August 15, 2018
The Trump administration's move to freeze vehicle fuel economy standards is going forward even though EPA staff said they believe the proposal would increase traffic deaths and have net costs—opposite of what the administration claimed publicly. Read more from ICN about the Trump plan.
Scientists are forecasting that, in addition to 2018, the following four years will be unusually warm, beyond what an increase in global warming would be expected to produce. A new study says there is a 58 percent chance that Earth's overall temperature from 2018 to 2022 will be unusually warm and a 69 percent chance that the oceans will be.
The main culprit feeding the "red tide" algal blooms that are killing wildlife along the Florida coast is the runoff of nitrogen fertilizers used in agriculture, but climate change also plays a role, and scientists say warming will make it more difficult to control the blooms.
A federal judge has denied Exxon's attempt to dismiss a lawsuit filed by investors involving scrutiny of the company's accounting related to climate change. Exxon had argued that the SEC didn't recommend any enforcement action so the case should be dismissed.
New England governors and eastern Canadian premiers say they will work together to build infrastructure for electric vehicles and take other steps to address climate change. The leaders made the comments at an annual meeting in Vermont, pledging to continue to cooperate despite the trade dispute between the countries.
August 14, 2018
President Trump has signed into law a defense authorization bill named for Sen. John McCain that will push the military to protect its infrastructure against rising sea levels and other aspects of climate change. While much of the Trump administration tries to roll back climate rules, the Pentagon sees risks.
The impact of record-breaking temperatures can be seen in wheat, the most widely grown staple crop. When weather harms the wheat crop in one area, it can shock markets and economies far away.
The price for emitting carbon in the European Union has hit a 10-year high, reaching 18 euros per ton, about $20.40. The price is now triple what it was a year ago under a system that requires industries and power plants pay per ton of carbon they emit.
California is optimistic it will win the fight over President Trump's rollback of auto emissions limits, but it's considering fallback plans. "We're looking at other ways to reduce pollution by regulating either the purchase or use of cars and light trucks that don't involve setting standards on the vehicles themselves,'' said Mary Nichols, California Air Resources Board head. "That could be a whole bunch of things. Limits on registrations. Fees and taxes.''
Montana researchers are studying the ways that fires can become unpredictable and dangerous. Scientists are recreating the whirls of fire that cut through forests and grassland, part of an attempt to form a deeper understanding of how a warmer climate and tree die-offs are feeding the fires.
Deforestation in the Amazon and illegal fishing are tied to tax havens, according to a new study. More than two-thirds of investments tracked in the Amazon came from companies based in places where no tax is paid. The authors argue that tax-avoidance schemes are subsidizing damage to the environment.
In a new Union of Concerned Scientists survey, scores of scientists working for the federal government said political concerns in the Trump administration sometimes outweigh scientific rigor, and budget cuts hamper their mission. Some scientists also said they censor their own work to avoid getting in trouble, USA Today reports. Science Magazine also looks at some of the drawbacks to the survey.
Residents near a demolished coal-fired power plant in South Australia may see their third straight summer of dust because of a flawed rehabilitation of an ash dam. Potentially hazardous particles have blown across Port Augusta and its 14,000 residents.
August 13, 2018
For two years, government agencies have moved repeatedly to clear roadblocks to expedite the Mountain Valley Pipeline, even changing rules to ease the project's approvals, reviews by the Charleston Gazette-Mail find.
The Democratic National Committee has passed a resolution saying it welcomes money from fossil fuel companies' political action committees and the industry's workers. Critics say the move is a reversal of the DNC pledge not to take money from fossil fuel interests.
Federal energy regulators have ordered a halt to work on the Atlantic Coast Pipeline following a ruling from a federal appeals court suspending key permits for the project. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission sent a letter to Dominion Energy saying work must stop immediately.
Bank of the West's decision to not do business with fossil fuel companies is leading to threats of retaliation in Colorado, Wyoming and other fossil fuel states. The San Francisco-based bank said it would not support business activities that are "detrimental to our environment and our health."
Cities absorb, create and radiate heat, and there is a growing gap between residents who can afford to cool themselves and those who cannot. The Guardian looks at how this is playing out in cities around the world.
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, in California with Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, argued that cutting down more trees is the key to stopping forest fires and claimed "this is not a debate about climate change." Environmentalists say his argument, peddled by Republicans in western states, focuses on pleasing the timber industry, not on curbing fires. A New York Times interactive shows three of California's largest fires ever are burning right now.
The Nature Conservancy has agreed to manage 124,000 acres along the St. John River between Maine and Quebec as a "carbon storage bank" for programs that allow companies to buy carbon offsets. The programs pay for the nonprofit landowner to manage the forests in ways that allow trees to grow longer and larger.
Nearly two years after a state inspector discovered arsenic-laced coal ash seeping out of a landfill at a power plant in Western Kentucky, the state Energy and Environment Cabinet has negotiated a deal to clean up the pollution. Environmental activists have a lot of concerns about it.
A small camp in Levering, Michigan, is the start of a new protest against Enbridge's Line 5 pipeline that goes under the Straits of Mackinac in the Great Lakes. The protesters, some of whom were involved in the Dakota Access pipeline protests, say they hope to build support to shut down the line.
August 10, 2018
U.S. hurricane forecasters have some good news about this year's projected Atlantic storm season—though they say coastal residents shouldn't drop their guard just yet. The new forecast calls for a below-normal hurricane season, in part because they say there's a high chance El Niño will form.
There's a twist in the big settlement announced in California this week over one of the nation's largest natural gas leaks: It includes a program to pay for methane gas collection at a dozen of the state's dairy farms as a way to mitigate the leak's climate impact. The plan is drawing a mixed reaction, with some concerns that it could create new ways for methane to leak.
The Trump administration is expected to nominate Bernard McNamee to an open seat on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. He was an architect of the Energy Department's plan to subsidize coal plants; has worked for the Koch-connected Texas Public Policy Foundation, where he wrote this oped celebrating fossil fuels; and is a former staffer for Sen. Ted Cruz.
2018 is shaping up to be at least the fourth-hottest year on record, behind only the three previous years. The string of records is part of an accelerating climb in temperatures. Read more from ICN on how this summer's heat wave could be the strongest climate change signal yet.
As Toronto deals with the damage from an extreme rainstorm and flooding, scientists warn such storms will be more frequent and intense because of global warming. Ontario's new premier, Doug Ford, has been openly hostile to climate policies, vowing to pull the province out of a carbon trading partnership and cancelling hundreds of renewable energy contracts.
Florida Sen. Bill Nelson, a Democrat, and his Republican challenger, Gov. Rick Scott, have taken turns blaming each other for the toxic blue-green algae blooms in the state, which have killed marine life and are threatening the tourism industry. The debate over this unfolding environmental disaster could be a pivotal part of one of the country's most closely watched Senate races.
As California Lawmakers Grapple with the State's Fiery Future, Utility Company Liability Dominates the Discussion
While California lawmakers work on a plan to address the growing danger of wildfires, a battle is underway over utility companies' liability related to the blazes. Gov. Jerry Brown and some lawmakers want to ensure that high costs related to fires don't bankrupt the companies at a time when they need to be financially strong to help prevent additional fires.
At a meeting in Poland ahead of December's UN climate conference, Polish mining and industrial unions are urging the host country to push for exemptions for polluting industries. The meeting's co-organizer also gave a platform to a U.S. climate denier who claims CO2 buildup is good.