June 21, 2018
Connecticut's governor has signed legislation increasing the state's greenhouse gas emissions reduction target to 45 percent by 2030, restricting some coastal development and mandating 40 percent of the state's electricity be from renewable sources by 2030. "The effects of climate change, which is unquestionably man-made, can be felt in Connecticut," he said.
EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has spent more than $4.6 million on security, according to documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act. The security payroll for his office increased in the latest quarter by $138,373 to $742,205, almost double what he spent in the same period in 2017.
Thirty years after NASA scientist James Hansen testified before Congress about the risks of climate change, the evidence is all around us. "Yet, Washington continues to ignore the problem, or, worse still, to actively impede efforts to address it," writes Elizabeth Kolbert. "How can this be?"
Exxon is refusing to turn over documents crucial to New York's investigation into whether the oil giant's public statements about climate change misled investors, the state's top lawyer said. That includes subpoenas for cash-flow projections reflecting how it used so-called proxy costs to calculate the financial impact on its assets from future climate regulations.
Rising waters and sinking land are contributing to an increase in sunny-day flooding along the Texas coast, and it's likely to become even more common, leading to property damage and a big hit to the economy. Read more from ICN about the rising number of U.S. properties at risk and increase in flood days.
The Gulf of Maine has warmed faster than most of the world's oceans for much of this century. Scientists and some fishermen are now worried that the waters might warm too much for the lobsters, and they are asking how much longer the boom can last.
Automakers want changes to the nation's vehicle emissions rules—which they agreed to back when the government was bailing them out—but not, they say, the Trump rule changes. The Atlantic takes a walk through the history of vehicle emissions and emissions standards debates.
Hong Kong has seen a dramatic increase in people suffering from allergies, and doctors say the change is largely due to climate change. Writing in the Hong Kong Medical Journal, the doctors said the rapid increase could not be explained by genetics alone and highlighted the important role of environmental changes.
India's energy minister said his government is planning a massive solar tender of 100 gigawatts, the world's largest yet, as the fastest growing energy consumer turns increasingly to renewables to satisfy demand.
June 20, 2018
President Trump revoked America's 2010 oceans policy on Tuesday and announced a replacement that shifts the focus away from climate concerns and conservation and toward economic development. It deletes the call for improving U.S. "capacity to respond to climate change and ocean acidification," along with references to "social justice" and "biological diversity."
A federal appeals court has dealt a setback to environmentalists trying to force the Interior Department to reconsider the climate impacts of its coal leasing program, one of the world's biggest sources of global warming pollution. But the judges also said activists can continue to challenge coal leases under NEPA, which has been successful in lower courts.
Colorado's governor has ordered his state to adopt vehicle pollution rules enforced in California, joining other states in resisting the Trump administration's plans to roll back emission standards. "Our communities, farms and wilderness areas are susceptible to air pollution and a changing climate," he said.
A group that includes former Senate Republican leader Trent Lott of Mississippi and former Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen is launching a campaign for a carbon tax that would send the proceeds to taxpayers. The group has support from fossil-fuel companies, including Exxon, Shell and BP, and some environmental groups.
A foundation established by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is playing a key role in a real estate deal backed by the chairman of Halliburton, the oil-services giant that stands to benefit from Interior Department decisions to open public lands for oil exploration or change drilling standards. The project is in Zinke's hometown adjacent to land he owns. The group Public Citizen filed an ethics complaint today.
The Trump administration has highlighted cyber security risks in the natural gas pipeline system as a reason for the government to help coal and nuclear power plants, but natural gas producers say the concerns are overblown. "They are certainly using every argument they can come up with to try and justify it," said one pipeline executive.
There is an apparent disconnect between India's financial sector and its government on whether most investment in new power plants should go to coal-fired units. Coal plants received more than 70 percent of financing for new power plants last year, according to a new report.
June 19, 2018
Nashville, Little Rock, Phoenix — in cities across the country, the oil-billionaire Koch brothers are fueling a fight against public transit projects designed to get cars off the streets and improve access for everyone. "These are outside groups," said David Briley, mayor of Nashville, where a transit plan was targeted. "They don't represent Nashville's interests or values."
The EPA approved Oklahoma's permit program for disposal of toxic ash from coal plants, a switch from federal oversight and something the coal industry had sought. Environmental groups say state inaction has already contributed to widespread groundwater contamination.
Enbridge presented its final arguments to Minnesota regulators for a new Line 3 oil pipeline, arguing that it needs to build the new pipeline to ensure safety. The company offered a concession, saying it would put in place a guarantee to ensure cleanup money would be available in the event of a spill.
Scott Pruitt's EPA has rescinded its policy that had a political appointee in the press office review grants before they could be approved. It replaced the policy with a system of regional administrators or assistant administrators, most of whom are also political appointees, reviewing the grants instead.
A contentious proposal to link oversight of California's electric grid with other western states faces a crucial test today in a state Senate committee. Supporters say regionalizing the grid would make it easier and cheaper to deploy renewable energy across the western U.S., but critics worry it could jeopardize California's efforts to require the expansion of renewables.
Purchases, Permits and Route Hearings Could Stall Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion, Legal Experts Say
With over 1,000 permits unresolved, no determined basic route and as many as 25 hearings yet to be conducted, environmental law experts say completing Trans Mountain pipeline expansion could take years. Communities worry the federal government may bypass the process and impose a route. Read more from ICN on the government's purchase of the pipeline.
West Virginia has cited the 300-mile Mountain Valley Pipeline project four times now for breaking water pollution rules. Last month, Rover Pipeline, another natural gas pipeline, agreed to pay the state $430,000 for water pollution violations, according to a consent order.
India is experiencing the worst water crisis in the country's history, with about half the population facing high to extreme water scarcity, according to a government report. Rising temperatures and dwindling rain and snowfall, along with leaky infrastructure and over pumping, are contributing to the crisis. Read more on the government report from Reuters.
June 18, 2018
U.S. property losses could run into the hundreds of billions of dollars unless rapid action is taken on climate change, according to a new report from the Union of Concerned Scientists. More than 150,000 homes and businesses could face frequent high-tide flooding within 15 years, and that could double by 2045.
Thirty years since James Hansen's groundbreaking testimony before Congress about the threat of climate change, Earth is noticeably hotter, the weather is more extreme, polar regions have lost billions of tons of ice, and sea levels have risen.
The head of the Office of Government Ethics says he is considering a highly unusual "corrective action proceeding" involving alleged improper behavior by EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. A spokesman for the ethics office said he is unaware of any previous example of the agency starting such a proceeding against a Cabinet official.
EPA staff frequently felt pressured by Administrator Scott Pruitt to obtain special favors for his family, The New York Times reports. Staff say Pruitt indicated he expected staff members' assistance with matters outside the purview of government, including helping his daughter obtain a summer internship at the White House.
President Trump is increasingly putting his finger on the scale to help once-iconic industries that are declining, and doing so at the expense of some of the country's fastest-growing sectors. His attempts to boost steel and coal have produced only modest job gains while injecting uncertainty into a host of other growing industries.
Many power companies say President Trump's coal bailout hasn't altered their plans to retire old units. The trend has been underway for years. "I will tell you it is not a matter of if we are going to retire our coal fleet in this nation, it's just a matter of when," Xcel Energy CEO Ben Fowke said.