July 16, 2018
With rising air and ocean temperatures affecting the behavior of hurricanes, scientists are developing new ways to predict when tropical storms are about to intensify.
The gas station chain that was owned by Mike Pence's family has left more than $20 million worth of environmental remediation costs for Indiana taxpayers. When it went bankrupt, Kiel Bros. Oil Co. left behind 85 contaminated sites, including underground tanks that leaked toxic chemicals into soil and streams, AP reports.
Off Rhode Island, black sea bass are moving in in increasing numbers as the waters warm. The shift is forcing state officials to modify fishing seasons and consider steps to manage species that now have higher populations. Lobstermen, in particular, worry about black sea bass eating their catch.
Farmers say they are leaving Central America for both economic and ecological reasons. Some are facing drought or live in areas where hurricanes and intense rainstorms have devastated local communities, and those risks are projected to intensify as global warming increases.
July 13, 2018
Exxon says it is leaving the Koch brothers-backed American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) following a clash over the business group's climate change position. To understand the disagreement in greater depth and context, read the ICN investigative story How Big Oil Lost Control of Its Climate Misinformation Machine.
Ireland is on its way to becoming the first country to fully divest all public funds from fossil fuel companies in a broader international push to cut off investment in coal, oil and gas. It's the latest move and highlights two contrasting strategies to reducing emissions: divest entirely or use investor status to pressure companies from the inside.
Senate Republicans are considering legislation or rule changes that would limit the ability of states to use the Clean Air Act to stop or slow natural gas pipelines. It's part of a broader fight as major pipeline projects face opposition on many fronts.
The U.S. Interior Department announced a new auction of lease rights to drill for oil and gas in the Gulf of Mexico, a move that is happening at a time when energy companies are less interested in offshore drilling because of production costs. The sale, planned for Aug. 15, will cover 77 million acres.
The EPA's Office of the Inspector General will continue five investigations into former Administrator Scott Pruitt, who resigned last week. This appears to include all of the internal watchdog's ongoing audits related to Pruitt's conduct, including those dealing with his lavish travel spending, raises given to staff and failure to properly preserve records.
More than 85 percent of California's natural landscape is unusually dry, and 44 percent of the state is experiencing drought, factors that mean this is likely going to be another destructive wildfire season. State lawmakers are looking at legislation to improve disaster planning, and utilities are working to trim trees to reduce the chances of contact with power lines that could spark fires.
Scientists with World Weather Attribution studied the effect of human-induced climate change on Cape Town, South Africa's extraordinary drought and found that it made the event about three times more likely. The main factor, they said, was three years of below-average rainfall.
Ticks are moving north in response to climate change, and scientists are trying to stay a step ahead by finding ways to limit the spread of tick-borne illnesses. Read more from ICN reporter Phil McKenna on the risks and the tick bite that almost killed him last year.
July 12, 2018
Eight former supervisors and safety officials at two Kentucky coal mines have been charged by a federal grand jury with conspiracy to defraud federal mine safety officials by covering up the daily levels of breathable dust, potentially putting miners at greater risk of black lung disease. "It was all about production, getting a ton out, more money to make," says one former miner.
Ireland will become the world's first country to sell off its investments in fossil fuel companies, after a bill was passed with all-party support in the lower house of parliament. The Ireland Strategic Investment Fund will be required to sell all investments in coal, oil, gas and peat "as soon as is practicable," likely within five years.
The EPA has ditched a plan that would have forced refiners to blend more biofuels into their gasoline and diesel in 2019 to compensate for volumes likely to be exempted under the agency's increase in waivers for small refineries, according to newly released EPA documents.
David Schnare's conservative legal group has sought to discredit scientists. But it appears to be imploding amid allegations of financial mismanagement, attempted extortion and faked documents, The New York Times reports. Read more from ICN on Schnare's campaign against climate science and pollution regulations.
Emails show that Michigan state officials allowed lobbyists for pipeline company Enbridge extensive input on the fate of the company's Line 5 pipeline under the Straits of Mackinac, while maintaining a public stance that the pipeline company was not getting any special treatment.
A small group of indigenous protesters have started a prayer camp in Manitoba near the Canada-U.S. border in an effort to stop construction of the Enbridge Line 3 oil pipeline replacement. Read more from ICN on Minnesota's approval of the Line 3 plan despite opposition from Native American tribes.
Some Pacific coast communities face a difficult choice as sea level rises. The U.S. Geological Survey says they can save public beaches or close them off with boulders and concrete to protect against erosion of the cliffs behind them.
New data show California beat its 2020 goal for reducing greenhouse gas emissions four years early, achieving a milestone in the state's fight against climate change. The data show carbon emissions in 2016 were 13% below the peak recorded in 2004, while the state's economy grew by 26%.
Warm temperatures and extreme weather may be having an effect on U.S. attitudes about global warming. A long-running survey finds that 73% of Americans said this spring they think there is solid evidence of global warming and 60% that warming is due to human actions. Both are highs for the survey.
The pattern of precipitation that trapped 12 young soccer players and their coach in a cave in Thailand for nearly three weeks is in line with changes to the region's seasonal monsoon that scientists say is likely tied to climate change.
In the Port of Amsterdam, a new factory is being built to turn previously unrecyclable plastic waste into fuel for diesel-powered cargo ships. The Port of Amsterdam estimates it would reduce CO2 emissions by 57,000 tons a year.
July 11, 2018
In his dozen years on the federal appeals court, Judge Brett Kavanaugh, President Trump's nominee to replace Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, has compiled an extensive record of skepticism toward the government's powers to act on climate change.
Economist Joseph Stiglitz, a Nobel recipient, has written a court brief that forcefully supports the children who are suing the federal government for inaction on climate change. He argues that the costs of maintaining an economy based on fossil fuels are "incalculable" and rapidly transitioning to cleaner energy will benefit the economy.
The EPA says it has sent its proposed rule to replace the Clean Power Plan, the Obama administration's signature effort to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from power plants, to the White House Office of Management and Budget for review. The EPA hasn't revealed the contents of the proposal.
The Trump administration is asking business groups to help push Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation as the next Supreme Court justice, according to two people familiar with the request. The White House emphasized in an email to them that Kavanaugh has overruled federal regulators 75 times on cases involving clean air, consumer protections, net neutrality and other issues.
As the U.S. government urges companies to expand the use of carbon dioxide in oil production and other industrial activity, a roadblock is emerging. Few pipelines are available to move carbon captured from industrialized areas such as the Houston Ship Channel to remote oil fields where it can be used and stored underground.
Several top aides and close allies of former EPA administrator Scott Pruitt are leaving the agency, less than a week after Pruitt resigned his post amid a series of ethics inquiries into his spending and management practices. The departures include his combative spokesman, a longtime aide who was nearly always by his side during his travels, and the deputy White House liaison.
Andrew Wheeler may have a long stay as acting administrator of the EPA. Nearly a dozen GOP senators said this week that they are fine with Wheeler serving indefinitely as interim administrator, a role he took after Scott Pruit resigned amid ethics scandals.