities to determine for themselves if they are able to meet legal requirements on reporting air and water pollution.
California on Thursday adopted a new emissions target for its electric sector that would double the state's clean energy capacity over the next decade and end development of new natural gas plants. The new target aims to reduce power sector emissions 56 percent below 1990 levels, but green groups say that isn't aggressive enough.
The Trump administration's plan to purchase millions of barrels of oil is now in doubt after the Senate declined to provide funding for the purchase in its latest coronavirus stimulus package. The Energy Department withdrew its solicitation to buy oil for storage in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve on Wednesday.
President Trump has made rolling back environmental regulations a centerpiece of his administration. But all along, scientists and lawyers inside the federal government have embedded statistics and data in regulatory documents that make the rules vulnerable to legal challenges, The New York Times reports.
The Environmental Protection Agency's internal watchdog will review the agency's methods for regulating states' air pollution following threats by Administrator Andrew Wheeler to withhold highway funding from California if they did not update their plans.
The notorious Antarctic "ozone hole" that sparked worldwide concern after its discovery in the 1980s, combined with ever-rising levels of planet-warming CO2, are disrupting major weather patterns in the Southern Hemisphere, essentially playing "tug of war" with one another, a new study found.
The coronavirus outbreak could be hindering states' clean energy policies, Utility Dive reports. So far 24 states, plus the U.S. Virgin Islands and Guam, have suspended or postponed their state legislative sessions in response to the epidemic, with several energy bills in some states now in flux.
March 26, 2020
There was hope among climate activists that the federal stimulus to address the economic downturn brought by COVID-19 might advance a transition to clean energy. But the $2 trillion package agreed upon Wednesday morning cut provisions to support a struggling renewable sector, including extending tax credits, as well as measures to reduce carbon emissions from aviation.
In a major victory for opponents of the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline, a federal judge ruled on Wednesday that prior environmental assessments failed to fully consider the impact of the project. The Army Corps of Engineers will now have to undertake a more thorough review.
As much of his government battles the coronavirus outbreak, President Trump is pushing ahead with a half-dozen major reversals of environmental regulations, including a restriction on scientific research that some doctors worry would complicate future pandemic controls, The New York Times reports.
Inside Clean Energy: At a Critical Moment, the Coronavirus Threatens to Bring Offshore Wind to a Halt
This was going to be the year that offshore wind energy made a giant leap in the United States. But like everything else, the coronavirus has complicated that. This, and more, in the latest Inside Clean Energy by Dan Gearino.
Australia's iconic Great Barrier Reef has suffered its third mass coral bleaching in five years, according to early results of aerial surveys over the World Heritage site. 2019 was Australia's hottest, driest year, exacerbating bleaching and renewing calls for its government to do more to rein in climate change.
Global coal power plant development declined for the fourth year running in 2019, while a total of 13 gigawatts of capacity construction has been delayed so far this year due to the coronavirus, research by environmental organizations shows.
Although there have been no large-scale studies of how air pollution can complicate COVID-19, experts say that lung damage caused by poor air quality or smoking could make people particularly vulnerable, and that areas historically plagued by high pollution face a "double whammy." New research in Texas shows where those spots in the state could be.