September 7, 2018
The Keystone XL pipeline is expected to draw protests once construction begins, and many activists are worried law enforcement agencies are planning surveillance and a militarized response. The American Civil Liberties Union is accusing federal agencies of trying to hide the extent of the preparations.
Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh argued during his third day of confirmation hearings that, overall, he had an even-handed approach to environmental regulations. Environmentalists say he overstated and mischaracterized the environmental benefits of the decision he cited.
Low temperatures this summer have been the warmest in more than 120 years of recordkeeping, according to new NOAA data. Read more from ICN on the risks to human health and wildfires when overnight temperatures fail to cool down.
"Heat days" might soon become just as regular an occurrence as snow days for students. Classes were canceled in dozens of districts in Connecticut, New Jersey and New York this week because of heat and lack of air conditioning. Teachers described building temperatures topping 100 degrees.
The Trump administration has taken a step toward de-emphasizing the life and health benefits of environmental rules, a move that could make it more difficult to justify regulations. It's part of the EPA's review of restrictions on mercury emissions by coal-burning power plants.
This year's wildfire season has drained California's firefighting budget and already prompted nearly $1 billion in property claims. "The worst may be yet to come," Commissioner David Jones warned, noting that the most destructive wildfire have often been after Sept. 1. Read more from ICN about how wildfires can affect climate change.
Duke Energy, one of the largest U.S. utility owners, says it has no plans to build new nuclear power plants. For the first time since 2005, the company didn't include the prospect of more reactors in long-term plan filed with state regulators. Duke had canceled plans to build a plant in South Carolina as nuclear plants struggle to compete with natural gas and renewables.
An electric utility is asking a Washington state judge to permanently block the public release of some economic information it provided to state regulators about its coal-burning power plants. The Sierra Club says that there's a strong public interest in that PacifiCorp. information
The Trump administration's nominee to lead a mining industry regulator has withdrawn his name from consideration, citing frustration over the ethics review process. J. Steven Gardner, a coal industry consultant, said he was saddened by the decision.
Norway's government wants to buy credits to offset its fossil-fuel emissions more than a decade before it needs them to meet 2030 pollution goals, according to officials overseeing the program. It's a sign of support for a UN effort to revive a global carbon market. Norway is one of the first countries to say how it will use post-2020 carbon markets to meet emissions targets.
September 6, 2018
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is defending its claim that the Dakota Access pipeline has no significant environmental impact, but it issued only a summary of its court-ordered reassessment while keeping the full report confidential. The delay in releasing the full report, including crucial details about potential oil spills, is drawing a backlash from the Standing Rock Tribe.
Massachusetts' high court upheld the state's power to impose limits on carbon emissions from power plants. It's the latest example of states establishing their authority to fill the regulatory void the Trump administration is creating as it moves to roll back the Clean Power Plan and other climate regulations.
Strong action to combat climate change could cumulatively add at least $26 trillion to the world economy by 2030, according to a new report from the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate that seeks to dispel fears that a shift from fossil fuels will undermine growth.
As the Coast Guard and Navy prepare to invest nearly $10 billion in new heavy polar icebreakers, the Government Accountability Office has found problems in key areas of the plan, which it warns could put the program at risk of failure. Pushing the project off, however, could be a bigger problem for science and security.
Australia and the other 17 counties of the Pacific Island Forum have signed a declaration that climate change is the single greatest security threat to the Pacific and that all countries must meet their commitments under the Paris climate agreement. The forthright declaration is politically awkward for Australia.
A week after a court stopped approval of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is considering an appeal or new legislation to get the project back on track. He said he wants to see "shovels in the ground as quickly as possible." Read more from ICN on Trudeau's political tightrope walk when it comes to climate and oil.
Two House Republicans are continuing to push investigations into three high-profile U.S. environmental groups working on climate issues abroad. A leader of one targeted groups called the investigation "a clumsy, McCarthyist effort" to intimidate. Read more from ICN about their attack on NRDC.
Frankfurt, Germany's financial center, must ban older diesel vehicles from the city center starting in February as part of a plan to improve air quality, a court ruled. The ruling is in response to a case brought by an environmental group after a prior court ruling opened the door to inner-city vehicle bans.
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has hired a critic of the Endangered Species Act for a senior position as the Trump administration works to weaken the law. Robert Gordon has started work as the department's deputy assistant secretary for policy, management and budget.
September 5, 2018
Many wealthy countries have effectively outsourced much of their carbon pollution overseas by importing more steel, cement and other goods. Britain, for example, shows a decrease in domestic emissions between 1990 and 2015, yet with global emissions used to make things like imported steel included, its carbon footprint has actually increased, The New York Times reports.
Warnings about the consequences of climate change were removed without explanation from a Trump administration plan to weaken Obama-era rules on power plant emissions. Previous drafts had devoted more than 500 words to climate impacts. Internal documents show the deletions were made during last-minute changes to the plan's regulatory impact analysis.
Former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, who resigned this summer amid ethics scandals, spent $3.5 million on security for himself over 11 months — about twice as much as his predecessor spent in her final 11 months. The agency's Inspector General's Office said it found no documentation to justify Pruitt's round-the-clock security.
Developed countries are not taking their commitment to generate $100 billion in climate finance seriously, groups attending the international climate negotiations this week in Bangkok say. Discussion on the funding is being "blocked across the board" by a group of rich nations led by the United States, said Harjeet Singh, a global climate lead at non-profit ActionAid.
Oil producers in West Texas' Permian Basin are increasingly using trucks and rail to ship oil to market on the Gulf Coast because of a shortage of pipeline capacity. The region's oil production has risen to 3.6 million barrels a day, while pipeline capacity is 3.5 million barrels a day.
Minnesota's Commerce Department says pipeline company Enbridge does not have adequate insurance to protect the public from damages related to oil spills. The department is reviewing Enbridge's policies to make sure the company is meeting conditions to build a Line 3 replacement that would run through Minnesota to Superior, Wisconsin.
William Happer, a physicist and high-profile climate contrarian who says he sees no problem with rising CO2 levels, is joining the National Security Council as senior director for emerging technologies, CNN reports, citing NSC officials.
September 4, 2018
Patricia Espinosa, head of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, says governments are not making adequate progress toward the goal of keeping global temperatures from rising 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial times. In an interview ahead of climate talks now underway in Bangkok, she said the private and public sectors need to act with urgency.
Hearings start today for President Trump's Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh. Here are six issues likely to come up, including his views on whether agencies can regulate areas not specifically authorized by Congress. Read more from ICN on what Kavanaugh could mean for climate regulations.
The EPA's own analysis says President Trump's plan for replacing the Clean Power Plan's pollution controls will lead to more premature deaths and illnesses. The Associated Press found the highest risk in the heart of Appalachian coal country.
Houston and other Texas cities hit hard by Harvey a year ago have made progress recuperating from the worst rainstorm in U.S. history, but many low-income communities are having a much harder time than others with the recovery.