April 5, 2018
EPA's designated agency ethics official initially said Administrator Scott Pruitt's $50-per-night condo rental connected with a lobbyist did not constitute a gift because it was at "reasonable market rate." He now says that he wasn't aware of some key information and that he didn't examine whether the arrangement violated the impartiality rule.
Seven months after Hurricane Harvey, the Houston city council has approved the first overhaul to floodplain regulations in a decade. New homes within the city's 500-year floodplain must be built 2 feet above the floodplain. The rule will take effect Sept. 1.
Seabirds are not adapting to warming sea surface temperatures caused by climate change, according to a new international study. Their food sources like plankton, insects and vegetation are appearing earlier each year, but they are not adapting their breeding and nesting patterns.
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan has unveiled a dozen initiatives to tackle the city's carbon problem, including a congestion pricing plan for cars entering downtown. The city says the plan would help fund the expansion of transit services and more electric vehicle charging stations.
April 4, 2018
Some of the biggest oil and gas companies, including Exxon, are embroiled in legal disputes with U.S. cities, states and children over the industry's role in global warming. Here's where the lawsuits stand today.
Republican Reps. Carlos Curbelo and Ilena Ros-Lehtinen called for Scott Pruitt's resignation, with Curbelo tweeting that Pruitt's "corruption scandals are an embarrassment to the administration, and his conduct is grossly disrespectful to American taxpayers."
The Pennsylvania Superior Court has ruled that an energy company trespassed on a family's land by extracting natural gas under their property while operating a fracking well next door. The opinion stated that the "rule of capture," which says the first person to "capture" a natural resource owns it, doesn't apply to fracking.
Colorado Attorney General, Oil and Gas Industry Groups Urge State Supreme Court to Relax Drilling Rule
Colorado's attorney general is urging the state's Supreme Court to overturn a ruling requiring the protection of people and the environment before oil and gas drilling can be done, saying the law requires balancing industry interests with health and the environment.
Friends of the Earth Netherlands is demanding Shell set more ambitious climate targets instead of investing only 5 percent in sustainable energy and 95 percent in oil and gas. The environmental group says Shell has eight weeks to revise its plans before it takes legal action.
It only took 1 degree Celsius of warming in the last 18 years to change the ecosystem in Canada's Lake Hazen, which holds more water than any other lake in the high Arctic. The lake is becoming ice-free more often, allowing algae to grow, and contaminants like mercury are now getting into the water as well.
As global warming causes spring to arrive earlier in some parts of the world than it did a few decades ago, some species—including orchids, caribou and the European pied flycatcher—are not adjusting at the same rate, which can affect ecosystem harmony.
April 3, 2018
The Trump administration's move to hit the brakes on a decades-long drive to reduce U.S. automotive carbon emissions is its most consequential step yet toward undoing President Obama's legacy on climate change. Here's why it could have a greater impact than repealing the Clean Power Plan.
National Park Service officials have deleted every mention of humans' role in causing climate change in drafts of a report on risks from rising seas and flooding at 118 coastal national park sites. The study was originally drafted in 2016 and still hasn't been released to the public.
Last March, the EPA signed off on Enbridge's Alberta Clipper Pipeline expansion plan while EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt was renting a room for $50 a day in a townhouse linked to the energy company's Washington lobbying firm. The Daily Beast reports that the townhouse was also used as a GOP fundraising hub during the same period.
As unusually warm ocean water slips in under their ice shelves, eight of Antarctica's major glaciers are facing "extreme" changes, satellite data show. The glaciers' grounding lines are receding as much as 600 feet per year, bolstering fears of the worst case scenario for sea level rise.
The fifth most productive March on record for snow wasn't enough to make up for an exceptionally dry winter. The April measurement for Sierra Nevada snowpack water content stands at more than 40 percent below normal. The snowpack provides about a third of California's water supply.
Cape Town officials had warned that the South Africa city could run out of water by April 22 without drastic measures. Now, they say the city has narrowly avoided disaster by slashing individuals' average water use by half, dwarfing efforts in other drought-troubled places like California.
Fiji Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama said the country has entered a "frightening new era" of extreme weather after Cyclone Josie hit the island last weekend with deadly force. He said Fiji is in "a fight for survival" as climate change brings frequent damaging storms.
In a warming world, ticks thrive in more places, for longer periods of time, than ever before. Lyme disease could be the first epidemic of climate change. Read more from ICN about the links between climate change and the rise of tick-borne diseases.
April 2, 2018
A new analysis of satellite data has found "extreme" changes underway at eight of Antarctica's major glaciers, as unusually warm ocean water slips in under their ice shelves, raising fears of worst-case sea level rise.
Last year, executives from the top three automakers asked the Trump administration to loosen emissions rules. Now they're concerned that they are likely to get bigger rollbacks than they asked for, which could lead to a legal battle between the federal government and California.
Amid a surge in black lung cases, Kentucky lawmakers have approved changes to the state's workers' compensation programs that may make it harder for those with black lung disease to get benefits. Read more from ICN about one former West Virginia miner's 14-year fight to get black lung benefits.
Lawmakers in Louisiana have introduced legislation that, similar to a model created by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), aims to criminalize the activities of groups protesting the extraction, burning and transportation of oil and gas.
Trillium Asset Management proposed a resolution calling on oil producer EOG Resources to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. EOG complained to the Securities Exchange Commission, asking to omit it from consideration. The SEC agreed and recently rejected an appeal, worrying some investors about how this move could stifle climate action.
A subsidiary that runs FirstEnergy Corp.'s nuclear and coal-fired power plants has filed for bankruptcy, just days after the utility said it planned to close three nuclear plants. Read more from ICN about FirstEnergy's call last week for an emergency federal subsidy for coal and nuclear plants.
Nearly 99 percent of New Mexico is in some stage of drought, and the northern third of the state is in extreme drought, mostly because of little to no snowpack this winter. Ranchers are hauling water to herds and confronting a hay shortage that will make feeding cattle harder.
At the International Maritime Organization meeting next week, nations are expected to face demands for the shipping industry to dramatically reduce its carbon dioxide emissions. The UK is proposing to shrink emissions by 70 to 100 percent of their 2008 levels by 2050.
An unexpected consequence of climate change has emerged in Minnesota: a dramatic long-term decline in insulating snow in early winter, combined with still-freezing conditions, is causing septic systems to freeze.
March 30, 2018
A federal judge has rejected Exxon's attempt to shut down two state investigations into whether the oil giant misled investors for years about the risks of climate change. She called Exxon's claim that its free speech rights were being violated "a wild stretch of logic."
The California Air Resources Board has banned the use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) in new cooling equipment. The climate-warming chemicals are between 1,000 and 3,000 times more potent than carbon dioxide. The decision follows a federal court ruling last year that found the EPA did not have the authority to regulate HFCs.