May 26, 2020
A federal judge on Friday threw out a lawsuit attempting to reinstate a moratorium on leasing federal land to coal producers, saying the Trump administration was now complying with environmental laws. The judge initially ruled against the administration when it first attempted in 2017 to end the Obama-era ban on new coal leasing on public lands.
An executive order signed by President Trump directing agencies to slash regulations in order to boost the economy is likely to lead to a number of court challenges. Last week's order directs agency heads to "identify regulatory standards that may inhibit economic recovery." But experts say speeding up the regulatory process or nixing public comment periods would likely be slammed in court.
May 25, 2020
Eight European countries, including Bulgaria, the Czech Republic and Greece, have urged the European Union to include natural gas in future funding, as the bloc's executive prepares to unveil its plan for a green economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic on Wednesday.
May 22, 2020
Two dam failures in Michigan are underscoring warnings by scientists that global warming is causing heavier and more frequent rainstorms in many parts of the country, including the upper Midwest. When paired with the nation's aging infrastructure, which wasn't designed to handle the warming climate, safety officials say it makes for a dangerous combination.
New York's decision to deny a key permit to the Williams Pipeline, in part because of the state's climate law, is turning heads in the legal community over what they say is a turning point for the state's energy economy, with potentially broader implications nationwide. Already, some activists are trying to use the decision to stop other pipelines in New York from moving forward.
The coming Atlantic hurricane season is "expected to be a busy one," with the likelihood of as many as 19 named storms, including as many as six major hurricanes, a federal weather scientist said Thursday. That worrisome forecast could be further complicated by the coronavirus pandemic, which is hobbling relief agencies and could turn evacuation shelters into disease hot spots.
A top official at the Bureau of Land Management instructed state offices to allow oil and gas operators to set their own rates for the royalties they pay the government when they lease public lands for drilling, according to an internal email obtained by High Country News. The directive is the latest evidence of the Trump administration using the pandemic to justify bolstering the industry.
Texas Coastal Exchange, a Houston nonprofit, is paying local landowners to help fight climate change by storing carbon dioxide on their property. The nonprofit awarded grants to property owners to conserve the coastal marshlands they own as opposed to developing it, allowing the land to continue naturally sequestering carbon from the atmosphere.
Citing the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, China is dropping plans to maintain a key measurement on energy conservation that is used to mark the country's progress in the fight against climate change, Bloomberg reports. The measurement of energy consumption per unit of GDP has guided China's climate policy since 2014.
May 21, 2020
After growing at the rate of 1 percent per year in the last decade, daily emissions of heat-trapping carbon dioxide suddenly plunged by as much as 17 percent globally in early April as the world responded to the Covid-19 pandemic, a new study shows. It's the biggest single annual decline since World War II, but remains a drop in the bucket in the grander scheme of climate change, scientists warn.
More than 250 employees at the EPA have worried about managers or senior leaders at the agency interfering with science, with hundreds more saying they've experienced potential violations of the agency's scientific integrity policy, a survey from the Office of the Inspector General found. Over half of those surveyed also believed leadership isn't transparent in decision-making.
The largest source of clean energy jobs isn't wind and solar power, it's energy efficiency, and those jobs are vanishing because of the coronavirus. Of the nearly 600,000 clean energy jobs lost since the pandemic hit, 70 percent were in energy efficiency work. Dan Gearino covers the significance of that, and more, in the latest Inside Clean Energy.
A Houston-based company that maps underground pockets of oil and gas, and is under investigation by the SEC and Justice Department for financial wrongdoing, has received a $6.8 million loan meant for small businesses hammered by the coronavirus pandemic, The Washington Post reports. The fund has been criticized for favoring the fossil fuel industry and prioritizing larger companies.
Dozens of individuals and groups urging states to reopen amid the Covid-19 pandemic have historical financial ties to fossil fuel companies and conservative billionaires who have invested in climate disinformation, The Guardian reports. Those bankrolling campaigns criticizing stay-at-home orders include Murray Energy, Exxon, as well as the Koch and Mercer family foundations.
The European Union is poised to announce the world's greenest recovery package next week, as it seeks to curb pollution and save its economy from the coronavirus pandemic, Bloomberg reports. The drafted stimulus plan shows the European Commission committing over 100 billion euros to green initiatives, including increasing electric vehicle sales and spurring renewable energy development.
The most powerful cyclone to strike eastern India and Bangladesh in over a decade killed at least 82 people, officials said, as rescue teams scoured devastated coastal villages. Climate change is increasing the frequency of the most destructive tropical storms, our own reporting found.
May 20, 2020
An executive order signed by President Trump Tuesday is directing agencies to "identify regulatory standards that may inhibit economic recovery" from the coronavirus downturn, noting that regulations could be permanently or temporarily lifted. It's the latest deregulatory effort from an administration that has strived for unfettered fossil fuel development, our own reporting shows.
Nearly 40 top scientific organizations and academic institutions jointly submitted a letter to the EPA opposing the controversial "secret science" rule, claiming it would severely limit the use of science in setting health and environmental policy. The comments came on the last day for public comment for the rule change, and included a submission from the world's largest scientific society.
Dead or dying trees were 30 times more likely to have been exposed to methane in the soil surrounding their roots than healthy trees, according to a new study conducted in Chelsea, Massachusetts, a low-income immigrant community near Boston. The study also highlights the many interrelated environmental challenges, like air pollution, heat and high rates of coronavirus.
Cyclone Amphan slammed into India's coast on Wednesday afternoon, knocking down huge trees, bringing ropes of rain and sending millions of poor villagers rushing into evacuation shelters, The New York Times reports. The emergency response to the storm, which had wind speeds between 80 and 100 miles per hour, were complicated by the coronavirus.
A federal appeals court on Tuesday ruled that the EPA violated the law when it denied a request from Maryland and Delaware to tighten air pollution controls at power plants in upwind neighboring states. The decision could force the agency to impose new curbs on some coal-fired power plants, even as the Trump administration seeks to help the industry through hastened deregulation.
The worst drought Eastern Europe has seen in at least a century, coupled with the coronavirus pandemic, has poor villagers across parts of Romania, Poland and the Czech Republic fighting "a double war," Bloomberg reports. The drought is devastating harvests and exacerbating the region's economic woes as government leaders scramble for medicine and protective gear to fight the virus.
Warming temperatures due to climate change are spurring the spread of algae that is tinting Antarctica's white snow green, a phenomenon becoming so prolific in some places that it's even visible from space, new research says. The study used two years of satellite data and is the first to shed light on the extent of the algae's presence.
The global growth of renewable energy will slow for the first time in 20 years due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, a new report from the International Energy Agency predicts. The group warned that 2020 will see 13 percent less new wind and solar capacity built compared to the record roll out seen last year. But a rebound is possible in 2021, the group noted.
May 19, 2020
Climate change is driving up the frequency of the most powerful tropical cyclones, and the biggest increases are in already hard-hit areas like the American Southeast, the Caribbean and some coastal Asian countries, recent federal research shows. The findings come as residents watch Tropical Storm Arthur spin toward the Carolina coast ahead of the official start of the hurricane season.
Officials in India and Bangladesh were scrambling on Tuesday to move tens of thousands of villagers away from coasts expected to suffer widespread damage from a massive cyclone, a task complicated by efforts to fight coronavirus. Super Cyclone Amphan, which is one of the biggest storms the countries have faced in about a decade, is expected to hit India's coast on Wednesday.
Americans' positions on climate change have remained largely unshaken by the coronavirus pandemic and economic crisis, according to a new national survey that showed acceptance of the reality of global warming at record highs in some categories. The findings surprised researchers, who expected coronavirus worries to displace ones about global warming.
With nearly 600 specialists from 20 nations, the MOSAiC expedition is the most expensive Arctic expedition in history. Modeled after Fridtjof Nansen's journey 127 years ago, researchers drifted toward the North Pole in an icebreaker to study everything from fish below the ice to the clouds above it. But the warming climate they went to study—and now the coronavirus—threaten to end their mission.
Pacific Gas & Electric said Monday that thousands of homeowners and businesses had overwhelmingly approved a $13.5 billion settlement for wildfires caused by the utility's equipment, one of the last major hurdles in its effort to resolve its bankruptcy. The deal requires the utility to begin compensating, as early as August, the roughly 70,000 victims who lost homes or other property to the fires.
If elected president, Joe Biden would rescind the permit allowing the Keystone XL oil pipeline to cross the border into the U.S., a move that would effectively kill the controversial project, his campaign told POLITICO. President Trump last year signed a cross-border construction permit for the stalled project, which would carry 830,000 barrels of crude oil from Canada to the U.S.