June 4, 2019
Two environmental economists reported that when big companies lobbied the government to block action on climate change, it costs society $60 billion. In blocking the Waxman-Markey bill, fossil fuel and transportation companies who expected to lose money were more effective lobbyists than those who expected gains, the economists found.
Facing pressure from shareholders and regulators, more companies are disclosing the financial hits they could take as the planet warms, according to a new analysis. Still, companies aren't adequately accounting for all the possible financial risks they face, analysts say.
The Natural Resources Defense Council is suing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency over a recent order banning many scientists from panels that advise the EPA on scientific matters. The NRDC said that the directive, issued by former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, upended decades of EPA practices without cause or comment from the public.
The U.S. Department of Transportation is calling for Congress to expand a law that penalizes "damaging or destroying" functioning pipelines. Read more from ICN about how several states have recently cracked down on pipeline protesters, including South Dakota, where a new law allows prosecutors to target protest "conspirators."
A lake near Wilmington, North Carolina, has endured numerous coal ash spills, both before and after Hurricane Florence, according to a researcher from Duke University. Recent state efforts to address coal ash, a byproduct of coal burning, have been met with pushback from utility Duke Energy.
The Minnesota Court of Appeals has reversed the state Public Utilities Commission's approval of the Enbridge Line 3 pipeline replacement project's environmental review, saying it didn't adequately address the potential impact of a spill in the Lake Superior watershed.
Michigan farmers can keep tax incentives that block non-agricultural development if they build commercial solar panels on their land, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced. Whitmer, who created a new office of climate and energy in the state, said she is committed to meet the growing demand for renewable energy.
June 3, 2019
Corn prices are rising as surging floodwaters and soaking rains, combined with President Trump's trade war with China, are making for a difficult year for farmers facing risky choices about what crops to plant, or whether to plant at all.
As regulators revamp the way utilities pay homeowners for the solar power they feed into the grid, they're mulling a monthly charge of about $6 to support clean-energy and efficiency programs. Clean-energy advocates warn it could "fundamentally change the economics."
EPA plans to quickly revamp its guidelines for evaluating whether environmental contaminants can cause cancer or other ailments, a move Trump administration critics fear is part of a broader effort to weaken the basis for regulating a wide range of pollutants.
Analysts are trying to make sense of a plan that seems to defy political and economic logic: It would support uneconomical power plants by increasing costs for businesses and homeowners, both with new charges and by canceling programs that save them money on energy.
Iowa had the right to use eminent domain to seize private land for the controversial Dakota Access pipeline, the Iowa Supreme Court ruled in challenge from landowners and environmental groups who sought to stop the flow of oil. However, the court also recognized that "a serious and warranted concern about climate change" underlies the opposition to the pipeline.
The Army Corps of Engineers has been struggling on two fronts — taming America's rain-swollen rivers, and taming the fallout from mass water releases and breached levees. In Oklahoma, opening a dam released a large amount of water into the Arkansas River, flooding parts of Sand Springs and other towns.
Massachusetts officials are recommending the state double its commitment to offshore wind as part of an ongoing effort to transition the state toward more renewable energy. The report argues for an additional procurement of up to 1,600 megawatts of offshore wind capacity, enough to power up to 1 million homes, on top of the 1,600 megawatts already authorized.
Tens of thousands of acres of mountain maple, American beech, and other trees that produce some of Pennsylvania's most vibrant scenes are at risk because of climate change, the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources says. It suggests forest management should include "change resilient" trees.
May 31, 2019
Illinois is poised to become the latest state to crack down on power plants' coal ash waste, a hazardous byproduct of coal burning and source of groundwater contamination. It has two big reasons for taking action: human health and the risk to its rivers.
The U.S. Interior Department is determined to sell oil leases for the first time this year in the ecologically sensitive but presumably petroleum-rich coastal plain of Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, a Trump administration official said. The refuge had been off-limits to oil and gas drilling.
A group of experts wrote to British Prime Minister Theresa May, calling for her to set a national net zero emissions target. The scientists said evidence of global warming is "unequivocal" and that to avoid climate change, the country must eliminate or offset all carbon emissions, not just reduce them.
Colorado Gov. Jared Polis signed into law a bill committing the state to a series of greenhouse gas emissions reductions, including a 50 percent cut by 2030 and a 90 percent cut by 2050. Though ambitious, some activists say the measure doesn't go far enough.
Massachusetts Sen. Edward Markey wrote to the director of the White House's Office of Science and Technology Policy, warning against political interference with the science in the upcoming National Climate Report. Interference could have a "chilling effect on science research going forward," he wrote.
With almost one-third of Singapore just 5 meters above sea level, the city-state is rolling out a range of initiatives aimed at limiting the effects of global warming. "It's an existential threat," said Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong.
May 30, 2019
A lot of people have been asking: Since global warming can make other types of extreme weather more likely, could it be behind these deadly twisters? We asked some of the leading scientists who have been studying tornadoes and the physics of extreme weather and climate change to share their insights.
A new study documents a die-off of thousands of tufted puffins around St. Paul Island in the Bering Sea off Alaska. Researchers said the mass die-off, and five similar events which have occurred since 2014, may be linked to climate-driven shifts at the bottom of the ocean food chain.
Sabine Pass Terminal, the flagship facility of Houston's Cheniere Energy, has struck major deals in recent years that have propelled its success. But a federal investigation has found leaks in liquefied natural gas storage tanks are posing major risks to safety.
Shareholders at ExxonMobil and Chevron both rejected new climate-related resolutions during their annual meetings, though both drew significant numbers of votes in favor. The U.S.'s two largest energy companies have received mounting criticism for lagging behind their European peers, including Shell and BP.
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said she will move in June to shut a troubled oil pipeline under a section of the Great Lakes if the governor cannot reach a resolution with its operator. Nessel said the state is in "great peril" the longer oil continues to flow beneath the sensitive waterway.
Montana's Northern Cheyenne Tribe criticized the Trump administration for seeking to overturn a moratorium on federal coal leasing without first consulting the tribe. Leaders said the move violated treaty rights and would have major impacts on tribal land.
The Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank co-founded by Charles Koch, quietly shut down a program that for years sought to raise uncertainty about climate science. The move came after Pat Michaels, a climate scientist who rejects mainstream concerns about rising temperatures, left Cato earlier this year.
The Oregon Senate has approved a temporary ban on hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," for oil and gas. The Senate reduced the 10-year moratorium that had been in the House proposal to five years, and the bill now returns to the House to approve the change.
May 29, 2019
About 80 countries want to expand their pledges to address climate change, advancing their action under the Paris climate accord, according to the United Nations. "We are not talking about a small incremental approach," said Luis Alfonso de Alba, a Mexican diplomat and the UN secretary-general's envoy on climate change.