January 22, 2019
The Government Accountability Office is recommending the State Department restore a prior practice of providing guidance to U.S. diplomats on how to plan for the impact of climate change on migration and global security. That guidance stopped after President Trump in 2017 revoked an executive order and presidential memorandum.
A federal appeals court upheld California's low-carbon fuel standard, designed to reduce carbon emissions from transportation. The court determined that it was a valid way to protect residents' health and well-being and did not violate the rights of out-of-state producers and suppliers.
A federal judge has blocked the Trump administration from "taking action to promulgate permits, otherwise approve, or take any other official action" for offshore oil and natural gas drilling during the partial government shutdown.
Wind and solar energy will be the fastest growing sources of new power generation in the U.S. for the next two years, according to a U.S. Energy Information Administration forecast. Coal-fired power generation is expected to fall to 24 percent of U.S. generation by 2020, down from 45 percent in 2010.
The country's largest companies are bracing for the effects of global warming, a new report from CDP shows. Documents show the companies expect climate change to disrupt supply chains, disable some operations and potentially drive away customers, but also to offer new ways to make money.
As another "polar vortex" blasts the Midwest and the East Coast with cold Arctic air, scientists say short bursts of frigid temperatures may occur more frequently due to climate change. Read more from ICN on research connecting Arctic warming with changes in the polar vortex.
January 18, 2019
A new Pentagon report identifies significant risks from climate change at scores of military bases and says the Defense Department is taking protective measures against the looming threat. But Democrats in Congress, who requested the report in 2017 along with some Republican colleagues, said it lacks detail and shows the Trump administration is failing to take climate change seriously as a national security threat.
At dozens of power plants across the country, utilities have found coal ash pollution severe enough to force them to propose cleanup plans. The plans are likely to become the next front in a decades-long battle over how to manage one of the nation's largest industrial waste streams. Some states are planning additional actions.
Climate Change and deforestation are threatening most of the world's wild coffee species. With rising global temperatures already presenting risks to coffee farmers, two studies published this week should serve as a warning to growers and coffee-drinkers everywhere.
The owners of ships that carry global trade are preparing for big changes that start next January, when long-debated standards from the International Maritime Organization will require cuts in sulfur emissions. Some of the companies are starting to experiment with cleaner fuels and innovative technologies.
Westmoreland Coal Co. has asked a bankruptcy judge to let it drop its medical and retirement obligations to former workers at a Wyoming mine. It also wants to nix its contract with unionized miners there. Westmoreland lawyers said the obligations, including $70 million in medical benefits, were not acceptable to potential buyers of the Kemmerer mine.
Tesla is cutting its full-time staff by about 7 percent at the same time the company continues to ramp up production of the Model 3 sedan, CEO Elon Musk said Friday. He said the company faces a "very difficult" road in its goal to sell affordable renewable energy products and compete against more established companies.
Gov. Jared Polis has signed an executive order to support making electric vehicles "usable and drivable in all parts of our state." He said he is aiming for the tipping point in which EVs become mainstream. One part of the order says the state will become part of a multi-state zero-emissions vehicle program, requiring automakers to sell a certain share of EVs.
January 17, 2019
Leading economists from Alan Greenspan to Janet Yellen are endorsing a plan to fight climate change with a tax on carbon emissions and then distributing the proceeds to U.S. households. A group including all living former Federal Reserve chairs and several Nobel Prize winners signed onto a statement supporting the tax as the most cost-effective way to reduce carbon emissions.
A new study shows that the world needs a comprehensive shift in its diet in order to meaningfully reduce greenhouse gas emissions and stabilize the climate. The report, written by a panel convened by the medical journal The Lancet, describes an overhaul of the entire food system, from how farmers treat the soil to a shift toward plant-based diets.
Acting EPA chief Andrew Wheeler said at his confirmation hearing Wednesday he would rate his level of concern about climate change at "about eight or nine" on a scale of one to 10, while also saying it is not "the greatest crisis." He also defended his agency's environmental protection rollbacks.
Idaho's new Republican governor, longtime rancher and politician Brad Little, surprised some people this week when he declared that climate change is real and will have to be dealt with. "Climate is changing, there's no question about it," he said. "We've just got to figure out how we're going to cope with it. And we've got to slow it down. Now, reversing it is going to be a big darn job."
Climate change could reverse progress made in human health, leading to many more deaths than the 250,000 per year that the World Health Organization predicted five years ago, according to a new report in the New England Journal of Medicine.
U.S. auto executives are pressing the Trump administration and California to agree on fuel efficiency standards as risks increase that a deadline will pass without a deal. Sen. Tom Carper said he had heard the administration now plans a 0.5 percent annual increase. That's not a freeze, which many automakers oppose, but it's far weaker than the Obama-era plan.
Global funding for clean energy projects fell in 2018, largely because of China's decisions to reduce solar subsidies. Spending in wind and solar power, along with technologies like smart meters, was $332.1 billion last year, down 8 percent from the prior year, Bloomberg New Energy Finance reports.
Florida Power & Light Co. said Wednesday it plans to install more than 30 million solar panels in Florida by 2030. The plan would make solar energy about 20 percent of the utility's energy mix, up from 1 percent now. The plan would add to what is already a solar power surge in the state, helping Florida begin to catch up on Southeastern neighbors such as North Carolina.
January 16, 2019
In a setback for young activists, the Colorado Supreme Court has ruled that regulators cannot put health and environment above all other considerations when approving new fossil fuel infrastructure. But the plaintiffs vow to continue their fight, and they could get help from the state legislature.
Earth's permafrost is warming on a global scale, from the Arctic to Antarctica and into the high mountains, a new study shows. As that frozen soil thaws, it creates a climate change feedback loop with damaging potential.
Andrew Wheeler, Former Coal Lobbyist and Trump’s Pick to Head EPA, Faces Senate Confirmation Questioning
Acting EPA chief Andrew Wheeler, a former coal lobbyist, is facing questions from a Senate committee today as he makes his case for leading the agency and steering President Trump's agenda of rolling back environmental protections.
Eighteen states and Washington, D.C., would see increased carbon emissions from power plants under the Trump administration's proposed replacement for the Clean Power Plan, according to a new study. The Trump plan "is a free pass for carbon emissions," says one of the study's co-authors.
The risk that governments will fail to limit and adapt to climate change has risen to second on an annual survey of 1,000 decision-makers from business, government, academia and civil society released ahead of the World Economic Forum in Davos. The top concern is extreme weather. "Of all risks, it is in relation to the environment that the world is most clearly sleepwalking into catastrophe," the report says.
Electric vehicles are better for the environment than gasoline models, even where the electric grid uses coal power, according to research by Bloomberg New Energy Finance. It found emissions from battery-powered vehicles were about 40 percent lower than for internal combustion engines last year.
From Salt Lake City to Minneapolis, city and state lawmakers are changing laws to allow for more transit-friendly housing and ease requirements for the number of parking spaces needed for new buildings. The laws often aren't designed to help reduce carbon emissions, but that's a likely result.
Standard Industries, the largest roofing company in the world, has launched a new business to begin selling rooftop solar to its roofing customers. It will have an edge in acquiring customers, which is often the biggest challenge for companies that sell home solar systems.
January 15, 2019
The Environmental Protection Agency referred 166 cases for criminal prosecution in 2018, the lowest number since 1988, according to data from the Justice Department.