October 10, 2018
The second hurricane in a month threatens to wipe out crops across a swath of North and South Carolina still recovering from Hurricane Florence. Hurricane Michael, a "potentially catastrophic" Category 4, was headed for the Florida coast on a path expected to bring heavy rain to Georgia and the Carolinas right as farmers are harvesting several important crops.
Nearly 40 percent of daily crude oil production was lost from offshore U.S. Gulf of Mexico wells on Tuesday because of platform evacuations and shut-ins ahead of Hurricane Michael. Oil producers began evacuating workers on Monday.
A move by the Trump administration to allow for more ethanol to be sold, including during summer months when smog pollution levels are highest, is receiving pushback from some environmental groups and the oil industry. The groups have different reasons for opposing the plan.
Amid declining demand for the coal, Colorado-based Westmoreland Coal Co. filed for Chapter 11 protection as part of a restructuring agreement. Company leadership said in a statement that operations won't be interrupted and there are no expected staff reductions.
While a federal appellate judge, Brett Kavanaugh authored the ruling that overturned an EPA rule on hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). The Supreme Court won't take up the case, but several states have already begun phase-outs of HFCs on their own.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Wednesday that an agreement among EU nations to seek a 35 percent cut in car emissions by 2030 was acceptable. Torn between reducing pollution and preserving industry competitiveness, EU environment ministers reached a compromise over what 2030 carbon dioxide limits to impose on Europe's powerful carmakers.
Sometime in the next few weeks, global oil consumption will reach 100 million barrels per day—more than twice what it was 50 years ago—and it shows no immediate sign of falling. Despite overwhelming evidence of carbon-fueled climate change, oil demand is still rising by up to 1.5 percent a year.
The Danish government has began discussing proposals to require labels on food products that would rate their impact on the environment and climate, CNN reports. The move has the support of the Danish Agriculture and Food Council, a key industry group.
October 9, 2018
Without a radical transformation of energy, transportation and agriculture systems, the world will hurtle past the 1.5 degree Celsius target of the Paris climate agreement by the middle of the century, according to an important new report from the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
The new IPCC report on limiting global warming puts more emphasis on cutting short-lived climate pollutants, like methane from the oil and gas industry, than international agreements typically have. It highlights three big opportunities to reduce short-lived pollutants: energy, agriculture and landfills.
President Trump is expected to unveil a pro-ethanol perk during his trip to Iowa today aimed at soothing corn and soybean farmers concerned about his tariffs on China. China is a major buyer of American agricultural products.
Hurricane Michael has gained strength over warm tropical waters and could intensify into a major hurricane before striking Florida's northeast Gulf Coast. The Carolinas, still recovering from Hurricane Florence, are preparing for more soaking rains.
With federal relief dollars from FEMA, structures are often rebuilt in the same location after being destroyed by extreme weather. Such decisions are "often made seemingly in defiance of climate change," The New York Times reports.
GOP Senators Ask EPA to Block States from Using Clean Water Act to Stop Pipelines and Coal Terminals
Five Republican senators from fossil-fuel-producing states are asking the EPA to sent new guidance regarding a statute in the Clean Water Act that they say has been used by some states to block the development of natural gas pipelines and coal terminals.
Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack said Australia should "absolutely" continue to exploit its coal reserves, despite the IPCC's dire warnings that carbon emissions need to be cut to net zero fast to avoid climate change catastrophe.
Exxon is giving $1 million to a carbon-tax-supporting group that includes Republican former Treasury Secretary James Baker III and former Secretary of State George Shultz. While the amount may not seem significant for such a large company, the Washington Post points out that Exxon is the most powerful member of the American Petroleum Institute, which has opposed carbon taxes.
Two U.S. economists received the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences for their work on the relationship of climate change and technological innovation to economics. William Nordhaus and Paul Romer were recognized for work addressing how to create long-term sustainable economic growth.
October 5, 2018
The U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade deal replacing NAFTA could make it harder in the future to restore pollution regulations that protect health and climate. Among other things, the agreement would give corporations more power to challenge climate and environment regulations even before they're adopted.
Pipeline company Enbridge has a deal with the state of Michigan to replace a troubled Line 5 under the Great Lakes' Straits of Mackinac. The 65-year-old pipeline has lost chunks of its outer coating, but the deal could mean it keeps piping oil and natural gas for years.
Building natural gas pipelines to keep up with an increase in fracking is of special interest to President Trump, Larry Kudlow, the president's top economic adviser, said Thursday. "We need infrastructure, including pipelines," he said. "We need east to west, we need west to east."
A sharp increase in greenhouse gas emissions from the petrochemical industry — which includes plastic, fertilizer and pharmaceutical companies — threatens to erode climate benefits from reductions in other sectors, according to a report issued Friday.
A federal appeals court on Tuesday revoked a key permit for construction of the Mountain Valley Pipeline, saying the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had improperly approved temporary damming of several rivers. The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection is already rewriting the construction standards so the project can proceed.
Governments have two important opportunities coming up to take action on climate change as Arctic sea ice reaches a near-record low and extreme weather disrupts lives around the world. The first is underway now, with the IPCC finalizing a report on the impact 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming will have. In December, the UN meeting on implementing the Paris Agreement begins.
October 4, 2018
Along a country road east of Lima, Ohio, a company is preparing to build something rare: a hybrid power project that combines wind and solar energy. Because wind and solar hit their peaks at different times of day, they can provide a steadier output together, and they can save money.
In a surprise announcement, Manitoba's premier said he will defy the Trudeau administration's carbon-pricing strategy and also abandon the carbon tax in his own policy. He said he would focus instead on other efforts to curb emissions. Manitoba had been proposing a flat carbon price of $25 per ton.
President Trump has nominated Bernard McNamee to fill an open seat on the five-member Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. FERC earlier this year rejected a plan to bail out uncompetitive coal and nuclear plants – a plan McNamee had pushed for as a Department of Energy official.
Major developers say environmental considerations in construction are becoming more important to their clients. In 2016, developers spent $406 billion on energy efficiency in construction – about 9 percent of worldwide construction and renovation spending, according to the Global Alliance for Building and Construction.
Canada has decided not to appeal a court ruling that overturned its approval of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion. It will instead work with indigenous groups that opposed the plan to find a solution, a top official said. A court ruled that the government, which now owns the pipeline, had failed to adequately consider indigenous groups' concerns about it.
In Philadelphia, President Trump touted the controversial environmental regulation rollbacks that his administration has been aggressively pursuing and promised more. "We took regulations off that allow us to do things we would never have been able to do," he told a gathering of the National Electrical Contractors Association.
The UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is working on finalizing a key report on how the world has responded to climate change—and what the fallout will be if goals aren't met. With representatives from 130 countries involved, "it's the biggest peer-review exercise there is."