April 14, 2020
From rising sea levels flooding villages to vital populations of salmon disappearing, Fawn Sharp has seen her tribe on the coastline of Washington state—the Quinault Indian Nation—lurch from crisis to crisis. Now she's planning to move the tribe to higher ground, restore the fishery, and diversify its economy.
April 13, 2020
A preliminary estimate from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration finds that levels of atmospheric methane, a gas that is roughly 80 times more powerful than carbon dioxide at trapping heat, have hit an all-time high this year. The findings pose a major challenge to international climate goals.
Tornadoes and heavy rain swept across the South late Sunday through early Monday, killing at least 19 people and damaging hundreds of homes from Louisiana into the Appalachian Mountains. Eleven people were killed in Mississippi, and six more died in northwest Georgia. Two other bodies were pulled from damaged homes in Arkansas and South Carolina.
For the third time in five years, Australia's Great Barrier Reef has seen widespread bleaching from overheated waters, confirming for many scientists that the world's reefs are in big trouble. "Coral reefs are probably going to be the first globally distributed ecosystem wiped off the face of the Earth by humans," said one coral reef ecologist.
Instead of shooting hoops in their school gym, the children in Hamburg, Iowa, were forced to play outside while the gymnasium was used as a donation center for flood victims in the aftermath of the 2019 Midwestern floods. "It happened really fast," sixth grader Gabe Richardson recalled.
Oil-producing nations on Sunday agreed to the largest production cut ever negotiated, in an unprecedented coordinated effort by Russia, Saudi Arabia and the United States to stabilize oil prices and, indirectly, global financial markets. It's unclear, however, whether the cuts would be enough to bolster prices.
Ed Mazria saw the climate crisis the way architects see problems, as something they can simply identify, study and design around. So, on a dreary day in Chicago in 2019, the ex-basketball player gathered the greatest minds in architecture together to make an ambitious plea: Commit to drastic, immediate reductions in the carbon emissions from new buildings and renovations.
The Interior Department confirmed to the House on Friday that it does not plan to issue widespread royalty cuts for companies that drill for oil and gas on public lands and waters, instead continuing to use "long-standing regulatory tools" like allowing companies to apply for royalty relief on a case-by-case basis, The Hill reports.
Derided by climate scientists as a "Merchant of Doubt," S. Fred Singer spent decades trying to refute the evidence of global warming and other environmental risks. The University of Maryland physicist died on April 6 at a nursing facility at the age of 95, The New York Times reports.
April 10, 2020
The departure of Bernie Sanders—and his progressive climate plan—from the presidential race has left hardcore global warming activists in mourning. And with Joe Biden all but set to receive the Democratic nomination, some still wonder where the former vice president stands on climate change, worrying he may be too close to the fossil fuel industry.
For the Ohio River Valley, an Ethane Storage Facility in Texas Is Either a Model or a Cautionary Tale
If Mont Belvieu—a massive chemical distribution center near Houston—is a model for an Appalachian petrochemical renaissance, as industry leaders say, it also serves as a cautionary tale. The operation has a history of fires, explosions, leaks, excess emissions, fines for air and water pollution violations, and an oversized carbon footprint.
It's a simple rule, designed to protect both homeowners and taxpayers: If you want publicly subsidized flood insurance, you can't build a home that's likely to flood. But local governments around the country, which are responsible for enforcing the rule, have flouted the requirements, accounting for as many as a quarter-million insurance policies in violation, The New York Times reports.
Oil-rich nations on Thursday cut a tentative deal to reduce production by 10 million barrels a day, cooling a trade war between Russia and Saudi Arabia as prices at the pump fall amid the coronavirus outbreak. The deal represents a 10 percent decrease in global oil production for May and June.
As the petroleum industry reels from the coronavirus outbreak and an oil price war between Russia and Saudi Arabia, some U.S. refineries that have already cut production way back could soon be stopping altogether. A refinery owned by oil giant Marathon Petroleum Corp. will be the first to shut down because of the pandemic, Bloomberg reports, but it likely won't be the last.
In an ominous development, young people protesting the use of fossil fuels in Singapore are being summoned by police for questioning and having their possessions confiscated. The low-lying island nation will likely be heavily impacted by rising seas, but the country's economy is built on the fossil fuel industry.
A 500 megawatt solar photovoltaic plant in Spain that's described by its owner as "Europe's largest" came online this week, CNBC reports. The plant, which has over 1.4 million solar panels and will be able to supply energy to 250,000 people per year, is a welcome bright spot for an industry that will likely struggle in coming months due to coronavirus.
April 9, 2020
For decades, the fossil fuel industry has worked to undermine climate science, spending hundreds of millions of dollars to seed uncertainty over global warming. Now some experts say that work appears to have paved the way for denial of Covid-19 by many on the right.
Pushing back against wide-ranging rollbacks of environmental rules by the Trump administration, a federal court has ruled that the EPA violated regulatory procedures when it removed restrictions on hydrofluorocarbons (or HFCs), a widely used chemical refrigerant and climate super-pollutant.
Renewable energy advocates are celebrating a rare win in Kansas after the state's top court struck down a special charge for rooftop solar. We look at how that ruling could impact other states, and more, in the latest Inside Clean Energy by Dan Gearino.
Electricity demand in the U.S. plunged to a 16-year low last week as government travel and work restrictions aimed to slow the coronavirus spread forced offices to shut down and industrial activity to slow sharply, Reuters reports. Power output fell to 64,896 gigawatt hours during the week ending April 4, down 5.7 percent from the same week in 2019.
Starting this spring, a new fund led by global commodities trader Cargill will pay American farmers for capturing carbon in their field soils and cutting fertilizer runoff in exchange for credits in carbon-offset schemes, Reuters reports. The fund will then sell those credits to polluters such as cities and companies, including Cargill itself.
The traditionally conservative U.S. Chamber of Commerce is planning to endorse a primary challenger to progressive icon Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, an original proponent for the Green New Deal. The highly unusual move highlights the ongoing rift between the party's moderate and more left-leaning members.
A growing number of cities across the U.S. that recently implemented bans aimed at reducing plastic waste are putting those bans on hold amid worries that the coronavirus could cling to reusable bags, cups and straws, the Associated Press reports. The moves showcase how some industries are taking advantage of the pandemic to push forward their business interests.
April 8, 2020
The Trump administration's proposed rule that would place limits on the science used in decision-making by the Environmental Protection Agency would disqualify some of the most valuable health science, critics say, including studies that could hold clues to Covid-19. That could cripple the federal response to the pandemic.
West of Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, the Interior Department is moving ahead with a massive oil development. But residents of nearby towns will only have until May 4 to comment on the project, a timeline set up when many Americans were sheltering at home and ending just weeks after coronavirus infections are expected to peak in the state.
Global warming is about to tear big holes into Earth's delicate web of life, pushing temperatures beyond the tolerance of thousands of animals at the same time. As some key species go extinct, entire ecosystems like coral reefs and forests will crumble, and some will collapse abruptly, starting as soon as this decade, a new study in the journal Nature warns.
Hunting, farming and the global move of people to cities has led to massive declines in biodiversity and increased the risk of dangerous viruses like Covid-19 spilling over from animals to humans, a major study concluded.
A federal court on Tuesday struck down the Trump administration's move to suspend an Obama-era rule that restricted the use of hydrofluorocarbons, a powerful greenhouse gas, saying the Trump administration did not follow the proper procedure.
President Trump's rollback of Obama-era mileage standards last week may prove to be one of the administration's most vulnerable environmental overhauls as opponents prepare to challenge it in court. Environmental and watchdog groups say the rule falls short of laws requiring the government to set ambitious fuel efficiency standards.
A group of lawmakers from oil producing states announced Tuesday that they are introducing legislation to help the oil industry, which is struggling amid plummeting prices due to coronavirus and an international price war. The bill would give the Energy Department $3 billion to purchase oil to be stored in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.