January 26, 2018
There is bipartisan disapproval among Western voters of the Trump administration's public land policies, including easing restrictions on methane emissions from oil and gas operations and opening public lands for drilling, according to Colorado College's Conservation in the West poll.
Oil companies are on track to produce a record 10 million barrels of crude oil a day as hydraulic fracturing operations use more sand, water and pumping horsepower than ever before. The fracking boom is boosting oil companies in Texas but raising environmental concerns.
As of early January, Colorado's snowpack was lower than it had been in 30 years, and 2017 was its second-warmest year on record. Recent snowstorms helped the state's snow-starved ski areas, but climate change is predicted to cause more seasons like this, costing resorts millions of dollars. Read more from ICN about the changes scientists are seeing in the West.
The Iranian oil tanker Sanchi recently caught fire and sank in the East China Sea, releasing thousands of tons of natural gas condensate—a volatile petroleum product that has never spilled into the sea in large quantities. Scientists say it is difficult to contain and monitor, and its chemical components can linger for weeks or months.
January 25, 2018
California's attorney general has sued the Trump administration for rolling back a fracking rule that required drilling companies to disclose the chemicals they use. He argues that the rollback contradicts federal environmental laws and was arbitrary and capricious.
Scientists are excavating human and animal remains in Alaska to better understand pathogens, bacteria and viruses, preserved for centuries in frozen ground, that could be coming back to life as the Arctic's permafrost thaws from the effects of climate change. Read more from ICN about the impacts of Alaska's thawing permafrost.
Isle de Jean Charles, home to the Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw, has lost 98 percent of its land since 1955. A government-funded resettlement of the dwindling population there is a test case for climate refugees in the future.
Growth, climate change and the filling of a reservoir are threatening Chesapeake Bay cleanup efforts to have the bay's health restored by 2025. Through 2016, the region was less than a third of the way to meeting its goal for reducing nitrogen runoff.
Unless water usage declines in Cape Town, South Africa, April 12 will be "Day Zero," when the city will have to turn off the taps after it runs out of water. Officials moved up the date from April 22 as they scrambled to persuade residents to slash consumption and put emergency plans in place.
Students on the Galapagos Islands are tracking and monitoring the dwindling tortoise population in the Santa Cruz highlands and studying the effects of climate change on the islands. It's part of a plan to help build the next generation of eco-aware, climate-educated citizens.
January 24, 2018
The milk alternative industry—milks made from nuts and grains like almonds, soy, macadamia nuts, oats and rice—is booming. As cow milk consumption continues to decline the industry is pushing legislation that would prevent non-dairy milks from being called milk, and sparking a larger conversation about sustainability and climate change.
Richmond, California, home to the Chevron oil refinery, has joined other U.S. cities suing the oil industry over climate change. The lawsuit alleges oil companies knew for 50 years that greenhouse gases from fossil fuel use would contribute to rising sea levels, but hid those risks. Read more from ICN about the California cities suing oil companies. And read ICN's award-winning series: Exxon: The Road Not Taken.
Five months after Hurricane Harvey deluged Texas with its wettest month in history and caused historic flooding, more than 40 percent of the state is now in a drought. The region hasn't had any measurable rainfall in more than 100 days, and the dry spell is expected to worsen.
A Washington state House committee has approved a measure that would require fuel producers and importers to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from gasoline and other transportation fuels, much like clean fuel programs in California and Oregon.
The Union of Concerned Scientists has filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration over the EPA's policy to block scientists who receive EPA grants from serving on the agency's advisory boards. The suit alleges the policy violates the Federal Advisory Committee Act, is designed to make it easier to roll back regulations, and "is an attack on science itself."
Climate change was the culprit behind two major glacial collapses that caused massive avalanches in Tibet in 2016, a new study suggests. As glaciers around the world retreat from warming temperatures, and as more rainfall saturates the ground beneath them, scientists warn these rare collapses could happen more frequently.
In a new study of 56 glacier drainage basins around the world, about half were shown to have already reached a critical tipping point, in which he amount of freshwater that runs off mountain glaciers each year begins to decline, threatening the availability of drinking water in nearby communities.
January 23, 2018
At least 15 governors of coastal states—one-third of them Republican—have now publicly opposed the Trump administration's offshore drilling plan, which would open more than a billion acres off the coasts to oil and gas companies. But most of the nation's oil reserves that could still turn a profit are in waters already open to drilling. Read more from ICN about the legal cracks in the Interior Department's offshore drilling plan.
It’s the Big New Idea for Stopping Climate Change — But It Has Huge Environmental Problems of Its Own
Bioenergy with carbon capture and storage involves burning trees for energy, while pulling in the resulting carbon dioxide and storing it underground, and then planting more trees. Some researchers say its widespread use could be part of the solutions to climate change. But in a new critique, scientists warn that it could lead to major environmental problems.
Nearly 70 percent . of big-city mayors say cities should play a strong role in reducing the effects of climate change, according to a new survey of 115 mayors by the Boston University Initiative on Cities. But there's a sharp partisan divide on climate science: Ninety-five percent of Democratic mayors said they accept the scientific consensus that climate change is caused by human activity, compared to only half of Republican mayors who shared that view.
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee has resurrected his carbon tax proposal, which is supported by the state's largest utility as well as Microsoft. No state has managed to impose a carbon tax yet. Voters in the state rejected a ballot measure for such a tax last November, in a battle that divided environmental activists.
If geoengineers were to add 5 million tons of sulfur dioxide into the stratosphere every year for 50 years to curb climate change, and then suddenly stopped, the spike in temperatures and changes in precipitation could kill off species in droves and send ecosystems into chaos, according to a new study.
After failing to meet its carbon-cutting pledge for 2016, France will revise its greenhouse gas emissions target by the end of this year. The new goal will align with the country's Paris climate agreement pledge and its plan to become carbon-neutral by 2050.
As climate change causes more extreme weather, bond rating agencies like Moody's Investors Service and S&P Global Ratings are looking to climate models to help them decide how they should incorporate disaster forecasting in calculating grades they give to government debt and companies.
January 22, 2018
With wildfires in the West and sea level rise threatening communities, Exxon should not be surprised that its record on climate change is under investigation, Massachusetts' attorney general says. That argument was made in court filings as Exxon urged a judge to block two state investigations into whether it misled investors about climate change.
A walk through Houston's flood-damaged neighborhoods still recovering from Hurricane Harvey reveals the development choices that have left the nation's fourth-largest city vulnerable to the risks of climate change.
Undercutting Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke's decision to exempt Florida from the Trump administration's offshore drilling plan, the head of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management said the decision was not final. The agency is pushing for a review of resources off U.S. shores, including Florida's.
Three coal mines in Utah want to expand into newly leased federal land, but their fate hangs in the balance of a court decision in Oakland, California, where a coal ban is hindering the development of a major coal export terminal.
Columbia University and the Climate Science Legal Defense Fund have launched the Silencing Science Tracker, a database of media reports that helps track censorship, personnel changes, budget cuts and other federal actions that hinder climate change research.
NASA has long employed satellites to monitor polar ice and climate changes from space, but their view is from more than 300 miles up. NASA's IceBridge mission is filling in the finer details by helping scientists measure smaller changes in ice and snow cover.