Environment & Climate

Trump Uses Executive Order to Revive Dakota Access and Keystone XL Pipelines

by Samantha Page – The biggest victories of the environmental movement under Obama are now in jeopardy. President Donald Trump signed executive orders Tuesday allowing two controversial oil pipelines — Keystone XL and Dakota Access — to move forward. Delaying and stopping the development of those pipelines were among the environmental movement’s biggest victories over the past few years. Both projects attracted years of protest and civil disobedience, and Tuesday’s move is expected to be seen as a slap in the face to the broad coalition of Americans who oppose increased fossil fuel infrastructure. “More people sent comments against Dakota Access and Keystone XL to the government than any project in history,” 350.org co-founder Bill McKibben said in a statement. “The world’s climate scientists and its Nobel laureates explained over and over why it was unwise and immoral. In one of his first actions as president, Donald Trump ignores all that in his eagerness to...

Read More...


‘Hostile Takeover’: Oil & Gas Industry Now In Charge of US Foreign Policy

by Jon Queally – Confirming Rex Tillerson, Republicans on Senate Foreign Relations Committee “just knowingly handed our international climate diplomacy over to a rogue oil mogul” In a vote strictly along party lines, Republican members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted to confirm former ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State on Monday. Despite unified opposition from Democrats on the committee and a campaign by climate action and corporate accountability groups, Tillerson’s confirmation now passes to the full Senate where the Republican majority is nearly certain to finalize his appointment. Those who opposed Tillerson most aggressively responded to Monday’s vote by calling Republicans “spineless” and promised that the confirmation would only serve to further unify climate activists and the broader anti-Trump movement. “The Senators voting to confirm Rex Tillerson have clearly left their spines at home. Instead of standing up to a historically unpopular President, they’re letting Trump hand...

Read More...


Eight Survivors Located in Avalanche-Hit Italian Hotel (VIDEO)

Rescuers search for survivors after massive snow slide buries tourist hotel in Italy. Rescuers have located eight survivors, including two children, in a ski hotel two days after it was buried by an avalanche near an earthquake-hit city of Penne in central Italy. Speaking on Friday,Titti Postiglione, head of the Civil Protection’s emergency department, said two of the survivors had already been pulled clear of the snow and debris which destroyed the isolated Hotel Rigopiano on the Gran Sasso mountain in the province of Pescara on Wednesday. Rescuers were digging to free the remaining six people. 4 dead, 30 missing in Italy’s avalanche disaster “Finding these people gives us further hope there are other survivors,” Postiglione said. Al Jazeera’s Natacha Butler, reporting from Penne, said there was a lot of activity at the emergency base in the central Italian town. “Rescue workers say they managed to speak to them....

Read More...


2014 Was Hottest Year Ever Recorded. Then It Was 2015. Now It’s 2016.

by Andrea Germanos – (Credit: NOAA)For the third year in a row, the world experienced its warmest year on the books, global scientists have determined The new assessments come from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and the UK’s Met Office, as well as the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), which relies in part on data from those agencies. The findings also back up the declaration made earlier this month by the EU’s Copernicus Climate Change Service. “2016 is remarkably the third record year in a row in this series,” said Gavin Schmidt, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS). “We don’t expect record years every year, but the ongoing long-term warming trend is clear.” NOAA’s calculations put the average temperature across global land and ocean surfaces at 1.69°F (0.94°C) above the 20th century average, while NASA puts the globally-averaged temperatures for...

Read More...


Obama Sends $500 Million to Green Climate Fund, Signaling End to Era

by Nadia Prupis – The contribution is one of President Barack Obama’s final moves before climate denial cabinet takes over. The Obama administration on Tuesday sent another $500 million to the Green Climate Fund, which was established as part of the Paris climate agreement to collect aid from wealthy countries to help frontline nations adapt to the impacts of global warming. The contribution marks one of President Barack Obama’s last moves before leaving office and handing the presidency to an administration staffed largely by climate deniers. It’s the second $500 million check the U.S. State Department gave to the fund, culled from the fiscal year 2016 Economic Support Fund appropriation. The fund aims to attain $100 billion by 2020, with the U.S. pledging $3 billion alone. Green groups had long pressured Obama to contribute the remainder of the U.S. pledge before Trump takes office. The landmark Paris treaty is one of...

Read More...


Bipartisan EPA Alumni Urge Senate to Reject Pruitt’s “Troubling” Nomination

by Nadia Prupis – Pruitt’s track record shows he would “set science aside when the outcome is at odds with his predetermined political point of view”. On Monday, 13 former heads of state environmental bureaus sent a letter to senate leaders, urging them to reject Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt’s nomination as Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) chief. The letter (pdf), organized by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), implores members of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee to vote against Pruitt over his track record of opposing EPA rules—a history that calls into question whether he “appropriately respects science-based decision making” or would cooperate with states to protect Americans’ health and safety from climate threats. “While we have worked under both Republican and Democratic Governors, reflect a range of political views, and come from diverse states, we share a common concern about Mr. Pruitt’s nomination,” the letter reads. In one...

Read More...


Guilty VW to Pay Record $4.3B over Emissions Scandal

Penalty is largest ever levied by the US government against an automaker as Volkswagen admits guilt to three charges. German car giant Volkswagen (VW) will admit guilt and pay a record $4.3bn in fines to settle a diesel emissions cheating scandal, according to US officials. The US justice department also charged six VW executives for their roles in the conspiracy, five of whom are believed to be in Germany while one was arrested in Miami on Saturday. “Today’s actions reflect the Justice Department’s steadfast commitment to protecting consumers, to protecting the environment and our financial system, and holding individuals and companies accountable for corporate wrongdoing,” US Attorney General Loretta Lynch said on Wednesday. She also said the size of the penalty, the largest ever for a car company in US history, reflects the unusual level of premeditation of wrongdoing at high levels of Volkswagen. “The knowledge and choices they made went to the executive...

Read More...


Rex Tillerson’s Big Oil Ties Endanger the Climate and National Security

by Cathleen Kelly – The direct link between climate change threats and the duties of the secretary of state is strong. As droughts, floods, heat waves, and other symptoms of a warming world increase both in number and intensity—throughout the Middle East, Africa, Asia, the Arctic, Europe, and the United States—the next U.S. secretary of state will face urgent pressure to curb climate change and manage the effects of a warming planet that can no longer be avoided. Failure to do so will damage the global economy and destabilize an already wobbly security landscape, with potentially dire consequences for U.S. national security interests. The next U.S. secretary of state must, as Secretary John Kerry has, protect U.S. foreign policy and security interests and demonstrate a track record of personal and diplomatic credibility. President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for the job, former* ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson, does not meet those qualifications. Foreign policy...

Read More...


Trump to Cede Millions of High-Wage Jobs to China

by Joe Romm – Beijing will create 13 million jobs by 2020, investing $360 billion in clean energy, while Trump vows to abandon the sector.   Renewable energy jobs in select countries (excluding large hydropower). CREDIT: IRENA China is preparing to go big on the only major new source of sustainable high-wage employment in the coming decades. Beijing’s newest 5-year energy development plan invests a stunning 2.5 trillion yuan ($360 billion) in renewable generation by 2020. Of that, $144 billion will go to solar, about $100 billion to wind, $70 billion to hydropower, and the rest to sources like tidal and geothermal power. The Chinese National Energy Administration said in a statement Thursday the resulting “employment will be more than 13 million people.” China is already doing way better than the U.S. in this regard, and President-elect Trump’s commitment to opposing clean energy will not make things any better. As the International Renewable...

Read More...


As a Trump Administration Fast Approaches, Cities and Towns Gear Up for Political Resistance

by Sally Neas – In the years to come, community bills of rights are one strategy to shelter vulnerable populations. Back in March, when Donald Trump was facing off with two now-forgotten candidates for the Republican Party’s presidential nomination, the small town of Barnstead, New Hampshire, was quietly protecting its citizens. At their annual town hall, residents voted unanimously for a city ordinance establishing the right to freedom from forced religious identification. This inconspicuous action was part of a growing national movement for strengthened community self-governance that has found new purpose as the reality of a Trump presidency fast approaches. It came in the form of a community bill of rights, a charter or ordinance that affirms certain rights within a municipality. Similar bills have granted the right to a clean environment, safe and affordable housing, health care, and worker’s rights, among others. President-elect Trump’s campaign promises, proposed policies, and cabinet...

Read More...


Global Economic Realities Confirm, the ‘Future is Not in Fossil Fuels’

by Deirdre Fulton – While oil and gas companies falter, ‘renewable energy has reached a tipping point,’ says World Economic Forum expert. Underscoring the need for a global shift to a low-carbon economy, a new report finds a record number of U.K. fossil fuel companies went bust in 2016 due to falling oil and gas prices. The Independent reported the analysis from accounting firm Moore Stephens which found “16 oil and gas companies went insolvent last year, compared to none at all in 2012.” And the trend was not unique to the U.K.—a year-end bankruptcy report from Texas-based Haynes and Boone LLP showed there have been 232 bankruptcy filings in the U.S. and Canadian energy sector since the beginning of 2015. “As the warnings from climate science get stronger, now is the time to realize…that the future is not in fossil fuels,” Dr. Doug Parr of Greenpeace U.K. told The Independent....

Read More...


Democrats Aim to Slam Brakes on Key Members of Trump’s “Rigged Cabinet”

by Deirdre Fulton – Tillerson, Sessions, DeVos, and Mnuchin among those set for messy confirmation process. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has been warned that Senate Democrats are planning to “aggressively target” eight of President-elect Donald Trump’s Cabinet nominees, aiming to delay as long as possible the confirmation hearings slated to start next week. “President-elect Trump is attempting to fill his rigged cabinet with nominees that would break key campaign promises and have made billions off the industries they’d be tasked with regulating,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said in a statement Sunday reported by the Washington Post. “Any attempt by Republicans to have a series of rushed, truncated hearings before Inauguration Day and before the Congress and public have adequate information on all of them is something Democrats will vehemently resist,” Schumer said. “If Republicans think they can quickly jam through a whole slate of nominees without a...

Read More...


‘The Greatest Single Step’ to Help Elephants Was Just Taken

by Andrea Germanos – In ‘game-changing’ development, China announces it will ban all domestic ivory trade by end of 2017 In a development widely described as game changing for the ecosystem engineers, China has announced it will enact a total ban on its domestic ivory trade by the end of 2017. The news on Friday, as Agence France-Press reports, “follows Beijing’s announcement in March to widen a ban on imports of all ivory and ivory products acquired before 1975, after pressure to restrict a trade that sees thousands of elephants slaughtered every year.” Reuters adds: “The State Council said in a notice a complete ban would be enforced by Dec. 31, 2017. A first batch of factories and shops will need to close and hand in their licenses by March 31, 2017.” It is indeed a significant step, as “China is currently the biggest buyer and seller of ivory in the...

Read More...


Justice Protectors, Let’s Take Action Inauguration Day

by Ted Glick – I’m not sure how many Inauguration Day protests in DC I’ve been to over the years. The one I distinctly remember is January 20th, 2001, George W. Bush’s first inauguration. There was a similar political dynamic then as the upcoming Trump one. A reactionary Republican was taking office, and progressives were very concerned about what it would mean across a broad range of issues. Of course, Bush had not campaigned the way Trump did. He hadn’t been publicly accused by a dozen women of sexual attacks. He hadn’t called Mexicans rapists or for a ban on all Muslim emigration into the USA. He wasn’t a full-on, narcissistic, pathological liar. He hadn’t aligned himself so overtly with white supremacists. He hadn’t nominated the head of Exxon Mobil to be Secretary of State. But there were justifiable fears, and they proved to be well-founded after the 9-11-01 terrorist attacks....

Read More...


Senators Dig into Scott Pruitt’s Fossil Fuel Connections Before Confirmation Hearings Begin

by Natasha Geiling – Pruitt is an active member of the Rule of Law Defense Fund, which has received $175,000 from the Koch brothers. Six Democratic members of the Senate Environment and Public Works committee sent a letter to Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt on Wednesday, asking that he answer questions about his ties to the fossil fuel industry and a conservative nonprofit funded in part by petrochemical billionaires Charles and David Koch. Pruitt has been nominated by President-elect Donald Trump to take on the role of EPA administrator, and the Senators behind the letter are looking for more information about how his ties to the fossil fuel industry might influence his work at the EPA before confirmation hearings begin. The letter, signed by Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Edward Markey (D-MA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), and Ben Cardin (D-MD), asked for more information regarding Pruitt’s ties...

Read More...


Setting Stage for Major Climate Battle, Dem AGs Put Trump on Alert

by Lauren McCauley – Letter from coalition of Democratic attorneys general say that Trump should ignore advice to scrap Clean Power Plan. If President-elect Donald Trump goes ahead with his plan to destroy U.S. climate regulations, he’s going to face a whole heap of trouble, a coalition of Democratic attorneys general is warning the incoming president. In a letter (pdf) dated Wednesday, AGs from 13 states and five additional localities advised Trump against plans to renege on President Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan (CPP), saying that such a course of action “would assuredly lead to more litigation.” The warning is in response to a letter (pdf) sent earlier this month by a number of Republican AGs to Vice President-elect Mike Pence, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and House Speaker Paul Ryan which declared the CPP “unlawful,” and encouraged the GOP lawmakers to issue an executive order “on day one” that would...

Read More...


Trends to Watch in 2017: Industrial Emissions

by DarkSyde – Modern global CO2 emissions from the burning of fossil fuels. Note the shape of the black line See that chart up there? See the black line in it? If you compare it to average global temperatures, you’ll see a remarkable similarity. But the resemblances don’t end there, with just those two images. Not by a long shot. “It’s not just CO2, other emissions have been increasing apace,” explained DR David Grinspoon, exobiologist and author of Earth in Human Hands. “And the combined effects of methane, nitrous oxide and other gases like chlorofluorocarbons make the situation worse. Whatever you choose to measure, be it global population or the damming of rivers, or even the relentless spread of McDonalds, the pattern is similar: a gradual, accelerating influence until about 1950. Then everything starts shooting up.” Anyone with high school algebra and a computer can play around with the axis on a 2-D graph and get plenty of...

Read More...


Climate Kids Demand Testimony From Exxon’s Tillerson in Landmark Lawsuit

by Deirdre Fulton – “As CEO of ExxonMobil, Tillerson has unique personal knowledge of the fossil fuel industry’s historical relationship with the federal government.” The group of young people suing the federal government for failing to protect their constitutional right to a stable climate is seeking testimony in their landmark case from Rex Tillerson, CEO of ExxonMobil and President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for secretary of state. Attorneys representing the 21 young people in their federal climate lawsuit served the notice of deposition (pdf) on Thursday, demanding Tillerson’s testimony on January 19, 2017 in Dallas, Texas. They claim that “s CEO of ExxonMobil, Tillerson has unique personal knowledge of the fossil fuel industry’s historical relationship with the federal government.” What’s more, they add, Tillerson and Exxon have been leaders in the American Petroleum Institute (API), National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), and American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM)—the trade associations that joined the...

Read More...


Senate Democrats Demand to Know EPA Nominee’s Ties to Koch Brothers

by Nadia Prupis – Lawmakers ask Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to disclose relationship to public policy institute funded by Koch-related initiative. Senate Democrats are demanding to know what’s behind Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) head nominee Scott Pruitt’s ties to the reclusive conservative billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch. The lawmakers, led by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, wrote a letter (pdf) to Pruitt on Tuesday demanding that he provide “a full disclosure” of his relationship with the Rule of Law Defense Fund (RLDF), a right-leaning public policy organization that receives funding from Freedom Partners—a group that funds initiatives supported by the Kochs, who have deep investments in fossil fuels. Pruitt’s association with the RLDF is one of several “troubling” ties to the energy industry, the letter states. The fund, which provides a forum for Republican attorneys general to engage on state-level policy, has been known to oppose EPA regulations....

Read More...


India on Track to Beat its Paris Targets Years Ahead of Schedule, According to Government Report

by Natasha Geiling – That would put the country on a path to meeting its Paris commitments several years early. In ten years, India could get almost sixty percent of its electricity from non-fossil fuel sources, according to a government forecast published this week. According to a draft of the country’s 10-year energy blueprint, the Indian government expects that 57 percent of the country total electricity capacity will come from non-fossil fuel sources by 2027 — a marked increase over the country’s Paris goals, which say that the country will reach 40 percent non-fossil fuel electricity by 2030. The draft also noted that no new coal-fired power plants would be needed to meet India’s electricity demands through 2027. “India is moving beyond fossil fuels at a pace scarcely imagined only two years ago,” Tim Buckley, a director at the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, told the Guardian. He also characterized the forecast...

Read More...


Austerity on Trial as Flint Emergency Manager Slammed With Criminal Charges

by Lauren McCauley – “All too often, there’s been a fixation on finances and balance sheets,” said Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette. “This fixation cost lives.” Putting austerity on trial, Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette on Tuesday announced criminal charges against four high-level officials for their role in causing the Flint water crisis, including former city manager Darnell Earley, who made the budget-driven decision to switch the city’s water supply to the dangerously corrosive Flint River. “There are some who would simply wish that the problems in Flint would go quietly away, and there are voices out there who hope the poisoning of the water would be swept under the rug,” Schuette said during a Tuesday morning press conference. “These voices hope to simply blame nameless bureaucrats, call it a day and move on.” “That’s not how I operate,” he continued, “that’s not how we operate. Flint deserves better. The people...

Read More...


‘Incredible Victory’: Obama Bans Drilling in Parts of Arctic and Atlantic

by Nadia Prupis – Move comes in response to efforts by climate activists urging president to secure environmental protections before new administration takes power. Update: President Barack Obama announced Tuesday that he would permanently protect parts of the Arctic and Atlantic from offshore drilling. That includes 3.8 million acres in the north and mid-Atlantic Ocean. “These actions…protect a sensitive and unique ecosystem that is unlike any other region on Earth,” he said in a statement. Green groups welcomed the announcement and credited grassroots climate justice movements. Jacqueline Savitz, senior vice president at Oceana, said the president “has taken a key step in protecting important areas of the Atlantic Ocean from offshore drilling…The people of the Atlantic coast refused to allow their way of life to be compromised and we commend their hard work making their voices heard in Washington.” Rachel Richardson, director of Environment America’s Stop Drilling program, also said, “This...

Read More...


Ties to Putin Are Nothing Compared to Rex Tillerson’s Vast Climate Crimes

by Lauren McCauley – “Does Rex Tillerson understand that democracy, the Earth’s climate, and human rights matter more than profits and petroleum?” In a scene straight from a “dystopian movie script,” President-elect Donald Trump on Tuesday officially tapped Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson to be his Secretary of State, thus elevating someone whose “lifelong mission is to crash the climate” to one of world’s most influential and powerful government positions. While many pundits and mainstream media outlets are objecting to Tillerson due to his business dealings and reported friendliness with Russian President Vladimir Putin, environmentalists and social justice advocates made it clear the threat posed by his nomination is far more menacing. In the official press statement, Trump’s transition team says that as head of the State Department, the career oil tycoon “will be a forceful and clear-eyed advocate for America’s vital national interests, and help reverse years of misguided foreign...

Read More...


Trump Taps Rep. Ryan Zinke for Interior, Adds Another Climate Denier to the Cabinet

by Samantha Page – Zinke’s nomination could be great news for big fossil fuel interests. Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-MT) has been asked to be Secretary of the Interior, according to Politico. The nomination comes on the heels of massive outcry over the incoming Trump administration’s rumored pick of Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), who has introduced legislation to sell off public lands. Zinke has called himself a Teddy Roosevelt conservationist and has said that “selling off our public lands is a non-starter.” But in June he still voted for a bill that would have transferred 4 million acres of public lands to states. Zinke is also yet another climate denier to be named to Trump’s cabinet — although he has been considerably more circumspect than some other members of Congress, or the president-elect for that matter. “It’s not a hoax, but it’s not proven science either,” Zinke has said. “But you don’t dismantle...

Read More...


The First Major Offshore Wind Project in the U.S. is now Powering an Island

by Samantha Page – Renewable energy continues its march forward. The Block Island Wind Farm is officially up, running, and connected to the grid, operators announced Monday. The country’s first offshore wind project will produce enough electricity to power 17,000 average homes. It will provide all the island’s electricity needs, supplanting its old diesel generators and will also send electricity onto the mainland grid. While environmentalists worry about President-elect Donald Trump’s future climate and energy policies, which look like they will be heavily informed by fossil fuel industry insiders, the Block Island announcement comes as a welcome milestone in the country’s renewable energy portfolio. “Today’s launch of America’s first offshore wind project epitomizes the clean energy future that’s already here,” Rhea Suh, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council, said in an emailed statement. “Strong state and federal policies helped bring us to this day, and they need to continue so we...

Read More...


An ‘Undeniable Success’: Divestment From Fossil Fuels Passes $5 Trillion

by Andrea Germanos – The value of funds making the commitment has doubled in size since September 2015 Marking the divestment movement’s “undeniable success,” a new report shows the value of funds controlled by individuals and institutions who have vowed to dump their fossil fuels assets now surpasses $5 trillion. 350.org co-founder Bill McKibben said the “news is mammoth.” The report (pdf) by Arabella Advisors for the Divest-Invest Network shows that the value of global funds making the commitment—now at about $5.2 trillion—has doubled in size since September 2015, and comes from 688 institutions and over 58,000 individuals spanning 76 countries. It comes exactly one year after the adoption of the landmark Paris climate accord, and that agreement, the report says, “bolstered the economic arguments underpinning divestment, validating it as a key tool for achieving the agreements goals.” Pointing to the election of climate science-denier Donald Trump, the report adds: “Any...

Read More...


Internal Memo Sparks Fears of Climate ‘Witch Hunt’

by Lauren McCauley – Trump transition team reportedly asking for names of career employees at Department of Energy who worked on Obama’s climate policies. President-elect Donald Trump’s Energy Department transition team has reportedly been asking for the names of civil servants that have worked on environmental policies under President Barack Obama, sparking fears of a coming “climate purge” by the incoming Trump administration. A “document circulated by the Energy Department,” first reported by Bloomberg Thursday and later by Politico, lists 65 questions posed by the transition team. Some sought specific information on “employees and contractors who attended United Nations climate meetings, along with those who helped develop the Obama administration’s social cost of carbon metrics, used to estimate and justify the climate benefits of new rules,” Bloomberg reported. “Sounds like a freaking witch hunt,” a former Energy staffer said in an email to Politico. “Why is that important for informing the...

Read More...


On Our Watch, Global Giraffe Population ‘Pushed Toward Extinction’

by Deirdre Fulton – ‘These gentle giants have been overlooked.’ The global giraffe population has “plummeted” by nearly 40 percent over the last 30 years, and is now “threatened with extinction,” according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) “Red List” released Thursday. The IUCN cites illegal hunting, habitat loss due to expanding agriculture and mining, increasing human-wildlife conflict, and civil unrest as factors “pushing the species towards extinction.” For the first time, the giraffe has been listed as “vulnerable” on the authoritative list, released at the 13th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD COP13) currently taking place in Cancun, Mexico. “While there ha been great concern about elephants and rhinos, giraffes have gone under the radar but, unfortunately, their numbers have been plummeting, and this is something that we were a little shocked about, that they have declined by so much in...

Read More...


Trump Picks ‘Fossil Fuel Industry Puppet’ Scott Pruitt to Head EPA

by Andrea Germanos – ‘Pruitt could be the most hostile EPA administrator toward clean air and safe drinking water in history.’ Portending threats to efforts aimed at reining in climate change, President-elect Donald Trump has chosen Oklahoma Attorney General and fossil fuel industry ally Scott Pruitt to head the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), his transition team said Wednesday. The planned appointment, as Politico writes,  would put “one of the agency’s most hostile critics and a skeptic of climate change science at its helm.” According to 350.org executive director May Boeve, “You couldn’t pick a better fossil fuel industry puppet.” He’s been at the forefront of a legal effort to block President Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan, which he called federal “coercion and commandeering” of energy policy. Giving an overview of his background, Rhea Suh, president of NRDC, wrote this week: Over the past five years, Pruitt has used his position...

Read More...


Dakota Access Pipeline Permit Denied

by Nika Knight – ‘For the first time in Native American history, they heard our voices.’ In a long-awaited victory for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has denied a permit for the Dakota Access Pipeline, tribal leadership announced late Sunday. The agency will not allow the pipeline to be built under Lake Oahe, a reservoir near the tribal reservation, without a full environmental impact assessment that examines alternative routes for the pipeline. While acknowledging that it may only end up being a temporary pause in pipeline construction, many see it as an incredible victory for the water protectors, who have faced water cannons, mace, rubber bullets, mass arrests, and more in their months-long struggle to protect their drinking water and treaty land. Other activists expressed suspicion and caution, as the U.S. government has historically betrayed its promises to Native Americans, and warned that the water protectors must remain...

Read More...


The House Science Committee’s Tweets are an Embarrassment to Science

by Laurel Raymond – Climate scientists were quick to fire back to the committee tweeting out Breitbart misinformation. In the era of fake news, it is downright cringe-worthy when an ostensibly reliable source — a House of Representatives committee, for example — tweets out misleading information. In the era of rapidly increasing climate change, it’s also dangerous. That’s what happened on Thursday, when the official, verified House Science Committee account spread an article based on bad science through their Twitter feed. Not only does the article peddle misinformation in order to deny the reality of climate change, but it was published by Breitbart news — which is notorious for its links to white nationalism, misogyny, and antisemitism. The site also has a long history of insistent climate change denial. Sci,Space,&Tech Cmte ✔@HouseScience .@BreitbartNews: Global Temperatures Plunge. Icy Silence from Climate Alarmists http://bit.ly/2gINZNf  2:12 PM – 1 Dec 2016 The article purports to counter NASA’s exhaustive evidence that...

Read More...


Pope Francis has no Patience for Threats to Abandon the Paris Climate Agreement

by Natasha Geiling – Looking at you, President-elect Donald Trump. On Monday, Pope Francis urged world leaders to remain steadfast in their commitment to fighting climate change, requesting that they continue to implement international environmental agreements as quickly as possible. During a speech addressing a group of international scientists, including theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking, the pope warned against turning away from climate pacts for political reasons — a thinly veiled reference to U.S. President-elect Donald Trump, who has promised to withdraw the United States from the historic U.N. Paris climate agreement. “The ‘distraction’ or delay in implementing global agreements on the environment shows that politics has become submissive to a technology and economy which seek profit above all else,” Francis said, according to a Reuters report. Since assuming the role of pope, Francis has been a staunch proponent of environmental action. In the summer of 2015, he released an encyclical — one of the highest forms...

Read More...


Water Protectors Sue Over ‘Deliberate and Punitive’ Police Brutality

by Nadia Prupis – “The Morton County Sheriff’s Department’s illegal use of force against the water protectors has been escalating. It is only a matter of luck that no one has been killed. This must stop.” Water protectors in North Dakota on Monday filed a class-action lawsuit against Morton County, Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier, and other law enforcement agencies for using excessive force the night of November 20, when peaceful demonstrators were trapped on a bridge and assaulted with impact munitions. The lawsuit seeks to block the Morton County Sheriff’s Department and other police agencies from using such weapons—including rubber bullets, water cannons, teargas grenades, and other weapons—against the protectors. The suit, brought by the Water Protector Legal Collective (WPLC), a project of the National Lawyers Guild (NLG), was filed on behalf of people injured on November 20 and the early morning of November 21 as police descended on the Dakota Access...

Read More...


Twelve Scientists Propose Ten Policies to Protect Pollinators

by Besame – In response to the United Nations’ global study on pollinator status, twelve scientists from universities around the world have outlined ten policies to protect pollinators. Earlier this year, the U.N. confirmed that pollinator populations are declining in North American and western Europe, and that urgent studies are needed to fill in data gaps here and elsewhere in the world. The status of pollinators outside these two regions can’t be determined due to lack of adequate information. This is no small issue for humans, although pollinators like bees, wasps, flies, moths, butterflies, and bats are important to all habitats and wildlife. Even orcas depend on pollinators. Three-quarters of the world’s food crops benefit from pollinators and ironically one primary threat to pollinators is the agriculture that produces our food. Pollinator health is a worldwide issue that extends across national boundaries. Avocados, chocolate, coffee and vanilla come from outside the U.S. and other nations depend on the income...

Read More...


Indigenous Resolve ‘Stronger Than Ever’ as Feds Order DAPL Protest Camp Shut Down

by Deirdre Fulton – ‘If the Army Corps tears down this protest camp hundreds more will spring up in its place,’ says filmmaker Josh Fox. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on Friday informed Indigenous water protectors and their allies that they have nine days to vacate the main Dakota Access Pipeline protest camp—or else face arrest. “This decision is necessary to protect the general public from the violent confrontation between protestors and law enforcement officials that have occurred in this area, and to prevent death, illness, or serious injury to inhabitants of encampments due to the harsh North Dakota winter conditions,” Col. John Henderson of the Corps said in a letter to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe chairman Dave Archambault II. The Oceti Sakowin camp, on the banks of the Cannonball River, will be closed Monday, December 5, the letter warned. Any individuals found on Army land north of the river...

Read More...


Veterans Plan “Deployment” to Join Water Protectors’ Battle Against DAPL

by Nika Knight – “Let’s stop this savage injustice being committed right here at home. If not us, who? If not now, when?” Over 1,000 U.S. military veterans are planning to “deploy” to join the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and peacefully support the water protectors’ fight against the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline near Cannon Ball, North Dakota. “If we’re going to be heroes, if we’re really going to be those veterans that this country praises, well, then we need to do the things that we actually said we’re going to do when we took the oath to defend the Constitution from enemies foreign and domestic.” —Michael Wood Jr., Veterans Stand for Standing Rock“We are calling for our fellow veterans to assemble as a peaceful, unarmed militia at the Standing Rock Indian Reservation on Dec 4-7 and defend the water protectors from assault and intimidation at the hands of the militarized police...

Read More...


The Paris Pact Might Save The Climate From Trump

by Bill Scher – Last week I discussed how climate hawks could fight the environmental assault coming from the incoming Trump administration. One avenue requires help from other countries, who might threaten to slap carbon tariffs on the U.S. if Trump withdrew from the global Paris climate agreement. Since then, several officials from other countries have fired that warning shot. The New York Times reported: In Mexico, which is already preparing for a newly adversarial relationship with an American president who has threatened to build a wall along the border, government officials said they have begun considering the idea of a carbon tariff. Canada, the United States’ largest trading partner, is also discussing a tariff. Some Canadian provinces, including Ontario and Quebec, already have carbon tax policies that include fees imposed on fossil-fueled energy generated across provincial borders. “I see that extending across the Canadian border if the U.S. pulls out...

Read More...


Patagonia to Donate 100 Percent of Black Friday Sales to the Environment

by Kiley Kroh – “The threats facing our planet affect people of every political stripe.” There’s nothing environmental about Black Friday. While one major outdoor retailer has elected to opt out of the day entirely, giving its employees a paid day off to spend outdoors, another has decided to opt in — but they’re doing things differently. This year, Patagonia will give 100 percent of its global proceeds from stores and online to grassroots environmental organizations fighting every day to protect our air, water, and soil. “During a difficult and divisive time, we felt it was important to go further and connect more of our customers, who love wild places, with those who are fighting tirelessly to protect them,” president and CEO Rose Marcario said in a statement. “The threats facing our planet affect people of every political stripe, of every demographic, in every part of the country.” The company will also have...

Read More...


‘Shockingly Stupid’ Attack on Science: Trump to Eliminate NASA Climate Research

by Nika Knight – President-elect plans to entirely slash climate science in favor of deep space exploration. President-elect Donald Trump plans to entirely eliminate all climate research at NASA, a move that climate scientists warn will send us back to the “dark ages.” Trump instead plans to devote more funds toward exploring deep space. The proposal to totally eliminate climate research falls in line with previous GOP efforts to gut NASA’s Earth sciences program, and takes those attempts even further. In 2015 and earlier this year, Republican members of Congress also sought deep cuts to climate research while favoring space exploration in its stead, as Common Dreams reported. It also lends credence to the charge that Trump’s apparent reversal of his anti-climate statements in a recent New York Times interview was nothing but “a bunch of empty rhetoric.” The Guardian reports on this latest move: Bob Walker, a senior Trump campaign...

Read More...


Michigan Fights Court Order to Give Flint Residents Bottled Water

by Bryce Covert – The state is balking at the cost of handing out water to residents who still can’t drink from their taps. Last week, a federal judge ordered the state of Michigan and the city of Flint to begin delivering bottled water to all residents’ homes to ensure that everyone has access to safe drinking water. Now the state is fighting back. Flint residents still can’t drink water straight from their taps after officials switched water sources two years ago and failed to use corrosion control chemicals that would have kept lead from leeching into the water. While officials have urged residents to use filters, those are expensive, difficult to install, and need replacing. And at the peak of the lead poisoning crisis, levels were so high that filters weren’t able to remove all of the toxic chemicals. In light of this ongoing health crisis, Flint residents, the Natural Resources...

Read More...


Obama Administration Blocks Oil Drilling in the Arctic Ocean and off the Atlantic Coast

by Samantha Page – The new five-year plan protects parts of U.S. oceans until 2022. The Obama administration finalized its plans for offshore drilling on Friday, protecting much of the Arctic Ocean and all of the Atlantic coast, but staying the course on Gulf of Mexico drilling. Environmentalists applauded the new five-year plan from the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), which covers offshore leasing from 2017 to 2022 and is slightly stronger than its draft iterations. The Chukchi and Beaufort seas off Alaska have been removed, with only a reduced parcel in the Cook Inlet near southern Alaska remaining. “We are hopeful that this announcement will help chart a new course forward in the Arctic Ocean,” Jacqueline Savitz, a senior vice president at Oceana, said in an emailed statement. “Companies have been given every opportunity to find oil and have failed at every turn because of the extreme conditions and limited...

Read More...


The Media Claims Climate isn’t a Winning Issue. Polls say Otherwise

by Joe Romm – Politico just linked to a poll that destroys its own argument. NBC election night exit poll. So let’s say you are a centrist media outlet that focuses on the political horse race, rather than, say, policy or stuff that matters to most voters. Let’s say you don’t get the existential nature of the climate change issue, you mainly talk to the political “experts” who also don’t get it, and you want to focus on things that really matter, things with real drama — like post-election infighting among Democrats. In short, you are Politico. Your problem, though, is that in covering the political infighting, you want to make the case that Democrats made a mistake by focusing on climate change. Unfortunately, the polls actually show that climate change is a winning issue. And the head of the ticket, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, didn’t actually focus on climate change in the...

Read More...


Trump Voters: Here’s What You’ve Won

by Jon Perr – So a former reality TV star won the 2016 presidential election on Nov. 8th. While deeply disturbing, that victory by Donald Trump was somehow altogether fitting. After all, as research from Harvard revealed, throughout the 2016 election cycle “policy issues nearly absent in presidential campaign ‘coverage.'”  Even during the four weeks surrounding the parties’ nominating conventions, policy stories represented only 8 percent of the media coverage surveyed (13 percent for Trump and only a paltry 4 percent for Hillary Clinton). Instead, scandals, gaffes, unexpected revelations, horse race coverage and other “medialities” represented more than two-thirds of the reporting from the 10 media sources studied. Ultimately, the “policy-free” 2016 election was a lot like the first season of CBS reality game show Survivor: the surprise winner was Richard Hatch, an off-putting, conniving white guy few viewers liked—and even fewer trusted. Now that Clinton has been voted off the island, the...

Read More...


In Bleak Times, This City Is an Example for the World

by DAPHNE WYSHAM – Portland, Oregon could teach the world a thing or two about climate laws that count. A few days before Donald Trump’s stunning upset, the Eiffel Tower and Arc de Triumph glowed green in Paris. France was celebrating the Paris Climate Agreement, which came into force on November 4. It was a remarkable achievement. Less than a year after 196 countries signed the accords, over two-thirds of the world’s countries — including the two biggest greenhouse gas emitters, the U.S. and China — ratified it, agreeing to an upper limit of 2 degrees Celsius in atmospheric warming. But with Donald Trump’s ascendancy, and his pledge to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, the world is back to an uncertain climate future. While some mourn the possibility that the Paris Agreement will be undone, it’s important to remember that it was always aspirational. After all, the deal offers no timetable...

Read More...


The U.S. will Become a Pariah when Trump Pulls out of the Paris Climate Agreement

by Joe Romm – And the trade war he campaigned on will be all but guaranteed. The vast majority of U.S. voters and policymakers have no clue how cataclysmic it will be for this country when Trump keeps his promise to exit the landmark Paris Climate Agreement. (But then why would they, when much of the media also has no clue about the existential nature of the climate fight after a quarter century of ignoring the warnings of scientists?) It is not “if” he keeps his promise, it is “when,” since the Trump team is already looking to quit Paris as fast as possible, perhaps within a year, according to “a source on his transition team,” Reuters reported Sunday. Another reason to take Trump seriously: He appointed fellow climate science deniers to top positions in his transition team and administration — while the media normalizes his radical words and deeds. Since the United...

Read More...


On Surviving the Trump Years with Our Spirits Intact

by Cynthia Kaufman – The day after the election most people I knew were exhibiting physical signs of stress. I felt it mostly in my stomach. The morning after the election, I spent time commiserating with an undocumented student I mentor, and who I love. I held her and tried to be supportive of her in her fear that she didn’t know how to continue to be a role model for others, in being an out and proud dreamer when the dreamers may all get deported. As I sat on that bench with her, friends and colleagues keep coming by and I, who usually am the one to see where hope can come from in the concrete actions we can take to move forward, found myself just simply grieving and sharing my fear. At De Anza College we had a beautiful event hosted by our undocumented student resource center. Students told...

Read More...


Facing Class-Action Lawsuit from Investors, Exxon Threatens to Depose 17 State AGs

by Nika Knight – Ignoring growing shareholder pressure, Exxon escalates its battle against state attorneys general who are investigating the oil giant for climate fraud. Exxon investors filed a class-action lawsuit Wednesday against the oil giant for its failure to disclose climate change risks—the world’s first lawsuit of its kind. The suit came the same day that Exxon threatened 17 state attorneys general, who are investigating the oil giant for such climate fraud, with depositions. Such a move would pull the attorneys general into costly legal fights that would go on for years, according to InsideClimate News. The lawsuit’s claim is over Exxon’s recent swift drop in value, which followed the company’s disclosure that it had been overvaluing about one-fifth of its oil and gas assets. The shareholders allege that “information disclosed to the market by Exxon was materially false and misleading,” writes UK-based environmental law firm ClientEarth. ClientEarth senior corporate lawyer...

Read More...


In Blow to Enbridge, Canada to Ban Oil Tankers Off Northern B.C. Coast

by Nika Knight – Moratorium on oil tanker traffic off British Columbia’s North Coast could be last nail in coffin for Northern Gateway Pipeline. Canada Transportation Minister Marc Garneau made headlines this weekend when he announced that by the end of the year, a long-promised ban on oil tanker traffic will be put in place off the North Coast of British Columbia—weeks after the government was harshly criticized for its bungled response to a spill in that same region. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau campaigned on a promise to institute such a moratorium before the Liberals won a majority of votes and put Trudeau in office in 2015, but as of a mere three weeks ago Trudeau appeared to be backtracking on that promise, after months of refusing to offer a timeline on the ban. Garneau’s words were thus a welcome surprise to many environmentalists: “That is a promise that we made....

Read More...


Patagonia Closes its Doors for Election Day

by Natasha Geiling – As part of its political push, Patagonia is encouraging employees and customers to get out and vote. As you might have heard, there’s a pretty big election today— and Patagonia is making sure its employees, and customers, have all the time they need to get out and vote. The store will close all of its 29 retail locations, as well as its headquarters in Ventura, California, and its distribution and customer service center in Reno, Nevada, in an effort to encourage employees and customers to vote. The Election Day closures — a first for the company —are part of Patagonia’s “Vote Our Planet” campaign, which seeks to mobilize voters to vote for candidates up and down the ballot who prioritize the environment. “During a time of catastrophic environmental crisis, when America needs strong leadership to confront the fundamental threat of climate change, voter turnout threatens to reach historic lows as...

Read More...


Pennsylvania Pipelines Bursts, Leaks 55,000 Gallons Of Gas Into One Of US’ Most Endangered Rivers

by Whitney Webb – A pipeline owned by the same company behind Dakota Access leaked 55,000 gallons of gasoline into a major river, endangering the drinking water of six million people. A pipeline managed by Sunoco logistics burst Thursday night after heavy rainfall in Pennsylvania. The spill dumped 55,000 gallons of gasoline into Wallis Run, a tributary of the Loyalsock Creek that drains into the Susquehanna River. The breach was detected at 3 am when the pressure of the pipeline dropped significantly, leading Sunoco to shut down the pipeline. Though the pipeline has been shut down, the heavy rains that led to the leak are expected to continue, so the actual break in the pipeline will remain unidentified until the weather clears. The Pennsylvania water authorities have warned customers to refrain from using water from the river as a precaution. No official data has been released regarding how long the...

Read More...


More ‘Delay and Deceit’ as Exxon Tries to Block Climate Change Investigation

by Nika Knight – Exxon attempts to avoid disclosing documents that would show whether the oil giant deceived its investors about climate change for decades. ExxonMobil requested Monday that a federal court throw out a subpoena from New York’s attorney general that would force the oil and gas behemoth to turn over decades of documents, which would show whether the company misled investors and the public on the connection between fossil fuel emissions and climate change. The motion (pdf) filed in Texas federal court asked “to amend pending lawsuit against Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey to include New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. The litigation seeks to halt their investigations, which the company calls a conspiracy to further their political agenda,” according to InsideClimateNews, one of the first outlets to break the story of Exxon’s climate crimes. “It’s the same strategy as Big Tobacco,” said 350.org communications director Jamie Henn...

Read More...


Vindication for Press Freedom as Charges Dropped Against Journalist Amy Goodman

by Deirdre Fulton – By filing the charges in the first place, Democracy Now!‘s Goodman told the crowd, “the state’s attorney was attempting to stop journalism.” In a vindication for press freedom and land protectors fighting against the Dakota Access Pipeline, North Dakota has dismissed the “riot” charges against Democracy Now! journalist Amy Goodman, issued after she reported on pipeline company security guards physically assaulting nonviolent, mostly Indigenous land protectors in September. “The judge’s decision…is a great vindication of the First Amendment and…native people on the frontlines,” Goodman told a crowd of supporters in Mandan, North Dakota on Monday, across the street from the courthouse. By filing the charges in the first place, she said, “the state’s attorney was attempting to stop journalism.” Goodman elaborated in a statement: This is a complete vindication of my right as a journalist to cover the attack on the protesters, and of the public’s right...

Read More...


Donald Trump Represents Change? In What Universe?

by Ian Reifowitz – Donald Trump, Mike Pence, and those who support their ticket want you to believe he is the candidate of change while his opponent represents the status quo. We saw this at both the presidential and vice-presidential debates held thus far, and we’ll almost certainly see it again at tonight’s Clinton-Trump town hall event. Ignoring the manifold reasons why he is supremely unqualified and unsuited to handle the presidency, let’s examine this question seriously. Who better represents change: Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton? We can start with policy. In 2009, Democrats gained the ability to implement their agenda without the need for any Republican votes—good thing, since virtually none were forthcoming—for the first time since the 1970s. Just focusing on the biggest changes: a century after it was first proposed, we achieved universal access to health care as part of a larger package of reforms that has brought...

Read More...


Report: Combat Vs. Climate

by MIRIAM PEMBERTON, NATHAN DOCTOR AND ELLEN POWELL – Fifteen of the sixteen hottest years ever recorded have occurred during this new century, and the near-unanimous scientific consensus attributes the principal cause to human activity. The U.S. military’s latest National Security Strategy says that climate change is “an urgent and growing threat to our national security, contributing to increased natural disasters, refugee flows, and conflicts over basic resources like food and water.” What they don’t say is that the overall balance of U.S. security spending should be adjusted to fit that assessment. And we know less about how much we are spending on this urgent threat than we used to, since the federal government hasn’t produced a climate security budget since 2013. In this new report, Combat vs. Climate, the Institute for Policy Studies steps in to provide the most accurate climate change security budget currently available, drawing data from multiple agencies. And it looks at how...

Read More...


Convicted Coal Baron: ‘I am an American Political Prisoner’

by Kiley Kroh – Former Massey CEO Don Blankenship releases a 67-page booklet from federal prison. Don Blankenship, the former CEO of Massey Energy who is currently serving a one-year sentence in federal prison for conspiring to violate safety standards, is defending himself in the form of a 67-page booklet, “American Political Prisoner,” the Wall Street Journal reported. The 2010 explosion at Blankenship’s Upper Big Branch mine in West Virginia killed 29 people — the worst coal mining disaster in roughly 40 years — and Blankenship was found guilty of a misdemeanor for his “part in a dangerous conspiracy” to flout federal mine safety regulations, in the words of Judge Irene C. Berger. (Much to the dismay of prosecutors and some victims’ families, Blankenship was acquitted of three felony charges that would have resulted in a significantly longer prison term.) Nonetheless, Blankenship seems intent on casting himself as the victim with his new booklet, of which he...

Read More...


Canada Releases Plans for a Nationwide Carbon Tax

by Natasha Geiling – Provinces will have two years to create their own scheme. Canadian provinces will have two years to implement their own carbon pricing scheme, otherwise they will have to adopt a nationwide carbon tax, according to a government statement released Monday afternoon. The news came after the Ministers of the Environment met to discuss the country’s environmental and climate goals in advance of this year’s U.N. Conference on Climate Change, which will begin on November 7 in Morocco. Canadian Minister of the Environment and Climate Change Catherine McKenna previously alluded to the idea that the national government might compel provinces to adopt some kind of uniform carbon price if the provinces themselves did not act to adopt one, but was vague on details. Four provinces — British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario, and Quebec — currently have some kind of price on carbon, representing 80 percent of Canada’s population. British Columbia’s carbon tax, which was...

Read More...


Trump to Fossil Fuel Execs: ‘You Will Like Me So Much’

by Andrea Germanos – Republican presidential candidate’s comments at industry conference show he “would be a belligerent catalyst of catastrophic climate change if he were elected president.” The same day as a new report highlighted the carbon emissions calamity that would accompany new fossil fuel extraction, Donald Trump promised an audience of fossil fuel executives that is the very agenda he would pursue if elected to the White House. “Oh, you will like me so much,” the Republican presidential candidate said in his address to the Shale Insight conference in Pittsburgh on Thursday. He promised to lift regulations, open up more federal lands for fossil fuel extraction—including coal and fracking—and ease the way for new fossil fuel infrastructure projects including pipelines. Trump said he would get rid of “all unnecessary regulations, and a temporary moratorium on new regulations not compelled by Congress or public safety.” He also called anti-coal regulations...

Read More...


Solar Just Hit its Lowest Price Ever

by Samantha Page – Oil-rich Abu Dhabi is planning a massive solar project. Transitioning to clean energy is the single most important thing we can do to avoid the catastrophic effects of climate change. Luckily for us, clean energy keeps getting cheaper. This week saw the lowest-ever bid for electricity from a proposed solar plant, worldwide. A proposed development in Abu Dhabi will sell its electricity for 2.42 cents a kilowatt-hour (kWh). The bid answered a request for proposals from the state electric company for a 350-megawatt (MW) solar plant. For context, the average price per kWh for residential electricity in the United States — from all sources — is 12.73 cents. Wholesale prices for electricity can vary dramatically, but a set of record-low bids last summer for solar in Austin were around 4 cents per kWh. A 350 MW plant provides enough electricity to power about 57,000 average U.S. homes. For years, solar prices have...

Read More...


Trump’s “Dumpster Fire” of an Energy Policy a Roadmap to Climate Calamity

by Lauren McCauley – “Trump’s energy plan is this: he opposes any policy that will tackle the climate crisis or grow our clean energy economy, and he supports any policy that props up the dirty fossil fuel industry”. Republican nominee Donald Trump unveiled his economic and energy plan on Thursday and environmentalists are incensed, equating the infamous climate-change denier’s policies to nothing less than a “dumpster fire.” During a speech at the Economic Club of New York, Trump detailed his “new policy of Americanism,” as he called it, and explained how he plans to reach the goal of 4 percent economic growth through, essentially, a fossil-fueled, corporate-friendly free-for-all. His plan includes: slashing corporate tax rates; scrapping regulations, such as the Waters of the U.S. Rule (pdf) and the Clean Power Plan; lifting restrictions on all sources of American energy, including the dirtiest fossil fuels and offshore deposits; and “streamlin the permitting...

Read More...


“It’s Time We Were Heard”: Another Day in Court for Climate Kids

by Deirdre Fulton – With Big Oil behind it, the government has sought to dismiss the case, which has been called ‘the most important lawsuit on the planet right now’ In a federal courthouse in Oregon on Tuesday, 21 youths and their supporters argued that by failing to act on climate change, the U.S. government has violated the youngest generation’s constitutional rights. With Big Oil behind it, the government, in turn, has sought to dismiss the case, which has been called “the most important lawsuit on the planet right now.” The plaintiffs, currently aged 9-20, scored a win in April when U.S. Magistrate Judge Thomas Coffin decided the case could proceed. On Tuesday, the kids and their attorneys hoped that U.S. District Court Judge Ann Aiken would agree. As John D. Sutter wrote in his profile of plaintiffs’ attorney Julia Olson for CNN, the goal is to get Aiken, “a Bill Clinton appointee,...

Read More...


Donald Trump Filled out a Survey about Science and it is Amazing

by Samantha Page – Answers to a science survey show lack of either knowledge or policy. Science is hard. At least, it seems to be for Donald Trump, who this week gave contradictory, off-topic, and sometimes garbled answers to a science questionnaire distributed by Science Debate, a non-profit that urges scientific literacy and accountability from political candidates. “Science is science.” — Donald Trump, 2016 The survey on the 20 “most pressing” scientific issues of our time, ranging from internet freedom to climate change to mental health, is intended to give voters and reporters an idea of where the candidates stand. Trump, Hillary Clinton, and the Green Party’s Jill Stein all responded. “Science is central to policies that protect public health, safety and the environment, from climate change to diet related diseases,” Andrew Rosenberg, director of the Center for Science and Democracy at the Union of Concerned Scientists, said in a statement accompanying the candidates’ responses....

Read More...


‘A Good Day for Elephants’: Ban on Domestic Ivory Trade Passes

by Common Dreams staff – In a bid to stop the killing of elephants for their tusks, world governments voted at a major conservation conference to urge the closure of all domestic ivory markets. After fierce debate, disagreements and walkouts the motion was adopted on the final day of the International Union for Conservation of Nature World Conservation Congress, a 10-day meeting that drew 9,000 people to Honolulu, Hawaii this month. The domestic ban was backed by most of the 217 state and national members of IUCN, as well as  over 1,000 conservation groups that are part of the union. But some countries, including Japan, Namibia and South Africa, argued against the ban. The international trade in ivory has been banned since 1989 but in many countries, including the US, UK and China, domestic ivory trading is still allowed for antiques. “Today’s vote by IUCN members is the first time that...

Read More...


California’s Historic Climate Legislation Becomes Law

by Natasha Geiling – “What we’re doing here is farsighted, as well as far-reaching.” On Thursday, California Governor Jerry Brown signed the state’s sweeping climate legislation — passed by the state legislature at the end of August — into law. The law dramatically deepens the state’s commitment to fighting climate change by cutting state emissions 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030. Previously, the state had committed to reducing emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. “What we’re doing here is farsighted, as well as far-reaching,” Brown said at the signing on Thursday. “The bills today, they keep California on the move to clean up the environment, to encourage vast innovation, and to make sure that we have the environmental resilience that the Californians really want and expect.” California has long been on the cutting edge of statewide climate action — in 2006, the state legislature passed a landmark law that mandated the state cut emissions to 1990...

Read More...


What You Need to Know About the Dakota Access Pipeline Protest

by GAIL ABLOW – Native Americans from tribes all over the country are protesting the construction of a crude-oil pipeline slated to snake through sacred sites and under the water supply for the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. Over the past month, thousands of protesters, including Native Americans from more than 100 tribes across the country, have traveled to North Dakota to help the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe block the Dakota Access Pipeline from being built. Last week, the Standing Rock Nation filed an emergency petition to overturn the Army Corps of Engineers’ permit for the pipeline, which will be located a half-mile from the reservation through land taken from the tribe in 1958. The tribe says they were not consulted and a survey of the area found several sites of “significant cultural and historic value” in the pipeline path, including burial grounds. But on Saturday, Dakota Access crews began bulldozing anyway,...

Read More...


Costa Rica Has Been Running on 100 Percent Renewable Energy for Months

by Nika Knight – Costa Rica’s electrical grid has relied solely on renewable energy sources for 76 days straight, aiming for an all-renewable future Costa Rica’s electrical grid ran on 100 percent renewable energy between June 17 and September 2, according to a report published Tuesday by the state-owned energy company, Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad (ICE), which controls energy production and distribution. (Data after September 2 has not yet been released.) “We are a small country with large goals!” ICE wrote on Facebook, alongside a video about Costa Rica’s plans to become “the first carbon-neutral country” by 2021. The small central American nation has relied solely on renewable energy sources for a total of 150 days so far this year, and aims to eventually use 100 percent renewable energy sources at all times. However, a full 80 percent of Costa Rica’s renewable energy generation comes from hydropower, which is certainly “not...

Read More...


Floridians Overwhelmingly Support Solar In Vote

by Samantha Page – A ballot measure approved Tuesday improves the economics of solar in the Sunshine State Solar advocates finally got a win in the Sunshine State on Tuesday, as voters approved a measure to get rid of property taxes on solar equipment. With more than 1,970,000 Floridians checking ‘yes,’ the measure, known as Amendment 4, received more support than the state’s two U.S. Senate primary winners, Marco Rubio (R) and Patrick Murphy (D), combined. It’s not surprising that the measure passed, although the overwhelming support was a morale boost for the industry, which has faced hurdles in Florida. Amendment 4 received 72 percent approval overall — and needed only 60 percent to pass. “The passage of Amendment 4 is a victory for Florida’s taxpayers and businesses” — Rep. Ray Rodrigues (R) The amendment was the culmination of a bipartisan effort from the state legislature to make solar more affordable, especially for big box stores and for...

Read More...


The First U.S. Offshore Wind Farm Is Complete

by Samantha Page – The 30-megawatt project is set to be operational in November The country’s first offshore wind farm is complete and set to start putting electricity on the grid by November, the developer announced last week. The five-turbine, 30-megawatt Block Island Wind Farm — providing enough electricity to power roughly 18,000 homes for a year — is not going to overhaul the state’s electricity supply, but it is a powerful step forward for Rhode Island and for the country. That’s because the electricity sector produces roughly a third of U.S. emissions. If the country wants to meet its emissions reduction goals as part of a global effort to curb climate change, transitioning from fossil fuel-powered electricity generation to clean resources such as wind is critical to that effort. In addition, the cost of wind energy has decreased dramatically, making it one of the most cost-effective means of electricity generation. Calling the project’s completion...

Read More...


Solar Delivers Cheapest Electricity ‘Ever, Anywhere, By Any Technology’

by Joe Romm – Half the price of coal Chile has just contracted for the cheapest unsubsidized power plant in the world, Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) reports. In last week’s energy auction, Chile accepted a bid from Spanish developer Solarpack Corp. Tecnologica for 120 megawatts of solar at the stunning price of $29.10 per megawatt-hour (2.91 cents per kilowatt-hour or kwh). This beats the 2.99 cents/kwh bid Dubai received recently for 800 megawatts. For context, the average residential price for electricity in the United States is 12 cents per kilowatt-hour. “Solar power delivers cheapest unsubsidised electricity ever, anywhere, by any technology,” BNEF Chair Michael Liebreich said on Twitter after this contract was announced. Carlos Finat, head of the Chilean Renewable Energies Association (ACERA) told Bloomberg that the auction is “a strong warning sign that the energy business continues on the transition path to renewable power and that companies should adapt quickly...

Read More...


Report Shows Whopping $8.8 Trillion Climate Tab Being Left for Next Generation

by Lauren McCauley – Compounded by the costs associated with ‘new inequality economy,’ today’s millennials will face an unsustainable burden “We do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children,” is an oft-quoted proverb, frequently used to explain the importance of environmental preservation. Unsaid, however, is how much it will impact the next generation if the Earth is bequeathed in a lesser state. Environmental campaigners NextGen Climate and public policy group Demos published a new study that attempts to quantify the true cost of not addressing climate change to the millennial generation and their children. The Price Tag of Being Young: Climate Change and Millennials’ Economic Future (pdf) compares some of the high costs millennials will face in the “new inequality economy”—such as student debt, child care costs, stagnant wages, as well as financial and job insecurity—against the fiscal impacts of unmitigated global warming. “The fact...

Read More...


Louisiana Flood Relief Worker Rips Donald Trump For Doing Nothing To Help Victims

by Stephen D Foster Jr – All Donald Trump did is unload some play-doh for a photo-op in flood ravaged Louisiana instead of doing anything tangible to help. And he just got shredded for it. Trump traveled to the state this week in order to boast that he somehow cares about the flood victims because President Obama and Hillary Clinton have yet to make the trip down. However, that’s only because Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards asked them not to come because first responders are still rescuing people and their arrival would only divert effort and resources away from those who need it. Trump, however, doesn’t care about anyone but himself so he visited anyway. Edwards said that Trump is welcome but he has to volunteer or write a check to help victims. But Trump barely did anything at all, and he certainly didn’t write a check. Neva Butkus is...

Read More...


California’s Island Fox has Been Brought Back From the Edge of Extinction

by Walter Einenkel – Conservationists can be smiley as three groups of California’s island fox were taken off the endangered species list last week. The three groups were downgraded off the endangered list, while a fourth island fox was downgraded to “threatened.” The population of the four subspecies in question on California’s Channel Islands, which had plunged to fewer than 200 animals during the late 1990s, has bounced back to nearly 6,000 as of 2015, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reported. The agency said the island fox rebound was hastened by an intense recovery program that included captive breeding of the animals, removal of feral pigs from the islands and reducing an influx of golden eagles from the mainland that had become an invasive predator. Wildlife officials also began vaccinating the foxes against canine distemper, which remains a particular threat on Santa Catalina Island, the only island in the archipelago...

Read More...


U.K. Approves World’s Largest Wind Farm

by Samantha Page – The U.K. government on Tuesday approved phase two of the world’s largest wind farm, adding 300 turbines to a project 55 miles off England’s shore, in the North Sea. The Hornsea Two project will provide 1.8 gigawatts of generating power, in addition to the first phase’s 1.2 gigawatts. In all, the 3 gigawatts provided by Hornsea is enough to power 2.5 million average (U.S.) households. At that size, the combined project is roughly equivalent to a nuclear power plant.                                                        CREDIT: DONG ENERGY “Offshore wind is already on course to meet 10 percent of the U.K.’s electricity demand by 2020,” said Huub den Rooijen, Director of Energy, Minerals and Infrastructure at The Crown Estate, the government’s asset management firm. “Major developments...

Read More...


Scientists Say Expect More 1,000-Year Events Like Louisiana Flood

by Nika Knight – Louisiana’s devastating rainfall was the state’s second “1,000-year” flood this year Parts of Louisiana’s disastrous, ongoing flooding has been upgraded by meteorologists to once-in-1,000-years rainfall, with other areas classified as 500-year and 100-year events, nola.com reported Monday, as scientists warn that such storms are growing more and more frequent as the planet heats up. “On Tuesday, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is set to classify the Louisiana disaster as the eighth flood considered to be a once-in-every-500-years event to have taken place in the U.S. in little over 12 months,” the Guardian reports: Since May of last year, dozens of people have been killed and thousands of homes have been swamped with water in extreme events in Oklahoma, Texas, South Carolina, West Virginia, and Maryland. NOAA considers these floods extreme because, based on historical rainfall records, they should be expected to occur only once every 500 years. The...

Read More...


The Earth Just Experienced the Hottest Month on the Books. Period

by Lauren McCauley – Plus, scientists say there’s a “99 percent chance of a new annual record in 2016” On Monday it was confirmed that the Earth has broken an ominous climate milestone amid a wave of troubling records: July 2016 was the hottest recorded month—ever. According to new NASA data, the global mean surface temperatures last month were 0.84° Celsius (1.51° Fahrenheit) above average and was the warmest July in their data set, which dates back to 1880. This marks the 10th straight month to set a new monthly warming record, based on NASA’s analysis. “Every month so far this year has been record hot,” reported Climate Central‘s Andrea Thompson. “In NASA’s data, that streak goes back to October 2015, which was the first month in its data set that was more than 1C hotter than average.” The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) releases its monthly temperature report on...

Read More...


It’s Not Alarmist: Trump and the Republican Party Could Destroy the World

by Phil Torres and Peter Boghossian, Truthout | Op-Ed – Trump and Republican Party literally threaten the existence of our species. While this statement may sound alarming, it’s not in the least alarmist. Alarmism is what results when one’s degree of fear goes beyond the best available evidence. It’s not alarmist, for example, to shout “Bear!” when one sees a grizzly charging in one’s direction, just as it’s not alarmist to scream, “Civilization could collapse as a result of environmental degradation!” when one sincerely examines the evidence. Consider the following two phenomena: biodiversity loss and climate change. The first receives hardly any attention from the popular media, yet it constitutes an immense danger to humanity. For example, according to a 2015 study published in Science Advances, humanity has escorted the biosphere into a new phase of devastation: the sixth mass extinction, also called the Holocene extinction. To put this...

Read More...