June 25, 2018
Last month, scientists disclosed a global pollution mystery: a surprise rise in emissions of CFC-11, an outlawed greenhouse gas that also destroys the atmosphere's protective ozone layer. A trail of clues leads to an industrial boomtown in rural China.
Torrential rain events are becoming more frequent and more intense, leading to record rainfall, extreme flooding and perilous infrastructure failures. Experts say the downpours are the product of rising temperatures and an increase in storm size. Because warmer air can hold more water, large storms are dropping far more rain at a faster clip.
Across the country, bodies of water are seeing an increase in toxic algae, harming sources of drinking water and making lakes unsafe for swimming. Higher temperatures and more frequent heat waves help the organisms, and more intense rainstorms can wash more nutrients into lakes and reservoirs.
A drilling fluid spill off the coast of Nova Scotia during a BP Canada oil exploration project is raising new concerns about the oil giant's drilling plans and the potential impact on fisheries.
Explorers who've been feverishly drilling oil wells in the Permian basin to cash in on an OPEC-driven price rally are now slamming on the brakes and postponing the fracking stage to let pipelines catch up.
The new head of the EPA Region 9, which includes California, Arizona, Nevada, Hawaii and the Pacific islands, says he supports reducing carbon emissions, even if he thinks the consensus is still out on climate change. "The whole global warming debate is a debate for Washington, D.C., and whatever they tell me is what I implement," he says.
The U.S. withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement has not yet led to one of the most damaging potential effects, which is that other countries also abandon the pact, but there are concerns about backsliding without U.S. involvement.
June 22, 2018
The amount of methane leading from U.S. oil and gas fields may be 60 percent higher than government estimates, according to a new study in the journal Science. The study presents compelling evidence that using natural gas as a bridge fuel may not be as effective a climate strategy as proponents suggest.
The EU declared this week that it can make even deeper greenhouse gas emissions cuts than it promised in the Paris accord. But there's a problem — its new energy policy promotes cutting forests for fuel and doesn't fully account for the climate impact. The EU's scientific advisers are warning that the policy could make it impossible to meet Europe's climate goals.
The North American Electric Reliability Corp., which enforces reliability standards, says grid resilience is improving despite storms and cybersecurity threats. The findings contradict some of the Trump administration's top arguments for proposing to bail out struggling coal plants.
A new Trump administration directive instructs federal scientists with the U.S. Geological Survey to get approval from the Interior Department before agreeing to most interview requests from reporters, according to employees and emails. Employees say it's a dramatic change and will interfere with scientists' ability to share their expertise.
Four Republican senators closely allied with the fossil fuel industry are challenging the government's support of a program that helps educate weather forecasters about the complexities of climate science.
As West Antarctica loses massive volumes of ice, the land beneath is rebounding, new research shows. How much this will help protect its glaciers remains to be seen. The glaciers stand in waters hundreds of meters deep, and a small rise of an inch or more a year would not be enough, on its own, to lift them above the warm water layer.
The California Public Utilities Commission rejected plans for a 47-mile natural gas pipeline proposed by San Diego Gas & Electric and Southern California Edison. The regulators cited an administrative law judge's finding that the $639 million pipeline was unnecessary "in an era of declining demand and at a time when the state of California is moving away from fossil fuels."
Global warming is creating more climate refugees, but governments have been slow to include climate issues as grounds for refugee status. Diplomats are now trying to come up with an agreement to deal with the challenge.
June 21, 2018
Connecticut's governor has signed legislation increasing the state's greenhouse gas emissions reduction target to 45 percent by 2030, restricting some coastal development and mandating 40 percent of the state's electricity be from renewable sources by 2030. "The effects of climate change, which is unquestionably man-made, can be felt in Connecticut," he said.
EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has spent more than $4.6 million on security, according to documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act. The security payroll for his office increased in the latest quarter by $138,373 to $742,205, almost double what he spent in the same period in 2017.
Thirty years after NASA scientist James Hansen testified before Congress about the risks of climate change, the evidence is all around us. "Yet, Washington continues to ignore the problem, or, worse still, to actively impede efforts to address it," writes Elizabeth Kolbert. "How can this be?"
Exxon is refusing to turn over documents crucial to New York's investigation into whether the oil giant's public statements about climate change misled investors, the state's top lawyer said. That includes subpoenas for cash-flow projections reflecting how it used so-called proxy costs to calculate the financial impact on its assets from future climate regulations.
Rising waters and sinking land are contributing to an increase in sunny-day flooding along the Texas coast, and it's likely to become even more common, leading to property damage and a big hit to the economy. Read more from ICN about the rising number of U.S. properties at risk and increase in flood days.
The Gulf of Maine has warmed faster than most of the world's oceans for much of this century. Scientists and some fishermen are now worried that the waters might warm too much for the lobsters, and they are asking how much longer the boom can last.
Automakers want changes to the nation's vehicle emissions rules—which they agreed to back when the government was bailing them out—but not, they say, the Trump rule changes. The Atlantic takes a walk through the history of vehicle emissions and emissions standards debates.
Hong Kong has seen a dramatic increase in people suffering from allergies, and doctors say the change is largely due to climate change. Writing in the Hong Kong Medical Journal, the doctors said the rapid increase could not be explained by genetics alone and highlighted the important role of environmental changes.
India's energy minister said his government is planning a massive solar tender of 100 gigawatts, the world's largest yet, as the fastest growing energy consumer turns increasingly to renewables to satisfy demand.
June 20, 2018
President Trump revoked America's 2010 oceans policy on Tuesday and announced a replacement that shifts the focus away from climate concerns and conservation and toward economic development. It deletes the call for improving U.S. "capacity to respond to climate change and ocean acidification," along with references to "social justice" and "biological diversity."
A federal appeals court has dealt a setback to environmentalists trying to force the Interior Department to reconsider the climate impacts of its coal leasing program, one of the world's biggest sources of global warming pollution. But the judges also said activists can continue to challenge coal leases under NEPA, which has been successful in lower courts.
Colorado's governor has ordered his state to adopt vehicle pollution rules enforced in California, joining other states in resisting the Trump administration's plans to roll back emission standards. "Our communities, farms and wilderness areas are susceptible to air pollution and a changing climate," he said.
A group that includes former Senate Republican leader Trent Lott of Mississippi and former Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen is launching a campaign for a carbon tax that would send the proceeds to taxpayers. The group has support from fossil-fuel companies, including Exxon, Shell and BP, and some environmental groups.
A foundation established by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is playing a key role in a real estate deal backed by the chairman of Halliburton, the oil-services giant that stands to benefit from Interior Department decisions to open public lands for oil exploration or change drilling standards. The project is in Zinke's hometown adjacent to land he owns. The group Public Citizen filed an ethics complaint today.
The Trump administration has highlighted cyber security risks in the natural gas pipeline system as a reason for the government to help coal and nuclear power plants, but natural gas producers say the concerns are overblown. "They are certainly using every argument they can come up with to try and justify it," said one pipeline executive.