June 8, 2020
The federal government is proposing a $4.6 billion plan to protect the low-lying Miami area from the effects of climate change, including the construction of miles of walls to protect the coast from sea level rise. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released a draft plan Friday calling for walls tall enough to protect thousands of homes and businesses from flooding that could reach about 13 feet in height.
The world's largest rainforest is set for another record year of burning, and an area 11 times the size of New York City could be set ablaze, a new report warns. The report comes as many Brazillian patrols that work to stop illegal logging have been sidelined or sickened by Covid-19. Every year, illegal loggers level huge swaths of jungle, then burn the land to make way for crops or cattle.
June 5, 2020
As protests for racial justice roiled the nation, President Trump on Thursday signed his third executive order aimed at speeding up fossil fuel development. With no press and no cameras allowed, there was little fanfare as Trump signed the order, which invoked an "economic emergency" as a reason to waive the enforcement of the nation's environmental protection rules.
The impact of the coronavirus on global emissions doesn't even appear as a blip on the Keeling Curve—a graph showing the constant rise of carbon dioxide emissions in the atmosphere which once again spiked to a record high this year. The CO2 concentration during May averaged 417.2 parts per million, the highest monthly total ever recorded.
The Earth had its hottest May ever last month, continuing an unrelenting climate change trend as 2020 is set to be among the hottest 10 years ever, scientists with the Copernicus Climate Change Service announced on Friday. Federal scientists say 2020 is almost certain to be among the top hottest years on record, and extremely likely to be among the top five.
The Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday announced a proposal critics say not only restricts the Clean Air Act but will undermine future administrations seeking to reduce air pollution. The proposal changes how the government justifies its own air pollution regulations, limiting how the EPA weighs its cost-benefit analyses when regulating carbon emissions and air pollutants.
Thirteen years ago, the Supreme Court decided that greenhouse gases are considered pollution under the nation's bedrock Clean Air Act. Now a coalition of states and green groups are suing the Trump administration to block a possible threat to that ruling. This piece was published in partnership with New Hampshire Public Radio.
Mining sites around the world, including in the U.S., have become hotspots for the spread of coronavirus, with approximately 4,000 mine workers in 18 countries testing positive, a new report warns. The study is the latest that shows the dual threats vulnerable populations, including farm workers and those living in low-income communities, face from Covid-19 and climate change.
After 21 hours of intense negotiations, Germany unveiled on Wednesday what is so far the world's most ambitious economic recovery plan in terms of supporting environmental and climate initiatives, Bloomberg reports. The $145 billion plan focuses heavily on climate-friendly industries and technologies, and underscores Chancellor Angela Merkel's pledge to wean off fossil fuels.
June 4, 2020
Australia's Great Barrier Reef suffered its most extensive coral bleaching event in March, with scientists warning that under the current warming trajectory, the reef—which plays a vital role in preventing coastal erosion and maintaining biodiversity—faces certain destruction. February 2020 was the hottest month on record along the length of the reef.
Solar advocates in Arkansas are celebrating a recent decision that will continue to pay rooftop solar owners the full retail price for excess electricity they sell back to the grid. And in a larger debate over renewables, the city of Memphis is considering ending its contract with the nation's largest public utility. We cover that, and more, in the latest Inside Clean Energy by Dan Gearino.
As protests over the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis at the hands of police continue, green groups are voicing their support for racial justice. The climate movement, and some legacy environmental groups, have faced criticisms over a lack of diversity in their ranks and for being disconnected from communities of color.
House Democrats rolled out a nearly $500 billion infrastructure bill Wednesday aimed at updating America's aging transportation system while also addressing climate change. Besides repairing roads and bridges, the legislation focuses on funding green transportation development, such as rail travel and investments in electric vehicle charging stations.
A group of former Environmental Protection Agency employees has released a report condemning the direction in which the agency has moved under President Trump. The group, called Save EPA, accuses the Trump administration of relentlessly rolling back public health and environmental protections, weakening enforcement and crippling the agency's capacity to address new and existing problems.
The nation's biggest oil and gas companies could end up even bigger by the end of the coronavirus pandemic, The Washington Post reports. Analysts expect a coming wave of bankruptcies should the price of oil remain low. That could allow the largest petroleum industry players to buy out wells for cheap from small and mid-sized oil companies that are struggling amid the market turmoil.
June 3, 2020
From Minnesota to Kentucky; from California to New York, climate activists are joining the protests denouncing the nation's ongoing racial disparities sparked by the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Marching against police brutality and racial violence is integral to climate activism, not separate issues, said environmental justice activist Elizabeth Yeampierre.
Flooding in the U.S. disproportionately harms African American neighborhoods, an analysis of federal flood insurance payments shows. Aging sewer infrastructure and less porous surfaces often make urban flooding more damaging, highlighting how climate change-related factors could exacerbate ongoing racial disparities in the country, E&E News reports.
As protests and violence erupt in cities, the United States faces a new threat: The country is running out of blood, the New York Times reports. Several months of social distancing and stay-at-home orders have resulted in fewer people donating or needing blood. But as states reopen and hospitals resume elective surgeries, increasing the demand, the rate of blood donations has yet to bounce back.
The Interior Department is struggling to fill top positions at the Bureau of Land Management despite assurances from officials that the agency's relocation from Washington to Colorado is helping recruit top talent, according to an analysis by The Hill. Just a month before it plans to finish the relocation, BLM has yet to hire four of the agency's seven division directors.
Air pollution in China has climbed back to pre-pandemic levels, and scientists say Europe may follow suit, The Guardian reports. At the height of the country's coronavirus response in early March, nitrous oxide levels were down by 38 percent from 2019 and concentrations of fine soot pollution—or PM 2.5—were down by 34 percent. Both are now back to 2019 levels.
Police stormed a dozen sawmills in Brazil's Amazon rainforest on Tuesday, arresting about 30 people accused of involvement in an illegal logging ring that was responsible for cutting down some 9,000 trees in a span of 10 months, Reuters reports. Deforestation hit an 11-year high in 2019, and about 99 percent of deforestation in Brazil last year was illegal.
Germany's government has set a target to expand offshore wind power capacity by 2040 to 40 gigawatts from 15 gigawatts currently, Economy Minister Peter Altmaier said on Wednesday. By 2030, the government aims to add 20 gigawatts in capacity as part of a wide-ranging climate package enacted last year. The revised targets could potentially help the ailing wind power sector.
June 2, 2020
The EPA on Monday finalized a rule change that limits states' ability to block the construction of energy infrastructure projects, part of the Trump administration's goal of supporting fossil fuel development. The rule curtails Section 401 of the federal Clean Water Act, which has been used by New York to block a natural gas pipeline, and by Washington state to oppose a coal export terminal.
Man-made global warming is driving more frequent extreme rainstorms in North America, a new study found, backing up past findings that such storms have become more common across the Northern Hemisphere. At the current warming trajectory, the continent could experience 100-year rainstorms as often as every 2.5 years by the end of the century.
Volkswagen, the German automaker that paid more than $20 billion in federal criminal and civil penalties for cheating diesel emissions tests in the U.S. and elsewhere, could now face a "staggering" volume of claims from local governments after a federal appeals court ruled on Monday that counties in Florida and in Utah could impose local pollution laws on the manufacturer.
A Tallahassee judge on Monday ordered the dismissal of a climate change lawsuit brought by eight children who wanted to argue that the governor and other top state leaders have promoted pollution that imperils their chances of living in Florida in the future. The case is one of several similar suits filed in seven states across the country, our own reporting found.
Destruction of tropical forests worldwide increased last year, led again by Brazil, which was responsible for more than a third of the total loss, and where deforestation of the Amazon through clear-cutting appears to be on the rise under the pro-development policies of the country's president, the New York Times reports.
Climate group Ceres, along with a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers, has laid out a plan that they say is necessary for financial markets and regulators to adequately cope with the threats of climate change. The U.S. has lost nearly $1.8 trillion from climate-related extreme weather events since 1980, and markets must focus on the climate moving beyond Covid-19 recovery efforts, the report says.
The Murray-Darling Basin is supposed to be Australia's agricultural heartland, named for two of the continent's most important rivers. But over the last several years, the region has been engulfed in drought so severe, farmers have resorted to pulling out once-profitable crops and pumping illegally from depleted stocks, Bloomberg reports.
June 1, 2020
The 2020 Atlantic hurricane season, which federal scientists expect to bring more frequent and severe storms than normal, starts today. As coastal states plan for hurricanes, they are confronting new complications because of the coronavirus pandemic, including public confusion over whether it would be safer to evacuate or stay at home.