May 28, 2020

How a Contrarian Scientist Helped Trump’s EPA Defy Mainstream Science

When scientist James Enstrom published a study concluding that there was no link between fine soot air pollution and premature death, it was criticized by groups like the American Cancer Association and was drastically at odds with the consensus of medical researchers. It also helped provide the underpinning for the Trump administration's wide-ranging assault on environmental protection policy.

States Sue to Block Trump From Weakening Fuel Economy Rules

Led by California, nearly two dozen states sued the Trump administration on Wednesday over its reversal of fuel-efficiency standards for cars and trucks, arguing that the move is based on erroneous science, and endangers public health. The lawsuit escalates a standoff between President Trump and a coalition of Democratic states that are attempting to stop the administration's aggressive deregulation efforts.

Global Energy Investment Could Fall by $400 Billion This Year. Climate Goals Are at Risk

The coronavirus pandemic may have slashed global carbon emissions but a historic slump in global energy investment this year could threaten climate goals in the longer term, according to a new report from the International Energy Agency. Global investment could plunge by a record $400 billion this year, with spending expected to plummet across every major sector, including renewable energy.

Gas-Friendly States Are Passing Laws Barring Bans or Restrictions on Natural Gas

States friendly to oil and gas development are trying to stop more local governments from banning natural gas connections in favor of electric hookups, which are seen as more climate-friendly, Bloomberg Law reports. Lawmakers in Louisiana, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Arizona have all recently passed, or signed into law, bills that would ban municipalities from prohibiting gas hookups.

Chevron’s Investors Defy Board in Demanding Climate Disclosures

In a rare move against Chevron Corp.'s board, shareholders of the U.S. oil giant are calling on the company to disclose lobbying efforts and ensure that they support international goals to combat global warming, Bloomberg reports. The proposal was the only one where a majority of Chevron's investors diverged from the board's recommendations in an annual meeting held virtually Wednesday.

Climate Change Burns Its Way Up the Pop Charts

An analysis by the New York Times found at least 192 references to climate change in songs that appeared on the Billboard charts in the last two decades, with 26 appearing on the charts in the last two years. The prevalence of the theme in pop music could be a bellwether for where the world is heading in terms of tackling the climate crisis.

May 27, 2020

In Setback to Industry, the Ninth Circuit Sends California Climate Liability Cases Back to State Courts

In a double setback for the fossil fuel industry, a federal court has ruled that two climate change-related lawsuits in California be heard in lower courts—rather than federal—where experts say the suits stand a better chance of succeeding. The ruling is seen as a win for cities and counties seeking to hold the industry financially liable for the effects of climate change.

Federal Court Strikes Down 440 Oil and Gas Leases Across the West

A federal court in Montana invalidated 440 oil and gas leases sold across the West, ruling Friday the Trump administration did not properly follow an Obama-era plan to protect sage grouse habitat. The decision strikes down a 2018 memo that sought to change that plan and forces the government to return millions of dollars from the oil and gas contracts.

Clean Energy Power Line Between New York and Canada Would Help Economic Recovery, Governor Says

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is calling for new power lines from upstate and Canada to promote clean energy and reinvigorate the state's ravaged economy in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. The plan includes installing cables to bring wind and solar power down from the state's rural regions to New York City and its suburbs, as well as expediting efforts to deliver hydropower from Canada.

The EU Unveiled Its Massive ‘Green Recovery’ Plan. Here’s What’s in It.

The European Commission unveiled a $826.3 billion package on Wednesday, which it says will put fighting climate change at the heart of the bloc's recovery from the coronavirus pandemic. Final details will be released Thursday, but a draft obtained by Reuters shows spending going toward building renovations, clean hydrogen and renewable energy, among other things.

World’s Largest All-Electric Aircraft Set for Its First Flight

The world's largest all-electric aircraft is about to take to the skies for the first time. The Cessna Caravan, retrofitted with an electric engine, is expected to fly for 20-30 minutes over Washington state on Thursday. It can cruise at a speed of 114 miles per hour and carry nine passengers, although a lone test pilot will helm its inaugural flight.

May 26, 2020

Climate Change in Deep Oceans Could Be 7 Times Faster by Mid-Century, Report Says

Rates of climate change in the world's ocean depths could be seven times higher than current levels by the second half of this century even if emissions of greenhouse gases were cut dramatically, according to new research. The temperature shifts could have major impacts on ocean wildlife, causing disconnects as species that rely on each other for survival are forced to move.

Loss of Louisiana Marshlands Highly Likely as Sea Levels Rise, Study Shows

The marshlands on the coast of Louisiana could disappear in the next 50 years as sea levels continue to rise due to global warming, according to a new study published in Science Advances. The wetlands at the base of the Mississippi River have crossed a "tipping point," according to the study, which is based on hundreds of measurements of the Mississippi Delta. 

Judge Throws Out Lawsuit Attempting to Halt Federal Coal Leases

A federal judge on Friday threw out a lawsuit attempting to reinstate a moratorium on leasing federal land to coal producers, saying the Trump administration was now complying with environmental laws. The judge initially ruled against the administration when it first attempted in 2017 to end the Obama-era ban on new coal leasing on public lands.

Trump’s Anti-Regulation Push Will Likely End Up in Court

An executive order signed by President Trump directing agencies to slash regulations in order to boost the economy is likely to lead to a number of court challenges. Last week's order directs agency heads to "identify regulatory standards that may inhibit economic recovery." But experts say speeding up the regulatory process or nixing public comment periods would likely be slammed in court.

May 25, 2020

May 22, 2020

In Michigan, Dams Plus Climate Change Equals a Disastrous Mix

Two dam failures in Michigan are underscoring warnings by scientists that global warming is causing heavier and more frequent rainstorms in many parts of the country, including the upper Midwest. When paired with the nation's aging infrastructure, which wasn't designed to handle the warming climate, safety officials say it makes for a dangerous combination.

New York’s Use of Landmark Climate Law Could Resound in Other States

New York's decision to deny a key permit to the Williams Pipeline, in part because of the state's climate law, is turning heads in the legal community over what they say is a turning point for the state's energy economy, with potentially broader implications nationwide. Already, some activists are trying to use the decision to stop other pipelines in New York from moving forward.

BLM Wants Oil and Gas Operators to Set Their Own Royalty Rates for Public Lands Drilling

A top official at the Bureau of Land Management instructed state offices to allow oil and gas operators to set their own rates for the royalties they pay the government when they lease public lands for drilling, according to an internal email obtained by High Country News. The directive is the latest evidence of the Trump administration using the pandemic to justify bolstering the industry.

China Drops Key Environmental Target as Coronavirus Hits Growth

Citing the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, China is dropping plans to maintain a key measurement on energy conservation that is used to mark the country's progress in the fight against climate change, Bloomberg reports. The measurement of energy consumption per unit of GDP has guided China's climate policy since 2014.

May 21, 2020

Greenhouse Gas Emissions Plunge in Response to Coronavirus Pandemic

After growing at the rate of 1 percent per year in the last decade, daily emissions of heat-trapping carbon dioxide suddenly plunged by as much as 17 percent globally in early April as the world responded to the Covid-19 pandemic, a new study shows. It's the biggest single annual decline since World War II, but remains a drop in the bucket in the grander scheme of climate change, scientists warn.

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