June 7, 2018
The speed of hurricanes as they move across land and ocean has slowed markedly in the past 65 years, leading to increasing rainfall and storm-surge risks and more deluges like Houston experienced during Hurricane Harvey, according to new research.
Anyone who takes fly-fishing seriously behaves like a scientist. These anglers are biologists, knowledgeable in what's eating what, when and how. They are hydrologists, studying riffles and stream flow. And some, but not all, are deeply concerned about the effects of a warming climate on the cold-water species that inhabit blue-ribbon trout streams.
Trump officials have taken actions that closely resemble measures contained in drafts of half a dozen executive orders and other proposals provided by coal tycoon Robert E. Murray in the early days of the administration, according to documents released by the Energy Department.
Carbon dioxide levels measured at NOAA's Mauna Loa observatory exceeded 411 parts per million in May, the highest monthly average ever recorded. An analysis of the data shows the growth rate is accelerating, from averaging about 1.6 ppm per year in the 1980s to 2.2 ppm per year during the last decade.
June 6, 2018
Two Republican congressmen are using a U.S. House committee to investigate the Natural Resources Defense Council—a group that has repeatedly sued the Trump administration over climate policy rollbacks—saying it may be under "undue influence" by the government of China. The NRDC works in China and other countries to promote clean energy and reduce fossil fuel use.
Canada's government faces doubts about whether it can deliver on climate priorities as it hosts a G7 summit this week. Critics say its recent purchase of the Trans Mountain pipeline is a distraction. Read more from ICN about Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's balancing act between climate action and Alberta's oil-reliant economy.
Senate Republicans have been mostly silent about EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt's growing list of potential ethics violations, but they get riled up about ethanol. Iowa Sens. Charles Grassley and Joni Ernst both hammered Pruitt over a proposal to rewrite rules for how fuel derived from corn is mixed into the nation's fuel supply—stopping just short of calling for his removal.
Despite being in bankruptcy, FirstEnergy Solutions has paid at least $230,000 this year to a Washington lobbying firm to push for a coal plant bailout from the Trump administration. It's part of a larger push by to secure subsidies that would help prevent the closing of coal and nuclear plants.
The Interior Department is citing a 1968 law in arguing that the Central Arizona Project should continue to buy coal power from the Navajo Generating Station, which is slated to close in 2019. The utility owners of the large power plant have determined it is no longer financially feasible to keep operating, and efforts to find a buyer have failed despite the state's offer of tax breaks.
David Koch, the billionaire industrialist who has used his vast wealth to oppose climate and environment policies and influence candidates and campaigns at all levels of American politics, is stepping away from his political and business interests because of declining health, Koch Industries announced. Read more from ICN about the role of Koch brothers' money in spreading climate change misinformation.
Insurers in Britain face being tested to see how they could cope with fallout from climate change on their balance sheets, the Bank of England's insurance regulator says.
By setting limits on climate analysis for natural gas pipelines, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is likely inviting a court challenge from environmental groups. The Sierra Club is among the groups considering a court challenge of the new approach.
As Trump's EPA administrator tries to rollback environmental projections, a passionate group of Californians is fighting to keep the state's waterways clean and flowing. The challenges to California's water supply are growing as the planet warms.
June 5, 2018
In a little less than three decades, Hawaii plans to be carbon neutral under legislation Gov. David Ige signed, setting the most ambitious state climate goal yet. In addition to the 2045 goal, he signed bills to use carbon offsets to fund tree-planting and requiring new building projects to consider sea level rise.
Plunging prices for renewable energy and rapidly increasing investment in low-carbon technologies could leave fossil fuel companies with trillions in stranded assets. A new study forecasts a sudden drop in demand for fossil fuels before 2035 and—importantly—suggests that the rapid decline is no longer dependent on stronger government policies.
The UK government's Environment Audit Committee is calling on the government to require large companies, pension funds and other big investors to report their exposure to climate risks by 2022. The committee is concerned that assets are being mispriced because climate risk is not being factored in.
More than 500 religious leaders are urging Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton and utility regulators to oppose Enbridge's Line 3 oil pipeline replacement across northern Minnesota. The leaders say it's a moral issue because the project is a threat to the environment, sensitive wetlands and Ojibwe land and culture.
New Mexico voters head to the polls today, and a race that normally flies under the radar is drawing attention. The parent company of utility PSC has pumped hundreds of thousands of dollars into a PAC that's trying to influence two Public Regulation Commission races. The commission has power over electricity rates and can have a big influence on the sources of that energy.
Four natural gas pipeline companies are appealing a federal judge's ruling that they must repair erosion damage along pipeline canals. The case is being closely watched because it may set a precedent for determining damages related to how pipelines affect their environment.
Twenty years ago, the U.S. Green Building Council piloted its LEED certification, which has reshaped architecture and real estate. But how much do the standards dent buildings' energy use? The debate originates, in part, from differences over what a "green building" should be.
About a quarter of Germany's electricity comes from cheap, dirty lignite. The government is supposed to appoint a commission that will plan how the country is to give up coal, but it's already under fire for prioritizing economy over environment.
To defend against extreme weather, U.S. cities must accept that survival means change—to the economy and also to the country's conception of itself. Read more from ICN on the 2018 hurricane forecast and the risks of superstorms.
June 4, 2018
The world's major industrial democracies spend at least $100 billion a year to prop up oil, gas and coal consumption, despite vows to end fossil fuel subsidies by 2025, according to a report issued ahead of this week's G7 summit in Canada. Read more from ICN on the Canadian government's move to buy an oil pipeline while advocating for greenhouse gas cuts.
A new government report says the black lung trust fund to help sick coal miners is running out of money and could incur a $15 billion deficit in the next 30 years because of a Congressionally mandated cut in the amount coal companies pay into it. Read more from ICN about one miner's 14-year fight to secure benefits as he battles black lung disease.
As the 2018 Atlantic hurricane season begins, scientists are worried that U.S. coastal communities could face more super storms with winds and rainfall so intense current warning categories don't capture the threat. One suggestion is to create a new Category 6 designation for extremely powerful storms.
EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt got courtside seats for a University of Kentucky basketball game as one of many benefits he has received from his relationship with Joseph Craft III, a billionaire coal executive. Pruitt has repeatedly met with Craft as the Trump administration works to dismantle environmental rules.
Institutional investors with more than $26 trillion in assets are calling on the G7 to phase out coal power to help limit climate change. The investors said current plans to cut greenhouse gases are too weak, and they argue that spending to mitigate climate change will bring economic benefits.
Global forecasts widely underestimate the future costs of climate change by failing to account for "tipping points," new research from Harvard and the London School of Economics says.
The White House is exaggerating the growth of climate change programs by including items that are only tangentially related to the topic, according to the Government Accountability Office, Congress's official watchdog. The Trump administration said spending increased $4.4 billion from 2010 to 2017.
A federal judge scolded EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt on Friday for failing to respond to a nonprofit's Freedom of Information Act request for the research behind his public claim that he doesn't agree human activity is a primary contributor to global warming. "EPA's strained attempt to raise an epistemological smokescreen will not work here to evade its obligations under the FOIA," the judge wrote.