May 8, 2018
Utah's largest coal mine is getting a $19 million discount on federal royalty payments to work a hard-to-reach part of a mine. The Bureau of Land Management approved the discount for Bowie Resource Partners but gave little information about why. Read more from ICN about how federal mining subsidies and tax breaks are leaving ranchers and taxpayers out in the cold.
A Louisiana judge ruled that the state Department of Natural Resources violated a law meant to protect the public and environment when it issued a coastal use permit for construction of the controversial Bayou Bridge Pipeline. The judge ordered that the permit be reconsidered and that emergency response plans be completed before any permit is issued.
West Virginia regulators say Energy Transfer Partners can resume work on its troubled Rover natural gas pipeline. When the company was ordered to stop work in March, it was just the latest time the project had been sanctioned for environment-related violations.
New research in the journal Pediatrics suggests that children will bear a large majority of the burden of disease related to climate change and that it threatens to reverse global gains in child health. Among the risks: diarrhea, malaria and nutritional deficiencies.
May 7, 2018
Thousands of pages of documents released under the Freedom of Information Act detail EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt's plans for travel and appearances and offer a window into the agency's pursuit of secrecy.
Aides to EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt have added another layer of screening to records requests related to Pruitt, leading to long waits for responses. Internal emails show political aides chastising career officials for releasing documents without allowing for additional screening. The unusual level of vetting worries transparency advocates.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is promoting legislation to block drilling leases within three miles of the state's coastline as well as drilling-related infrastructure on state land. "The federal government should hear my message. There is no how, no way we will ever allow offshore drilling," he said.
While public attention is focused on the beleaguered attempt to expand Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain Pipeline in British Columbia, another pipeline project in the province is in the works and has stayed out of the public eye. Read more from ICN about the Trans Mountain protests and Canada's pipeline struggles.
A high-profile pipeline protest ended Saturday as a Virginia mother and daughter came down from their tree platforms after a monthlong attempt to stop the Mountain Valley Pipeline, a project that would move natural gas from West Virginia to Virginia. A federal judge said the women would be fined $1,000 per day if they continued the protest.
On a Friday evening in late April last year, the EPA removed an informational website that plainly stated a position on climate change: It is caused by humans, and there's no significant doubt about that. It was marked with "This page is being updated." A year later, it says the same thing. The site had existed in some form for nearly two decades and under three presidents.
May 4, 2018
The Kalamazoo River disaster was one of the biggest inland oil spills on record, and it raised questions about the safety of Enbridge's tar sands oil pipeline system. Now the pipeline company is in trouble again over the inspections it agreed to do as part of the settlement.
After taking office last year, EPA chief Scott Pruitt drew up a list of at least a dozen countries he hoped to visit, urged aides to help him find official reasons to travel, and then enlisted well-connected friends and political allies to help make the trips happen, the Post reports. Another top Pruitt aide also resigned.
A group of Caribbean islands led by St. Lucia is using the 2017 U.S. National Climate Assessment report—released under the Trump administration—in its arguments for countries to increase the ambition of their Paris climate pledges. Read more from ICN on the challenges facing the U.S. delegation at the climate talks underway in Bonn.
Earth's greenhouse gas levels set a worrisome record in April: Atmospheric CO2 averaged over 410 parts per million for the month for the first time in human history, scientists say.
Fayette County commissioners tried to ban the disposal of natural gas drilling waste in their county. A judge threw it out, making clear that state and federal statutes overrule them. Read more from ICN on a town in Maine fighting a similar battle to ban tar sands.
Pennsylvania regulators have fined the companies building the Mariner East 2 pipeline for polluting streams in nine counties. The $355,000 fine is on top of a $12.6 million fine that the state levied against one of the builders for separate violations.
As scientists are better able to tie extreme weather to climate change, it strengthens the ability to sue the companies that are responsible. Recent lawsuits against energy companies may just be the beginning of a wave of litigation. Read more from ICN about the lawsuits underway today.
Beach communities in North Carolina are seeing an increase in sunny-day flooding as sea level rises. Read more from ICN on the struggle in Nags Head between communities and homeowners over protecting beachfront neighborhoods.
May 3, 2018
The world's poorest counties are not making enough progress toward the United Nations' sustainable energy goals, a new report from five international agencies says. Electricity access is up, and renewable energy use is growing, but it's not growing fast enough.
As international climate negotiators meet in Bonn this week to draft rules for carrying out the Paris Agreement on climate change, the United States delegation presents a wraithlike enigma.
An administrative law judge is recommending that California regulators reject a proposal to expand a 47-mile natural gas pipeline. The judge said it isn't necessary to build a pipeline at a time of declining demand and when the state is moving away from fossil fuels.
Scott Pruitt, now head of the EPA, received at least $40,000 in campaign donations from people associated with the poultry industry when he was running for Oklahoma attorney general. Environmentalists say that once in office, he put the brakes on state efforts to clean up the Illinois River, where manure from a large number of chicken houses contributes phosphorus blamed for algae blooms.
At least 36 coal ash ponds that store the toxic ash from coal-burning power plants are in flood zones, according to a new report from the U.S. Public Interest Research Group. Read more from ICN about the communities fighting to stop the Trump administration from weakening coal ash disposal rules.
Two industry groups involved in heating, cooling and refrigeration sent the Trump administration a report that argues Obama climate policies were going to help the economy and reduce the trade deficit. Their industries made changes to prepare for the Obama policies and now are watching as Trump wants to change the rules.
In a study of climate inequality, scientists found that tropical countries are set to suffer disproportionately from climate change, even though they contributed little to the emissions that are causing the temperature fluctuations.
May 2, 2018
The Trump administration has exempted most of southeast Wisconsin from federal limits on smog pollution, a political win for Republican Gov. Scott Walker as he makes a new Foxconn factory a centerpiece of his campaign. The changes, which overruled EPA staff recommendations, will save Foxconn expensive investments to protect air quality. Other regions also saw changes.
A group of 17 states and the District of Columbia have asked a federal court to block the Trump administration's push to weaken vehicle emissions standards. The states represent 44 percent of the U.S. population, from Maine to Iowa to California.
The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative is adding two states to its nine current members, and discussions are underway with others. This raises the question of whether the program could expand nationwide. Read more from ICN about what RGGI states are gaining in economic development.
EPA chief Scott Pruitt allowed a lobbyist friend to play an unusually influential role in planning his Morocco trip, including participating in meetings with Pruitt and industry there, The New York Times reports citing internal documents and interviews. It says the lobbyist, Richard Smotkin, was then hired by the Morocco government for $40,000 a month.
New research from the CDC shows illnesses from tick, mosquito and flea bites more than tripled from 2004 to 2016. Higher temperatures tied to climate change are leading to longer mosquito seasons in Florida, and increasing the risk of disease like Zika. Read more from ICN about the tick danger.