June 20, 2019
The House Energy and Commerce Committee has launched an investigation into petroleum companies' involvement in a Trump administration rollback of Obama-era fuel economy standards for vehicles. In letters to Marathon Petroleum and the American Fuel and Petrochemicals Manufacturers, Democrats described "covert lobbying and social media campaign."
Planting prairie grasses and flowers beneath and around solar panels is becoming more common in Minnesota, providing a habitat for bee and butterfly populations and boosting soil health. The practice may even boost solar energy output on warm days if the thicker vegetation creates a cooler microclimate. Researchers are testing that hypothesis.
Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer unveiled his idea of a plan for the environment, focused on innovation and eliminating Canada's federal carbon taxes. He said his plan would meet Canada's emissions reduction targets, a claim that drew criticism from the current environment minister.
June 19, 2019
The Trump administration on Wednesday executed its long-anticipated retreat from the Obama administration's signature plan to tackle climate change by cutting emissions from coal-fired power plants. The EPA concedes it would be only a tiny fraction cleaner than having no regulation at all.
Democrats mounted a challenge in the U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday against what they call a raid by the natural gas and plastics industries on a pot of federal money created to help finance innovations that reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Researchers from the University of Alaska Fairbanks said they were astounded by how quickly they observed permafrost thawing in the Canadian Arctic. Thawing is happening 70 years earlier than predicted, the researchers found, after a series of unusually hot summers destabilized the upper layers of permafrost.
Targeting corporations like Facebook, Netflix, PayPal and Tesla, a consortium of investors is urging companies to spell out their plans for dealing with climate change. The group of nearly 90 banks, pension funds and financial managers are calling out 700 corporations — including some fossil fuel companies that formerly disclosed their environmental impact but stopped doing so.
Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has given the green light for a second time to a $5.5 billion pipeline expansion that has attracted strong opposition from environmentalists and some indigenous groups.
Democratic presidential candidate Julián Castro released the second portion of his housing plan. It includes $200 billion for environmentally sustainable housing and other green infrastructure including public transportation, energy efficient buildings and electric vehicle charging stations.
June 18, 2019
In an initiative called the "Poseidon Principles," 11 banks are establishing guidelines to measure the carbon intensity of shipping finance portfolios, assessing whether they are in line with the goals of the UN's International Maritime Organization. The IMO has been inching forward on regulating shipping fuel and recently agreed to stricter energy efficiency targets for certain types of ships, but environmental advocates say much work is still to be done.
Global warming is supercharging some microbial cycles on a scale big enough to trigger damaging climate feedback loops, research is showing. Bacteria are produce extra carbon dioxide as the planet warms, spreading carpet of algae in the Arctic is soaking up more of the sun's summer rays and speeding melting of the ice. With those and other alarming microbial red flags, microbiologists are issuing a warning.
President Donald Trump issued an order requiring government agencies each to abolish at least one-third of their current advisory committees by the end of September. The executive order is just part of a plan to reduce the number of committees, which advise the administration on issues from nuclear waste storage to the opioid epidemic.
Democrats, including many presidential candidates, are calling for measures that would require companies to disclose risks they face from global warming. "They don't need to be climate warriors, but they should be warriors for shareholders understanding the risk associated with their investments," Hawaii Sen. Brian Schatz said.
Melting of the Greenland ice sheet is already several weeks ahead of normal, according to scientists from the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University. The combined effects of a high-pressure zone driving high temperatures and cloudless conditions have contributed to the melting.
In a motion that describes climate change as a "real and urgent crisis, driven by human activity," Canada's House of Commons declared a national climate emergency. The motion, which was opposed by the Conservative party, also supports the country's decision to meet the goals of the Paris climate agreement.
Climate Change Remains a Divisive Issue in Utah Legislature. So Why Did Lawmakers Put Away $200K to Study It?
As Utah lawmakers publicly shied away from a state representative's resolution that linked global warming to human activity, they quietly put away $200,000 to study the issue further. A study conducted by the University of Utah this summer will look at climate change and air quality in the state.
In Michigan, net metering offered solar installers a credit for excess energy they put onto the grid, equal to the rate they paid to use their utility's electricity. A new distributed generation scheme slashes those credits up to nearly two-thirds, and complicates calculations, as credit varies by individuals' energy usage and the time of day.
June 17, 2019
A President Trump touted the benefits of "clean" ethanol, he touched on a central and controversial question in an ongoing battle between two of his key constituencies—Big Oil, which wants less ethanol in fuel tanks, and Big Ag, which wants more: Does corn-based ethanol really deliver benefits for the climate?
A judge has prohibited Exxon from using the claim that it became a target of prosecutors because its position on climate change did not align with that of the attorney general's. Exxon is accused of engaging in a scheme to deceive investors by providing false or misleading assurances that it was managing economic risks posed by climate change.
Newly disclosed emails show a Trump adviser known for climate denial and a Heartland Institute analyst pressed NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine to "systematically sidestep" scientifically established rises in sea levels and temperatures under climate change. The pair were seemingly troubled that Bridenstine, a former skeptic, had come to better understand the science.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called on the European Union to ramp up its commitment to cutting greenhouse gas emissions to a 55% reduction — up from 40% — by 2030. "I am counting on you, once again, to demonstrate the leadership of the European Union," Guterres wrote.
Oregon is poised to follow California in adopting a carbon cap-and-trade program, a market-based approach to lowering greenhouse gas emissions. Supporters say it helps transition the economy and infrastructure to prepare for more intense weather as climate change worsens.
Some major oil producers pledged to support "economically meaningful" carbon pricing regimes after a personal appeal from Pope Francis to avoid "perpetrating a brutal act of injustice" against the poor and future generations. They issued a joint statement at the end of a Vatican climate summit.
The recent controlled implosion of a long-retired coal plant on the banks of the Ohio River symbolizes the broader decline of coal in both generating capacity and the production of electricity.
Faced with growing calls for action on the climate crisis, aerospace companies gathering for the Paris air show next week are turning their thoughts to a future run on electricity rather than fossil fuels.
June 13, 2019
Worsening climate change will increase the risk of future violent conflict within countries, according to a group of top researchers. The United States military and intelligence agencies have long considered climate change to be a "threat multiplier," the factor that could tip into violence those states already staggering under the weight of other problems.
Fifteen Democratic presidential candidates, more than 50 Democratic National Committee (DNC) member organizations, and a slew of progressive organizations, some armed with petitions bearing over 200,000 signatures, all are now calling for the DNC to hold a separate climate-focused debate.
For the first time, U.S. power plants can produce more energy from renewable sources than coal, according to a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission report. Coal consumption in the U.S. recently hit its lowest level in 40 years. "It's got nowhere to go but extinction," said one clean energy investment adviser.
The U.S. Trade Representative announced that it will grant a tariff exemption for bifacial solar panels, which can generate power on both sides. Analysts expect U.S. solar farm developers to largely switch over to the two-sided panels.
Adani Enterprises received approval to start construction of a controversial coal mine in Australia, but a recent drop in prices for low grade thermal coal has raised doubts about whether the mine will be financially worthwhile. "Government approval does not mean they have a marketable product," said Professor Peter Newman from Curtin University's Sustainability Institute.