June 11, 2020

Tear Gas, Pollution, Wildfire Smoke: A Triple Threat to Your Lungs

In California, minority communities were already being disproportionately impacted by Covid-19. Now that threat is compounding on communities of color as wildfire season flares up, and as thousands take to the streets to protest racial injustice, sometimes being forced to inhale tear gas as police attempt to disperse crowds.

EPA Faces Third Lawsuit After Suspending Enforcement of Pollution Monitoring

The Environmental Protection Agency is facing a third lawsuit over its policy to suspend penalties for companies that stop monitoring their pollution outputs during the coronavirus pandemic. The Center for Biological Diversity on Wednesday announced that it intended to sue the agency, arguing its new policy violates the Endangered Species Act.

Energy Commission Rule Will Delay Pipeline Construction During Appeals Process

Following criticisms over the agency's treatment of landowners, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued a rule this week that will delay the start of construction on energy infrastructure projects like pipelines until it makes determinations on requests to appeal its approvals. Previously, companies could continue construction even as landowners challenge an agency ruling.

Colorado Group Drops Plans for Anti-Fracking Ballot Measure

A Colorado environmental group dropped plans to place an anti-fracking measure on the state's November ballot, citing the Covid-19 pandemic. It's the second state initiative to be put off this year over virus worries. The group, Colorado Rising, had been exploring several ballot initiatives to place more stringent regulations on oil and gas drilling in Colorado, the fifth-largest U.S. oil-producing state.

June 10, 2020

In Louisiana, Stepping onto Oil and Gas Industry Land May Soon Get You 3 Years or More in Prison

Black activists in Louisiana's "Cancer Alley" have been protesting a planned petrochemical project for years, but any visits to the site could soon be punishable with a minimum three years in prison under a new bill awaiting the governor's signature. The legislation comes as other states have enacted similar laws in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, imposing harsh penalties for trespassing on pipeline property.

As EPA Steps Back, States Face Wave Of Requests For Environmental Leniency

Some of the country's most polluting industries have flooded state regulators with requests to ease environmental regulations, NPR reports. Companies across the country say the pandemic is interfering with their ability to comply with laws that protect the public from pollution, but some public health advocates say state regulators already weren't doing enough to enforce environmental protections.

Carmakers Must Overhaul Production Plans to Hit Climate Goals, New Report Says

The world's 14 biggest carmakers are on course to miss globally agreed upon climate targets, a leading sustainable finance think tank said on Wednesday, urging investors to do more to pressure boards to change their production plans. The report looked at automakers' plans for electric vehicles, hybrid and internal combustion engine vehicles, finding no companies were in line with the Paris climate accord.

First Major U.S. Offshore Wind Farm Reaches Permitting Milestone

The first major U.S. offshore wind farm, planned for the Massachusetts coast, reached a key permitting milestone on Tuesday with the publishing of a long-awaited federal environmental study that considers the project's impacts on fisheries and navigation. That marks a step forward for the Vineyard Wind project, which has experienced delays over concerns that its wind turbines will hurt commercial fishing.

Britain Approaches Two Months Without Burning Coal for Electricity

Britain is about to pass a significant landmark. At midnight on Wednesday, the country will have gone two full months without burning coal to generate power, BBC reports. A decade ago about 40 percent of the country's electricity came from coal, but plummeting demand for electricity due to pandemic-related shutdowns and cheaper renewable sources prompted officials to shut down coal plants.

June 9, 2020

Trump’s New Clean Water Act Rules Could Affect Embattled Natural Gas Projects on Both Coasts

In its latest attempt to speed up fossil fuel development, the Trump administration has finalized a rule that limits how states can protect their waterways under the Clean Water Act. That change, which focuses on "point source discharges" could affect a number of fossil fuel projects across the country, including a proposed natural gas pipeline in New Jersey and a proposed gas terminal in Oregon.

Trump’s Scorn for Climate Change Collides With Courts Saying Warming Matters

While the Trump administration has expressed scorn over climate change backlash interfering with fossil fuel development, federal judges continue to rule in ways that suggest the administration should be taking global warming seriously, Bloomberg reports. At least six times, federal judges have ruled that the administration didn't adequately consider climate change in land leases or oil projects.

In the Midst of the Coronavirus, California Weighs Diesel Regulations

Amid the ongoing public health crisis, California's freight and oil industries are using the coronavirus pandemic as an excuse to try to delay two proposed regulations that would limit diesel exhaust throughout the state, sparking outrage from clean air advocates. Long-term exposure to exhaust can cause serious allergies, cardiopulmonary diseases, cancer and premature death.

Interior Department Move Keeping Controversial Acting Leaders in Office Faces Legal Scrutiny

A new Interior Department move to leave controversial temporary leaders in place indefinitely may violate laws on filling vacancies, legal experts say, and skirts requirements for Senate confirmation. There are so far no clear guidelines for how long William Pendley, acting head of Bureau of Land Management, and David Vela, acting director of the National Park Service, should continue to serve, The Hill reports.

Cristobal to Unleash Rare Tropical High Winds, Heavy Rain Over Midwest

Cristobal remained a tropical depression as it pushed northward along the lower Mississippi Valley on Monday, a day after making landfall as a tropical storm with 50-mph winds along the Louisiana coastline. Forecasters say the system will continue into the Midwest, where it will join forces with a non-tropical storm mid-week, unleashing strong winds and soaking rain across parts of the region.

China Tries to Have It Both Ways With Virus Recovery

In the last decade, China has tried to stake out a position as a global leader on climate change by weaning itself off coal, building up renewable power infrastructure and investing in electric vehicles. But as the country faces an economic crisis caused by a pandemic, it has begun to loosen restrictions on industrial pollution and is inching back toward coal use, Bloomberg reports.

U.S. Backs Changes to International Aviation Scheme Aimed at Reducing Carbon Emissions

The United States, along with the EU, this week supported calls from the world's airline industry to change a landmark international scheme that would force most of the world's airlines to begin offsetting their carbon emissions starting next year. The industry says the scheme puts too much financial burden on airlines that are already struggling with plummeting air travel demand due to coronavirus.

June 8, 2020

'Selling Off the Future’: Trump Allows Fishing in Marine Monument

President Trump is easing protections for a large marine protected area off the coast of New England, opening it to commercial fishing. But ocean experts caution that the rollback to protections of the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument will hurt the environment and won't help fishermen who are struggling to sell anything during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

American Climate Video: A Maintenance Manager Made Sure Everyone Got Out of Apple Tree Village Alive

As the 2018 Camp Fire raged toward Paradise, California, Stephen Murray had just a few hours to help evacuate 281 senior citizens from the mobile home park where he worked. "I kicked in their doors. I woke them up, I got them out of bed and got them to safety," Murray said. This is part of our American Climate series documenting how climate change is impacting people across the country.

Borrowed Time: Climate Change Threatens U.S. Mortgage Market

U.S. taxpayers could be on the hook for billions of dollars in climate-related property losses as the government backs a growing number of mortgages on homes in the path of floods, fires and extreme weather, Politico reports. With extreme rainfall on the rise as the planet warms, more homes are being built on at-risk land as fewer people buy federally backed flood insurance.

Army Corps of Engineers Outlines $4.6 Billion Plan to Protect Miami From Climate Impacts

The federal government is proposing a $4.6 billion plan to protect the low-lying Miami area from the effects of climate change, including the construction of miles of walls to protect the coast from sea level rise. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released a draft plan Friday calling for walls tall enough to protect thousands of homes and businesses from flooding that could reach about 13 feet in height.

Amazon Rainforest Fire Season Starts With Outlook for Record Burn

The world's largest rainforest is set for another record year of burning, and an area 11 times the size of New York City could be set ablaze, a new report warns. The report comes as many Brazillian patrols that work to stop illegal logging have been sidelined or sickened by Covid-19. Every year, illegal loggers level huge swaths of jungle, then burn the land to make way for crops or cattle.

June 5, 2020

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