June 13, 2018
The Interior Department has not given an adequate explanation for why it canceled a $1 million National Academies study on the health effects of mountaintop-removal coal mining, according to the agency's inspector general. "Departmental officials were unable to provide specific criteria used for their determination," the report said.
A Senate Appropriations subcommittee moved to advance a $35.85 billion funding bill for the Interior Department and the EPA, rejecting many of the Trump administration's proposed cuts. The proposed funding level for fiscal 2019 is about $600 million higher than Congress approved in 2018.
EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt last year had a top aide contact Republican donors who might help his wife find a job. The job search is likely to add to ethics questions about Pruitt, both because he used EPA staff and because he was seeking help from donors who could have business before the agency.
A group of billionaires including Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, Jack Ma and Richard Branson launched Breakthrough Energy Ventures to invest at least $1 billion in climate solutions technologies. The first startups they will be investing in are developing new technologies for energy storage.
June 12, 2018
Thirteen Republicans senators have asked President Trump to submit the Kigali Amendment on HFCs for Senate ratification. The amendment to the Montreal Protocol is meant to phase out hydrofluorocarbons, a short-lived climate pollutant used mainly in refrigeration and air-conditioning. Read more from ICN about U.S. efforts to regulate HFCs.
Climate change will increase the risk of simultaneous crop failures across the world's biggest corn-growing regions and lead to less of the nutritionally critical vegetables that health experts say people aren't getting enough of already, according to two new studies.
Bailing out nuclear and coal-fired power plants will not toughen the U.S. power grid against cyber attacks as the Trump administration claims, cybersecurity experts tell Reuters.
The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission staff is recommending approval of a new Enbridge Line 3 oil pipeline, increasing the chances it will be approved by the commission. The staff says replacement would be better for the environment than continuing to rely on the current aging, corroding pipeline. Read more from ICN about tribes' concerns about the Line 3 plan.
Corporations are stepping up their commitments to fight climate change, helping to fill a vacuum left by the Trump administration's lack of action. CEOs are signing agreements to purchase renewable energy, and a group of large investors is taking the lead in urging governments to do more on the issue.
With Germany falling short of its greenhouse gas reduction goals, some policymakers are suggesting shutting down coal plants earlier than planned. Germany is the European Union's largest carbon emitter, so its lack of progress has implications for the entire EU.
Some of Africa's biggest baobab trees, nicknamed "the tree of life", have abruptly died in the past decade. Researchers suspect the die-off may be associated, at least in part, with significant changes in southern Africa's climate. The trees were 1,100 to 2,500 years old and some as wide as a bus is long.
June 11, 2018
President Trump's disdain for action on climate change, along with his economic demands and behavior, left the U.S. estranged from its closest allies following the weekend G7 summit. While Trump renounced the G7 communique, the other countries are standing by their agreement — and their climate commitments.
The pope met with leaders of the world's oil and gas companies over the weekend to discuss climate change. He said they had made commendable progress and were "developing more careful approaches to the assessment of climate risk," but that those actions were not enough.
Fueled by coal-burning power plants and heavy industry, seven southeastern states produce enough CO2 combined to rank as the world's sixth-largest climate polluter, but few of the region's cities are setting measurable goals for cleaning up, a new report concludes. That's slowly starting to change.
West Virginia's coal industry would benefit from President Trump's subsidy plan, but the state's consumers stand to lose in the form of higher electricity bills. The plan would interfere with electricity markets in a way that PJM Interconnection and other grid managers say would harm competition.
A spill from Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain pipeline last month was 48 times worse than initially reported, British Columbia officials say. It happened in the middle of a heated debate over whether the pipeline should be allowed to expand in the province. Read more from ICN on Canada's pipeline challenges.
There is a troubling gap between models that project the physical effects of global warming and those that project the economic impacts. Two recent papers examine how the physical models show a deteriorating situation while economic models seem to underestimate the damage.
Parts of Australia are going on their seventh year of below-average rainfall, and it's hitting farmers hard. "Australia doesn't realize. The cattle we've got are rapidly diminishing because of the drought," one rancher said. In some areas, cows are being slaughtered because there's no way to feed them.
Britain's Biggest Asset Manager Seeks Removal of 8 Companies' Board Chairmen Over Climate Change Inaction
Britain's biggest asset manager is pushing for the ouster of chairmen of the board at eight companies that it says have failed to confront the threats posed by climate change, Reuters reports. LGIM also said it would sell any shares of the companies in its $6.7 billion Future World Funds index funds.
Oil operations in Alaska are designed for freezing conditions. But the state is warming twice as fast as the rest of the country, and that's posing both a challenge for the industry and a boon for businesses that are creating products to help it cope. Read more from ICN on another Arctic challenge: methane leak detection equipment that can't handle the cold.
What's the secret to EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt's tenacious grip on the agency he's busy undermining while generating a cloud of ethics scandals? It's not just that he has impressed polluting industries, The New Yorker writers. Like several other members of the constantly churning Trump administration who have managed to hold on, Pruitt is an evangelical Christian.
June 8, 2018
The EPA took its first step toward a comprehensive overhaul of the cost-benefit calculations that underpin the entire array of its regulations, notably any actions to rein in global warming. In its formal notice seeking public comment, the EPA wrote that industry had requested this kind of change.
President Trump plans to leave this week's G7 summit in Canada early, avoiding the session on climate change and the environment. The leaders of Canada and France have criticized Trump's lack of aggressiveness in fighting climate change.
Xcel Energy plans to close two-coal fired power plants in Colorado, and the company's CEO says the days are likely numbered for the rest of its coal fleet. Xcel, which serves parts of eight states, submitted a plan this week to Colorado regulators that would dramatically expand its use of wind and solar.
Pennsylvania has set new rules for methane emissions from natural gas wells, and the governor says more rules are likely coming. The state is a leading producer of natural gas and has been slower than others to track and limit methane, a potent short-lived climate pollutant.
An eight-state commission that oversees water quality along the Ohio River appears ready to approve an industry-supported plan that would strip it of the power to set pollution-control standards. The river is the drinking water source for 5 million people and has dozens of coal plants and other industries along its banks.
The Central Arizona Project has decided not to new renew a power purchase agreement with the Navajo Generation Station, moving the coal plant a step closer to closing. Instead, the agency voted to increase its use of solar power. The solar prices are cheaper, CAP's director said.
When TransCanada started the pipeline in January, CEO Russ Girling said: "This is truly a best-in-class pipeline and we look forward to many years of safe, reliable and efficient operation on behalf of our customers." No one was injured in the explosion, and the cause is under investigation.
June 7, 2018
The U.S. broke records for tidal flooding over the past year as storms combined with rising seas to inundate parts of Miami, Boston and other major cities. NOAA found the frequency of high-tide flooding has doubled in 30 years. Some cities faced more than 20 days of it in the past year.
An estimated $2.5 billion worth of solar power projects have been canceled or delayed as companies face the Trump administration's tariffs on imported solar equipment. Developers say they're proceeding with caution, and often holding off on new projects, which can hurt jobs and the economy.