July 5, 2018
Ontario's new premier officially announced plans Tuesday to end the province's cap-and-trade program, drawing scorn from the federal government, which may implement its own carbon tax there. Ontario is part of a program with Quebec and California, and companies have already purchased carbon credits.
Swiss Re announced that it has stopped providing insurance for companies with more than 30 percent exposure to thermal coal, including existing and new coal mines and power plants. It joins other insurers that have abandoned coal-based investments.
Former Alabama state Rep. Oliver Robinson testified in court that he accepted money to oppose federal environmental cleanup efforts in Birmingham. Prosecutors are trying to prove that two attorneys and a coal company executive paid bribes in hope of avoiding cleanup costs at a Superfund site.
Royal Dutch Shell CEO Ben van Beurden said at a company event that it would be "foolhardy" for the oil giant to set hard targets for reducing emissions because it would invite legal challenges if the goals aren't met. Read more from ICN on lawsuits against oil companies for their role in climate change.
The Green Climate Fund was created to channel billions of dollars to poor nations, but it's facing more setbacks with President Trump's decision to pull U.S. support. Executive Director Howard Bamsey announced he was stepping down this week after a meeting that failed to expand its projects.
The Hall of Planet Earth at New York's Museum of Natural History is reopening after significant renovations and is now focusing on climate change. The quickly shifting nature of the topic is leading the museum to try new approaches, including expanded use of digital displays.
July 3, 2018
A broad coalition of environmental, labor, tribal and social-justice groups have submitted a ballot proposal that would ask Washington voters to approve a state carbon fee on most fossil-fuels emission. The revenue would go to clean energy and other projects to deal with climate change. A political action committee backed by the oil industry is gearing up to fight it, records show.
Energy Secretary Rick Perry says his agency is assessing the economics of requiring grid operators to buy coal and nuclear power at above-market prices and doesn't have an estimate yet. If the costs are high, it would likely intensify opposition from oil companies and others who say the plan is an unneeded intrusion into the markets.
China's carbon emissions decreased from 2014 to 2016 and may have already peaked because of fundamental changes China made in its economy to move away from fossil fuels, according to new research published in the journal Nature Geoscience.
Two of Scott Pruitt's top aides have provided new details to congressional investigators about some of his most controversial spending and management decisions as head of the EPA, including his push to get a six-figure job for his wife at a politically connected group, the Washington Post reports. CNN reports that Pruitt also kept secret calendars to hide controversial meetings.
United Nations agencies and advocacy groups are raising concerns about a law passed by Poland's parliament that establishes rules for this year's climate conference. Among other things, it allows Polish authorities to collect and use personal data of people it determines could pose "a threat to public safety and order" and bans spontaneous protests in Katowice, the host city of the talks.
Poor countries could have to pay up to $168 billion more in interest over the next decade as extreme weather events brought on by climate change affect their credit ratings and raise the cost of borrowing, according to research commissioned by the United Nations.
Dominica, a small Caribbean nation that's rebuilding from Hurricane Maria, says it will become a model for adapting to the effects of climate change. The island is using foreign donations to repair damage and improve resiliency for the next severe storm or other disaster related to climate change.
A photo tour shows how rising sea levels are forcing people living in North Carolina's Outer Banks to grapple with the impacts of climate change. Read more from ICN on the complicated and expensive legal battles that are resulting from the region's failures to plan for the impacts of climate change.
July 2, 2018
Low-income households in Colorado are getting a new question during visits from energy assistance agencies: Have you considered solar panels? It's an innovative approach to solving two challenges at once—reducing greenhouse gas emissions and lowering low-income families' electricity bills—and it offers a model other states could follow.
Federal energy regulators voted 3-2 on an order involving power grid operator PJM that could end up hurting renewable energy sources that are supported through state initiatives. Commissioner Richard Glick, who dissented, tweeted that it puts the commission "on the wrong side of history in the fight against climate change."
Emails between lobbyists and one of Pruitt's top policy aides open a window on the often close relationship between the EPA's political appointees and those they regulate. Among thousands of emails that have surfaced in recent weeks are dozens of requests for regulatory relief by industry players, many of which were granted.
Reports of methane leaks from natural gas production are undermining the gas industry's argument that its fuel is a climate-friendly alternative to coal. Concerns about methane leaks are rising as researchers get a better understanding of the scope of the leaks. Read more from ICN on how new data on leaks raises questions about natural gas a bridge to cleaner energy.
Wood pellets may technically be a renewable fuel, but burning them is not necessarily good for the planet. Also, the plants that make the pellets can be bad neighbors, with complaints about harmful fumes. Read more from ICN on the problems with wood burning and climate policies that promote it.
The chief ethics officer of the Environmental Protection Agency, whose main job is to help agency staffers obey government ethics laws, has been working behind the scenes to push for a series of independent investigations into possible improprieties by EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, a new letter says.
EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt is caught in the middle of a dispute between oil refiners and the ethanol industry. The EPA granted a request by small fuel refineries to not have to follow a standard that requires using renewable fuels such as ethanol. When this angered ethanol advocates, the agency responded by saying that larger refiners needed to make up the difference by using more ethanol, which led to a new round of complaints.
Mountain Valley Pipeline has temporarily suspended construction of its natural gas pipeline in Virginia following heavy rain that led to severe runoff and dozens of complaints. State officials have yet to issue any notices of violations, however, a step that has been taken at least four times by officials in West Virginia.
North Carolina's attorney general plans to appeal a decision allowing Duke Energy to charge customers hundreds of millions of dollars to clean up coal ash. "Consumers shouldn't have to pay for Duke's mismanagement of coal ash," he said.
The head of Australia's National Farmers' Federation says farmers and ranches can't and won't ignore what's right before their eyes. "We have been experiencing some wild climate variability," Fiona Simson says.
June 29, 2018
There's an entire realm of the economy that's being largely ignored in the effort to fight to climate change—and it accounts for about a quarter of CO2 emissions from fossil fuels and industrial sources. Without changes now, emissions from these sources will be locked in for decades to come, a team of 30 scientists warns in a new report.
To see why environmentalists are panicking about who President Trump may put in the Supreme Court seat being vacated by Justice Anthony Kennedy, read the two dissents in the landmark climate change case Massachusetts v. EPA. One calls the risk of sea level rise from global warming "pure conjecture."
With opposition from states, environmental groups and property owners tying up some pipeline projects, natural gas industry officials want government to step in and clear the way. "Fifteen years ago nobody cared that much about pipelines, today pipelines are under siege," said Enbridge CEO Al Monaco.
Minnesota regulators unanimously approved a new Enbridge pipeline that will significantly increase the flow of tar sands oil from Canada to the U.S. The route crosses a region rich in wetlands and wild rice lakes. Environmental and Native American advocates oppose it and say to expect protests.
Andrew Wheeler, a former coal lobbyist who is now the top deputy at EPA, says he is recusing himself from decisions related to a Trump administration push to bail out coal and nuclear plants, something he previous lobbied for. Wheeler is seen as a likely successor to his embattled boss, Scott Pruitt.
The UN's International Civil Aviation Organization is approving standards for measuring how much airlines need to reduce the growth of their greenhouse gas emissions. Environmentalists call it a significant step but are wary of allowing airlines to buy credits to offset emissions and about a change that could slow use of biofuels. Climate Home has details on the credits issue.