April 7, 2020
Coronavirus patients in areas that had high levels of air pollution before the pandemic are far more likely to die from the infection than patients in parts of the country with cleaner air, according to a new nationwide study that offers the first clear link between long-term exposure to pollution and Covid-19 death rates.
A recent announcement from the Alberta government that it's investing in the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline gives a boost to a project that has faced years of delay. But with the private sector reluctant to fund the project, the move also highlights just how vulnerable Canada's oil sands industry has become, even before the coronavirus pandemic crashed oil demand.
Some populations of robins are starting their northward migration about five days earlier per decade, adjusting the timing of their transit to follow trails of melting snow, new research found. Here's how climate change has played a big role in that and what it means for the birds' breeding habits.
The average level of methane in the atmosphere increased last year by the highest amount in five years, according to preliminary data released Sunday by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The agency found that the potent greenhouse gas increased on average by 11.54 parts per billion in 2019 over the previous year's measurement.
New aerial data released on Monday shows that the Great Barrier Reef is bleaching again, an indication of the intense stress the corals are under from the waters around them, which have been growing increasingly hotter.
Solar, wind and other green technologies now provide more than one-third of the world's power as last year saw a decline in fossil fuel power plants in Europe and the U.S., new data shows. Almost three-quarters of new electricity generation capacity built in 2019 uses renewable energy, representing an all-time record.
More than 250 trade unions and environment groups have signed an open letter opposing plans for bailing out the aviation industry amid the coronavirus pandemic, saying any relief efforts should also include better labor conditions and a cut in carbon emissions. In the U.S., the federal relief package included nearly $60 billion for airlines with no green strings attached.
April 6, 2020
As Americans shelter in place across much of the country, washing their hands and making sure to stay six feet away from others, American farmworkers who are already prone to respiratory illnesses continue to work. It sets them up for the worst ravages of the coronavirus.
Louisiana, along with the rest of the Mississippi Valley region, is in the middle of its annual wet season, which usually peaks in April. But with the coronavirus already stretching supplies and budgets, local leaders worry that a flood could overwhelm them.
FEMA, which is leading the federal government's coronavirus response nationwide, is running short of employees who are trained for some of its most important front-line jobs, The New York Times reports. With wildfire season looming and hurricane season starting in less than two months, that could complicate federal response to disasters nationwide.
The high end predicted in six-month water level forecasts could surpass all other modern water volumes for some of the Great Lakes. Such high water would be devastating for cities and beaches along the Lake Michigan and Lake Huron shorelines.
The Interior Department on Friday extended the appointment of William Perry Pendley, known for his controversial position on selling off federally owned land to development, to lead the Bureau of Land Management in an acting capacity until May 5. Critics argue the temporary appointments allow controversial figures to stay in power.
Oil giants met with President Trump on Friday at the White House in the hopes of securing aid as crude prices plummeted in the face of coronavirus and a price war between Russia and Saudi Arabia. The move comes among growing calls from Republicans to assist oil producers after a proposal to spend $3 billion filling the nation's oil reserves was left out of the federal relief package.
Three decades fighting fires could not have prepared Chico Fire Department Captain Brian Alderman for the 2018 Camp Fire, which moved at a rate of a football field per second. "There was really no thought of being able to stop and contain or corral or redirect the fire," Alderman said.
Volkswagen installed unlawful "defeat devices" in thousands of its diesel vehicles, the UK high court has found in the first major ruling on mass litigation brought in England and Wales over the "dieselgate" emissions scandal.
April 3, 2020
Researchers at Colorado State University expect an active 2020 hurricane season, with a high chance for a major hurricane to make landfall in the U.S. Warm sea surface temperatures and the lack of an El Niño in the Pacific Ocean are some of the factors supporting this prediction.
The coronavirus pandemic could result in a 5 percent drop in carbon dioxide emissions worldwide, significantly larger than the 1.4 percent drop during the 2008 recession. No crisis has affected the energy sector this much since World War II, Reuters reports.
San Francisco, a city that prohibited single-use plastic bags in 2007, has now banned reusable bags in grocery stores in an effort to reduce coronavirus exposure.
California uses a carbon cap-and-trade program as a climate change mitigation method. The state uses the proceeds to credit its utility customers twice a year in April and October. With homebound Californians racking up higher than normal utility bills, the state's regulators are considering moving up the October pay date to May and June.
The Environmental Protection Agency is getting involved in the fight against bogus Covid-19 treatment products flooding the market. The EPA is seeing a surge in products like sanitizers and disinfectants that create false hope for buyers seeking to protect themselves against the pandemic, the New York Times reports.
Cleanup efforts at New Mexico nuclear waste sites were already slow-going, but now have been halted in an effort to protect workers from exposure to the coronavirus. Only essential monitoring of the site will continue during the crisis.
The energy transportation company plans to replace two pipelines beneath the Straits of Mackinac in Michigan's upper peninsula. To stay within set deadlines, Enbridge plans to move forward with permit applications, despite the ongoing coronavirus outbreak. Tribal governments opposed to the project say it is impossible to provide proper comment and receive official consultation during this time.
April 2, 2020
The postponement of the upcoming UN climate meeting could mean delays for countries' commitments to lower greenhouse gas emissions and for funding to help developing countries cope with climate effects. But it will also allow world leaders to consider who gets elected president of the United States as they plan the global response.
The EPA was wrong to withhold information about how it devised its new fuel efficiency standards, a panel of judges ruled just a day after the Trump administration rolled back Obama-era mileage standards. The court sided with two environmental groups that sued the agency to gain insight into the modeling technique it used to argue in favor of the rollback.
A mining company wants to quadruple production at its iron mine in the Canadian Arctic by 2025, increasing the operation's climate-warming emissions. Specifically, it will increase emissions of black carbon, a pollutant that can be thousands of times more potent at trapping heat than CO2, and that scientists warn is particularly devastating for the region.
In defiance of past GOP rebukes to leave environmental measures out of efforts to combat coronavirus, Democrats are again pushing for the next relief package to include a litany of green provisions—this time aimed at infrastructure. Proposals include investment in high-speed rail and measures to reduce the carbon footprint of concrete.
Mormon pioneers once saw the Columbia spotted frogs as messengers, signaling where they could find clean water. Now, the frogs' survival is jeopardized by habitat loss, drought and soaring heat. And what happens to them offers an urgent message about what humans are doing to their environment.
Inside Clean Energy: 7 Questions (and Answers) About How Covid-19 is Affecting the Clean Energy Transition
In the latest Inside Clean Energy, Dan Gearino tackles 7 questions about how coronavirus is impacting the clean energy transition, including where state clean energy legislation stands amidst the ongoing pandemic.
President Trump is set to meet Friday with the heads of some of the largest U.S. oil companies, including Exxon and Chevron, to discuss measures to help the industry weather an unprecedented oil crash, The Wall Street Journal reports.
Google is building data centers across the U.S. to meet surging demand for online information. But these facilities use billions of gallons of water, sometimes in dry areas that are struggling to conserve this limited public resource.