August 21, 2018
The Trump administration today proposed to replace the nation's landmark climate regulations with a watered-down version that would do next to nothing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from power plants and wouldn't even set a specific national goal. It's breathtaking in its embrace of apathy. Here are five ways it would strip away health and climate protections.
Nineteen months into Donald Trump's presidency, there has been little change in coal and mining jobs. The industry, a focus on Trump's visit to West Virginia today, continues to struggle against less expensive natural gas. Read more from ICN about how the region's reliance on coal is sending electric bills skyrocketing.
The California legislature is considering a plan to expand the state's electric grid to include as many as 13 other states. Bloomberg looks at some of the challenges it faces, including the risk of market manipulation, federal rules, and conflicting policies.
The oldest and thickest sea ice in the arctic is breaking up, opening waters that are normally frozen, even in summer. The phenomenon has happened twice this year north of Greenland due to warm winds and a climate-change driven heat wave.
For people who work outdoors and the most vulnerable — the poor, disabled and elderly — the summer can be dangerous. The Texas Observer talks with some of the people struggling to cope with the extreme heat.
Smoke from wildfires is filling the sky across the U.S. West, blotting out mountains and city skylines. Experts warn that his could become more common as the West faces larger and more destructive wildfires.
Three studies show that concerns about rising seas are having a subtle but measurable effect on coastal real estate markets. The Washington Post talks with property owners in Charleston, South Carolina, about the effects they're seeing. Read more from ICN on how coastal property worth billions is at stake.
Environmental activists are invoking states' rights as they try to block construction of oil and gas pipelines. In New York, construction of the Constitution Pipeline has stalled, and activists are making similar arguments in Oregon, arguing that states have the power to deny permits for pipelines.
Newly released records show former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, who resigned amid a series of ethics scandals, placed only one phone call to the White House from the $43,000 secret phone booth he had installed at taxpayer expense. The call lasted 5 minutes.
August 20, 2018
The Trump administration's expected Clean Power Plan replacement is a big victory for former industry clients of William Wehrum, now the government's top air pollution official. The change is likely to be in line with what Wehrum argued for as an attorney for companies that operate coal-fired power plants.
Attempts by the Trump administration to block environmental regulations keep hitting walls in the judiciary. Federal judges ruled against the administration multiple times last week, saying it short-circuited the regulatory process. In each, the courts either reinstated an existing rule or delayed a new proposal from taking effect. Read more on the Keystone XL pipeline ruling.
Climate change is making heat waves and downpours more extreme in the Northern Hemisphere as weather patterns linger longer in the same place, a new study finds. This stalling of weather could affect food production and cause other damage.
A recent policy memo, released without fanfare, shows a major policy shift as the Trump administration says it is no longer a U.S. economic imperative to conserve oil. The Energy Department memo, which represents a change from decades of federal policy, makes no mention of climate change.
A growing body of research by economists and climate scientists shows that extreme weather will increasingly harm economic growth. Yet almost no mainstream economic forecasting model takes this into account, which could affect the accuracy of economic predictions.
New data from two Arctic sites show that some surface layers are no longer freezing. If this continues, greenhouse gases from permafrost could accelerate climate change. The findings from one of the sites, in northern Siberia, have not been peer reviewed but are in line with observations at other locations.
Australia Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has abandoned plans for emission targets, bowing to pressure from conservatives over an energy policy that aimed to bring the country in line with its Paris climate commitments. "We are not going to propose legislation purely for the purpose of it being defeated," he told reporters.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is allowing developers of the Mountain Valley pipeline to resume construction on the first 77 miles of the project. The regulators had halted construction following a court decision that threw out permits for where the project would cross a national forest.
A proposal from ATX Energy Partners, approved last week by Wyoming regulators, would allow the company to flare up to 1 million cubic feet of gas per day over a six-month period — exceeding the daily limit by about 1500 percent, the Star-Tribune reports. Flaring releases volatile organic compounds into the air, contributes to climate change and wastes natural resources.
August 17, 2018
Colorado air quality officials have launched a push to improve fuel efficiency, including considering plans to require that new cars and light trucks meet California's miles-per-gallon standards and that automakers sell more electric vehicles. The governor ordered improvements after the Trump administration announced plans to freeze improvements in federal fuel efficiency standards.
The embattled Keystone XL oil pipeline faces another delay after a federal judge ordered a new environmental review. The government had argued it didn't need to do a full environmental impact statement, even though Nebraska regulators had approved a different route. The judge disagreed, saying federal agencies "cannot escape their responsibility" under NEPA.
The Trump administration's push to reverse President Obama's most sweeping climate regulation rests on a strategy of changing calculations of costs and benefits. Critics say similarly fuzzy math underlies other administration proposals to stymie action on climate change. Read more from ICN on how how EPA has proposed to manipulate cost-benefit calculations.
The Trump's administration unveiled a new forest management strategy that emphasizes state leadership and the logging industry. It also acknowledges challenges created by "regional changes in temperature, precipitation patterns and other environmental conditions."
Lane Genatowski, President Trump's nominee to run the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy office within the Department of Energy, is declining to say whether he supports funding the office, which directs research into new energy technologies. Trump has proposed reducing its budget to zero.
The Rio Grande provides drinking and irrigation water to 6 million people and 2 million acres of farmland on both sides of the Texas-Mexico border. With droughts and heat waves exacerbating water scarcity, Texas and Mexico have had to overcome geopolitical antagonism to make sure water keeps flowing.
California legislation that would help to create a regional energy market of up to 14 states is the subject of heated debate about its potential impact on solar power. The Natural Resources Defense Council says the plan could ease the transition to clean energy. The Sierra Club says it could be used to extend the life of coal-fired power plants that otherwise would close.
The UK's environment secretary is expected to confirm plans to ban the sale of the most-polluting fuels for domestic wood-burning stoves in an attempt to cut harmful emissions. It would phase out sales of traditional house coal, restrict sales of wet wood and tighten standards on solid fuels.
Magnesium carbonate naturally removes carbon from the atmosphere, but it takes hundreds of thousands of years to form. Canadian researchers say they have come up with a way to grow crystals of the mineral in a matter of months.
August 16, 2018
The fracking industry's use of water and other fluids to produce oil and gas has grown dramatically in recent years, outstripping the growth in the fossil fuels it produces, according to a new study. The report says drillers are adopting new practices that are taking a greater environmental toll, with water use up as much as 770 percent and toxic wastewater produced up even more.
Between 1982 and 2016, the number of marine heat waves roughly doubled and likely will become more common and intense, according to a new study. Prolonged periods of extreme heat can harm fish and damage kelp forests and coral reefs.
Oil and gas companies bid on less than 1 percent of the offshore tracts that the federal government tried to auction this week, a slightly lower percentage than a previous auction in March. Critics say there is low interest in offshore drilling because of high costs and risks.