September 24, 2018
A congressional race in North Carolina pits a solar energy entrepreneur against a former pastor who has balked at climate science. In a congressional district damaged by two hurricanes in three years, what effect will Hurricane Florence—and beliefs about climate change—have?
An increasing number of refugees are fleeing their homes because of climate change. Humanitarian groups say the number of people displaced by climate could be as high as 20 million a year, the Los Angeles Times reports.
Cleveland, the former home of Standard Oil, plans to get 100% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2050. The city has a long way to go to reach the goal. One concern of observers: there are no details about how the city will work with its local utilities to implement the plan.
In North Carolina, rising water breached a dam and flooded a coal ash reservoir. The energy company responsible for storing the coal ash says their water tests show no cause for concern, but state officials say they'll need more time to assess impact. State officials and Duke Energy both say the reservoir is "structurally sound," The News & Observer reports.
Following a judge's order last month, the State Department conducted an environmental review of the new Keystone XL pipeline route through Nebraska. Similar to its previous reviews, it says implementing the revised route would have "no significant direct, indirect or cumulative effects on the quality of the natural or human environments."
Warnings about the dangers of global warming are being watered down in the policymakers summary of a key UN climate report coming out next month, according to reviewers who have studied earlier versions of the report and summary. They say it's probably being done to make policy recommendations seem more palatable to certain countries.
September 21, 2018
Faced with Hurricane Florence's powerful winds and record rainfall, North Carolina's solar farms held up with only minimal damage while other parts of the electricity system failed, an outcome that solar advocates hope will help to steer the broader energy debate.
A top aide at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is being criticized by former officials from both parties who say his overtly partisan statements are compromising the agency's independence.
Two companies have dropped their bids to take over the coal-fired Navajo Generating Station in Arizona, making it likely the plant will close next year as planned. The plant can't compete with other energy sources on price, but groups with ties the coal industry wanted to find a buyer to keep it running.
Early estimates suggest it will cost up to $22 billion to repair the damage Florence has done across the Carolinas. Some residents will face difficult decisions about whether to rebuild their homes. As the risks of these disasters are rising, insurance companies are adapting, and consumer advocates fear low-income homeowners will bear the brunt of the costs.
Climate change has shifted from a future threat to a clear and present danger, spurring billions of dollars in annual spending as governments, companies and citizens work to adapt. With examples from New York to China to Bangladesh, this is happening all over the world.
Temperatures only slightly warmer than the planet is experiencing today were enough to melt a major part of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet, including one stretch about 15,000 years ago when sea levels rose 20 to 30 feet higher than they are now. The findings are part of a study published in the journal Nature.
September 20, 2018
Throughout Puerto Rico, the destruction caused by Hurricane Maria's devastating wind and rain as the storm struck the islands as a Category 4 a year ago today still shapes daily life.
The new National Biodefense Strategy released Wednesday talks about preventing and mitigating disease outbreaks. But when it comes to vector-borne diseases, it fails to address the impact climate change has on disease-carriers like mosquitoes and ticks.
Flooding that followed Hurricane Florence is the latest reminder that low-income neighborhoods are often more likely to be prone to severe flooding. In North Carolina, some public housing complexes were inundated. Read more from ICN on how Norfolk, Virginia, is considering similar risks in its sea level rise planning.
As Hurricane Florence was downgraded from Category 4 to 1, some residents decided to stay put, contributing to a debate about whether the current system for classifying hurricanes is adequate for communicating the potential damage. The Saffir-Simpson scale doesn't capture threats other than wind.
Beach nourishment efforts may have saved one North Carolina neighborhood from Hurricane Florence, but these projects are getting more complicated than just finding funding to bring in more sand. Read more from ICN on beach nourishment and the challenges Nags Head faces as sea level rises.
Wyoming's largest coal mines would effectively be banned from self-bonding if proposed rules that passed an advisory board on Wednesday make it through one more round of public input and onto the governor's desk. The proposed rules are designed to avoid mines becoming a state liability, regulators say.
Some of Greenland's glaciers are disappearing more rapidly than others. Understanding why is a key goal of NASA's Oceans Melting Greenland (OMG) mission.
September 19, 2018
The Trump administration has rolled back another environmental rule, and two states are suing over it. The rule reversed yesterday was put in place by the Obama administration to curb the venting of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, by the oil and natural gas industry.
Since August 2017, three hurricanes have set rainfall records for tropical weather systems in four states: Harvey dumped an unheard-of five feet of rain on parts of Texas last year; Lane bombarded Hawaii with more than 50 inches last month; and now Florence has broken records in North and South Carolina.
A former member of an independent federal commission overseeing mine safety says the Trump administration made an illegal move that cut back on worker safety rules. Robert Cohen, who served under Presidents Bush and Obama, spoke out about a settlement agreement with a West Virginia coal mine involving safety violations. Read more from ICN on coal mine safety concerns raised by miners.
The EPA's inspector general is leaving the agency. Arthur Elkins, Jr., has held the post since 2010 and gained attention this year while leading investigations into the agency's former administrator, Scott Pruitt. Elkins has accepted a new job outside the agency, a spokesman said.
At least 81 deaths have been blamed on Typhoon Mangkhut, and the toll from the most powerful typhoon so far this year could continue to grow, officials say. Rescuers were still searching the site of a landslide in the Philippines early Wednesday.
Representatives of 25 European countries made a non-binding pledge to increase research into hydrogen technology as an alternative to fossil fuels and encourage its use. The proposal includes using existing gas grids to transport the hydrogen, AP reports.
Leftover funds from a grocery bag tax—which has been repealed—will pay for a climate change study for the city of Dallas, NBC reports. City Council Member Sandy Greyson said the action was inspired by local leaders making up for the federal government pulling out of the Paris climate agreement.
September 18, 2018
Maryland and Delaware say smog pollution from coal plants in neighboring states is making their residents sick. The EPA says it won't help. In rejecting health concerns from the two states, Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler is continuing Scott Pruitt's pro-fossil-fuel policies.
Torrential rainfall from Florence is showing how ill-prepared large parts of the Carolinas are for extreme weather worsened by climate change. When the water starts to subside, the hard-hit region will have to contend with hazardous waste spread by the floodwater.
The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development says carbon prices in major advanced economies are too low to cut greenhouse gas emissions and stave off the worst effects of climate change. The average of all surveyed countries was 76.5% lower than the OECD says is needed.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren is proposing new legislation to require public companies to disclose information about climate-related risks. If passed, it would require the SEC to set rules for companies to disclose risk management strategies related to climate change and the total amount of their fossil-fuel-related assets, among other things.